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Your Ultimate Carmel By The Sea Elopement Guide

I hope this master list of Carmel by the Sea elopement resources finds you well on your journey to newlyweds. As your local Carmel by the Sea elopement photographer, it’s my goal to streamline the process for you and be your boots on the ground. Down below, I’ve included potential locations to elope- from the beach to hotels and inns (those same hotels and inns also being great places to stay while you’re here in the area!)- as well as your elopement team of vendors: officiants, florists, hair and makeup, and of course, cake! Without further ado, let’s get started!

Where To Elope: Hotels

Here are my top 5 hotels I would reccomend as locations for your elopement as well as where to stay while you’re here:

Hyaat is an excellent hotel for intimate weddings and elopements with its stunning views of the highlands and oceans, plus their deck and archway overlooking it all. It also has access to Carmel River State Beach, which I’ll be delving more into later in the beaches section of this guide! Additionally, Hyaat’s attached restaurant is a great spot for dining- I especially am fond of their tapas bar!

La Playa captures the Mediterranean style to a T with its stunning ivory walls and tiles and steps. They have streets lined with gorgeous cypress trees and their terrace is full of beautifully overgrown flower-filled walkways- perfect for elopement photography! With lovely little spots in and out of the hotel itself, and being smack dab in the middle of the beach and the upper streets of Carmel, Laplia’s my personal favorite in the downtown area.

I wholeheartedly recommend Mission Ranch if you’re looking for a charming, cottage-like hotel experience for your elopement. They offer a wide range of locations to get married, from patios to fields to barns big and small. They also have getting ready cottages with little pathways running in between that are lined with tunnels of trees and greenery. Just a little south of Carmel by the Sea and also owned by THE Clint Eastwood, what I love about Mission Ranch (and what I think you’ll love about it too besides having your special day there) is their view of fields of sheep! I’m here so often just to see them!

The Hotel Carmel is that best-of-both-worlds with modern amenities and an old school aesthetic. Their suites have all the comforts of home with that seaside minimalistic flair! I especially love their courtyards and succulent gardens for wedding photography. They’re also home to Brophy’s Tavern, an awesome golf-themed pub with the BEST German pretzels! (I included them in my favorite spots to eat and drink in Carmel-by-the-Sea post, check it out for more!)

L’Auberge is the place to be if you have your eye out for one of the finest hotels in downtown Carmel. In fact, L’Auberge is part of Relais & Châteaux, a chain of exclusive hotels all over the world! With luxurious suites, beautiful courtyards, and an in house MICHELIN star restaurant (Aubergine! Also included in my eat and drink spots in Carmel-by-the-Sea post!), they’ll really add that touch of grandness your intimate elopement!

Where To Elope: Inns

The Vagabond House is a lovely Bed and Breakfast that’s also pet friendly to boot! With 11 beachy suites to choose from, it’s great for small weddings and really captures a classic English old world meets the vibrant coastal town of Carmel by the Sea! Plus their spa is perfect for renewing, detoxing, and relaxing before your special day!

As the first-ever hotel in Carmel, I love the Pine Inn for its history! It has the most ornate sitting room I’ve ever seen, with the deep reds of the walls and couches with gold accents that give it a unique boutique style. That alone is perfect for grand couples portraits! Their Ocean Avenue venue located inside the inn is also a great place to host your elopement’s reception.

Cypress Inn is the oldest inn in Carmel by the Sea, perfect for if you want a little history in your elopement venue! They have a cozy living room for sitting and a stairway entrance that gives it a classical English feel. Right in the heart of town, they’re also among the few inns that are dog-friendly because the previous co-owner, Doris Day, loved dogs herself. Paw-rents rejoice! I for one adore photographing you with your fur babies!

Where To Elope: The Beaches

California itself is a dreamland of beaches, so it’s no wonder weddings big and small are held on the coast! As a local elopement photographer ere in Carmel by the Sea, I have a few in mind that I think are great locations for your special day!

Carmel Beach is often sited as THE beach that everyone loves going to- and it’s not unwarranted. Because of this, it can get a bit crowded there, so we’ll plan accordingly to make your elopement happen here. It’s the classic white sandy beach with little hills and lots of coves and caves for Pacific portraits of you and your lover.

If you’d prefer a more intimate setting, Carmel River State Beach– locally dubbed Stewart’s Cove– is my pick. South of Carmel, it has quick access with stairs to cypress trees that are close to the water’s edge. Additionally, there’s plenty of rockscapes that are perfect for texture and climbing over and having fun on in photoshoots!

Also part of Carmel River State Beach, Carmel Meadows (its local name) is home to the famous Wedding Rock! As a local Carmel by the Sea elopement photographer, I often photograph at this lovely beach because of its elevated panoramic views of Point Lobos and the variety of textures- pathways, trees, boulders, and of course the pretty Pebble Beach coastline- all fantastic elements for your intimate wedding.

Carmel By The Sea Elopement Team Of Vendors

Teamwork makes the dream work- that’s especially true with elopements and small weddings. Down below will be a selection of officiants, florists, hair and makeup artists, and bakeries that I reccomend for your special day!


  1. Brian Borgia
  2. Ken Robbins
  3. Naomi Rose


  1. Seascape Flowers
  2. Burst + Bloom
  3. Willow & Plum

Hair & Makeup:

  1. Fellini Salon
  2. The Hair + Makeup Company
  3. Beehive Bespoke Beauty


  1. Lafayette Bakery
  2. Sweet Rebas
  3. Layers


  1. Well, you’re looking at her! AGS Photo Art

Extra Carmel by the Sea Elopement Tips

To wrap up, I wanted to make sure I equipped you with some extra elopement tips from a local Carmel by the Sea elopement photographer. First things first is to look into permits ahead of time! No matter where you decide to elope, you’ll need a permit to make it happen.

As far as navigating Carmel by the Sea itself, I highly recommend checking out the local food and drink spots! In fact, I have a guide on just that right here! There’s also a plethora of artisan trinket shops for souvenirs- nothing kitschy or corny- just local Carmel by the Sea artists. Nothing beats shopping in a coastal artist town like Carmel by the Sea!

Finally, I would advise layering up and bringing a cozy blanket for beach days. The morning fog can be a bit chilly, but it also usually burns off by the afternoon. And the sunsets here in Carmel by the Sea? EPIC. You won’t want to miss them!

This concludes my Carmel by the Sea Elopement Guide! I hope you’re left more prepared and in-the-know than when you started. Have more questions? I’m happy to lend my expertise in any way I can to make your elopement one for the ages!

Contact me here!

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