Oregon Elopement Ultimate Guide: How, When, and Where to Elope in Oregon
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
The sole idea of elopement is uniqueness.
Traditional weddings may require months and months of planning ahead, but their venues actually predetermine many logistics while your elopement ceremony depends entirely on you and your partner.
This makes eloping so special. However, to make it uniquely yours and truly memorable, you need to organize it in a way that makes sense to you only.
With elopements, you aren’t dependent on your site coordinator or limited by your caterer schedule. You call the shots on everything.
How, When, and Where to Elope in Oregon?
This is why, if you decided to elope in Oregon and you would like to know the best places to elope in this beautiful state and when, and as Oregon Wedding Photographer I got you covered.
Here we are going to go through the best seasons for eloping in Oregon, the best time of day, places, and, last but certainly not least, all the legal logistics to eloping in the State of Oregon.
The best time to elope in Oregon
The reason why Oregon is so popular for eloping is that within the state, you can find a plethora of different climates and terrains. This also means that whatever season your elopement is in, you can find a suitable place.
If you ask me in general, I think that would be summer and early fall seasons (mid-June to September) when you can safely avoid the rainy Pacific Northwest weather.
For instance, if you want to have plenty of sunshine and warmth on the Oregon Coast, then late summer like mid-July to end of August would be best.
But don't forget Oregon can be absolutely magical and moody in fall and winter time.
However, if you want a hike to some of the majestic waterfalls, then mid-spring to early summer is best so that those waterfalls can have high water flow for your pictures to look stunning.
On the other hand, it’s absolutely possible for you to have your elopement in Oregon during the colder months of winter and spring.
For this, Mount Hood and Mount Bachelor are some of the possible options for a snowy fairytale. However, if your elopement is taking place at elevation, check first to see if the roads are clear and not buried in the snow because many of the trails and roads in the forests are covered and don’t clear up until early to mid Summer.
If you are still hesitant as to when exactly to have your elopement ceremony, my seasonal breakdown might give you some ideas:
Spring wedding in Oregon: If you’re a fan of nature and waterfalls, especially, this is the time to go searching for them! Because of the snow, the water flows are stronger, and the greenery is blooming, so all wildflowers on the hills are mesmerizing. April to June is the best for those eloping in Oregon in springtime.
Summer wedding in Oregon: This is when nature becomes a real-life fairytale in Oregon! You can hike, go kayaking, or peak-bagging all from July through September. You can set out a picnic spot and enjoy the views to Mt. Hood, Adams, St. Helens, Jefferson, and the Three Sisters. It rarely rains in summer, and you will have the perfect golden hour should you decide to elope in the summertime.
Fall wedding in Oregon: If you want to walk on golden leaves on your way to some mountain top while the colors of the horizon are bursting from yellow to red, this season is your best bet. In fall you still have many sunny days even though the air is becoming crisp and the evenings are cooler. So, when it comes to fall, September or October are the prettiest. Early November is still in play, but you can expect some rain and crispier days.
Winter wedding in Oregon: Winter brings more intimacy as there are fewer tourists and people strolling around. Even though you cannot access the higher elevations because of snow and poor visibility, the lower mountain spots and valleys offer mysticism with its fogginess and moody vibes that make up for some of the most amazing photos. Winter wonderland elopements can be held inland where the snow is thicker and more persistent all the way from December to early March.
Time of Day
Firstly, when it comes to days when to elope in Oregon, Monday through Thursday is your best bet. This is because Oregon overall is a popular destination that attracts tourists from all over during the weekends.
As far as the time of day goes, if you’ve been doing any elopement research or talked to photographers, I’m sure you’ve heard of the golden hour. It is the hour before sunset, and the hue of the sun gives the photos a special glow filled with a warm, pleasant shimmer that looks gorgeous on photos.
So, when it comes to photography, it is best if you center your elopement photoshoot around it.
However, your ceremony will surely last throughout a good chunk of the day, so capturing all those special moments on camera, like exchanging vows, hiking, sharing hugs, popping champagne, and everything else that you planned would be my number 1 priority in addition to the golden hour.
The marriage license for eloping in Oregon
Since we are already talking about the setup and all in-between, let’s cover the legalities before we go to the best places to elope in Oregon.
So, here’s what you need in order to get your marriage license in Oregon:
Both partners should be present to get an Oregon marriage license, and it costs $60 and is nonrefundable.
After getting your marriage license, you need to wait for three days as per the law. However, if you want to get married on the same day, then you can pay a small fee to waive the waiting period.
You can get married within 60 days of getting your marriage license.
You will need two witnesses present (at least) to officiate your Oregon elopement ceremony.
You can read more about obtaining your license in Oregon here.
The best places to elope in Oregon
And now on to the fun stuff! Where to elope in Oregon?
If you were thinking of going abroad and eloping in a naturally-rich place like Iceland, trust me, with all its natural beauty, Oregon is just as good.
In fact, check out my comparison between elopement places in Iceland vs. Oregon and Top Five Locations to Elope in Oregon
You'll see there is so much worth in eloping in Oregon.
With that said, here are the best places for your elopement ceremony in Oregon.
Columbia River Gorge
The gorge on the river is just a 30-minute drive from Portland, and it is accessible year-round so that you can find your perfect elopement spot in nature without traveling too much.
If your plan is hiking and exchanging vows on some of the picturesque tops, then I would recommend a summer season to do so mainly because most of the trails aren’t accessible during the cold months.
You have the slow-paced, almost flat .25-mile hike to Latourell Falls, where you can take the most beautiful elopement photos.
Then you have the 2.5 miles hiking up Angel’s Rest, where you ascend over 1,500 feet where you gain a unique view of the entire valley. So, no matter what kind of adventurous activity you are after, you can find it here.
