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Julie & Mike’s Oregon Coast Wedding
A Pandemic Make them Change Their Plans – And We Crafted An Epic Beach Elopement in Under a Month!
Julie and Mike’s Oregon coast wedding was actually their third plan by the time they finally got married, but it turned out to be one of the most beautiful days on the coast I’ve ever witnessed! The amount of detail they put into their day, while also being remarkably flexible throughout the uncertainty of 2020, resulted in an effortlessly perfect elopement – the sort of celebration that puts a smile on my face any time I think back on it.
The first time I spoke with Julie and Mike they had this grand idea for a hiking elopement in the Columbia River Gorge, followed by a ceremony with family and friends. However, when we got on a call months later to discuss the timeline of the day, everything changed. Instead of a hiking elopement, their family wanted to shift things toward a more traditional downtown Portland venue ceremony – don’t get me wrong, it still would have been beautiful! But this event was supposed to occur in April 2020, which we all know was a time traditional venues shut down for COVID-19 safety concerns.
Since it was no longer safe to have a wedding at a venue with family, Julie and Mike made tentative plans to reconvene in April 2021 to try again. Then, in July, I got an email from Mike saying Julie unexpectedly received some time off of work, and they were wondering if I’d be available to meet them for a two-person wedding on the Oregon coast. We were only about 3 weeks out from their proposed date, but I happened to have the day free! Obviously I said yes, let’s do it! We immediately began planning this whole last-minute elopement, but it wasn’t really last-minute because so much ended up resembling their initial plans.
They decided to rent out a camper van and elope on the coast after a week exploring Oregon’s backroads. This new plan embodied the heart and soul of what they wanted to do in the first place – in a new place, but with the same spontaneous, adventurous energy. They flew into Portland about a week before we met up and rented a van – it was a Volkswagen Westfalia with a popup camper. They spent the week exploring trails, hiking, and eating all the amazing food in Oregon! Then, on the morning of their elopement, we met at Cape Kiwanda.
Actually, right as I was headed out the door of my hotel I got a call from Mike saying the parking lot at Cape Kiwanda was busier than they wanted. They asked if I knew of a better place where they could get ready. I knew of a few places, but I’d actually just noticed this gravel road nearby, which we all drove up to find a private place for them to change into their wedding attire. It was gorgeous – secluded and quiet, and the perfect location for them to get ready just outside their van without having to deal with a packed parking lot.
Sometime while they were getting ready I noticed there was a surfboard strapped to the top of their van and asked if they planned on surfing while at the coast. Mike said he hoped to the next morning. For some reason the next question I thought to ask was whether he’d flown in with a wetsuit (because the water is always extremely cold here in Oregon) and they just looked at each other and laughed! Apparently multiple people had asked him about it and he actually didn’t bring a wetsuit, but he was heeding the warning that it would likely be too cold the next day – epic, but cold!
A Private Ceremony on the Oregon Coast
After getting ready we all headed back over to Cape Kiwanda and found the parking lot much quieter than earlier in the day. We hiked out to the beach, which was still pretty busy. To be totally honest, I was kind of intimidated by the crowds. Mike and Julie were simply basking in the beauty! They had never been to the Oregon coast before and something that always seems to surprise new visitors is simply how massive it is – miles and miles of beach backed by dramatic cliffs and rock formations.
We hiked past the dunes and up to the top of the cliffs. There we found a tucked away spot, away from all the crowds, where they could say their vows privately. I’ve never been to Greece, but that’s all I could think of when I was trying to describe how beautiful this spot was – we were all up on the cliffs above the water, the bright blue surf crashing magnificently below. It was incredible how totally private this place was for them. After weaving our way through the crowded beach, they had this cliffside overlook 100% to themselves to bask in that “just married” feeling!
After their sweet ceremony, we hiked back down to where the waves were crashing against the shore. The sun was out – a warm almost 70 degrees in late August. The blue skies and calm breeze were idyllic, and made me wish we could spend every second of the day here. Mike’s linen suit and Julie’s beautiful attire were perfectly matched by their barefoot, carefree attitude. (Literally, I don’t think Julie wore shoes more than once the whole day!)
Eventually, we made our way back to the campground where they were staying with their van – Mike had actually booked 3 separate campsites because it was hard to tell online which would be better for their elopement picnic. We picked the spot right along the beach, where their van could be parked beside these massive trees.
Their rental van was so cute and decked out for their picnic – a floral wreath was hanging on the back of the van, and there were flowers all over the inside too! Something unique about this elopement was that since Mike and Julie had already booked their Portland florist for a more traditional wedding, instead of cancelling or downgrading their package they got way more flowers than most eloping couples! They didn’t just get a bouquet and a boutonniere – they had a wreath, multiple arrangements for their picnic area, and their van smelled like a flower shop paradise!
Alongside the gorgeous floral arrangements, Mike and Julie also acquired vintage/ boho-inspired decor from a rental company in Portland. They got blankets, a table, and an adorable picnic set. We carried it all down to the beach, set up a beautiful scene, and then watched the sunset over charcuterie and cake. In their travels over the past week they’d acquired a bottle of champagne from the Willamette Valley and it was the perfect addition to their evening!
The details of this Oregon coast wedding were so perfectly them – nothing was posed, or forced. It was truly the definition of an effortless day – at one point there was literal frollicking across the sand! We stayed out on the beach watching the sunset until the last glow was in the sky, then headed back to their campsite. Basically we moved everything from their picnic into the camper van (have I said enough times how awesome it was for their van to be full of flowers?!) They cuddled up and listened to music with lights strung up through their popup camper.
It was the perfect end to the perfect day!