Top 5 Elopement Spots in Monterey Bay

Top 5 Elopement Spots in Monterey Bay

Redwoods elopement photography

Top 5 Elopement Spots in Monterey Bay

Planning an elopement in Monterey Bay offers breathtaking locations, but it’s crucial to understand the importance of permits. Not only do permits ensure that your ceremony is legal and respectful of the natural environment, but they also prevent potential disruptions. 

1. Big Sur

2. Point Lobos

3. Carmel Beach

4. Lovers Point

5. Asilomar

Wedding photographers should be particularly mindful of permitting requirements to avoid being asked to leave by a ranger, which could derail your special day. Below are the top 5 scenic elopement spots and their permit details:

Getting married in Big Sur

1. Big Sur

Why Elope Here? Big Sur’s dramatic coastline, with its rugged cliffs and panoramic ocean views, is perfect for elopements. The natural beauty provides a stunning backdrop for unforgettable wedding photos.

Permit Requirements

  • Pfeiffer Beach: Requires a special use permit for ceremonies. Contact the Monterey Ranger District for details.
  • Garrapata State Park: A permit is needed for groups larger than ten. Applications can be obtained through California State Parks.


Big Sur’s locations vary in accessibility. Pfeiffer Beach has a challenging path that may be difficult for those with mobility issues. Garrapata State Park offers some accessible trails but check specific paths ahead of time.

    2. point lobos

    Why Elope Here? Known as the “crown jewel” of the California State Park system, Point Lobos offers stunning ocean vistas, picturesque coves, and an abundance of wildlife. It’s an idyllic spot for a tranquil and intimate elopement.

    Permit Requirements

    A special event permit is required for wedding ceremonies. Contact the park’s administration for specifics on availability and fees.


    Point Lobos has several wheelchair-accessible trails and viewing areas. Parking is available close to many scenic spots, making it relatively easy for guests with physical limitations.

      3. Carmel Beach

      Why Elope Here? Carmel Beach, with its white sands and scenic views of Pebble Beach and Point Lobos, is a charming location for a beachside elopement. The gentle waves and stunning sunsets add to the romantic ambiance. The downfall of Carmel Beach is that it always has a good number of visitors, but in the bright side, dogs are welcome. 

      Permit Requirements

      For small gatherings, permits are generally not required. However, for larger groups or setups, you may need to contact the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea.


      Carmel Beach has accessible paths and parking areas. There are beach wheelchairs available for those who need them, ensuring that all guests can enjoy the ceremony comfortably.

        4. Lovers Point

        Why Elope Here?Lovers Point, in the bohemian town of Pacific Grove, offers a beautiful blend of rocky outcrops, sandy beaches, and sweeping views of Monterey Bay. It’s a rather popular spot for both locals and visitors and offers a very unique sight during the spring months with the super bloom of purple flowers called the “purple carpet”.

        Permit Requirements

        For small gatherings, permits are generally not required. For larger events or setups, contact the City of Pacific Grove for permit information.


        Lovers Point is very accessible, with parking available close to the park. There are paved paths and accessible facilities, making it a convenient choice for guests with physical limitations.

          5. Asilomar

          Why Elope Here?Asilomar State Beach offers a combination of rocky coastlines, sandy beaches, and dune ecosystems. It’s a quieter location, perfect for couples seeking a peaceful, scenic elopement spot.

          Permit Requirements

          Permits for small weddings are available through the California State Parks website. Contact the park office for specific requirements and fees.


          Asilomar State Beach is very accessible, with parking available right off the road. There are paved paths and accessible restrooms, making it a convenient choice for guests with physical limitations.

            My takeaway

            Understanding the permit requirements and planning accordingly ensures a smooth and stress-free wedding day. Secure your permits in advance, respect any restrictions, and follow Leave No Trace principles to keep these beautiful locations pristine.

            There are many other memorable picturesque spots in the area that I can recommend, including Big Sur, and I can help you navigate the permitting process.

            Most locations require at least 60 days’ notice for permits, and some do not allow events on weekends or holidays.

            Additionally, some popular spots can be crowded, impacting the sense of intimacy. If you are looking for a less trafficked location, ask me for recommendations. Contact me for more detailed information and to start planning your perfect elopement.

              Big Sur Weather Patterns

              Big Sur Weather Patterns

              Eloping in the ca coast

              Big Sur weather patterns

              Big Sur elopement organizer



              Big Sur, a beautiful stretch of California’s central coast, is a popular destination for couples looking for a unique romantic adventure. Its rugged cliffs, stunning beaches, and majestic redwood forests create a breathtaking landscape that attracts people year-round. In this guide, I’ll help you understand the weather patterns in Big Sur by season, including rain, fog, and sun details, making it easy for you to plan your elopement wisely.


              Spring (March – May):

              Spring is a delightful time to visit Big Sur, as the weather begins to warm up and the hillsides come alive with vibrant wildflowers.

              Temperatures: During this season, the temperatures generally range from 50°F (10°C) to 65°F (18°C), and the days tend to be sunny and mild with ocassional strong winds.

              Rain: Rain is less frequent than in the winter, averaging around 3-4 inches per month and often offering a mix of rainy mornings with half sunny and dramatic skies.  Occasional fog may roll in during the mornings and evenings.

              Sunrise and Sunset:  Sunrise typically occurs around 6:45-7:15 AM. In the evenings, the golden hour starts around 6:30-7:30 PM, followed by sunset around 7:45-8:00 PM, and the blue hour from 8:15-8:45 PM.


              Summer (June – August):

              Summer is peak tourist season in Big Sur and it is important to be aware of this when planning your wedding; we have long days of sunshine and pleasant temperatures.

              Temperatures:  You can expect daytime temperatures to be between 60°F (15°C) and 75°F (24°C).


