Big Sur Elopement Guide 2020

Big Sur Destination Wedding Info For The Adventurous & Wildly Romantic 

When it comes time to plan your special day, sometimes smaller is better. Intimacy and sharing your wedding with just a few of the most important people in your life may allow you, whether the bride or groom, to better enjoy your wedding day. That’s just one of many reasons why many couples are packing their bags for a Big Sur elopement. There are few places more beautiful for your special day, and while you can certainly scan Pinterest and Instagram for ideas for your wedding, let’s look specifically at what makes a Big Sur elopement so special!

Where Can I Elope In Big Sur?

When it comes to finding the perfect Big Sur elopement location, we know just the places to get the perfect photos courtesy your Big Sur elopement photographer.

Big Sur Elopement Spots

The wonderful part of a Big Sur elopement is that not only are you guaranteed a beautiful setting no matter where you go, but there are a number of great location options if you need a Big Sur reception location or accommodations in addition to the ceremony location. These are some of the best options:

  1. Big Sur Lodge: Between the river’s serene setting, the towering trees, and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, few venues can match the combination of beauty and accommodations of the Big Sur Lodge, which includes four different venues, numerous food options, and even an on-site even coordinator (and they offer over-the-phone wedding consultations, too!).
  2. Glen Oaks Big Sur: Nestled in a private redwood grove, you’re guaranteed an intimate setting for your ceremony as large as 100 people and as long as an hour, and they partner with the Big Sur Roadhouse to offer a reception on the Big Sur River.
  3. Big Sur River Inn: Like Glen Oaks Big Sur and the Big Sur Roadhouse, the Big Sur River Inn offers an alluring riverside setting amongst the towering redwoods. Unlike Glen Oaks, however, you have more options, with two different wedding venues—choose from an expansive riverside lawn setting or sun-dappled deck. They can also take care of food options and help you plan the rest of your big day, too.
  4. Ragged Point Inn: The 17-acre cliffside inn offers great views of the Pacific surf crashing from many of their 35 rooms if you wish to truly go small, but it also has other options, like a six-bathroom guest house on the lawn or dedicated wedding facilities, if you want others to share in your special day, too. Just note that with a regular summer concert series, you may need to really plan in advance to book the room or setting you want.
  5. Post Ranch Inn. Located right on the sea, the Post Ranch Inn offers dedicated elopement package options as well as venue options for your small and intimate ceremony, including packages for up to 50 guests.
  6. Loma Vista Inn. Set right in Big Sur, Loma Vista Inn’s historic gardens offer a slightly different setting, and given how centrally located it is, it works well as part of an adventure weekend if you want to get as much Big Sur into your wedding weekend as possible, too. (Big Sur Bakery is another great option if you’re looking for something in town, and they can additionally accommodate up to 100 people.)
  7. Of course, if you’re looking to do things differently, you can always go a bit off the beaten path—that’s where hiring someone familiar with the area to act as a consultant can really come in handy, too, especially if you want to keep it small and private. If you find the right Big Sur elopement photographer (hint, hint…), they may be able to help you find the perfect location for your ceremony and photos or they may be able to help you sort through the various Big Sur elopement packages to find what best fits you and your relationship and your dreams for your special day.

What Else Should We Plan For Our Big Sur Elopement?

Keeping in mind that Big Sur is a popular vacation and travel destination as well as a frequent destination wedding spot, know that you may need to plan well in advance. Working with an experienced Big Sur elopement photographer to help you sort through various Big Sur elopement packages as you narrow down what might work best for you can help eliminate some of the headaches that can come with planning your special day, but many of the best venues are regularly booked at least a year (or more) in advance. Similarly, know that any guests you choose to have may also have difficulty finding lodging if they don’t book well in advance.

Similarly, consider the following cautions in planning your Big Sur elopement:

  • Big Sur can be windy, especially on the coast, and the weather can change quickly. It’s never a bad idea to have contingency plans or to build some flexibility into your schedule or photo session.
  • Weddings are stressful. Planning a wedding in a popular area can add additional stress, especially if it is a destination wedding. Hiring someone to help you create your dream Big Sur elopement package can help reduce that tension.
  • If you can visit Big Sur with your wedding photographer or wedding planner in advance so that you can see venues and photo locations before the big day. This can also help reduce your nerves and eliminate some of the stress of the unknown, too, making it easier for you to simply relax and enjoy your wedding day.
  • If you are including guests on your big day, make sure they have opportunities to enjoy Big Sur and the surrounding area, too, as they’ve likely traveled for your destination wedding. This is another place where hiring someone familiar with the Big Sur area and all it has to offer can save you stress; a good Big Sur elopement photographer who can help you parse Big Sur elopement packages can be well worth their cost.
  • Be very intentional. Big Sur is beautiful, and there are lots of great venues for your Big Sur elopement. Just remember that the reason you’re there is to celebrate spending the rest of your life with your bride or groom—and let yourself enjoy it!

