I had been dreaming of photographing a Big Sur elopement in California, so when Ariana and Alex booked their elopement with me I knew it would be incredible! These two are both from Michigan (like me) and wanted to elope along the coast in California, just the two of them!
Beach Elopement Ceremony on the coast of Big Sur
The day of their elopement started with getting ready in the cute place they were staying. Then we headed out to a spot along the coast of Big Sur! They had a ceremony with an officiant and ocean views behind them. They wrote their own vows that they said to one another and they were so sweet! The wildflowers and lilies were in full bloom and added the most incredible colors to the portraits we took there.
Elopement Photos at Garrapata Beach
Next, we headed to Garrapata State Park and hit the beach. They wanted to have pizza and beer at the beach and that’s exactly what they did. So we took some time for them to just hang out sipping their beers and enjoying the pizza they brought. They also brought a speaker and did their first dance on the beach together. We ended with photos along the beach!
Tips for Planning a Big Sur Elopement 2024
If you’re dreaming of eloping in Big Sur, the planning process might feel overwhelming. Big Sur covers a 90-mile range along California’s Highway 1 from San Simeon to Carmel. One of the coolest things about the Big Sur stretch is that it has both ocean and mountain views. There’s the rugged coast of the Pacific on one side and then the forest with groves of huge Redwood trees to the east.
How to legally get married in Big Sur? Where do we apply for a marriage license?
To legally get married in Big Sur, I recommend applying for a marriage license from Monterrey County. A marriage license is $90 and can be used anywhere within the state of California. You can find all the details about applying for a marriage license on the Monterrey County website here!
Do we need a permit to get married at locations in Big Sur?
It depends on where your ceremony is, and whether you need a permit to do so! There are a lot of state parks within the Big Sur region, so the rules will depend on the park.
- If you’re getting married on Big Sur public lands or within one of the state parks, you’ll need a special events permit. The California State Parks website has more details here!
- You can expect most state parks will have a $10 entrance fee per vehicle.
- Most state parks don’t allow more than 10 people (including vendors) at ceremonies.
For Alexa and Ariana’s photos at Garrapata Beach within Garrapta State Park, we had to pay the vehicle entrance fee. Since we were just there for photos we didn’t need any other permits.
When Ariana booked her elopement with me, part of my job was helping her and Alex plan the locations and the logistics. We spent a lot of time deciding on the locations and what aligned with their vision for their elopement. For all of my elopement couples, I work closely with them throughout planning and help navigate the permit situation!
It was such an honor to capture Ariana & Alex’s elopement in Big Sur!! I am seriously obsessed with these two and this place!
Big Sur Elopement Photographer
I’m a destination elopement and wedding photographer based in Michigan, and I travel across the U.S. and beyond to photograph weddings! To get in touch about all things engagement and wedding photography head to my contact form!
For more California wedding inspiration, check out this boho wedding in Santa Barbara!