When to Elope in the PNW + Best Locations By Season

Table of Contents:

Alright friends, today we are talking about one of THE most important aspects of your elopement: picking when to elope; specifically, when to elope in the PNW. I’ve got about a million guides up on my blog to help you choose your PNW elopement location, your activities, your guest list. . .but the time of year you choose to elope is equally as important as all of those, if not more. The season you elope will impact everything about your day, from the weather, to the atmosphere, to your timeline—especially in the PNW, where we have four completely different seasons. I want to make sure you have all the important info available to you to help you make the best, most informed decision possible, so let’s get into it right away.

First up, I’ll be covering what each season is like in the PNW, and what you can expect out of each one in regards to weather. And because there’s so much more to take into account than just the weather, I’ll then be going through a list of other important factors to consider. Finally, I’ve put together a list for you of all the best PNW elopement locations organized by season. If you already know when you ideally want to elope and you’re simply looking for location options, you’re more than welcome to skip ahead to that section!

When is the Best Time to Elope in the PNW?

The best time of year to elope in the PNW is the summer. . . or the fall. . . or the winter. . . or the spring. Sorry—there’s just not a black and white answer I can give ya, as much as it might be helpful!

I love living somewhere where we go through four distinct seasons every year, because each one is truly beautiful and exciting in its own unique way. There’s no right or wrong time to elope in the PNW; it’s simply up to you to decide what you’d like your day to look like, what activities you want to include, what kind of vibe you’re going for, etc.

In my experience, Washington elopement seasons are a tad bit different than the actual seasons; for example, fall is usually considered to be September-November-ish. However, I’d say that fall elopements in the PNW are best in October, as that’s when you’ll get the best fall foliage and can still access a majority of locations before the snow arrives. September won’t give you as many fall colors are you’re probably hoping for, and by the time November (or even late October) rolls around, most high-elevation locations will be inaccessible due to snow.

Another way you can look at the PNW seasons is in terms of high season, low season, and shoulder season:

High season = July-mid October → Highest chance at good weather, most accessibility in the mountains, and most crowds

Low season = Mid October-March → Lowest chance of good weather, most precipitation, least accessibility, and fewest crowds

Shoulder season = April-June → Sorta in the middle, weather starts to warm up, locations become more accessible, crowds start flocking to popular spots

To help you get a little more clarity on which season might be right for you, let’s start with a general overview of the seasons here in the PNW & give you a glimpse at what you can expect out of each one. Temperatures and precipitation will obviously vary by location (e.g. the coast in the winter is MUCH different than the mountains in the winter), but hopefully these estimates give you a general picture of wat it would be like to elope during each season.

Summer (July-September)

Summer in the PNW is when you will get the absolute best weather—or at least the best chance at good weather. It is the PNW, after all, so sunshine can still be fickle even during the warmest months of the year, especially if you’re in rainier parts of the region (hello, Seattle)! Minimum temperatures typically range between 45-50°F with highs between 70-85°F, although the drier areas have been getting HOT these past few years. This is when you’ll have wildflowers blooming at their peak (July-August), incredibly picturesque scenery, vibrant alpine lakes, clear blue skies if you’re lucky, and the most opportune time for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and swimming.

Another thing to keep in mind about eloping in the summer, especially around August and early September, is the possibility of wildfires. It’s really devastating how many wildfires the West Coast & Canada have seen in recent years, and it’s almost become a new normal for the late summer months. Be prepared for the potential effects of wildfires on your late summer elopement, such as road closures, trail closures, or smoky skies that cause unhealthy conditions. This is why it’s crucial to always have a backup plan (or two) even in the summertime, even when you think nothing can go wrong or that you’ve timed it juuust right!

You should elope in the summer if you. . .

