mckayla
sullivan

How to elope in California

I might be a little biased, having grown up here, but California is the best state to elope in. Any landscape you could want, we've got it! We have beaches, deserts, mountains, giant redwood forests, we even have freaking Yosemite! We're super spoiled here with all of the amazing nature, tons of great food, and basically every activity you could want. Whether you want an adventurous elopement or a luxurious experience with your partner, there's something for you.

I'm an adventure wedding photographer born and raised in southern California! Here are a few of my favorite things: dogs, road trips, Netflix, baking, and In N Out.

My favorite part about this job is getting to meet couples who love to explore as much as I do. If you love adventures, seeing new places, and don't mind getting a little dirty I might just be the girl for you! My goal is that you don't just see me as your photographer, but your friend who just happens to have a camera!

learn more about me

hi, i'm McKayla!

The best time to elope in California

How to get to California

Probably the biggest bonus that attracts people here is the weather- in some areas we get sunshine and warm temperatures year round! You basically can elope any time here and have a great time, it just depends on where you want to be. 

Southern California is basically always nice near the beach, so you could choose any time and it would probably be perfect. Winter is a little chillier, so I would save the beach elopements for spring, summer, and fall. We also get "June gloom" in the mornings during late spring and early summer, which is an overcast sky that hangs around the coast in the mornings.

The desert is best in fall, winter, and spring before the summer heat sets in. It can get a little chilly (and sometimes even snows!) but I've found that it's my favorite time of year to visit.

The mountains are great year round, depending on what you're looking for. If it's a snowy winter wonderland you're after, visit Mammoth. If it's a warm day by an alpine lake you're after, visit Mammoth. Just visit Mammoth, you won't regret it!

Keep in mind that while we don't get much rain, winter is when we do get it. If you're eloping in the winter, be prepared for the slight possibility of a shower!

MAJOR AIRPORTS
Los Angeles (LAX)
San Francisco (SFO)
THE BEST AREAS TO STAY
Los Angeles
Fresno (near Yosemite)
Laguna Beach
Big Sur
Malibu
Joshua Tree
Mammoth Lakes
HOW TO GET AROUND
Renting a car is the best way to get around California. We're a big state with lots to see! Check out the major rental companies or try Turo and Outdoorsy- Outdoorsy has vans and RV's for rent if you want to make a camping road trip out of your elopement! I've used both apps and had good experiences.

What can I say about Yosemite that hasn't already been said? It's truly one of my favorite places on earth and I try to camp every year (if I can get a reservation!). Nothing will make you feel smaller than standing in the valley and looking up at the 4,000 foot granite walls. The best way to experience it is to spend a week camping in the valley, hiking, riding bikes around, and laying in El Cap meadow watching the climbers!

Close to Los Angeles, Malibu is a great option for an elopement location without having to drive too far. There are tons of restaurants if you want to splurge on a great post-ceremony meal. The beaches are beautiful but being in southern California means one thing- crowds. To avoid having an audience at your elopement, I would recommend a sunrise elopement so you can have the beach to yourself. Sunrises are highly underrated in my opinion!

Is there a cuter beach town in southern California? This artist town has tons of local restaurants, shops, and some of the best beaches you'll visit. I grew up driving down here with my family and it's still one of my favorite spots to visit for the day. Check out Crystal Cove State Park for incredible hiking with ocean views. Some of my favorite places to eat are Zinc Cafe, The Deck (this place has an amazing patio overlooking the water), and Gu Ramen. 

Joshua Tree is the perfect desert elopement location in California- there are tons of cool places to stay, shop, and eat. Rent one of the many unique Airbnb's in town or opt for a hotel- you can't go wrong! Visit Pappy and Harriet's, a dive bar turned music venue and restaurant in Pioneertown for a concert on their outdoor patio. 

Mammoth Lakes is one of my favorite spots to visit in California, no matter the season. Summer here offers nice temperatures and great hiking while winter brings some of the best snow in the state. I love bringing my dogs here for a weekend trip to play in the snow and go sledding (one day I'll learn to ski!). We love to walk around the village, eat on the patio at Mammoth Brewing Company, and play in the snow at Twin Lakes.

