Destination Weddings on the Oregon Coast
Rows of white wicker chairs face a long stretch of sand fading into the sea, where the sun is slowly deciding it might just begin to set. There’s a driftwood arch at the end of the aisle draped with a gauze that shimmers against the blue sky of the early evening, and guests toss aside shoes in favor of the sand between their bare toes.
It’s hard to resist the image described above, maybe with a lighthouse in the background and Dungeness crab cakes waiting at the reception hall, nestled in a midst of a main street ripe with small-town splendor. There’s a sort of nostalgia to the wind-burnt colors, chipped seashells, dried starfish and easy pace that accompany any beach event, and nowhere in the world will you find more of the kind than the Oregon coast. Couples come from all corners of the country for the setting’s easy elegance, and thanks to the 1967 Oregon Beach Bill, each of the 363 miles is free and open to the public.
A wedding on the beach can be all kinds of perfect, but there are definitely a few things to keep in mind for the planning process. “Be sure to know what you’re getting into,” says wedding planner Terri Lindsey of the Surfsand Resort which overlooks Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach. “We always have a plan B in place, because you never know.” First of all, while everyone does have public access, wedding ceremonies on the beach require a permit, available from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Second, not all Oregon beaches are created equal. Instead, the Oregon coast is generally divided into three regions: north, central and south, each with its own unique personality that includes both delights and quirks to consider.
Classically Beachy: The Northern Coast
From the Columbia River all the way down to Neskowin is the stretch generally counted as the northern coast, and most of it is within an hour or two of Portland. This makes the northern part of Oregon’s famous coastline the most accessible to out-of-town guests who might be flying into PDX, a definite perk. Seaside, Cannon Beach and Manzanita each provide a wonderfully small-town coastal vibe where practically every shop—from candy shops selling saltwater taffy to trendy boutiques—feels like you’re discovering a local gem.
The northern coast also offers the longest stretches of unbroken beaches of each of the three regions. An evening bonfire is a must; s’mores are an easy treat to keep your guests going and it’s a great excuse to enjoy the beach even longer. Places like the Surfsand Resort in Cannon Beach are pros at utilizing every bit of thrill the coast has to offer, and can even set up a bonfire for your post-reception hangout.
Artful Touches: The Central Coast
Starting at Lincoln City and extending to Florence, Oregon’s central coast is known for sandstone cliffs—more common here than any of the three regions. The tiny yet arty town of Yachats boasts some especially wave-crashing-against-the-cliffs backgrounds, combined with a gorgeous forest scenery that makes the illustrious Adobe Resort a favorite. In Lincoln City, Devil’s Lake is immediately to the east, a statewide boating destination where you can find whatever water sports might suit your fancy. An exceptional honeymoon destination in this region is Newport, where every hotel seems to be one-of-a-kind. The Sylvia Beach Hotel is a book lover’s paradise, where each room is themed to a classic author, and the Newport Belle is a bed and breakfast on a riverboat. Also in Newport, the wedding packages found at the renowned Oregon Coast Aquarium offer a twist to the expected ocean-themed wedding: Get married below the waves, and watch as myriad fish swim around the glass-encased ceremony hall.
The Wild Side: The Southern Coast
The southern region of the coast starts around Reedsport and extends to the California border. Because of its mountainous geography and forest-filled terrain, this region presents a slightly less “beach town” vibe and more of the Pacific’s wild and rugged side. There are rolling dunes in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and nationally renowned steelhead fishing in the mouth of the Rogue River, not to mention the picture-perfect hikes and famous whitewater-rafting scene. Outdoorsy couples will have no difficulty adding an adventure or two in the midst of any wedding preparation. But even when surrounded by a dramatic and rugged landscape, there can still be found a number of elegant resorts to cater to the needs of the big day. The historic chapel architecture of Capella by the Sea in Brookings or the cozy elegance of Coos Bay Manor B&B is ideal for any reception after a surfside ceremony. An added bonus: nine out of ten summer days in this region are statistically without rain, so the weather is much less likely to throw the wrench that Oregon brides all but expect for their wedding day.
Northern, central and southern, each section of the coast has a different personality, a different vibe, a different calling card for beach-seeking brides. Each has a different “something new” to offer, whether a couple dreams of a lighthouse-laden, seashell-struck ceremony in the sand or a whitewater cliff-crashing adventure for their vows, and everything in between. Whatever it is that draws them to the sea for their big day, they’ll discover: There’s a coast for that.
More Coast Wedding Resources:
Skilled particularly in capturing unique details amid the big picture of the day, Angela Cardas is known up and down the coast as one of the best in the biz.
Sarah McAllister Photography
This experienced coastal photographer produces intimate, caught-in-the-moment imagery.
The Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge
Offering Northwest-inspired menus and coastal-appropriate fare, The Wayfarer’s oyster shooters and crab cakes are faves.
The home of a renowned cookbook, dinner shows, cooking classes and more, this company brings a unique flair (and plenty of olive oil) to their fresh, gourmet menus.
A Posto Personal Chef Services
Perfect for rehearsal dinners, day-after brunches or fewer than 50 guest wedding, A Posto serves up custom menus from Northwest to Italian to gluten-free.
In addition to Old World–style baked goods and handmade chocolates, this Bandon-based caterer offers up made from scratch casual buffets.
Cannon Beach Florist
Specializing in local beach weddings, Cannon Beach Florist creates one-of-a-kind arrangements to perfectly complement the big day.
Forks Farm Flowers
Locally owned and fully organic, this Yachats River Valley flower farm grows seasonal native blooms and will happily add non-coastal flowers for a knockout bouquet.
Serving the entire southern coast, the Bandon-based florist’s creations have a classic feel with traditional floral choices such as roses and lillies.
The Cannon Beach Bakery
A favorite for locals and visitors alike, the family-owned bakery uses only fresh ingredients and has options for every budget.
The Bread and Roses Baking
This is the go-to bakery for the little town of Yachats for locals and tourists alike who can’t get enough of the bakery’s sweet treats.
Whether it’s a custom-designed wedding cake, artisan chocolates or a fully catered dessert buffet, this Bandon dessert caterer has it covered.
The Stephanie Inn
Perfect for a small (read: fewer than 20 guests) wedding. They have a surprisingly affordable “elopement package” for intimate-style weddings. Though they’re not particularly family-friendly—that’s the Surfsand’s territory—it’s perfect for couples who want quiet romance.
Cannon Beach Community Hall
For the DIY bride, this quaint town hall provides a great option—complete with a roaring fireplace and vaulted ceilings—at a fraction of the price.
The Inn at Spanish Head
Located right on the beach, this Lincoln City resort provides a picture-perfect ocean view in every room. That’s a lovely way to start a happily ever after.
Pelican Pub & Brewery
The Pelican in Pacific City boasts a front-row seat to Haystack Rock and expert local planning pros to help with all of the details.
Grand Victorian B&B
For smaller weddings, this Newport B&B offers a truly quaint backdrop, either on the nearby beach or right at their intimate Victorian-style inn.
Perfect for a less expensive wedding site in downtown Yachats, the Commons holds several hundred guests and boasts plentiful amenities.
The Little Log Church Museum
A Yachats landmark and way too cute to pass up.
Harbortown Event Center
This place provides a DIY bride’s dream, with gorgeous exposed wood beams providing all the backdrop needed for handcrafted projects.