Long stretches of sandy beach, rugged sea cliffs, and coastal wilderness are the defining traits of the Oregon Coast. From north to south, the coast spans 363 miles boasting windswept sand dunes, towering sea stacks, and lush wilderness. It’s not surprising that the Oregon Coast is such a popular elopement destination for many outdoor-loving couples.
As an Oregon Coast 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 elopement planning. To get you started, here are a few of my tips for planning an epic Oregon Coast elopement!
1. Book Your Oregon Coast Adventure Elopement Photographer (me, duh!)
First things first, you’ll need to find and book your elopement photographer! Finding the perfect photographer for your elopement can be tricky. With so many photographers to choose from, deciding who to work with can be tough. As an elopement photographer, here are my tips for finding the right photographer for you:
Consider the Photographer’s Style
What style of photography do you prefer? When you’re browsing Instagram or Pinterest, what type of photos do you gravitate towards? Are you drawn to photos with a dark and moody feel or do you like ones that are bright and airy? Once you know which photography style you like most, you’ll have a much easier time narrowing down who you might like to work with. I highly recommend checking Instagram not only for inspiration, but also to get a better idea of the photographer’s style. If you think they might be the one, it’s also a good idea to check their blog and even ask to see some of their previous elopement galleries to get an even better sense of what you can expect if you hire them.
Make Sure They’re the Right Fit
Elopements are such an intimate moment between you and your partner. For this reason, it’s so important to choose a photographer that you can be yourself around. However, it can be difficult to know if you’re comfortable around someone when you haven’t had the chance to meet them. Fortunately, it’s easy to hop on a phone or video call to see if you and the photographer click. I definitely recommend it! Not only will you get a better idea of what it might be like to work with the photographer, but they’ll be able to get to know you too. It’s the perfect time for them to learn more about your relationship, what’s important to you, and how they can best serve you on the day of your elopement.
Book Your Elopement Photographer Early
These days elopements are more popular than ever which means elopement photographers are booking up well in advance. I definitely recommend starting your search for a photographer early on. That way, you can narrow down your options and book the elopement photographer that’s the best fit for you without having to worry too much about their availability.
As an Oregon Coast 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 Coast elopement!
2. Choose Your Oregon Coast Elopement Location
Once you’ve booked your elopement photographer (yay!), next it’s time to choose an epic location for your elopement. Fortunately, the Oregon Coast is full of amazing elopement spots perfect for any adventure-loving couple. From north to south, its diverse landscape means there’s something for everyone. From dramatic sea cliffs to secret sandy coves, you really can’t go wrong. Here are a few of my absolute favorite Oregon Coast elopement locations and coastal towns:
Northern Oregon Coast Locations
Along the northern coast, you’ll find vast stretches of beach as far as your eye can see.
Just over an hour northwest of Portland, this quaint seaside town is home to the infamous Haystack Rock, a basalt sea stack that rises over 200 feet above the coastline. The iconic rock and the surrounding sandy beaches make it a popular destination for elopements, and for good reason. It really is a beautiful place to elope, especially at sunset! Check out this majestic elopement in Cannon Beach.
To the south of Cannon Beach lies a 43-acre state park with jagged cliffs, rock outcroppings, and hidden sea caves. The spot itself is deeply rooted in history. Its name was derived from the stagecoaches that once traveled along the beach during low tide as they were forced to “hug” the cliffs as they went up and down the coastline. Today during low tide, the water recedes, uncovering a secluded sandy cove surrounded by towering sandstone cliffs. The epitome of what an Oregon Coast elopement should be. Get inspiration from this gorgeous summer elopement at Hug Point.
Moving further down the coast, you’ll reach Arch Cape. This peaceful coastal community lies just south of Hug Point and is a perfect base for an elopement along the northern coast. The town was named after its unique coastal rock formation that formed from ancient lava flows, and the views along its coast are stunning. If you’re looking for a quiet town to enjoy your post-elopement bliss, Arch Cape is just the place.
Just north of Cannon Beach and about an hour northwest of Portland, you’ll find the lively coastal town of Seaside. Home to a long stretch of sandy beach and a bustling downtown, this beach resort community dates back to the 1870s and is still a popular vacation destination today. Its proximity to Portland and the natural beauty of the northern Oregon Coast make it hard to beat.
Central Oregon Coast Locations
As you head south towards Oregon’s central coast, sandy beaches give way to rugged sea cliffs along the edge of the Pacific.
Just an hour west of Eugene, at the mouth of the Siuslaw River, sits the small city of Florence. Often referred to as “Oregon’s Coastal Playground,” Florence is perfect for any adventure-loving couple looking to elope along the coast. Home to miles and miles of rolling sand dunes, the city marks the southern end of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, one of the largest expanses of temperate coastal sand dunes in the world.
