ELOPE IN OREGON:
Your Ultimate Guide
locations, permits, marriage license info, and more.
AS A LOCAL OREGON ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER, I’VE COMPILED ALL THE INFO ON HOW TO ELOPE IN OREGON BELOW, INCLUDING LOCATION IDEAS AND MORE.
Are you ready to elope your life?
Let’s create a day for you that’s wild, bold, and full of fun in a dramatic landscape!
DO I NEED WITNESSES TO ELOPE IN OREGON?
Two witnesses and an officiant
MARRIAGE LICENSE INFO
How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Oregon?
How can I legally elope in Oregon?
You need a marriage license, at the cost of $60. It’s good for 60 days, and in most counties, you are allowed to waive the 3-day waiting period for a small fee. Two witnesses and an officiant are required to sign the license (did I mention I’m also a licensed officiant if you’re just wanting to read vows and sign papers?). Based on “landscape traits”, I’ll help you select the best view. Whether that’s a mountain peak, or a gorgeous sandstone cliff overlooking the ocean. Let’s get started…
BEST PLACES TO ELOPE IN OREGON
CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK
LOOK NO FURTHER FOR THE BLUEST BACKDROP YOU CAN FIND FOR AN ELOPEMENT
Best Time to Visit
June – September . The north entrance is not open before late May and closes due to snow in late October. That means a majority of the scenic Rim Drive is not accessible to visitors from November to May. June-September is always a safe bet to elope in Oregon.
Views of the caldera, pumice desert, Wizard Island, hiking trails, high elevation for stargazing. If you’re wanting epic views at sunrise or sunset and a unique elopement location, Crater Lake may be the place for you. Your elopement does require a permit and has some limitations on amplified music, etc., but overall it is completely worth it. I’ve written more about how to Elope at Crater Lake (click the link for more info!). Depending on how long you want to hike, I can recommend some amazing spots along the rim that ensure that the likelihood of being bothered during your ceremony is slim.
Inside Info: Late June or September is prime time to avoid most wildfires. Sunrise is also less busy than sunset! It also gets windy at the rim, especially in the afternoon, so bring a jacket even if you think you won’t need one! Winter is not the most ideal time at Crater Lake, since access is significantly limited, and the caldera (the actual lake) isn’t visible most of the time.
Best Time of Year: Late June-September, but avoid early-mid July for mosquitoes!
PRO TIP: Get your permit early.
MORE OREGON ELOPEMENT LOCATIONS BELOW!
There are waterfalls aplenty no matter where you look in Oregon.
Best Time to Visit
April – October. Depending on where you’re headed, some higher elevation waterfalls may have snow (like the North Umpqua or McKenzie River areas). In general, November through April is a rainy time of year for Oregon.
Location Traits: towering falls, granite cliffs, columnar basalt, algae/moss. There are waterfalls aplenty no matter where you look to elope in Oregon. Do you want tall towering waterfalls, or rushing flowing rivers over boulders that fall a shorter distance? How long of a hike are you wanting to trek? Your biggest waterfall selections are going to be just outside of Portland along the Columbia Gorge, along the North Umpqua River (near me!), or along the McKenzie River.
McKenzie River, North Umpqua
PRO TIP: Consider lesser-known areas like the Umpqua
Best Time to Visit: April-Early November
If you’re wanting epic views at sunrise or sunset and a unique elopement location,
Best Time to Visit
Early April – October. Places in Eastern Oregon fall in a rain shadow, so while they may not get the precipitation like the Cascades, several inches of snowfall are possible in the high desert areas of Harney County and Lake County. Also, temperatures can regularly hover around freezing or below. Fall is actually the driest season for the Alvord Desert.
Salt flats, colorful hills, far-off mountains, dry lake beds. Lots of people think “elope in Oregon” and images of rugged coastline, rain, and forests come to mind. But what most people don’t realize is half our state is high desert. On the eastern side of the Cascades, there are a variety of landscapes that are just as epic as the rainier portion of the state.
The Painted Hills needs a permit, and don’t discount places like Christmas Valley or the Alvord Desert. The drawback for some people, these locations are pretty far removed from civilization and have little in the way of shopping, convenience stores, etc.
The Alvord Desert
BEST TIME OF YEAR: April – October
PRO TIP: Summer days can be warm, but nights can be cold.
WHAT PAST COUPLES HAVE TO SAY
Everything from the first phone call meeting to the day of and beyond was truly amazing. Sam is a fountain of knowledge and endless support. She provided us guidance in picking our location, she was always there for the one-off random questions, and her enthusiasm for everything adventure made the experience one we treasure for our entire lives. We are so happy we “eloped our life,” as Sam would say.
Ariel & Bailey, Oregon/California
We had the extreme pleasure of getting married on the Alvord Desert this year…. We were lucky enough to find Sam Starns who helped us create an amazing day. She put so much effort and thought into getting to know us, our dreams for a perfect wedding and the planning to make it a reality. Thanks to Sam, we got hitched without a hitch 😁…. Such an amazing experience that we will never forget.