The gorge is perfect if you have guests on your elopement because of the many valleys and open spaces, but it is intimate enough to be able to hold special celebrations between couples with no one else around.
Mt. Hood is an iconic place in Oregon that offers amazing trails, views, lakes, and dense green forests all across.
To be honest, having been there myself, I think you will have a hard time here. But not for finding a place, but deciding between places where you can tie the knot.
There are more than 200 waterfalls, and don’t get me started on the lakes! You can even say the “I do” on the active volcano near the lake that’s mirroring its majestic looks. Nothing can beat that!
This mountain is perfect for any season. In late spring to summer, it offers gorgeous greenery and lush forests, while the winter turns everything into a white, cotton-candy-like environment you cannot resist.
You can also visit the slopes near Timberline Lodge or go snowshoeing at Trillium Lake.
Just imagine the endless while fusing with your gorgeous white dress and your loved one beside you.
The Oregon Coastline
The coastline of Oregon offers more than you can imagine. You have the Pacific Ocean, sea stacks, ocean-side caves, and the dramatic cliffside overlooks.
From Highway 101, you can exit at any spot and find a cove perfectly designed for your adventure elopement, from Astoria to Brookings.
You have many places like Hug Point or Cannon Beach, where you can elope any time of the year.
Just note that the weather may act as a surprise there since it can be quite unpredictable, but hey, the surprise can be half the excitement, right?!
Adventurous Elopements in Oregon
Just outside the coastline and the beaches, you have a thick forest site spanning on all sides, revealing the many waterfalls, rope bridges, canyons, and hiking trails.
Any of the higher elevations will offer stunning views to the picturesque coastline and sunset, which can make for some of the most awe-inspiring photos.
If you love hiking and adventures on your elopement ceremony, I would definitely recommend checking out these places and eloping here. I mean, just imagine the jagged, rocky Oregon Coast with water crushing at the base of the enormous rock boulders on the beach.
The water creates mist and fog that evaporates into the sky while you stand on top with your loved one, creating some of the best memories and photos.
Crater Lake National Park
This vast national park in Oregon offers you over 90 miles of trails throughout and a massive crystal-clear lake that will leave you in awe.
Some of the peaks around this national park reach over 7000 feet, and for added excitement, you can rent a boat and explore the Wizard Island nearby.
All these locations offer epic sunsets and sunrises year-round, but I would recommend having your elopement in summer hear to experience what this park has to offer truly.
The mountains, the peaks, the trains, lake, and the clear blue skies can all be part of your unique elopement in Crater Lake National Park.
Willamette and Deschutes National Forest
Just south and west of Bend, both of these forests with their abundant nature life, trails, and alpine lakes are the ideal spot for eloping nature lovers.
However, unlike the other mountainous area in Oregon, here you won’t find dense woods but tall pines and fir trees instead that let in a nice amount of sun all throughout the region. This makes these two places the best for hiking and mountain biking.
Many peaks like Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, or the Three Sisters are worth your time, some even standing tall at 10,495 feet.
You can cool off in some of the swimming holes or the crystal-clear rivers after your hike or your ceremony and top all that amazing experience by making the rounds of incredible wineries in the Willamette Valley.
Now moving to Eastern Oregon, the state has some warmer features to show. In the Alvord Desert, you can see canyons, dry lake beds, and desert areas that can be just as picturesque as the coastline.
On its Eastern side, this desert offers the Steens Mountain Wilderness where you can camp and stargaze at night because of the clear skies and the low light pollution. If you camping there you will have access to hot springs as a bonus! Alvord HotSprings Camping
For this, I suggest you elope during the summer months when the grounds have been dried out enough so that you can camp and lay on the ground for stargazing.
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is actually the farthest northeast corner of Oregon. Here you can find crisscrossing rivers and streams all across the rolling hills.
If you climb one of the many fire towers, you will gain a unique panoramic view of the hills, all covered in wildflowers.
I can try to explain this sceneries for a day, but it means nothing until you see it. And when you do, you will be amazed by what nature can create.
There are many peaceful lakes with their banks waiting on your summer elopement ceremony. You can hike up to the alpine lakes and meadows surrounded by the many boulder fields.
You can also have your ceremony here in early fall, but that is the latest I would go when it comes to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
When the weather is colder chances are it might rain, and you won’t be able to see as much as this forest has to offer.
Painted Hills & Smith Rock Area
If you love the sunny, warm weather, then eloping somewhere in Smith Rock, the Painted Hills, or anywhere in-between will create the perfect aesthetics for your dream ceremony.
The reception after your elopement in Oregon
Depending on the season you are eloping in, Oregon and the previously-mentioned elopement places have a lot to offer for after the ceremony.
However, when eloping in summer, you have more options simply because the days are longer and the temperatures are warmer into the evening.
For instance, you can stay and camp somewhere near the spot where you eloped. Surely, if you want something more upscale or camping simply isn’t a type of thing, then there are many cabins you can rent for a few nights after the elopement ceremony.
This way, you and your guests have the chance to celebrate and truly take in all the nature’s beauties of any of the places where you decided to tie the knot.
You can find these cabins on Airbnb or similar sites and pick your favorite.
What to Pack for Your Oregon Elopement
Layers of clothes because all across these forests and mountain-side areas the temperatures tend to fall and nights get pretty chilly.
Food, drinks, snacks because her, where’s the fun without the food?!
Camping necessities like tents, headlamps, bug spray, and bear spray.
National park passes if eloping in the national park. It’s an $80 year-round ticket, and it’s well worth the investment.
Marriage license, duh!
I hope my extensive article on where and when to elope in Oregon helped you make a decision. If you still have any questions or you’d like to arrange a photoshoot session with me as your photographer, do not hesitate to contact me. I’d love to be of help!