| June 22, 2020

Big Sur California was the perfect place for a spontaneous and wildly beautiful elopement

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Jennings and Tim had different plans for their wedding day, but eloping in Central California at a secluded beach cove in Big Sur was better than anything they could have imagined and was the biggest adventure of their life. Turns out you just need a lot of love in order to make your elopement special.

Retreating to the Central California Coast

Jennings & Tim had been planning their Yosemite National Park wedding for months. We had picked out the perfect location, booked all accommodations, and gotten their permit for a beautiful ceremony location. Everything was all set to go until the unexpected happened just a few days before: a wildfire broke out. This fire became known as the Ferguson fire and it destroyed nearly 100,000 acres of land around Yosemite National Park. Due to safety reasons we had to start making backup location lists that were still in the area, but outside of the closures and evacuations. 

So, we put our heads together and decided to escape the smoke, and head to the coast hoping that the winds from the oceans would keep the air clear. We came up with the most perfect elopement location, Big Sur! In just 30 minutes, their florist threw together a beautiful bouquet, we checked out of our accommodations, and we headed west for safer grounds. We really had no idea where we were going, but we knew that we were looking for something beautiful. And we definitely found it in Big Sur!

Sometimes You Need a Plan B for your elopement. Big Sure was Jennings and Tims’s — it came together beautifully!

How they structured their elopement day

  • Romantic first look at sunrise before heading to the beach for coffee and portraits.
  • Picked the perfect private beach spot to exchange vows.
  • Met family for an oceanside ceremony in a secluded rocky cove.
  • Spent the rest of the day exploring Monterey and the aquarium.
  • Ended the day with a misty hike at sunset with lanterns. 

Why they chose Big Sur for their Elopement

We were determined to find the most awe-striking location which led us to the 90-mile rugged and extraordinary stretch of coast known as Big Sur, in Central California. This scenic area has a mystical quality as it is so untouched, undeveloped, and absolutely wild. Turquoise water coves, brilliantly colored wildflowers, countless cliffsides to explore, winding misty trails, and otherwise indescribable sights. Since Big Sur is a part of the Los Padres National Forest we didn’t need to apply for any permits, which was incredibly helpful considering the quick change of plans. Truly, this Big Sur plan B couldn’t have come together any easier!

Their Romantic and Spontaneous Big Sur Elopement

Secluded Vows on the Beach 

On their wedding day, they had a first look outside of their hotel at sunrise. I loved witnessing how they looked at each other with so much love in their eyes; it was such a perfect way to start their day. Our first stop on their wedding day adventure was at a beach for coffee & portraits! They also picked a spot on the beach to read their vows privately. The sound of the ocean waves crashing against the rocks with fog swirling around them as they read their personalized vows…it was incredibly beautiful and emotional. 

Intimate Big Sur Oceanfront Ceremony 

After a private morning on the beach, we met up with their family to have their oceanfront ceremony. The day before their Big Sur elopement, Jennings, Tim & I explored the beaches and hiking trails in the area and were blown away by the beauty. We came across a spot along the rocky hillside that they knew would be perfect for their ceremony the next day: a secluded rocky cove covered in lush red & green succulents. It was a romantic oceanside jungle, perfect for an intimate wedding. You could feel the love and support surrounding Jennings & Tim as they promised each other forever surrounded by their favorite people.

Exploring Monterey, CA Outside of Big Sur

Their day wasn’t over after their ceremony…we had a lot more excitement on the agenda. Jennings & Tim are huge fans of sea life and LOVE visiting aquariums, so since we were out near Monterey, we decided to change into some casual clothing and take a wedding day aquarium trip to the Monterey Aquarium. We saw sea turtles, hammerheads, and jellyfish, and they got to touch a stingray. These are the experiences that I love so much about elopements. You can truly fill your wedding day with anything that makes you happy! Jennings and Tim absolutely did that, and I will never forget our afternoon at the aquarium.

Misty Sunset Hike Exploring the Coastal Cliffs

After the aquarium, we wanted to head back out to the coast to watch the sunset. On our way, we stopped by Target to pick up a lantern, and we were on our way. We arrived back at the coast and took a hike that felt like a scene straight out of Jurassic Park. The trail was misty and lined with bright green foliage. It was such a moody, magical setting. We explored along the rocky cliffs, took some more photos, and they wrapped up their day with the sea breeze blowing through their hair, holding each other tightly. 

Jennings and Tim had an Adventure of a Lifetime for Their Elopement

They said it best, “This is not where we thought we’d be, but marriage isn’t about the place, the dress, or the flowers. Marriage is about the people. Our wedding day was the best day of my life, and we got to do exactly what we wanted to do and have an adventure we will never forget.” Sometimes, regardless of planning and preparation, plans have to change. For Jennings & Tim, their wedding day was not at all what they expected it to be, but it became everything they wanted. And they certainly have an unforgettable story to pass on.

xx, Amber

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Maddie Mae

Elopement Photographer

& Planning Consultant

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Adventure Instead

Your Elopement Photographers & Planning Consultants. We are Maddie Mae, Amber, and Tori. We're your photographers, your elopement consultants, your cheerleaders, and your go-to adventure buddy on the day you say your vows.

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