Palm Springs Elopement Guide – How to Elope Wild & Free in Palm Springs

Palm Springs Elopement Guide

Palm Springs is a quirky desert town known for its sunshine, hot springs, and relaxing resorts! For any couple who wants to tie the knot amongst the desert scenery while enjoying the idyllic weather, a Palm Springs elopement is the perfect way to celebrate your unique wedding day. This guide will tell you everything you need to plan a truly one-of-a-kind experience!

What you’ll find in this Palm Springs Elopement Guide: 

  • Why you should elope in Palm Springs
  • Best Place to Elope in Palm Springs
  • Best Time to Elope in Palm Springs
  • The Legal Stuff: Permits, Officiants, and Marriage Licenses 
  • What to Do
  • Where to Stay 
  • Example Timelines  
  • Alternatives to Palm Springs
  • The Cost of Eloping in Palm Springs
  • Palm Springs Elopement Packages – Are you ready to elope Wild & Free? 

Why You Should Elope in Palm Springs

Before you start planning your day, you’ll need to decide if a Palm Springs elopement is right for you! Here are a few reasons we think it might be.

The Desert

One of the best reasons to elope in Palm Springs is the desert! Driving through, you’ll see vast, open views, and unique cactus gardens. There’s also the nearby Joshua Tree National Park, with some of the most unique scenery in the country!

The Mountains

In the backdrop of the desert, there are stunning mountains! There are three ranges bordering the town, and even seeing them from afar makes Palm Springs worth a visit. The sunrises and sunsets over the desert are absolutely stunning, lighting up the peaks with an orange and pink glow.

Great Weather

While other parts of the country are freezing, Palm Springs is warm and sunny, making it an ideal getaway for eloping couples who want to escape the cold! The year round sunshine makes Palm Springs a great elopement destination.

Best Places to Elope in Palm Springs

You’ll remember this place forever as the one where you committed to spending forever with your best friend. But, finding that perfect place to tie the knot can be daunting, since you have so many options! To help you choose the perfect spot for your elopement ceremony, here are the best places to elope in Palm Springs!

Joshua Tree National Park

One of the best places to elope in Palm Springs is Joshua Tree National Park! Just a short drive from town, you’ll enter an incredible landscape of boulders, cactus gardens, and the twisted, bristly Joshua Trees.

The Windmills

One of the most iconic spots in Palm Springs is just off the road – an open desert valley with windmills all over. It’s a really unique, easy to get to spot that makes a fun backdrop for a Palm Springs elopement!

Coachella Valley Preserve

Between Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll find the quiet Coachella Valley, with palm trees, open desert, and gorgeous sand dunes. It’s a really unique spot, and a great place for a private elopement ceremony!

Secret Wild & Free Spots

The best elopement locations are the ones you won’t find on any list! Privacy is important on your elopement day, so we’ll help you find those off-the-beaten-path spots where you can exchange vows without another soul around. We give each couple a personalized list of location recommendations, so all you have to do is pick one that speaks to you.

Get in touch to learn more about our secret Palm Springs elopement locations.

The Best Time for a Palm Springs Elopement

Palm Springs gets hot – so before you set a date, you’ll want to learn a little bit about the best time to elope!

Winter in Palm Springs

Winter is a great time for a Palm Springs elopement! It’s not as popular for visitors as spring and fall, so you’ll be able to explore without as many crowds around. The weather is warm and sunny, with highs in the 70s. Once the sun goes down, the desert does get pretty chilly – so bring layers!

Spring in Palm Springs

Spring is the most popular time to visit Palm Springs, because the weather is pretty ideal! Days are in the 80s and nights are in the 50s, and the town is a popular vacation destination for people who want to escape the cold in other parts of the northern hemisphere. This is also a great time to see the desert wildflowers in bloom, which can definitely add to the experience!

