Asking for someone’s hand in marriage is one of life’s most important decisions. Perhaps the biggest imprint is the place the question is popped. A unique, romantic proposal will shine forever. With the North Coast of Oregon and the southwestern coast of Washington serving as a background, you’ll ensure that the most important question you will ever ask takes place somewhere as breathtaking as the moment.
Our incredible beaches
Breathtaking is the best way to describe the natural beauty of Oregon’s North Coast, and using its beaches as a proposal stage is sure to impress. The area is rife with awe-inspiring natural wonders: crashing waves, salty breezes, long stretches of soft sand and incredible views.
The beachfront in Cannon Beach, with the focal point of Haystack Rock, is world-famous for its sprawling ocean vistas. From Ecola Creek to Tolovana Park, the beach serenely lends itself to romantic moments. Whether in the shadow of Haystack Rock or by the cozy warmth of a bonfire, this beach is a no-brainer for taking that next step together.
South of Cannon Beach is Hug Point State Park, a place perfectly named for romance. There, a path carved out for horse-drawn coaches is ideal for strolling hand-in-hand. Sea caves, a waterfall and Haystack Rock in the distance all set the mood for a proposal. Whether strolling along the cliff walls, splashing among the tide pools or setting a picnic on the beach’s sandy seclusion, you won’t regret choosing Hug Point.
North Coast beaches also offer an opportunity to think outside the box when it comes to marriage proposals. Case-in-point is horseback riding on the beach. A popular activity for many beach-visitors, it also draws romance-seekers looking to give their marriage proposals an unexpected twist.
Judy Winters and her family run Oregon Beach Rides out of Nehalem Bay State Park near Manzanita. Romantic beach rides are a regular draw for the business. “Romance is a big factor in most beach rides,” she said. “The weather here is mild, the scenery is beautiful and the sunsets are outstanding. It’s a very relaxing way to spend time together.”
Taking a horseback ride on the beach carries substantial romantic appeal. “Couples may have seen a romantic beach ride in a movie, which adds to the appeal,” Winters said. Couples often take the opportunity to make the moment last forever. “We’ve had a lot of marriage proposals on our rides, especially the sunset rides,” Winters said. “So far, we haven’t had anyone say ‘no.’”
Booking a stay at an intimate coastal inn is the epitome of romance. The North Coast has no shortage of cozy, comfortable accommodations with spectacular views from which to stage a marriage proposal. Additionally, each one comes with enthusiastic proprietors and staff eager to help make every detail special.
Laurie Anderson and David Campiche have owned the Shelburne Inn in Seaview, Wash., since 1977, and the inn, built in 1896, has long been a destination for romance-seekers. “We’ve had so many proposals over the years, it’s hard to keep track,” Anderson said. “We’ve had people get engaged here whose children are now coming back as adults. It’s rewarding to be a part of such an important moment.”
Anderson notes that when setting the stage for a marriage proposal, nothing can compare to the draw of the ocean for romance. “The ocean pulls people here, even when the weather is unpredictable,” she said. “Taking a walk together in the rain and then coming back to a cozy room and a glass of wine is a special moment. It doesn’t get any more romantic than that.”
When it comes to marriage proposals, each moment is special, especially when it comes to the beach. “People love to come to the beach to propose,” said Teri Rennels, manager of Webb’s Scenic Surf in Cannon Beach. “The beach has a deep spirituality that gives couples a great start to their new life.”
Webb’s Scenic Surf has hosted many proposals, each with its own twist. “One young man had owner Jimmy Webb hide the engagement ring in a conch shell on the beach,” Rennels said. “We had to time it right and watch over it so no one else would pick it up. The couple went for a beach walk, she saw the shell in the sand, picked it up, and the ring was inside. She was very, very happy.”
North Coast innkeepers thrive on arranging details when it comes to the big question. “Our entire staff is personally involved with each guest experience,” said Cynthia Malkowski, innkeeper of the Arch Cape Inn and Retreat, three miles south of Cannon Beach. “We care about everyone who stays with us, wanting them to feel comfortable in choosing us for their special moment. Our location allows anyone to create their dream proposal with coastal natural backdrops within such a short distance.”
Details matter at a time like this; none are too small for consideration. “We plan each one with the proposing party, making secret deliberations in advance,” Malkowski said. “We love creating surprises for different scenarios and monitor everything from tides to sunset and sunrise times, to weather conditions. A big one is keeping seagulls away when there’s food involved.”
Though not everything always goes according to plan, each beach proposal is certainly memorable. “Once, we forgot to check the tide and the groom had to carry his intended across the creek at sunset,” Malkowski said. “They arrived to his chosen spot of a pre-arranged picnic, soaking wet, to find that the seagulls had eaten the cheese. At least the gulls left the champagne alone.”
Thankfully, all was well in the end. “The sunset was worth it all for just that special moment,” Malkowski said. “And the inn was cozy and warm when they got home to us, officially engaged to be married.”
A tried-and-tested proposal is one that comes over a candlelit dinner, and the North Coast has numerous romantic restaurants for couples to create a memorable evening.
The Terra Cotta Café in Manzanita is a throwback to the classic dinner clubs of yesteryear. Adorned with soft lighting, candles, linens and soft music in the background, it resonates with romance. Additionally, it seats only those over 21, ensuring a quiet, intimate setting. For those reasons, it has also been center stage for several marriage proposals since opening in 2004.
“We evoke a casual, romantic atmosphere,” said proprietor Harvey Sturm. “Our setting – the music, the candlelight and wine list – is designed to encourage a slow, relaxed mood. It allows couples to unwind and focus on each other. They can look into each other’s eyes and connect without interruption.”
When the romantic dining mood is set, anything can happen. “We had a couple get up in the middle of dinner and slow-dance,” Sturm said. “When I brought out wine, there was a ring box on the table and the gentleman was down on one knee. If you feel comfortable enough to dance in a room full of strangers, you’ll certainly be at ease with each other and your life moving forward. That’s what coming to the beach is about.”