Where To Elope in Los Angeles

September 26, 2018

Narrowing down your elopement location to Los Angeles isn’t as much progress as you might think. It’s nearly impossible to decide where to elope with the multitude of options within LA county alone. Do I want a beach elopement? Which beach do I choose, Malibu or Santa Monica? Which Malibu beach? I knew I had to write this post after realizing how many brides came to me stressed about where to have their Los Angeles elopement. In my time as a Los Angeles elopement photographer, I’ve shot throughout the city in several different environments. I can’t go into detail about every spot on the coast where the light is just right or every park with gorgeous greenery perfect to exchange vows but I can happily throw in a few of my personal favorites. Here are the places I’d jump to shoot in as a part of any Los Angeles elopement!

 

Los Angeles Beach Elopement

 

The Pacific coast is filled with incredible locations for an elopement, and southern California is no exception. With beaches rivaling the Mediterranean, it’s easy to see why a couple would choose the shores of Malibu for their elopement. Being a frequent visitor of SoCal myself, I’ve had the opportunity to shoot at several beaches all along California’s coastline. These two, outside of Orange County, are my absolute favorite. Although this may not be the right choice for someone with more tropical tastes, it serves as a stunning backdrop for anyone who loves the Pacific Coast.  Here are my favorite LA beaches perfect for an elopement!

 

Malibu

malibu destination wedding

There’s plenty of reasons why this small town has an international reputation. If there’s one thing it should be famous for, I’d say the beaches deserve the most celebration. A Malibu elopement means cliffside views, jaw-dropping beaches, and the calming sound of waves crashing to soundtrack the special occasion. The photos above are from El Matador State Beach, which is one of Malibu’s best-kept secrets. In the summer, the water is nice enough to dip your toes into which makes it perfect for a Los Angeles elopement. A fellow Los Angeles elopement photographer once told me that the beaches there were more romantic than anywhere else in LA. I not only agree with her statement but wouldn’t hesitate to add serene, enchanting, and stunning. I recommend a Malibu elopement for any couple who doesn’t mind getting the ends of their jeans/dresses a bit wet and sandy!

 

Santa Monica

Los Angeles elopement photographer

I hesitated when asked to do a Santa Monica couples shoot. I’m all about shooting what’s real and authentic, and the Santa Monica pier seemed a little too cheesy. What I got instead was perfect lighting, beautiful ocean views, and a super fun atmosphere. Above all, any Los Angeles elopement at sunset means golden light and a stunning backdrop. Adding sand between your toes and glassy water makes Santa Monica hard to pass up, especially for a beach person. Throughout the session, the light only got better and better as the harsh sunlight turned into a sweet golden glow. I never thought, as a Los Angeles elopement photographer, I’d be shooting here but I’m so glad I did. I recommend a Santa Monica elopement for any couple that doesn’t mind being surrounded by other people and that loves a fun day at the beach.  

 

West Los Angeles Elopement

 

Although some of the beaches I mentioned above are technically included when referring to West LA, I’m specifically talking about the cities inland, closer to downtown. The West Los Angeles elopement spots that immediately come to mind are rich with color, impeccable design, and beautiful nature. For anyone who doesn’t like the feel of sand at their feet and would rather be closer to a Gucci store, a West Los Angeles elopement might be a more appropriate fit. An urban elopement is an unusual option but for those heading to the courthouse, using the city around you is a stylistic choice that often goes unappreciated. Here are a few options for those who want to strut the palm tree-lined streets in their wedding clothes for their Los Angeles elopement.  

Beverly Hills

los angeles elopement photographer

If the coast doesn’t appeal to you, I recommend heading east to one of the many beautiful locations in Beverly Hills. A place that seems like an extravagant Instagram post brought into real life, Beverly Hills is a dream for a Los Angeles elopement photographer. There are a multitude of parks and beautiful streets to use as a backdrop for any couple. Shooting casually with friends in Beverly Hills has taught me that every carefully maintained street is a photo opportunity. Not to mention the variety of traditional wedding venues that are drop-dead gorgeous and are happy to host an elopement ceremony. The line between intimate wedding and elopement is thin and I’d say the line gets crossed based on the volume of guests rather than the venue so don’t feel like you’re not eloping if you go with a wedding venue.

 

West Hollywood

The first time I visited West Hollywood, the sky was bright pink with swirling clouds. Outside of a Coffee Bean, I sat and thought about how I wished I could be shooting because of how beautiful this would end up for a Los Angeles elopement photographer. The pastel colors that fill the sky on LA evenings are particularly special in West Hollywood. Maybe it’s the vibrancy of the city or the amount of color on the walls of the unique shops and restaurants that line the streets. Whether your first date was in WeHo, or like me, you love a great sunset, West Hollywood is a great choice for a Los Angeles elopement. Choose West Hollywood if you want something trendy without being pretentious, hip without being slick, or urban without being too edgy.

 

Urban Elopement

 

As an elopement photographer in Los Angeles, I’ve always got my eyes peeled for good elopement spots. A place full of natural beauty is an easy choice for en elopement but it doesn’t fit every couple’s taste. Sometimes, an urban elopement is a better fit for a couple looking to elope. Graphic designers, photographers, artists of all types are often drawn to city elopements for their urban edge. Los Angeles is a sprawling city but only one place stands out for this particular style type of elopement. Here is the best option for an urban elopement in Los Angeles. 

