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Planning an Elopement in Big Sur

It's been a dream of mine to shoot in Big Sur from the moment I started my photography journey. The amount of photos I had pinned to my Pinterest board in the area was absurd so I finally made the trip out to the coast last April and it exceeded all my expectations and then some. To give you an idea, I had visited Hawaii a few months prior and it was like a little slice of Hawaii on our west coast (although it was a little bit colder).

Planning an Elopement


Sometimes when shooting in destination locations like Big Sur, the couple will already have a place in mind that they want to shoot in but often they aren't sure and need suggestions. As a destination wedding and elopement photographer sometimes that can be hard as I do not live there to do constant location scouting BUT that is when google maps, Pinterest, instagram locations and arriving a day early come in handy. I always arrive prior to the elopement date to do a final scope of locations just to be sure there are no road closures, park closures, necessary permits to get in, etc. Of course I do as much prior research as possible and while it's not common, things do occasionally happen and arriving prior gives plenty of opportunity and time to go scout out the back up locations.

Pro Tip: ALWAYS have a back up location for elopements and always be sure to call state/national parks to see if they require permits to elope inside the park. State parks often do not, but national parks often do. This does not generally apply for a formal session together however. Just be sure you know the rules before going.

As far as this elopement, this location it is a rather popular beach site in the area, however is a bit in the middle of nowhere. We drove over an hour outside of Carmel-by-the-Sea, down a dirt path for a bit and finally to the parking lot where there is a quick quarter mile walk down to Pfeiffer Beach.


A lot of locations have strict rules often limiting what, or even if, you can have any at all. Thankfully after contacting a few different people, I got the clearance for babies breath, roses and lilies! Fun fact; the lilies scattered throughout these arrangements are the same that grow in the nearby Calla Lilly Valley (which I was also able to take some anniversary photos that you can see here)

Finding a local florist at such last minute was a bit of a challenge but I am nothing if not resourceful for my couples. Costco has good florals to purchase in bulk and that is exactly what we did. They arrived a few days prior, just in time to prep the stems and place them in buckets to fully bloom and I was able to put these together the day of despite the fact that the stands being faulty and unable to work the way they were meant to, but that's okay!


Just because we were on a beach did not mean that anyone involved in the planning wanted to not have a table scape so we went with a picnic style! Often floral arrangements get used for one part of a wedding or elopement and left alone but in this scenario we grabbed the ceremony florals and tilted them sideways to sit beside our picnic!

We were able to get these beautiful glass rentals from a Utah rental company, Belfiore Rentals, who I cannot recommend enough. She was incredibly helpful, responsive and the glasses are stunning! The cutlery is from Amazon (linked here).

One of my favorite things about elopements is that often I get to be more involved in the planning, location, and details of the day which takes a lot of the stress off couples. If you are getting married and considering an intimate elopement, wherever it may be, let's chat about booking your date! If you are planning a larger wedding, I can help with that as well. Click here and let's get connected!


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