As a Northern California elopement photographer and elopement videographer duo, we’ve captured adventure elopements all over. Emerald Bay is one of our favorite elopement locations in California! If you’re planning your sunrise Emerald Bay elopement, check out this guide to everything you need to know. Plus, we’re also sharing a fun peek at a recent real Emerald Bay elopement we captured.
Emerald Bay State Park is a jaw-dropping natural beauty. Picture a magical emerald-colored bay surrounded by towering cliffs and lush forests. It’s like stepping into a fairytale! The sparkling lake and majestic mountains make for the ideal elopement backdrop.
The park offers fantastic hiking trails, like Eagle Lake Trail, that lead to breathtaking viewpoints and hidden gems. You could also have some fun kayaking or paddle boarding on the pristine lake. Adventure is really endless at Emerald Bay State Park!
Emerald Bay makes for an intimate and personal elopement destination. It’s perfectly peaceful with a secluded spot for you and your partner to tuck away in to exchange vows away from the crowds. The ceremony spot is an amazing lookout reserved just for weddings. We’re passionate about helping couples create romantic and personalized adventure elopements that truly reflect the two of you and your love story, and Emerald Bay is a wonderful place to do so!
For a sunrise Emerald Bay elopement, you’ll have parking all to yourself! You and your loved ones will have no trouble finding parking during the early morning time frame. There are two parking lots close to the ceremony site that do not have parking fees, and there’s also side road parking nearby. Otherwise, there is parking available at the Vikingsholm parking lot for $10 per vehicle for the day or $3 per vehicle for one hour.
If you decide to elope during the daytime, parking can be a nightmare. We always suggest renting a van at times other than sunrise. Sunset is a lot better than daytime parking-wise, but the lighting at that time of day isn’t as good.
Another thing that makes Emerald Bay a fabulous California elopement location is that it is accessible for everyone—even your grandma with a cane. It is a good location for couples that plan to invite guests with varied physical abilities to their adventure elopement.
The permit for your Emerald Bay elopement will cost $450. It must be applied for a minimum of 30 days in advance. Additionally, event insurance is also required. You’ll be allowed up to twenty-five guests, and no dogs are permitted in the park at any time.
The best sunrise lighting for your Emerald Bay elopement can be found on the west side of the lake. Here at Mindful Media Photography, we handle all of the logistics for your elopement so you don’t have to worry about the best lighting, ceremony spots, or hikes.
Here’s a sample timeline for your elopement.
6 am or 7 am – Sunrise ceremony
7:15 – Guest/couples photos
7:30 – Picnic in the trees with bagels and juice (There is a picnic spot with restrooms right by the trailhead for Eagle Lake.)
8:00 – Start hike for adventure photos (One example is Eagle Lake Trail, which is 2.5 miles round trip.)
9:30 – Head back to Emerald Bay
10:00 – Champagne toast / Emerald Bay photos (Since the lighting will be a little different later in the morning, it’s nice to have the two different options for photos.)
11:00 – End elopement
12:00 – Lunch together with guests
Emerald Bay is close to South Lake, which offers many lodging options. You and your guests will have your choice among hotels, resorts, and rental homes through Airbnb or VRBO. You’ll find luxury resorts with lakeside views along with mid-range and budget-friendly hotels. Private rentals like Airbnb and VRBO homes are great for guests, as they’ll be able to rent a cabin, chalet, or vacation home of any size with a variety of amenities. They’re often located in peaceful neighborhoods, providing a relaxing retreat while still being close to the area’s attractions.
We recently photographed Jimmy and Kassie’s Emerald Bay elopement and are excited to share a sneak peek of it!
Jimmy and Kassie first met when they both swiped right on each other on Bumble! Their original first date plans were to go to Top Golf, but there ended up being a two-hour wait, so they decided to go to a brewery instead. Kassie loved Jimmy’s go-with-the-flow mindset and his fun competitive nature right from the start! They quickly bonded over their passion for adventure and love of exploring new places and activities.
The two knew that they wanted to elope to avoid the wedding setup with unnecessary stress and expenses. They always wanted an intimate ceremony surrounded by the people who are most important to them. We helped them plan their Emerald Bay elopement after learning that they love expansive views of Lake Tahoe and short hikes down to water or lookout points. Eloping at Emerald Bay was the perfect plan for them!
For their Emerald Bay elopement, Jimmy and Kassie shared a sweet first look just the two of them. -Following the first look, they had about fifteen guests be a part of their intimate elopement ceremony. The ceremony started at 7:00 am, which made for an empty and quiet park.
After the ceremony, Kassie, Jimmy, and their guests headed toward the Eagle Lake trailhead for a picnic with bagels and juice. We love this spot because it’s nestled under the trees and there are restrooms available. Then, the couple and roughly half of their guests—and us of course!— set off on the Eagle Lake hike. It was a two-and-a-half-mile hike with more stunning views and photo ops.
Once we returned from the hike, we snapped a few more photos since the lighting mid-morning is different from early morning lighting. It’s always nice to have a variety of options for your elopement photography! You can count on us to scout out the best lighting and photo spots during your elopement, no matter which destination you choose.
Following the last of the photos, Kassie and Jimmy headed to have lunch in South Lake with their loved ones. It was such a gorgeous sunrise Emerald Bay elopement! We are so happy we got to be a part of Kassie and Jimmy’s special day.
Emerald Bay State Park makes for an incredible adventure elopement location. The beautiful blend of natural beauty and thrilling activities, along with the intimate atmosphere, is what will make your elopement an unforgettable experience.
If you’re planning a sunrise Emerald Bay elopement, let our elopement team at Mindful Media Photography help with everything! From planning to permits to scouting locations, all of our photography and videography packages include elopement planning so that you can relax and enjoy your adventure elopement. Reach out today to learn more!
That’s us! We’re Angie + Lee of Mindful Media, and we can’t wait to meet you.
If you're thinking about eloping or getting married in NorCal, our blog is an excellent resource for inspiration. We've got sneak peeks of recent weddings, tips for eloping in Northern California, and more. Let The Adventure Begin is the perfect place to start planning.
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