 

Downtown Los Angeles

LA’s got great options for the couples who’d pick a warehouse over a luxury resort, and most of them are downtown. From chic and light-filled to rustic and charming, downtown Los Angeles has a huge range of venues. Most downtown spaces are blank slates, with endless opportunities for creative vision. Plus, downtown LA isn’t the most sought after place to elope, so you’ll save if you decide to book a venue. It’s also hard to beat all the amazing rooftop venues downtown. Having a small rooftop reception with a panoramic view as the sun sets on the city couldn’t be a better way to end the day! If you were an art student, have tattoos, or love exposed brick, go with a downtown Los Angeles elopement.

 

What to Look for in a Los Angeles Elopement Photographer

As important as it is to pick the right place to elope, the memory won’t last without someone to capture it. Finding the right Los Angeles elopement photographer is a huge part of the planning process. Although there are numerous qualities your photographer should have, there are two that stand out for a Los Angeles elopement. Here are three important factors to keep in mind when looking for your elopement photographer!

 

Be Able to Improvise

From my 9 years of experience with weddings, I can confidently say that something unexpected happens 100% of the time. Without the ability to improvise, an elopement photographer wouldn’t be able to successfully capture your special day. The photo of the couple in Malibu was taken at high-tide, on a beach completely crowded with people. The ocean continued to rush up to our knees and we had to climb on rocks to stay dry. Without being able to improvise and work around the situation, I would’ve never gotten the right shots of this couple. The goal of your elopement photographer is to make it look like the day was perfect, even if everything went wrong.

Compatibility

Arguably one of the most overlooked aspects of hiring, compatibility with your elopement photographer is everything. The stripped-back nature of an elopement means lots of 1 one 1 time with your photographer before, during, and after the ceremony. You need to feel comfortable, at ease and in good hands with the Los Angeles elopement photographer you choose. If there’s a distance or awkwardness between you and the photographer, it may sour your day. Or worse, that awkwardness may show up in the photos. There was a Malibu elopement I shot in August where the couple invited us to dinner afterward. That’s the kind of experience I want to give to my brides, to be so warm and pleasant that you invite me to stay even longer than planned!

 

Experience as a Los Angeles Elopement Photographer

Previous experience is everything when it comes to elopement photography. A photographer with experience can give you ideas about the best spots for couples portraits. A photographer with experience can think quickly on their feet when something goes wrong. Hiring a Los Angeles elopement photographer with experience means having peace of mind on the day of your elopement. There’s enough stress for a couple without having to worry about their photographer too. At the end of the day, there’s nothing that can replace experience. It’s better to spend more on someone with experience than to save a bit, only to pay for it later.

 

When to Elope in Los Angeles

Now that you’ve got an idea of where to elope, the next question is what dates to choose. Lucky for you, Southern California is sunny and warm nearly all year. Ultimately, the primary factors to keep in mind in your decision come down to weather and tourism. Here’s a breakdown of the best times to elope in Los Angeles!

May – October

Unlike tropical destinations like Miami, you don’t have to worry about rain for a summer or fall elopement in LA. Due to its proximity to the desert, Los Angeles is dry as a bone from May through October. The days are warm, but rarely pass 90 degrees Fahrenheit meaning it’s never too hot to forbid an elopement ceremony. Los Angeles elopement photographers especially love these months because it’s rarely cloudy and almost always a picturesque sunset. Of course, the closer to the beaches, the more change in the climate. A Malibu elopement could be cloudy in mid-July, it’s just the nature of the coast. The advantages of May-October are perfect weather, plenty of sunshine, but these months mean a lot more tourists. Summer in LA is high season for visitors so take that into account if you’re looking to elope at a popular spot.

November – April

The advantages of a winter or spring elopement in LA are pretty big. During winter, beach crowds have thinned out, so your elopement photographer won’t have to struggle to get the right shots. It also gets cooler in the evenings, so bring a jacket if you plan on being near the water.  Springtime in Los Angeles is idyllic after the flowers start to bloom. Finding a remote spot to take bridal portraits in a colorful field is a dream for any Los Angeles elopement photographer. Even during these months, LA doesn’t get much rain, so there’s little chance of an outdoor elopement being spoiled. If possible, go with a winter or spring elopement in Los Angeles. There are several advantages but virtually no drawbacks!

 

Los Angeles Elopement Photographer Final Thoughts

 

I haven’t been shy about how much I advocate for Los Angeles as a fantastic place to get married. If you choose the beach, you’re in great shape anywhere from Hermosa up to Malibu. On the other hand, a downtown loft or a palm-tree-lined street in Beverly Hills are great choices too. At the end of the day, if you’re choosing Los Angeles, you’re going to have a beautiful elopement no matter where you end up. Whether you’re inspired to head to Matador, West Hollywood, or anywhere special to you, I’m happy to be a part of the elopement!. Reach out with any comments or questions by filling out a form submission or email me directly at donnairenephotos@gmail.com and we’ll get a conversation going about your Los Angeles elopement photographer needs!

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