I’m a wedding & elopement photographer for laid back couples that value the idea of being married more than just having a party. They want photos that show their true selves and represent their love of nature, and prefer to be more natural than overly posed.
Oregon is full of diverse landscapes, natural wonders, outdoor activities, and exceptional accommodations. From its breathtaking coastline to its more hidden, low-key ceremony spots in the heart of the state, it’s no surprise that Oregon is one of the most popular places in the U.S. for elopements. Whether you’re dreaming of a Sunrise hiking adventure elopement near Mt. Hood or a romantic beach vow ceremony at Sunset, you and your partner will be able to celebrate your love intentionally and authentically in Oregon! I’m an Oregon elopement photographer who loves helping laid-back couples tie the knot in beautiful places. This guide contains all my favorite ceremony locations and accommodations, along with some of my best tips and tricks you need to know before you elope in Oregon!
Oregon is beautiful year-round, and picking the best time of year for your elopement depends on your vision for the day! If you and your partner want clear, sunny skies, trail access in the high country, and warmer weather, then July to mid-October are the best months for you! Summer into early Fall is the most popular time of year to visit Oregon, so expect crowds, especially at popular tourist destinations.
If you and your partner want a more low-key, less crowded experience when you elope in Oregon, consider visiting during off-seasons. If you and your partner are interested in a skiing elopement or want to have fun in the snow, February and March are the best Winter months to visit Oregon. Spring can also bring clear sky days to the Oregon coast and be amazing if you don’t mind some chilly weather. The desert is also underrated in the Fall and winter, often warmer and without the crowds in many other parts of the state.
Much like the time of year, picking the perfect time of day all depends on your priorities for your elopement ceremony. Eloping at Sunrise can be more secluded, with an increased chance for better weather and magical lighting like “alpenglow” on east-facing locations. Sunset can also be secluded, and while the weather may be more unpredictable in the evenings during certain times of the year, it’ll be warmer, and you and your partner get to sleep in. If you can’t decide on a time of day, you can always choose a full-day elopement package and do both Sunrise and Sunset!
Eloping on a weekday offers lower crowd levels, even during peak seasons. I recommend a midweek date for any elopement in Oregon, no matter the time of year, but especially if you’re visiting during Summer. Parking lots fill up quickly and add an extra level of stress that’s unnecessary. Traffic can also be problematic during weekends around cities and popular sightseeing areas. As a bonus, if you’re trying to book a high-demand vendor or accommodation, they’re more likely to have availability on a weekday than a weekend.
Oregon is a vast state and home to many picturesque elopement locations that require a scenic drive away from the state’s big cities. If you and your partner are traveling from out of state, I recommend flying into Portland International Airport (PDX). Oregon has some smaller airports closer to Central and South Oregon, such as Eugene, Bend and Medford. If you plan on renting a car or driving to Oregon in Winter, ensure your vehicle has proper traction tires or chains, which you’re required to carry in your vehicle from November 1 – April 1.
Nearly 8,000 years ago, a volcano collapsed after an eruption, forming a large, deep blue lake. Located in Southern Oregon, Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful elopement locations in the state, especially at Sunrise or Sunset. The shimmering lake reflects the surrounding Cascade Range and offers a wide variety of activities, from kayaking to hiking. Crater Lake is dog-friendly and requires a park entry fee. To elope in Crater Lake, you’ll also need to obtain a special use permit for one of the designated park locations!
Surrounded by incredible views of South Sister, Mount Bachelor, and Broken Top, Sparks Lake is an intimate elopement location 25 miles from Bend, Oregon. Sparks Lake is an ideal ceremony spot for couples who want to elope in Oregon with a private vow exchange, while surrounded by the towering pine trees and grassy meadows of Deschutes National Forest.
If you and your partner love rock climbing, mountain biking, or hiking, Smith Rock State Park is the perfect, dog-friendly place for your adventure elopement! Made up of deep river canyons, rigid rock faces, overlooks, and trails, Smith Rock State Park is located in Central Oregon’s high desert near Redmond. A special use permit and a $5-day parking pass are required here. Parking can fill up fast, so consider a Sunrise or Sunset weekday elopement to avoid crowds!
