Where and How to Elope in Big Sur

Where and How to Elope in Big Sur:

A guide to ceremony locations, elopement advice, regional information and vendor recommendations

(Updated for 2021)

where and how to elope in big sur

Why Elope in Big Sur?

Welcome to my guide about where and how to elope in Big Sur! Big Sur is a jaw-droppingly gorgeous region of rugged coastline just south of Monterey, California. Redwood forests and sage-scented grasslands meet steeply cliffed shores of the Pacific ocean. Even a simple drive through Big Sur on Highway 1 is worth the journey to get there, because there are countless easy turnoffs offering incredible views. When you’re there, you can feel a sense of peace that comes with being in the middle of nowhere. Except, you’re really not *that* far away from civilization because Monterey and Carmel are less than an hour’s drive away. This is what makes Big Sur an excellent destination for an elopement. Peace. Quiet. Nature. Far away from craziness of everyday life, but still very accessible.

This blog post is meant to help you plan your Big Sur elopement so that you don’t feel lost, digging around the internet for clues! I have gathered all of this information from a combination of extensive experience working and scouting in Big Sur in addition to hours of research. You will find information about where to stay, where to hold your ceremony, when to elope, vendors I recommend hiring, what the deal is with permits, how to be a good steward of the environment when you elope, and other miscellaneous tips from all my experience photographing elopements and weddings in Big Sur! This post doesn’t cover everything though. Couples who choose to work with me receive the benefit of an even deeper well of knowledge to help navigate their elopement plans. That is why working with a Monterey Bay local is a huge perk!

One thing to keep in mind: Big Sur has become much more popular to tourists in recent years. Please respect the land and the locals when you visit so that this wonderful place can stay beautiful and accessible!

Please note: I am NOT being compensated by any person or business listed in this blog. All recommendations come from my honest opinions based purely on experience.

Outline:

  • When to Elope in Big Sur
  • How to Elope (Legally tying the Knot)
  • Choosing Private Land vs Public Land For Your Ceremony Location
  • My Favorite Places for Elopement Ceremonies
  • Where to Get Married on Public Land
  • Permits for State Parks
  • More Private Locations to Elope
  • Vendor Recommendations
  • Lodging Options in Big Sur
  • FAQ
  • Why You Should Elope with Melissa

where and how to elope in big sur

When to elope in Big Sur

Weather and Time of Year

Big Sur has a mild climate that makes it easy to visit most of the year. The region is pretty nice any time between April to November, with chances of rain on either end of that visiting season. Many people say that fall is the best time to visit for dry, warm weather and clear skies. Personally, I think spring is the most ideal because of the wildflowers. Much like San Francisco, Big Sur can be cool and foggy in summer months, but there are also plenty of clear days as well.

The thing to keep in mind about Big Sur is that the weather is just not the most predictable. It’s a place with a mind of it’s own and microclimates that differ from one stretch of coast to the next. You can get fog or clear, sunny skies any day of the year. Sometimes there are heat waves one week, followed by ethereal foggy days the next week. Don’t let the marine layer deter you, the fog is beautiful in person and in your photographs. Just bring layers and an open mind!

Even though coastal California has relatively mild winters, I do not necessarily recommend eloping in Big Sur during the winter season (December-February). In recent years, a combination of fires and major rainfall have been known to cause treacherous road conditions and closures. Landslides and sinkholes have plagued some of the smaller roads and even the main highway for a time. That said, rain during the late spring and late fall can be mild and beautiful. The scent of the redwood forest really comes alive in the rain! If you have chosen an easily accessible ceremony site you will have fewer troubles in bad weather.

Wildfires are something to consider. Wildfires can technically happen in any season, but late summer and fall are ripe for them. The 2020 Dolan Fire (which lasted late summer through fall) wiped out a huge area in southern Big Sur, and nearly a year later we are still waiting for certain public lands to re-open. Of course, wildfires are not something that have historically happened in Big Sur every year, but California seems to be experiencing major fires in different regions annually.