Driving Highway 1 along the coast of Big Sur is something everyone should do in their lives. This place has some of the best views in California- and that's saying something! This area doesn't have quite as many restaurants and lodging options as other areas in the state, but it's a really special place for an elopement. Even if you don't elope here, it's a must-see stop on a California road trip!

where to stay in california

Sacred Sands- A private residence and wedding venue just one mile from the west entrance of Joshua Tree National Park
Ace Hotel- A fun, eclectic hotel in Palm Springs with a pool, spa, and a restaurant with very good mac and cheese.
The Montage- A luxurious beachfront resort in Laguna Beach with a spa, pool, restaurant, and a killer view. 

Post Ranch Inn- Super luxe spa resort overlooking the ocean in Big Sur.
Glen Oaks Big Sur- A rustic, retro style resort on Highway 1 in Big Sur
Treebones Resort- A super unique glamping resort with yurts and twig nests- yes, twig nests. 

The Ahwahnee- An iconic hotel located right in the heart of the Yosemite Valley.
Tamarack Lodge- A cute and rustic lodge right on the shores of Twin Lake.
Cedar House Sport Hotel- An eco friendly modern located near Lake Tahoe in Truckee. 

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are some well-reviewed stays located close to the elopement locations I listed above. I love daydreaming and helping my couples find amazing places to stay on their trip- your elopement should be treated like the big celebration it is, so I say go ahead and splurge! Plus, you aren't spending as much as you would be on a big wedding. Whether you want a unique glamping experience under the stars or a luxury resort with a spa and pool, there are options for everyone.

Southern California

big sur

northern california

what to do

California has so many different landscapes and with that, lots of different activities! It all depends on where you're eloping, but here are some options to give you inspiration:
• Go on a hike
• Kayak
• Snorkel on Catalina Island
• Stand up paddleboard at Lake Tahoe
• Hire a climbing or canyoneering guide
• Hot air balloon ride
• Scenic drive up the coast in Big Sur
• Rent a vintage convertible
• Visit a hot spring in Mammoth Lakes
• Cross country skiing
• Horseback riding
• Stargaze in the desert
• Take a sunset boat ride
• Drinks at a brewery
• Wine tasting
• Charter a plane or helicopter 
There are so many ways to personalize your elopement day and make it feel like you. Whether you want to try a new adventure or do an activity you love together, I can help you craft the perfect timeline for your elopement. 

what to do

California has so many different landscapes and with that, lots of different activities! It all depends on where you're eloping, but here are some options to give you inspiration:

• Go on a hike
• Kayak
• Snorkel on Catalina Island
• Stand up paddleboard at Lake Tahoe
• Hire a climbing or canyoneering guide
• Hot air balloon ride
• Scenic drive up the coast in Big Sur
• Rent a vintage convertible

• Visit a hot spring in Mammoth Lakes
• Cross country skiing
• Horseback riding
• Stargaze in the desert
• Take a sunset boat ride
• Drinks at a brewery
• Wine tasting
• Charter a plane or helicopter

There are so many ways to personalize your elopement day and make it feel like you. Whether you want to try a new adventure or do an activity you love together, I can help you craft the perfect timeline for your elopement. 

california elopement packages

All elopement packages include my 100 page planning guide, a custom list of location options, and a custom timeline for the day. While I'm not your planner, I'll be here to help you along the way and answer any questions you might have.

For each package you'll receive a zip drive and an online gallery of high-resolution edited images. I cover all of my own travel costs, so other than tax, no additional fees will be charged on top of the package price unless you choose to add any a la carte options. 


deluxe

All Day

half day

• Up to 10 hours of photography
• Optional second photographer
• $200 album or print credit in my store
• Coverage may be split into two days

• Up to 8 hours of photography
• One photographer
• $100 album or print credit in my store
• Time may be split for sunrise and sunset

• Up to 6 hours of photography
• One photographer
• $50 album or print credit in my store

$4,400

$3,500

$2,500

Ready To Get Started?

Whether you'd just like more information or you're ready to start planning your day with me, I can't wait to hear from you!

© Mckayla sullivan photo 2021

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