Are you wondering how to elope in Joshua Tree, but have no idea where to start?
Chances are, most of your family and friends aren’t as familiar with the process of planning an elopement or an intimate wedding as a they’d be with a more traditional wedding day. That’s why I’m here to help!
Joshua Tree is a beautiful spot in the Mojave Desert about 2 hours drive from Los Angeles, California.
The park has a breathtaking terrain with the desert, the trees, and the rock formations coming together to create a unique atmosphere that many couples cannot resist.
If you’ve weighed out all of your options and have decided that an elopement is best for you, then you should consider the how to’s of eloping at Joshua Tree National Park.
How to Elope in Joshua Tree:
First, Know Your Guest Size
There are about 7 locations within Joshua Tree National Park where you can hold your elopement or intimate wedding.
If you have 25 guests or less, the following venues are open year-round: Cap Rock, Live Oak, Split Rock and the Rattlesnake Picnic Area. Hidden Valley Picnic Area and Quail Springs Picnic Area are also available for couples with guests 25 and less, but only from April to February.
The only permitted space for weddings with up to 100 guests is Indian Cove Amphitheater. There is a $200 fee for use of this site.
Next, Apply for a Special Permit
It not as scary as it sounds. In fact, it is not difficult at all. To elope in any park, you typically have to apply for a permit.
When eloping in Joshua Tree, you’ll need two kinds of permits.
The first is the Special Use Permit. This permit is required for your wedding to take place in the park, regardless of the number of guests involved. It costs $120 and takes anywhere from 5 -15 business days to process.
Even though the processing time is fairly minimal, this should be submitted as soon as you decide on a date for your elopement wedding. That way you can secure your spot. The permit is nonrefundable and can be found on the National Park’s website.
We’ll Apply for a Permit Too
The second permit that you’ll need is the Photography Special Use Permit.
Your photo and video teams will need it to be able to work with you at your elopement. You can apply for this permit year-round and after it’s processed, you’ll be given instructions on how to pay the $315 non-refundable fee online.
Choose the Right Vendors
After deciding on your guest count and securing the permits that you need, next you’ll choose the vendors that you’ll be working with.
Aside from photography and videography, you’re going to need an officiant, a makeup artist, a florist and so on. That list really depends on you and what you want your day to look like. Just be sure to get vendors that are familiar with or will take the time to research the area.
For Example, your florist should know to put together a bouquet that can stand the desert heat.
Your Décor and What You Can Bring In
At most locations in the park, you are allowed to bring in chairs for your guests. Indian Cove Amphitheatre’s benches might be hot so you’ll want to consider small cushions or blankets to sit on.
- Joshua Tree National Park allows the following: A free-standing arch, battery-powered candles, a cake, champagne, a cooler with water, live flowers, a rug, a runner and a small table for your guest book.
- Joshua Tree National Park does not allow the following: Any live animals (doves, butterflies, etc.), amplified sound systems (like microphones), balloons, bird seeds, bubbles, confetti, dried flowers, drones, generators, non-battery powered candles, rice or smoke bombs.
Where Will You Get Ready?
Joshua Tree is often filled with visitors. This means that planning to use the park’s public facilities to get ready probably isn’t a good idea.
Imagine having your makeup done in a public restroom!
Instead, I’d suggest staying at a nearby hotel or AirBNB the night before.
There are some SERIOUSLY photo-worthy and affordable AirBNB’s in the Joshua Tree area. In fact, if you check out the photos on this blog post, you’ll see the yurt we “glamped” in!
Do Not Forget The Essentials
Joshua Tree is a National Park in the desert.
You’ll need sunscreen and lots of water for you, your partner and your guests. You should also have a first aid kit, hand sanitizer and a bridal emergency kit.
Your bridal kit should have a small mirror, deodorant, bobby pins, safety pins, a sewing kit, Tide pens and other things that you might need. If you have a Maid of Honor, let her be the custodian of this kit.
Follow The “Leave No Trace” Rule
This means you should not leave any trash behind. All of your decorations should be picked up after the ceremony.
You probably chose the park for it’s natural beauty when planning your Joshua Tree elopement! This is great, because you’ll easily be able to keep decor to a minimum.
National parks are shared public spaces and should be respected. We’re sure you agree though!
Other Things of Importance To Consider When Planning a Joshua Tree Elopement
Your guest will have to pay an entrance fee to get into the park. It costs $30 per vehicle and $25 per motorcycle. Payment can be made at the gate using cash or debit/credit card. You can encourage your guests to carpool or hire a shuttle as this reduces the costs and also helps where there is limited parking.
There is no cell service within the park so be sure to communicate this very clearly with instructions on how to get to your ceremony site and at what time guests should arrive.
I also suggest printing out a map of the park which is available online, and sending it alongside your invitations to your guests with your venue boldly marked.
Do you have more questions on how to elope in Joshua Tree?
I’d love to hear from you! Send me a message here.