Are you thinking of planning an intentional and unique Oregon elopement experience? If so, welcome! We’re Iris Elise and Jordan, a PNW photography & videography team passionate about serving couples just like you. We know how overwhelming it can be to embark on this journey alone, which is why we’ll be with you every step of the way! Here is our ultimate guide with tons of tips and tricks for how to elope in Oregon, because we truly think it’s the best place for your adventurous outdoor elopement!
There are plenty of reasons to elope in Oregon, so let’s talk about them! Choosing to have a small wedding allows you to create an intimate and meaningful experience for both you and your guests. You absolutely don’t have to plan the wedding that society says you have to – instead, your celebration can be simple and sweet! In fact, those are truly our favorite kind of days. We love when our couples feel inclined to dream up their own version for what their wedding day should look like!
Oregon is renowned for its breathtaking natural landscapes, including stunning coastlines, lush forests, majestic mountains, vast sand dunes, and picturesque waterfalls. Most of our couples have an affinity for nature and the outdoors, so Oregon is naturally one of the top contenders. Opting to elope in Oregon provides an opportunity to exchange vows and celebrate your marriage in a beautiful setting, surrounded by nature’s wonders!
Having an intimate wedding or elopement in Oregon allows you the freedom to personalize every aspect of your wedding experience. From choosing a unique ceremony location to designing a tailored experience, you can craft a celebration that reflects your own personalities, values, and vision as a couple. To assist with bringing that experience to life, all of our couples gain access to our full vendor partnership list as well as exclusive discounts when you book with us!
The beautiful state of Oregon offers a plethora of outdoor activities and experiences, making it an ideal destination for all of our adventurous couples out there! Between the epic national parks, scenic hiking trails, and other hidden gems, Oregon makes it seamless to infuse adventure and spontaneity into your wedding day. Along with this sense of adventure, though, is the responsibility to treat all of Oregon’s wonders with great care, and to leave them better than we found them. Our team here at Avodah Co. is Leave No Trace Certified, so we will do our utmost to ensure your wedding celebration is respectful of the environment and follows all LNT principles!
Oregon’s diverse landscapes and attractions provide an opportunity for you and your guests to extend the celebration beyond your actual wedding day. Whether it’s exploring those national parks we mentioned before, wine tasting in the renowned vineyards in Oregon’s countryside, or enjoying other outdoor activities, guests can make the most of their visit to Oregon while celebrating your marriage. We also have a list of Airbnb’s that are event friendly if you’d prefer to host a celebration weekend with all of your favorite people in one place!
Now that we’ve gone through all the lovely reasons to elope in Oregon, let’s get into the planning logistics! Couples tend to feel overwhelmed when starting to plan, but with our help, you’ll be supported every step of the way. In this section, we’ll be discussing how to choose the right season to elope, the official marriage laws and requirements, how to create a budget, and building your guest list!
The first thing to consider when choosing a season to elope is the weather, of course! Oregon experiences distinct seasons, each offering its own unique weather patterns. Oregon’s “rainy season” is November-April, but PNW rain is never much of a downpour, so we often encourage our couples to embrace it! If you’re considering eloping in a national park such as Olympic or Mt. Rainier, summertime brings wildflower season in those areas. PNW winters are also reasonably mild as well, so skiing elopements are a great option, too! Consider the type of weather you prefer for your elopement, whether it’s mild and sunny, crisp and cool, or a season known for rain, fog, or snow.
The next factor in choosing your season is the scenic appeal for any given time of year. Spring can offer blossoming trees and overall mild temperatures, summer showcases lush greenery and sunny coastlines, fall boasts colorful foliage, and winter brings snow-capped mountains and cozy landscapes. Choose a season that aligns with your desired backdrop and visual aesthetic! Of course, we will suggest specific locations based on your visual preferences once we’re officially on your team.
If you’re planning to elope at a popular outdoor location, we recommended researching the availability and popularity of that spot during different seasons. Some locations may be a bit more crowded during peak tourist seasons like Summer or on the weekends, while others may have limited accessibility due to weather conditions in the winter. In our experience, mid-week, sunrise, and off-season elopements are a great way to skip out on the crowds!
Keep in mind that the cost of accommodations, vendors, and travel expenses may vary depending on the season. Peak tourist seasons may have higher prices, while off-seasons may offer more affordable options. We advise chatting with your partner about your financial priorities when it comes to your Oregon elopement, and consulting with any friends or family members that are offering to pay for certain things.
