Abigail & Justin

Over the years as a photographer, you hear of so many amazing & beautiful locations to go to. You scroll through social media and see all of these amazing places and immediately put them on your bucket list. No? Just me? For a while, Joshua Tree has been on my bucket list of places to visit. Not only because of its popularity, but it's far different scenery compared to here in Michigan. When the opportunity came knockin', I came rockin' so I packed up my bags and headed on my way to Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua tree national park

Now for those of you who don't know, Joshua Tree National Park is a destination for a lot of photographers and elopements for a few different reasons. Joshua Tree actually is a mix of two different deserts, the Mojave and Colorado. In this mixed ecosystem you can find a wide variety of different plants, animals and is just beautiful to look at. As soon as I had the opportunity to head over to Joshua Tree National Park, I just knew I had to take it. Me and a few other vendors came together for this Joshua Tree California Elopement and I couldn't be more excited with how these photos turned out.

joshua tree california elopement

These elopement portraits fully embodied a 70's style theme. Our beautiful couple, Abigail and Justin, were up for the challenge and let me tell you... they NAILED it. Of course when you think of a 70's theme , you immediately think of disco balls so naturally we had to incorporate that into these portraits. Abigail wore this gorgeous fringe dress by Raw & Golden Rentals with removable sleeves, so technically we got the best of both worlds. Everything that she wore nearly top to bottom was just gorgeous and perfectly emulated that 70's vibe. Normally when you think of getting married, you think of wedding florals and bouquets. For these bridal portraits we wanted something different so rather than a bouquet, Abigail was holding a tambourine with pampas grass and flowers coming out of it. Huge shoutout to Averi K. Designs for making all of our wedding floral dreams come true! It was such a fun and unique way to tie in that 70's style we were looking for while still being a little bit more unique. When it comes to fun and more candid portraits like these, we typically ask the couple to just be themselves and constantly move. This helps us get a little bit more of a laid back type feel and gives us more of that candid imagery. Seriously though, I couldn't believe how well these portraits turned out. The florals, the dress + shoes, the scenery all came together to make one of the most beautiful 70's style elopement's I've ever seen.

how to get married in joshua tree national park

Now if you're someone who has been looking to do something fun & out of the box for your elopement, then look no further! Joshua Tree National Park is the central hub for a ton of elopements and weddings and with good reason. However, you have to make sure that you're following all of the necessary protocol! The last thing that we want is for you to get slapped with fines upon fines just because you missed a few of these simple rules.

wedding venues in joshua tree national park

Believe it or not, you can't just hop into the National Park and perform a ceremony. BOOOOO - I know. Lucky for you though, I've put together a list of some of the locations permitted for weddings inside of Joshua Tree National Park.

indian cove ampitheater

No more than 100 people total and only 1 vehicle. For an example of a beautiful wedding held at the Indian Cove Amphitheater, check out this blog post by Junebug Weddings - just click here!

hidden valley picnic area

No more than 35 people total and up to 8 vehicles. For an example of a beautiful wedding held at the Hidden Valley Picnic Area, just click here!

turkey flats

No more than 35 people total and up to 8 vehicles.

cap rock

No more than 25 people total and up to 8 vehicles. For an example of a beautiful wedding held at Cap Rock, check out this blog post written by The Shalom Imaginative.

rattlesnake picnic area

No more than 20 people and 8 vehicles.

split rock

No more than 15 people and 5 vehicles. For more Joshua Tree wedding inspiration at Split Rock, check out this blog post written by Wildly Collective - just click here!

porcupine wash

No more than 12 people and 4 vehicles.

live oak picnic area

No more than 5 people and 3 vehicles.

If you want more detailed information about the different wedding venues in Joshua Tree National Park, then just click here and scroll to where it says "Wedding Locations".


To get married in Joshua Tree National Park, you are first going to need to acquire a wedding permit! Like a good majority of National Parks, you most likely will need to obtain a Special Use Permit in order to perform a wedding or ceremony. The Special Use Permit for Joshua Tree National Park is currently $120. This also includes your photographer/videographer or any other vendor that may be attending your wedding. If you don't obtain a permit, you are subject to a citation fee of $500. So please.... get your permits. If you've been wanting to get married at Joshua Tree National Park or want more information about permits required, just click here!

marriage license

Before having an official wedding at Joshua Tree National Park, you will also need to obtain a marriage license! Now lucky for you, you don't need to be a California resident to get married at Joshua Tree. However, you do need to obtain a marriage license from San Bernardino County. That is the county where Joshua Tree National Park is. For your marriage to be considered a legal marriage, it also must be performed by a recognized wedding officiant. While all of this may seem like a lot to have a simple ceremony in the desert, trust me when I tell you it's completely worth it. For more information on how to obtain a marriage license from San Bernardino County, just click here!

what to wear to a desert elopement?

If you're looking to elope in Joshua Tree National Park, then there are a few necessities that you're going to need. Hey - we are talking about the desert here! The main priority is that you're able to walk around and get what you need to get done, aka get married. When we are thinking about a wedding of course we are wanting to dress cute, however we also need to be practical. Here are a few of my tips & tricks if you're looking to elope in the desert.

  • Make sure you can walk in the sand and rocks: Being able to walk around is so important! Ideally you would want to stick to close toed shoes, but if your heart desires those open toes just be a bit more careful. Comfort + cuteness over here.
  • Beware of long trains & veils: Out in the desert you are bound to meet a few cacti, and with those long trains and veils I can promise you they will become a cactus' BFF. Just be weary if you're planning on having that elegant flow as this can be an outcome!
  • Bring something warm to cover yourself: Yes, I understand that we are out in the desert but unless you're in Joshua Tree National Park in the middle of summer it can get cold there too! Winds can really pick up in the desert and leave you feelin' a bit chilly, so a shawl or jacket to cover up will SAVE you. Trust me!

Getting married at Joshua Tree National Park may seem like a bit of a challenge, but I swear to you it's not! It's one of those spots that become unforgettable just because of how unique and different it is. If you've been looking to get married at Joshua Tree National Park, then now is your time and if you want to invite me along for the ride... then that's cool too ;)

Oh and I'm just saying.... if you liked this Joshua Tree California Elopement, then you're going to love this California Couples Session in Death Valley!

Photos By Gayle does more than just take photos of people. Rather, it is capturing moments of LOVE and HAPPINESS. Singing to the skies, dancing in a field, smiles that hurt because they’re so big. There is nothing else I would rather be doing than photographing these unique details that make you and your significant other a couple. If Abigail & Justin's session puts a spark in you, you know where to click <——— right there!

Scroll to the bottom to see all of the amazing vendors that came together to make this day possible!

Book your dream PHOTOGRAPHER today

I am a Destination Elopement Photographer who specializes in weddings, engagements, elopements, and boudoir. I love to travel to new places so if you are looking for a photographer for any of these events, please contact me here and I will be more than happy to get you started on some beautiful photos of your own!