Cape Kiwanda Elopement

I had been wanting to photograph an elopement at Cape Kiwanda for some time and was so excited when I connected with Sarah and Tyler. Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is located in Pacific City on the Oregon Coast about 2 hours drive from Portland. It’s a popular spot among photographers and a regular feature on Instagram. The park features a rugged sandstone formation with scenic beaches and a 300 foot high dune with panoramic ocean views. It’s the kind of beauty you come to expect from the Oregon Coast.

This was my first time visiting Cape Kiwanda (usually I’m up north near Cannon Beach or down near Florence) and I didn’t realize that most of the sandstone cape is fenced off to protect visitors . While technically you can still cross the fences they exist to prevent visitors from falling and to protect the land from further erosion. I was bummed to see how many people completely disregarded the signs and fencing and made their way out on the cape. Each person that hopped over was followed by yet another and another. I realized that a majority of the images I’ve seen shared were from vantage points on the other side of the barricades. A few years back a popular photo spot and iconic landmark was destroyed.

Admittedly I was a little bummed that the area was way more restricted than I thought but as someone who loves hiking I’ve seen how quickly favorite trails and scenic locations get inundated by people and “loved to death”. We all play a part in protecting the outdoors and minimizing our footprint which is why the principles of Leave No Trace are so important.

Even with the fences, Cape Kiwanda is a beautiful park and together we thoroughly enjoyed it. Sarah and Tyler love the outdoors and regularly spend their weekends outside. They celebrated 5 years of marriage this summer and wanted to mark the special occasion with photos. We hiked up and down the dunes and enjoyed the sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and we watched as the setting sun finally peaked out behind the clouds just as it disappeared below the horizon. Before we parted ways we used the last bit of light to capture some shots at the waters edge with Haystack Rock in the distance.

It was so much fun meeting these two and photographing them. I’m so happy to give them these photos to document 5 years of marriage together.

Cannon Beach Elopement Guide

Bride and Groom on Cannon Beach with Haystack Rock in background

I put together a comprehensive guide on where, when, and how to elope at Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast. Intimate weddings and adventure elopements are becoming more popular these days but picking your special place and coordinating how to do it isn’t always easy. There are so many wonderful, beautiful places to elope in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest but none easier than Cannon Beach. Below you will find some location tips for your Cannon Beach wedding ceremony, recommendations for what times are best, and suggestions for places to celebrate afterwards.

Do you have a secret spot or have a tip on some great places for couples to eat after their wedding day? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list! I’ll be updating this as I go along, sharing new photos and other suggestions.

Learn more about my elopement photography packages here and see more of my wedding work here.

Where to elope at Cannon Beach

CHAPMAN POINT

This is one of my favorite places to elope at Cannon Beach. Located on the northern stretch of the beach, across from Ecola Creek, is Chapman Point. Depending on the tide you can access the cove at the tip of Chapman Point which can be a quiet place for your ceremony. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can scramble up the rocks and have your ceremony on the bluff above. There is a small parking lot with a restroom on 5th St and for closer access to the point there is a small amount of street parking on Oak St. Thanks to its distance from the more popular areas of Cannon Beach, Chapman Point can sometimes be a little less busy.

Cannon Beach Elopement

HAYSTACK ROCK

The focal point of Cannon Beach is undoubtedly Haystack Rock and what better place to get married than at the base of it. Getting close to the mammoth sea stack is a short walk from either the town of Cannon Beach or a slightly longer walk from Tolovana. Both of these areas have ample parking and access to restrooms. The most convenient public parking is located at the intersection of S. Hemlock St. and E. Gower Ave. Once parked you can walk down Gower Ave. to Ecola Ct. and get right on the beach. To get even closer to the big rock you can head further south down S. Hemlock St. but services (parking and restrooms) are tricky.

Cannon Beach Elopement couple walking in front of Haystack Rock

SILVER POINT

At the southern end of Cannon Beach is a location called Silver Point. It’s a rocky stretch of beach with a smaller, yet still impressive sea stack. This part of the beach is definitely not as popular as the other spots and is a little tricky to access but it could be the perfect place for your elopement. Use Google Maps to find a side street that has access to the beach otherwise be prepared for a long walk on the beach from Tolovana.