If you plan to incorporate outdoor activities into your Oregon elopement experience, such as hiking, water sports, or wildlife sightings, research which seasons offer the best conditions for those activities. Consider the temperature, precipitation, and daylight hours to ensure you have the most comfortable and enjoyable experience possible! Always remember to pack layers, as the PNW weather can be unpredictable – especially when you’re enjoying the outdoors.
Ultimately, the season you choose should align with your personal preferences and the vision you have for your Oregon elopement. Consider factors such as your favorite weather, colors, and the overall ambiance you aim to create. Trust your instincts and choose a season that resonates with you as a couple and believe us when we say you truly can’t pick a wrong season in the PNW!
Now that we’ve discussed how to choose your Oregon elopement season to allow you to choose a date, we’ll get into the marriage laws and requirements for eloping in Oregon!
Marriage License: To get married in Oregon, you need to obtain a marriage license from any county clerk’s office in the state. Both partners must appear together in person to apply for the license! We recommend calling ahead to see what peak and slow times are at the specific office you’ll be visiting. Overall, it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes total, if you’re not going during peak times!
Age Requirement: The legal age to marry in Oregon is 18. If either partner is 17 years old, they must have parental consent. For individuals aged 16 or younger, they need parental consent and judicial approval.
Identification: When applying for a marriage license, you will need to provide valid identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or state-issued ID. Some counties may require additional documents, so it’s advisable to check with the specific county clerk’s office beforehand.
Waiting Period: There is no waiting period in Oregon, meaning you can get married immediately after receiving the marriage license. Woohoo! We still advise not waiting until the very last minute to get your license though, just in case!
Witnesses: Oregon law does not require witnesses to be present during the marriage ceremony. However, it’s a good idea to have at least two witnesses sign the marriage license for legal documentation purposes. Those witnesses could be us (your photo/video team) or two random people we find on the trail/ at the park!
Officiants: The ceremony can be officiated by an authorized person, including religious officials, judges, justices of the peace, or county clerks. Jordan, the videographer at Avodah Co., also happens to provide officiant services for our couples! Oregon also allows self-uniting marriages, where you can solemnize your own marriage without an officiant.
Marriage Certificate: After the ceremony, the officiant will complete the marriage license and return it to the county clerk’s office for recording. You can then request a certified copy of the marriage certificate for legal purposes.
We briefly touched on financial priorities earlier, but deciding on a budget (and how to allocate it) is one of the most important factors in planning your Oregon elopement. We typically advise couples to choose 1-3 things for your elopement day that are of the highest priority. This could be venue, food, documentation, guest count, or any other planning aspect! Then, allot the largest percentage of your budget to those things. This will ensure that the most important aspects are taken care of early on and help you to make informed decisions to avoid overspending!
For reference, we typically define elopements as 2-12 total and intimate wedding celebrations including 30-40 guests!
The first step to creating your guest list is identifying your non-negotiable people. These could be immediate family members, close friends, or loved ones who have played a significant role in your life and/or relationship. Make a list of these must-have guests to form the core of your intimate guest list. When we got married, we created a Google Sheet of all the people we wanted present for our day and broke them up into categories 1-5. This made it much easier to make cuts at the end of the day, knowing that certain people weren’t in the top priority for us to absolutely be there, and the ones that absolutely were necessary and played a key part of our character development and/or relationship. Once you’ve done this, determine the criteria for inviting additional guests beyond your must-have list, if you want! Consider factors such as the depth of your relationship, the level of support they have provided, and the impact they have had on your lives as a couple! By setting specific criteria, you can ensure that each additional guest has a meaningful connection to you two on such an important and celebratory day.
We know it can be tricky to communicate to friends and family when they’re not invited to your elopement. When crafting your guest list, it’s important to communicate your intentions for having a small and intimate elopement. Reach out to those who didn’t make the initial cut and explain that you’ve decided to have a small gathering to prioritize intimacy and create a more personal experience. Share your love and appreciation for them, but kindly express your desire for a small guest list. Remember, inviting people to your elopement is not the only way to involve them! You can send them your photo gallery and film afterwards, do a live stream of your ceremony, or have them write letters for you to read on the day-of. Understanding and supportive loved ones will appreciate your honesty and respect your decision!
Alvord Desert: The Alvord Desert offers an otherworldly landscape with its expansive white playa and stunning views of the surrounding Steens Mountain. This unique location provides a stark, yet mesmerizing backdrop for elopements, creating a sense of isolation and grandeur!
