Pfeiffer Beach Elopement

The brilliant interaction of mountain and sea that is Big Sur.

Nelia and Tom are wonderful.  They are the perfect second halves of each other, bursting with laughter, humor, and love. Looking for beauty off the beaten path and away from the madness of Los Angeles, they decided to elope on Pfeiffer Beach with simply an officiant and myself, serving as both photographer and witness.

Soaring Starkey was their officiant, and was PHENOMENAL.  She glided through Nelia and Tom’s emotions like a kite, and enshrined the sunny beach with her sincere wishes for the couple.  It was nice to see a such a special take on things, as she had Nelia and Tom close their eyes, and put all of their love and passion for each other as they kissed their wedding rings, before slipping them onto each other. Much info straight from the bride? See below the photos in this post to read on…

peacock wedding hair fastener 
hidden sign to pfeiffer beach in big sur
white wedding sandals gold earring
wedding blindfold for the groom
bride and groom on pfeiffer beach in big sur 
groom sitting on log at pfeiffer beach in big sur
pfeiffer beach wedding overlooking pacific ocean 
vows on big sur's pfeiffer beach
pfeiffer beach elopement ceremony
wedding rings all your love
dramatic kiss on pfeiffer beach
just married on big sur pfeiffer beach
 pfeiffer beach wedding
path to pfeiffer beach
bride on pfeiffer beach
love on big sur pfeiffer beach
marriage on pfeiffer beach
big sur beach elopement

best beach in big sur

happy couple in big sur

The Happy Couple:

Wedding Date and Location:

  • May 24th, 2011
  • Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, California


  • Film
  • Black and white medium format film
  • Color 35mm film

What Made Our Wedding Creative:

  • Our wedding was the most beautiful day of our lives!  It was incredibly intimate, relaxing and romantic being that it was just the two of us.  The natural landscape- the salty air, the smell of pine, the sun on our faces- added to the overall etheeral nature of the event.  Big Sur has to be one of the most magical places on earth and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting for our wedding.
  • We are pretty goofy people, so we made sure to have a little fun with wedding traditions.  For example, Tom blindfolded himself so as not to see me before the wedding!  This meant that I had to drive to Pfeiffer beach as Tom sat blindfolded in our Honda Civic.  The park ranger was pretty confused as I had to explain what was happening (i.e. “no he is not my hostage!”)   Keep in mind I did this in my wedding dress!  It must have been a funny sight to see.
  • After our ceremony , we had an amazing post-wedding meal at Post Ranch Inn, which is a restaurant perched on top of a cliff overlooking the Pacific.  When we sat down, the waiter came by smiling and handed us an envelope. In the envelope was a gift certificate from our friends and family for our meal (which by the way, was the MOST amazing meal of our lives!).  It was so thoughtful we were brought to tears thinking about all the love that was surrounding us on that special day.

Our Biggest Challenge:

  • Our biggest challenge was deciding on whether we wanted to elope or not.  For a few months, we went back and forth on whether we should have a traditional wedding with a guest list.  Fortunately, we have wonderful friends and family who supported us in anything we decided to do.  After eloping, we knew that we had made the right decision as it helped us to really focus on each other and the commitment we were making.

Our Favorite Moment:

  • We imagine many couples feel this way, but our favorite moment was our first husband/wife kiss! It was absolutely amazing.

Advice to Others:

  • Our advice would be to do exactly what you want to do.  It is easy to get swept away in the “wedding industrial complex” but at the end of the day, it is about the two of you and the bond you will be making for the rest of your lives.

Favorite Vendors and Shopping Links:

  • It goes without saying that Doug D is AMAZING!  We are so happy that he was there to capture all of the details.  The photos speak for themselves and we will cherish them forever!
  • If you need an officiant in Big Sur, we would also highly recommend Soaring Starkey.
  • Also, if you haven’t eaten at the Post Ranch Inn- it is a splurge that you will never forget!



  1. What a magnificent blog. I am in awe of you two and the choice you made for your wedding day. Thank you for sharing and best wishes for a lifetime of happiness.

    • Hi Sara, thank you for the nice words on the blog! It was such a perfect day for a beach wedding, and Nelia and Tom were the most wonderful couple to photograph!

  2. Beautiful photographs full of warmth and emotions!

  3. Doug D, you visually translated the love, happiness and beauty of our wedding day so perfectly. Thank you for being the incredibly talented photographer that you are!

    • Nelia, thank you for the kind words! You two are such nice people and a joy to photograph… I’ll be sure to let you know when I’m down near LA so we can meet up, and likewise for you guys if you’re near SF – you’re awesome!

  4. Ohh my goodness Nelia, what a beautiful wedding that was! The pictures are so amazing!

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