bride and groom standing on scenic overlook at Bixby Bridge

Big Sur has quickly become a go-to spot for lovers looking for a more intimate setting for their wedding day. After a huge pivot during the wedding industry, elopements have become widely popular.

If you’re considering a Big Sur elopement, check out these tips to make sure you have the best locations for your ceremony, private first dance, or even an intimate reception!

A quick note– Big Sur is *technically* a State Park. For this guide, we opted to stay in Monterey and drive in to the Big Sur area each day. This was best for this Big Sur Elopement because with our couple and their families, they wanted easy access and the convenience of a “town”. Big Sur can be pretty adventurous (if you want it to be!), but if you’re looking for the most convenience, like access to your florist, or local restaurants and bars, I’d recommend staying in or near Monterey!

  1. Point Lobos State Park

For this location, we weren’t actually able to shoot at, but heard lots of locals raving about this spot. Known for its scenic trails and ocean overlooks, it was a bit rough due to the recent weather, and was closed during our visit.

aerial image of a rocky, blue coastline

2. China Lookout

So this spot was a little tricky to find, but Google Earth worked wonders! It’s technically marked as “Shoal Cavern” but China Lookout is one of many small trails at this spot that all lead out to the cliff’s edge!

bride and groom overlooking scenic ocean cove

3. Arguably my favorite spot of the day, Bixby Creek Bridge! First off, cue the “Big Little Lies” theme song, because this spot is iconic! This place is pretty popular, and can be packed with tourists during the day. Our best bet was heading from China Lookout, all the way south, and then circling back to this spot at sunset, for fewer tourists, and one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen!

bride and groom standing on scenic overlook at Bixby Bridge

4. The next spot– Pfeiffer Beach! This is about 45 minutes south of Bixby Creek Bridge, and will have you taking a VERY windy road to the beach’s entrance. You’ll want cash on you (our fee was $12) to pay the entrance to the beach. Word of caution: be SUPER careful navigating the road in and out. It’s one lane, so any time we came across a car coming the opposite direction, one of us had to pull aside to let the other through, and it could be a little sketchy sometime! I’d recommend driving a crossover or SUV for this.

rocks coming out of the ocean

5. Redwood Deck! This spot is in the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park so you’ll want to make sure you have your park entrance and any permits necessary for getting married and shooting here! There are also a ton of cabins nearby, so if you’re looking for a more immersive experience amongst the redwoods, check out Glen Oaks Big Sur— their stays are definitely the best here and my personal recommendation!

A Big Sur elopement is perfect for those looking for breathtaking views, nature at their fingertips, and a beautiful location for your special day.

There are a few other tips I wanted to throw out there for those considering this incredible location for their big day.

  • Big Sur has almost no cell service. Make sure you have a clear plan, especially if you’re traveling with multiple groups/cars. Google Maps will allow you to download maps offline, which was a lifesaver for us!
  • One reason we stayed in Monterey was the access and convenience to a lot of things we needed last minute for the wedding. Our bride ended up wanting a hairpiece, so we were able to find a bridal store in Monterey called Magnolia Monterey! Additionally, the florist was also in Monterey, and we used Flor De Monterey and they were fab!
  • Plan AMPLE driving time. The speed limit along Highway 1 only gets up to like 50 mph MAX, and is typically around 35-40 mph.
  • Be SO cautious of poison oak! Growing up in Texas, I had poison ivy a LOT as a kid, and forgot how crazy this shit is. Make sure everyone in your party knows what it looks like, and how they react to it.

Your Big Sur elopement is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience a physical location that seems almost as big and grand as your love for each other.

If you’re planning your Big Sur elopement, first off– get excited! As someone who has traveled the world capturing weddings, it’s one of the most breathtaking places I’ve seen. Next, I definitely recommend bringing along a photographer AND videographer to capture your experience. Having photo, but especially video to be able to relive and share this special day with your friends and family for years to come will be a priceless memory, and become a family heirloom!

Enjoy this teaser film I created for this awesome couple who eloped in Big Sur in October 2021!

Wanna chat about capturing your destination wedding or elopement? Get started here!

Planning and Resources

November 6, 2021

How To Plan A Big Sur Elopement

  1. […] may recognize these two from my recent blog post about planning your Big Sur elopement! We had such a fucking killer time that I wanted to designate space to talk about their day. We […]

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