HUG POINT

This isn’t technically Cannon Beach but it does deserve a mention. Drive south down Highway 101 about 10 minutes and you'll find a small state park called Hug Point. It’s a beautiful rocky part of the coast with craggy ledges and coastal caves. There is a small parking lot that fills up fast in the Summer months and restrooms are on site too.

Ecola State Park

The view from Ecola State Park is breathtaking (and if you’re a fan of the Goonies probably familiar). It looks down on to Crescent Beach with Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock in the distance. Depending on the size of your elopement and what you’re looking for it could be great. There is a decent sized parking lot that is $5 for the whole day. Unfortunately due to erosion some of the lookouts and several of the trails are closed.

When to have your ceremony

The best time to elope at Cannon Beach is definitely during the week and in the morning or early evening. Cannon Beach in the Summer is a busy place and unless you want your wedding party to include hundreds of out-of-towners it’s best to stick to the weekdays. Exchanging your vows in the morning or early evening can work lovely for photos too as light is at it’s best. Be sure to check sunrise and sunset times and work with your photographer to pick the best time for photos.

Another important thing to keep in mind is what the ocean will be doing when you’re out there. Be sure to check the weather forecast as well as tide tables. At low tide you can access some pretty great places especially near Haystack Rock and Chapman Point but conditions can change quick so be safe out there!

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Weather

The Oregon Coast can be a wet place. All that moisture is what makes Oregon so lush and magical (did you know there are 238 waterfalls in Oregon?!). It also means that there is a good chance your wedding vows may get a little soggy. Embrace it! If you’re looking for sunny beach weather, you might not get it. However, picking a wedding date in July, August, or September will probably increase your chances of sunshine. These are the driest, warmest months of the year but also the most popular. If you do luck out and get a sunny day, avoid having your ceremony in the afternoon when light is at its strongest. Nobody wants squinty photos in hard light and on a warm sunny day that sand gets hot!

Bride and Groom snuggling driftwood log at Cannon Beach
Sunset portraits of bride and groom on Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach Wedding Permits

Unless you’re planning on having a big wedding ceremony you probably won’t need a special use permit for your Cannon Beach elopement. Most intimate gatherings that don’t prohibit the public from also accessing the area are in the clear. That being said review the rules by Oregon State Parks and see if they may apply to you and your wedding.

Cannon Beach Wedding Officiants

You may have the perfect, most well spoken friend who comes to mind immediately when thinking about your wedding day. That’s so awesome! Alternatively, you might be keeping the whole thing on the down low from friends and family and need a professional. Emily of Rooted & Wild and Carolyn of Oregon Beach Ceremonies are both wonderful officiants who help couples create ceremonies that are authentic and unique. They’re both well-versed in elopements, the Oregon Coast, and Oregon marriage law.

Additional Wedding Vendors

The Union Knot is a full service bridal salon that specializes in hair and makeup. They’ll have you looking your best on your wedding day.

Don’t forget flowers! Pacific Coast Floral Design makes incredible bridal bouquets inspired by the Oregon Coast.

For more traditional Cannon Beach weddings or for some elopement sweets, check out Karalees Sweet Treats 

Portrait of Bride and Groom following wedding ceremony at Cannon Beach

Time to celebrate!

After your perfect day at the beach you’ll probably be hungry and ready to celebrate over a good meal and drinks.

It’s a small beach town but there are a lot of options. Below are some favorites of ours:

Where to stay?

Thinking about staying the night or making a weekend out of it?

If you’re looking for a romantic place to unwind, here are a few places that are worth checking out:


Additional Resources

Still not convinced that Cannon Beach is the place for you? Check out some other locations and tips on when and how to elope in Oregon.


About Chris Brodell

I’m a natural light wedding photographer located in Portland, Oregon. I photograph weddings and elopements in both the Pacific Northwest and the SF Bay Area in a candid and photojournalistic style and create images that are full of love, light, and vivid colors. To learn more about pricing and my approach, visit my adventure elopement photography packages below or complete the contact form.

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Tell me a little about yourself. What drew you to getting married at Cannon Beach? Why is photography important to you? Have questions? Ask away!

