This forest elopement was planned quickly in the middle of the September wildfires that ravaged the Pacific northwest.
2020 created so many obstacles for couples planning to get married. Bailey and Nelson’s forest elopement was no exception. Bailey reached out to us a few weeks out from their September date hoping to find an adventure elopement photographer that could help them plan a simple, but super meaningful forest elopement.
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When Bailey told us that what they wanted for their wedding day was to exchange vows privately in a gorgeous spot and explore a waterfall, we were so psyched to share some location ideas. After getting some details from them, we were able to help them plan an incredible day insanely fast…then wildfire season started and it looked like we were going to have to implement some serious backup plans for their forest elopement. When chatting with your adventure elopement photographer, be sure to chat about the process of finding backup locations just in case things don’t go according to plan.
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A week from their wedding date, all of our plans were laid out, our locations secured and timelines had been finalized when Oregon and Washington were completely engulfed in forest fires. A thick layer of smoke covered the Columbia River Gorge and we put our heads together with our couple to come up with a plan. Their wedding date was also their 1 year anniversary, and after dating and surviving one of the most difficult years, they were committed to keeping it, even if that meant driving out to the coast where the air quality was slightly better. We had just finished a Cape Kiwanda Elopement and were totally prepared to relocate their ceremony spot, if it came to that, Working together and staying super flexible allowed us to make it happen.
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While keeping an eye on air quality and nearby fires, Bailey and Nelson were able to keep their original date and exchange vows deep in the forest. Even though the air was hazy, the woods seemed unaffected. The hazy conditions also made for some pretty incredible moody light under the canopy.
We found this gem exploring one day, and after doing a ton of research, reached out to the owners of the property. They graciously allowed for a ceremony during the pandemic. While this location is no longer accessible, Bailey and Nelson were keeping their ceremony minimal, which made practicing the Leave No Trace Principles super easy.
Bailey changed into her dress behind a wall and Nelson got ready on the opposite side. She found her dress on eBay and scored an incredible deal. Their reactions to seeing each other were some of the sweetest we’ve ever seen. After embracing and sharing a sweet moment together, they were ready to exchange vows.
Unlike Colorado, many of the Pacific Northwest states don’t allow for a self-solemnizing ceremony, where your marriage doesn’t require a witness or officiant. Luckily, Sam is ordained and was able to help them facilitate a private ceremony and find an additional witness (besides Kyle) to sign their marriage license.
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We stayed out of ear-shot as they exchanged their vows, and after they exchanged rings and a kiss, they were officially married.
During the fires, their original waterfall was inaccessible, so we made plans to explore a different one day later when the air quality had significantly improved and they could bring their pups along! It was awesome that they were able to keep their celebration going and even more incredible that we got to meet their sweet puppies!
These two were all about keeping things simple. They decided to ditch flowers and just keep things focused on their commitment to each other. Their wedding day is a prime example of how stunning a simple elopement can be.
Oftentimes, we get caught up in the images we see on Instagram or the planning we do on Pinterest, but none of it really matters if it isn’t important to you. Your adventure elopement doesn’t have to have epic views, you don’t have to wear hiking boots, or even have a bouquet. An adventure elopement can simply be two beautiful humans tucked away under a canopy of trees, exchanging vows and finding a moment of peace in a chaotic time.
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Want more foresty elopement inspo? Check out this Washington elopement and this guide to planning your Mount Rainier Elopement