Cannon Beach: Known for iconic Haystack Rock and picturesque shores, Cannon Beach offers a romantic coastal setting for Oregon elopements. With dramatic sea stacks and stunning sunsets, this destination blends natural beauty with the charm of a coastal town.
Cape Kiwanda: Cape Kiwanda boasts rugged cliffs, dunes, and, again, the dynamic Haystack Rock, but likely with less crowds! Couples craving a dramatic and adventurous elopement can exchange vows against the backdrop of crashing waves and breathtaking ocean views.
Neskowin: Neskowin’s serene and less-traveled beach is perfect for intimate Oregon elopements. With its calm waters and tranquil atmosphere, this hidden gem offers couples a peaceful and secluded space to celebrate their love!
Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor: This coastal wonderland features stunning sea stacks, arches, and hidden coves along the Oregon Coast. Just imagine an all-day elopement here amidst the dramatic cliffs and crashing waves, creating a truly awe-inspiring wedding experience.
Trillium Lake: Nestled at the base of Mount Hood, Trillium Lake provides a serene and reflective setting for outdoor elopements. The lake’s clear waters and Mount Hood’s majestic presence offer a picturesque backdrop for couples seeking a tranquil and mountainous atmosphere.
Columbia River Gorge: With its numerous waterfalls, lush greenery, scenic viewpoints, and structured venues, the Columbia River Gorge offers a diverse and enchanting landscape for your elopement!
Silver Falls State Park: Known as the “Crown Jewel” of Oregon’s park system, Silver Falls State Park features a trail that passes behind multiple waterfalls. This enchanting setting creates a magical backdrop for elopements amidst cascading water – could you imagine anything more romantic?
Mount Hood: As Oregon’s highest peak, Mount Hood offers a majestic and snow-capped landscape for elopements. Whether on its slopes or near its reflection in an alpine lake, Mount Hood provides a stunning setting for mountain-loving couples!
Crater Lake National Park: The iconic Crater Lake, with its brilliant blue waters surrounded by sheer cliffs, is a unique and breathtaking location in Oregon. Couples can celebrate their love amidst the unmatched beauty of this natural wonder!
Hoyt Arboretum: This botanical garden in Portland features a variety of plant collections and peaceful trails, offering a serene and lush environment for intimate elopements amidst the beauty of nature. Plus, you’re in close proximity to Portland and can easily book a nearby venue if you’re planning a reception-style celebration afterward!
Smith Rock State Park: Known for its dramatic rock formations and deep canyons, Smith Rock State Park creates a striking desert backdrop for adventurous couples seeking an elopement that combines nature and epic adventure!
Umpqua Hot Springs: Nestled within the Umpqua National Forest, these natural hot springs provide a unique and relaxing setting for intimate elopements. You can celebrate your love while soaking in the rejuvenating waters with your partner!
John Dellenback Dunes: Offering sweeping sand dunes and a sense of solitude, the John Dellenback Dunes provide a tranquil and unique backdrop for elopements in a coastal desert setting.
Skylight Cave: A lava tube cave with an opening in the ceiling, Skylight Cave offers a truly unique and mysterious setting for elopements. The interplay of light and shadows creates an ethereal atmosphere for couples seeking an unconventional celebration!
As you well know, Oregon is famous for its diverse and stunning landscapes, ranging from rugged coastlines and lush forests to majestic mountains and serene lakes. When you envision your elopement, what backdrop comes to mind? Think about whether you prefer a coastal setting, a forested backdrop, a mountainous landscape, or a combination of these elements. Research different locations and assess their visual appeal to make them align with your vision and create the desired ambiance for your elopement experience! We will also help you with location scouting for your elopement day, so no need to have a specific spot chosen before inquiring with us!
Take some time to evaluate the accessibility and logistics of potential elopement locations, especially if you’re inviting guests. Consider factors such as travel distance, transportation options, and ease of reaching the site. Additionally, check if any permits or special permissions are required for your chosen location and understand the process for obtaining them. When you book with Avodah Co., we talk through location selections and assist with special use permit applications! Since we most likely have more experience with these processes, we strive to make this part as stress-free and seamless as possible.
Oregon offers a range of locations that can provide privacy and intimacy for your elopement. Figure out whether you prefer a secluded spot where you can exchange vows without onlookers or if you don’t mind a more public location that still offers privacy within its setting. If you plan on eloping during peak season (late spring/summer) at a national park, we recommend opting for an equally beautiful state park instead! They’re just as scenic, but usually less crowded. Of course, we’ll work with you to find the perfect location that fits your Oregon elopement vision as close as we can!
