With mountains, beaches, desert, and forests, it’s no wonder Oregon is such a popular elopement destination for couples looking to escape, be one with nature, and share in the intimacy of this special day together. As an Oregon elopement photographer, I couldn’t dream of a better place to elope, and I want to ensure I can be a resource for you in your planning. To get you started, here are a few things you should do when planning your Oregon elopement!
1. Choose Your Oregon Elopement Location
First things first, you’ll want to choose a location for your elopement. Oregon is full of amazing elopement spots perfect for any adventure-loving couple. The state’s diverse landscape means no matter what your style, there’s something for everyone. From coastal beaches to old growth forests, it certainly seems to have it all. Here are a few of my favorite Oregon elopement locations:
Smith Rock State Park
With its jagged rocks and desert-like landscape, Smith Rock State Park resembles more of the desert southwest than Central Oregon. As one of Oregon’s seven wonders, this unique park is an adventurous couple’s dream elopement location.
The Oregon Coast
Characterized by its sandy beaches and rocky sea cliffs, the Oregon coast makes up 363 miles of diverse coastline. With windswept sand dunes, towering sea stacks, and lush wilderness, any spot along the coast would make for an unforgettable elopement.
Mt. Hood National Forest & The Columbia River Gorge
From the snow-capped peak of Mt. Hood to the hidden waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge, this area just outside of Portland is a magical elopement destination. If you want to frolic among colorful wildflower fields or stand beneath gushing waterfalls, this is the place for you.
Willamette National Forest
The epitome of Oregon wilderness, Willamette National Forest is a mix of old growth forests, narrow canyons, tall mountains, and cascading waterfalls. A perfect elopement location for any outdoor-loving couple.
Crater Lake National Park
As Oregon’s only National Park, Crater Lake is absolutely breathtaking. An impressive caldera formed by an explosive volcano and surrounded by a vibrant, indigo blue lake, the park makes for a truly unique and one-of-a-kind elopement.
For more inspiration and info about eloping in these places–including where to stay, the best time of year to elope, and more–check out this in-depth post on the 5 best locations to elope in Oregon.
2. Book Your Oregon Adventure Elopement Photographer
Once you’ve chosen a location, next you’ll want to book your elopement photographer! With so many photographers to choose from, it can be difficult to decide who you should work with. Here are a few things you should think about before booking your photographer:
Consider the Photographer’s Style
Do you like bright and airy photos? Or are you drawn to the more dark and moody feel? Once you figure out the photography style you like, it will be much easier to narrow down who you might like to work with. I highly recommend checking out Instagram to get an idea of a photographer’s style, but it’s also a good idea to check their blogs and even ask to see some of their previous elopement galleries.
Make Sure They’re the Right Fit
Your photographer will be taking part in such an intimate moment of your life, and it’s important you feel comfortable around them. This can be hard when you may never actually get the chance to meet them in person before your elopement, which is why I always recommend hopping on a phone or video call to see if you and the photographer are the right fit. Not only from your perspective but also the photographers. It will allow the photographer to learn more about your relationship, what’s important to you, and how they can best serve you.
Book Your Elopement Photographer Early
Elopements are becoming more popular than ever which means photographers may be booked up well in advance. It’s best to start looking for photographers early so you can narrow down your choices and book the elopement photographer that’s the best fit for you.
As an Oregon elopement photographer, I’m incredibly passionate about intimate weddings and adventure elopements that allow me to get to know my clients on a deeper level, while leaving a lighter footprint on the Earth. I’d love to photograph this special day for you and help you every step of the way. You can schedule your free phone consultation to make sure we’re the right fit and discuss all the deets about your upcoming Oregon elopement!
3. Book Your Elopement Vendors
Although elopements allow you to forgo many of the vendors needed for a traditional wedding, you may still want to hire a few vendors to be a part of your elopement. One vendor that you will absolutely need (other than your photographer!) is an officiant. Fortunately, this doesn’t always have to be someone you hire (although it absolutely can be). It can be a close friend, family member, or someone special to you. As long as they’re ordained, they can legally marry you. The State of Oregon only requires that your officiant is at least 18 years old and that their ordaining organization is still active.
After you’ve booked your officiant, you can focus on any other vendors you might want to include. A few that I recommend are a hair and makeup artist and florist (for those beautiful bouquets!). Sometimes couples will also opt to hire a private chef or caterer so they can share an intimate meal together after they’ve eloped. Videographers are also an amazing addition to your wedding day. Whichever vendors you choose, I’m happy to provide you with recommendations.
4. Apply For Your Marriage License
In order for your elopement to be official, you’ll need to apply for a marriage license in Oregon. To apply for a license, you can visit any of Oregon’s county clerk’s offices to complete your application and sign your license. This must be done at least 3 days prior to your elopement and no earlier than 60 days beforehand. The cost of a marriage license in Oregon ranges from $50 to $60.
If you don’t live in Oregon, you and your partner can apply for a marriage license online, but you will still need to visit an Oregon county clerk’s office to complete and sign your license. The same time frames mentioned above apply so be sure to visit the clerk’s office at least 3 days prior to your ceremony.
Although you can apply for a license in any Oregon county, after you’re married you’ll need to submit the license to the same county that issued it. Your officiant should be able to help you with this if needed. Another important thing to remember is that in addition to your signed marriage license, you’ll need at least two witnesses (your photographer counts!) present during your elopement. Don’t forget to choose your witnesses ahead of time so your elopement is official!
5. Plan Your Elopement Trip
Once you’ve hammered out all the vendor (and legal) details of your elopement, the next step is making plans for your stay. Fortunately, I’m more than happy to be your Oregon tour guide, planner, and new friend! A few travel essentials you’ll need to figure out:
Make Travel Arrangements
For most elopement destinations in Oregon, the best airport to fly into is Portland International Airport (PDX). From Portland, most elopement locations are between 30 minutes and 4 hours away (if you’re eloping on Oregon’s southernmost coast).
Book Your Accommodation
There are so many amazing places to stay no matter where you’re eloping in Oregon, and I’m more than happy to provide you with recommendations. Most times booking a place through AirBnb or Vrbo will be your best option, but if you’re more of the adventurous type, there are also some awesome public campgrounds throughout the state.
Explore the Area
One of the best parts about eloping in Oregon are all the beautiful places you get to explore while you’re here. With countless state parks, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to take in. Some of our favorites throughout Oregon include Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon and Samuel H Boardman State Park along the coast. And when you’ve had enough outdoor adventure, you can soak up city life in Portland, head to foodie-lover’s Eugene, or visit the charming mountain town of Bend.
6. Elope and Adventure!
Once you’ve made it through all the planning, it’s finally time to elope somewhere epic and have a life changing experience that will deepen your relationship with each other and the Earth. Eloping is such a meaningful way to express your love and bond with one another as well as your surroundings. If you’re still looking for a photographer to capture your Oregon elopement, I’d love to hear from you!