California Destination Elopement Locations Wish List

Gorgeous bride with natural hair at intimate backyard wedding in Southern California.
Looking back, last year was full of many great elopements, engagements, weddings, and family photography sessions, as well some personal trips I’d been wanting to check off my list for a long time – a birthday trip exploring the coast at Palos Verdes, an anniversary trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and a spontaneous fall trip to Yosemite National Park. Looking forward, here’s my wish list of lots of places I want to visit and photograph and some goals I have for my photography business this year! Are any of these on your list too? If so, let’s get together and plan an adventure!
 Where to elope in Los Angeles
First off – places in California I want to visit that I either haven’t been to before or haven’t been to in a long time. I would absolutely love to photograph elopements or engagement sessions at Big Sur along the coast, Vasquez Rocks about an hour north of LA, and Sequoia National Park a few hours east. All of these places have different scenery – oceanside cliffs, golden desert rock formations, and giant green trees – but all fill me with wonder whenever I see photos of them. I’m hoping I can find some adventurers in love to hire me for photos at any of these locations but they’re all close enough that I could also do weekend getaways and some travel photography! And I’ve been talking about doing a Big Sur elopement inspiration shoot with some other talented vendors as well.
Vasquez Rocks elopement photographerVasquez Rocks engagement and elopement photography. Destination wedding in the desertVasquez Rocks and Joshua Tree engagement photographer - desert inspiration Big Sur elopement photographer inspiration
Big Sur elopement photography - overcast day on the California coastSequoia National Park elopement photographerCalifornia destination elopement photographer. Woodland weddings in Sequoia National ParkSequoia National Park wilderness weddings and adventure elopement photographer
Next up for my 2018 photography goals is to photograph a National Park elopement! I spent a lot of time putting my parks pass to good use last year and want to keep exploring more this year. Did you know that California has the most National Parks out of all the states, with nine to choose from? Joshua Tree National Park is one of my favorite places, and Yosemite was absolutely gorgeous. I’d love to go back to either of them, or any of the other parks, to capture a couple’s destination elopement adventure in these beautiful settings.


Yosemite elopement photographer Jessica SchillingDestination elopement photography in Yosemite National ParkCalifornia elopement photographer Jessica Schilling for your Yosemite National Park weddingYosemite elopement photographer for adventurous couples!
One of the cool things about Joshua Tree is that you can get married in the national park itself, but there are also a ton of nearby venues, hotels, and Air BnB houses if you are looking for a place to host a wedding weekend or a reception after your ceremony. Some of my favorite looking venues that would be perfect for a desert destination elopement or wedding are RimRock Ranch, The Inn at the Ruin, 29 Palms Inn, The Desert Lily, Sacred Sands, Cactus Moon Retreat, The Joshua Tree Inn, Mojave Sands, Pipes Canyon Lodge, Joshua Tree Cabins, Rock Reach House, Echo Ranch House, Casa Joshua Tree, and the Moorten Botanical Garden and ACE Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs. So many amazing choices, and I’d love to be a part of any celebrations at any of them!
Joshua Tree elopement photographer Jessica SchillingRomantic lesbian elopement in Joshua Tree park. Film photographer Jessica Schilling.Palm Springs cactus garden elopement photographyMoorten Botanical Garden cactus elopement with 2 grooms. Palm Springs wedding photographer Jessica SchillingPalm Springs film photographer Jessica Schilling - Moorten Gardens elopement
There are also other locations I’ve been to for personal vacations and have many fond memories of, and think they would be perfect for destination elopements, outdoor weddings, or engagement sessions. Cabins and tents make for a chic glamping elopement at El Capitan Canyon near Santa Barbara. And Idyllwild, south of Palm Springs but a mile up a mountain, has a more woodsy, almost Pacific NorthWest, look and feel with lots of climbing, hiking, camping, and cabin options, like the peaceful and adorable Quiet Creek Inn.
Tent for camp elopement at El Capitan Canyon in Southern CaliforniaEl Capitan Canyon camping, wedding, elopement outdoor venueRustic natural wedding and elopement photography at El Capitan Canyon by Jessica Schilling
A few other places on my California elopement venues wish list are Great Spirits Ranch in Malibu, Sacred Mountain Ranch in Julian, and Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes. I visited Wayfarers Chapel last spring and it was such a beautiful and unique building – lots of glass and modern metal that let in light and incredible views of the trees and ocean. It feels like you are outside even when you’re standing inside. The grounds are also amazing and there’s a beach and park right across the street that would make for scenic portraits after a ceremony in the chapel.
Wayfarers Chapel elopement photographer Jessica Schilling
Wedding photography at Wayfarers Chapel by Jessica SchillingIntimate wedding at Wayfarers Chapel by California elopement photographer Jessica Schilling

Another goal for this year is to hold one or two days of mini-sessions in the spring, and maybe in the fall as well. Mini-sessions are shorter portrait sessions, back-to-back on the same day, all in one lovely outdoor location. They are perfect for those who might not be ready to book a full one-hour portrait session but are looking for a quick and fun way to get family, newborn, maternity, engagement, anniversary, or head shot photos. I’ll be announcing the date and locations for these 20 minute portrait packages in the next month, so keep an eye out on my social media or email me if you want to reserve a slot!

Modern Los Angeles family photography on filmElysian Park engagement session for same sex coupleLA film photographer for families and newborns

And last but not least for my somewhat-lengthy goals for 2018 is to start selling stock photography of my nature and travel images. Because I’ve been a lot of amazing places and seen a lot of beautiful things and sharing some of those images with wider audiences while possibly funding my future trips seems like a great next step!

So that’s my list! What are your goals for this year? Do any of them line up with mine? If you’re eloping, recently got engaged, or want to document new milestones in your family, let’s connect and cross some adventures off our lists together!

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