California’s Coast Elopement Locations and Tips

As you plan your destination elopement, Highway 1 in California offers a perfect combination of breathtaking scenery and easy access. Three locations I recommend are Carmel River State Beach, Garrapata Overlook, and the Redwoods Forest.

Carmel River State Beach

Located at the end of a neighborhood, Carmel River State Beach is a local hotspot for beautiful sunset pictures and rugged trails along the coastline.

This location is fairly accessible, with parking right at the trailhead, though it can get busy during the weekend or at sunset. The path to get to the optimum view involves a few flights of stairs and a few trails, and there are a few different spots within this location, including the most famous location, a large collection of shoreline rock formations. For this path I would recommend the bridal party to bring a change of shoes for the hike, which you can switch out for your formal attire once we reach the final destination.

Another popular place to do a ceremony is a cliffside spot where the couple can overlook the vast ocean rolling below and the rocky shoreline. The beach is a wonderful spot for candid couples pictures both before and after the ceremony, beautiful at any time of day. Carmel River State Beach offers a variety of locations, perfect for along the beach with the rolling ocean beyond, the rugged hillside and trails, among the rocks up cliffside. If you’re looking for an intimate, secluded spot to feel completely immersed in nature, this is a wonderful location to choose.

Garrapata Overlook

Garrapata Overlook is found in California’s State Park Reservation and offers an even more secluded spot than Carmel River. While Carmel River is known by the locals, Garrapata will have less people hiking since it borders the Big Sur area, a known remote location. Garrapata Overlook is very easy to access with a short hike to prime locations for pictures. I do recommend having an extra pair of shoes for the different terrains while hiking. This particular location has an additional benefit of a short drive to the famous Bixby Bridge. This offers a unique monument to either take pictures of in the background or take pictures on. This bridge overlooks a rocky cliffside with a vast, lush valley stretching beyond. Another local secret is a trail up the side of a hill, offering a view of the other side of Bixby Bridge. While parking for this location can be tricky, I know of a secret parking spot available if it is busy in the regular parking area. Typically, the area is very quiet during the week, but can become busy during the weekends.

Redwoods Forest

With the beautiful redwood forest in every photo – your elopement is sure to be memorable! There are two venues within the forest, both privately owned businesses, that provide accommodations for couples who book with them in case they are traveling far and want to stay before or after elopement. A noteworthy stay:

Carmel Redwoods Cabin

This stay is privately owned by Colette Cuccia. Booking is available through her website and she offers packages for all your elopement needs. Fun fact, she used to officiate celebrities, like Jack Black. This location is more secluded than Glen Oak Big Sur and the owners typically don’t host many people. Due to its exclusivity, if you do book here you may end up having the entire venue to yourself! The beautiful patio areas lead directly to the forest, adding to the seclusion and beauty of the area. The elopement standard package offered by Collette Cuccia includes a two-night stay, marriage license, officiant, and assistance with hair, makeup, and dinner.

It must be noted though that different event locations within the area include an outdoor back terrace complete with lights and heat lamps for every kind of weather, and indoor accommodations including a bar, restaurant, lounge area, and fireplace.

Glen Oak Big Sur

Glen Oak offers a big cabin style hotel property with two different locations. I have worked with this location before and am familiar with their arrangements – as well as their very friendly and helpful staff. Normally, the wedding party would stay at one location for the reception and ceremony. A short distance away from the main area is a rich forest view, where you are surrounded by breathtaking California Redwood trees.

In preparation for the big day, you will need to obtain a marriage license through the State of California. I suggest making an appointment with the County Clerk – you can even find one close to your elopement destination and apply there! Here is more information on the process: California Marriage License General Information.

Interested in learning more about elopements on Highway 1 or ready to book your dream elopement? Click below to contact us!

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