Big Sur Elopement Guide 2023: Everything You Need to Know

Big Sur is one of my favorite places in California! It has breathtaking coastal views and even Redwood forests. When you go to Big Sur you feel a sense of relaxation and peace being in a remote area. It makes the perfect place to have an elopement since the area is so spread out. There’s so many areas where you can have a private elopement ceremony. Location scouting and personalized location recommendations is a part of my services as your elopement photographer. Elopements are meant to be so much more than a few quick pictures and reading your vows. It can be an incredible all day experience doing all the things you love! This blog is meant to help you plan your Big Sur elopement. I will be sharing tips about permits, the best time to elope, best places to have your elopement, and so much more!

Permits and Fees for Eloping in Big Sur

If you’re looking into eloping in Big Sur, it’s very important that you know about permits! Most state parks in Big Sur require permits in order to elope there. Limekiln State Park is the only park with that exception. National forest land usually doesn’t require permits and offers a lot of great areas throughout the area. 

To apply for a permit at one of the Big Sur Parks you can contact the Special Event Permit Office by emailing here: or calling 831-667-0507. 

Permit applications can be submitted up to 6 months before your elopement. In order to qualify for an elopement permit most state parks require 10 or less people present including vendors and children. 

big sur elopement photographer

When to Elope in Big Sur

The weather in Big Sur is quite mild year round! The peak season is from April-October. However, crowds start to slow down after August when temperatures drop. The winter time is the least crowded and when lodging prices go down the most. This season is also most likely to have rainy weather and road closures. Spring is beautiful if you’re looking for wildflowers. Summer is the busiest season, but the weather is warmer these months. The fall time from September to November is the most ideal time of year to visit with temperatures ranging from high 70s to mid 60s with lows in the 40s to 50s. 

Where to Have Your Big Sur Elopement

There’s plenty of places in Big Sur where you can get married on public land and also private land. Here’s a list of the state parks (public land) you can have your elopement at:

Public Land in Big Sur for Your Elopement

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

  • No beach or ocean access
  • Park is known for Redwood trees and the Pfeiffer Falls Trail
  • Permits required for elopements
  • Elopement permits are for 10 people or under and are hike in only
  • Large gatherings are permitted with a Special Event Permit in permitted areas

Andrew Molera State Park

  • Has panoramic views of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a federal marine protected area. 
  • Beautiful trails with meadows, bluffs, beaches and hilltops
  • Has beach access with easy 1 mile long hike
  • Permits required for elopements
  • Up to 10 people are allowed for your elopement ceremony

Garrapata State Park

  • Has one of the easiest to access beach and coastal trails right off Highway 1
  • Known for its breathing coastal views and bluffs
  • Permits required for elopement
  • Up to 25 people allowed for elopements

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park 

  • No beach access, but beautiful coastal views and view of famous Mcway Falls
  • Known for views of Mcway falls and gorgeous redwoods 
  • Forest trails throughout the park
  • Up to 10 people are allowed for a hike-in elopement ceremony
  • Permits required for elopements
big sur elopement photographer

Private Land in Big Sur for Your Elopement

Private land is a really great option if you’re eloping in Big Sur! There’s so many Big Sur wedding venues that offer gorgeous scenery. Private land includes wedding venues, lodges, restaurants etc. Here’s a few benefits of eloping on private land:

  • No permits required for your elopement 
  • No need to worry about park/trail closures
  • Guaranteed privacy
  • Usually offers on-site place to get get ready
  • Flexibility with how many guests you can have verses eloping on private land

Here are some of my favorite locations for Big Sur wedding venues: 

Ventana Big Sur Wedding Venue

  • The Ventana Big Sur wedding venue is a great option if you’re looking to have a high-end luxury elopement 
  • Offers gorgeous coastal views
  • Mico wedding packages for up to 30 people start at $20,000

Wind & Sea Wedding Venue

  • The Wind & Sea wedding venue offers a luxury stay with breathtaking coastal views
  • Offers special elopement package for up to 12 guests
  • The lodging it offers is a house that can accommodate up to 6 guests which is perfect for family to stay all together 

Henry Miller Library Wedding Venue

  • The Henry Miller Library is an arts center that has a bookstore and performance venue
  • It offers a reception site for larger weddings or a private redwoods canyon for elopements and small weddings up to 30 people
  • If you’re looking to have a private ceremony amongst the redwood trees this is the perfect location

Loma Vista Gardens Wedding Venue

  • The Loma Vista Gardens are great if you’re looking for mountain or garden views
  • Offers two different ceremony locations for elopement ceremonies for up to 2 hours and up to 25 guests 
  • Small wedding packages are offered for weekdays and select Sundays 
  • You can host your ceremony and reception dinner all in one place here 


Big sur elopement photographer

Getting to Big Sur

If you’re flying into Big Sur the closest airports are:

  • Monterey Airport  is located about 30 minutes from the Big Sur Valley. Since this is a smaller airport flights might be more pricey, but it’s worth looking into. Direct flights are now offered from Denver, Colorado, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Phoenix, Arizona. Commuter flights to here are offered from most major airlines from San Jose Airport and San Francisco International Airports.
  • San Jose International Airport  is located about 120 miles from Big Sur. Shuttle flights from San Jose to Monterey are available. 
  • San Francisco International Airport is located about 150 miles from Big Sur. Shuttle flights from San Francisco to Monterey are available. 
  • Oakland Airport is around 130 miles from Big Sur. Check out their website for more information on ground transportation, flight schedules etc.

Where to Stay in Big Sur

If you have your elopement at a venue, most of them have a place to stay. There’s also great options for cabins to stay at like Glen Oaks Big Sur which offers a lot of modern cabin options. Ventana Big Sur on top of having luxury cabins to stay in they offer glamping too. The Post Ranch Inn is another luxury hotel that offers amazing coastal views. Although Airbnb’s most of them don’t allow elopements to take place there. You can contact the host to see if you’re allowed to host the event. Sometimes Airbnb’s can be risky to host your elopement due to liabilities and last minute cancelations from the host. 

Big Sur Elopement Packages

Big Sur wedding cost can vary depending on if you have your ceremony at a venue or if you decide to elope on public land at a state park. Some venues offer elopement package options that will include selected vendors. This can include anything from photographers, officiants, caterers, etc. Some luxury hotels like Ventana Big Sur and Post Ranch Inn that range anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 for no guests and $5500-6500 for a small wedding with guests. 

Meet Your Big Sur Elopement Photographer

If you’re still in the planning process with your elopement, don’t worry I got you! I help assist my couples with planning their elopements. As your Big Sur elopement photographer, not only will I help document your elopement day, but here are some other things I also include:

  • Unlimited planning consultations calls to help craft your dream day
  • Location scouting – I love finding off the beaten-path locations so you can have a private elopement! I send out a list of multiple potential location spots that’ll fit your needs. 
  •  Vendor recommendation list – because I know how stressful it is to find different vendors in the area
  • Custom timeline that I help craft to fit your elopement day
  • Activity suggestions
  • A 100+ page elopement guide exclusively for my couples
  • Packing list for your elopement day
  • A Leave No Trace Guide – preserving the integrity of the environment is extremely important so I want to make sure all my couples are aware

big sur elopement

About Your Photographer

Hey! I’m Tiffany, a California elopement photographer who travels and handcrafts elopement experiences. I offer California elopement packages where I not only document your wedding day, but also assist in planning the elopement of your dreams! Contact me to learn more about how I can help!

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