A Cape Kiwanda Elopement is perfect if you’re a couple that is looking to keep things laid back and adventurous, without getting too far from the amenities that coastal towns have to offer. Cape Kiwanda is located in Pacific City, Oregon, and rests on the Historic and incredibly scenic 101 HWY and is part of the three capes scenic route. The landscape of Cape Kiwanda is truly something to behold, with its swirling sandstone cliffs, natural arches, tiny sea caves, and haystack rocks that have become so iconic for the Oregon coast it makes for an incredible Oregon elopement location. We’ll break down some planning logistics in this post and share a few ideas and recommendations to help you plan your Cape Kiwanda elopement. If you're looking for an adventure elopement photographer, we happen to know a team that would be thrilled to help you plan the perfect celebration (it's us).
it's no secret that Cape Kiwanda is a super popular spot along the Oregon Coast, especially during the summer season, and for good reason! There are a ton of spots to explore near the popular state natural area that can grant an incredible experience while avoiding insane crowds. We'll break down some of our favorite spots to explore for you to consider for your elopement location.
Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area: The Iconic photos of Cape Kiwanda that you've probably seen are from this area. The massive sand dunes and sweeping coastal views are considered part of this area. If following GPS, you'll be better off following directions to Pacific City Beach. To access the Natural Area, you'll park in the public lot and be able to climb the dunes through beach access. Remember that you'll need to pay an entry fee of $10 to explore this area!
Bob Straub State Park: This 484 acre State Park is insanely gorgeous and each time we have visited, we have had it almost completely to ourselves. With far-off views of Kiwanda's haystack rock and sandstone cliffs, you'll be able to explore the grassy beach dunes and soak in the glory of this coastal location. Another perk of this park near Cape Kiwanda is that it is super dog friendly and parking is only $4.
McPhillips Beach: This little gem was a random find one morning after a sunrise session at Cape Kiwanda. It connects to the back end of the Cape's viewpoint and from this beach, you can explore the rear view of Cape Kiwanda. Be warned, the parking isn't stellar. While there was absolutely no one there during our visit, you'll want to plan for a time where you won't have to fight for a place to park. This location would be killer for an early ceremony or sunset picnic.
Sandlake Recreation Area: Looking for some sandy dunes to explore or have an OHV adventure on your wedding day? This area near Cape Kiwanda can be the perfect place to celebrate your wedding day. If you're interested in OHV adventures, be sure that you obtain the proper permitting and always recreate responsibly.
When recreating in any area, it's important that we all do our part to ensure that the spaces that we love remain open and accessible to everyone. By following the leave no trace principles in these beautiful places, we can ensure that we're doing what we can to maintain the well-being of these areas and that they'll be here decades after your wedding day for you to come back to. You can learn more about Leave No Trace here. The principles of Leave No Trace and how they may apply to your Cape Kiwanda elopement are:
Plan ahead and prepare: Basically, have a plan of where you want to go and ensure that you've acquired the necessary permits, prepare for different weather scenarios and adverse environmental factors.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces: On the coast, there are often signs of where you are not allowed to be. Be sure to respect those areas, they are off-limits for a reason.
Dispose of waste properly: Whatever you bring in, be sure that you can pack it out. Be prepared to take your trash with you and dispose of waste properly.
Leave what you find: This is one applies heavily to the coast. It can be really tempting to take shells, pretty rocks, or sand dollars as souvenirs, but these ecosystems are incredibly fragile and it is best to leave them untouched.
Minimize campfire impacts: Curling up by a fire on the beach where they are allowed is a super fun way to end your wedding day. Be sure to research where beach fires are allowed, what permits you need, and how you can ensure that your fire is completely and properly extinguished.
Respect wildlife: Tide pools are incredible to observe, but never meant to be touched or tampered with.
Be considerate of others: It can be difficult to share these spaces on your wedding day, but allowing others to experience and recreate in these public areas is super important. We have plenty of tips to help you avoid crowds, but in beautiful, public spaces, there is always the possibility of running into others.
*Permits: Typically, if your elopement is pretty low-key you'll most likely not need a permit. If your guest count exceeds 50, has any kind of structures (like arches, chairs, or tables), you'll need a permit for your wedding day. With current COVID-19 restrictions, Oregon beaches are currently not issuing these permits.
When planning your Cape Kiwanda Elopement, there are plenty of incredible stays in Pacific City and neighboring towns. There is definitely a space for every type of style and budget near Cape Kiwanda. Finding a space that you can relax and unwind on your elopement day is super important.
TIP: You'll want to find a spot that fits your style and will supply a really nice location for the "getting ready" part of your day. We'll drop a few cool places below for you to check out!
Finding the perfect outfit for your elopement looks different for each person. There are a few things to consider when planning your wedding attire for your Oregon Coast Elopement.
TIP: You'll want to keep the activities you have planned in mind as well as the weather that you anticipate for your wedding day.
