Sunset Cliffs elopement

When Kaytlin and Joel contacted me about their Sunset Cliffs elopement, it was their third attempt at getting married this year. Their March wedding was postponed because of the pandemic, and they had another attempt in the summer. Kayt and Joel live in Michigan, and San Diego was to be their honeymoon destination. A plan started to form, and we arranged for the elopement to take place on Sunset Cliffs.

We had a couple of Facetime sessions, their dogs virtually met my cats and I got planning!

Firstly, coming in from out of state they would need a California marriage license. There is such a backlog for marriage license appointments in California, I have been recommending this company to my couples – CoupleLicense. They arrange a virtual appointment to issue your license and have saved quite a few of my couples.

My lovely couple decided on a Friday evening to say ‘I do’, so the first thing I did was start researching permits for a Sunset Cliffs elopement. 

Do I need a permit to get married on Sunset Cliffs?

Surprisingly, for an elopement, you do not. Permits are always required if there is any setup of chairs, arches, music or decorations. This is where I found the information: https://www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/parks/regional/shoreline/sunset.

This is not usual, by the way. State Parks and all National Parks usually require permits for elopements and weddings. Make sure you do your research and obtain and permits needed.

Third time lucky!

This wasn’t the wedding day Kaytlin and Joel had originally planned, but they were so happy to finally get married. And its not exactly the worst location to elope! I met them at their Airbnb first, and they’d not seen each other all day!! I took an excited Joel to Sunset Cliffs, and went back for Kayt. We had a brief wardrobe issue, but she looked incredible in her dress. I’m a huge fan of lace, and the backless detail really suited her.

Her mum was originally supposed to walk her down the aisle, and a really sweet alternative was Kayt on Facetime with her mum as I drove her the eight minutes to meet Joel. I know how hard it is to be away from family, especially at this time, and I’m so happy they were able to do that.

Luckily Joel was standing where I’d left him, and I guided Kaytlin over to grab him for the first look. 

Kayt and Joel also took advantage of my officiant services. You’re probably wondering how I manage to perform a wedding ceremony AND take photos! It really is simple. Although it may seem that having a minister standing in front of the couple is the only way, this is not the case at all. The only legalities for an elopement is repeating a couple of lines after me and we all sign the licence. Anything else is just lovely extras.

How I officiate and photograph at the same time

Their ceremony went along these lines:

First look. Then, a hug and some photos. I set up my phone to record the brief ceremony, for the folks at home. Some couples choose to set up a video call instead so family can be present.

I performed the first part of the ceremony, which I combined with a few photos snapped off the hip. Then, while they said their personal vows, I took a step back and concentrated on just catching their reactions and let them really enjoy the moment alone.

I delivered their rings, and again was able to spend that moment behind the camera whilst gently directing them during the exchange. A couple more minutes from me, and I prepared myself for this magic moment:

“I now pronounce you married. You may kiss!!”

Married in San Diego!

We had champagne to pop, and I’d brought a speaker with me so they could finally have their first dance on the cliff. We spent the rest of the time watching the sunset, taking photos and smiling so much our cheeks hurt. A quick stop at the Airbnb to grab ID and I dropped them off at the Top of the Market restaurant. They’d both been telling me how much they were looking forward to seafood!

Kaytlin and Joel – I know this isn’t the day you had planned, but wasn’t it a perfect one? I hope you look back on these photos in the decades to come and are instantly transported back to your magical elopement on Sunset Cliffs. I wish you and your furry family so much happiness for the future, and I can’t wait to see you when you come back for your anniversary!!!




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Love thencliffs so pretty!

Wow those waves coming in behind them! Epic

I love all the info you included in this blog post! Super helpful to any couples looking to elope! You captured this couple and their love so well in these photos! Well done!

This incredible Sunset Cliffs elopement brought so many feeling to my heart! My hubby and I met on the rocky….island in Maine. Beautiful day!

awwww congratulations!!

What a cool experience to get to officiate AND photograph their wedding. It’s absolutely beautiful!

Holy cow, such an AMAZING location! It looked like the perfect day, beautiful photos!

Gorgeous! Absolutely beautiful!


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