It’s hard to think of a reason you wouldn’t want to elope in sunny Los Angeles. You’ve got your pick of stunning beaches and vistas. A bustling metropolis. Hillsides and mountains. Year-round perfect weather. A food scene to rival any city in America. What’s not to love? While Los Angeles may be known as a hub of film studios and celebrity life, we recommend leaving the backlot tours and VIP stalking to the tourists, and instead focusing your attention on hitting up the city’s many spectacular beaches—browse the boutiques and walk the canals in Venice Beach, eat fresh seafood on a pier in Malibu, stroll the boardwalk in Laguna Beach, or go surfing in Huntington Beach.
Not much of a sand and sea person? Hike the dog-friendly trails (and keep your eyes peeled for a Hollywood sign sighting) in Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park. Alternatively, soak up some culture at the LA County Museum (home of the famous Urban Light street lamp installation), the Getty Museum (worth it for the gardens and panoramic views alone), the Broad (for a spectacular display of modern art), or Griffith Observatory (go at night to see the city sparkling below). And that’s all before you even get started digging into the city’s restaurant scene, rich with international cuisines from sushi to ramen to shakshuka to tacos, and terrific cocktail culture. If you’re looking for a place to elope that’s big on fresh air, gorgeous settings, and great food, the City of Angels has you covered on all sides.
Best Time of Year to Visit
March - September
While Los Angeles may be known for its year-round mild temperatures, you’re better off visiting during the spring or summer. For one thing, rainy season in Los Angeles kicks off in October, which has the potential to put a damper on your beach ceremony. For another thing, the smog the city’s unfortunately famous for actually gets worse in the colder months, thanks to the fact that there’s less warm air near the ground to rise up and help dissipate the pollution. So if you’re looking for cloudless skies and a humidity-free, comfortable climate, keep your visit to spring, summer, or early fall, when average temps run between the 60s and mid-80s daily.
Pro tip: One of the beauties of visiting Los Angeles is there’s always something exciting happening. But given that there are events throughout the year attracting tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of attendees, you’ll want them on your calendar too. A few of the big ones are Fiesta Broadway on Cinco de Mayo, the three-day LA Pride Parade and Festival in early June, and the LA County Fair in September.
It’s a Vegas-style wedding chapel, but with a giant floral wall and greenery wall for some ideal photo ops. When you book your ceremony in one of the two separate chapels, an officiant, ceremony music, lighting and decor, and even live streaming are all included (price starts at $345 on weekdays). Really in a rush? At this chapel, you can skip your trip to pick up a marriage license — they’re authorized to issue one for you for an $85 fee. You can also opt to include ceremony photography (starts at $339) or videography ($379), and pick from your choice of wedding bouquets. Just looking to get hitched, minus any fuss whatsoever? They’re also currently offering “drive-through” civil ceremonies and offer officiant services over Zoom, so you can wed at the location of your choosing.
With rocky arches, caves and sand-colored cliffs, this beach in Malibu—one of three smaller beaches within the Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach—is a photographer’s dream. For your elopement, you’ll want to apply for a wedding permit through the Department of Beaches & Harbors for Los Angeles County. For the ceremony itself, you can either say “I do” on the bluffs overlooking the ocean, or walk down the trail that leads to a staircase to the beach to recite your vows on the sand (or, use that trail as your “aisle” to walk down to meet your partner by the water below). After, you can pose for photos with the rocky sea stacks in the background, then head along the coast to the heart of Malibu to dine at Geoffrey’s Malibu, where the wide terrace provides panoramic ocean views for a celebratory meal of champagne, pan seared sea bass, and seafood paella.
One of the most scenic stretches of Laguna Beach, Heisler Park’s gazebo is an ideal spot to say your vows with an intimate crew of family and friends. The park’s grassy knolls overlook the ocean—offering ample backdrops for portraits—and you can enjoy the shade of the gazebo above the sparkling blue water while your “I dos.” The City of Laguna Beach offers wedding permits for their public parks—you can reserve a two-hour permit for your ceremony for $342. You’ll need to keep the set up simple—no chairs, arches, or other temporary structures are allowed. But after, you can head down the coastline to the nearby Diver’s Cove for some on-the-beach snapshots, before heading to Splashes Restaurant for delicious fresh seafood by the shore.
