You’ve heard of Mt. Hood, of the Oregon Coast, of the Columbia River Gorge – but have you ever heard of Bend?! Bend is one of THE most beautiful pieces of Central Oregon, packed full of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, sooo many yummy restaurants + breweries, and a ton of amazing activities to do. Welcome to my Bend, Oregon elopement guide, filled with all the info you need to know to elope in Bend regarding permits, locations, weather, and MORE!
First off, if you’re not super familiar with the Pacific Northwest, you may not even know where Bend is. Bend is located on the Deschutes River in Central Oregon, east of the Cascade Mountains. Because it’s in the high desert region of Oregon, there are countless amounts of amazing trails to hike or bike, and lots of opportunities to go climbing, fishing, skiing, and overall just exploring!
The closest airport to Bend, Oregon is Portland International Airport PDX, about 3.5 hours away. I’d recommend flying into PDX, renting a car, and making the roadtrip to stay in or near Bend for your elopement! The closest towns to Bend, Oregon are Redmond (17 miles), Terrebonne (23 miles), and Sunriver (17 miles), all of which have plenty of accommodation options.
The best time of year to elope in Bend, Oregon is May-October if you want warm, sunny days for outdoor exploring, and are okay with the dry heat that summer days in the high desert bring!
If you want cooler temperatures and less crowds at popular spots (such as Smith Rock State Park), you can elope in Bend in the winter months, too. Just be prepared for snowfall and completely different desert landscapes than you’d find in the spring, fall, & summer!
Smith Rock State Park is one of the most beautiful desert landscapes in the state! It’s a MUST-visit for anybody coming to Bend, and makes for a gorgeous desert elopement location. Keep your eye out for a Smith Rock elopement guide that I’ll be publishing on my blog soon! 😉
The lava lands of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument are a super cool area of buttes, caves, lava flows, and pretty mountain peaks that are fascinating to learn about – it’s definitely one of the most underrated spots in Central Oregon!
Sparks Lake is another one of my all-time favorite Bend elopement locations, and I’ll be creating a separate Sparks Lake elopement guide super soon because of that! It’s located about 25 miles from Bend and offers beautiful views of South Sister, Broken Top, and Bachelor Butte, AND is a great place for swimming + boating.
I looove Tumalo Falls, a beautiful waterfall in the Deschutes National Forest about 20 miles outside of Bend. There are plenty of hiking trails and spots for fishing + picnics, and the drive up to the falls is so beautiful in itself too!
Last but not least, the Three Sisters Wilderness encompasses over 280,000 acres of land in Central Oregon with literally more than 200 MILES of trails! The views of the Cascade Mountains are freaking epic, and there are plenty of lava fields, waterfalls, alpine meadows, and lakes to explore.
Not only is Bend home to sooo many amazing opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts – it’s an amazing spot for foodies, too! The downtown Bend area is super charming and has TONS of delicious restaurants of all kinds, from food trucks to 5-star fine-dining to yummy bakeries and cozy coffee shops. Here are a few of my favorite places to eat + drink in Bend, Oregon!
I’m a HUGE believer that elopements don’t just have to involve a ceremony + a reception like most traditional weddings do: your elopement should be filled with not only people, locations, & food you love, but ACTIVITIES you love, too! It’s so fun to incorporate exciting activities into your elopement for a super fun time + a much more meaningful celebration.
Here are 8 fun things to do in Bend, Oregon that would create such special, happy memories of your elopement day to look back on forever!
The High Desert Museum is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Bend, and for such good reason! It’s the absolute best place in the area to experience + learn about regional wildlife, culture, and natural resources and makes for such a cool daytime excursion with your loved ones. You can check out one of the museum’s changing exhibits, meet some cute little creatures in the Desertarium (lizards, snakes, frogs, you name it!), learn about the journey of the Plateau Indian Nations, and SO much more. This museum is an awesome, fun place to visit whether you’ve got a group of only adults, or there are some kids in the mix!
Floating & tubing the Deschutes River is suchhh a popular way to spend time in Bend. If you’re eloping in Bend on a warm + sunny day, I HIGHLY recommend bringing floaties or tubes for a super fun afternoon in the sun!
If you’d rather take a hike than walk around a museum or float down the river, Pilot Butte State Park Scenic Viewpoint is a must-visit. Hiking Pilot Butte gives you some incredible panoramic views of Bend & the Central Oregon landscape, including views of the Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Black Butte, & Mt. Hood!
