You want to elope on the Oregon Coast? DANG, you have good taste. I’m a “coastie,” a title I wear with pride. We’re the locals walking around in XtraTuf fishing boots, always vaguely aware of the tides that week, and definitely do not use an umbrella. I’m also an elopement photographer that specializes in the Oregon Coast!
The Oregon Coast is a gold mine for elopements. There’s massive expanses of beautiful beaches and a fraction of the traffic that many national park receives. There’s something accessible for everyone. There’s big adventurous hikes and easy access beaches. You’re sure to find exactly what you want for your adventure elopement!
What’s covered in this blog:
With 300+ miles of coastline to pick from, you’re bound to find the exact backdrop you have in mind. Each location offers different amenities, access to vendors, vacation rental options, and busyness from tourists. Hiring a photographer with experience on the Oregon Coast can help walk you through all these elements to make sure you pick the area that’s right for you!
Cannon Beach is probably the most iconic spot on the Oregon Coast. The giant haystack rock near this quaint town draws lots of tourists every year. Surrounding this iconic rock, is lots of other epic parks that draw less tourists like Oswald West State Park and Ecola State Park. Since this spot is popular for many things, it’s easy to find elopement vendors in the area and lots of cute vacation rental options. This town is built well for tourists so you’ll also find amazing restaurants and cute gift shops. You can learn more about this sweet, little town on the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce website.
These sandstone cliffs of Cape Kiwanda and yet another haystack rock is another iconic Oregon Coast location. This beautiful place is where I currently get to call home! While Cape Kiwanda is iconic, there’s SO many beautiful places nearby to explore that tend to get less tourist traffic. I highly recommend stopping by Pelican Brewing for their awesome food and brews or Stimulus Coffee + Bakery for a snack and drink.
Is it even the Oregon Coast without a classic lighthouse? Yaquina Head Lighthouse graces the horizon from almost every beach in Newport. This town is easy access from Salem and has lots of options for town amenities and places to stay. It has a bit of all the scenery you could ask for. This place is perfect if you’re hoping to include some whale watching for your elopement. Depoe Bay boasts signs in town saying it’s the “whale watching capitol” and for good reason. The shallow bay attracts lots of gray whales, especially during migration season. If you’re a fan of In-N-Out, make sure to stop by 101 Burger in Lincoln City or Depoe Bay for some burgers that give In-N-Out a run for its money.
This small town on the Southern Oregon Coast is lesser known but still packed with all the fun tourist activities you could want. It has wonderful tide pools, cute shops and restaurants, and epic, towering rocks and caves on the beach. Nearby, you’ll also find classic, scraggly coastal forest. Coastal Mist has the best desserts on the coast and Face Rock Creamery is a must visit for some cheese curds and mac and cheese.
If you’re looking for the most adventure packed section of Oregon Coast, Brookings, OR on the Southern Coast is your spot. I called this isolated town home up until recently and let me tell ya, it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. Not only is it the rockiest stretch of coastline Oregon has to offer, but it’s only a 30 minute drive from the Jedidiah Smith Redwoods which is part of Redwood National and State Parks. It is the most isolated stretch of Oregon Coast which also means it has the least tourist traffic of all these locations. This spot doesn’t have the same tourist amenities or access to vendors but don’t worry, I can tell you all the amazing folks I get to work with in the area and all my favorite restaurants to make it easier for you.
Did your blood pressure just spike thinking about the legalities of getting married? Don’t worry, this process is not nearly as complicated as initial research makes it seem.
Like many states, Oregon requires an officiant and two witnesses. If you’re getting married in the state of Oregon, you MUST get an Oregon license. A license from your home state will not be valid if signed in Oregon. You can pick up the license in any county in Oregon and use it anywhere in the state. There is a 3 day waiting period before the license is valid for use. There is an option to waive the 3 day waiting period for $10 if you have a valid reason (and traveling from out of town is a valid reason).
