There’s truly nowhere as spectacularly gorgeous as Canada’s West Coast — from pristine turquoise lakes, spectacular old-growth forests, and some of the world’s most dramatic mountains, I can’t imagine a more gorgeous place for a wedding! Getting married or eloping on Canada’s West Coast is ideal for couples who crave natural beauty and invigorating and inspiring landscapes — it’s seriously magical!
Whether you’re envisioning a white winter wedding in Whistler, or a secluded beachfront elopement on Vancouver Island, you can truly find it all here! An elopement on the West Coast is so meaningful and authentic too, with so many locally-owned and sustainable venues to help bring your wedding vision to life.
I know that planning a West Coast elopement can be overwhelming, so I’ve put this guide together to help you out if you’re lost about where to start! Here’s everything you need to know about planning your elopement on Canada’s West Coast.
First things first — during your initial brainstorming, try to think about where on the West Coast you’d like to elope, as this can dictate the best season for your elopement. With the exception of winter snow in the mountains, much of the West Coast enjoys temperate and mild weather year-round.
In gorgeous beach areas like Tofino and Vancouver Island, summer is definitely a gorgeous season for an elopement, especially if you want to include hiking, kayaking, and swimming. Of course, the summer can bring big crowds to the islands too, so you can consider the late spring and early autumn shoulder seasons to enjoy the warm weather but with fewer crowds.
For a wedding in Vancouver, you honestly can’t go wrong at any time of the year! A Vancouver elopement can be particularly gorgeous in spring though, as all of our local gardens are in bloom.
Planning an elopement that involves skiing or snowboarding? In that case, Whistler and Squamish are picture-perfect in the winter months, but you can also enjoy fewer crowds and vibrant fall foliage in October.
But whenever and wherever you decide, eloping in Canada is sure to impress!
After you’ve locked in a date and a location, it’s time to start planning! If you want your elopement to be legally binding (which is completely your choice — many couples prefer a symbolic ceremony, which can be just as meaningful!), you’ll need to organise some paperwork in advance.
Luckily, it’s easy for Canadians, Americans, and many other nationalities to legally wed in Canada — here’s a brief run-down of the planning process and a few other key considerations.
1. The first step is obtaining a marriage licence, a legal document that gives you permission to marry. You can get this from Service BC at any point up to three months before your elopement date. The fee is $100 CAD and, while only one member of the couple is required to apply, both parties will need to provide primary identification, like a birth certificate or passport.
2. Next, you’ll need an officiant — the person who will marry you! An officiant can be a religious figure or a layperson, but they will need to be registered with the Vital Statistics Agency. It’s so important to find someone you can relate to and can imagine sharing your wedding day with, so don’t rush through this part! If you’re visiting from out of town, I can suggest a few!
3. To elope in BC, you’ll also need two witnesses to observe your wedding. They’ll legally sign your wedding paperwork, as witnessed by your celebrant. Your witnesses can be friends, family, or just about anyone — the only requirement is that they’re of legal age.
4. Check if your preferred venue needs a permit. Some BC venues and parks will require a permit for events and/or photography, which you’ll need to organise in advance. If you have any questions about how to arrange this for your preferred location, I’m happy to help!
5. Guests or no guests? Deciding who to invite to your elopement is such a personal decision and I encourage you to only bring guests who you truly believe will add meaning and purpose to your special day. From a legal perspective, your celebrant and two witnesses are the only people who need to be at your elopement.
If you do decide to elope privately, you can always include loved ones in your day through handwritten letters or video calls, or plan a big celebration once you get back home! You can also bring along mementos from home, like family heirlooms, special jewellery, or items from loved ones to add a touch of tradition and love to your beautiful elopement adventure.
There’s no right or wrong way to plan your elopement! I’m here to encourage you to forge your own path and create new traditions together in the process.
Deciding where to elope in Vancouver or elsewhere in British Columbia is one of the biggest decisions in your elopement planning process! When deciding, really consider what sort of celebration you want — a chic city bar and restaurant? A quiet mountainside where you can say your vows, lost in nature?
Your elopement location can be a place you love, with special meaning to your relationship, or just a place you fall in love with after visiting — the choice is completely yours!
A small coastal village, Tofino is known for its epic sunsets, surfing and beaches, and unspoiled, natural beauty. A Tofino elopement is ideal for couples looking for an adventurous beach or rainforest elopement.
