How to Elope in Oregon

While there are so many incredible states to choose from for your adventurous wedding, you really can’t go wrong if you choose to elope in Oregon.

As a photographer who specializes in elopements and micro-weddings, I love both equally. If you love the great outdoors, Oregon is one of the best places for an elopement, featuring stunning coastlines (like this beach) and densely forested areas that look like they’re straight out of a fairytale.

Throughout this post, learn all about how to elope in Oregon, from locations to obtaining your marriage license and everything in between.

How to Obtain an Oregon Marriage License

A couple holds hands with one another on the beach in Oregon.

First things first, you’ll have to obtain an Oregon marriage license. You’ll have to go to a county clerk’s office to do this.

Once you’ve chosen a county to get your marriage license through, you’ll need to fill out the marriage application, bring photo identification as needed, and pay the fee.

For instance, in Multnomah County (where Portland is), the fee is $60. You can pay $65 if you want to get rid of the three-day waiting period. You must get married within 60 days of that for the marriage license to be valid. Be sure to research the specific county you choose!

Then, once you have your elopement, your officiant will have to fill in the information and sign the license for you. Then, the license has to be returned to the county within five days of your elopement!

Best Places to Elope in Oregon

Now that you know how to elope, let’s get into the fun part: where to elope in Oregon! Here are some of the best spots for an Oregon elopement. As always, be sure to do permit research as well when choosing your location.

Short Sands Beach

I know I mentioned this spot a little earlier, but Short Sands Beach is easily one of the best places for an elopement in Oregon. Situated right by the water, this location features beautiful cliffs and is perfect if you love both the coast and nature.

You can click here to see photos I captured during an elopement at Short Sands Beach with Andy and Kristi!

Columbia River Gorge

One of the more famous places to elope in Oregon is the Columbia River Gorge. It’s absolutely breathtaking and features waterfalls like Latourell Falls and Wahclella Falls. With nearby Mount Hood, it’s easy to see why so many couples elope in this epic spot.

This is the perfect spot to elope if you want something that looks otherworldly – the waterfalls kind of look like what you’d expect to see in a place like Iceland!

Smith Rock State Park

While Columbia River Gorge looks like Iceland, Smith Rock State Park is reminiscent of the landscapes of the southwest! (Some say it’s even similar to the famous Zion National Park.) Desert views are all around you here, and there’s a beautiful river that flows through the park. The area is famous for rock climbing and isn’t far from Bend, Oregon.

Alvord Desert

Most visitors from out-of-state are surprised to learn that Oregon has desert landscapes – one such desert landscape is the Alvord Desert. The earth is dry and cracked in this area, creating a really unique landscape for an elopement! If you want an elopement surrounded by nature at the foothills of a mountain, this is a great spot to consider.

Painted Hills

Last but certainly not least, Painted Hills is a great elopement spot for those who love pastel colors in nature. This area is part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. It’s actually one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon (along with Columbia River Gorge, Smith Rock State Park, and a few other spots), and it’s easy to see why.

Thanks to the beautiful trails here, it’s pretty easy to get amazing couples portraits away from the busier spots of the park.

Tips for Eloping in Oregon

Here are some of my best tips for eloping in Oregon.

Plan your timeline intentionally

A couple holds one another on their elopement day, smiling.

Be sure to plan your timeline intentionally. When it comes to elopements, it’s always a good idea to give yourself extra buffer room. Especially when the outdoor elements come into play, it’s always better to have some wiggle room in case anything comes up.

Consider the tide

You may not have thought of this just yet, but be sure to make tide considerations, too. This way, you can check if the tide will be high or low. Tides usually change every six hours and can really change depending from location to location. 

Choose local vendors

Whether you’re from Oregon or not, when you’re planning your elopement, consider choosing local vendors in whatever town/city your elopement location is closest to. For instance, Portland has a lot of great local vendors for clothing and food.

Especially when it comes to food vendors, it can be worth trying to find a local restaurant to see if you can rent out space for an evening with whoever is attending your elopement. 

Fly into a good airport

The easiest airport to fly into if you’re coming from out of state will most likely be Portland International Airport (PDX). From there, you’re able to rent a car to get where you’d like to go. If you’ll be going to Bend, then it may be easier to fly into Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM).

Make your vows unique

Your vows should be unique and personal for your elopement, too. To do this, be sure to really speak from the heart and use language that’s authentic to you. 

If you have a sense of humor, it can even be fun to add a touch of that into your vows or even be a bit vulnerable. Call back on the moments of your relationship that really showcase your love for one another and even highlight a few defining moments of your love story!

Do your permit research

First, please know that permits are not as scary as they seem – they just let park rangers know who is in the park and what you’ll be doing.

Some parks do have caps on how many permits they give out per day or even per year, which is why it’s important to see if your location will need permits or not. Usually, you can apply for these online. I have a post on permits here if you’d like to learn more!

For my clients, I do permit research for them and apply for any photographer permits myself, then just include the cost of permits on the invoice to make it nice and simple for you.

Be mindful of witnesses

To elope in Oregon, you will need two witnesses who are at least 18 years of age. Any partner or a minister can’t legally act as a witness. Your witnesses will have to put their names on your license as well!

Bring comfortable hiking boots

Make sure that you bring along comfortable and durable hiking boots, especially if a hike is involved in your elopement! My personal favorites are Lems, which are waterproof and lightweight, but any hiking boots will do.

Pick where to stay

If you are having a smaller elopement with under 10 guests, you really have so many opportunities when it comes to picking where to stay! You could consider renting out a cabin or even parts of a lodge if you’re able – you can usually get around having to stay at a hotel with smaller numbers of people, which can be great to allow you more time with your loved ones during your elopement day/weekend.

Research the time of year you want to elope

Now, you may be wondering – when is the best time to elope in Oregon? The more popular elopement times in the state are definitely early summer through fall, which makes a lot of sense. That’s because there’s not as much snow and the weather is great! However, this can mean busier trails and harder-to-attain permits.

If you love the snow and want fewer people in the areas you’re eloping, you can consider winter or spring, but just know the weather can be a bit harder to manage during this time of year.

In other words… you really can’t go wrong with an elopement during any season in Oregon; it just depends on what you want!

Final Thoughts: Oregon Elopement

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post about how to elope in Oregon. It really is an incredible state for an elopement, and you can’t go wrong no matter where you choose to elope!

If you are still in search of a photographer to team up with for your elopement, I’d be so honored to learn more about you and your partner’s love story. You deserve a photographer who captures your day in a one-of-a-kind way and truly takes the time to understand your quirks and unique dynamics. You can click here to contact me!

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