Day of the Week Matters

The best time to elope in Big Sur is on a Monday-Thursday. Read on to find out why!

Most importantly, there are far more crowds in the scenic areas and on the highway on weekends. Big Sur is a popular tourist destination, so it can even feel crowded during the week sometimes. On weekends you are more likely to have trouble finding parking at various locations in Big Sur. There are more people on the trails, and you might be contending with several other people who want an impressive photo in the same location as you. You may even find this disrupting in a private location like a lodge, since many others will be trying to enjoy the same amenities onsite (river access, trails, restaurants, etc).

Another important reason to consider eloping on a Monday-Thursday date is that the Big Sur Sector State Parks only issue elopement permits (elopement permits and special event permits) for those specific weekdays from May-September. That may not matter to you if you choose to get married in somewhere other than a state park, but keep in mind when choosing a location that a large amount of public land in coastal Big Sur lies within state park boundaries. Even if you do choose to get married in a state park on a weekend in the “off season” when weekend elopements are allowed, you will have more competition for these spots. That is because the Big Sur Sector State Parks (not including Garrapata State Park) only grant one single, solitary elopement permit per day in the entire region. For example, your permit application will be denied if another couple has already secured a permit in Julia Pfeiffer State Park on the same day you want to elope in the entirely separate Pfeiffer Big Sur State park.

Lastly, eloping on a Monday-Thursday date will make it more likely to book your top picks for vendors and locations. Wedding vendors, lodges and venues often book up far in advance for weekend dates (one year or more), usually for larger “classic” weddings. Many vendors choose to reserve weekend dates for those larger weddings, since they rely on a certain number of bigger weddings annually to make ends meet. This applies to photographers, videographers, planners, venues, florists, hair & makeup artists, and officiants.

How to Elope

You can plan your elopement in SO many different ways. The great thing about eloping is the freedom to get married exactly the way you want to, and in the place you want to. When you elope, you are relieved of the pressure of performing certain traditions for the sake of family and friends. Eloping is intimate, relatively easy, and can be full of adventure or very straightforward.

Legally Tying the Knot:

There are three ways to legally marry your partner in California:

  1. You may go to the county courthouse or city hall and have an official marriage commissioner preside over your wedding
  2. You may hire an independent wedding officiant to preside over your marriage ceremony in the location of your choice (this could be a judge, justice, clergy member/religious leader, magistrate or Marriage Commissioner)
  3. Any individual over the age of 18 may legally preside over your ceremony in California if they take the steps to become authorized. An individual can attain a “commissioner for a day” authorization from the county, or they may become ordained by a religious organization. I have been ordained by American Marriage Ministries and can legally sign as your officiant on your marriage license (but I generally encourage couples to think about hiring or bringing someone who can craft a meaningful ceremony in addition to signing!)

Some couples decide to legally marry each other at the county courthouse and then later exchange vows in a meaningful, symbolic ceremony in their dream location. This could make sense for couples who are traveling internationally for their elopement, or who prefer the simplicity of having fewer people present during their symbolic ceremony. This could also make sense for couples going deep into the backcountry for their elopement ceremony, such as on an overnight trek.

If you plan to hold your legal ceremony outside the county courthouse, I’d recommend hiring an independent officiant who can craft a beautiful, custom ceremony for you. They will take care of the paperwork and submit your marriage license back to the county clerk within a few days of your ceremony. You will find my recommendations for officiants near the end of this post!

If you plan to have a loved one preside over your ceremony, check out these ceremony templates from Owl and Rose Ceremonies. Naomi Ehrich co-authored these ceremonies- and she is quite possibly the best ceremonialist I have ever worked with. Better yet, hire Naomi to create and officiate an incredible ceremony just for you. Naomi was the first officiant who showed me how powerful a ceremony can actually be.

Marriage Licenses:

In order to be legally married you will need to secure a marriage license. There are different types of marriage licenses available depending on your state. In California, you can either get a Public Marriage License or a Confidential Marriage License.