You have two main options for obtaining your marriage license:
I’ve had many couples use both of these options with no issues whatsoever! If you’re confused on which may work best for you, reach out to whatever county you plan on getting your license from. All these explanations are more helpful coming from a pro who works with it everyday. Hood River County has a great website with more wedding license information.
This is another element of legally getting married that is much simpler than it appears. You have lot of options depending on what you have envisioned.
As for witnesses, you can flag down random hikers or beach goers. It’s actually quite fun and people are SO excited to sign your license! Once we found a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary with a roadtrip and another time a recently engaged couple who were looking for where they were going to elope the following year.
If all this sounds too stressful, there’s always the option to get legally married where you’re from before your actual ceremony. Just because the law says you were married one day doesn’t change your anniversary for you. If legalities stress you out, skip them on your actual elopement day so you can just enjoy your day. The legalities don’t change your commitment to your partner!
One of the best things about the Oregon Coast is the weather. 65 degrees in the dead of summer?? Yes please. You won’t have to stress about a heat wave ruining your day and forest fire smoke is quite rare (which is not the case for the rest of the Pacific Northwest).
Fall is the best season to elope on the Oregon Coast. It’s still just as nice out as it was in the summer except most of the tourists are done traveling. Same great weather with a fraction of the crowds. Summer comes in a close second to fall since with a place as expansive as the Oregon Coast, you can dodge the summer crowds.
Winter and spring is a more challenging time to elope on the coast. There’s a higher frequency of rain between December and April. However, rain has never ruined an elopement day in my experiences and you’ll run into the least people during the off season. It’s also easier to hire your dream vendors and get that perfect vacation rental in the off season. It also doesn’t rain every day and usually doesn’t rain all day. I keep a close eye on the weather so we can pivot plans for optimum weather and make small adjustments to make the day as comfortable as possible.
The Oregon Coast is packed with some incredible elopement vendors. The Oregon Coast is all small towns so the vendors tend to be Oregon Coast specialists. I’ve had the honor to work with all of the vendors listed below!
Oh hey, it’s me! I’m Miki, an elopement photographer that specializes in the Oregon Coast (and gets to call this beautiful place home). I’m your gal if you’re looking for an experience based elopement that’s more about the adventure and your love than some posed photos. My work is all about natural looking edits (because nature is so dang beautiful as is), candid moments, organic poses, and emphasizing the beautiful nature you picked as your backdrop.
We love Sabrina of Lilli Productions around here…so much that I have a partnership deal with her (that’s us with one of our awesome couples up there!). There’s something so special about a film of your elopement day that captures it in an entirely different way than photography does. Check out this elopement we worked on together to see my photos and her video side-by-side! You can learn more about our combined services here.
This gal is a PRO at getting your hair and makeup ready to withstand any wind or rain the coast may throw at you. There’s something impressive about watching a bride hike 3 miles and still look as fresh as when Meaghan put on the final touches. You can see more of her work here!
There’s a lot of cute, little venues on the Oregon Coast but Crook Point is my personal favorite. This property has been owned by the Crook family since the late 1800s. It’s packed with multiple venues for weddings of all sizes and multiple vacation homes. It makes it a great fit for elopements and intimate weddings with guests. It can be quite difficult to find a venue that caters to elopements, not just big weddings. This place is perfect even if you only want getting ready photos and a first look on location. AirBNB recently implemented rules that ban events which is interpreted differently depending on the host. Some don’t even allow getting ready photos on their property. Crook Point on the other hand, not only allows getting ready photos at their properties, but has also decorated the spaces with weddings in mind.
Here’s an example of a Crook Point wedding I photographed!
Fine, I’m a bit biased since I happen to have a crush on this officiant. Bob (aka my husband) creates the most incredible ceremonies. He takes the time to really get to know each couple and their history that led them to their wedding day. He uses that to make a custom ceremony, not just the same cookie cutter ceremony that could be used for any random couple. Your elopement can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to emotions. You’ve been through a LOT to get to this day. Having a professional walk you through important milestones of your relationship can have a huge impact on your day and give you a chance to really absorb the meaning of marriage to you. You can learn more about his services and even watch an actual ceremony video here!
