One of the first points to consider is where you want to elope. Oregon is a beautiful, wild state, so there are plenty of incredible natural locations to consider. Of course, if you are more city slicker than mountain climber, you could choose to elope right in the heart of Portland. One of the amazing things about eloping is that there is very little holding your creativity back – pick a perfect spot and let’s make it happen!
Oregon can be a little wild when it comes to the weather, but my favorite thing to tell my couples is we go on rain or shine! It’s actually pretty amazing getting to photograph elopements in the rain (can you say Notebook vibes??). That being said, if you want to try to aim for a rain-free elopement day here are some timeline things to be aware of for what Oregon weather is usually like! Western Oregon is usually where it rains more but we have some options! If you are planning to elope in western Oregon it is actually fairly warm during the period between June and September! May through October is still a pretty decent time to get married, especially if you’re wanting to catch the end of that when the leaves start changing color! It’s insanely beautiful, but you might press your luck a little bit there! That being said, if you are aiming to elope in eastern Oregon or near Bend, Oregon you have much more flexibility. Eastern Oregon is known for more of a desert vibe and climate, so year round you have a good rain free elopement possibility! Once again though, eloping in Oregon is about the adventure of it all, so come prepared no matter what, this incredible state has been known to pack in a surprise or two when it comes to the weather. Summer is a common time for couples to elope, if for no other reason than the weather is more likely to cooperate. That doesn’t mean you are limited to the warm months, however, as a little rain or snow doesn’t have to dampen this occasion. Not only do you need to decide on the right time of year, but also the day of the week. I strongly recommend choosing a weekday – ideally Monday – Thursday. This is important because public places will be far less crowded during the week, making for better pictures. For instance, if you elope at an outdoor destination like Haystack Rock or Multnomah Falls, you’ll have far more privacy during the week.
You will need at least a couple of other people to make this elopement in Oregon happen legally. First, you need an officiant to perform the ceremony. This person could be an authorized religious leader, or it could simply be a personal friend or family member who has been ordained online. In addition to an officiant, you’ll need two witnesses for the ceremony. One other point to keep in mind is your marriage license. You can apply for a marriage license within 60 days of your planned wedding date, so add a note to your calendar to take care of this administrative task. To make things official after your Oregon elopement is complete, the officiant will need to sign the license and add other details including the names of the witnesses. Also, Considering it is your wedding day, I don’t think having wedding attire would hurt *wink wink* That being said I have also had some wild couples who have been married in all black, sequins, you name it! So feel free to get a little crazy with your elopement attire if you feel like that speaks to you! Outfit wise, I would also definitely recommend bringing shoes that are easy to walk in! Honestly more often than not locations require a little bit of walking if not hiking to get to and it is way easier to bring shoes to change into than struggling to get to these spots! Also because of the way that Oregon weather is, I always recommend bringing a coat, an umbrella, and even maybe a thick blanket to wrap up in if its a colder season! (Personally, hand warmers are always a must for me too!) On the more fun side of things, don’t be afraid to get a little creative! I’ve had couples show up with jean jackets and hats and champagne bottles! Accessorize your day with whatever props make it feel like it’s all about you two! And finally, the lil detail that I feel like no one ever regrets, bring a mirror! Since more elopements generally happen in the outdoors, having something to do a quick check up with is awesome! If you’re worried about any other details don’t hesitate at all to reach out to me! I got you covered and can walk you through any of the logistics!
If you live in Oregon, the beauty and magic of this place is not lost on you. I love being a wedding photographer in Oregon because there are so many great locations to see and explore. And, if you are going to elope in Oregon, nearly all of these amazing places are up for grabs. Keep an open mind and choose an unforgettable spot to take your vows.
It would be great if we could walk you through all of the possible sites for your elopement in Oregon, but this is a huge state! More than four million people are living in Oregon, and the state is nearly 100,000 square miles. While I can’t cover it all, I can talk briefly about three key areas that deserve your attention – the Portland metro area, the Oregon coast, and Central Oregon.
For people who love the city life, eloping in the heart of Portland makes all the sense in the world. If you already live in or near the city, you won’t have to travel far, and you’ll have a nearly endless list of locations to consider. Some of my favorite spots in the city include Washington Park, City Hall, Mt. Tabor Park, and Cathedral Park. Any of these locations would make for a memorable Oregon elopement, but they are just the start of your options.
Remember, an elopement is a very personal, emotional occasion. It’s great to pick a location that lends itself to great photos, but don’t be afraid to go your own way and pick something that has meaning for you and your partner. If you pick a place that is important to your relationship – wherever that might be in the city – I’ll take care of making the photos look great.