A Public Marriage License is the most common type of marriage license. This license enables you to hold your official wedding ceremony outside the county where you applied for the license. It requires 1-2 witnesses and an officiant who is authorized to preside over a wedding. As your photographer, I am happy to sign as a witness.

A Confidential Marriage License does not require a witness in addition to an officiant. However, you must hold your wedding ceremony within the same county that you applied for the license. The difference between this license and a public license is that your records cannot be accessed by members of the public without permission.

The basics for planning your ceremony location in Big Sur

The Big Sur region is extremely large. Most people think of the coastal area, but there is also a very large inland region sitting just above and behind the Santa Lucia mountains. It can take a couple of hours just to drive the coastal section of Big Sur from north to south, so bear this in mind if you are considering incorporating multiple locations into your elopement day.

The whole Big Sur region is divided up into a few regions of protected public land (including state parks, land trusts, wilderness areas and national forest), interspersed with privately owned land. You can get married in one of the state parks, on national forest land, or at one of the established lodges or venues in the area. There are definite pros and cons to each type of location. No matter what type of place you choose, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful nature. Almost everywhere I’ve gone in Big Sur is either surrounded by beautiful trees, next to the river, or near ocean views.

About Private Land

Private venues (lodges, wedding venues, restaurants etc) can be a great choice for elopements in Big Sur. There are plenty of beautiful options nestled in the redwoods of Big Sur, or among coastal views. No matter where you stay, you can pretty much depend on being able to walk out the door and very quickly be surrounded by gorgeous nature.

There are fewer and fewer accessible public lands where ceremonies may be held in Big Sur (especially in the redwoods) due to overuse, irresponsible visitors, and because of how special and rare the redwoods are. As a result, some of the best locations to get married are in private locations. Later on in this post I will list and link a few options!

Benefits of holding an elopement ceremony on private land:

  • Guaranteed privacy
  • Generally easy to access, especially if you have a few guests or a pet attending
  • Many private options offer a place to get ready onsite
  • No need to worry about permit applications or park closures
  • Ability to have more guests than in most public land settings

About Public Lands

There is a lot of protected public land in Big Sur. Each different area comes with different policies and requirements around elopements and weddings.

Most of the protected public land in Big Sur encompasses forests, steep grassy hillsides, and rocky coastlines. There are only a few publicly accessible beaches in Big Sur. In part, that is because the coastline is extremely steep, so the shore is not easily accessed in general. However, there are incredible, sweeping views of the coast from trails and vista points within the parks as well as from turnoffs on Highway 1.

Benefits of holding an elopement ceremony on public land:

  • Certain locations offer couples an adventurous experience built into the process of getting to the chosen ceremony spot
  • It is either free or relatively inexpensive to elope on public land
  • Eloping in the wilderness or an undeveloped natural location can emphasize the feelings of spontaneity and connection with nature that many couples associate with the spirit of eloping

Outdoor Ethics for Public Lands

If you hold your ceremony on public lands, please do so responsibly to preserve the environment around you. “Leave No Trace” principles are very important to me as an elopement photographer and avid outdoor adventurer. Big Sur has been loved to death in many ways over the last several years, so please do your part to keep this place stunning and accessible!

Here are a few ways to minimize impact on the environment: pack out your trash (including fallen petals from a bouquet), stay on durable surfaces (like hard-packed clearings, trails, rocks, sand and gravel), do not walk over plant life, and respect the other visitors around you. Please do not throw confetti, rice or something similar, even if it is labeled as “biodegradable”. Do not use sparklers or smoke bombs, as these can easily cause wildfires (a huge problem in California!). If you want to do a dramatic champagne spray for a celebratory photo, please use bubbly water instead for the photo and save the champagne for drinking so that you minimize impact on the local wildlife (the spilled champagne will attract wildlife and can habituate them to humans, among other things). These are just a few ways to respect and preserve the environment. For more, check out this guide to Leave No Trace principles.

pfeiffer beach elopement

Where to Elope in Big Sur: My favorite locations

The following locations are some of the best places to elope, in my humble opinion! They are in no particular order. Couples who work with me benefit from learning about even more great public and private locations that this guide doesn’t cover!