1) Can you move comfortably in your attire?
2) Is the material light? Will it become too heavy if it gets wet?
3) Are there any mesh seams that could collect sand and start to weigh you down?
4) Can you layer if you begin to get cold?
5) Will you need to pack your attire and change at any point?
1) Shoes like Chacos have served our couples really well for this area. They allow you to get your feet wet and provide tread for exploring rockier parts of Cape Kiwanda.
2) Lightweight hiking boots are also a great choice.
3) Go barefoot if you're walking in the sand.
4) Bring a change of socks in case your toes get cold.
- Paddleboard the Nestucca river here.
- Mountain bike at the Cape Kiwanda Fat Bike Route here.
- Plan a super fancy picnic for watching the sunset at one of the many beaches.
- Hang Glide with Kiwanda Kites here.
- Rent an OHV to explore sand dunes here.
- Treat yourself to a spa treatment here.
So many couples start planning their elopement thinking that their wedding day will be a quick ceremony and a couple of quick portraits after, but we're here to tell you that IT CAN BE SO MUCH MORE. This is day is to celebrate each other in a way that feels like you. Your Cape Kiwanda elopement can be super chill and laid back or filled with adventure, either way, it should fill you with joy. We'll list some cool activities near Cape Kiwanda to help you brainstorm the activities you want to incorporate into your elopement plans.
Cape Kiwanda is pretty stellar year-round but really shines during the summer months and early fall. Because of easy-access viewpoints and limitless activities, this area is insanely popular and if privacy is something you value for your Cape Kiwanda elopement, you'll want to consider some of the tips we're sharing.
- Summer: This is the most popular time for folks to visit the coast and Cape Kiwanda is a super popular destination. the weather is mostly sunny with the occasional storm in the earlier months.
- Fall: In the earlier fall months, there is still plenty of sunshine and warmth. In September and October, crowds will start to lessen as summer vacation ends.
- Winter: Winters on the coast are wet, chilly, and on the rainy side. If you're wanting a *moody* adventure and don't mind prepping for rain, this season is for you.
- Spring: Mid-late spring is when you'll see a lot of blooms on the coast and the mix of moody weather and spring sunshine can make for a really incredible day.
- Weekdays: Monday-Thursday will ALWAYS be ideal, especially for locations that are more popular. If you're eloping anywhere on the coast, aim for a weekday. We've always had the best luck in terms of privacy on Wednesdays.
- Weekends: If you're on the coast during Friday-Saturday, you'll most certainly run into other folks. During the off-season, you may reduce your chances of crowds, but prepare yourself either way. If eloping on a weekend plan your ceremony around sunrise and your portraits around sunset in order to find some privacy.
- Sunrise: This is our favorite time of day to shoot. The light is soft and you'll have the most privacy.
- Mid-Day: The lighting tends to get pretty harsh here and you'll start seeing more people. This is an ideal time to plan a super fun activity (with us documenting every minute) or even factor in some downtime with each other.
- Sunset: Sunsets on the west coast are pretty incredible. As folks start to head home, you'll be able to enjoy these beautiful spaces with fewer crowds and will have some pretty incredible light.
- Night: After catching the sunset, the coast can be the perfect spot to star-gaze, take some really cool star photos, or have your first dance illuminated by your car headlights.
- Weather: While we wish that we could control the weather, we have found that the best option is to just embrace it and roll with whatever is thrown at us. When planning during a season that is prone to specific weather conditions such as rain, snow, or even wildfires, it's smart to give yourself some backup options and be prepared to adapt. When picking locations with your adventure elopement photographer (pssst....hi!!) discuss backup plans that you feel comfortable with.
- Tides: We learned this lesson the hard way when we were out on our own adventure. ALWAYS check the tide schedule! Tidal patterns change about every 50 minutes and you'll want to try to access most beaches around low tide. You can check out a tide schedule here or the 2021 tide tables here.
If you're super visual like us and are having a hard time wrapping your brain around the idea of a full-day Cape Kiwanda elopement, allow us to shed some light on what this insanely cool day could look like for you.
We get it! An all-day Cape Kiwanda elopement sounds like a lot, right? But, hear us out! This day will absolutely fly by and building a timeline that allows you to soak in every minute of it will bring you so much joy and happy memories when you look back at your images and tell people about how epic your wedding day was. This will be the day you want to remember forever, and speaking as two folks that eloped, those memories fade insanely fast.
Here's what full-day coverage of your Cape Kiwanda Elopement looks like planning the most epic day with your favorite person in the entire world and two super fun adventure elopement photographers (hiii) just so happen to be there documenting the day as it unfolds. No forced moments, not an insanely long portrait session, just you and your boo having a killer day.
We meet you at your getting ready location to document the two of you getting ready together or separately. During this time we'll take photos of all the little details, your wedding attire, reading notes that you've written to each other, or finishing up copying your vows.
