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.
With dozens of beautiful alpine lakes that sit just beneath the soaring mountain peaks of the Cascade Range, Central Oregon and Deschutes National Forest are home to some true hidden gem elopement locations! I met Rose and Alex at Sparks Lake, just outside Bend, Oregon, to capture the celebration of their love in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. Rose and Alex’s intentional and intimate elopement to Sparks Lake was nothing short of an adventure and I can’t wait for you to see all the fun we had in this blog!
Sparks Lake is about a 45-minute drive from Bend, Oregon, and is located in Deschutes National Forest. Deschutes is roughly 1.6 million acres of vast wilderness and is home to the Central Cascades, which includes Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, and Three Sisters Wilderness. From high alpine meadows to beautiful rivers, streams, and lakes like Sparks, Deschutes National Forest and the Central Cascades offer some of Oregon’s most scenic and epic elopement locations.
Alex and Rose became friends at the University of Utah during graduate school. While Alex spent most of his time in the lab as a biochemistry major, Rose found a way to charm him with her sarcastic humor and kindness. Rose and Alex’s friendship eventually grew into a beautiful love story after taking a backpacking trip together in Colorado. Soon, Alex found himself taking Rose to meet his family in England. From that moment, the couple knew they had found their forever with one another!
Before eloping, the couple often found themselves taking frequent trips in and out of the Uinta Mountains in Utah. During their road trips through the Uinta Mountains, they’d jam out to “There Will Be Time” by Mumford and Sons, while driving! Today, Rose and Alex still enjoy adventuring with one another! They love to go hiking with their dog Mia, travel, eat good food, and spend quality time at home together.
Rose and Alex’s elopement day started at Sunrise on a warm August morning. We began by meeting at a meadow on the way to Sparks Lake. The quiet meadow was surrounded by sweeping, panoramic views of the nearby mountain peaks. Here, Alex and Rose exchanged private vows before meeting up with family and an officiant for their ceremony. It was important to Rose and Alex that they had plenty of quality time with one another on their elopement day. This meadow was the perfect location to slow down, enjoy nature, and intimately celebrate their love story. After exchanging vows, we took some portraits of Alex and Rose in the meadow. While it was an overcast day due to the weather and local wildfires, we captured some soft and romantic portraits of the couple!
Afterward, we went to Sparks Lake, where we met with family and the ceremony officiant. Family members made their way to the ceremony spot while we took portraits by the lake. Rose, Alex, and I then enjoyed a 20-minute hike to the ceremony spot. Once we got to a rocky outcropping overlooking Sparks Lake, we were all taken aback by the beautiful view of South Sister. South Sister is one of the most iconic volcanic peaks in the Three Sisters Wilderness of Central Oregon. The ceremony spot was private, tucked back from tourists who frequent the lake. The officiant, Amanda, delivered a lovely, heartfelt ceremony with Rose & Alex’s family as witnesses.
After the ceremony, we took family portraits by the lake before everyone hiked back as a group. The water was super glassy that day, with a beautiful reflection of South Sister shining on the surface. The couple’s family then set up a cute picnic with sandwiches and drinks, spending the afternoon enjoying each other’s company and exploring the lake on paddle boards. I met with Alex and Rose in the evening at their AirBnB in Sunriver. There, we had a blast playing yard games and indulging in a delicious paella dish cooked by a private chef. Towards the end of the night, we toasted to Alex and Rose with cocktails and ice cream floats!
One of the best things about eloping is that couples, just like Alex and Rose, are able to create celebrations that are authentic to their unique love stories. Alex and Rose’s appreciation for intentionality and quality time really made this Sparks Lake elopement extra special. It was the perfect laid-back adventure that none of us will ever forget.
If you and your partner are traveling from outside Oregon, Redmond is the closest airport to Sparks Lake and offers direct flights to and from city hubs like Denver, Los Angeles and Phoenix! The drive is around an hour to Sparks Lake and just 20 minutes to Bend! Redmond has on-site rental car pickups, or you can rent a car for airport pickup through services such as Turo!
Sparks Lake is just one of the many beautiful places Central Oregon has to offer. Bend is a beautiful small town, just a 45-minute scenic drive from Sparks Lake. It’s home to some of the best ski resorts, lakes, trails, campgrounds, shopping, dining, and accommodations in central Oregon. On the outskirts of Bend, well-known sites such as Three Sisters Wilderness, Smith Rock State Park and Newberry National Volcanic Monument Lava Lands are fun places to explore and take in Central Oregon’s incredible scenery!
You and your partner can grab your marriage license at the Deschutes County Clerk’s Office! Before visiting, 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 the Deschutes 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!
Hi, I’m Erica, an Oregon elopement photographer! If you and your partner are looking 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 reach out to me via my inquiry form here! If you’re interested in learning more about eloping in and around Bend, Oregon, check out my blog, Where To Elope In Bend, Oregon! I can’t wait to explore Central Oregon, while celebrating you and your partner’s beautiful love story!