Looking for suggestions for where to hold your Portland elopement? Three of my favorites are as follows –
This is a classic big city park, and it has a little bit of everything. Looking for natural beauty within the city? No problem – there is plenty in the park, including huge evergreen trees, deciduous trees that turn amazing colors in the fall, pongs, creeks, and more. The Oregon Zoo is also part of this expansive public space. One of the big advantages of this park for a couple who wants to elope in Portland is the sheer size of the park – even on a busy day, you can find a little corner somewhere to grab some privacy.
When you think about eloping, one of the first ideas that may come to mind is heading straight to City Hall. This is a classic plan, and one that works particularly well in Portland thanks to the beautiful old architecture of the building. Built in 1895, this building has all of the historic charm you could possibly want for your elopement photographs. With an entrance off 4th Ave between Jefferson and Madison, this is a convenient location for those who live in the city.
The city of Portland is known for many things, but those who visit the city for the first time are often surprised and impressed by the many bridges that crisscross the landscape. To include one of those iconic bridges in your big day, Cathedral Park is a great pick. It’s located underneath the beautiful St. Johns Bridge, and directly on the shores of the Willamette River.
About an hour and half to two hours away from Portland, the Oregon Coast is one of the most breathtaking places to elope. Lined with rugged beaches, fog covered cliff lines, roaring waves and incredible sights (*cough, cough* I’m looking at you Haystack Rock), this is one of my favorite places for elopements. Between the natural beauty and the relaxed mood you can’t go wrong with the Oregon Coast.
Plus, you can take it from the elopement all the way to the honeymoon in one spot. The Oregon Coast is lined with some of the cutest little towns and they are all filled with air bnb’s or cottages, check out this link for my fav! If Manzanita isn’t for you definitely take the time to explore these locations as options: Astoria, Cannon Beach, Pacific City, Or Lincoln City!
Moving from north to south, a partial list of the great cities along the coast includes Seaside and Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Yachats, and more. The character of the coast changes as you travel, but the beauty never fades.
A list of elopement options on the Oregon Coast could easily stretch to 30 spots and beyond, but I’ve highlighted some favorites below.
Of course, if you are already thinking about the coast for eloping in Oregon, you are no stranger to Haystack Rock. This iconic coast location is found in Cannon Beach, and it can be seen from miles away up and down the beach. Enjoying a hot cup (or bowl!) of chowder at Mo’s just to the south of Haystack Rock is an Oregon Coast tourist classic, helping you to warm up before or after your walk on the beach. Standing 235-feet tall, the rock itself cuts an imposing figure on the beach and makes dramatic photography possible. Beyond pictures, this is an excellent Oregon elopement destination because of what the rest of Cannon Beach can offer. Just steps off the beach you will find high-quality hotels, delicious restaurants, fun local shops, and more. Imagine waking up in a tucked away castle by the sea. The Arch Cape Inn is a natural & romantic chateau that would start and end your elopement day incredibly. Or you could go with something like the Surf Sand Resort . Roll out of a comfy bed and wake up to cinnamon rolls and get married outside at sunset with the waves right at your doorstep. End the night with a bonfire and champagne. This small coastal city is full of surprises. Make it what you want it. Go for a getaway experience or be a true PNW couple and wake up at sunrise and hike the beautiful terrain of tidal pools, coves and caves. Get your clothes muddy and seal your day with a brew from Pelican.
Come along the coast away from Cannon just a little bit and you will find nine miles of the most jaw dropping scenery at Ecola State Park. Are you hikers or surfers? This one is for you. Spend the day of your elopement doing what you love and then get married at one of the most incredible viewpoints you’ll ever see. After your ceremony take your lover down to Indian beach and watch the stars and snuggle up. Can’t go wrong with this one.
Seaside is less than 10 miles north of Cannon Beach – but wow, what a difference. These two coast destinations are polar opposites, despite being separated by such a short distance. In Cannon Beach, you will notice a quiet, grown-up vibe – while Seaside is a vibrant, family-oriented beach town. And they are both great! If you find that Seaside is more your style, this can also be a great place to elope in Oregon. Just a 90-minute drive from Portland – when traffic is cooperating, of course – you can easily make your elopement a day trip from the city, if you wish. There are plenty of fun spots for pictures beyond the beach, including the arcade, carousel, aquarium, and on and on.
You don’t have to go far on the Oregon coast to find stunning views. They are available just about everywhere on the coast – but some spots stand out above the others, and Cape Kiwanda is one of those- a scene out of a movie with its cliff climbing waves and nooks and crannies. Climb up the dunes and find yourself in this hidden lush haven or walk the other way and be standing on the edge of a lookout. Kites and hang gliders and possibly even whales in the distance of this beautiful scene. Eloping at Cape Kiwanda allows you to get photos of you and your boo in multiple scenic backgrounds. Right on the shore or high above it all, or a mixture of both. If you are looking for a location to elope in Oregon where incredible views will serve as the backdrop for this special event, look no further than Cape Kiwanda. Incredibly, you can reach this amazing location in less than two hours from Portland, making it both convenient and unforgettable.