Set on Vancouver Island, there are plenty of private and idyllic spots for exchanging your vows, but it’s also so much fun for adventure activities! In the warmer months, a Tofino wedding can make for such an amazing destination elopement that’s all about immersing yourself in the outdoors — swimming, kayaking, hiking, and whale watching!
A few small venues in Tofino for elopements include Pacific Sands Resort, Mackenzie Beach, and Cox Bay. If you love nature, you also won’t want to miss Pacific Rim National Park, known for its ancient forests.
I know the area really well and it’s one of my favourite places to photograph, so I’m glad to offer Tofino elopement packages to help you capture every candid and beautiful moment of your adventure!
The gorgeous city of Vancouver is such a top choice for an urban, upscale wedding with mountain views! You have so many choices here, such as elegant coastal venues like Brock House and UBC Boathouse or cosmopolitan restaurants in the city.
Vancouver also has great venues for an outdoor garden elopement, including Bloedel Conservatory, Hycroft Manor, or Stanley Park Pavilion. As your Vancouver elopement photographer, I know the city really well and can also suggest some secret outdoor spots where we can take photos without the crowds!
When organising your event, hiring a wedding planner can make the process much easier, especially if you’re not based in the city. If you’re looking for a wedding planner and designer in Vancouver or nearby Squamish, Petite Pearl Events are a great choice.
If you’re planning a couples shoot in North Vancouver or any of our lovely parks or venues, I’d be happy to help!
Just a short ferry ride (or seaplane flight) away, Vancouver Island is easily accessible from Vancouver but feels a world away from the city. A Vancouver Island elopement is a dream for couples looking for an intimate destination wedding in the wild.
Rugged, dramatic cliffs and beaches abound, but the charming city of Victoria is also a good choice, known for its gardens, architecture, and colourful and vibrant Fisherman’s Wharf.
For a summer beach wedding, a few great destinations (in addition to Tofino) include Ucluelet, Port Renfrew, and Nanaimo. Many coastal towns tend to close up in the winter months, so the island is best visited in late spring to early autumn.
As a bonus for your elopement photography, Vancouver Island often gets storms that can cause such gorgeous lighting — moody, dramatic, and constantly changing, which can lead to insanely gorgeous images!
My elopement packages on Vancouver Island are designed to help you capture every meaningful moment of your experience together.
A Whistler elopement is perfect year-round! Nowhere is better for outdoor adventures like skiing or mountain biking, but this picturesque village is also a gateway to some of the best mountain views in BC.
There are plenty of unique ways to tie the knot here, but one of the best is a Whistler helicopter elopement! Take a private helicopter to a secluded mountain top with Blackcomb Helicopters for the ultimate in luxury and privacy. Or, a fun alternative is to take your guests up the Blackcomb gondola for a ceremony with sweeping mountain views.
Whistler also has plenty of secluded areas and stunning provincial parks for an intimate forest wedding, perfect for exchanging vows in an ancient forest or next to a bubbling brook — I’m glad to recommend some great local parks and trails.
Want to relax and soak it all in (literally!) after your wedding? Whistler’s Scandinave Spa is an outdoor spa and hot springs oasis, letting you relax in nature — you can also book spa and facial treatments.
Just a note that Whistler is an extremely popular tourist destination, especially in winter, so aim to plan your winter elopement away from Christmas and public holidays in Canada and the US.
While the mountain town of Squamish may not be as famous as Whistler, it’s still one of the best places for an elopement on the West Coast. I love this mountain honeymoon shoot in Squamish as it gives you an amazing idea about the type of photos we can take in the area.
The Sea to Sky Gondola is an incredible venue for a Squamish elopement. You and your guests will soar into the mountains on the gondola, taking in incredible views of the town and the river below. The summit has a huge deck that wraps around the mountain and also an epic suspension bridge (perfect for sunset photography!), plus a private deck where you can host your ceremony, away from the public.
Then, dine and dance the night away — the venue is yours and yours alone all evening once Sea to Sky closes in the afternoon to the public.
There are also lots of fun adventures you can have in Squamish, such as hiking, mountain climbing, and even visiting Brackendale, a provincial park famous for its bald eagle and seal population.
An added bonus of both Whistler and Squamish elopements is that you and your guests, if coming from Vancouver, will get to experience the epic Sea to Sky Highway. This legendary scenic drive hugs the coast, with jaw-dropping views around every turn and plenty of places to stop and take photos.