How to Elope along the oregon coast
KATIE BERG PHOTO || Oregon Coast elopement photographer
What do you get when you have an Oregon Coast elopement? It’s a long, lovely list:
Towering sea stacks, dizzying cliffside overlooks, soft sandy beaches, as well as rocky, rugged beaches; secret coves, hidden caves, seasonal waterfalls and picturesque driftwood arrangements; gray whale pods spouting in the distance and darling little seaside towns (I’m losing my breath!); sand dunes, sitka spruce forests, lush Fern Gully-esque vegetation and the experience of a lifetime!
There are so many reasons to have an Oregon Coast elopement. Trust me, I could go on! As your personal Oregon Coast elopement photographer, I'll be there to help you find the perfect location for you and guide you on your journey. And of course I’ll be there to capture every second of your love in one of the most mesmerizing parts of our country. Because you deserve more than just incredible photos, you deserve the ultimate adventure in the most dramatic and stunning place imaginable.
Ready for your next adventure?
Let me be your guide!
The Oregon Coast is 362 miles of endless beauty and stunning landscapes. You will have your pick of premium elopement real estate to choose from. If you’ve been dreaming of an Oregon Coast elopement I highly encourage you to dig deep to find just the right place to say your vows and begin your new life together.
Obviously, this is a great place to start planning your elopement adventure. I’m so glad you’re here! Once you get further along in your dreaming and scheming, I’ll be here if you have any questions or need some expert advice on everything the Oregon Coast has for your wedding.
In this guide, we will cover:
How to elope on the Oregon Coast
1. Choose your dates and length of trip
2. Send me an inquiry for a FREE elopement consultation
3. Hire me to help you plan your epic day — I’ll help you plan EVERYTHING from locations, vendors and timelines to day-of activities, permits, accommodations and anything in between
4. Apply for a marriage license
5. We’ll have an adventure in the location you chose along the Oregon Coast and create some epic pics and celebrate the start of a new chapter of your lives together!
Reasons to Elope on the OREGON Coast
1. COMPLETE COASTAL ACCESS
The Oregon Coast offers over 300 miles of beauty on display free of charge (minus the potential permit). Because Oregonians are so cool the Oregon Coast is actually protected by law for complete public access. This means you’re welcome to access every nook and cranny of the entire coast. Unless you’re looking to scramble up some giant sand dunes, most of the coast is extremely accessible and easy to get to for guests of all ages and abilities too.
Not like you need a ton of reasons to elope in one of most breathtaking parts of the country (and I might even say in the world), but just in case you were on the fence or more unfamiliar with the Oregon Coast, here are some key reasons to have an Oregon Coast elopement.
2. DIVERSITY OF ECOSYSTEMS AND LANDSCAPES
The coast ranges a ton in what it offers you for your Oregon Coast elopement. Want some caves and rocky grottos? We’ll find them. Looking for soft sandy beaches? They’re here. Forests, wild rock formations, epic driftwood beaches, cute little towns and completely isolated sections – it’s all here on the Oregon Coast.
3. SUMMER WEATHER
Sure, there can be plenty of rain on the coast, and all through Oregon for that matter. But the summer’s are mostly clear and sunny. Warm days with a cool breeze are the usual. It’s basically the ideal weather for the “Goldilocks” types – not too hot, not too cold. Just right.
4. WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE
Obviously there’s the big ol’ Pacific Ocean just hanging out as far as the eye can see. But if water is your thing, this is the place to be. There are waterfalls, creeks, streams, rivers and waterways of all kinds. Prepare to get wet and prepare for some beautiful photos with water working its magic in the background.
5. WHALE WATCHING AND OTHER WILDLIFE
Twice a year you can catch some pretty epic whale migrations. From mid-December to mid-January and again from late-February to May, as many as 20,000 gray whales migrate offshore. Gray whales are huge! 40-50 feet long! But they’re not the only native animals to check out. The Oregon Coast has harbor seals, sea lions and river otters. It’s a birders paradise and if you’re into anemones, starfish and tide loving creatures, you can spot them all!