✅ Want to hike in the mountains

✅ Want wildflowers in the mountains

✅ Don’t mind other visitors around, or don’t mind working a little harder to find privacy

✅ Want the highest chance of good weather &/or mountain views

Fall (October)

I love a good PNW summer day just as much as the next person, with those bright blue skies shining over the iconic mountain peaks, wildflower meadows, and subalpine valleys—but fall in the PNW is truly on another level. If you don’t mind cooler temperatures, with typical lows in the 40’s and highs in the 60’s, then you may love a fall elopement! Trust me when I say that the fall foliage, the quiet mornings, the crisp air, and the higher likelihood of privacy more than make up for the drop in temperature. Fall is the perfect time for a hiking elopement if you’d rather hike in a little chiller weather + layer up than overheat in the summer sun, but it may not be the time for water-related activities like swimming, paddle boarding, or kayaking (unless you’re down to get cold)!

It’s super duper important to note that you definitely need to be flexible if you want to elope in the fall, as this is when the snow starts to fall in certain areas of the PNW. While we can do our best to plan based off of historical averages and snowfall in recent years, you just never know when the snow might come—and once it does, it’ll close down a whole lot of trails and roads throughout the region! Artist Point up at Mt. Baker, for example, is typically accessible by road up until October, but sometimes closes down as early as September. Keep an eye out on park and trail conditions + alerts as your elopement date gets closer, both on weather channels as well as places like the National Park Service website! Looking at live webcams is also extremely helpful if you’re trying to see whether or not the views you wanted are clear or not, and how current weather conditions are impacting the scenery.

You should elope in the fall if you. . .

✅ Want gorgeous autumn colors, of course

✅ Want to hike but don’t want to worry about overheating

✅ Want fewer visitors around

✅ Don’t mind being flexible since you never know how early the snow might come! 

Winter (November-February)

Contrary to popular belief, you can actually elope in the PNW during the wintertime—your experience is just going to be completely different than an elopement at any other time of year! In fact, the PNW offers some of the best winter sport opportunities in the country, especially at places like Mt. Baker, Snoqualmie, and Mt. Hood. So if skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing is your thing, and you dream of cozy evenings huddle around a fire inside of a warm cabin or a luxury ski resort, then boy is a winter elopement for you, my friend. The best part about eloping in the winter, besides the enchanting winter wonderland all around you, is that it’s the least crowded time of year in most areas. The majority of people don’t want to be outdoors in the 10-40°F temperatures, or amidst the fog, ice, and snow-covered grounds. But the way those snow-covered grounds, the snow-capped mountains, and the tree branches drenched in white make the scenery look? Pure magic.

You should elope in the winter if you. . .

✅ Want to snowshoe, ski, or snowboard

✅ Want to wear layers and be cozy

✅ Don’t need to prioritize clear skies, depending on where you are

✅ Want the most privacy

If you feel like winter might be the right season for your dream elopement experience, check out my full guide to How to Plan a Winter Elopement in Washington next.

Spring (March-June)

If you picture vibrant, lush greenery galore when you imagine your elopement, and maybe even a few wildflowers here and there if you’re at a low-elevation location, then you’re going to adore spring in the PNW. With temperatures averaging around 45-70°F throughout the region, spring is by far the best time to get that picturesque, eye-catching PNW greenery that we all know and love. You’ll have to stick to lower elevations as the snow likely won’t be gone yet up in the mountains, such as the Hoh Rainforest or the Columbia River Gorge, but the way the moss, ferns, and other foliage lights up after a rainy spring season? Oh so dreamy! Spring is also a fantastic time to elope at a waterfall, as the snow melt and rainwater from the past few months will give you the biggest flow of the year.

You should elope in the spring if you. . .

✅ Want greenery in lower elevations to be as lush as possible (think: Hoh Rainforest after a winter of rain—so so dreamy)

✅ Want wildflowers in lower elevations like the Columbia River Gorge

✅ Don’t mind the possibility of rain

✅ Don’t want to hike in high elevations

You know what they say about spring showers—if you want to make sure your elopement is incredible no matter what, rain or shine, be sure to pop over to my blog post about How to Embrace “Bad” Weather on Your Elopement Day.

What to Consider When Choosing Your PNW Elopement Date

Now that you have a better understanding of what the PNW looks like throughout each of the unique seasons, let’s talk about what other factors (other than weather) you should take into consideration when picking a time of year to elope.

Comfort

This one might sound weird right off the bat, but making sure you’ll be comfortable throughout your elopement day is so important when it comes to choosing a season. Think about what you’ll be wearing, how the weather conditions (such as rain, heat, humidity, and wind) affect your confidence and comfort, and be realistic with what you know about yourself.