Summer in Palm Springs

We don’t recommend summer elopements for most couples tying the knot in Palm Springs, because temperatures get pretty extreme! Highs are often over 100 degrees, so it’s definitely not too comfortable for being outside. You can however plan your ceremony for sunrise or sunset for more mild temperatures.

Fall in Palm Springs

Fall is another great time to elope in Palm Springs, as the weather is more mild! The cooler temperatures are much better for hiking and exploring outside without overheating. It’s pretty busy, but we’ll give you some tips to avoid crowds.

W&F Tip!

Elope on a weekday!

To help you avoid crowds, we always recommend that couples elope on a weekday! Weekends are busier everywhere you go, so it’s easier to find a secluded spot during the week.

Another way to avoid the crowds is to think about the time of day for your elopement ceremony. Sunrise is the best for avoiding crowds, and you’ll get to tie the knot as the sun comes up, with no one else around! Sunset is usually less crowded than the middle of the day too, and both will give you the best lighting for your ceremony.

The Legal Stuff – Getting Legally Married During Your Palm Springs Elopement

To get legally married, you’ll need a few things for your Palm Springs elopement!

Palm Springs Elopement Permits

Some elopement locations require you to get a permit for your wedding ceremony. This depends on where you tie the knot, so we’ll help you figure out if you need a permit and how to get one for your elopement! 

Palm Springs Marriage License

A California marriage license is required to legally tie the knot! You can get one at any county clerk’s office in the state, but if you’re traveling to California for your elopement, the office closest to Palm Springs is in Riverside County. You can apply for your marriage license online, but you will need to come to the office in person together, with your photo IDs, to sign the paperwork and pick up your marriage license. There is also an application fee of $100.

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

Palm Springs Elopement Officiant

A few signatures are required on your marriage license, including an officiant. You can hire a professional to perform your ceremony, and they’ll be able to personalize a script for you. However, for couples who want more privacy, there’s another option! We’re ordained to officiate, which means if you have your ceremony in private, just the two of you, we can sign the papers to make it official.

W&F Tip!

Consider a self uniting ceremony.

A self uniting ceremony allows you to skip the officiant! You can have your ceremony exactly how you want it, with complete privacy. You exchange vows and personalize the ceremony however you want to, and then we sign the marriage license – and you’re legally married! This is perfect for couples who want to elope just the two of them, and you won’t need to hire someone else or worry about meeting up with an officiant during your elopement, giving you complete freedom and flexibility.

You can learn more about self uniting ceremonies here.

What to Do When You Elope in Palm Springs

Planning your elopement should be about customizing it to fit the two of you and your relationship – so plan an experience you’ll never forget! Whether it’s something the two of you love doing together or something new you want to try, think about what would truly make this the best day of your life.

Go Hiking

There are a lot of great hikes around Palm Springs – and the desert landscape means most of them are pretty flat, so you can see amazing scenery without doing a strenuous trek! Head to Joshua Tree National Park to hike and explore the unique trees and boulder formations, or go somewhere more remote.

The Aerial Tramway

One of the most unique things to do when you elope in Palm Springs is to take the Aerial Tramway. A cable car takes you from the Coachella Valley floor all the way up to the peak of San Jacinto, with incredible mountain views along the way! At the top, there’s a restaurant and some fun shops to explore, and a nice break from the desert heat.

Take a Jeep Tour

You can drive your own, rent a 4×4, or take a Jeep tour of the less traveled desert roads! It’s an amazing way to explore without having to hike, and you’ll be able to see some of the most incredible, most remote scenery Palm Springs has to offer.


The remote desert location of Palm Springs means that the night sky is absolutely incredible! If you head out to the desert, you can end your elopement day looking at the most amazing stars you’ve ever seen – and we can’t think of anything more magical.

Palm Springs Elopement Inspiration

To get inspired for your own Palm Springs elopement, check out this Pinterest board! For more elopement resources and planning tips, you can follow along.