              Rain:  Rainfall is minimal, with less than 1 inch per month on average. Mornings may start off cool and foggy, particularly near the coast, but the fog typically burns off by midday and often comes back with the evening chill.

              Sunrise and SunsetSunrise usually takes place around 5:45-6:15 AM. Golden hour begins around 7:30-8:00 PM, with sunset around 8:15-8:30 PM, and the blue hour from 8:45-9:15 PM.


              Fall (September – November):

              Autumn might be the best time to visit Big Sur, with comfortable temperatures and fewer tourists. The foliage in the forests and valleys begins to change color, adding another layer of beauty to the already stunning landscape.

              Temperatures:  Daytime temperatures usually hover between 55°F (13°C) and 70°F (21°C).

              Rain:  Fall is the start of the rainy season, with rainfall averaging 2-4 inches per month. Occasional morning and evening fog can also be expected.

              Sunrise and Sunset:  Sunrise typically occurs around 6:45-7:15 AM. Golden hour starts around 6:00-6:30 PM, followed by sunset around 6:45-7:00 PM, and the blue hour from 7:15-7:45 PM.


              Winter (December – February):

              During the winter months, days are shorter and cooler. Fog is more common during this season, particularly in the mornings and evenings. While storms can sometimes make coastal hiking and exploration less accessible, the rain brings lush greenery to the region and can create spectacular waterfalls (which are often not easy to reach).

              Rain:  Winter in Big Sur is the wettest season, with the majority of the area’s annual rainfall occurring during these months. Rainfall averages 7-9 inches per month (or so).

              Temperatures:  Temperatures can range from 40°F (4°C) to 60°F (15°C).

              Sunrise and Sunset:  Sunrise usually takes place around 7:00-7:30 AM.  Golden hour begins around 4:30-5:00 PM, with sunset around 5:15-5:30 PM, and the blue hour from 5:45-6:15 PM.


              It is important to know that while we can relay on weather patterns to plan for the best possible weather on your wedding day, Big Sur often has a mind of its own with diverse microclimates. However, regardless of your plans, you sould always expect to face some colder temperatures and plan for it. The one thing is certain is that you will get the day that is meant for you and wether it is sunny or foggy, it will be unique!

              Big Sur Adventure Elopement Checklist

              Big Sur Adventure Elopement Checklist

              Elopement checklist

              Are you thinking of eloping in Big Sur or somewhere along the coast of Central California and you don’t know where to begin? Planning your elopement shouldn’t be a daunting task – many couples decide to elope to take away the stress of planning a big wedding; to help you along the process, here is a checklist of essential items you’ll need:

              1. Marriage License

              Obtaining a marriage license is an essential first step in planning your elopement. You can get a marriage license from the County Clerk’s office in the county where you plan to get married. In Big Sur, this would be the Monterey County Clerk’s Office.

              2. Location Permits

              Depending on where you plan to elope, you may need to obtain a permit or permission to use the location for your ceremony. Many popular spots in Big Sur, such as Pfeiffer Beach or Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, require permits. Check with the local authorities or park rangers to ensure you have the necessary permits.

              If you’re hiring a professional elopement photographer, make sure they have the necessary permits to photograph in the location you’ve chosen.

              3. Accommodation

              You can either stay somewhere along the coast or in one of the towns nearby. It is important that if you want vendors that can drive and deliver to you that you stay somewhere somewhat accessible for the nearby towns.

              4. Wedding Attire

              Choose wedding attire that’s comfortable and fits the vibe of your elopement. In Big Sur, this might mean a flowy bohemian dress or a suit paired with hiking boots. If you are planning an all day adventure you should prioritize comfort and make sure that you will be ok with your outfit getting a bit (or very) dirty.

              5. Officiant & Photographer

              Decide who will officiate your ceremony. You can hire a professional officiant, ask a friend or family member to become ordained, or have a self-uniting ceremony.

              As for a photographer, I recommend you do hire a local pro who is familiar with the area. 

              6. Rings

              Don’t forget your wedding rings! Make sure they fit and are securely packed for your elopement adventure.

              7. Transportation

              Plan for transportation to and from your elopement location. If you’re hiking to your ceremony spot, make sure you have comfortable shoes and enough water and snacks for the hike.

              Another great option for transportation is renting a classic car in Carmel, there are so many options around and they make create great photo opportunities!

              8. Weather Gear and Backpack

              Weather can be unpredictable in Big Sur, so being prepared is importnant. Bring warm layers, rain gear, and sun protection to ensure you’re comfortable during your ceremony, put it all in a backapck that you can bring along or leave in the car to access as you need. However, make sure to choose a backpack that can be in the photos 😉

              9. Vows and Readings

              Write your own vows and/or choose any readings or poems you want to include in your ceremony. Get creative! Get customized wedding vow books from Etsy to avoid reading them from a flimsy paper that might fly away or a smart device.

              10. Celebratory Toast/snack

              Don’t forget to bring a bottle of bubbly or your favorite beverage to toast to your marriage after the ceremony! Also, it is important to avoid getting “hangry” so packing a small picnic or having a vendor deliver a charcuterie board to celebrate might be ideal.


              Last but not least!

              Depending on the configuration of your eloping adventure, you might want to consider working with a photographer or elopement coordinator that can help you put a vendor team together. For example, you might need hair & makeup artists, flowers, picnic setups, bakers, etc.

              And let’s not forget a restaurant reservation or a private cheff to wrap up your celebration!

              In the end, the possibilities are endless, remember that even though it is an elopement, it is YOUR day, so make it of it what you want! From having a ceremony at a small venue, having a first dance somewhere on the cliffs away from any hikers, or eating your favorite pie with a bohemian picnic setup.

              Elopement adventure checklist