A year after we first started dating, James and I took our first road trip together from California to Washington. We camped along the way up, and were just totally in awe of the tall trees surrounding us, the crisp fresh air, gorgeous mountain views… I’ll never forget the moment we looked at each other and both said, “I could see myself living here.” We grew up in California, but were always more drawn to mountains and forests over the beach, so we just felt so at home in the Pacific Northwest. A few years later, we decided to be where we felt most alive, and so we moved to the PNW. Now, we’ve lived in both Portland and Seattle, and we absolutely love both. I am so, so in love with the PNW, and I want to share its beauty with all my incredible couples. So I created an in-depth guide of how to elope in the Pacific Northwest, filled with all the information you’ll need to plan your dream Washington or Oregon elopement!
Whether you’re looking for the perfect place to stay, you simply can’t make up your mind and choose the right location, or you need to learn about the logistics of getting married in the PNW, you’ve come to the right place. I want to help you create the most intentional, thoughtful Pacific Northwest elopement possible that is fully, 100% unique to you and your story. Feel free to navigate thru this guide using the table of contents below, or simply scroll and scroll to your heart’s content!
Let’s start off with what you probably came here for: the ULTIMATE list of the absolute best elopement locations in the Pacific Northwest! The PNW truly has no shortage of jaw-dropping, breathtaking places for you to choose from, so I’ve narrowed it down to the best options depending on the type of vibe you’re going for. Want a cozy cabin elopement in the forest? A night sleeping under the stars on the beach? A horseback ride into the sunset on the peninsula? You name it, the PNW has got it, baby.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to pick just one location – if you’re doing a multi-day elopement, or want to pack as much adventure into one day as you can, pick a few locations that you can travel to easily. Let’s take a road trip and hit up every damn spot you’re dreaming of visiting.
Click on the name of each location to get some more details + find out if it’s the location for you! I’ve also included up to 3 hiking/trail options of different difficulty levels for certain locations.
I still have not gotten over Blake + Porter’s elopement on the Olympic Peninsula – see all the dreaminess here.
Check out Sarah + Jay’s moody adventure session for some jaw-dropping Cannon Beach inspo.
MyTien + Garret flew to Oregon for an adventure session at Latourell Falls that you have sipmly got to see here.
Alvord Desert – southeast OR
The time of year you choose for your elopement really depends on the type of vibe you’re going for.
If you want to elope in a wildflower meadow (on a designated trail, of course!) with snow-capped mountain peaks behind you, opt for a springtime elopement! The temperatures will be mild, snow will have begun to melt at higher elevations, and the trees + meadows should be all vibrant and luscious. Just be prepared for rain – and if it happens, we’ll dance. I’m all about embracing it rather than letting it ruin our celebration!!
If you’d rather elope in the sun + warmth and are okay with hotter temperatures, then summertime will be wonderful for you. You’ll have the least chance of getting rained on and you’ll be able to have those warm, wonderful evenings around the campfire with mild temperatures and clear skies making way for starlight. Two things to watch out for in the summer in the PNW at many of the locations mentioned above: crowds + wildfires. Summer in the Pacific Northwest is absolutely unreal, but since there’s only about 2.5 really good months of summer, the crowds be wildin’ out y’all. We’ll do our best to avoid crowds by visiting your location at a less-busy time of day (let’s maybe watch the sunrise together) and we’ll also want to monitor trail + road conditions carefully if it’s an especially dry summer that could cause wildfires and smoke. Summer elopements can sometimes require more planning in advance, especially if you’re trying to camp and shit as places get reserved and booked out quickly.
Fall is a mfing prime time to elope in the Pacific Northwest because we’ve got the perfect landscapes to experience those fall colors you could only dream about. The leaves all change into different reds, oranges, yellows – I mean with the leaves, the mountains, and the alpine lakes it’s straight up 50 shades of PNW autumn out here okkk. If you choose to elope in the fall, make sure you’re prepared for the possibility of early snowfall causing closures or colder temps.
Winter usually isn’t the best time to elope in the PNW simply because a lot of the great locations available become closed off due to snow + winter weather. If you really want to elope in the winter, I’d consider a coastal location or a lower-elevation mountain option that stays open during the winter season. We could also opt for a short, easy hike, and add a lil snow shoeing action to your elopement day. Why the f not am I right?
You’ll also need to choose the time of day you want to hold your elopement ceremony at: sunrise, sunset, mid-day, blue hour, twilight. . . in the wise words of Shakira, whenever, wherever. Every time of day has unique lighting + opportunities, and sometimes timing can change with the location you choose. I’ll help create a timeline for you depending on location, weather conditions, and sunset time.
Sunrise is the best option for super popular locations that get crowded during the day, and if you want to have the whole rest of the day to enjoy with your guests. Sunset is great if you want to spend the morning hiking up a mountain and want a mountain-top ceremony so you can be glowing + basking in that delicious golden hour light while you say your vows (let’s be honest, who doesn’t want that?!).
Plan out all the diff activities you want to do + things you want to incorporate into your day, and plan your ceremony time around those. This is one of the benefits of multi-day elopements: you will have time to do everything you want to do, and you’ll have way way more freedom to plan your ideal timeline + go with the flow.