Where to Stay During Your Palm Springs Elopement

Palm Springs has lots of unique accommodations, and as a popular vacation destination, you’ll also find luxury resorts to stay in during your elopement! Here are some of the best places to stay in Palm Springs.

A Resort

The resorts are upscale and relaxing, and they’re a big part of what makes Palm Springs such a great spot for vacationers

The Rowan is a pet friendly hotel right in downtown Palm Springs, with a pool and rooftop views. Casa Cody is a relaxing, peaceful resort with southwest decor and all the amenities you need!

An Airbnb

We always recommend checking out Airbnb for private places to stay! You’ll find rental homes, poolside condos, and more. 

Camping in Palm Springs

If you want to immerse yourself in the outdoors, there’s plenty of camping around Palm Springs. You can find remote, dispersed camping, or find unique glamping accommodations!

Sample Palm Springs Elopement Timelines

We make a custom timeline for each couple, keeping in mind lighting and what you want to do on your elopement day! To give you an idea of what your day can look like, here are some sample Palm Springs elopement timelines.

Palm Springs Elopement With Family

9:00 Breakfast at local cafe

11:00 Drive back to Airbnb

12:00 Hair and makeup begins

2:30 Drive to Joshua Tree National Park

3:30 Couple puts on ceremony attire

4:00 First look and couple’s photos

4:30 Picnic lunch 

6:00 Nature walk to ceremony spot

6:30 Ceremony

7:00 Photos with family

7:30 Family goes back to Airbnb, couple takes sunset photos 

8:30 Drive back to cabin for dinner & toasts

“Just Us” Palm Springs Elopement

9:00 Coffee and pancakes at resort

11:00 Hair and makeup begins

1:00 Change into ceremony attire

1:30 First look & photos by the pool

2:30 Drive to Jeep tour

3:30 Jeep tour to explore the desert!

6:00 Drive to ceremony spot 

6:30 Ceremony

7:00 Sunset photos

W&F Tip!

Chat up an expert

When we’re making a timeline, we make sure to consider lighting, adding extra time to make sure the day is stress free, and more! Talk to an elopement expert to ensure your day goes smoothly, and that everything is exactly what you envisioned.

Alternatives to a Palm Springs Elopement

If eloping in Palm Springs isn’t just right, you deserve to find a location that’s absolutely perfect! Here are some alternatives that offer a similar experience.

Death Valley

If you love the desert landscape, Death Valley National Park is another California elopement destination that’s absolutely amazing. The dunes, mountains, and layers of colorful rock make for a really unique spot to tie the knot.

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park itself makes a great elopement location, but the town of Joshua Tree is definitely worth considering too! You’ll find unique accommodations, boutique shops, and local gems that are tons of fun to explore.

Alabama Hills

Further north, you’ll find the gorgeous desert landscape of Alabama Hills in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. The remote location has rocky boulder formations and mountains in the background and makes for an epic elopement destination.

The Cost of Eloping in Palm Springs

A budget is important for planning any wedding day, but what’s great about elopements is that you get to prioritize what’s important to you! You’re investing in an experience you’ll never forget – so here are a few things that might be included in your Palm Springs elopement budget.

  • 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

W&F Tip!

You’ll never regret investing in good photos

Your memories are priceless – and being able to look back and see your wedding day come to life all over again is something you’ll never regret! While a photographer is a big investment, it’s also an important one. As elopement photographers, we’re there for the entire day, as well as guiding you through the planning process to make sure you have everything you need for the perfect elopement!

Palm Springs Elopement Packages – Ready to Elope Wild & Free?

From beginning to end, we take care of everything you need to plan your elopement! Our Palm Springs elopement packages include location scouting, vendor recommendations, places to stay, things to do, an elopement timeline, and more. We’ll come along for the entire adventure, documenting your once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Palm Springs 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!

Contact us if you’re ready to elope Wild & Free, and let’s make sure your wedding day is nothing short of absolutely perfect!

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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]