Malibu Elopement Guide | How to Elope in Malibu, CA

Malibu Elopement Guide

Malibu Elopement Guide

Just a few miles west of Los Angeles, you’ll find Malibu, California – an idyllic beachfront town that perfectly captures the meaning of “paradise.” If you want to tie the knot on a cliff over the ocean, on a serene, rocky beach, or in the rolling green hills of California, consider a Malibu elopement! 

Before you pack your swimsuit and jet off to Southern California, there are a few things you’ll need to know – and this guide will cover everything, so you’ll be an expert on how to elope in Malibu! 

What you’ll find in this Malibu Elopement Guide: 

  • Why you should elope in Malibu
  • Best Malibu Wedding Locations for Your Elopement
  • Best Time to Elope in Malibu
  • The Legal Stuff: Permits, Officiants, and Marriage Licenses 
  • What to Do
  • Where to Stay 
  • Example Timelines  
  • Malibu Beach Elopement Tips
  • Alternatives to Malibu
  • The Cost of Eloping in Malibu
  • Malibu Elopement Packages – Are you ready to elope Wild & Free? 

Why You Should Elope in Malibu

Before we start planning your free-spirited adventure elopement, let’s see if a Malibu elopement is right for you! Here are just a few reasons why you should tie the knot in Malibu.

Beautiful Beaches

The beaches are definitely a huge reason to elope in Malibu – you just can’t beat the sandy cliffs, the ocean views, and the sunshine found in Southern California’s beaches. In Malibu, you can choose from rugged, rocky beaches with scenic coastal views, or the more peaceful surfing beaches perfect for couples who want to step off the shore! 

Malibu sunset with birds flying overhead elopement couple

Wonderful Weather

The weather in Malibu is pretty idyllic, with nearly year-round sunshine and warm weather! Temperatures rarely dip below the 50s, making it a great winter getaway for couples traveling from out of state. There’s no bad time to elope in Malibu, and if you want to soak in the sunshine, it’s an incredible place to tie the knot!

Luxurious Relaxation and Outdoor Adventures

One of the best things about eloping in Malibu is that you can combine luxury with adventure! Malibu is known for being the site of celebrity homes, upscale resorts, and incredible vacation getaways – so after exploring the mountains and hills, or the cliffs and coves, you can relax and enjoy the “just married” bliss!

Malibu Wedding Locations – The Best Places to Elope in Malibu

The most incredible thing about eloping in this Southern California town is the incredible beauty and diversity of the Malibu wedding locations you can choose from! You can go from beaches to mountains in no time, without straying too far from the city.

For the best elopement experience, I really recommend eloping on private land! You can rent a small venue, some land in the hills, or even a private beach and tie the knot in complete privacy. Malibu is always full of hustle and bustle, and being able to get away from the crowds is a game changer!

Here are some of the best Malibu wedding locations, and places where you can elope!  

Malibu Beach Wedding Locations

First up, beaches! You can’t go wrong with an elopement ceremony by the ocean, so here are some incredible beaches in Malibu that would make a stunning backdrop for your wedding day.

Malibu beach wedding locations on public land: 

  • El Matador Beach
  • Point Mugu State Park
  • Point Dume State Beach
  • Malibu Lagoon State Beach
  • …and more!

Private Malibu beach wedding locations: 

Malibu Mountain Wedding Locations

While the beaches are Malibu’s most popular attraction, don’t miss out on the incredible mountain views and rolling hills! Here are some of the best Malibu wedding locations where you can elope with mountains in the backdrop.

Malibu mountain wedding locations on public land: 

  • Malibu Creek State Park
  • Topanga State Park
  • Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Leo Carrillo State Park
  • Rocky Oaks Park

Private Malibu mountain wedding locations: 

Malibu Elopement

Secret Wild & Free Spots for your Malibu Elopement

We’re all about finding secret spots, hidden gems, and less-traveled places to share with our couples! Privacy is a huge reason why couples choose to elope, so we want to make sure you get the chance to tie the knot in a spot that hasn’t made it to the Instagram explore page yet, where you can enjoy nature and get married without all the crowds. Get in touch to learn more about our location lists. 

The Best Time for a Malibu Elopement

Malibu’s idyllic weather and nearly year-round sunshine mean there’s no bad time to elope here! Before you decide on a date for your ceremony, here are some tips and what you can expect throughout the year.

Wild & Free Tip

A big thing that people often forget is that it’s always chillier by the water! If your Malibu elopement location is close to the ocean, keep in mind that there will likely be more of a breeze – especially if you’re eloping in the winter, or planning to be on the beach in the morning or evening, bring an extra layer to keep you warm! 