Best Time To Get Married In Big Sur

Because Big Sur is so popular and a Big Sur elopement can sometimes require so much advance planning, the best time to get married in Big Sur may well depend on your timeline just as much as it may depend on the season.

Off-season (generally considered November-March) in Big Sur may make it a little easier to book your desired venue or accommodations—if that’s something to which you’re amenable. The weather does tend to be better in the summer, however, and shoulder seasons (April or October, for instance) can also be gorgeous.

Big Sur Wedding Permit

If you work with a venue to plan your Big Sur elopement, they may take care of the wedding permit for you. The same may be true if you work with a Big Sur elopement photographer or invest in Big Sur elopement packages. If, however, you are doing the planning yourself, you should know that you may need a Big Sur wedding permit. For instance, if your Big Sur elopement includes getting married in a state park, you’ll need a Big Sur elopement permit, which allows for one special event in the Big Sur sector of California State Parks each day.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Into Big Sur?

Keep in mind, too, that if you get married in a Big Sur state park you’ll need to consider the cost of entry to California state parks: $10/day per car unless you have a State Park pass. Similarly, if you chose to camp, camping fees range from $35-50/night at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park or $30/night at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

Romantic Things To Do In Big Sur

Should you choose a Big Sur elopement, you should consider the following incredibly ten romantic things you might consider as part of your romantic getaway, especially if hiring a Big Sur elopement photographer or looking at Big Sur elopement packages:

  1. Drive Highway 1. Nearly everyone has seen the photos of iconic Bixby Bridge, but what you may not know is just how gorgeous this winding coastal highway truly is.
  2. Stop by the Point Sur Lighthouse. Not only does the historic lighthouse sit on a 361-foot rock point above the pounding surf, but volunteer-led tours are available on weekends on Wednesdays.
  3. Visit Pfeiffer Beach’s secret purple sand beach. Head down Sycamore Canyon Road at mile marker 45.64. (Hint: If you are heading north, the mile markers increase as you go.)
  4. Check out a scenic spa. Post Ranch Inn and Ventana Inn both offer great spas, and the Esalen Institute has fantastic hot tubs—or if taking a class is more your jam, check out the many offerings at the Esalen Institute.
  5. Check out Limekiln State Park. Not only does the park offer a little bit of everything Big Sur has to offer for your elopement—a sandy beach along the scenic coast, redwoods, a 100 foot (30m) high waterfall, historic lime kilns for which the park is named, and a campground with 29 sites—it makes for a great photo location, too.
  6. Stop at Ragged Point. Not only is the Inn a great location for your Big Sur elopement, but the vista is one of the best on the coast, as are the springtime flowers.
  7. Visit the Big Sur State Parks. Limekiln above is hardly the only fantastic state park in the area; Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park both offer a mix of all the best the central California coast has to offer, including plenty of redwoods and areas where you could have the perfect Big Sur elopement.
  8. Hike in the Ventana Wilderness. Hiking trails abound, offering something from novice hikers to experienced friends and family, with elevations ranging from 600’ at the Big Sur River up to 5700’ at Junipero Serra Peak. (The Cone Peak Trail, at 3.5 miles in length, is our top choice if you only have time for one.)
  9. Tour the Hearst Castle. A European-inspired castle, the 90,000-square-foot behemoth is astounding for those awed by architecture and design. (Consider making reservations, however, and don’t underestimate how much time you may want.)
  10. Visit the Henry Miller Library. Once a literary hub, Big Sur’s history, and culture are best exemplified by the Henry Miller Library—and it continues to serve as a resource center for artists, writers, musicians, and more, which can make it incredibly romantic for more creative couples and their Big Sur elopement plans.

What Are Some of The Best Ways to Experience Big Sur?

Any of the aforementioned romantic spots are definitely a great way to experience Big Sur and add some memories to your Big Sur elopement, but there are numerous other experiences you might want to consider as well:

  • Photos at McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The 80-foot waterfall is just a short walk off Highway 1, and the blue and turquoise pools and crashing surf make for fantastic photos. (Please note, however, that access to the beach below is illegal; you won’t need that access, though, for fantastic photos.)
  • Ewoldsen Trail Viewpoints in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Whether you complete the entire 4.5-mile loop or just hike a few miles for a handful of viewpoints, the Ewoldsen Trail offers numerous vistas for your Big Sur elopement photographer to capture the romance of your special occasion.
  • Drive the Old Coast Road. Though single-lane and dirt (meaning you’ll want something with clearance and traction), the 11-mile alternative to Highway 1 is incredibly scenic and offers numerous occasions for quick photos on the tree-lined lane. Just keep in mind that it largely traverses the private property, so you’ll need to stay to the road.

Ryan Horban Featured

Big Sur Elopement Package