But if you're wondering how to plan out your elopement adventure and all the logistics that come with it, don't worry—that’s where I come in. From a detailed discovery call to get to know you two as a couple, to crafting a custom elopement experience, to giving you all the best local vendors, places to eat and stay, answering marriage license questions and how I can sign as your officiant, and everything in between, I’m here to help every single step of the way.
Ready to get married and do this thing, just the two of you in a redwood forest or rocky cliffside in Big Sur!
Pumped to let go of the stress and expense of planning a big wedding and instead, explore a new place!
Excited to have stunning photos and lifelong memories without the big traditional wedding production!
I've photographed and planned several elopements in Big Sur, and I'm so excited to help you with yours too! I’ll do more than take your photos—I’ll be your planner, your experience creator, and your biggest cheerleader in helping you elope. After 10 years of photographing big weddings, I believe that intentional elopements are the most stress-free and most fun way to get married. So I can't wait to help you plan the most important day of your love story!
I’m Not your typical wedding photographer, and I'm guessing you aren't a typical couple either!
Help you plan your entire customized adventure from start to finish
Help you secure any necessary permits (depending on your chosen location) so that you don't have to spend time or stress about researching on your own
Coordinate the timeline and all other logistics including backup plans so that you tow can relax, have fun, and just be in the moment. (instead of checking the time and worrying about logistics)
Let you know the best places to stay (including the hidden gems) so you end up in an area that fits the vibe of you two perfectly
Send you a curated list of private chefs or restaurants for your elopement dinner based on your preferences
Give you my list of trusted hair & makeup artists, florists and other vendors that will help you bring the vision of your day to life, and anything else you need to save you time and stress
Share my top recommendations on where to order the perfect elopement dress and vow books
Help you with the logistics of your marriage license (including where and when to get it) so that there's no confusion
Sign as your officiant if you want me to. I'm ordained, so you don't have to hire anyone else for this role because it's already taken care of!
Help come up with fun activities for your day (and find ways to make your day fun for your guests too)
Come prepared with a bluetooth speaker for your first dance, a back up wedding dress for ocean fun (and a pop-up tent for changing in), and an "emergency kit" (full of bobby pins, band-aids and granola bars) just to name a few things, so you're completely covered every step of the way
Send over a customized checklist of everything you need to bring for your elopement down to the finest details so you don't have to worry about forgetting anything
And of course, take you to the most exquisite redwood forests, iconic bridges, and rugged cliff sides along the coastline to say your "I do's"!
This get-away romantic elopement package is for couples who just can’t wait to say, “I Do.”
You'll start off by getting your hair & makeup done in the morning, and then adventuring to the ceremony location. Once we arrive at the perfect spot, you'll exchange your vows with the sound of birds and the creaking of an ancient forest.
Then, we adventure around the iconic HWY 1 and explore the coastline as I take lots of stunning photos and document your authentic moments - if you want to bust out a blanket and have a picnic, go for it!
To wrap up the day after I've captured all your gorgeous memories, you'll head to your elopement dinner at one of Carmel-by-the-Sea's top restaurants.
These elopement take place in Big Sur and usually do not include guests. Please let me know if you want to include guests and we will talk about your options.
"Jennifer's keen eye and dedication to such a stylistic approach have us loving each and every single picture captured. It was more than a pleasure to have her with us every step of that day; it was like hanging with two gal pals! WE COULD NOT HAVE ASKED FOR ANY BETTER ARTISTIC VISION than hers. We would HIGHLY RECOMMEND JENNIFER'S TALENT to each and every couple out there that wants something fresh and unique when considering a photographer."
"Jenn captures every moment at every angle. This isn't your traditional photography! This is a new age of photography where the surroundings become as important as the people! The beauty of laughter, angles, and exposure bring out perfect pictures! YOU WILL HAVE A HARD TIME CHOOSING WHICH PHOTOS YOU WANT IN YOUR ALBUM!”
“We hired Jenn to take our engagement photos out in Joshua Tree. She straight-up SLAYED every photo, spent so much time with us, and was so fun to work with. I CANNOT RECOMMEND HER ENOUGH. I say this as an art director who works with photographers on photoshoots all the time at my job: hire this woman! You won't regret it.”
“We were thrilled with how the photos turned out. Jenn is a very skilled editor and has a wonderful aesthetic. I KNEW IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT FOR MY PHOTOGRAPHER HUSBAND TO FIND A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER WHO HE TRUSTED, BUT WE ARE BLTH SO GLAD THAT JENN SHOT OUR WEDDING. She will make your vision come true and is an absolute pleasure to work with.”
Unlimited Planning Guidance
Vendor Recommendations + Referrals
Marriage License Assistance
Optional Officiant Signing
Sneak Peek Images
Private Online Gallery
My Travel Fees
If you are wondering why you would need 8 hours for your elopement, remember that Big Sur is BIG! It is a very spread out area, so 8 hours is necessary to allow plenty of drive time between the best spots for photos! The time flies when you plan a day with all the things you love!