Winter for your Malibu Elopement

Temperatures in Malibu stay pretty mild in the winter. With daytime averages in the 60s, and slightly chillier mornings and evenings, it’s a great winter getaway for couples traveling from colder climates! Don’t forget about that coastal breeze – the wind chill can feel a little brutal, but it’s nothing some layers can’t fix! 

Get inspired by these Winter Malibu elopements:

  • Susan + Roman — coming soon

Spring for your Malibu Elopement

Spring is a gorgeous time in Malibu! The wildflowers bloom, dotting the mountainsides in stunning displays and pops of color amongst the greenery. Though there isn’t much rain this time of year, there is something called the “May Gray” – when a fog rolls in over the coast. The cloudy mist usually hangs out in the mornings, burning off by the afternoon! The fog gives the scenery a gorgeous, magical feeling, but clears up so you still get those amazing Malibu sunsets.

This is one of the best times to elope in Malibu, as it’s less busy than the summer season, and the weather is warm and perfect for hikes or outdoor adventures!

Summer for your Malibu Elopement

May Gray turns into “June Gloom” – but this foggy season usually ends by mid-June, and summer picks up in full swing! Malibu is more crowded this time of year, especially on the beaches, but the warm weather and sunshine make it a good time to elope. We have some tips for avoiding the crowds, so you can enjoy some privacy on your elopement day!

One thing to note is that the end of summer and into September is very dry, and in the mountains of Malibu, the danger of wildfires is highest. 

Get inspired by these Summer Malibu elopements:

Fall for your Malibu Elopement

Fall is one of the best times to elope in Malibu! The crowds get smaller, the weather gets less toasty, and it’s a perfect time to be outdoors and to enjoy everything Malibu has to offer. In the mountains, you can spot the fall foliage starting in late September!

Get inspired by these Fall Malibu elopements:

Wild & Free Tip

Elope on a weekday!

Especially if you’re eloping during Malibu’s peak season, plan your ceremony for a weekday! This will help you avoid some of the crowds no matter when you elope, and it’ll be easier to find a secluded spot to say your vows.

The Legal Stuff – Getting Legally Married in Malibu

This is the paperwork part – the legalities and logistics of your Malibu elopement. It’s not as exciting as beaches and mountains, but it’s important! Don’t worry, we have everything you need to know right here.

Malibu Wedding Permits

Some elopement locations will require that you get a wedding permit. This depends on where you decide to elope, and the good news is that many of the beaches and wedding locations in Malibu don’t require permits for ceremonies under 25 guests! 

But, some places do require a permit, so once you have your Malibu wedding location picked out, we’ll help you figure out if you need a permit, and how to get one!

Malibu Marriage License

The marriage license is the piece of paper that makes you legally married! So, to legally tie the knot during your Malibu elopement, you’ll need to head to any county clerk’s office in California. 

If you live in the state, it’s easiest to find whatever office is closest to you! If you’re traveling for your Malibu elopement, the closest office is in Los Angeles. An appointment is recommended, and you can make one up to two weeks in advance online. When you go to the office in person, be sure to bring both of your photo IDs! After you get the marriage license, it expires after 90 days.

For more info on California marriage licenses, check out this guide!

Malibu Elopement Officiant

An officiant is required to sign the marriage license. This means you can hire someone to perform the ceremony, or we can help you with that! We’re ordained and can legally marry you so that you don’t have to worry about finding someone else.

Wild & Free Tip

Consider a self-uniting ceremony

A self-uniting ceremony means that instead of hiring an officiant, you have your own ceremony – you can exchange vows privately, giving you the ultimate freedom for your elopement! You can learn more about self-uniting ceremonies here.

To be legally married, you do need that officiant’s signature on the marriage license. But, we can do that for you!

Here is what a self-uniting elopement ceremony in Malibu can look like:

What to Do When You Elope in Malibu

Your elopement should be a reflection of who the two of you are – so don’t reduce it to just a ceremony and some photos! You’re getting married, and that deserves to be celebrated. You can do absolutely anything on your day – and here are a few ideas for things to do during your Malibu elopement.

Have a Boho Picnic

There’s no better place for a picnic than the beach, and Malibu has plenty of beaches. Curl up with a view and a picnic stylized and created just for you, and enjoy the sunset! With a custom picnic, you’ll have a unique experience and a delicious meal, all in one.

Go Surfing

Whether you’re a seasoned wave rider or you want to try out something new, getting in the water on your elopement day is guaranteed fun! Jump in with your own surfboard, or take a lesson together for a unique wedding day experience.

