How to (legally) elope in Oregon

Oregon is my home state and I personally think it’s one of the prime locations to celebrate your love story by eloping or having your small wedding here. We have rugged mountains, awe-inspiring waterfalls, moody coastlines, and a number of hip, beautiful urban settings to play in. If you do decide to legally tie the knot in Oregon, here are a few things to think about.

1. Getting your marriage license

To get married in Oregon, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license from a County Clerk’s Office. Both parties must appear in person and provide valid identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or state-issued ID. You’ll also need to know your social security number, but you don’t need to bring your social security card. The fee for a marriage license varies by county but typically ranges from $50 to $60.

You must be at least 18 years old to get married in Oregon without parental consent.

2. Waiting Period and Expiration

Once you’ve obtained your marriage license, there is a mandatory three-day waiting period before you can use it. This is super important for those traveling to Oregon for their elopement. The waiting period can be waived by a judge for an additional fee, but please check with the County before you roll the dice on that. Once issued, the marriage license is valid for 60 days.

3. Choosing Your Officiant

In Oregon, you can have a friend or family member perform your wedding ceremony if they become ordained through a religious organization or online ministry. Alternatively, you can choose to have a judge, justice of the peace, or a county clerk’s deputy officiate your wedding.

4. Getting Married

On the day of your wedding, you’ll need two witnesses to sign your marriage license (I’m happy to be one of your witnesses if you’re keeping your party very small. Your officiant or I can also help obtain another witness if you need one – just let me know ahead of time. After the ceremony, your officiant will complete the marriage license and submit it to the County Clerk’s Office for recording. Once recorded, you can request a certified copy of your marriage certificate for legal purposes.

If You’re Eloping

1. Choose Your Location

Based on what you’re looking for, I can absolutely help with this! Some things to consider would be:

  • Weather. The weather is going to be unpredictable no matter what, but we can still account for your comfort level with snow, heat, rain, etc. Depending on where and when you’re getting married, we can aim for a certain climate.
  • Mobility. I am suuuuper down for a big hike to your vow exchange, but there is also no shortage of beautiful locations that are either in town or just a few steps away from the trailhead.
  • Where you’re staying. Do you want your hotel or Airbnb close to where your vow exchange is? Or are you okay with driving a while between locations?

2. Consider Permits and Laws at Your Location

Skipping a wedding venue in favor of eloping is a huge cost savings, but it isn’t necessarily free. Note that some parks and areas still require a permit in order to hold a ceremony at your preferred location. Your photographer might have an idea of which places require a paid permit, a free permit, or no permit at all, but it’s always wise to do the research yourself, too, just to be sure.

3. An Elopement Doesn’t Have to be Short!

Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you have to rush through the day. You can start early with a hike, a slow coffee together, a relaxing bath, or making breakfast.

After your elopement, you could have a picnic, hit up a cute bar for drinks, play games, meet up with friends for dinner – I’ve even seen some couples get matching tattoos! Elopements are special because you get to do WHATEVER you want that day, and I love it when couples lean into filling the day with activities unique to them.

If you need help planning a timeline, I’m here for you and can absolutely help with that.


Getting married in Oregon is a beautiful and memorable experience. Whether you’re planning a traditional wedding or eloping in the great outdoors, Oregon offers a variety of options for couples looking to say “I do.” By understanding the marriage laws, obtaining a marriage license, and planning your ceremony, you can ensure that your wedding in Oregon is everything you’ve dreamed of and more.

June 10, 2024
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On your wedding day, I’m there to capture moments both big and small, while making sure you have as much time as possible to celebrate with your loved ones. I am inspired by storytelling, emotion, nostalgia, and all kinds of love, and aim to incorporate these into your wedding day. I'm the right photographer for you if you want to prioritize candid photos, and are particularly moved by albums that tell a full story. You have a little sense of adventure, and you absolutely can't wait to celebrate your love - no matter what that looks like to you. You share my values about respecting nature, and honoring all types of love, gender identity, and cultural background. If you're the kind of person who returns your shopping carts and waves at every dog, you might as well just hire me already. 


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