How to Elope in Oregon
Oregon is one of the most beautiful places in the United States to elope and boasts a number of radically different landscapes to choose from. In eastern Oregon, you will find desert climes, unique geologic formations, and plenty of adventure sports. The coastal western side of the state will awe you with lush cedar forests, dramatic cliffs, sea life, and classic moody weather. This complete guide was designed for everyone who is considering getting married among Oregon’s grand landscapes and beautiful scenery.
Will I Need an Officiant to Elope?
Short Answer: You need a licensed officiant to sign your marriage certificate in Oregon.
Long Answer: Your elopement ceremony can be as private as you want it to be. You may choose to have an ordained or licensed officiant or celebrant at your ceremony, but you can also decide to declare your vows to each other privately.
Marriage License Cost: $60
Court Officiant Cost: $117
Private Officiant Cost: Couples typically between $200-350 on an officiant who comes to you.
How to Apply For A Marriage License
You can easily apply for a marriage license online at your county clerk’s office (smaller towns and cities may require you to submit a paper application). If you live overseas, or out of state, is may be easier to handle your paperwork in your home state or country.
There is a 3 day waiting period after application until the license is granted – or you can pay a rush fee of $10. Once you have your marriage license, it’s valid for 60 days. This means you’ll need to fill it out and return it within that time.
Best Oregon State Parks for Elopements
For wedding ceremonies in Oregon State Parks you’ll need to contact the park manager of the park you’ll want to photograph in. Each park has their own rules and policies because each of our parks has its own unique natural resources. You can find the direct park phone numbers on their website: www.oregonstateparks.org.
15 minutes south of Coos Bay on the Oregon Coast is one of the best outdoor wedding venues. You’ll get a mix of landscaped grounds, flower gardens and rugged and wild coastline. Packages range from $100-$400 (in addition to parking fees for your guests).
Located just under 40 mins from Portland, Stub Stewart State Park has secluded forest clearings for your ceremony- so perfect you will hardly believe this is in a state park! The Hilltop Day-use Area is also a solid option for a ceremony site with accessibility and a view, as this part of the park is very close to the 15 reservable cabins (and plenty of tent sites!) the park offers. With flush toilets and hot showers, you won’t feel like you are roughing it at all! View the park’s very affordable rates here.
Silver Falls is a very hospitable location for an elopement or wedding celebration with a lodge on site that offer both elopement and wedding packages and has procedures in place to mitigate exposure to COVID-19. Elopement and intimate wedding packages begin at $594 for 5 people (Couple, Officiant, and 2 Witnesses) and each additional person (like your photographer!) is $40. Larger wedding celebration packages at Silver Falls State Park begin at $1779 for 10 people. Check out the full details on Silver Falls State Park wedding and elopement packages here.
To elope in front of the towering rock formations at Smith Rock in Terabonne, all you need to do is pay a $5 entry fee. You do not need to apply for a permit to get elope at Smith Rock unless you are having more than 50 guests. However, keep in mind that the park is extremely busy on weekends and during the peak climbing season!
Wedding ceremonies in Oregon’s National Forests are allowed, but you cannot have exclusive use of any location (reserving or denying access to the public). You will need a special use permit if you have 75 guests or more. Forest rules may change, so it’s always best to contact the National Forest office for the area and date you are considering for your wedding.
A permit is required for ceremonies inside Crater Lake National Park. The park offers 45 locations at which to hold your marriage ceremony, but it’s important to know that you won’t be able to bring in generators for power, speakers or other amplified music, and you won’t be able to restrict access to other park guests.
Cost: Variable depending on guest size and number of hours. Typically from $150-$300.
Wedding ceremonies are allowed at The Painted Hills, but are granted on a case by case basis and take into account the size and impact of your wedding party. You may not set up tables, arbors, etc. As a national park, drones are prohibited at John Day Fossil Beds. Protecting the fragile dirt at the park is imperative, so you must agree to stay on the boardwalk and keep your pets on leash. For permit information and to apply, you can go directly to park superintendent Patrick Gamman.
Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
They call it the People’s Coast for a reason! The 1967 Oregon Beach Bill made a longstanding declaration into law: Oregon’s beaches are public property “from the first dune to the sea” – or more specifically “up to sixteen vertical feet above the low tide mark” which is essentially the vegetation line. Public Access beaches mean you can have a marriage ceremony on Oregon’s beaches, but you aren’t able to restrict another member of the public’s access. Beach access along the coast is often managed by Oregon State Parks or National Forests and those access points may require passes or permits.
Oregon’s Most Unique Places to Elope
For those that love to explore new places, here are the most unique locations to elope in the state of Oregon.
Oregon has a fascinating geologic history, and is one of the few states where you can find visible evidence of the ancient tectonic forces that have shaped it. The central Cascades feature dark igneous rock and vast lava fields, often alongside epic vistas of The Sisters, Mt Washington, Mt Jefferson, and (my favorite) Three Fingered Jack. Backcountry trails make the central Cascades one of the most best places to find wildflower meadows and alpine beauty. Late summer to fall is the best time of year for high elevation elopements.
The famously scenic Oregon coast offers a plethora of gigantic coastal boulders that make for a scenic backdrop to any wedding. Oregon’s coast is referred to as “The People’s Coast” because the entire coastline was designated as public property in 1967. Dotted with state parks, campgrounds, yurts and lodges, there are many options for accommodations along the coast. Cannon Beach is arguably the most famous of Oregon’s coastal boulders, but my favorite is definitely Samuel H Boardman State Park.
The Painted Hills
The Painted Hills of eastern Oregon, one of Oregon’s 7 natural wonders, are a striking backdrop for a small wedding or elopement. The colored bands of sediment were formed 35 million years ago during its time as a river floodplain. Protected within John Day National Monument, guests are allowed within the park year round. Guests must be aware that stepping off designated paths is strictly forbidden in order to preserve the delicate landscape- but you won’t need to stray to have an epic and beautiful experience here!
Oregon is known for its tall, evergreen fir trees, covered in moss and shrouded in fog. You’ll see this spectacular landscape at its best in autumn and winter when the weather is gloriously wet and lush. Consider a fairy tale-like ceremony followed by a cozy night by the fireplace.
Oregon’s waterfalls are truly countless- giving you many options to suit your elopement vision. Latourell, Multnomah, and Wahclella are the most easily accessible and popular falls in the Columbia River Gorge and ideal for those wishing to elope near Portland and for guests with accessibility needs. In the Willamette Valley, my favorites are Abiqua Falls, Moon Falls, and Spirit Falls. Getting married near the crushing power of thousands of gallons of flow per minute, feeling the wind and spray on your face as you commit yourself to your partner is a magical thing indeed. (Related: How and Where to Elope in the Columbia River Gorge)
Mountains and Wildflower Meadows
Mt Hood and the other mountains in the central part of the state are awash with colorful wildflowers for a few months each year depending on the spot’s specific elevation. If you love hiking, sunrises, backpacking, or otherwise find your glory in the mountains, eloping on a mountain peak surrounded by wildflowers is for you.
Wild Earth Weddings specializes in planning and photographing carefree and adventurous elopement days in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Contact me to get started planning your elopement!
Tip: If you choose to adventure with Wild Earth Weddings, you’ll have access to my curated Oregon Location Guide, which offers even more detail and planning resources (and I’ll be there to help you with each step!).
February 6, 2020