Oregon is one of the top elopement destinations in the USA. And for GOOD REASON! With stunning landscapes, and relatively mild seasons (it’s not always raining I promise!!) It’s no wonder we get soo many visitors to my home state! Whether you’re a local, or want to plan a destination elopement in the PNW – Oregon is the BEST place to elope (I’m not biased at allll!) In this guide I’ll go over all the information you’ll need to plan your Oregon Elopement!
Eloping in Oregon is pretty straightforward! To legally get married, you will need an officiant, a marriage license, and two witnesses over the age of 18 who are not the officiant or one of the partners. You have 2 options when it comes to eloping:
Marriage license: The specific details vary by county, and typically cost around $50-$60. One thing to note is that most Oregon counties have a “3-day waiting period” required from the day you apply for the license til the ceremony date. Some offices may waive this for a fee under “good cause.” Licenses are valid for 60 days after the waiting period. If you don’t have your ceremony within that timeframe, you then will need to apply for a new license. Your ceremony must be done by an ordained individual (pastor, judge, OR a friend/family member who has gone through the certification process.)
Permits: Depending on where specifically you elope, you may need to apply for a permit. National Parks most always require one (either a special use permit and/or a photographers permit.) That’s something we would need to directly contact the NPS about! State Parks also have their own set of rules when it comes to elopements. Depending on if/how many guests you’ll have, you may need a permit as well.
When it comes to picking a location for your elopement, there are sooo many options!! The PNW has such incredible landscapes to explore, and so many amazing parks, trails, and venues to choose from. Here is a short list of Elopement Locations in Oregon
The coast is my absolute favorite place to be! The PNW coastline is so wild and rugged, you can’t help but fall in love when you visit. There are tons of little beach areas to explore all along the Oregon coast, here are a few of the best:
The Columbia River Gorge has sooo many epic elopement locations! Located so close to Portland, AND Washington – this place is gorgeous and accessible! I have so many spots exclusive to my clients but here are a few of the best place to elope near the Columbia River Gorge:
A wedding venue can be a great way to host an elopement with guests, or an intimate wedding with a few loved ones! You get a lot of the pressure taken off of you when it comes to taking care of your guests. Logistics such as parking, bathrooms, accessibility, and food are generally handled by the venue – leaving you to enjoy your day without the hassle!
If you or a friend/family member has the space, this can be a great option! Still getting the intimate wedding venue vibes but at a lower cost! PLUS there’s no rush or time limit as to when you can set up or have to leave by! Just check with your local ordinances about noise levels, and consider the parking situation!
Booking a VRBO or Airbnb for your elopement/intimate wedding can be so awesome! Not only do you get a unique, comfy space to get ready and relax in, but you can book staycations for before and after your elopement! I recommend booking for at least 2 nights – that way you’re not rushing to pack/clean up right before or after your wedding! Always check the fingerprint details of what is allowed, and reach out to hosts if you plan on having any additional guests over. There as been an increase in strict event rules for some of these places, and we want to be respectful of the property hosts! Just imagine eloping at an enchanting Treehouse in the woods!
Seasons: If you want to visit a waterfall and experience all its flowing glory – Spring or early Summer (April-June) is the best time! Wildflowers may also be around at this time! Mountain weddings are best done in the Summer (July-Sept) as Oregon can get a lot of snow in the Winter-Spring (Dec-March)! For the coast, it can be hit or miss on seeing the sun – this is the PNW after all! Late summer might be the best time for warmer weather, but you really never know as it frequently changes! If you’re wanting that classic moody vibe that the PNW is known for, the Fall-Winter is a great time to catch it!
Weather: It’s no secret, we get a lot of rain here in Oregon. BUT, we do also see the sun! In the Summer temperatures range from 70-100. The fall is a lovely time to explore as temperatures dip and the weather is mild. The rain picks up by the end of October as we prepare for the colder months. Winter conditions vary each year, but lots of rain and snow are to be expected. Spring continues with the common rainy forecasts, but that is what brings the gorgeous array of wildflowers and waterfalls – so you can’t be too mad! You will find plenty of dry/sunny days mixed in there, but always be prepared with layers and an umbrella!
Time of day: Sunrise, sunset, all-day, or multi-day! Your elopement experience can be as long or as short as you want it to be. Having a sunrise elopement is a great way to beat the heat, and the crowds, in the Summer. And having a sunset elopement ceremony can be so stunning on the coast, and in the mountains! If you’re having trouble deciding the timing of your elopement – your photographer is the person to ask! I’m so happy to offer any input into the timeline logistics of my clients day!
Eloping gives you so much freedom in regard to your wedding day timeline! Whether you include guests or not, you typically have a lot more flexibility to include activities on your elopement day. Whether you’re an outdoorsy couple or not – there are so many fun things you can do on your elopement day!
While elopements and intimate weddings tend to have much fewer moving parts than a traditional wedding, there are still some things you might want to book in advance! There is no limit on what you can include on your day, it can be as DIY or as bougie as you want. Always ask your photographer for vendor referrals, as we most often have a list compiled of fellow artists and vendors whose work we are familiar with and can recommend!
Just because an elopement is more low-key than a big traditional wedding, there still are some important things to plan for. By preparing for your day well in advance, you’ll give yourself the freedom to really be present on your elopement day. That looks like, making lists, packing in advance, trying on all your outfits/gear, scouting out locations, booking local accommodations/vendors – and booking them in advance! I’m here every step of the way to help my clients plan and prepare for their elopement – and can offer more insight into how to properly plan for an elopement at the location they choose!
Since we know the PNW can throw us curve balls with the weather, it’s important to always keep a flexible and adaptable mindset when preparing for things – especially on the coast! Some days we might not get as much of a golden sunset if the fog decides to stay close, or the rain might make a trail totally inaccessible! While I will always keep ya updated on the weather forecast, sometimes there’s only so much we can do and we gotta roll with the punches! The great thing about elopements is you get to decide exactly when/where you say I do. Whether that means doing a short 10 min hike into the forest, postponing ceremony, or changing locations on a whim: you have the freedom to decide!
It’s always important to take care of our planet, and be good stewards of our public lands! This means being careful of wear we hike, packing out everything we brought in, and being mindful of any and all of the trail rules!
Ready to plan your dream Oregon elopement? I’ve got plenty more resources as your experienced Oregon elopement photographer and would LOVE to get to know you and your vision! Let’s connect and make your elopement ideas come to life!