Get excited, because it’s time to officially start making your Oregon elopement arrangements! Here is what we recommend putting on your to-do list:
Marriage License: We briefly mentioned this earlier, but we recommend obtaining your marriage license at least a few weeks before your elopement date! Remember that most counties in Oregon require both partners to apply for the license in person. If you need a refresher on this process, you can revisit the “Marriage laws & requirements for eloping in Oregon” section above!
Permits: If you plan to elope in a location that requires permits, it’s important to research and understand the specific requirements, timelines, and fees associated with this. Some popular sites or parks may have limited availability or require advance notice for permit applications. It’s not uncommon for locations to have a lottery that opens on a certain date, too! So the sooner you’ve decided on your location, the sooner you can plan for these things.
Check with the County Clerk’s office: Contact the county clerk’s office of the county where you plan to obtain your marriage license to confirm their specific requirements and processing times. They can provide you with the most accurate information regarding documents needed, fees, and any additional steps involved in the application process!
Research permit deadlines: For locations that require permits, research and identify the specific deadlines for permit applications. Some locations may have a limited number of permits available or specific timeframes for submitting applications. Be sure to adhere to these deadlines as close as possible to secure the necessary permits for your chosen elopement location. Don’t worry, though, as we’ll assist with this!
Plan for processing time: Keep in mind that processing times for marriage licenses and permits may vary. It’s always better to be safe than sorry by allowing ample time for any potential delays or unforeseen circumstances. Applying for your marriage license and obtaining permits well in advance ensures that you have all the necessary legal documentation and permissions in place for your elopement. This makes for a stress-free few days leading up to your elopement day!
Research different accommodation options: Oregon offers a range of accommodation options depending on your individual preferences and budget. Research and explore different options like hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, cabins, or camping sites! We love options such as Airbnb, Get Away, HipCamp, Glamping, and Outdoorsy if you’re looking for more niche accommodations.
Consider proximity to your elopement location: We recommend looking for accommodations that are conveniently located near your Oregon elopement location or within a reasonable distance. This will help minimize travel time and ensure a smoother experience on your elopement day!
Check for flexible booking policies: Given the unpredictable nature of travel, it’s important to check the cancellation and refund policies of accommodations. Look for flexible booking options that allow for changes or cancellations without any significant penalties that don’t seem worthwhile. This can provide peace of mind in case any unexpected circumstances arise. Also make sure to mention to the host you are booking this for an elopement, some places have certain requirements for events or might even give you a discount as a wedding gift!
When it comes to transportation on your actual elopement day, there are some fun and creative options we’d like to share with you! Jeeps or other 4x4s for off roading, helicopter companies, and boat tours for whale watching are a few great choices for more adventurous elopement days. For standard travel (especially if you’re coming from out of state), here are some tips:
Research and compare prices: Start by researching different airlines and rental car companies to compare prices. Utilize travel websites and agents to get an overview of available options and compare rates. Being a AAA member for example is an easy way to get the best rate through Hertz! Be flexible with your travel dates if possible, as prices can vary depending on the time of year and day of the week.
Book in advance: It’s generally advisable to book your airfare and rental car in advance to secure the absolute best deals and availability. Airlines often release their flight schedules and tickets around 6-12 months in advance, so keep an eye out for those dates. This is another instance where knowing your elopement date and location in advance will be helpful! Rental car availability can also vary, especially during peak travel seasons, so reserving your car early ensures you have the vehicle of your choice, if preferable!
Pro Tip: If possible, use credit card points when booking travel for your elopement and/or honeymoon!
Consider nearby airports: Depending on your elopement location in Oregon, it may be worth considering nearby airports for better flight options or more competitive pricing. Compare fares and transportation options to assess whether it’s more convenient and cost-effective to fly into or out of a different airport.
Pro Tip: SouthWest Airlines allows you to bring 2 checked bags complimentary on each flight you book with them!