Take a Hike

Malibu has a hike for everyone – whether you’re looking for a short trail to a cliff that looks over the ocean or a longer trek in the mountains! If you love getting out in nature, you’ll love all the trails around Malibu.

Hire a Private Chef

Malibu is all about indulging in the finer things in life – so for some extra elopement day luxury, hire a private chef for a yummy meal! What better way to celebrate tying the knot than with some delicious food and a well-paired wine?

Love these big laughs from bride, Tyler, at her Malibu beach elopement

Malibu Elopement Inspiration

For Malibu elopement inspiration, check out this Pinterest board! You can pin from there to get ideas for your own elopement or follow along for more tips and elopement resources.

Big hugs on elopement day in Malibu, CA

Where to Stay in Malibu for Your Elopement

Malibu is known for luxurious resorts and relaxing retreats, so you’ll have plenty of options for places to stay! 

The Surfrider Hotel, renovated from an old motel, sits right on the beach, offering a gorgeous place to stay. The modern, boho decorations make it a cozy home base to come back to after a day of adventures.

If you want to escape into nature, rent this adorable cottage! Just imagine having a five-course dinner by the creek, a cozy fireplace, and all the amenities you need for the most relaxing stay.

Renting an Airbnb is always a great option for elopement days – there are some pretty awesome ones in Malibu, and a rental will ensure privacy for getting ready and maybe an evening reception!

Sample Malibu Elopement Timelines

When you’re planning your Malibu elopement, it’s all about the experience! Plan a day that’s truly unforgettable – and don’t worry if you aren’t sure where to start. We make a custom timeline for every couple! With personalized recommendations for things to do, we’ll create a timeline that outlines the plan, while keeping things stress-free!

Here are some sample Malibu elopement timelines to get you inspired! 

Beach Elopement With Family

9:00 Family breakfast at Marmalade Cafe

11:00 Drive back to Airbnb

11:30 Hair and makeup begins

1:30 Put on ceremony attire

2:00 First look & couples photos

3:00 Drive to beach

3:30 Picnic with family

5:00 Ceremony

5:30 Family photos

6:30 Sunset photos with couple, family drives back to Airbnb

8:00 Drive back to Airbnb for dinner with family

“Just Us” Elopement

9:00 Pancake breakfast

11:00 Hair and makeup begins

1:00 Drive to Cliffs

1:30 Hike to overlook

2:00 Put on ceremony attire

2:30 First look & couples photos

4:00 Ceremony

4:30 Couple’s photos

6:30 Picnic

7:30 Sunset photos

Wild & Free Tip

Avoid harsh sunlight

Harsh sun isn’t good for photos – it makes weird shadows, and the uneven lighting is difficult to work with! For the best lighting, plan your ceremony closer to sunrise or sunset. Within 3 hours is best.

During the day, we recommend exploring places with more shade – forested locations are great! Beaches don’t have a lot of cover most of the time, so to avoid the harsh midday sun, save those locations for golden hour.

Malibu Beach Elopement Tips

If you choose a beach for your Malibu elopement, there are a few things to keep in mind! Your day isn’t like a traditional wedding, so there are some extra considerations.

Think About Shoes

Sand in your shoes is just about the worst feeling ever, so think about this when you decide on your elopement attire! High heels won’t work too well in soft sand, so opt for comfortable shoes that you can walk around in. Being barefoot on your wedding day is totally allowed too – sometimes no shoes is the comfiest option when you’re at the beach!

Embrace the Wind

Part of the magic of standing on top of a cliff over the ocean is the wind in your hair – a windswept look is great for an elopement, so don’t sweat it if your hair doesn’t stay perfectly in place throughout the day! Embrace the wind, because it makes for some stunning photos!

Avoid Midday Sun

Avoid harsh lighting by planning around the sunrise or sunset, and stick to shadier locations during the day! This will do wonders for your photos, and as an added bonus, most places are less busy when it’s not the middle of the day.

Wild & Free Tip

Chat up an expert!

To ensure that your Malibu elopement goes smoothly, talk to an elopement expert who can help you navigate the (fun) challenges that come with choosing to adventure outdoors on your wedding day!

Alternatives to a Malibu Elopement

If you’ve fallen in love with the landscape and beaches of Malibu, but aren’t sure if it’s just right for your elopement, here are some places that offer similar views!

Big Sur

Malibu can get busy, so if you’re looking for something a little off the grid, head north to Big Sur! This place is much more remote (though it is popular in the summer), and there are hidden gems all over where you can go for some solitude. The sweeping coastal cliffs will take your breath away!

