Big Bear Elopement Adventure in Gorgeous CA

Big Bear Elopement Adventure in Gorgeous CA

How do you decide where to elope when planning an intimate wedding adventure? After all, you have the freedom to choose anywhere in the world to say your “I do’s”. For Kayla and Billy, Big Bear, CA was their top choice because of the meaning the place held for them. Check out all the details from this Big Bear elopement to consider what you need to prepare for when planning your own wedding day.

Ready to elope in California or anywhere else? Use our elopement directory to start planning your wedding day.

Deciding to Elope Near Big Bear, CA

Photography by Pam Jeanne Photography

Kayla and Billy were in a long-distance relationship for a while and would meet halfway at Big Bear. They only found it fitting to seal their marriage in a place that meant so much to them. Their elopement photographer, Pam, not only helped them find multiple options for their ceremony location, but she also offered them her Airbnb to rent and get ready together.

“We always wanted a small wedding in nature because we prefer simple and intimate. My extended family is huge, but the pandemic was a good excuse to not have to feel guilty about having a smaller celebration.” [Kayla, the bride]

About This Elopement

Pam helped the couple plan their dream elopement near Big Bear, CA, but they did run into some challenges. Kayla and Billy wanted their ceremony to be within a forest. However, two weeks before their wedding, California shut down all of its national forest lands due to fire restrictions. Even though they had multiple backup plans, none of them worked since they were all part of the San Bernardino National Forest land.

“I used my resources as part of the Big Bear vacation rental community to find a location on private land that might allow them to have their ceremony among the trees, and what I found blew us all away. It was even better than our original plan!

Our backup location took us on a little off-roading adventure up into the mountains surrounding Big Bear Lake and onto a privately owned 400-acre ranch that had a meadow in the middle with wild horses! It felt like a dream. It also meant that we had a very private ceremony without anyone else around. They involved their dogs, Jelly and Barkeley, as their flower girl and ring bearer.” [Pam, the photographer]

After their ceremony, the couple had a post elopement reception with their immediate family at the Airbnb cabin.

Explore more places to elope near California.

Planning Your Elopement Near Big Bear, CA

This couple’s elopement near Big Bear is inspiring to many because it incorporates the adventure aspect of traditional elopements and family from a traditional wedding (the perfect combination). We asked Pam for her advice when it comes to planning at this location.

“An AWD high-clearance vehicle is recommended to access Holcomb Valley Ranch since it is about 15 minutes on a dirt road with lots of loose rocks, but a sedan will still make it – just go slow! Buffer extra time for driving to/from the ranch and make sure to download offline maps since there’s no cell service up there.

No permit is needed for having a ceremony at Holcomb Valley Ranch (at the moment), although you would need to reserve a campsite for the space. If possible, I recommend making an appointment with Cowboy Ed at the Ranch and taking a half-day to scout the place in advance to pick out a site that you love.” [Pam, the photographer]

If you’re planning a micro wedding in the Big Bear area, then it’s important to be upfront about your plans with the homeowners and ask to check in early. Being aware of fire bans in the area is also important when planning an intimate wedding experience in Big Bear during the summer.

According to Pam, the San Bernardino National Forest, which Big Bear is surrounded by, has been affected by closures due to the California wildfires for the last 2 consecutive years. It’s likely that this forest closure will become an annual occurrence.

Memorable Moments During This Elopement

This Big Bear elopement allowed Kayla and Billy to experience a wedding day without the stress of a bigger traditional wedding. Kayla tells us how smooth the planning process was, despite the last-minute ceremony location change, and how much her photographer, family, and friends helped during the process. Her sister did her hair and makeup, her mother made the wedding cheesecake, a coworker helped design the tablescape, and a family friend was their florist!

Pam tells us the campsite that they ended up falling in love with for their ceremony space at the ranch was numbered ‘F8’, which could also be read as ‘fate’! “It definitely felt like fate finding that place just 72 hours before their wedding day, like it was meant to be all along.”

Photographer’s memorable moments:

“Just as we were wrapping up family photos, a little bird popped up from the ground and started following Kayla around everywhere. We like to think it was the spirit of Kayla’s late grandmother coming to join the party…

When we were setting up the dinner table that was so beautifully decorated, we stopped short of actually lighting the candles. Kayla, the bride, said, ‘it’s not worth risking the forest’, which absolutely warmed my heart. Working with couples who care more about the environment they were in than their own wedding aesthetics is so refreshing!” [Pam, the photographer]

Bride’s memorable moment:

“Our favorite part was writing our personalized vows. We both aren’t very romantic people, but it was nice to share our love for each other with our closest family members. Oh, and seeing Billy cry during the first look! He never cries.” [Kayla, the bride]

Final Advice From The Photographer

Elopements can be exciting for a lot of couples because they are able to explore and do things they normally would not do during a traditional wedding. Pam, however, wants to remind couples planning their elopement to always buffer extra time for and between each activity.

“Even if it’s just moving from your getting ready space to your car to commute to the next location, always account for extra time to gather stuff. It is so much better to have extra time than to not have enough as it will greatly impact your experience of your day.

Also, coming from the perspective of a former bride myself and taking a leaf out of Kayla’s book, learning to let go and being able to roll with whatever happens is probably the most vital key to having an enjoyable and stress-free day!” [Pam, the photographer]

Ready to plan your elopement? Check out our how to elope guide to start today!


Photography | Pam Jeanne Photography

Hair & Makeup Artist| Bride’s sister Catherine Nang @cotton.kuetip

Videographer | Velarde Films @velardefilms

Florist | Valerie Jurado Botanical Design @valjurado

Cheesecake | Bride’s mom

Reception Venue | @moonridgetreehouse

Ceremony Venue | Holcomb Valley Ranch 

Rentals | @twinbearpartyrentals

Catering | Tra An Cuisine @cookallnight

More Photos From This Big Bear Elopement

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