FAQ: When eloping in Yosemite, how do we handle our marriage license? Do we need a park permit?

I shoot a LOT of elopements in Yosemite, and many of my clients are from out of town. Every time I work with someone from out of state or out of the country, they ask this question, so I thought I’d make a little Step-by-Step checklist on this subject.

In California, you have to apply for your marriage license at one of the 58 County Clerk offices in California. You can do this in any county; it doesn’t have to be in the county where you will be married. There is also no waiting period, so you can get your marriage licence in the morning and get hitched in the afternoon! If you want to get your license early, you can do so up to 90 days before your ceremony.

The closest and most convenient County Clerk offices for Yosemite are:

Mariposa County Clerk, 4982 10th St, Mariposa, CA 95338  (209) 966-2007
Tuolumne County Clerk, 2 S Green St, Sonora, CA 95370  (209) 533-5573
Madera County Clerk, 200 W 4th St, Madera, CA 93637  (559) 675-7724
Fresno County Clerk, 2220 Tulare St, Fresno, CA 93721  (559) 600-2575

Some counties have applications you can download an complete before going in to the office. Whether you do that or fill out the application when you arrive, be sure to make an appointment. Government offices usually have lengthy waits. You’ll need to bring your photo ID. Some counties require a copy of your birth certificate as well, so check into that before you leave home.

The info you’ll both need to provide is:

  • Full names
  • Dates and place of birth
  • Whether either party has been divorced and the date
  • Full names of each applicants’ parents and places of birth
  • Who will be performing the marriage
  • Social Security numbers.

Then What?

You will bring your marriage license with you to your elopement, and the officiant is responsible for filing that paperwork. In California, you must have at least one witness, and I’ve been that witness several times. I’m happy and honored to be your official witness if needed.

Yosemite Wedding Permits

A permit is required for any wedding or elopement ceremony held within Yosemite National Park. The permit cost is $150. All you have to do is complete the application and mail it in with a check or money order for $150. (Old school, baby!)

You absolutely HAVE to have a permit to get married in Yosemite. There are designated rangers who check all the different types of permits, and if they catch you without a permit, they will shut you down and fine you heavily. Be sure to bring your permit with you!

If you guys have questions, comment below and I’m happy to answer!

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September 8, 2017

Good article wirh helpful information. As an Officiant, I perform a lot of weddings in Yosemite and this answers a lot of my couple's questions.

Cassie C.
January 4, 2018

I’m so glad I found your site! I do have one question though: my husband and I are planning a Vow Renewal at Yosemite later this year, and the only people we would have with us is our photographers. No officiant, no super formal ceremony and no extra guests. Would something like this still require a permit? My concern is the fact that we will be pretty dressed up walking around the park and we will definitely stick out! I can’t seem to find any info on this anywhere!

January 4, 2018

Hi! Thanks for commenting! You only need to have a permit if you're actually getting married in the park. If a permit ranger asks, you just have to explain that it's an anniversary photo shoot.

April 22, 2018

Hi! Great article! Thank you very much! Do I need a permit just for a trash the dress?

April 25, 2018

Hi Larissa! Email me at dawn@dawnkellyphotography.com and I'll answer all your questions. :)

June 23, 2018

Thank you so much for the step by step details. This is the most helpful site I have been on after hours and hours of looking. What a relief to come across your page! I am completely taken away by the photos as well as personality/expertise of your blog... just everything! <3

Brianna Eid
September 9, 2018

Hi! This was so very helpful! Do you have to choose from the certain sites they say you can only get married in? Or can you go and just get married at any part of Yosemite? :)

October 16, 2018

That depends on how many people you are bringing with you. If you have less than 10, you can get married anywhere, but you still need a permit.

Yvonne Cordova
December 26, 2018

Information is very helpful. My fiance proposed at Glacier Point. My question is, "Can we be married there in private?"

April 3, 2019

There is a pretty private spot you can use at Glacier Point. We have several blog posts showing it off.

January 14, 2019

Awesome article! Are babies included in the under 10 requirement? Also, do you know how hard it is to get a permit? Do they fill up quickly or should it be relatively easy to get a site as long as we apply? Thanks!

April 3, 2019

Regarding the babies, if you call and talk to Catherine in the permit office and ask, she will probably waive the babies from the head count. It's not difficult at all to get a permit. You print it out from their web site and mail it in with a check. We always do elopements during the week day, so we don't have much trouble getting a spot. Good luck!

January 24, 2019

Do you marry people at Yosemite National Park? I'm looking for an officiant for my fiance and I. We are looking to elope.

April 3, 2019

It's a pretty popular destination. We have an officiant on staff. :) You can email me at dawn@dawnkellyphotography.com.

May 24, 2019

If you are from a different state and want to get married at Yosemite, how do you go about getting copies of your marriage certificate?

June 27, 2019

Hi Yesica! You can email me at dawn@dawnkellyphotography.com.

Yesica Fuentes-Dorado
May 29, 2019

I am planning on getting a permit but would i have to get anything else? Like insurance of any kind?

June 27, 2019

Hi Yesica! You can email me at dawn@dawnkellyphotography.com.

Jamie Padilla
October 8, 2019

Hey! Do they issue permits the day of or week of in Yosemite? Also, this is kind of weird but we were planning on doing a small commitment ceremony 12 people half of them children and not legally getting married. Do you still need a permit for that?

October 8, 2019

They require a permit for every wedding photo shoot in the park. So even if you're not having an official ceremony, you must get a permit. They do not give them out day of or week of. You must apply at least 2 weeks in advance.

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