1. Glen Oaks Big Sur

Also great for tiny weddings and larger weddings!

The very best private redwood grove in all of Big Sur, hands down. Glen Oaks is a lodge and event venue that is spread across both sides of Highway 1 in Big Sur. This location offers the most beautiful forest environment of any of the private lands within Big Sur. The cabins look woodsy on the outside, but on the inside they are modern, chic and comfortable. My favorite part of the property is called the Redwood Grove, where cabins are nestled under tall redwoods along the beautiful and mellow Big Sur River. You can plan an elopement here or even a full on wedding with up to 100 guests. Or, you can simply stay overnight here and elope somewhere else!

What I love about Glen Oaks is that you can walk right out of your cabin and find yourself a beautiful ceremony site nearby. For this, I recommend staying in one of the “Redwood Grove” cabins. There are lots of places for gorgeous portraits around the trees and beside the river. Glen Oaks allows registered guests to hold a small elopement ceremony (4 people total or fewer) for free around their beautiful trails.

You can also reserve a special ceremony site for a fee if you have more than 4 people in your group. Small groups can reserve the private “fairy ring” for the ceremony. It can be rented by itself, or for a discount if booked in combination with the nearby Bridge House for lodging. The Bridge House and the private fairy ring are located in a very secluded part of the Glen Oaks property, accessed only by a footbridge over the river.

If you plan to hold a larger wedding, you can book their larger ceremony spot, located in a nice grassy space perched over the river and surrounded by trees.

Call Glen Oaks to find more details about those reservable sites.

Click here to see a full Glen Oaks Big Sur elopement ceremony

Glen Oaks Big Sur Website

2. Ventana Big Sur

Also great for tiny weddings and large weddings!

Ventana Big Sur is a luxurious resort that offers both high end hotel rooms and the hippest glamping sites you’ve ever seen. There is also a regular ol’ tent camping area! One of the cool advantages of this venue is that you can bask in sunshine and enjoy the ocean views by the pool, or walk a few minutes and be on a trail shaded by a stunning redwood forest. Not a lot of Big Sur venues offer both types of scenery. This venue is accommodates small elopements and big weddings. They have a few different ceremony sites in the redwoods or overlooking the ocean, which are reservable for a fee. My favorite ceremony site is called the “Redwood Circle of Life”, pictured below. 

Ventana offers all inclusive packages for elopements, but you may also rent a ceremony site for flat rate.

Ventana Big Sur Website

Click here to view a full post about a Ventana elopement pictured below!

ventana big sur elopement

3. Loma Vista Gardens

Also great for tiny weddings and larger weddings!

Okaaaayyy this is one of my absolute favorites! Loma Vista has recently undergone some exciting changes, allowing couples to choose from two different sites for elopements and weddings with guests. They have a newly available ocean view site that is *stunning* and perfect for couples wanting a completely private spot in a scenic location. This ocean view site is located on a gorgeous, peaceful ridge that makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. Loma Vista’s original garden location offers a bigger, shadier space that is great for small or big weddings.

Loma Vista Website

Click here to see a full blog post of a Loma Vista elopement

4. Henry Miller Memorial Library

Also great for tiny weddings and larger weddings!

This quirky venue is home to a bookshop and lots of ever-evolving art installation exhibits. In my opinion, Henry Miller Library retains the local spirit of Big Sur: arty, woodsy, and laid back with a hippie flavor. Couples may rent this venue for elopements or bigger weddings. There is a stunning canyon full of redwoods tucked right behind the main building and lawn of the Henry Miller Library. I love this venue because of it’s whimsical, super relaxed vibe and beautiful natural setting. This venue is perfect for couples who want a private space in the woods while avoiding the fussier venues.