While you’re choosing the time of year + time of day you want to elope, here are a few important things to keep in mind and take into consideration:
Don’t forget to find a place to stay for your elopement! There are so many options depending on your elopement location, how much you’re looking to spend, whether you want to sleep on a budget or enjoy a bougie + luxe experience, & if you want to stay in the same place as your guests. Picking a cool place to stay is one of the best ways you can really bring your personalities to life and celebrate in the unique way you want to.
Here are some of the best lodging options in both Washington and Oregon for you to check out.
Here comes the boring part – don’t forget to take care of all the legal shiz beforehand!! Let’s go thru how to legally tie the knot in WA + OR, from getting your marriage license to getting the correct permits for your location – because we want you to enjoy a worry-free day and make sure EVERYTHING is taken care of properly!
Here’s what you need to know about getting a WA marriage license:
To get married in a WA National Park, you’ll need to obtain a Special Use Permit. Follow the links below to see the specifics for each NP!
You’ll also need a special permit to hold your ceremony in a WA State Park or a WA National Forest.
Aaand here’s what you need to know about getting married in OR:
Same as Washington – you’ll need a Special Use Permit to tie the knot in Crater Lake NP! Get all the deets here.
Click here for info on getting married in an OR State Park, and click here for OR National Forests!
Respecting the environment and practicing sustainability are two of the most important values that I hold. So much of my work is outdoors, and I feel so lucky and privileged to spend so much time in nature with my couples. I want to make sure that we leave the land as we found it – if not better – and that we take care of it while we use it.
And my absolute favorite way of minimizing my impact on the outdoors is through the 7 Principles of the Leave No Trace Organization! Leave No Trace is an incredible resource through which you can learn about how to protect land, how to minimize your impact, and explore the outdoors sustainably.
LNT has created guidelines through 7 different principles to help us all minimize our impact on the outdoors, and I always put these into practice with my couples throughout their elopement. Here are the principles, along with links that you can click to learn more about each one in detail! They’ll play a role in the way we plan your elopement, and the locations we choose + how we use them. Let’s work together to leave land JUST as beautiful as we found it for all future visitors and wildlife, while being fully present in nature + exploring all the beauty it has to offer!
The best part about eloping, is that you get to celebrate your day, your way. Your celebration should be a mix of everything you love, and everything that makes you excited + happy, and everything that allows you to be intentional and feel 1000% like you. The photos don’t lie. I am not telling your story, I’m capturing it. YOU are telling your story – through the activities you choose to incorporate, the reactions to the vows, the food you choose for dinner, the place you make a lifelong promise to each other – that is your story.
What’s more fun than driving around tiny towns on the Washington or Oregon Coast, stopping at pubs, breweries, and local restaurants for some delish clam chowder + ice-cold drinks?
Do what you do when you’re at home and start the day off with a delicious cup of your favorite coffee, whether you’re a fan of intricate latte art or plain drip coffee — make sure you find a place to stay with a coffee maker.
Keep your elopement dinner simple by packing a picnic and setting it up by the ocean – bring your favorite finger foods, a bottle of champagne, even a whole-ass charcuterie board if you wanna make it a lil bougie.
If you have a doggo (or multiple) that holds a major spot in your hearts, why not bring them along to your elopement day? Enjoy a slow morning with the aforementioned coffee and invite your pup into the bed with you for some snuggles just like you do back at home.
If you want to keep your ceremony intimate + cozy, book an Airbnb that has some sort of deck or outdoor patio area that you can say your vows on. Have your guests huddle around you or set up some deck chairs, enjoy the fresh air, and head inside for a yummy meal once you’re done!
Food lovers unite: why not rent out a room at a local restaurant or brewery for you + your guests? Enjoy a private evening in an elegant atmosphere (or hit up a dive bar if that’s more your thang) surrounded by your loved ones + good-as food and drinks.
Eloping in the summer means warm weather + the perf time to take advantage of any body of water. Bring along or find a local shop to rent paddleboards, kayaks, floaties, or anything that you can take out onto the water with your friends to cool off on a hot day.
Say bye-bye to tradition, and get ready for your elopement together instead of separately. This is a beautiful way to spend some intimate time together on the day that truly should revolve around the two of you, so why not spend all the time you possibly can together?
Make your elopement a muti-day adventure and take a roadtrip across the PNW, stopping along the way wherever the hell you want! Make it spontaneous and find little bars + restaurants to eat at, reserve campgrounds ahead of time, stop at every scenic viewpoint that your heart wants to.
The Pacific Northwest has a ton of luxurious cabins and plenty of campsites in the middle of the forest: so what do you do if you want to combine those two? Go glamping. There are so many bougie glamping options around Washington and Oregon where you can enjoy the experience of camping while still having modern amenities available to you. The best of both worlds!
Andddd you are almost at the end! The next thing you need to do is book a photographer to help you plan your unique, perfect-for-you, PNW adventure elopement. So hi! I’m Lauren, hello! I hope this guide helped you get all those creative juices flowing and you’re feeling excited to elope in the Pacific Northwest. I know I’m excited for you – so reach out to me here + let’s make this happen baby!
Such great ideas and majestic photos Lauren. You’re so talented. <3