Last Updated on December 6, 2022
Big Sur is a place that will truly take your breath away – it’s a rugged stretch of California coastline, with dramatic cliffs over the ocean on one side, and redwood forests and mountain views on the other. For adventurous couples who want to tie the knot somewhere truly incredible, this Big Sur elopement guide has everything you need to get married here!
The first thing I recommend thinking about when you decide to elope is what you want your backdrop to look like – is your dream spot on the beach with waves crashing next to you, on a cliff with the ocean below, or tucked in the forest with no one else in sight? With a Big Sur elopement, you can have all three views in one day, so here are a few incredible Big Sur elopement locations!
The Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is at the northern end of Big Sur, with headlands, rocky coves, and grassy meadows. There are plenty of incredible views on the shore, but the scenery doesn’t stop there – this place is also home to one of the richest underwater habitats in the world! It’s an amazing place for scuba diving and snorkeling, but even from the beach, you can see seals, otters, and if you’re lucky (and if it’s December through May), migrating gray whales!
Sunsets at Soberanes Point, located in Garrapata State Park, will take your breath away! There’s a short trail to get there, but you can continue along on the Whale Peak hike after Soberanes Point, if you want to extend the adventure. From that Point, you’ll have an incredible vista over the ocean!
Imagine getting married amongst thousands of blooming white Calla Lilies! These wildflowers only bloom for about a month, and the best time to go is usually mid-February to mid-March. This spot is located in Garrapata State Park, so you can stop here to say your vows before heading off to Soberanes Point for sunset!
The iconic Bixby Bridge soars over a canyon, connecting the cliffs of Big Sur. It’s an incredible sight, and there are several pull offs where you can stop to see it. This is one of the best places to elope in Big Sur if you want one of the most amazing views in the area!
Homesteaders once settled at Notley’s Landing, but the settlement was abandoned – today, a little cabin still stands at the opening of Palo Colorado Canyon. At the Notley’s Landing Viewpoint, you’ll have an amazing view of the ocean, with Bixby Bridge in the background.
Pfeiffer Beach is one of Big Sur’s most popular beaches, known for Keyhole Rock – an arch shaped rocky formation. There’s also some purple sand on this beach, resulting from manganese garnet deposits washing down from the surrounding hills!
The list of places to elope in Big Sur could go on forever – and there are even more spots around Big Sur that you can explore! Your entire elopement experience should be an adventure, so whether you plan a day after session, some fun honeymoon activities, or some day trips, I also recommend checking out the cute town of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Lover’s Point Park, along with some places in Santa Cruz – like Natural Bridges State Beach, Wilder Ranch State Park, and Shark Fin Cove (one of my favorites!).
When you’re choosing a date for your Big Sur elopement, you’ll need to think about what season you want to elope in and what kind of weather you want, along with crowds and privacy, and what you want to do!
The temperatures in Big Sur aren’t too dramatic – summers are definitely warmer (70 degree highs and 50 degree lows), but winter highs are usually in the low 60s and lows are in the mid 40s. But, there is a lot of rain! Rainy season begins in November and continues through April, with the winter months being the wettest. You can definitely tie the knot in the rain, but be prepared with some waterproof layers and shoes with good grip – it gets muddy!
Summers are dry and sunny, but they are also popular! This is a really good time for hiking because the trails won’t be so muddy, but you may have a little more trouble finding privacy on your elopement day.
To avoid crowds, it can be helpful to elope during shoulder season – right before or right after the tourist peak. For a Big Sur elopement, this would mean May or October. During these months there will be a lot fewer people around, but the weather is a little more unpredictable.
One thing to keep in mind when you elope in Big Sur is wildfire season – unfortunately, wildfires have become a yearly occurrence in California, so at the end of summer and beginning of fall, you may need a plan B in case Big Sur is smokey.
A big part of your Big Sur elopement experience will be where you stay – and Big Sur has lots of unique accommodations. Here are some ideas for places to stay!
At Ventana Big Sur, you’ll find luxury glamping – a place where you can be close to nature while enjoying every amenity you need. The tents are in a gorgeous location, and you’ll have access to a restaurant, fire pits, and more!
There is also a resort here that you can stay in if you want a more upscale experience, with pools, a spa, and more.
The Treebones Resort offers a really unique place to stay, with human nests and twig huts. Both are made out of wood and branches, creating a one of a kind experience! These campsites are pretty minimal, but they’re works of art and will be so unique for your Big Sur elopement.
The Lucia Lodge is remote and far from everything, making it the perfect elopement getaway! There are 10 private cabins, some located on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, and others have a view of the mountains.
Many outdoor locations require a permit to have a ceremony there – but because Big Sur is made up of several different state parks, and different public and privately owned parcels of land, the rules will depend on where you choose to tie the knot! After you’ve settled on a place to exchange vows, I’ll make sure that you know the rules, and that you get all the right permits.
You deserve to get hitched in a way that makes you over the moon excited – and to get married any damn way you please! So when you plan your Big Sur elopement, nothing is off limits.
As an elopement photographer, my job is to help you plan a day that’s unique and personal to you, so from helping you find the perfect spot to getting the right permits to creating a timeline (and everything in between), I’ve got your back!
If you want to elope in Big Sur, contact me, and we’ll kick off your adventure.
Come and wander in the Sequoias between the tree groves and say your vows surrounded by some of the tallest trees in the world.
Want to climb a mountain and say I Do at the top? Celebrate with a shot of tequila and a big ol’ joint? Hop into a hot air balloon and have a once in a lifetime adventure?
Then do it. I’m not gonna stop you. In fact, I encourage it.
If you want to ditch tradition, shed expectations, and get married your way, this guide will tell you how to plan your Yosemite elopement, and how to get married in the park!