Beautiful Family Celebration at this Oregon Coast Elopement

Elopement, Oregon

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The Oregon Coast is a popular destination for eloping couples for many reasons. The dramatic coastline and the moody weather makes for memorable  adventures in all seasons. There are old growth forests, sprawling sandy beaches, sheer cliffs, and even waterfalls plunging into the ocean. 

Couples flock to this part of the world to exchange vows in the magnificence that is the Oregon coast. But not every elopement is between just two people. A marriage is the joining of two families, and Hyun & Joseph’s coastal elopement is the perfect example of that.

The purpose of this adventure elopement was twofold. Not only were Hyun and Joseph voicing their commitment to each other, but Hyun and her two daughters were welcoming Joseph into their family. One big happy family was created that day, and what better way of celebrating family than with a day of family fun. And what better place than the beach?  

This adventure took us to several different parts of Oswald West State Park. This park is one my favorite spots along the 101 because of the accessibility to nature’s dramatic and breathtaking vistas. It truly is a perfect example of what the Oregon Coast has to offer. 

The hike to Short Sands Beach meanders through some really beautiful forests. It follows a pair of picturesque creeks, passing through massive old-growth spruce trees on the way to the ocean. 

In early April, the forest is just coming to life with blooming flowers and new leaf growth. It was symbolic in a way, celebrating a new beginning with new growth.  I especially loved finding a patch of big, yellow skunk cabbage. 

Watching the family explore and experience the forest was a delight. They peered in stumps, examined fungus and lichens, touched spongy moss, and climbed amongst fallen trees.

When photographing elopements, I’m honored to witness the special connections that people have, and to really see how every couple and relationship is different. Capturing these love stories is always gratifying, but this one was extra special. The care and playfulness that Joseph showed towards the girls was, at the risk of sounding very cheesy, precious. 

When we reached the beach, the fun really began. We were fortunate to have a day of extreme tides. We hit the beach at the lowest tide of the day. Perfect timing. I love tidepooling in general, but I really love tidepooling with youngsters. In the early days of my career as a nature guide, I would take 5th & 6th graders to the beach every week, and the tidepools were always eagerly anticipated. 

Even if the tides are unfavorable, there’s always something to see. Snails, hermit crabs, even seals can be witnessed hauled out on the rocks. Tidepools are amazing places to experience the diversity of life, one of the highest diversity of Phlya of any ecosystem on full display.  (Remember back to your 9th grade biology class: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species… or “King Philip Came Over For Good Soup”)

Exploring the amazing ecology on the fringes of Oregon coast (tidepooling) always makes for a fun day, but the tide pools at Short Sands Beach are very unique. It’s the backdrop that makes it so memorable…. a spectacularly beautiful waterfall cascading down the coast cliffs to the ocean. Indeed, Blumenthal Falls is one of Oswald West State Parks biggest attractions. 

Under most tidal conditions, the falls are not accessible, but the tides on Hyun and Joseph’s special day were exceptionally low, allowing us to climb right up to the bottom of the waterfall. We were able to explore tidepools teeming with sea life, as the water whooshed down behind us. We saw crabs, sculpins, barnacles and anemones. Much time was also devoted to frolicking on the wide beach and splashing about in  the waves. 

Perhaps my favorite of the beach activities was kite flying. I’d never had clients choose to fly kites on their elopement day before. But it is now on all my lists of activity suggestions. It’s too much fun. 

I love any activity that can help someone connect more with nature, and I especially love when people choose to do them for their wedding day (obviously). Flying a kite had never been an activity I’d considered before in that capacity (flying under the radar, if you will!) but it really is an effective way to connect with the outdoors.  It forces you to pay close attention to the wind, as well as the landscape, in order to fly the kite effectively. I’m not an outdoor educator anymore, but if I was, this would be a new staple in my beach day lesson plan… 

Like many eloping couples, Hyun and Joseph had decided to get married officially at a small courthouse ceremony in their hometown. They then chose  to celebrate with an adventure in a beautiful location. Of all the location recommendations I provided, the amazing basalt cliffs (pictured below) of Oswald West really spoke to them. It would provide the scenery for great photos, of course, but it also provided the perfect spot for an intimate vow exchange. 

With the day winding down, we left the beach in order to make it to the cliffs in time for sunset. The trailhead is just a short drive from the Short Sands parking lot, and the walk to the cliffs is a short, but steep, quarter mile. This is definitely the type of trail that you proceed cautiously with,  and why I always recommend good walking shoes for an adventure elopement. April showers bring muddy trails along the Oregon Coast.

The cliffs were much more windy than the beach, and as the clouds rolled in and the sun lowered in the sky, it got quite chilly . For this reason I carry an elopement emergency kit that includes several blankets, a Jetboil, mugs and hot cocoa. The kit contents were welcome and put to good use. 

This adventure had it all. In addition the traditional elements, lovely natural settings and couples in love, it had an added component. The fun and festive presence of the next generation. It was solemn and poignant one moment, lighthearted and amusing the next. It was a wonderful experience.

Beautiful Family Celebration at this Oregon Coast Elopement

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