Best time to elope on the Oregon Coast
Honestly, most people are going to prefer the summer on the Oregon Coast. But there are some compelling reasons to picture yourself (pun intended!) on the coast in other seasons. Even if you think you're sold on the summer, read through this section before booking a date with me. Whichever season you pick, bring layers to be prepared for rain and other types of weather.
SPRING (APRIL - JULY): Spring is wet, so plan accordingly. But it’s also one of the best times to get an isolated beach all to yourselves. You can catch the gray whales as they migrate and the winter storms will have subsided. Temperatures range from the 40s to 60s but this keeps the crowds away and offers you a quiet, private elopement. One other pro tip for a spring elopement is the epic sunsets. You need some great cloud action for the right Oregon Coast sunset and spring has it.
SUMMER (JULY - SEPTEMBER): Weather-wise, summer is when the temperatures are warmest and there is the least likelihood of rain. Because this is the best time to go, summer also brings the crowds. It can be hard to find that secluded spot to say your vows, so plan on eloping on a weekday during the summer. Also, accommodations can book up over a year in advance so plan accordingly! All that said, there are still plenty of secret spots (scouted out by yours truly) where you can get away and feel like it’s just the two of you.
FALL (SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER: Fall is the second best season to elope on the Oregon Coast. The weather gets a little crisper but you won’t see the temperatures as low as spring or winter and you won’t see as much rain. In fact, in some years fall can bring what the locals call a “second summer” and you can actually see the best weather of the entire year! Fall also brings less crowds, cheaper accommodations (that are easier to book!) and a colorful autumn landscape.
WINTER (NOVEMBER - APRIL): Winter’s tend toward the cold and wet (average temperatures from the 30s to 50s and frequent rain), but if you’re not turned off by that, this off-season has a lot to offer. Whale watching is first and foremost on the winter list. But there can be some pretty epic storms to view from a cozy fireplace as the ocean surges and spouts. This is the time when the beaches and all attractions are the least crowded and you can get the best rates on accommodations. From a photo standpoint, you can get some really gorgeous moody, foggy vibes with a lot of dark green, gray and brown tones throughout the landscape.
How to Get Married along the Oregon coast
GET YOUR OREGON COAST MARRIAGE LICENSE
All you have to do is apply for a marriage permit in the county where you’ll be getting married. Here’s a link to Multnomah County as an example.
One other note on marriage licenses… You will need an officiant and two witnesses over 18. You can still get married and have your own private ceremony with just the two of you (and me!). But if you go that route you’ll need to have a judge or court clerk sign as your officiant, and bring two witnesses, when you file all your paperwork.
Obtain necessary OREGON COAST wedding permits
Depending on the location you’re eloping at, you may need to get a specific permit to legally get married!
Every beach is officially public land so you don’t need a permit as long as you aren’t setting up any sort of installation, table setup, arch, chairs, decor, etc. And who needs all that stuff when you’ve got each other and the stunning scenery of the Oregon Coast?
Some State Parks require a special use permit. Each park has their own rules so make sure to check in with the park rangers/managers. If you have fewer than 75 people, most permits are free.
In National Forests ceremonies with fewer than 75 people are usually free permits, but a permit is still required. To figure out what you need use this link
Best locations to Elope on the Oregon Coast
WOW! That’s about the only word people can manage to speak out loud when they see any location on the Oregon Coast.
The Oregon Coast is home to so many stunning landscapes that are perfect for a dream elopement adventure! When planning your celebration, make sure you do your own research and scope out the scenery, the weather patterns, the seasons, the nearby towns, etc. I’m doing the heavy lifting for you here, but you always want to know your elopement location before you arrive to make sure it’s 100% YOU!
One note before we start diving into specific locations… Crowds can really be a bummer on your special day. Make sure you read all about the seasonal trends of the Oregon Coast above. But mainly just note that if you want to get married in the summer, you should absolutely do it on a weekday. I want you to have the best day of your life! So, let’s choose your location and season with intention. But, all that said, I have some secret spots in every location where we can avoid the crowds and find our own private getaway.
