Evynn LeValley Photography

Carmel Elopement Guide | Big Sur Elopement Photographer

Welcome to your official Carmel Elopement Guide! As a third generation local, going on my fifteen year as a Big Sur elopement and wedding photographer, it made sense to share my favorite spots with couples planning their day along the Carmel and Big Sur coast. Whether you see your ceremony with breathtaking coastal views or a cozy celebration in town, Carmel has something special for every couple. This guide is your go-to resource for finding the perfect elopement spot, discovering the best local eateries and accommodations, and exploring the area’s hidden gems. I’m here to help you plan a beautiful Carmel California elopement experience… let’s get into it!

Table of Contents:

  1. Why you should elope in Carmel, CA
  2. My favorite elopement locations in Carmel & permit info
  3. My favorite restaurants in Carmel
  4. Top places to stay in Carmel
  5. What to do in Carmel, CA

Why You Should Elope in Carmel, CA

A Carmel elopement offers a truly authentic and intimate experience along the breathtaking California coast. This charming coastal town is steeped in artistic history and natural beauty, making it an ideal setting for couples looking for a unique and romantic celebration. Carmel’s streets are lined with cozy cottages, art galleries and world-class dining, a picturesque town. You can choose to exchange vows on a secluded beach surrounded by the sound of waves, in a meadow of wildflowers, along the rugged Big Sur coast, amongst the Redwoods or a quaint Carmel venue. Or venture to Carmel Valley for an elopement amongst the vineyards. Carmel Valley is a charming town with wine tasting, luxurious accommodations, and beautiful natural landscapes.

Read more: An Elegant Backyard Wedding in Carmel Valley

Carmel Elopement Locations & Permit Guidance

It’s easy to see why Carmel and the Big Sur coast are sought-after destinations for intimate weddings and elopements. Here, you can find yourself surrounded by towering redwoods or standing with your toes in the sand along the stunning west coast. With my experience capturing numerous elopements and weddings in and around Carmel, I’m excited to share my favorite locations and details on permitting with you.

CARMEL MEADOWS

A beautiful natural landscape with rolling hills that lead down to the rugged coastline. Carmel Meadows, also known as Wedding Rock, is dotted with cypress trees offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, and Point Lobos. The rocky shoreline is complemented by sandy coves and tide pools, creating a dynamic seascape perfect for intimate gatherings and elopements.

Permit info here

Super 8 Film captured by Noelle M Smith

CARMEL RIVER BEACH

Features an expanse of soft, sandy shoreline, bordered by the scenic Carmel River Lagoon on one side and the lush, green Carmel River State Beach Park on the other. Bluffs and dunes frame the beach. The gentle waves and calm waters make it ideal for leisurely walks, beachcombing, and enjoying the natural beauty of the California coast.

Permit info here

GARRAPATA STATE PARK (South of Carmel)

Characterized by its dramatic coastal cliffs, rocky outcrops, and dramatic beaches. The park includes a rugged coastline with mesmerizing views of the Pacific Ocean, along with rolling hills covered in coastal shrub and grasslands. Hiking trails meander through the park to explore its diverse habitats and enjoy panoramic vistas of the surrounding coastline. Wildlife is abundant in the park, with opportunities to spot seabirds, marine mammals, and other coastal creatures along the shoreline.

Permit info here

PEBBLE BEACH (North of Carmel)

Features rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and expansive ocean views. The area is known for its world-class golf courses, including the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links, set against a backdrop of cypress trees and the Del Monte Forest. Rocky outcrops and sandy coves are scattered along the coastline! Eloping in Pebble Beach, you would need to contact the visitor center to discuss permitting. The many coves and inlets on your way to Asilomar Beach are not to be missed.

Great Restaurants in Carmel, CA

  • Chez Noir – Michelin Star: A cozy restaurant that focuses on coastal California cuisine, featuring a menu filled with fresh seafood sourced from the Monterey Peninsula. The restaurant offers a warm, welcoming environment where you can enjoy everyday luxury through their use of seasonal ingredients. With Chef Black’s passion for French and northern Spanish cuisines, every dish, from baked goods to fresh pasta, is perfectly crafted.
  • Aubergine – Michelin Star: A renowned dining destination in Carmel, known for its exquisite French cuisine, elegant ambiance, and impeccable service, located at L’Auberge Carmel. You’ll experience an eight-course tasting menu that changes daily.
  • Stationaery (breakfast or lunch): A cozy neighborhood restaurant in San Carlos Square and a beloved spot for locals, offering brunch, dinner, specialty coffee, and natural wines. They focus on comforting flavors with elegant presentations, primarily sourcing ingredients from local farms and ranches to showcase what’s fresh and in season.
  • Rise and Roam (bakery and pizzeria): An award-winning artisanal bakery and pizzeria dedicated to baking with organic flours and using only the finest ingredients. From bread and pastries to pizza, sandwiches, salads, and their very own small-batch coffee roast, they’re passionate about creating exceptional culinary experiences.
  • Cultura: In their kitchen, they respect the vibrant culture of Oaxaca, Mexico, a prominent influence in Monterey County’s community. All their menu items are made from scratch using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. They proudly support local, small-family businesses, ensuring their ingredients are traditional and ethically acquired from Oaxaca and other regions of Mexico.

Places to Stay in Carmel

  • Vagabond House | A charming and intimate experience, offering guests a cozy retreat in the heart of this coastal town. The historic inn, with its European-style architecture and lush garden courtyard, provides a peaceful escape that is steps away from Carmel’s shops, galleries, and restaurants. Each room is uniquely decorated with antique furnishings and modern amenities.
  • L’Auberge Carmel | Located in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea and blocks from the iconic Carmel Beach, this property offers full-service accommodations. Originally constructed in 1929, this historic hotel is renowned for its elegant architecture and European-style charm, offering personalized guest services that create a truly memorable experience.
  • Cypress Inn | Staying at Cypress Inn in Carmel is a cozy and comfortable experience. The inn has a classic charm with its Mediterranean-style architecture and welcoming courtyard. Its location near shops, galleries, and Carmel Beach makes it a convenient choice for Carmel elopement visitors looking to explore the area. It’s also one of the most pet-friendly hotels you’ll ever visit!
  • Villa Maria | A unique residential-inspired experience in Carmel Point, a neighborhood known for its diverse architecture and private homes. Just a mile from downtown Carmel’s shops and restaurants, the inn is also near Mara Beach and the Carmel Mission, offering views of Pebble Beach Golf Links from nearby Carmel Beach.
  • Or reach out to me for a lovely Airbnb stay under the towering Redwoods, just a short drive from Carmel.

Things to do During Your Carmel Elopement Experience

I’m thrilled to be a part of your journey to elope in Carmel along the Big Sur Coast, a truly magical place for such a special occasion! With stunning coastal cliffs, majestic redwoods, and breathtaking views, Carmel offers a wealth of settings for your Carmel elopement. As a local Carmel elopement photographer, a third generation native to Carmel, specializing in intimate weddings, I understand the beauty of this region and am excited to share my wealth of knowledge. However you envision your day, I’m here to turn your dreams into reality! Let’s work together to create a day that reflects your love and commitment, capturing every moment in detail.

Click here to access my Big Sur elopement guide!

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