Ben & Kendall, Oregon
Sam captured our elopement at Crater Lake and in the Umpqua National Forest and we couldn’t have been happier with our decision! Sam’s client portal is a fantastic resource and we loved that she crafted a timeline for us. The connection and communication between all of us really took the day to the next level….
Can’t say enough positive things about Sam and her elopements! If the idea of a traditional wedding makes you squirm, BOOK HER.
Reilly & Cory, Oregon
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
THE OREGON COAST
If your group is smaller than 50 people (ideal for an intimate wedding or elopement), and no structures are going up, you most likely will not need a permit. Definitely contact the State Park Coastal Office for more info. If you need a permit for a larger gathering or because there will be structures (arbors, chairs, etc.). Keep in mind permits are not issued from May-September. All Oregon beaches are public land, which means areas cannot be reserved, and the public technically cannot be excluded. Don’t worry, though – it’s usually pretty easy to find a quiet location and Oregonians are respectful of each other on their beloved beaches.
Tides & Sunrise/Sunset
Trust me, you’ll want to know this information so you don’t end up trying to avoid the incoming tide, or realizing you won’t have enough daylight!
Best Time to Visit
Late May – Early October. Late October through March is dodgy when it comes to precipitation. From Fall to late Spring, rain and drizzle is prevalent (but don’t let that stop you if you’ve got your heart set on the coast!).
Rocky bluffs, sandstone, sand beaches, ocean-surrounded rock formations, waterfalls (yes, some beaches do have them!), lighthouses. My opinion on the Oregon Coast is this: it’s one of my favorite places. It’s not super crowded (except the north coast), there’s a variety of topography, you’ve got access to cute shops on boardwalks, there’s fun microbreweries aplenty, and it’s an hour and a half drive from I-5 at most.
PRO TIP: Find out tides and sunrise/sunset
CHECK IT OUT: Oregon Tide Chart
If you’re considering Cannon Beach as your backdrop
TWO MORE THINGS
I would actually urge you to consider another nearby beach, if not avoid the north coast altogether. There are so many locations that are more scenic, and more importantly: LESS CROWDED. As an elopement photographer, I can tell you this has been a nightmare for couples.
Parking can be a nightmare (there isn’t really a designated spot for the beach, so street parking is typical), and there’s a reason people decide to go to Cannon Beach – it’s one of the most blogged and photographed places on the Oregon Coast. If you want beachcombers in your images, then this may be the place for you, but if not…
I’ve got a list of over two dozen other significantly less crowded and more scenic locations all up and down the Oregon Coast. Let’s find you one that resonates with you.
The second thing? If you’re thinking of having a small wedding on the Oregon Coast on a Friday-Sunday, especially from May-September, be prepared for it to be insanely crowded. If you can at all, I would highly suggested moving your day to Mon-Thurs.
PRO TIP: Cannon Beach isn’t your only option.
PRO TIP: Avoid Friday-Sunday dates for less crowds.
5 Tips for Eloping on the Oregon Coast
- Make sure you do (or don’t) need a permit
- Check the tides on your wedding day
- Check sunrise and sunset on an accurate app
- Be open to locations other than Cannon Beach (if you choose the South Coast, you’ll be able to visit the Redwoods in the same day!)
- Choose a Monday-Thursday to avoid crowds.
OREGON ELOPEMENT VENDORS
The following vendors are my top recs for Oregon in general. They travel, and are some of the best when it comes to specializing in adventure elopements:
Hair and Makeup: Meaghan of Black Fern Beauty Company is an adventure elopement specialist with concierge service (tagging along to make sure your makeup is fire all day). She travels all over the Pacific Northwest but is based in Southern Oregon.
Officiant: Jimmie Berguin is a top-notch comedy man that will give you an amazing ceremony! I would also recommend looking into Emily at Rooted & Wild PDX, who has fantastic vow workshops.
Florals: While florals are more location-specific, here are a few I have loved working with: Flowers & Thyme (Eugene), Barb’s Flowers (Roseburg), Bramble Floral (Portland), Pacific Coast Floral Design (North Coast), Woodland Floral (Central Oregon), and Flora Organica Designs (Eureka, CA).
I’M SAM. AND I REGRET MY WEDDING.
I know. Yikes. Here’s the thing: I cried on my wedding day. They weren’t happy tears, either. Let me tell you my story. I had a day that wasn’t really about the connection I had with my husband. It wasn’t about who we were as people and about the things we loved.
It wasn’t “us”.
Imagine having an adventure elopement day that includes whatever floats your boat. Whether it’s adrenaline packed, laughter-filled, chill vibes, or a combo of all of the above.
Then add in a kickass connection between you and your partner that’s enabled by dedicating that day TO YOU.
I help fun & free spirited couples create bold wedding days in dramatic places like the Oregon Coast, Redwoods, Alaska, Glacier National Park, Hawaii, Scotland, Greece and beyond.
Then my couples use that empowerment to transform the rest of their lives.