Here are some of the best Oregon Coast elopement spots out there:
The beauty of Cape Kiwanda is hard to beat. It’s both a geological wonder, crafted by millions of years of wind and water, and an iconic beach to say your vows. Cape Kiwanda really has a lot to offer for exploration and for epic photos. There is wild, otherworldly orange sandstone with grooves, slithering lines and cracks carved by time. There are caves and dramatic sand dunes. Perhaps most representative of the Cape is Haystack Rock, the tallest on the Oregon Coast and the 4th tallest in the whole world!
Because of its popularity, Cape Kiwanda can get crowded in the summer and fall, but I know a little spot (just a short but steep hike up a sand dune) for more cliffside privacy. Shh! Don’t tell anyone.
Cannon Beach might be the most popular beach on the Oregon Coast, and rightfully so. You have a whole list of locations on Cannon Beach to choose from. There’s Chapman Point, Haystack Rock (yes, another Haystack Rock, though this one bears the official name), Silver Point or nearby Ecola State Park (any Goonies fans out there?). Each one has a special feel. I can help you decide which spot is right for your ceremony.
The town of Cannon Beach has that iconic Oregon Coast feel. There are lots of cute local restaurants and quirky shops. This can definitely be a place to be concerned about all the tourists but, again, I know a secret spot away from the crowds to get perfect views of Haystack Rock.
Hug Point basically just screams elopement location from its name to its seasonal waterfall, sandstone caves and tide pools. This small recreation site has a sandy cove beach backed by lush vegetation and sitka spruce.
Just 5 miles south of Cannon Beach, Hug Point is very similar to its popular neighbor but it offers a whole different perspective and different rock types. You’ll miss some of the crowds here, although it’s still going to be very popular in the summer and early fall. Pro tip, if you want portraits at the secret seasonal waterfall you have to wait for low tide and time it just right.
ECOLA STATE PARK & INDIAN BEACH
Nestled between Seaside and Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park offers 9 miles of coastline to explore. I mentioned the Goonies earlier. The Goonies go searching for the start of the treasure map right along Indian Beach Trail in Ecola. As you can imagine, this is one of those locations where any photo you take feels like it belongs in an art gallery or framed on your walls.
The landscape of expansive cliffsides gives dramatic views of the moody Pacific, Haystack Rock in the distance and the features typical of the Oregon Coast. With 9 miles to explore, there are so many perfect locations in Ecola State Park and Indian Beach to make your Oregon Coast elopement the magical experience you envisioned.
Aptly named God’s Thumb, this lesser known location features a basalt peak that extends out over the mighty Pacific. This spot is for the more adventurous couple who don’t mind a little hike. There are 2 options, a 4.4 mile loop or a 3.4 mile out and back. Both are gorgeous and take you through forest, dramatic vistas and dizzying dropoffs. Worried about hiking and the logistics of the wedding dress? I gotchoo! I have all the deets for trekking with an elopement in mind.
God’s Thumb is one of the most unique views on the coast with a raw beauty that’s hard to beat. Located just outside of Lincoln City, right smack dab in the middle of the Oregon Coast, it’s much easier to get views all to yourself here, even in peak season.
Still close to Portland, Oceanside Beach is for the couple looking for the rugged, rocky Oregon Coast feel. There are plenty of soft sand spots, but you’ll want to bring some hiking boots for this Oregon Coast elopement location. If you enjoy a fun adventure (and some agate hunting!) this is the place for you. If you’re up for some exploring we can find some secret coves, hidden caves and secluded beaches.
Bonus! The town of Oceanside is just delightful. It's built on a steep hillside right on the ocean’s edge. There are cute cafes and so many gorgeous spots to stay with an epic overlook of the ocean.
Things to Do for Your Oregon Coast Elopement
Sure, eloping is the feature presentation, but while you’re on the Oregon Coast you should leave plenty of time for fun and recreation. Start off your new adventure together with some thrill seeking or just some quiet chill time in the charming Oregon Coast towns. You know what floats your boat, so I highly encourage you to think of this as your elopement/honeymoon/epic getaway.
If you want some suggestions for things to do on the Oregon Coast, here’s a list of some of my faves.