If you and your partner are set on a waterfall elopement, Columbia River Gorge is home to many spectacular waterfalls, the most iconic being Multnomah Falls. At 620 feet (189 m), Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the state and cascades over two tiers of basalt cliffs behind the Multnomah Creek Bridge. While the falls are most powerful during Winter and Spring, Summer is the most popular season to visit Columbia River Gorge. If you plan a Summer elopement here, know the scenic area can be extremely busy. Timed entry permits from May to September are required to visit Multnomah Falls. No special use permit is needed to elope in Columbia River Gorge if your celebration is under 75 guests.
From skiing to hiking, Mt. Hood has it all. Mt. Hood is just under a two-hour drive from Portland and surrounded by a vast National Forest full of some of the state’s best recreational activities. If you and your partner want to plan a Mt. Hood elopement, consider which activities you’d like to make a part of your adventure before booking your trip! Mt. Hood is incredible year-round and has some of the best resorts in the state! You’ll need a special use permit if you’re eloping in Mt. Hood National Forest. If you’re planning a skiing elopement, you’ll need lift tickets!
Painted Hills is located in the heart of Oregon, a unique, colorful landscape within John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Formed from volcanic reactions, climate patterns, and natural materials, Painted Hills is a one-of-a-kind elopement location for couples looking for an eclectic outdoor celebration. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument doesn’t require an entry fee, and no permit is needed (if the guest count is under 20 people) to elope at Painted Hills. The area and surrounding trails are also dog-friendly!
There are many hidden gem locations across Oregon that can offer couples a more private experience. The Wallowas are the highest mountain range outside the Cascades, located in the Northeast corner of Oregon. From waterfalls to grasslands, mountain peaks, and lakes, The Wallowa Mountains are a beautiful, quiet elopement location year-round. You and your partner can celebrate with a Sunrise hiking elopement on one of the area’s many trails before spending a day kayaking on Wallowa Lake or exploring the nearby town of Joseph.
Oregon is best known for its magical coastline. From marine wildlife to cozy beach towns, incredible rock formations, grassy meadows, and more, the Oregon Coast is a picturesque elopement destination unlike any other in the state. Some of my favorite ceremony locations along the Oregon Coast include Cape Kiwanda, Hug Point, Ecola State Park, Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, and God’s Thumb. If you’re planning a Summer elopement and traveling from Portland, traffic to the coast can sometimes be heavy.
A rustic and romantic retreat in Central Oregon, FivePine Lodge and Cabins offers various cabins and suites. Located about half an hour outside Bend, it’s a great place to relax and reconnect with your partner. If you’re planning an intimate wedding with family and friends, FivePine can also double as a ceremony location!
Luxury amidst Oregon’s stunning wilderness, Lake Creek Lodge has 22 private cabins and elevated amenities such as a heated pool, fire pits, wifi access, pickleball courts, and more! Whether you and your partner are eloping or planning an intimate wedding, Lake Creek Lodge offers a wedding package and 42 acres of property to celebrate on.
Located on the McKenzie River in Central Oregon, Loloma is a historic lodge with five surrounding river cabins. Loloma Lodge is a pet-friendly accommodation with many nearby local activities, such as hiking trails, waterfalls, fishing areas, and waterfalls. Couples that stay at Loloma Lodge can also choose to host their elopement or intimate wedding celebration here, with the option to book the entire property and lodge out for the ceremony!
Located in Mt. Hood National Forest, Forrest Lodge is a famous luxury accommodation nestled amongst fir and pine trees. Sleeping up to 12 people with four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. From a hot tub to a large, gourmet kitchen, Forrest Lodge is a private escape perfect for an intimate elopement getaway with the one you love.
Outside Joseph, Oregon, are two cozy chalets between Wallowa Lake and Eagle Cap Wilderness. Wallowa Lake Modern Chalets offer beautiful mountain and lake views and access to an outdoor sauna. The chalets are dog-friendly and have many modern luxuries like wifi and coffee machines. These amazing accommodations are the perfect getaway for couples eloping or celebrating with an intimate ceremony in Oregon.
Deschutes A-Frame Cabin sits within a private community in Deschutes National Forest. It’s an ideal accommodation for couples who want a cozy, private retreat to relax after their elopement! The A-Frame has a large projector, fireplace, hot tub, and a patio illuminated with twinkling string lights.
