Planning your California elopement during COVID. What you need to know.

Are you looking for an elopement photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area, or somewhere else in California? I can help with the photography and the planning. Let’s make this easy & fun


The coronavirus sure has scrambled everyone’s life plans, big and small, and if you were planning on getting married in 2020 that is especially true. Many people are now considering an elopement who were not before and maybe you find yourself in that boat. Whether you have a clear vision in mind for how you want to elope or are in need of help figuring out the details, I’m here. I am someone who absolutely loves intimate tiny weddings and I have been a photographer in the biz for a full 10+ years, meaning I’ve got some pretty great connections and know-how ready to go. I’ve been in touch with my talented colleagues in the wedding industry and we are ready to help you get married safely and simply in a beautiful way.


An elopement at San Francisco’s Land’s End Labyrinth


“I have no idea how I should start planning my elopement, can you help?!” 


Yes! If you are in need of help getting started, no problem, you’re in the right place. I can help by either getting involved with the planning or just by being your photographer. Let me know the level of help you need. I am now offering customizable packages that include me as your photographer, an officiant, and florals. I know great officiants who will help you plan your ceremony with the right amount of personalization, and I know top Bay Area florists who will add color and beauty to your day. Trust me, I love flowers and after all this time in the industry, I know when a bouquet has been crafted by a talented expert. I will hook you up.

Now, on to the advice!

First, you want to figure out if this will be an official wedding ceremony on the books or not. That will determine if you need an ordained officiant or an unordained friend/officiant. Alternatively, you wouldn’t need an officiant at all if you opted for a personal vow exchange. 

Next, you will want to think about your location. Currently while writing this post, San Francisco City Hall is closed and has not announced plans to re-open its doors to perform weddings. (You can check if that has changed or is still true by going to the SF City Hall website here.) With San Francisco City Hall being closed that means you don’t have that simple avenue available to you for now, but don’t despair! There are other options available to you, let’s go over a few.


Option A – You can get married in your own home, or at a friend or family member’s home


For this, you will simply need their blessing and a plan to perform the wedding safely. Keep the guest count down as low as possible for it to be easier to manage the safety element. Discuss your plans with all involved. Professionally, to get the job done, all you will need is an officiant, and you will probably want a photographer and a florist. That’s where I come in, as long as you love my photography and we choose to work together, I can connect you with the officiant and florist. 


Option B – Get married at a short term rental property, like an Airbnb


This option is the same as above, except you could get married at a short term rental property, like Airbnb or VRBO, etc. This could give you the perfect excuse to go big and finally book that dream home you’ve been wanting to stay at (without forking out a down payment!). If the place has access to a beautiful outdoor setting it will make it much easier to have a safe socially distant plan. It’s good juju to let the hosts know you plan on having a tiny wedding at their place while you’re there. They may love the idea. 

The great advantage to either Option A & B is that your venue will be within your control since it will be a private location and you won’t need a permit. The added bonus is that you can have champagne sitting cool in the fridge for a champagne toast, once you’ve tied the knot!


Option C – Go outside


Love the idea of getting married in the woods? This photo was taken at the Navarro River Redwoods State Park in Mendocino County, California. The couple had such a small guest count no permit was required. Contact the park to confirm if the same would apply to your wedding or elopement.


There are two ways to do this, the official way and the unofficial way. If you want an official wedding in San Francisco with a few guests, an officiant, and a photographer, you will probably need a permit for your wedding. (Though there are exceptions, like the Mendocino wedding photographed above!) The first place that comes to mind is the San Francisco Golden Gate Park. At the time of writing, I found that the park is accepting applications for weddings in the Fall of 2020 and onwards, which is coming up soon. Permits will be issued on a contingent basis. You can read the latest information and see rates here. My favorite places for weddings in the Golden Gate Park are the Shakespeare Garden, and Chinese Pavilion since they are both beautiful and private. The rose garden is beautiful but I don’t think the roses will still be in season in fall so I wouldn’t advise it until the next summer.

If you want something more casual for your elopement, like a private vow exchange, you might not need a permit at all. Please check the rules for your chosen location before making plans, so you can be sure. Do you have a special spot that you love? Great! If you have lots of ideas and need help narrowing it down, or if you don’t have any ideas for a location, I can help you out on a phone call. I know just about every beautiful location there is in San Francisco, and I know many gorgeous places throughout the Bay Area and beyond such as Marin, Mendocino, Sonoma and Napa, Yosemite and so much more. Please feel free to ask for help planning your elopement outside of the Bay Area too. I have contacts far and wide throughout this beautiful state.


“Thanks but I have a plan. Are you down to be our photographer?”


If you have your game plan and the only thing left to do is to find an awesome photographer, please fill out my inquiry form below. I want to hear your idea! I love adventurous couples who want to share intimate moments together and I would love to go on this special adventure with you.

This is one of my favorite (and semi-secret) San Francisco beaches! It was perfect for this couple’s wedding


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