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How to Elope in Oregon

Oregon coast elopement

ELOPEMENT PLANNING TIPS | OREGON ELOPEMENT GUIDE | OREGON ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER

The Full Guide On How To Plan Your Adventurous Elopement In Oregon

If you and your partner dream of escaping to the woods to exchange your vows beneath a waterfall, or overlooking the seaside from atop a cliff, Oregon is the perfect spot. With such a variety of microclimates in one state, Oregon offers endless opportunities for you to find the location of your dreams. If you’re ready to throw on some hiking boots and have an elopement day in Oregon you’ll never forget, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about eloping here!

The Best Locations to Elope in Oregon

Planning your Oregon Coast Elopement

After shooting an engagement session on the Oregon Coast last year, I immediately fell in love with this unique ecosystem. With stunning cliffs along the waterfront and iconic sea stacks in the distance – I jump at every opportunity I can to head back to this beautiful location. 

Cannon Beach: Cannon Beach is probably one of the most highly photographed spots on the Oregon Coast, and for good reason. Haystack Rock stands towering out of the water and glows in the morning sun. Only a short hike away, Hug Point is home to gorgeous oceanfront waterfalls. Cannon beach was even named one of the world’s most beautiful places by National Geographic. It’s the perfect spot for a sunrise elopement on the water. 

God’s Thumb: If you’re more interested in stunning views from above the water, God’s Thumb is an incredible spot to elope on the Oregon Coast. This unique summit lies above Lincoln Beach, and while it’s not necessarily the easiest hike around, the views are absolutely worth it. The final summit is a bit steep, so you’ll definitely need some real hiking shoes for an adventure elopement here. 

Southern Oregon Coast: The lesser-known southern end of the Oregon Coast has some incredibly beautiful spots without all the tourism. If you’re looking for natural bridges, sea stacks, or even a Sitka spruce rainforest – the southern Oregon Coast has tons of beautiful spots to exchange your vows in seclusion.

 Planning Your Columbia River Gorge Elopement

If old-growth forests and waterfalls are more your vibes, the Columbia River Gorge is an absolutely stunning spot to elope. Running along the border of Oregon and Washington, the Columbia River has some jaw-dropping locations that will truly make you feel like you’re in a fairytale. There are so many locations I’d love to take my clients to in this area, but these are just a few of my favorites!

Latourell Falls: Latourell Falls is one of the more well-known waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge and is one of the closest to Portland. It’s a single-plunge waterfall over 200-feet tall, and the stone is covered in a unique bright green lichen. This is a pretty easy hike, and definitely family-friendly if you plan on bringing some guests. 

Bridal Veil Falls: Bridal Veil Falls is a two-tiered waterfall at the site of an old lumber mill in Northern Oregon. And who wouldn’t want to elope at such an aptly named spot?! The short hike to the falls will take you through a forest of Douglas fir, across a footbridge, and past the last remaining structure from the original lumber mill. 

Wahclella Falls: Although the area around Wahclella Falls suffered from a fire in 2017, this is still a must-see spot perfect for elopements. The trail to Wahclella Falls also includes a smaller waterfall, Munra Falls, along the way! This area is important to fish habitat, so you may even see some salmon among the fish ladders depending on the time of year. 

Planning Your Smith Rock State Park Elopement

In central Oregon, just outside of Bend, is a high desert environment that feels so incredibly different from the Pacific Northwest weather Oregon is known for. Smith Rock State Park gets an estimated 300 days of sunshine a year, and can reach over 100 degrees in summer! If you’re looking for a super unique spot in Oregon to say “I do”, this is the place for you. The iconic rock spires are actually volcanic ash that compressed millions of years ago, and the park feels totally other-worldly. 

There are tons of trails and beautiful locations around Smith Rock State Park, so no matter your hiking and climbing ability you can find a perfect spot to elope. I absolutely love this quirky destination and can’t wait to take one of my couples here! 

Multnomah Falls elopement
Destination elopement photographer

Finding Your Vendors: Planner, Photographer, and Officiant

FIND THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOU

There are so many incredible wedding photographers out there, so how do you choose the right photographer for your elopement? While a traditional wedding photographer is really focused on the photos they produce, your elopement photographer should be someone you connect with on a personal level and trust to be a part of your day in more than one way! Your elopement photographer can help you in choosing a perfect location, figuring out permits, and will be a huge part of your day, especially if they’re one of the only attendees! If you’re looking for an adventurous photographer for your elopement in Oregon, I’d love to take some time to see if we’d be a good fit!