Here at Avodah Co., we offer half day, full day, or multi-day adventure elopements for both photography and videography! We’re a PNW exploring, married, photo/video team that knows the best hidden gems in the area, and serve our couples uniquely by working together to deliver a cohesive gallery, film, and overall experience for those choosing to elope in Oregon! We’ve been documenting couples’ love stories since 2017 and we know what you need for a successful epic adventure elopement and our favorite types of couples we work with choose an intimate outdoor experience for their wedding day over a cookie-cutter-traditional one. We personally get to know you and your fiancé throughout the entire process, because we will likely be the only ones (if not, one of the only ones!) that spend the entire day beside you! We want your experience to be unique and memorable, yet we also want to craft a product that you’ll use and love for a lifetime.
Ultimately, hiring an elopement planner for your Oregon elopement can simplify the planning process, offer even more local expertise, and provide creative and personalized touches to your elopement experience! Especially if you’re having guests or multiple moving parts to your intimate wedding or elopement, a planner can assist with the logistical coordination of it all. We have some amazing Oregon elopement planner recommendations that we have personally worked with and loved, that we’re more than happy to share with you!
As we briefly mentioned earlier, our team at Avodah Co. offers limited floral services if you’re having a simpler elopement! We curate bridal bouquets and groom boutonnieres for our elopement couples in the PNW. If you’re looking for anything beyond that (think: ceremony arches, multiple wedding party bouquets, or additional arrangements), then we recommend hiring a local florist. Hiring an experienced expert ensures that you receive professional guidance and expertise in selecting the right flowers, colors, and arrangements that align with your vision and aesthetic!
Hair and makeup artists, personal chefs, food trucks and drink carts, bakers, and rentals are all examples of specialty Oregon elopement vendors that you can hire to add unique aspects to your marriage celebration. We also know of a local charcuterie company that will pack a styled picnic for your backpacking elopement, too! If your budget allows, consider which of these vendors you would want to prioritize for your elopement. We have a curated PNW Vendor Guide that lists all of our favorite vendors we’ve made connections with! Additionally, think about your wedding attire, rings, and stationary assets and how they will tie into your elopement. These aren’t necessarily vendors, but they do play a role in your budget!
You can download our free PNW Intimate Wedding + Elopement Specialty Vendor Guide here!
Pro Tip: When you inquire with us, ask about our partnership discounts for local vendors in the area!
Private romantic dinner: Treat yourselves to a private, intimate dinner at a cozy restaurant or arrange for a private chef to prepare a gourmet meal in a scenic location! Enjoy a candlelit dinner under the stars or at a breathtaking lookout, soaking in that “just married!” feeling and eating great food!
Champagne toast and picnic: Find a picturesque spot such as a beach, park, or mountain top, and have a romantic picnic celebration together after your ceremony. Pack a picnic basket with your favorite treats (or hire someone to plan + pack it for you!), including a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine, and raise a toast to your love and the start of your new chapter together.
Adventure activity: Embrace the adventurous spirit of Oregon and celebrate your elopement by taking part in an exciting activity together! Consider options like hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, or even taking a hot air balloon ride. Choose an activity that resonates with your interests as a couple and allows you to create unforgettable memories together to celebrate the start of your life long unity together!
Sunset/sunrise celebration: Plan a sunrise summit or sunset celebration at a breathtaking location. Oregon is known for its stunning sunsets over the coast, mountains, and landscapes. You can enjoy the magical colors of the sky as you exchange vows, have a quiet moment together, or simply soak in the beauty of nature’s canvas. We absolutely love summiting with our couples at sunrise and starting the day together on the top of the world, or ending the day together at sunset and playing in blue hour with lanterns or headlamps to get some astrophotography to end our adventures!
Wine tasting: Did you know that Oregon is renowned for its exceptional wineries and vineyards? Celebrate your elopement with a wine-tasting experience, either at a winery or by organizing a private wine tour with your friends and family. Indulge in the region’s famous Pinot Noir or explore other varietals while taking in the scenic beauty of the vineyards!
One thing we love incorporating for all of our elopement couples is planning an adventure session! This is basically an adventurous engagement session and can be scheduled well before your elopement, right afterwards if you’re not local, or on another date you choose! This type of session gives us the opportunity to explore another scenic location and provide you with additional documented memories in celebration of your relationship! Oftentimes, couples will choose to wear everyday clothes for this and choose another location they equally love to have additional photos and videos with a different purpose! You can check out our How to Plan your Adventure Session with Avodah Co. here!
We hope that you feel more than prepared to plan your intentional and unique Oregon elopement after reading our guide! We would love to be there to document all of your wedding experience festivities if you’ll have us. To get in touch, you can fill out our contact form and we’ll get back to you within 48 hours with our pricing and services information for our photography and videography for PNW elopements!