a bride in a white dress and groom in an all black suit at their Joshua Tree elopement during a purple and pink sunset

A Basic Guide for your Joshua Tree Elopement

January 18, 2023
Elopements, Weddings

As an elopement photographer, I have had the opportunity to explore many different destinations with amazing couples, so they can tie the knot. From desert sands to the lush green forests I’ve seen it all, but my heart has stayed true to Joshua Tree National Park. 

Being a California elopement photographer, I have been given plenty of opportunities to explore Joshua Tree National Park. From bridal portraits to couple sessions to elopements and more. Over time, I have established myself as a top Joshua Tree elopement photographer who can provide couples with the ultimate elopement experience in the desert. With knowledge of the best locations for photos and requirements to elope in the park, I have the answers to your questions!

To assist you with your Joshua Tree elopement planning, I have curated a basic guide that will help you navigate the ins and outs of the park. We’ll go over the elopement requirements, permit information, location ideas, and so much more in this blog post! Trust me, you’ll want to take note of what I’m going to share with you. 

the desert at a Joshua Tree elopement

Why I love the desert

Joshua Tree has stolen my heart for a number of reasons but I am already a lover of the desert, so it’s hard for me to not obsess over the natural beauty of this park. Joshua Tree is special. It takes the beautiful colors, weather, and lighting of a desert up a notch. With so many locations perfect for portraits within five minutes of each other Joshua Tree is perfect for elopements. You can get photos in front of beautiful rock formations, Joshua trees, clifftops, and flat grounds. The options are endless! 

I adore Joshua Tree elopements because they are always beautiful whether you’re eloping during the peak season or the off-season. The weather in Joshua Tree plays a big role in the overall elopement experience couples will have. If you’re planning to elope between October and April you will be greeted by incredible weather. I’d recommend steering clear of the summer months as the desert heat makes it challenging to stay out for long periods of time. Thanks to beautiful weather and natural beauty a Joshua Tree National Park elopement is guaranteed to be memorable, what more could you want for your elopement?! 

Another added bonus to Joshua Tree is that it is perfectly located and accessible to many nearby towns. If you’re eloping in Joshua Tree, you don’t necessarily need to stay in the park. I love that there are options for couples to stay in Yucca Valley, Palm Springs, or even the Palm Desert. It allows couples to customize their elopement to their liking! I absolutely love the desert and appreciate how easy Joshua Tree has made it for couples to elope in it, the requirements are pretty straightforward and easy to understand! 

a bride in a white gown and groom in an all black suit at their Joshua Tree elopement

Requirements for a Joshua Tree elopement

Once you have determined a Joshua Tree elopement is for you, it is time to review the requirements and start planning. To give you a brief overview, you’ll need to get a permit, arrange an officiant, and prepare with your elopement photographer. Depending on how big or small you want your elopement to be there may be additional steps required of you.

Obtaining a permit 

This step for your Joshua Tree elopement is relatively easy. The park requires all weddings to use a Special Park Use Permit whether it is just the two of you or if you’re inviting some close friends and family. You’ll need to submit a wedding application along with a non-refundable fee of $120.00.

Pro Tip: Be sure you notify your photographer, and any additional vendors who may be bringing things into the park, that they will need to obtain a Special Use Permit that is separate from yours.

For more information on permits and how to apply, go HERE! This will take you to the Joshua Tree National Park Website, directly to all the information on permits, which ones you need for your event, and how to apply for one!

Arrange an Officiant

After obtaining your wedding permit you’ll want to arrange an officiant. Secure a date and time with the person who is performing your wedding ceremony and confirm that date with your other vendors as well. With your officiant and other vendors, it’s a good idea to let them know where your elopement location will be and advise them on any walking or hiking requirements that the location may take!

This is one of my favorite officiant’s in the desert! Her name is Celene and she is a treasure, and right next to Joshua Tree National Park! I have personally worked with her before, and let me tell you, there were tears flowing from all of us.

Prepare with your Joshua Tree elopement photographer

Finally, it is so important that you prepare for your elopement with your photographer. I can’t emphasize how much easier hiring a Joshua Tree elopement photographer will make your experience. You may love a photographer, but if they don’t specialize in elopements they may not have the skills necessary to work with and be flexible with your timeline. Having experienced elopement vendors who are familiar with the location you’re eloping at is going to make all the difference. 