ELOPEMENT PLANNERS

Whether you’re eloping or hosting a larger wedding, I always recommend hiring a wedding planner or coordinator. Destination elopements can be especially confusing if you’re not familiar with the area or vendors. I’m always happy to help my couples plan their big day, but I highly recommend reaching out to an Oregon local for the best expertise! 

YOUR IDEAL OFFICIANT

As in many states, Oregon allows for anyone over the age of 18 to become ordained and perform a wedding ceremony. This is a great option for couples who are eloping and want to involve only their closest friends and family in their ceremony! If you’re looking to elope in private, there are a ton of fantastic experienced officiants around Oregon, and I’d recommend asking your planner and photographer to serve as the two witnesses required by the state. 

Oregon coast elopement

Where to Stay, When to Visit, and Permits: Everything You Need to Know About Eloping in Oregon

BEST TIME TO ELOPE IN OREGON

When planning an outdoor elopement it’s always important to keep weather and seasonal changes in mind. While Oregon has generally mild weather for most of the year, the different microclimates definitely change from season to season. On the coast, for example, most people suggest eloping between June – September, when you are the least likely to encounter rain and have lovely warm weather. Alternatively, the Columbia River Gorge isn’t ideal during the summer because the waterfalls can often run dry during this time. Spring and fall are best for elopements in the Gorge as the waterfalls should be running full but you won’t run into the risk of icy trails that you will have in the winter. And while the weather on the coast is usually a beautiful 80 degrees during the summer, Smith Rock State Park can hit well over 100 degrees. Due to the high desert ecosystem in central Oregon, it’s better to elope at Smith’s Rock during fall to avoid uncomfortable temperatures. 

WHERE TO STAY IN OREGON

Oregon Coast: The Oregon Coast is home to tons of fantastic and unique Airbnbs and VRBOs up and down the shore, including A-frames and treehouses! These are my personal favorite and are perfect if you’re looking for a space all your own. If a hotel is more your style, on the north end there’s Arch Cape Inn and Retreat, Salishan Coastal Lodge, and Whale Cove Inn. On the southern end of the coast, you can find tons of cozy inns and cabins to choose from, especially in Brookings.

Columbia River Gorge: If you’re eloping at the Columbia River Gorge, there are tons of cabins available for rent in this area, as well as hotels in Cascade Rocks and Hood River. If you’ve chosen an elopement location in the western part of the gorge, it’s also worth checking out places to stay in Portland! 

Smith Rock State Park: Right outside of the state park in Redmond, Oregon you can find some cute private rentals like this tiny home, or stay at one of the nearby hotels like SCP Redmond. If you’re willing to stay a little further out from Smith Rock, nearby Bend is home to tons of awesome places to stay! Some of my favorites are Brasda Ranch, Pronghorn Resort, and this yurt rental!

PERMITS FOR YOUR OREGON ELOPEMENT

Oregon Coast & Smith Rock State Park Permits: The Oregon Coast and Smith Rock are both managed by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, which has pretty relaxed rules when it comes to elopements. If your elopement has less than 50 attendees and doesn’t require any structures such as tents, no permit is needed. 

Columbia River Gorge Permits: Most of the Columbia River Gorge area is managed by the US Forest Service, which also doesn’t require a permit for groups of less than 75 people, however, they do have much stricter rules in the use of the space. 

As always, if you have any doubts about your use of the space, it’s best to contact the property or park you plan to elope at! It’s also important as you plan to keep Leave No Trace principles in mind so couples can continue to enjoy these beautiful spaces for years to come. 

Oregon truly has some of the most iconic elopement spots in the United States, and some of my favorite locations to shoot at. If you and your partner are planning on eloping but haven’t chosen a destination yet, I highly recommend considering Oregon for your big day! Whether you’re looking for Pacific Northwest vibes, cliffside beaches, or insane geology in the desert – Oregon has something for everyone. 

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ARE YOU NEWLY ENGAGED AND LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO PHOTOGRAPH YOUR ELOPEMENT? I’D LOVE TO CHAT ABOUT HOW I CAN BE A PART OF YOUR SPECIAL DAY! 

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