This 8-hour elopement experience allows me to photograph you while you get your hair & makeup done, getting ready moments of you and your partner getting ready, a first look moment, ceremony, creative photo sessions in multiple locations, including sunset, as well as the opportunity to grab some food during the day as we casually spend our time exploring the best spots in Big Sur!
This experience is for couples who want to adventure around to all the epic spots in Big Sur as well as have many authentic moments throughout the day captured!
Let's Do This!
If this IS Exactly what you've been dreaming of, fill out the form to get in touch!
Where the best
An adventure wedding is an intentionally planned wedding day in a majestic destination with a minimalist guest list and an emphasis on experiences over things. Of course, definitions of this will vary, but I use the terms interchangeably. Elopements are weddings with 0-15-ish guests, while small or intimate weddings entail a wedding with up to 50 guests.
6:00 am - Meet at Glacier Point for your epic sunrise ceremony!
7:00 am - Have coffee & doughnuts and relax in the fresh morning air
8:00 am - venture around the area for epic portraits
10:00 pm - End morning session and take a break!
3:00 pm - Meet at Tunnel View
4:00 pm - Start hike along the trail to Taft Point
6:00 pm - Golden hour portrait session
7:30 pm - Head back on the trail
8:00 pm - End elopement session
I use the word “guide” a bit interchangeably sometimes. While I guide you through the eloping process and show you around a location, I do not work as a certified outdoor guide. I value official guides very highly, and I take my job and outdoor activities much too seriously to include official guiding in my job description. While I am comfortable hiking with couples in remote locations, I require that you work with a local, certified outdoor guide for any activities requiring anything technical beyond my comfort level in guiding you. I am always happy to recommend guides and support the local community and ensure we uphold a high standard of safety for everyone involved.
I have several locations that do not require difficult hiking or any hiking equipment. In the discovery call, I will ask detailed questions to figure out what your preferences are. I want to make sure you love your location and it fits your personality!
First and foremost, I am a photographer. While I am not officially a wedding planner, I have found that many of my couples—especially those with fewer than ten guests—do not need a planner for their elopement because of how involved I am in helping. Elopements tend to be too small to hire a traditional party planner but still mysterious enough where a helping hand goes a long way. With my many years working in the wedding industry, vendor relationships, and love for the outdoors, I am here to help with everything. However, in my experience, when weddings exceed ten guests or involve a venue, the focus shifts from the couple to the guest experience. When the focus begins to shift toward the guests’ comfort, hiring one of my recommended coordinators is best. They specialize in small weddings to help with the planning beforehand and liaise between everyone’s expectations and my ability to continue my photographic work on the day of the wedding. In either case, I do not offer to book anything on your behalf (such as lodging, vendors, etc.) or official guidance.
I am authorized to sign your marriage license as your ordained minister! That means you can say your vows to each other in my presence while I take photos, and it's perfectly legal in the state of California and a few other select states. This makes things hassle-free if you plan on having your intimate ceremony in a remote area since you won’t have to worry about paying an officiant to travel and hike to the destination. If you obtain a confidential marriage license, you do not even need a witness. You are more than welcome to bring along your own officiant if you prefer for your ceremony to be more culturally formal. If you plan on having guests at your ceremony, I recommend hiring a separate officiant to perform your ceremony for a more pleasant guest experience. I can guide you to the correct website to obtain your marriage license, but you will be responsible for obtaining your marriage license, bringing it with you on the wedding day and paying for additional certified copies.
Southern California has some of the best weather in the entire country year-round, however, bad weather does happen. Suppose a third-party operator involved, such as a pilot or captain, determines that it’s too dangerous. In that case, the wedding will be rescheduled, or a substitute location will be found to perform the same day elopement.
11:00 am - Hair & Makeup
12:00 am - Get your dress on!
12:30 pm - First Look
1:00 pm - Ceremony
1:30 pm - Creative Portrait Session
3:00 - Grab some food!
5:00 - Golden Hour photo session along the coast
7:00pm - Wrap Elopement Session and head to your dinner!
First of all, I know your good side. If you don’t know what side is your good side, I’ll help you find it. Second of all, so many couples have asked those same questions! Elopement couples tend to have personalities of not wanting too much attention and being a bit camera shy. My goal is to capture an authentic representation of your day with a creative eye for composition and moments. My process starts with pure documentation free of posing at the beginning of your day with candids of getting ready or walking to your ceremony location. This takes the pressure off and warms you up to being in front of the camera. Throughout my entire career, my clients appreciate that I capture all the in-between moments. These photos often become their most cherished memories. I only take posed photos of you after your ceremony, so you are already feeling more relaxed to celebrate having your environmental portraits taken. When it comes to capturing creative portraits, most couples want some direction without feeling cheesy. I prefer to “candidly pose” you by giving prompts so you feel comfortable and natural while we are taking those majestic environmental portraits.
My photography is clean, colorful, and cinematic. When I edit photos, I aim to make the colors realistic and vibrant and the skin tones true to life and flattering. I like to see detail in clouds, blue tones in the ocean, and greens in the trees. Since the weddings I photograph are in such beautiful locations, I want to capture the scenery. I do not put heavy filters on photos or desaturate the colors as I feel it dates the images and takes away the timeless look. I use state-of-the-art cameras and lenses and edit photos to reflect quality.
