PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Couples hoping to say “I do” during a large wedding on an Oregon beach in spring or early summer 2021 will either need a plan B or they’ll need to postpone.
The Oregon State Parks and Recrecreation Department says it is not issuing permits for beach weddings until July 1, 2021, and even after that date, it will closely evaluate the applications.
The state says it’s doing this for two reasons: COVID-19 precautions and because they have limited staffing.
The date restriction is making business difficult for Seaside wedding planner Erica Guenther, who owns Events by Erie.
“It makes things more stressful and it makes the planning process a little ambiguous and vague because we’re planning something with the hope that the permit comes through,” she said.
She says it’s hard to make plans with a rental set-up company and florists when she isn’t certain if the couple she’s working with can have their wedding on the beach or not.
Guenther says she knows the state parks department only has one employee in charge of issuing the permits and that they’re stretched thin, but she said it would be nice to have more clear answers and more assurance that the state will be approving permits after July 1.
Chris Havel, spokesperson for Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, says people planning their weddings on the coast should be flexible for now.
“You want to do a wedding, if you keep it small, nothing to set up, you don’t need a permit. You can just go do it. If you want something bigger than that, you really ought to be looking at the dates after July 1st for something like that,” he said.
According to the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, a permit for a beach wedding is only required if the guest count is 50 or more or if the event will involve any structures like tents, tables, chairs, structures, easels or banners.
Havel also suggested people consider locations that aren’t directly on the beach, but are nearby.
“There are spaces adjacent to the beach that you could be looking at to combine with the beauty and wildness of the beach and as a special place to form memories,” he said.
Guenther says she has a couple planning a beach wedding reception in July. They have their heart set on having it on the beach with a tent and a caterer. Guenther says they have no interest in a backup plan and she hopes for their sake that their permit gets approved after July 1.
State law says a person who breaks ocean shore rules could be fined up to $2,000 and escorted off the beach by a law enforcement agency.
Havel hopes people won’t consider having weddings without obtaining permits. He says he doesn’t know why anyone would intentionally add stress to an otherwise happy day by breaking the rules.
Havel says he knows people are tired of adapting to changes and rules during the pandemic, but he asks that people remain patient, at least for a couple months longer.