Henry Miller Memorial Library Website

elopement ceremony at the henry miller memorial library in Big Sur
henry miller library elopement
art installation at the henry miller library in Big Sur

5. Garrapata State Park

Garrapata State Park offers a stunning beach and dramatic views from trails along the rocky coastline. It also has a narrow canyon that hides a creek surrounded by redwoods if you’re willing to take a hike there. Located in the northern region of Big Sur, it is one of the first areas with beach access when driving south from Monterey. There are multiple access points along the highway. Many couples decide to come to Garrapata for sunset portraits at the end of the day instead of doing their full elopement here. This location requires a permit to hold an elopement ceremony.

Garrapata State Park website

Click here to see a full post of an elopement at Garrapata State Park

Where you can get married on Public Land

The state parks in the Big Sur region include (from north to south):

  • Garrapata State Park
    • Has easy beach and costal trail access directly off of Highway 1 (my favorite location for beach/coastal portraits)
    • Known for it’s beach, coastal bluff trails and coastal views
    • Permit required for elopements
    • You can have up to 25 guests on the coastal side of the park
    • My opinion: This is my favorite coastal location in all of Big Sur!
  • Andrew Molera State Park
    • Has access to a gorgeous beach with an easy 1 mile hike (during fall and winter the footbridge on the trail is removed)
    • Known for its beach, being one of the most surf-able locations in Big Sur, and possessing the oldest historic structure in Big Sur
    • Has a campground
    • Permit required for elopements
    • You can have up to 10 people for an elopement ceremony here
    • My opinion: This is great if you want a beach that is more off the beaten path. There is also a large tent camping area here with picnic tables.
  • Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
    • NO beach/ocean access
    • Known for its redwood groves and the trail to Pfeiffer Falls
    • Highly developed park with a lodge and campground
    • Permit required for elopements
    • You can have up to 10 people for a hike-in elopement ceremony with an Elopement Permit, or you can have a larger gathering in a designated, exclusive use area with a Special Event Permit.
    • Elopement locations are hike-in only, and you must choose your trail location prior to applying for the permit
    • My opinion: This park is very developed, crowded and not ideal for elopements or portraiture. There is plenty of camping though, and a really wonderful river to play in!
  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (This park is closed indefinitely due to the 2020 Dolan Fire)
    • NO beach access, but has access to an ocean vista and Mcway Falls
    • Known for McWay Falls and its redwood groves
    • Has beautiful trails through forest land, encompasses lots of the iconic type of scenery most people associate with Big Sur
    • Permit required for elopements
    • You can have up to 10 people for a hike-in elopement ceremony here
    • My opinion: This park is wonderful for redwoods and the view of McWay Falls. A must-see park in Big Sur.
  • Limekiln State Park (This park is mostly closed due to the Dolan Fire. Currently the trails in the forest are closed, but the beach day use area is open.)
    • Has access to a small rocky beach (not the most impressive beach, compared to others)
    • Known for its trails through lush redwood groves, Limekiln Falls, and historic limekilns
    • NO PERMIT required for elopements/weddings! This is the only state park in the region that does not require a permit or limit the number of guests in your group
    • My opinion: I love this park and it’s easy trails through the redwoods. Parking is extremely challenging, so reserve a campsite for a guaranteed parking spot or get there super early!

Other public land:

  • Los Padres National Forest (USFS trails and roads in Los Padres National Forest are closed until further notice due to the 2020 Dolan Fire damage. Some day use locations may be open.)
    • There are lots of trails and land open to public use on National Forest land. Depending where you are, you do not need a permit to elope. This national forest is HUGE. Couples who work with me benefit from my knowledge about great options on National Forest land. The locations on National Forest land are for the truly adventurous.
    • My opinion: National forest lands will forever be my favorite because you can really get away from the crowds who flock to state parks.
    • If we work together I will happily share some of my favorite locations with you in the Los Padres National Forest!