On average, I deliver 50 to 80 photos per hour of coverage. For example, if you have 8 hours of coverage, you can expect to receive 400 - 640 edited photos. You will have access to your very own private viewing gallery with the option to download high-resolution images. You will be granted printing rights to print your photos wherever you want.
Glen Oaks has a beautiful grove of redwood trees on their property that makes for the perfect secluded elopement scenery. They have many adorable cottages to choose from as you get ready for your big day!
This stretch of land is a giant succulent garden and has breath-taking coastal views. Garrapata State Park can be accessed simply by pulling off to the side of the road and walking along its many footpaths.
Pfeiffer Beach is known for its famous keyhole and purple sand. This area is so lovely and magical for creative portraits. This is one of the few places in Big Sur that does not require a permit for your ceremony.
Garrapata Beach is another favorite beach of mine in the Big Sur area because it can make for a great second location if you are taking portraits in Garrapata State Park.
Loma Vista Gardens is right next door to Big Sur Bakery, and offers a big enough space for couples who want to host a dinner and reception for guests. It's located right in the heart of downtown Big Sur and has many cactus gardens.
Ventana offers luxury villas as well as a separate glamping and camping site on the lower part of their property. Both stay accommodations make for unique getting ready photos and a fun experience for your elopement to Big Sur.
Post Ranch Inn is the most luxurious option for your stay accommodations, but it will not disappoint as it offers a nature-filled experience. You can have your ceremony on their property amongst their redwood grove of trees or overlooking the ocean and coastline.
- Michelle J.
“After speaking with several Joshua Tree elopement photographers, we are SO glad that we chose Jennifer Whalen Photography! She is a true adventure wedding photographer at heart and was able to help us plan the most perfect and stress-free elopement! She knew the ins and outs of the location, permits, timing, weather and truly brought everything together seamlessly, which allowed us to be in the moment and enjoy our special day. In addition to the planning aspect, we LOVE how all of our photos and video came out. WE ARE SO GRATEFUL SHE WAS ABLE TO CAPTURE EVERY DETAIL AND MOMENT WHILE WE WERE ABLE TO JUST TAKE IT ALL IN. She went above and beyond to capture every moment and is truly such a talented wedding photographer! In addition to her talent, she is super personable, which is important because your photographer is part of your wedding day, and Jennifer made the experience so much fun and truly such a memorable experience for us. Thank you, Jennifer!”
“Far exceeded our expectations!”
- Stefanie B.
“We are from Germany, and we were looking for someone who could capture images of our elopement in Santa Monica. I contacted Jenn, and she was sooo great from the beginning. She answered all our questions via email (and I had a lot of questions), and that made us feel really good. When we arrived in Venice, we met her, and it felt like meeting a friend. She's fun and professional at the same time. We talked about our ideas, and she was unbelievably motivated and creative. Then we definitely knew that she was the right choice. ON OUR ELOPEMENT DAY, SHE WAS MORE THAN ON TIME AND WELL PREPARED. Our family and friends were amazed at the photos when we got back home. Working with Jenn was the best thing that could have happened to us. It was fun, uncomplicated and she had so much energy and went on a rollercoaster ride with us :) Awesome pictures and an AWESOME PERSON! Thanks for everything!”
“What can I say?! PERFECT!!”
- Amber E.
“From the moment my wife and I reached out to Jennifer wanting to schedule a mini wedding in Malibu, it was as if she could read our minds. When I told her the date, she mentioned Yosemite instead, our DREAM, but we never thought we could afford it. Everything was planned out, but Yosemite was shut down two days before the elopement due to wildfires. I JUST KNEW THE WHOLE THING WOULD BE CANCELED, BUT JENNIFER JUMPED ON IT AND GAVE US THREE OTHER OPTIONS. We went with Zion, and we were NOT disappointed. Jennifer and her videographer, Dan, went above and beyond to make our day super special. I had a place in mind for the ceremony, but Jennifer had already scoped out multiple locations. Trust her eye because she knows what she’s talking about! Jennifer and Dan are so fun to work with, and I recommend you hire them for all your wedding or elopement needs.”
“She went out of her way to make sure our day was super special.”
- Rebecca S.
Jenn is an amazing photographer and a super sweet person, and SHE MADE OUR ELOPEMENT BETTER THAN WE COULD HAVE EVER IMAGINED. On our first call with her, she was so patient with all of our many, many questions. After we selected Jenn to be our photographer, she made absolutely everything else fall into place. She had a contact for us to work with to get our marriage license and recommended lodging options and hair/makeup options. She was extremely knowledgeable about different shooting locations and helped us find the perfect spot in the woods for our ceremony. She took the time to iron out every little detail with us before the big day. Her photography is amazing, and she really does whatever it takes to get the perfect shot."
“Jennifer was *everything* for our elopement – our photographer, our officiant, and our planner!”