Some other things to consider for your oregon coast elopement
How do you elope on the Oregon Coast? You come prepared, remain flexible, embrace the elements and always have a backup plan.
There are few places on Earth as beautiful, dramatic and unique as the Oregon Coast, but anywhere on Earth is going to be prone to weather and location-specific elements of surprise. The Oregon Coast is no exception to that. This section is about getting real with you on what to expect but by no means should you let it turn you away from your Oregon Coast elopement dream. I just want you to come into your adventure elopement prepared with a clear perspective.
Here’s what to consider when planning your Oregon Coast elopement.
The forecast calls for…
The Oregon Coast is known for sea stacks, otherworldly rock formations and… clouds and rain. I’m personally a big fan of the rain and I love the images the overcast days can create. It doesn’t literally rain all the time, and the summer is when you can expect the least rain, but definitely come prepared to embrace the weather conditions as they come.
Dirt don’t hurt
You’ll be on the beach. There will be sand. There will be dirt. There will be salt spray and tide pools and all manner of muck-lovely things. Your dress will most likely not stay spotless (here are some tips on cleaning your wedding dress). Your shoes will get dirty (in fact, I usually recommend hiking boots!). Just like the weather, I recommend embracing the elements. You came to the Oregon Coast for a reason! Get wet, get messy and be happy!
Make a backup plan
As much as we’ll prepare for everything (I’m talking thorough preparation!), the nature of elopements and – well – nature is that we have to expect the unexpected. Weather in Oregon can be fickle so it’s always a great idea to have backup plans. This will take away the stress and let us pivot if needed.
Get out the tide and sunrise/sunset charts
You want the ocean, the beach, the perfect light? You need to time it right. I’ll have all this stuff mapped out, but it never hurts to have a second set of eyes on everything. The ebb and flow of the tide, coupled with the rising or setting of the sun have to be synced up perfectly to get your dream wedding and those dream images.
Clear umbrellas FTW
A minor detail, but it can make a major difference in how your pictures turn out. Just in case there’s rain, bring a clear umbrella. They photograph so much better than brightly colored or black ones.
Everybody’s living for the weekdays?
As elopers, you get to pick your day and do it your way. I’d highly suggest choosing a weekday to elope on the Oregon Coast. You're much more likely to have the beach to yourself and avoid the crowds. As you can imagine, the Oregon Coast can be a pretty popular place on the weekends, especially in summer. You don’t want to have to keep shoeing families and dogs and frisbees out of your space while you say your vows. Plan for a weekday. Trust me on this one.
The 10 essentials
Make sure to pack your 10 essentials:
1. Navigation: maps, compass, GPS device
3. Sun Protection
4. Emergency kit / First Aid
6. Fire starter: matches, lighter, tinder
8. Extra food and snacks
9. Extra water
10. Extra clothes: jackets, socks, bonus layers
You can read more about the 10 essentials here.
Practice Leave no Trace Principles
When we’re talking about how to elope on the Oregon Coast, it’s always crucial to remember that we want to leave the landscape pristine for all the travelers and elopers to come after us. Always make sure you’re practicing good Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles when planning your Oregon Coast adventure elopement.
The beaches along the Oregon Coast are home to a very complex and delicate ecosystem and need to be taken care of. To preserve these landscapes please stay on designated trails, avoid the use of smoke bombs, confetti and spraying champagne, and respect the wildlife while exploring the coast on your wedding day!
As a certified LNT photographer, I’ll be vigilant about ensuring that we are always exercising best practices, but you can do your part too!
Oregon Coast Elopement Packages & Pricing
I hope I got you SO STOKED for your Oregon Coast elopement! I’m so pumped for you! Seriously, eloping was one of the best decisions of my life and I get so excited seeing couples make this choice.
I am 10,000% all about helping couples find the location that feels perfect for your unique love and your one of a kind adventure elopement. So please reach out to me if you have any questions about where and how to elope on the Oregon Coast. I want to help make your dream day come true!
I sincerely hope this handy guide helped you get started on your journey together. I can’t wait to make plans for your Oregon Coast elopement and capture memories that will last a lifetime. Talk to you soon!