When we first got engaged, my now-husband and I started planning a traditional wedding, but a couple months in we realized that it just wasn’t us. So, we decided instead to elope in Big Sur, CA with just our immediate family. We went through many options when brainstorming the best places to elope and knew we wanted a place known for its natural beauty. We decided on Big Sur since I am from Northern California, and I couldn’t be happier that we did! It was absolutely gorgeous and felt more like a weekend getaway than a stressful wedding, which is just what we wanted.
When planning, I did a lot of research and went down to Big Sur several times to figure out the best places to elope and take photos. So, I wanted to share our favorite Big Sur wedding photo spots including well-known ones like Bixby Bridge, but also a few hidden gems. With all its incredible natural beauty, Big Sur is certainly one of the best places to elope that I could have dreamed of!
Also, a special thank you to our incredible photographer, Majesta Patterson for these beautiful pictures. If you are in Northern California and looking for a photographer, she is wonderful!
1. Bixby Bridge
Bixby Bridge is one of the more well-known photo spots in Big Sur. It is one of the easier spots to see along the road too because tons of people will be stopped to admire the view and take photos. With views like this, it is hard to deny why Big Sur is one of the best places to elope.
You can take photos on either side of Bixby bridge. The side closest to the ocean is most popular and is the easiest to access if heading South. However, the opposite side of Bixby offers a different vantage point that I think is equally as gorgeous. Plus, it is much less crowded with tourists. To get there, you just go down the dirt road just a bit that is opposite of the turnout where everyone is stopped for photos.
2. Rocky Point
Rocky Point is a breathtaking photo spot that I discovered at the last minute and knew we had to add it to our planned stops. It is about 5 mins North of Bixby Bridge, and just next to the Rocky Point Restaurant (you may see the sign from the road, but it can be easy to miss).
To get out to Rocky Point, you actually have to park at the Rocky Point Restaurant, which is private property. So, I would recommend someone going in and grabbing a drink to be considered a customer 😉
3. Garrapata Beach
Originally, I had wanted to go to Pfeiffer Beach to take photos, but it is much farther South. So, we opted for Garrapata Beach instead, which is gorgeous as well and must closer to our other photo spots.
Another tip to make your photo ops much easier if you are taking wedding photos in Big Sur is to bring along someone to drive. Highway 1 is not easy and it makes a huge difference to have someone who can drop you off and handle parking, etc. because you don’t want to be stressing about that on your wedding day. My dad drove us and our photographer around and it made everything go so smoothly!
Garrapata Beach is just right down Highway 1 from Rocky Point – only a couple minutes away. You may think you will see it along the road, but be careful! It is hidden away and can be tough to figure out where to park to get down to the beach.
Here is a really helpful brochure to help you out. You can access via gates 18 or 19 along Highway 1. Beware, though, the gates are very poorly marked, so be on the lookout and check your map often.
I think one of the most amazing things about Big Sur that makes it one of the best places to elope is that there is such a variety! It has beaches, cliffs, redwood forests. What more can you ask for?
4. Garrapata State Park
Finally, we stopped at two other spots in Garrapata. The first was Gate 17, which is just down Highway 1 from Garrapata Beach a tiny bit. It is a very wild, more remote spot. If you take the trails out towards to coast, you will see a bench overlooking the coast at one point for the most incredible view.
Then, we held our ceremony at a little, hidden gem of a location right off of Highway 1. This is near Soberanes Point of Garrapata State Park. It is so easy to miss, so here is a pin on Google Maps to show you where it is. It has nicely manicured walkways and stairs, an adorable bridge with a waterfall, and incredible views of the coast! The perfect spot to say “I do.”
Whether for engagement photos, an elopement, or just a fun road trip, you have to stop in Big Sur when heading down the California coastline. Between Garrapata State Park, Rocky Point, and Bixby Bridge you are guaranteed to fall in love with this destination! It certainly earned its spot as one of the best places to elope in the country! We were so lucky to share our special day here and cannot wait to go back for anniversary celebrations in the years to come.