If you know you absolutely despise being cold and you really don’t want to have to wear a jacket over your dream elopement dress, then opt for a summer elopement over a winter one! Maybe you cannot physically stand being sweaty and know you would feel uncomfortable all day if you were sweating through your attire: don’t elope in July or August, when it’s hottest out (or opt for a cooler location). 

Pick a time of year where you can wear something you love, feel like your best self, and confidently know that you’ll be able to embrace whatever comes your way!

Scenery

Obviously you want to consider the scenery, and how it changes throughout the year. If you’re dead set on having wildflowers in your elopement, know that you’ll have to plan your elopement during a shorter time frame in the summer in order to get them. Consider how the colors will change from fall to spring, how dry or lush the landscape will be, how the views could be impacted depending on fog/smoke/clouds, and how the terrain might be different throughout each season.

Trail conditions

Like I’ve touched on before in this guide, make sure you monitor trail conditions before your elopement. You may have planned for a sunny day in August with no rain in sight, but if it rains unexpectedly, it could cause parts of the trail to become super muddy, hard to hike, or even dangerous. Other things that could impact trail accessibility include landslides, snow, ice, fog/visibility, fallen trees, wildfires/smoke, etc. I recommend keeping your eye on the trail you’ll be hiking in the weeks leading up to your elopement so that you have time to make backup plans if necessary!

Road closures

Similarly, don’t forget to monitor road closures in the area you’re planning to elope at. Weather conditions and construction can cause entire roads, or sections of roads, to be closed down at certain times of year, and the last thing you want is to start driving to your location only to find that you’re blocked off on the way there! A lot of roads around the PNW have seasonal closures due to snow that you can predict time frames & look up historical opening/closing dates for. However, you should also prepare for unexpected road closures at the last minute and always be sure to have at least one or two backup locations in place, ideally one close to your original location and one a bit farther away in case the whole area is blocked off. Consider also picking alternate locations at different elevations in case snow falls earlier than you thought, and you’re forced to move to a lower elevation spot—or vice-versa.

Crowds

On top of everything else, you’ll want to consider crowds when choosing a time of year to elope. If it’s really important to you to have as much privacy as possible, and you want to have your ceremony at a fairly popular location, you should elope at sunrise, on a weekday, and/or during the shoulder season if possible. I love finding secluded, lesser-known spots with my couples, though, so know that we can almost always find an alternate location if your original choice ends up being super packed and you want to avoid having people in the background!

Best PNW Elopement Locations by Season

Finally, I wanted to give you a list of all my favorite PNW elopement locations, organized by season! I figure this would be helpful as you go through the process of choosing a season for your elopement, as certain locations are obviously better & more accessible than others during certain times of year. This is just a general list to get you started, and there are many others I could name that I’ll be more than happy to recommend when it comes time to plan your big day together 🙂 Linked to each location is a separate resource or website with more information for you to check out!

Where to Elope in the PNW in the Summer

Where to Elope in the PNW in the Fall

Where to Elope in the PNW in the Winter

Where to Elope in the PNW in the Spring

PNW Elopement Photographer

As a seasoned and adventure-obsessed PNW elopement photographer, I’ve photographed every type of elopement out there, from backpacking elopements in the heat of the summer to ski resort elopements out in the freezing cold snow—and I’ve loved every moment of every single one. If you’re looking for a photographer who will not only be there to document your day and help you cherish it forever, but provide planning guidance & expertise, then I’m your person! Reach out to me here so we can start chatting, whether you know exactly the type of day you’re dreaming up or you have no clue what time of year to pick. I’ll be there to help you every step of the way, friend 🙂


If you’re loving all these elopement tips and want even more of my best recommendations for making your elopement day unforgettable, then grab a glass of your favorite drink & browse through my blog—or take a look at a few favorites below:

4 Tips for a Breathtaking & Photogenic Elopement Day

What to Eat at Your Elopement: 10 Creative Food & Meal Ideas

Top 6 Places in Washington for Adventure & Engagement Sessions

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