6 Steps to Help You Plan Your Oregon Elopement
Do you want to elope in Oregon? Then this blog is for you! As someone who has lived in this state for many years and witnessed dozens of couples say ‘I do’ here, I can say that getting married in Oregon is one of the most incredible experiences. If you are planning an Oregon elopement and are wondering how to get started, keep reading for my step-by-step guide on how to elope in Oregon.
Decide Where You Want to Elope in Oregon
Oregon is full of amazing places to elope! It is filled with so much diverse scenery from cliffs on the ocean to fern-filled forests to snow-capped mountains, alpine lakes, and more! While I could go on and on about all the incredible places, here are a few of my favorite places to elope in Oregon.
I may be biased, but I think the Oregon Coast is the most beautiful stretch of ocean on the West Coast. Depending on which area of the coast you’d like to visit, you’ll get a completely different elopement experience.
The Northern Oregon Coast is home to smooth beaches with haystack rocks, one of the most popular being Cannon Beach. These beaches are the perfect place to enjoy a picnic celebration meal or watch the sunset after exchanging your vows.
Further down the coast, you’ll start to see the scenery change. The Southern Oregon Coast (specifically areas like Brookings) is home to some of the most beautiful cliffside views that I have ever seen. In this area, you’ll also start to see redwood forests and sand dunes, giving you multiple locations to explore during your Oregon elopement.
Fun fact: Did you know that Mount Hood is the second most climbed mountain in the world? Not only that, but it is also Oregon’s highest peak making it one of the most iconic landmarks in the state. Because of that, the mountain can be viewed from many different areas in Oregon, but I highly recommend lacing up your hiking boots and experiencing the mountain up close during your elopement in Oregon.
Smith Rock State Park
One of my favorite places to elope in Oregon is Smith Rock State Park! Who would have thought that the lush, green PNW could also have red rocks and desert scenery? Not only does this park have gorgeous views that make for a stunning elopement backdrop, but it’s also a great place to go if you’re into rock climbing and want to add a little adventure to your day.
Columbia River Gorge
Located a short distance from Portland, the Columbia River Gorge is home to some of Oregon’s most iconic views! The gorge is a stunning river canyon located along the edge of the Cascade Mountain Range and is home to views like Latourell Falls and Thunder Island. Stretching over 80 miles of land, this area will give you plenty of options to choose from for your elopement in Oregon.
Choose When You Want to Elope in Oregon
Once you’ve decided on where you want to elope in Oregon, you’ll want to pick the best time of year to get married.
As with most places in the PNW, summer is the ideal time to visit. Getting married between July-September will not only give you the best weather, but you’ll also be able to access most locations.
If you want to experience the moody vibes that the PNW is known for, then the Spring or Fall months are the perfect choice! Depending on the day, the weather can be overcast, but that is actually perfect for photos, so don’t let that stop you from getting married during these months.
If you want to get married during the winter months, be prepared for the weather to be a bit wet and cold. You’ll want to pack lots of layers and we’ll work together to find the best lighting during golden hour.
Book Your Transportation and Accommodations
When choosing where you want to stay for your elopement in Oregon, there are a few things to consider. Think about how far away your lodging is from your ceremony location. I suggest keeping your drive no more than an hour away to eliminate drive time between locations.
Also, think about what you will be using the space for. Will you be using it for getting ready? Will you be having dinner there after? Make sure the space matches your aesthetic and vibes especially if you will be having some of your professional photos done at your accommodations.
Hire Your Oregon Elopement Photographer and Other Elopement Vendors
Even though elopements look a little different than traditional weddings, you can absolutely still have vendors. In fact, I recommend hiring vendors as they will not only help your elopement day go more smoothly, but they’ll also be able to help you customize your elopement to match your unique vision. A few elopement vendors to consider hiring include:
- Elopement Photographer
- Elopement Videographer
- Hair/Makeup Artist
- Decor Rentals
- Elopement Planner/Coordinator
Apply for Your Oregon Marriage License and Permits
Whether you are traveling from out of state or you are local to Oregon, if you are eloping in Oregon, you’ll want to make sure to make it official and obtain the proper marriage license and permits.
Obtaining a marriage license in Oregon is a fairly simple process. You’ll want to apply for a marriage license at least 3 days before your elopement, but no more than 60 days. The state has a 3-day waiting period between the time you apply and before the license is valid, so be sure to account for this when planning your elopement. For a complete list of information and marriage license fees, please visit the county website for the elopement location you choose.
Oregon also requires that you have an officiant and two witnesses at your ceremony. You can choose to hire an officiant or have a family member or friend become ordained. I am also a licensed officiant and am happy to perform your ceremony. You will also need two witnesses over the age of 18. If you aren’t planning on inviting any guests to your ceremony, I or your other vendors can act as a witness (if I am not officiating) or we can find another hiker or two along the trail who are usually happy to act as witnesses.
Depending on the location you choose for your Oregon elopement, you may also need a special use permit. These permits are usually required within national parks or locations on government land and have an application form and fee that you may need to submit. As your elopement photographer, I’ll be able to help you walk through this process once we start the planning process together.
Decide What Activities You Would Like to Include in Your Oregon Elopement Timeline
When it comes to deciding what to do during your Oregon elopement, the options are endless! I like to encourage couples to think about activities that are meaningful to them as this helps make the elopement more personal. Some activities to consider are:
- Rock climbing
- Wine tasting
- Cake cutting
- Share a picnic (breakfast, charcuterie, dessert, etc.)
- Catered meal from a private chef
- Listening to your favorite records
- Reading letters from loved ones
- First Dance
- Relaxing in a hot tub
The options are endless!!
Once you’ve decided on a few activities, you can start to craft your elopement timeline. I’ve written an entire blog post to help you decide how much photography coverage you’ll need which you can find below, but in general, here is what I recommend:
- 2 hours – elopement ceremony only
- 6 hours – full elopement experience
- All-day – full elopement experience; perfect for couples who want to explore multiple locations or go at a relaxed pace/include some activities
Pick the Best Oregon Elopement Package for Your Day
As an Oregon elopement photographer, I have created a variety of packages to fit your special day. From two-hour elopements to all-day celebrations, you can not only get the elopement experience you’re after, but you’ll also get photos that document your wedding day from beginning to end and preserve your memories for years to come.
Each package includes:
- Photography Coverage
- Digital gallery of 75+ images per hour
- 6-8 week gallery delivery
- Wedding highlights slideshow
- 48-hour sneak peeks
- Elopement guide full of tips
- Timeline planning assistance
- Permit Guidance
- Communication throughout every step!
Choosing to elope in Oregon not only allows you to get married in one of the most beautiful places, but it’s also a great way to create a day that is filled with meaning and experiences. I hope this guide helps as you start to plan your special day. If you have any questions or are ready to start planning together, I’d love to hear from you!
Ready to elope in Oregon and start planning your special day? Click on the link below to inquire!