For those of you who are more into road tripping + driving to see pretty views than hiking, biking, climbing, etc., you’ve GOT to take a drive along the scenic 66-mile-long Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway through the heart of Central Oregon. You’ll get gorgeous views of the Cascade Mountains, access to the collection of 14 Cascade Lakes, & plenty of spots to stop and hike or camp if you’d like to. I recommend taking this drive in the summertime, as the road closes beyond Mt. Bachelor in the winter.
Maybe you forgot a piece of your elopement outfit, or maybe you just love some retail therapy – downtown Bend is a fantastic place to just spend some time shopping! There are plenty of charming little local shops to check out, including one of my personal faves: Vanilla Urban Threads in the Old Mill District.
If you’re looking for a super cool way to experience the volcanic landscapes of Bend, check out the Lava River Cave! You can take a self-guided trip through the mile-long lava tube – definitely be sure to learn a bit more about the geology + history of the cave before you go to make it extra interesting. You’ll have to get a Timed Reservation Ticket + pay $5 to park your car at the site!
The Oregon Badlands Wilderness is home to SO many fascinating landforms + geologic features that are super cool to explore and learn about. The area covers nearly 30,000 acres of rugged land featuring lava outcrops, western junipers, and a vast array of hiking trails!
Finally, if rock climbing is your thing, there’s truly no better place to do it than Smith Rock State Park! How rad would it be to start or end your elopement day with a rock climbing adventure in this beautiful state park, with your partner by your side? I won’t do any climbing myself, but we’ll make sure to find somewhere where I can capture it all from a safe spot on the ground below 😉
Because the Bend area is just packed full of stunning landscapes & amazing opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, there are a ton of great places to stay. Whether you’re looking for a luxury resort with a spa or you want to find a modern, chic cabin in the woods to stay at with your fam + friends, you’ve got options! Or even if you want to keep it simple and pitch a tent + sleep under the stars, there are plenty of awesome campgrounds in the area.
Here are some of the best Airbnb’s, campgrounds, hotels, & resorts in the Bend, Oregon area!
If you’re looking for even more unique + cozy Airbnb’s in the PNW, check out my blog post featuring the 25 Best Airbnb’s in Washington & Oregon for an Airbnb Elopement!
Because you’re planning an elopement, it’s important to do your research on the local + state marriage laws wherever you’re holding your ceremony. Especially if you’re traveling to Bend from out of state, you want to make sure you’re familiar with the process of applying for a marriage license – where to go, how much it’ll cost, how long it’ll take, etc. Marriage license applications typically vary by county, but the state of Oregon has its own list of marriage laws that apply to any county you get married in!
It’s too big of a topic to cover all in a paragraph or two, so I went ahead and wrote a whole separate blog post dedicated to the legalities of getting married in Oregon. Head over to the Complete Guide to Oregon Marriage Laws + Licenses to find out what it’ll take ya to legally tie the knot in Oregon!
Now that you’re on the road to planning a freaking amazing Bend elopement, you’re going to want somebody to be there to capture it all!
*that’s my cue*
Hi friend, I’m Dawn – a Bend, Oregon elopement photographer! Your adventure-seeking, love-obsessed photographer who is so ready to capture your day as you see it, as it authentically, genuinely happens. I’m local to central Oregon, so I know the Bend area better than ANYONE – meaning I’ve got all the inside knowledge + expertise to guide you through planning the perfect Bend elopement!
Keep on reading to find out more about my Bend elopement photography packages, or if you’re already feeling the connection & want to get to know me better, head to my website to learn more!! So fucking stoked to chat with you + help you craft your dream elopement day in the amazing Bend area 🙂
Before we talk numbers, I want you to first get to know more about what you can expect from me as your elopement photographer. Click here to get familiar with my approach, what I’m like as a photographer, and what it would look like to work with me!
Onto the money, honey –
My Bend elopement packages start at $6000, and include 4+ hours of coverage, a 60+ page elopement guide, trusted vendor recommendations, personal location scouting, timeline assistance, and SO much more. I’ll be creating your own custom package for you to help make sure your day is perfect and includes exactly what you want + need, whether you want me to capture everything from getting ready to the bonfire at the end of the night, or just the ceremony + photos of y’all together.
Lookin’ for more incredible locations for your Oregon elopement? I’ve got plenty of other guides for you to check out below!