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.
Table of contents
- Will you need an officiant to elope in Oregon?
- How to get your Oregon marriage license:
- How to elope in Oregon State Parks
- Other places to consider for your elopement:
- Crater Lake National Park
- Oregon National Forests
- Oregon coastline
- The Painted Hills and the Oregon Desert
- Fern-and-Moss-Covered Forests
- Mountains and wildflower meadows
Will you need an officiant to elope in Oregon?
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.
If you choose the later, you can have a judge or court clerk sign as your officiant when you file your paperwork. You’ll need to make an appointment, and it must be at least three days after obtaining your license. Bring at least two witnesses over 18 years of age and pay a court cost of $117.
Marriage License Cost: $60
Court Officiant Cost: $117
Private Officiant Cost: Couples can spend anywhere between $200-$3,000 on an officiant who comes to you.
How to get your Oregon 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.
How to elope in Oregon State Parks
Equipped with bathrooms and parking areas, state parks are a great choice for a low key elopement or intimate weddings, especially when guests may need maintained trails or mobility accessible accommodation.
To host a wedding ceremony in Oregon State Parks you’ll need to contact the park manager of the park you’ll want to get married in. Each park has their own rules and policies because each of our parks has its own unique natural resources. Typically the costs to get married in the state park are minimal, and many times you can get married for fee if you have fewer than 75 guests in attendance.
You can find the phone numbers for each park on their website: www.oregonstateparks.org. It’s important to obtain permission for your event so that the park can help you have a day that runs smoothly.
Some of my favorite state parks for elopements and small weddings are:
- Shore Acres State Park
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).
- L.L. Stub Stewart State Park
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 State Park
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.
- Smith Rock State Park
To elope in front of the towering rock formations at Smith Rock in Terrebonne, 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!
- Ecola State Park
Cannon Beach, moody forests and epic coastal views, just an hour and a half from downtown Portland.
Other places to consider for your elopement:
Crater Lake National Park
Best Features: Easy, drive-up access, waterfalls, and hiking trails.
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.
Oregon National Forests
Best Features: Lava flows and volcanic mountains, wildflower meadows, and the moss covered evergreen forests that the Pacific Northwest is known for.
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. Mid to late summer is the best time of year for high elevation elopements.
Best Features: Sea stacks, marine life, epic sunsets, bonfires, and coastal redwoods.
The famously scenic Oregon coast offers a plethora of gigantic coastal boulders, or sea stacks, 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. Consider a fairy tale-like ceremony followed by a cozy night by the fireplace.
Read More: Why Your Should Choose the Oregon Coast for Your Elopement
The Painted Hills and the Oregon Desert
Best Features: unique, brightly colored layered sediment.
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.