  • Pfeiffer Beach
    • There is no permit required for elopements at this locations. However, weddings and elopements are not permitted from March 15-October 15th. PLEASE BE AWARE: the road leading to Pfeiffer beach can be flooded by a seasonal creek in the rainy season, making it closed or inaccessible at times. If you want to elope here, I’d recommend doing it closer to October 15th to avoid the possibility of flooding (rains generally pick up in November and get heavier December-March. The entrance to the parking lot and the parking lot can flood, which means the park becomes closed to the public).
    • This location is famous for the huge “keyhole” rock formation
    • Parking can be very difficult at this location on weekends. I recommend coming here close to sunset on weekdays.
    • My opinion: I love this iconic beach, especially since it’s the closest accessible beach in central Big Sur. Beware of the potentially strong, sandy winds though!

Permits for Big Sur state parks

Most of the state parks in the Big Sur region require couples to apply for a permit in order to elope. Limekiln State Park is the only exception in the region. National forest lands do not require a permit in most cases. You may apply for your own elopement permit or special event permit, or in some cases you can skip this process if you work with an event planner who has a special annual event permit for gatherings in this sector.

★ To apply for a permit at one of the Big Sur State Parks, contact the Special Event Permit Office at BigSurEvents@parks.ca.gov or call 831-667-0507 … If you are applying for a permit at Garrapata State Park, instead contact fwilson@parks.ca.gov

Quick and dirty facts about permits:

  • According to the state park website, elopement permits are “for very small, simple weddings without decorations in unconventional locations that must be hiked in to. All locations are outdoors, without any coverings.”
  • The state park system allows for only one elopement per day in the entire Big Sur sector (this does not included Garrapata)
  • Permit applications can be submitted up to 6 months in advance of your elopement day if you are applying for an elopement permit. Special event permits and elopements in Garrapata State Park can be applied for up to 1 year in advance.

To qualify for an elopement permit:

  • You must have 10 or fewer people present, including vendors and children (Garrapata State Park allows up to 25 people per group)
  • You must not block or hinder any park visitor’s access to a site or trail
  • You must not require seating
  • You must not have any music (acoustic or amplified) or any other amplified sound
  • You must not have any decorations other than “one single hand-held bouquet”
  • Your elopement must occur during regular day-use hours, usually only on Mondays-Thursdays (sunrise-sunset)
  • You must not not have any other vendors besides an officiant, a planner and one photographer
  • You must not serve food or drink

Other Private Locations to Elope:

Big Sur Vendor Recommendations

I am NOT being compensated by any person or business listed in this blog. All recommendations come from my honest opinions based purely on experience.

Officiants:

Coordination (for couples who: are having a tiny wedding with a group of guests, want access to exclusive private venue spaces, and/or want a beautifully curated setup with rental furniture)

Videography:

Flowers:

Hair and Makeup:

Photography & Elopement Planning

  • Myself! I absolutely love photographing and planning elopements in Big Sur and would love to provide you with more information on my approach and pricing. I help couples with in-depth planning of locations and timeline building in addition to photography. All of the images you see in this blog and website are my own photography. Shoot me an email!
  • Whoever you end up working with for photography, please be sure to choose someone who is very familiar with the Big Sur region. Why? For one thing, there are there are a lot of hidden gems that are unmarked and hard to find unless you know the area well or have significant time to scout. This becomes even more important if weather, wildfire, or other big disasters (this pandemic) require you to relocate and pivot your plans at the last minute. I have spent countless hours scouting locations in Big Sur and researching important information about policies and permit requirements.

Lodging & Camping in Big Sur

FAQ

What should we pack for our elopement?

Bring warm layers, shoes you can comfortably walk with on steep trails, and a bottle of champagne! Stilettos are not ideal for most locations in Big Sur. Also consider bringing a small blue tooth speaker you can use if you want to have your first dance out in the wild or wherever you choose to elope.

What should we NOT bring for our elopement?

Please do not bring confetti, rice, glitter or anything similar for tossing, even if it is labeled biodegradable. Unfortunately it is harmful to the environment and wildlife, stays put for a long time and leaves a big mess! Also, do not bring smoke bombs or sparklers. These can easily ignite wildfires! In order to keep nature pristine and accessible for future visitors, we need to be careful of how we impact the land on your elopement day.

Is there cell service in Big Sur?