To heck with traditional wedding events! May this also serve as a reminder to you that you can have the most EPIC and unconventional wedding day. The Oregon Coast is packed with all sorts of fun activities that you can use to make your elopement day the adventure it should be. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box!
There’s all sorts of adventures you can add to your elopement day. Check out this blog that features a list of activity ideas.
We can’t forget the PNW’s infamous rainy climate! Except, it’s actually not too bad (or maybe I’ve lived here too long?). During the summer and fall, you’ll actually find rain to be quite rare. Even during the rainier seasons, all day rain is infrequent. Even if it does rain, I’ve never had rain ruin an elopement day!
The best part about the Oregon Coast is the temperature. The ocean keeps the weather mild year-round. If you’re not a fan of summer heat, the Oregon Coast is the place for you. Temperatures tend to stick around 65 degrees in the dead of summer while its 90+ degrees when you go inland. The temperature is generally 50 degrees or so in the winter.
Location does matter a bit when it comes to weather! The farther south you get, the more mild the weather is. There are many winter days where the Northern Oregon Coast is 10-20 degrees colder than the Southern Oregon Coast. You’ll also encounter less rain the further south you go. So if you really want a spring or winter elopement, I’d recommend heading to the Brookings, OR area versus the Cannon Beach, OR area.
Regardless, you’ll want to make sure to pack a good raincoat and plenty of layers! This is the best way to deal with the coastal climate. Some beaches are windier than others and shaded forests can get cool so moving between layers as you go works best.
If you’re coming from a state (or 10) away, the best way to get here is to fly! Oregon is a big state so many opt to fly out over the drive time. Most of the time, Portland Airport (PDX) will be the best airport to fly into. It’s a large airport with lots of flight options, generally cheaper, and plenty of rental car options. There’s no good airport that’s actually on the coast.
Many couples opt to make their trip a fun PNW adventure! Some fly to Portland even though they’re eloping on the Southern Oregon Coast so they can drive the full length of the 101 along the coastline. A loop through Washington and Oregon is a pretty amazing way to start your marriage!
The Oregon Coast has an adventure for everyone regardless of mobility. There’s beautiful paved walkways leading to sweeping views and lighthouses that are wheelchair accessible. There are beaches right off parking lots that require only a short walk on mostly flat ground. Then there’s hikes of all lengths from easy going walks to multiple mile challenges (for you type 2 fun folks). This beautiful coastline is accessible for everyone to enjoy!
Disabled Hikers is a PNW based organization that has lots of resources on accessibility for local hikes!
While this resource may be packed with local secrets, there is much, much more packed into the various resources I give my clients. Hiring a local can give you insights into the area that the average person won’t know, no matter how many times they visit.
I’ve spent hours exploring this coastline, taking each random trail, and seeing them in all the seasons and conditions. I make personalized location recommendations based on what you’re looking for, your date and the tides that day, and the kinds of events going on. I have certain sheltered coves I recommend for picnics and areas that will avoid crowds so you can exchange vows privately. I have locations that work best for dogs or spots that are accessible for anyone with mobility limitations. All this research to make sure I have the perfect spot for your specific needs. I think you deserve locations that serve you, not just the photos I want in my portfolio.
My locations may be my crown jewel of local knowledge but I also love recommending the best tide pool spots, restaurants (like where to pick-up pizza between locations), vendors that serve this area, and the ability to change plans quickly if something unexpected happens (like a random fog bank rolling in and covering the beautiful rocks at the location we originally picked).
I’ve taken the dive into becoming an expert in this area so that my couples can have the best day possible here. If you want to chat about what your Oregon Coast elopement could be, fill out my contact form here!