Intimate Central Coast Wedding in Big Sur, California

big sur california elopement forest wedding

In their own words, Marissa and Nate wanted to begin their marriage where “the mountains met the sea.”

It was important that their wedding be a true reflection of their relationship, and they knew Big Sur was the perfect place to say “I do.” The couple exchanged heartfelt vows amongst the redwood trees, accompanied by their sweet pup and those nearest and dearest to their hearts. “Nate wanted to see [Marissa] for the first time as she walked down the aisle, and when he saw her, there wasn’t a pair of dry eyes in the house,” photographer Ariele Chapman shares. “[Afterward] they snuck off for photos around Big Sur State Park and shared tender moments alone together taking it all in, listening to the ocean, tasting the salt water in the air, and holding hands for the first time as husband and wife.”

We can’t think of anything more perfect or tranquil!


“There are several reasons why we chose to have an intimate wedding instead of a traditional one. Primarily, we wanted to focus on quality over quantity and be able to intimately spend the day with those closest to us… We simply did not want the stress and time involved with planning a larger wedding.”

[Marissa, The Bride]


“We wanted the location of our wedding to be a reflection of us and what we value. We enjoy spending time outdoors, and some of our favorite places are in the mountains and on the beach. What better place to be united than where ‘the mountains meet the sea’ of Big Sur? Big Sur is also the first place we camped at together, so it’s always been a special place for us.”



“Planning a smaller, more relaxed intimate wedding was much more our pace than planning for a larger traditional wedding. However, there were some unexpected difficulties with planning a wedding specifically in Big Sur. Most of the area is comprised of State Park lands, which require special event permitting and additional fees, no dogs allowed, as well as not having the freedom to choose where we would say our vows. We opted to be married under redwood trees in a private campground that allowed weddings and took additional photos along the beach afterwards.”



“We loved the opportunity to be surrounded by our closest family members in a place that we feel so connected to. It was special to be able to share Big Sur with our guests too, as none of them had ever been there before. We will never forget the way the light shown through the trees around us and the sound of the creek flowing behind us as we said our vows. 

My advice would be to do your research early on for the location you are considering to elope or hold an intimate wedding. Make sure you are aware of any laws or necessary permits beforehand, so there aren’t any unexpected surprises on your wedding day… It’s your day and it should be special and memorable for you.”



Florals | fleur.ish
Bridal Designer | Maggie Sottero
Bridal Salon | Mary Me Bridal

Thank you to Ariele Chapman for sharing this session, and congratulations to Marissa + Nate!

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