Alabama Hills Elopement Guide
The rugged, natural landscapes of Alabama Hills make it the perfect place for an elopement.
You can say your vows under the curves of the rock arches that frame the Sierra Nevada, camp under the incredible night sky, and experience the one-of-a-kind desert landscape!
From choosing a date to the legal details of getting married in California, this guide will tell you everything you’ll need to know about planning an Alabama Hills elopement.
Alabama Hills is a beautiful, remote space at the base of Mt. Whitney. It’s a popular destination for climbers, hikers, and stargazers that want to experience the incredible landscapes of the desert. Alabama Hills is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and one of the prettiest places to say your vows! Before you plan your wedding, here’s what you’ll need to know.
It’s really no wonder that Hollywood has used Alabama Hills as a filming location for years! The wide-open spaces and beautiful rounded natural arches you’ll find all around the hills provide a picture-perfect place for an elopement.
The unobstructed view of the snowy Sierra Nevada is a cool contrast to the warm tones of the desert you’ll find in Alabama Hills.
Though it’s just a 3-and-a-half-hour drive from Los Angeles and only a 5-minute drive from the small town of Lone Pine, Alabama Hills is a quiet sanctuary that feels like you’re far away from the rest of the world. Away from the light pollution of the city, you can see thousands of stars on a clear night.
If you’re used to driving on paved city roads, you might be a little intimidated by all the dirt roads in Alabama Hills. There aren’t any paved ones around. Don’t worry though, you won’t need an AWD. You can easily get around in any car, as long as you’re prepared for a few bumps along the way.
Camping is a fun way to turn your elopement into an adventure! Alabama Hills is a really popular place to camp, with both established campgrounds and dispersed campsites.
Due to the popularity of this location, a permit is now required to camp. This is a new system, and camping will still be free. But, if you want to camp on your elopement day, you’ll have to apply for a permit.
If you choose to camp, make sure you’re following Leave No Trace guidelines – pack it out and be respectful of the nature around you so everyone can enjoy Alabama Hills for years to come! There are a few spots where camping is allowed, so be sure to check out the map before you hunker down for the night.
When you’re considering eloping in the desert, it’s important to think about what the weather and crowds will look like for your elopement date – it can make a big difference in how your day goes. I’ll tell you a bit about the crowds and weather for each season so you can get an idea of which one fits your perfect elopement.
Winters in Alabama Hills can get surprisingly cold at night. The day stays a cool 50, so it’s perfect for hiking and adventuring on your wedding day, but temperatures drop pretty dramatically at night, so it’s probably not ideal for an evening of good ol’ tent camping.
The winter is a perfect time to avoid crowds since most people usually head there during the warmer months.
Wildflowers cover the hills in the spring, and the weather is a lot milder. If you’re lucky you’ll even be able to see the snow still dusting the peaks of Mt. Whitney in the distance. The beautiful colors of the flowers make spring the perfect time to elope in Alabama Hills.
Since Alabama Hills is in the desert, summers can be really hot. If you aren’t used to temps of 100 degrees or more, it’d be hard to be in the sun all day. It’s also really busy around this time of year – climbers, hikers, and movie enthusiasts love to explore Alabama Hills during the summer.
Summer is the best time to camp in Alabama Hills because it doesn’t get too cold at night, which is perfect for stargazing with your partner after you say your vows. So, if you do plan a summer elopement in Alabama Hills, I’d suggest eloping at sunrise or sunset to avoid the crowds and the midday heat!
Before the snow covers the Sierra Nevada, fall in Alabama Hills is nice and cozy. Though it can be sort of chilly at night, the days are beautiful. The crowds usually die down after labor day, and fall is a great time for an Alabama Hills elopement.
Alabama Hills has become such a popular place for tourists, couples, and even filmmakers to go find the perfect backdrop, so this year they started the process to implement permits for stuff like camping and weddings. Since the process is still pretty new, you can find the info on their website. Honestly, it isn’t super comprehensive.
But, don’t worry! Part of my job as an elopement photographer is to help you figure out all of this – so I’ll guide you through whether you need a permit, and how to get one.
The fun part of choosing to elope is deciding where you’ll have your ceremony, but to make it official you’ll need to get your marriage license.
The nearest county clerk office to Alabama Hills is in the town of Independence. This town is about 30 minutes away.
When you apply for your license, both of you need to be there in person. Bring your application, both of your IDs, and $52 for the application fee. There’s no waiting period so, once you get your license, you can have your ceremony the same day!
At your ceremony, you’ll have to have an officiant and one witness sign your license. You can hire an officiant or have someone close to you get ordained with the Universal Life Church. Once you’ve had your ceremony, you’ll have to return your license in person or by mail to the county you got your license from. After that, your marriage is official!
I know that planning even a small wedding can be a big task! The importance of choosing someone to capture each moment of your day that you can look back on for years might be even bigger. That’s why I’ve made it my mission to be there for you every step of the way!
My Alabama Hills elopement packages have a little bit of everything! From permit help to making a timeline, you can count on me to make your wedding day a breeze!
Ready to make your Alabama Hills elopement happen?
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