As a California elopement photographer, I have learned the ins and outs of Joshua Tree elopements. My first goal is to always assist my couples along the way as they plan each detail, hopping on the phone and making sure they feel completely secure and know exactly what to expect. With knowledge of the perfect locations and how the lighting falls over the park, I provide my couples with the best elopement experience. Hiring a skilled elopement photographer is going to make your photos absolutely stunning. I highly recommend investing in your photography, it will last you a lifetime!

a bride in a white gown and groom in an all black suit at their Joshua Tree elopement

Your wedding location options

There are two routes I recommend you go when it comes to location. The Joshua Tree National Park being the first. There of course quite a few options in the desert that allows for ceremonies or small weddings to take place. Make sure to contact the park directly ahead of time. I have listed are our three favorites spots here:

– Cap Rock

– Hidden Valley Picnic Area

– Split Rock

The second route you can take is by booking an Airbnb and getting married on their property. This does have more pros than cons as you have the comfort of a private home to get ready and take pictures in. Since Joshua Tree is very well known for elopements and a hot spot for photography sessions, most Airbnb properties have protocols set in place. So making sure you communicate with them ahead of time your elopement plans so they are aware of any type of event taking place. Here are some I recommend:

The Pause House 

Heaven’s Door

Fox Inn

A mid-century home

Le Chacuel

a bride in a white dress and groom in an all black suit at their Joshua Tree elopement

Use my elopement day timeline

I know that hiring an elopement photographer is a big deal. Any time a client books me I consider it a HUGE honor and am thankful that they have selected me to be a part of such an important day! My main goal is to provide my clients with a wedding experience that is stress-free and allows them to soak in every special moment. l do all I can to put you at ease during the planning process. I also think I have formulated the perfect timeline for an elopement day!

From early morning makeup to golden hour bridal portraits this timeline has proven to provide couples with an excellent experience. This timeline is for you! I want you to reference it when needed, take what fits your style and leave what doesn’t.

8:30 am – Makeup

10:30 am – Photography coverage begins

11:30 am – First look

12:00 pm – Leave for location

12:30 pm – Arrive at the location for the ceremony

12:45 pm – Ceremony begins

1:05 pm – Ceremony ends and portraits begin

1:30 pm – Portraits scene 2

2:00 pm – Portraits scene 3 (optional)

2:15 pm – Head back to Airbnb and grab a bite

4:00 pm – Option to change for a second look and shoot sunset portraits outside of the Airbnb

4:45 pm – Sunset

5:00 pm – Chef arrives and toast (optional)

6:00 pm – Dinner

7:00 pm – Read private letters from family and friends, fire, hot tub, relax, goodnight

If you’re still in search of an elopement photographer in California I would love to chat! I offer a photography elopement package that would be perfect for your Joshua Tree National Park elopement. 

Photography elopement packages

STARTING AT $4,100 FOR 4 HRS

If you’re looking for something more intimate and “You”, this may be the perfect fit! Wedding elopements can either be alongside some of your closest friends and family or even just the two of you together. Whether it be on a cliff top, on the shores of the beach, or in another country even to kick off the biggest day of your life, I AM READY TO CAPTURE YOU SAYING “I DO”!

Our elopement inspiration

Kylee and Ryan chose us as their Joshua Tree elopement photographer for their November elopement and it was the best day ever! This couple is the kind of couple that you immediately click with. From their engagement session where we hung out all day and enjoyed each other’s company to their California elopement and Portland, Oregon celebration, they ended up feeling more like family than just clients. 

Planning their Joshua Tree National Park elopement was a breeze. Kylee is a planner and had mood boards, schedules, and ideas mapped out months before the elopement. However, we did run into a few roadblocks the week of their wedding…a massive storm was rolling in and we got hit with a flash flood all throughout LA and the Palm Desert into Joshua Tree. Luckily, at the last minute, Kylee was able to get all of their vendors to move to the next day and we planned an entirely new timeline in less than 36 hours. 

We had to change their ceremony from a sunset ceremony to a high-noon ceremony. They were a little nervous, understandably, but I reassured them this would be perfect. We were able to enjoy a beautiful morning and early afternoon ceremony and still had time to relax back at the Airbnb. We also took some bridal portraits before their private chef came to cook their dinner. And throughout the entire day and the whole process,

I hope Kylee and Ryan’s Joshua Tree elopement inspire you during your wedding planning process. And trust that even if things may not always go to plan they will always turn out the way they are supposed to. 


Check out Kylee and Ryan’s engagement session HERE!

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Aura captured the wonders of our day. Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth. Even the all-powerful Pointing has no control about the. 

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Aura captured the wonders of our day. Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth. Even the all-powerful Pointing has no control about the. 

OSCAR & ODETTE

"felt surrounded the allure
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Aura captured the wonders of our day. Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth. Even the all-powerful Pointing has no control about the.