California is home to some of the best elopement locations in the States. Wherever you choose, you really can’t go wrong, but we believe that a Big Sur elopement is something really special. So how exactly do you elope in Big Sur? Great question!
Big Sur is a stretch of California’s central coast between Carmel and San Simeon. It is bordered to the east by the San Lucia Mountains, and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. It’s traversed by the narrow, two-lane highway State Route 1, which is known for winding turns, seaside cliffs, and views of the often-misty coastline. The region has numerous state parks for hiking, camping, beach sight seeing, and your perfect elopement.
We’ve compiled this Big Sur elopement guide to help you decide where, when, and some other ideas for making your elopement a unique experience. We can’t wait to dive even further into helping you put together a day that feels like you! This guide is the best place to get started for how to elope in Big Sur!
When thinking about how to elope in Big Sur the first thing we want to get squared away is how to deal with weather at Big Sur. There is always the possibility that it will rain, even if the forecast you’ve checked a million times claims clear, sunny skies. Don’t worry! Rain (and the inevitable fog) make Big Sur absolutely breathtaking, so your photos and your day won’t be ruined by weather. However, don’t rely on clear skies; keep an open mind, and pack accordingly! (We have a small recommended packing list at the end of this blog, so keep reading!)
Secondly, the best time to visit Big Sur is between April and November. We highly, highly recommendthat you avoid trying to elope in the winter months (December-February) because there will almostalways be road closures and treacherous conditions (landslides, sinkholes, etc) caused by major rainfall,as well aswildfire activity. This isn’t to say that you aren’t allowed to elope in the winter here, but youwill have a much better experience during those warmer months. In the spring, you’ll encounterwildflowers in many areas. In fall, lighter crowds and beautiful weather.
Lastly, the day of the week also matters at Big Sur, just like in other amazing locations like nationalparks. Monday through Thursday are going to be your ideal day to elope, not only because of thelikelihood of lighter crowds, but also because getting a permit to elope in Big Sur can get tricky. Let’stalk about that next!
Because Big Sur is made up of a variety of public lands like land trusts, wilderness areas, and state parks, as well as private lands, each area has different requirements for how and when you can plan an elopement there. Specifically for the state park locations, Friday through Sunday are off limits.
We’ve compiled a list of links for you to read up on each state park’s rules and regulations. Note that the first three parks on this list limit to one elopement or wedding per day among them. This means that if there is an elopement permit issued for Andrew Molera State Park on a certain day, no one else can have their elopement on that same day in either Julia Pfeiffer Burns or Pfeiffer Big Sur parks. Complicated, we know! You can get a longer, up-to-date PDF guide for special events by emailing the contact found on these linked pages.
Again, these permit regulations are specifically for the state parks in the Big Sur area. If you choose a location outside of these, the rules are different, but we wanted to mention the specifics here because a lot of the land within Big Sur’s boundaries belongs to one state park or another. This can start to feelcomplicated and confusing because Big Sur isn’t regulated by one entity; we’re here to help you figureout all that detail when you book with us, so don’t hesitate to reach out!
Let’s get into the nitty gritty for some other location specifics! The first question you should ask yourself before you get too overwhelmed with choices is: do you want a coastal elopement, or a woodsy one?There are tons of options no matter what you choose. This fully depends on your style and what kind of theme you’d like to see in your wedding photos, so talk that over with your partner before going much further with location planning.
Big Sur is huge. Regardless of where you get married, you’re guaranteed to see incredible views of the trees, rivers, and ocean. You have the option of choosing to elope on public land (like the state parks we mentioned in the permits section) or private land, which includes venues like lodges, resorts, restaurants, etc. Here’s some of the pros of both public and private locations:
Some of these are on public land, and some are private venues.
SIDE NOTE: If you’re looking to get a similar coast line but want to go elsewhere check out our blog about Oregon Elopement Locations HERE
You’re choosing to elope so that you can create a truly unique experience with your partner! Giving you our guide to Big Sur wouldn’t be complete without a list of some one-of-a-kind experiences to check out whether you’re integrating them into your elopement day or planning to explore on your own before or after you get married. Bring your sense of adventure with you to Big Sur, and we promise you’ll have the time of your life.
We think that extending your stay in Big Sur after your elopement makes for an awesome honeymoon.This gives you a chance to explore more than just your ceremony location, and spend some quality time with each other as newlyweds in a gorgeous location. We have a couple spots for you to check out when booking your stay!
Before we sign off and leave you with a ton of information to sift through, we want to mention some smaller, but still important things as you begin planning.
Now that you’ve been armed with all the info you need for how to elope in Big Sur, reach out to us! We can’t wait to document your story.
Contact us at [email protected] with any questions and to inquire about having us capture your special day!