San Diego

Just a few hours south of Malibu is San Diego – a laid-back city known for the palm tree-studded streets and idyllic surfing beaches. With sunshine and warm weather, it’s a great place to elope any time of year, just like Malibu! One of my favorite spots is Sunset Cliffs, where you can stand over the ocean, with sweeping views below.

The Bay Area

The Bay Area is the region around San Francisco, and the beaches nearby are absolutely stunning! San Francisco is adorable and perfect for exploring, and the surrounding parks and beaches are rocky and rugged, and will make you feel like you traveled to the countryside – without going far from the city at all!

The Cost of Eloping in Malibu

One of the best things about eloping is that you get to decide what’s important to you, and spend your elopement budget on the things that matter to the two of you! Invest in the things that will make your day incredible – maybe that’s an upscale resort, a dinner cooked by a private chef, a surfing lesson, a picnic, or a hike! 

Here are some things to think about when you’re creating a budget for your Malibu elopement.

  • Travel – Do you need flights or transportation?
  • Accommodations – You’ll need somewhere to come back to after your adventure so whether it’s a campground, trendy Airbnb, or an upscale resort, find something that fits your vibe!
  • Meals – Don’t forget about food! You can pack a picnic, stop at a local eatery, or even hire a private chef.
  • Marriage License – Fees vary by county, but average around $90 across the state.
  • Wedding Permit – If you need a permit, depending on the park and area will average between $200-600.
  • Wedding Attire – Dresses, suits, or whatever you’ll be wearing when you tie the knot!
  • Hair and Makeup – You can totally do your own, but hiring a professional is so worth it and helps ensure things stay put throughout your adventure – this usually ranges from $300 to $1000.
  • Florals – Add a bouquet, flower crown, boutonniere, or floral decorations to your day! A professional florist ranges from $300 to $1500.
  • Photographer – Relive your memories over and over by investing in a photographer you love! Elopement photographer packages average from $4000 – $20,000

Wild & Free Tip

You’ll never regret investing in good photos

From your elopement day, photos are the only thing that truly lasts! You’d be surprised how quickly the details and memories of the day fade away, but looking back on photos that tell the story of the most incredible day of your life is just priceless

Along with documenting your day, a good elopement photographer will also serve as a planning assistant and elopement guide, helping you through every step of the process. Hiring an experienced professional is a game-changer for your elopement!

Malibu Elopement Packages – Ready to Elope Wild & Free?

You deserve a wedding day that you love. One that’s full of spontaneity, fun, gut-busting laughter, and zero expectations. And we want to help you make it come to life! With an elopement day completely personalized and 100% customized for you, we’ll help you find the best places to elope in Malibu, guide you through permits, give you vendor recommendations, create an incredible day of timeline, and anything else you’ll need from beginning to end.

Malibu Elopement Packages include:

  • Photography coverage
    • Options from 2 hours to 2-days of photography coverage with Joni, who has over 13 years of experience
    • Photographer’s travel covered to your destination
    • A fun photo experience where you’ll feel comfortable in front of the camera in no time and have all of your special moments captured
  • Location Lookbooks to show you ceremony and portrait spots for the dreamiest photos   
  • Creative timeline design to make everything flow perfectly on your day
  • Exclusive planning tools to help you design the best day
    • Our helpful magazine + a self-paced planning checklist to guide you through designing your elopement from start to finish 
    • Questionnaires for us to get to know you and your unique vision    
    • Vendor Lookbooks to build your dream team 
    • Alternative reception ideas for those looking to celebrate out-of-the-box  
    • Sustainability and Leave No Trace education for a wedding day you can feel good about 
  • Officiant signature for self-uniting ceremonies
  • Amazing photos + free downloads
    • 3-5 sneak peek images within one week of your day so you can share your gorgeous portraits with friends and family right away 
    • Your full story in hundreds of edited digital images delivered within two months to relive the entire adventure over and over again 
    • Your own personal gallery to share your images with family and friends 
    • Free high-resolution digital downloads for everyone (no paying per photo or per download!) 
    • Printing rights to all photos 
    • Access to professional quality prints, wall art, magazines, and albums conveniently available for purchase a la carte right inside your gallery

Read more about Wild & Free Elopement packages here!

Ready to elope Wild & Free? Contact us, and let’s start dreaming!

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Ready to elope Wild & Free?

You deserve an elopement that throws out all the rules and focuses on what matters most.


We don't want you to have to do this alone, so it’s ok if you don’t have the details figured out yet -- we’ll help you design your day from start to finish!


Wild & Free Elopements is based in Southern California and photographs elopements all over the world.

Direct Email: [email protected]