Want something a little more private? A little homier? This 8,000-square-foot gated property can serve as your “secluded oasis away from the city.” Hidden Gem LA is a chic home-turned-event space that can be rented by the hour (it starts at $85 for 60 minutes, with a three-hour minimum). Here, you’ve got your choice of outdoor spaces for your ceremony—a wood deck, stone terrace, and garden—all beneath the gorgeous palm trees and string lights that up the romance vibes. The venue comes equipped with some seating and a bluetooth outdoor speaker for music, but they’ll also work with you if you’d like to add in more rentals or even balloons and other installations (bouncy castle, anyone?). If you’re bringing in catering, your crew can access the indoor kitchen for light prep, and you’re of course allowed to bring in alcohol for toasting to your new marriage.
For a chill spot that really puts the party in wedding, boutique hotel Mama Shelter’s rooftop bar combines stunning, 360-degree views of downtown LA with bright, poppy furniture, tropical plants, and, would you know it, a foosball table (why not?). Try planning your ceremony for the northeast side of the rooftop, which will put the Hollywood sign and hillsides in the distance behind you. After, you can enjoy lounging in the sunshine while sipping from the rooftop’s cocktail menu (they’ve got a whole section devoted to specialty Moscow mules) and snacking on charcuterie, crudite, and shrimp in a beer-infused chile sauce. The best part? You can book a room in the hotel on the floors below—no commute to the honeymoon suite necessary. Pricing for renting the rooftop depends on the day of the week and the timing of the event, so contact the events team for details.
The 202 cast-iron street lamps, all painted the same neutral grey, that stand in a tall cluster outside of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art were installed by artist Chris Burden in 2008. (They’ll look familiar if you’ve seen the movies No Strings Attached or Valentine’s Day.) While it’s a part of the museum’s collection, it’s also a work of public art that is accessible 24 hours a day without a ticket, thanks to a museum donor. While the area surrounding Urban Light isn’t technically a wedding venue, the warm glow of the lamps is the perfect backdrop for your pop-up wedding ceremony and portraits. Or recommendation? Make it an evening affair—the lamps are lit at dusk and remain aglow until 10 p.m. (they’re solar powered!). Then celebrate nearby at Republique with upscale French California cuisine, and if you’re really feeling fancy, book the Table 500 and do the 12-course chef’s tasting menu.
This gorgeous, wood-frame chapel by the sea was designed by Lloyd Wright—the son of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright—for two women in the Swendenborgian Church who dreamed of a place “wayfarers” could stop to rest, meditate, and give thanks. Completed in 1951, the chapel still serves as a place of worship, as well as a stunning spot to say “I do.” You’ll need to put down a non-refundable $200 fee to reserve your day, and pay the full fee ($2,900 on weekdays, $3,900 on weekends and holidays) within 15 days of making your reservation (you can move your wedding date and time up to a year without penalty). Wayfarers Chapel makes the rest of your ceremony a breeze—they’ll provide a minister or allow you to bring your own, a chapel keyboardist to play ceremony music, and for a $500 fee, decorate the aisle with flowers. They’ve also got a recommended photographer and provide videography and live-streaming of your ceremony for additional fees. Afterwards, cross the street to snap portraits along the trails and beach of Abalone Cove Shoreline Park.
Given that the Los Angeles region is divided into two counties—LA County covers all of central Los Angeles, while Orange County canvases the area to the south—you have options when it comes to obtaining a marriage license. While you can get married anywhere in California, regardless of which county your marriage license originated, you will need to file your license in its original county following your ceremony.
In order to obtain a marriage license in LA County, both of you will need to show up at one of the office of the registrar locations with photo identification that can also prove your age (like a driver’s license or passport). If either party was divorced in the last two years, you’ll also need written proof that the marriage was dissolved. You can start your application online, then pick up your license, which will run you $91. Your license is valid for 90 days, and during that time you can be married by any religious leader, judge, a current city clerk, or any elected official. The LA County will even officiate your civil ceremony for $35 (you’ll need to bring your own witness).
In Orange County, you can start your application online before visiting one of the three county offices to pick up your license, which costs $61. Like in LA County, the license is valid for 90 days and you’ll need proof of identity to obtain one (but you’ll only need to prove the dissolution of any previous marriages if they took place within the last 90 days).
One of the nicest things about getting married in California? Thanks to the Name Equality Act of 2007, there’s no hassle in changing names for one or both parties following the ceremonies. Instead, you’ll just include the last names you want to go by (sorry, it doesn’t work for first names) on your marriage license when you file it and boom, names changed. Easy!