Mt Tabor Engagement Session

I love photography, coffee, and hiking and I struck gold as all three were featured in Eita and Julia’s recent engagement session on Mt. Tabor. These two were warm, playful, and easy to work with and also came with the benefit of a cute backstory, the theme of which we tied into our shoot. It is always gratifying to be able to highlight meaningful aspects of my client’s lives in their photo sessions.

For Eita and Julia it was their love of coffee that brought them together and helped to cement their relationship. In an ultimate meet-cute style, these two met at a coffee shop in Taiwan and proceeded to do a coffee shop tour together through Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. They currently live together in LA and are experts in exploring their local coffee scene. They contacted me prior to their trip to Portland with the intention of documenting their first trip to this beautiful City of Bridges. It wouldn’t be representative of the couple- or Portland for that matter- without a chance to hold part of their session at the original Stumptown location on Division. It helped that Julia sent over a vision board with the look and style of images that she liked as I was able to help plan a shoot that encapsulated the vibe that this couple would cherish.

In true Portland fashion, we experienced both the warmth of the caffeinated indoors and also had the chance to visit our friendly neighborhood volcanic cinder cone- Mt. Tabor. Mt. Tabor is a personal favorite of mine and I loved showing Eita and Julia around. We couldn’t have gotten more lucky in terms of light. The fog was dense throughout the city but when we arrived at the top of the mountain the morning sun broke through and treated us to quite the show. Playing with sun rays helped elevate the already cute couples photos to the next level.

I look forward to combining my caffeine and photography passions together as often as I can in the future!. Thank you Eita and Julia for a great engagement session.

Newborn Photos at Home

As a photographer I have the honor of being present at milestone events in the lives of my clients. Some clients are wedding clients, some clients are portrait clients, some clients book me for family sessions and sometimes I’m lucky to be the photographer for all of these events. I have several families that return each year to document the growth of their families and have also had wedding clients that turned into maternity session and eventually newborn session clients!

Being a part of all of these journeys means a lot to me as a photographer and newborn sessions are some of my favorite milestone moments to document. Comfort of my clients is of utmost importance for all of my sessions and this is especially true in a newborn sessions. I love to utilize the natural light of your home to capture vibrant images of your newborn baby, while highlighting the tender moments between baby and parents. In this shoot with baby Jasper I was also lucky to have three generations present- as Jaspers grandmother was able to join the photoshoot. It can be intimidating to have a camera in front of your face and it is my goal to create the most comfortable photoshoot experiences for both the oldest and youngest members of your family.

Babies, especially Jasper, have an incredible knack for being great models as their most simple “poses” (including yawning, stretching and cooing) are melt your heart level cute. Jasper had some great eye contact to show off during his first modeling session and I can already tell that he is a natural in front of the camera. It was almost too easy to get great images during this session- between having a loving family to work with and Jaspers ability to work the camera-it was hard to pick my favorite shots. As with all of my families, I look forward to seeing how Jasper grows and look forward to planning a session with you and your new addition.

Family photos at Berkeley Park

While I love getting out of town, hiking, and exploring for adventure sessions, there is something about a simple neighborhood park family photo shoot that can’t be beat. I was able to spend a day with this cute little family in a place that their four-year-old daughter knows and loves, a place that she is comfortable with (and a place that isn’t too far to run back home and get some forgotten snacks or accessories). This accessibility and comfort is key in getting some great shots, as I have learned from taking years of family portraits is that when the kid is smiling the parents are usually smiling too!

The beauty of Portland is that it is packed to the brim with lush neighborhood parks. This is great for families day to day, as there are options for both parents and kids alike to avoid boredom and get outside. It is also great for choosing family portrait locations. If the park down the street looks a little packed with other families and children, it is a good bet that there will be another park just around the corner that will be just as great of an option.

I was lucky on the day we shot with this family as Berkeley park was full of sunshine, but not too full of people. Their daughter loved getting in tune with the last remnants of fall while exploring some leaves-which also made for some great props. It is always fun to take pictures of families that you have created relationships with-and it was no different in this shoot. The sessions produced fun, bright and vibrant- yet seemingly effortless images of a family having fun- which is what I’m all about. I have fun with my families and I think that this light-hearted approach makes the difference in the end result.

I look forward to capturing some great family photos at a park near you!