Standing 1000 feet over the Pacific, Heceta Head is a scenic headland and home to Heceta Head Lighthouse, one of the most popular lighthouses in the United States. The historic white and red-roofed lighthouse dates back to the 1800s as it guided mariners along the rocky Oregon coastline at night. Just a short hike and you’ll witness some of the most breathtaking views, making Heceta Head a perfect backdrop for any coastal elopement. Get inspired by this Heceta Head beach elopement.
Southern Oregon Coast Locations
As you leave the sandy beaches of the central coast behind, you’ll soon reach the jagged, mountainous terrain of the southern coast.
Situated along the southernmost end of the Oregon Coast, Brookings is characterized by its dramatic and rugged shoreline. Just to its north lies Samuel Boardman State Park and Harris Beach State Park, both worth a visit. Brookings makes for a perfect home base if you’re planning to elope along the southern Oregon Coast.
Samuel Boardman State Park
This park encompasses 12 miles of rugged coastline with hiking trails throughout. Make your way through a thick forest along rocky shores to some of the best spots in the park including Arch Rock, Secret Beach, and the Natural Bridges. There’s really no shortage of epic elopement spots here. Check out this moody southern coast elopement at Secret Beach.
Looking for other Oregon elopement locations not on the coast? Check out my list of the 5 best locations to elope in Oregon!
3. Book Accommodations for Your Elopement Trip
After you’ve chosen a location for your elopement, it’s time to make accommodations. Luckily, I’m more than happy to help you along the planning process for your Oregon Coast elopement! Here are a few travel essentials to figure out before your wedding day:
Make Travel Arrangements
If you’re not within driving distance, you’ll likely need to book flights. For elopements along the northern and central coast, the best airport to fly into is Portland International Airport (PDX). From Portland, most coastal elopement locations are between 1 and 3 hours away (6 hours if you’re eloping on Oregon’s southernmost coast). If you’re eloping along the central or southern coast, you might want to fly into Eugene which is within 1 to 4 hours of most elopement locations on the southern half of the coast. The Medford airport is also a great option if you’ve chosen the Southern Oregon Coast region for your elopement.
Book Your Accommodation
There are so many great places to stay along the Oregon Coast, 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.
4. Book Your Elopement Vendors
Even though elopements allow you to forgo many of the vendors needed for a traditional wedding, you might still consider hiring a few vendors to be a part of your special day. One vendor you’ll definitely need (other than your photographer of course!) is an officiant. Luckily, having an officiant doesn’t necessarily mean hiring one (although you absolutely can). Instead, you might choose to ask 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. If you do decide to ask a friend or family member, it’s easy and affordable for them to get ordained online and there are a few different organizations to choose from.
Aside from an officiant, there may be a few other vendors you’d like to include. Some vendors I usually recommend are a hair and makeup artist and a florist (for those beautiful bouquets!). Another fun idea you might want to consider is hiring a private chef or caterer so you can unwind after your elopement and share a special meal together. Videographers are also popular additions to your vendor team. Whichever vendors you choose, I’m happy to provide you with recommendations!
5. Choose your elopement activities
One of the best parts about eloping along the Oregon Coast are all the amazing places you can explore while you’re here. Here are some of the top activities to do along the coast:
Take a coastal road trip – After you elope, take a few days to drive the iconic Highway 101 down the Oregon coastline. Make plenty of stops along the way and see all the beauty the Oregon Coast has to offer!
Hike along the coastline – Just as there’s no shortage of amazing elopement spots, there’s definitely no shortage of incredible hiking trails. There are so many great trails to choose from but some of my favorites are located in Ecola State Park and Samuel H Boardman State Park.
Surf on the coast – Surfing is a popular activity on the Oregon Coast and there are beaches and waves for all kinds of surfers from new to experienced. Some of the best beaches for surfing include Cannon Beach, Short Sand Beach, and Florence South Jetty.
Kayak along the coast – If you’re looking for a more peaceful water activity, there are some great kayaking spots along the Oregon Coast. Some favorites include the Neawanna River near Seaside, the Siuslaw River near Florence, and the Chetco River near Brookings.
6. Apply For Your Marriage License
Lastly, make sure your elopement is official! To do this, you’ll need to apply for a marriage license in Oregon. To apply for a marriage 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 typically ranges from $50 to $60.
If you don’t live in Oregon, you and your partner can apply for your marriage license online, but you’ll still need to visit an Oregon county clerk’s office to complete and sign your license. The same time frames apply so be sure you visit the clerk’s office at least 3 days prior to your elopement ceremony.
You can apply for a license in any Oregon county, but 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 note is that in addition to your signed marriage license, you’ll need at least two witnesses (don’t worry, your photographer counts!) present during your elopement. Don’t forget to choose your witnesses ahead of time so you can rest assured you have everything you need to make your elopement official!
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 Coast elopement, I’d love to hear from you!