Just south of Lincoln City in Gleneden Beach is Salacia Chalet, an oceanfront cabin with an incredible view of the Pacific Ocean. The cabin sits on an overlook and sleeps up to five guests. You and your partner can whale watch from this cute cabin before spending your day exploring your adventure elopement.
With private bay views and a cozy fire ring, Drift Cabin is an intimate accommodation that’s simple, modern, and relaxing. Located along Coos Bay on the Southwestern coast of Oregon, Drift Cabin is a comfortable place to unwind after your elopement ceremony.
If you and your partner have ever dreamed of sleeping in a treehouse in the forest, Tree Top Studio is perfect! This dreamy accommodation in southern Oregon has a cozy loft with a queen bed, outdoor shower, and a fully equipped kitchen. Couples can spend the evening stargazing on the treehouse’s patio, listening to the relaxing sounds of the surrounding forest.
There are so many seasonal activities available in Oregon! Here’s a list of some of my favorites!
If you want to elope in Oregon legally, you and your partner can grab your marriage license at any County Clerk’s Office in Oregon! I recommend visiting the one closest to your elopement location. Before your visit, fill out the marriage license application online. Oregon has a three-day waiting period before a ceremony can take place after a license has been issued! So, be sure to visit an Oregon County Clerk’s Office on a weekday, at least three days before your elopement ceremony. There’s a $55.00 one-time license fee, and you and your partner will need to provide government-issued identification at the time of your visit. Two witnesses and an officiant must be present during the ceremony to make the marriage official! If you need help finding an officiant and witnesses, I can assist with that process as your elopement photographer!
One of the many beautiful things about eloping is that you and your partner can customize your ceremony to be whatever you want! While some couples choose to get a marriage license before their elopement day, many don’t! It’s totally fine to get married without a marriage license, say your vows, and then worry about the legalities later if you so choose!
Depending on the location of your Oregon elopement, ceremony permits may be necessary, especially on lands in National or State Parks. Be sure to check online or with park staff or rangers ahead of your ceremony date. Some ceremony locations that require a permit either need to be obtained weeks in advance or book up quickly, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to nail down the details! As your elopement photographer, I’ll help you secure permits once we decide on a location together!
Hiring high-quality, local elopement vendors can help bring your dream ceremony to life! While hiring vendors isn’t necessary, they can help ease the stress of your big day. If you’re planning to elope in Oregon, hiring local vendors familiar with your ceremony location will ensure your elopement goes off without a hitch! When hiring vendors, research and read reviews, chat with them over the phone, and thoroughly read contracts before signing. If you’re unsure which vendors would be the right fit for your celebration, I’m happy to share suggestions with you as your elopement photographer!
While planning your Oregon elopement, make sure to list all the items you’ll need to pack for your adventure! Here’s a list of elopement packing essentials to get you started:
3:00 am – Meet at the Paulina Creek Falls trailhead and gear up!
3:15 am – Begin hike in the dark (2.5 miles).
4:45 am – Arrive at first look location; alpenglow begins, change into wedding attire.
5:30 am – Sunrise first look, followed by waterfall portraits & exploring!
8:00 am – Begin hike back to the trailhead, portraits along the way (2.5 miles).
9:30 am – Arrive back at trailhead and head to AirBnb in Bend (45-minute drive).
10:15 am – Arrive at Airbnb for the ceremony.
10:45 am – Vow ceremony begins!
11:15 am – Family photos.
11:45 pm – Brunch party with champagne popping & Bloody Marys!
1:00 pm – Photo coverage ends.
Leave No Trace is a wonderful organization that aims to protect the outdoors by spreading awareness about sustainability practices. When on your epic adventure elopement in Oregon, be sure to respect the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace so that the beauty of Oregon can stay wild and pristine for generations to come:
Hi, I’m Erica, an Oregon elopement photographer! If you and your partner want to plan an epic elopement, I’m here to capture a day you’ll never forget! Be sure to check out my Oregon elopement packages and contact me via my inquiry form here! I can’t wait to explore Oregon while celebrating you and your partner’s beautiful love story!