You share your first look at your super cute Air BnB and get mega-hyped for the rest of your day.
We head to your ceremony location for your Cape Kiwanda elopement
We start exploring the area, climbing up the dunes, soaking in the incredible views that the coast has to offer, and find the perfect ceremony spot. Because it's so early, you have the entire beach to yourselves and after say your vows, you get to send it down the massive sand dunes.
We explore the gorgeous tide pools and small sea arches that hug Cape Kiwanda's coastline
You grab some much-needed coffee and breakfast from the local bakery and cuddle up on a cozy blanket on the beach to watch the wave crash up against the massive sandstone cliffs.
Time for a change of scenery! We head out to the dunes and have some OHV fun out at Sandlake Recreation Area.
Killer times were had by all and now it's time to chill for a bit and grab lunch at Pelican Brewery. You sit out on their patio drinking some insanely delicious beer and chowing down watching surfers out on the waves.
We break while you two go enjoy a massage over at the oceanfront Headlands Lodge while we take a power nap to gear up for round 2!
We meet up for sunset and grab your fave drinks, some incredible pizza, and head to a sweet little spot to catch the sunset.
You chow down on dinner next to a small beach fire. You have your first dance as the sun goes down and snuggle up watching your fire burn out.
Now THAT is what a Cape Kiwanda Elopement could look like! Your wedding day is SO MUCH more than a quick ceremony with a few portraits after!
TIP: When creating your timeline, always make sure there is plenty of "buffer time", sprinkle in some downtime, and moments for you and your partner to have some time with just the two of you. The last thing you want is to feel stressed about a schedule or so tired you can't enjoy the day.
Luckily, the marriage laws in Oregon are super simple and this state makes it incredibly easy to have a ceremony that aligns perfectly with your elopement day vision. For your Cape Kiwanda elopement, you'll need to obtain an Oregon marriage license and observe the 3 day waiting period before your ceremony. Oregon also recognizes officiants ordained through the Universal Life Church, meaning that the person performing your ceremony or signing your license could be a dear friend or family member. We're also ordained and offer complimentary marriage license signing so that if you wish to have a "just the two of us" ceremony, you have that option. Check out our other post on how to get married in Oregon where we've broken down everything you need to know.
Food is a huge part of any wedding day and elopements are no exception. You'll want to make sure that you have enough fuel to party all day long, and the coast has some killer places to grab a bite. When planning your Cape Kiwanda elopement, it's always a good idea to think about all the yummy food you love and what meals you want to incorporate into your wedding day. You can go all out and hire a private chef, or snag a pizza and some beer while you catch the sunset on the beach. Here are some of our Pacific City faves that are right by the beach and perfect for your Cape Kiwanda Elopement!
- Pelican Brewery: This spot is mega-popular because the food is great, the beer is awesome, and the location is top-notch.
- Doryland Pizza: The perfect pizza to pair with your favorite beer and eat out on the beach.
- Stimulus Bakery: Perfect spot to grab a quick bite and coffee for your sunrise ceremony.
When planning your Cape Kiwanda elopement, you can keep things simple or go all out, it is completely up to you! Making sure that the vendors you hire are able to support your vision is incredibly important. Here are some vendors to consider for your day.
- Hair and Makeup: Hiring a Hair and Makeup artist for your Cape Kiwanda elopement can help you not only achieve the *lewk* you're wanting, but your artist can also give you some tips and tricks to keep you lookin' fresh as a daisy all damn day.
- Officiant: Your officiant will be the person that will lead your ceremony (if you choose to have one), sign your marriage license, and clue you in on your next steps to keep your Cape Kiwanda elopement legal AF. If you are wanting a ceremony that looks more like a self solemnizing ceremony, we are both ordained and can facilitate this for you as a complementary addition to your package.
- Florists: Your florist will be able to help you craft the perfect floral designs that will also hold up during your Cape Kiwanda elopement. Some of our favorites are The Slow Cult, Anderson Florist, and Everlasting Little Things.
Your Cape Kiwanda elopement will likely vary in costs depending on what vendors you hire, where you stay, and what activities you choose to participate in. We'll break down an estimate below and you can adjust as you need for your Cape Kiwanda elopement!
- Adventure elopement photographers: $4,000
- Florals: $300
- Officiant: Free
- Marriage License: $60
- Attire: $1,500 total
- Venue: free
Giving you a total of $5,860 for your Cape Kiwanda elopement, which is a fraction of the cost of a traditional wedding (a whopping 30K average). If you're ballin' on a budget, we have some tips that can help you save and still have an incredible Cape Kiwanda elopement.
If you're thinking about planning a Cape Kiwanda elopement, we have even more resources to help you plan the perfect day. Even though Cape Kiwanda is super popular, it is still one of our favorite places to explore on the Oregon Coast. There are a million incredible spots along the Oregon Coast and if you're thinking of exploring the coast on your elopement day, we'd love to tag along with you!