Not much! Be prepared to be largely without cell service. Certain areas do get service (I always get ATT service from the parking lot of the restaurant at Ventana Big Sur). Plug in your destinations on your gps app before you head into Big Sur. If you’re planning to hike to a ceremony spot in a state park with guests present, consider bringing two-way radios to keep everyone in communication.

What are some of the best ways to experience Big Sur?

First and foremost, plan out a couple hours to drive down/up the coast on highway 1. The views from the road are unreal, and there are about a million turnoffs where you can quickly stop to soak in the view.

Take a hike! Big Sur has old growth redwoods, waterfalls, rivers and creeks, and secluded beaches and coves to enjoy. Some of my favorite hikes are in Julia Pfeiffer State Park and Limekiln State Park.

Pack a picnic and take it to a beach! Garrapata Beach, Pfeiffer Beach and Sand Dollar Beach are all great options.

What else should we plan for our elopement?

There are many ways to make your elopement day feel special and memorable. Some things to consider: writing personalized vows, planning a first dance, having a musician present (maybe you’re the musician!), cutting and eating a cake, popping champagne, exchanging letters or gifts before your ceremony, going to a special restaurant for dinner afterward, having a catered picnic, and collecting items from your elopement to put into a time capsule (like dried or pressed flowers from your bouquet/boutonniere, or a sprig of redwood needles from the ground at your ceremony location).

How can we keep the wellbeing of the environment in mind during our elopement in Big Sur?

Please be sure to obtain the proper permits for any public location you choose for you ceremony. Respect the land by staying on trails and using durable surfaces for ceremonies (such as a pre–existing hard-packed clearing with no plant life). If you are in an area where certain places are roped off, do not cross beyond those boundaries. Usually this is in place to restore plant life from previous visitors, or to protect visitors from eroding cliffs. Pack out all your trash and leave the area better than you found it. Please do not trespass onto private property bordering public areas. As mentioned earlier, please do not plan on tossing confetti, glitter, rice or using smoke bombs and sparklers. Thank you for caring about preserving nature and future accessibility to it!

How will Covid-19 affect our elopement and our trip?

I am fully vaccinated and will take extra precautions for your safety (sanitizing and respecting your personal space). Instead of driving you myself to any off-site locations, we will caravan to any secondary locations that may be planned for your day. You may also hire a shuttle service if you don’t want to worry about driving yourself around! Ultimately, your overall experience of Big Sur will likely feel just as wondrous as pre-covid days.

WHY ELOPE WITH MELISSA?

I love helping couples plan and create meaningful experiences for their elopement or wedding day in addition to documenting it. I love all weddings, but something about elopements feels extra special because they allow couples to live out their wedding day EXACTLY how they want to, without the pressures from family or society. These intimate experiences will be treasured for a long time, and it is an honor to be invited into that experience as a photographer. That said, I offer a lot more than simple photography when it comes to elopements. I recognize that many couples want guidance in planning their elopement day because the limitless possibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming. That, and many couples choose to elope in new places they are unfamiliar with. In order to help couples plan their dream elopement day, I have spent years finding the most beautiful, inspiring locations for elopements in Big Sur and Santa Cruz county. However, there is more to an elopement day than a beautiful location for stunning portraits. Couples who work with me get a photographer who brings the focus back to creating a memorable experience, not just pretty photos. Couples who work with me also benefit from having a photographer who has lots of knowledge about and experience with the Big Sur region.



Reach out to me about photography if you’re considering an elopement in Big Sur, Santa Cruz, Tahoe or anywhere else in California. I would love to give you detailed information about my photography services and help you navigate your elopement adventure! I specialize in guiding and documenting adventurous elopements in the outdoors.

Want to explore some other options? Check out my guide on Where to Elope in Santa Cruz next.

YOU MAY LIKE…

Read More...
As Seen In...

Santa Cruz Wedding Photographer / Big Sur Elopement Photographer / Big Sur Wedding Photographer / Carmel Wedding Photographer / California Intimate Wedding Photographer / Santa Cruz Wedding Photography