This town is nicknamed the gem of the Oregon Coast, which is always surprising to people! But seriously it lives up to its awesomeness. This coastal city in Oregon gives you a taste of both lush forests to one side and wild ocean to the other. The neatest thing about eloping in Yachats is that instead of sand quite a bit of the coastline is black basalt rock formed by lava flow millions of years ago. These rocks create the most unpredictable but stunning crashing waves and spray often making some fun formations like Thor’s Well or Devil’s Churn.
Drive five miles down from Cannon Beach and you will find the lesser known spot Hug Point. I honestly love that this spot is such a quiet spot compared to Cannon because on some days you can literally get this incredible place to yourself. When the tide is out (definitely check and see the time for this on your day because you want to take advantage of this!) you can sneak around the cliffside and find a hidden waterfall and tidal pools. There is also these insane rock formations with limestone inside, these would be the most incredible backdrop for your elopement! Also if you go far enough you can climb up the wall on this super easy path and get a gorgeous look out point! Eloping at Hug Point, though the last thing on this list probably one of the most beautiful options for you and your boo!
Bend is the city at the heart of the action in Central Oregon, but the surrounding towns and areas are also worthy of your consideration. It’s easy to fall in love with the natural beauty and laid-back vibe in this high desert location. Outside of the city of Bend, there is nearby Redmond, the mountain town of Sisters, the huge resort development at Sunriver, Mt. Bachelor, and on and on.
The options for Oregon elopement in this outdoor playground are endless, but here are my top three choices-
Smith Rock State Park is a location that stands out for its sheer stunning beauty. As you drive to the park, it’s easy to think that nothing notable will be waiting at the end of the road – and then you are blown away! On any given day, you are likely to see rock climbers doing their thing on the many vertical faces rising from the canyon below, and the contrast of tan/red rocks and bright blue sky is unforgettable. It’s not hard to get great pictures anywhere in Central Oregon, but Smith Rock makes it particularly easy.
Okay – so we might be stretching the limits of what can be called ‘Central Oregon’ a bit here, as Crater Lake State Park is more than a 90-minute drive from Bend. But have you seen the views? Stunning. Ridiculous. Once-in-lifetime memorable. Standing at one of the many viewpoints along the top of the rim is an experience you won’t soon forget – especially if you are there to elope. This spot has the advantage of looking great in pictures and also being an amazing experience for you and your partner (and your photographer!). Although the park is technically open all year long, this location is best for a summer elopement, as the park gets a ton of snow during the average winter and many roads and facilities are closed seasonally.
If you love Central Oregon but prefer a bit of an urban scene to a completely natural landscape, the Old Mil District is perfect. This lively shopping and dining center is at the heart of everything that happens in Bend. What’s great about eloping here, and taking pictures here, is the options that you will have available. There is still the natural beauty that makes the Bend area famous, as the Deschutes River weaves gently by, carrying countless rafters in the summer months. In addition, you have the Old Mill itself for a rugged industrial look, and plenty of other choices.
If you are overwhelmed by the process of picking out a date for your Oregon elopement, I would like to suggest a three-step process to land on the perfect spot on the calendar.
Start with the season. To get started, take a big-picture approach and think about what time of year you’d like to elope. This decision is going to be tied closely to the location you have selected. For instance, if you want sunny pictures on the coast, aiming for the summer is best. However, stormy pictures can be great too, so maybe you’d prefer the fall. Or, perhaps you’re thinking Central Oregon, where it is almost always sunny, but snow can pile up in the winter months. Factor in your location and desired weather and settle on the right season.
This is the part that can be a bit of a headache, but there is no way around it. With your season picked out, you’ll need to deal with the nitty-gritty of things like time off work, availability of your officiant and witnesses, etc. Also, if you are going to hire a photographer (Hi!), you’ll need to check their schedule, as well.
Try to collect suitable dates from all involved and then compare them all until you arrive on a date that will work for everyone. With your date picked, you can put down a deposit on your photography, book a hotel room (if necessary), start planning clothes, and more.
There is very little to consider on this last point, other than making sure the people you involve are those who are most important in your life. Maybe you want your parents to be your witnesses, while one of your friends or siblings serves as officiant. Maybe the only people from your personal life will be just you and your partner, while everyone else is a paid participant (you can hire an officiant for the day, and I’d be happy to be one of your witnesses!). This is completely and entirely your decision. Talk it over with your partner and pick the people who mean the most and deserve to be included in this important occasion.
Naba Zabih is a wedding and elopement photographer based in the Pacific Northwest. Servicing the local area of Vancouver, Washington, and Greater Portland. Photographing all couples of all backgrounds. Often traveling for weddings across the U.S and worldwide. Capturing beautiful wedding photos filled with artistic portraits and candid storytelling to preserve the most emotional of moments.Contact Me