If you’ve been thinking about getting married in the desert then this Joshua Tree elopement guide will hopefully help you! Joshua Tree is a super popular place to get married and for good reason too! The one of a kind desert vibes there make for the perfect backdrop to celebrate your love. I’ve shot there so many times and can go on and on about what a great place it is! This guide will help you plan for your Joshua Tree elopement and is filled with tips to hopefully make planning easier for you. It includes location advice, places to stay, logistics for your elopement and many other helpful tips when it comes to eloping in Joshua Tree. As a Joshua Tree elopement photographer, I’m here to help you!
If you’re flying in, a few airports you can fly to are:
San Diego Airport (SAN): This airport is about 170 miles from Joshua Tree National Park. It can take 2.5-4 hours to get there depending on traffic.
Palm Springs Airport (PSP): This smaller airport is about an hour away from Joshua Tree and is the closest airport option but it may be more expensive.
Los Angeles Airport (LAX): About 2.5 hours away, this major airport is a great option but there can be traffic that makes getting out of that area difficult.
I highly recommend renting a car to get around in the area. The main road in the park is paved but a lot of the locations I shoot at in Joshua Tree National Park include pull-offs that are dirt so keep that in mind when selecting your car. You can also opt to rent a cool vintage car or even a Jeep to add to your day.
Joshua Tree itself is a sleepy little town that has a lot of really cool Airbnbs and places to stay. Whether you want a clean, minimal place to stay or a funky themed Airbnb–there are so many options! I love to go through Airbnb and find cool places to stay at in the future. Some of these places do book out months in advance so keep that in mind when planning.
There are also some cool campgrounds to check out before or after your wedding if you like camping. I also recommend downloading the Alltrails app to look up any trails to check out during your trip!
Where to elope in Joshua Tree
You can choose to elope in the park itself or at a private venue depending on what you both want for your day! If you wanted to invite more guests, I’d opt to do a private venue. Some great private venues are:
Tumbleweed Sanctuary: This gorgeous venue in Joshua Tree is perfect for a smaller wedding. There are a few different ceremony locations with the iconic Joshua Trees in the background and the golden hour light here is stunning!
Morada: Morada is an open-air wedding venue located in Joshua Tree, California. Located in the Mojave Desert, the estate offers couples a chance to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are beautiful mountain backdrops and paired with golden hour makes for a gorgeous location.
Sacred Sands: This venue is a great combination of modern and natural harmony. It offers a great option to couples who want the Joshua Tree vibes with some luxurious amenities thrown in.
Some great locations within Joshua Tree National Park to elope are:
25 or less guests:
Rattlesnake Picnic Area
Hidden Valley Picnic Area (not permitted in March–May)
Quail Springs Picnic Area (not permitted in March–May)
When to Elope in Joshua Tree
A great time to elope in Joshua Tree is either Spring or Fall since it can get super hot in the summer (it is a desert after all lol) I’ve shot in the summer and it can get very hot and difficult to shoot with the high temperatures (not to mention your guests) so I’d avoid summer time if you can! Since this is such a popular national park, it can get busy on the weekends. Hundreds of people travel to take in the desert views, see the Joshua Trees, and camp in the park. Because of this, it’s best to plan your elopement on a weekday to avoid the crowds. I also always recommend shooting during golden hour (sunrise or sunset) and this is something I can help with when you’re planning out your timeline!
Even if you are eloping, you still need a marriage license to be considered legally married. There are 2 different types of marriage licenses but for this blog I will talk about the commonly used public marriage licenses. You can obtain this through your local county clerk’s office or San Bernardino’s office, also you must have your ceremony within 90 days of your application (you will have to apply and pay the $90 application fee again for a new one if time expires) Also, you both will need to be present in the office to give proof of age and identification at the desk or kiosk. In California, you are required to have an officiant and 1-2 witnesses to sign your marriage license (I’m happy to sign as a witness if needed!)
There are a few different permits needed for your elopement in Joshua Tree. For photography you’ll need a photo permit, it’s $120 and you can apply for it here or have me do it for you! I’m happy to help with photo permit applications for your elopement!
You’ll also need a Special Use permit for your elopement which you also can apply for here! It’s also $120 and can take a couple of weeks to process.
Here are some other tips that will help you plan your Joshua Tree elopement from a seasoned visitor:
I offer more than just someone taking photos on your wedding day. I’m here to help you plan & figure out locations, timeline, vendors, and more! It can be stressful to plan an elopement, I’m here to not only help plan, but also document one of the most important days of your life! I have a very laid back personality and will not be all in your face and turn your wedding day into a giant photoshoot. You should be able to enjoy your day & document the day authentically as it goes. I also offer a super helpful wedding guide to my clients that will give you all of the great tips that will help your day go as seamlessly as possible.
When you work with me as your elopement photographer, you not only get a photographer but a friend as well! We will be spending a good amount of time together so it’s important that we vibe well and I love connecting with my clients. If you’re interested in working with me, reach out here! I’m happy to send over my packages and services that I offer!