December 7, 2021

Washington Elopement Photographer: Capturing Your Forever

For lots of couples, choosing to elope in Washington is an easy decision. With national parks and forests galore, each one packed with stunning views ranging from peaceful beaches to soaring mountains, there’s an elopement destination that’s sure to feel right for you. All of this is why finding a Washington elopement photographer to capture your forever is so important.

A couple stands on a mountain in Washington at sunset, posing in a close snuggle for their photographer

While eloping in Washington might feel like an easy choice, choosing your Washington elopement photographer might seem a lot harder. After all, the person you choose won’t just be with you for every intimate moment during your elopement, they’re responsible for preserving your wedding day with photos (and video) you’ll treasure for your whole marriage. 

So I get it—choosing a wedding photographer is a big deal. But it doesn’t have to feel like a hard decision. Instead, it should just feel like the right one. 

That’s why I, a Washington Elopement Photographer and Videographer, put together this guide. Sure, I’ll explain why I might be the perfect fit for your elopement (I’ve got plenty of reasons!). More importantly, I’ll lay out a guide for choosing a photographer that feels right for you.

A couples stands in front of mount rainier for their Washington elopement

What’s The Difference Between an
Elopement and a Wedding?

If you’re new to Evergreen Era Films, you should know that I specialize in elopements. There are a lot of reasons why I’m drawn to intimate elopements over traditional weddings—so what’s the difference?

Traditional weddings… 

  • Require a lot of vendors and planning—which means they’re usually pretty expensive and quite stressful. 
  • Have a lot of traditions and “rules” that might feel outdated for modern couples.
  • Tend to be wrapped up in expectations that aren’t your own, meaning you’ll make choices based on your great aunt’s or mother-in-law’s wishes rather than your gut.
  • Can feel stuffy, hectic, or disingenuous. 
  • Lack intimacy and genuine moments to connect with your partner and the people you’ve invited.

More and more couples are realizing these aspects of traditional weddings just don’t suit them. So instead, they’re turning to adventure elopements. 

Elopements…

  • Are usually much, much smaller, with only a handful of guests—or sometimes just you and your partner.
  • Require way fewer vendors, rentals, and supplies, so the cost tends to be much lower than a traditional wedding and way less stressful to plan 
  • Are flexible! You can adapt the timeline, activities, or ceremony itself to match your preferences. 
  • Allow for plenty of one-on-one time with your partner and, if you choose to invite them, the people special enough to bring along
  • Can take place anywhere, including the outdoors. For many couples, getting married in nature feels like a truer representation of their love and their life
  • Allow for more unique celebrations. You can have a traditional (small) “reception,” or you can take your wedding party rafting after your ceremony. The opportunities to celebrate on your elopement day are literally endless!

For me, capturing these intimate, genuine, heartfelt moments in the beauty of mother nature is what it’s all about. That’s why I choose to specialize in Washington elopements, and I think it’s a pretty good argument for choosing an elopement over a traditional wedding anywhere! 

Should I Hire An
Elopement Photographer In Washington?

Absolutely, 100%, no-ifs-and-or-buts-about-it, yes! In fact, you should hire both a wedding photographer and videographer or someone who can do both (like me!).

Why You Should Hire an Elopement Photographer

  • You’ll preserve the memories of your elopement for years and years to come.
  • Your wedding day will fly by, but photos can help you remember the little moments that get lost in the whirlwind.
  • Because elopements have fewer guests than traditional weddings, photos offer a special way for those who couldn’t attend to witness your big day.
A photographer in the foreground is pointing a camera at a couple sharing vows in front of a mountain scene in Washington.
Photo by Adventure Instead

Why You Should Hire an Elopement Videographer

  • Like with photos, video captures one of the best days of your life in a different way you can revisit for years to come.
  • Video captures even more of the details of your big day—the tone of your partner’s voice during your vows, the way the wind blew through the trees, everything. There’s no other way to capture those tiny, sweet memories.
  • It’s a way to share your ceremony with extended family and friends without losing the intimacy of an elopement.
  • The biggest regret of newlyweds? Not hiring a videographer. It’s hard to express how special your wedding will feel to you, and you’ll want to capture it in real-time. 

I know I’m biased, but having a photographer and/or videographer is a must-do for your elopement. Your wedding day is just that—one single, sweet day. But photos and videos help you and your partner to experience that day for a lifetime.

I believe deeply in the power of photos and film to help you fall in love with your life
and the beauty of nature over and over again

When you’re not feeling your best or when you hit a hard spot in your marriage, looking back on your elopement day can be such a sweet reminder, not just of that day, but of why you’re married. Having a visual reminder of this incredible day you spent in the jaw-dropping beauty of nature is both humbling and inspiring, and sometimes just the nudge you need to recognize how special your partner, and the life you live,  really is. 

Other than photos and videos, what else can deliver such a heartfelt moment whenever you need it? I sure can’t think of much else!

What to Look For In Your Elopement Photographer:

When you’re ready to start looking for an elopement photographer, the choices can feel overwhelming. There are so many talented photographers and videographers out there, all of whom have drop-dead gorgeous shots of elopements in the Washington mountains and in dense forests to tempt you. 

While the ability to shoot these kinds of beautiful images on your wedding day is important, there are other equally (or even more!) important factors to consider in an elopement photographer. 

There are a variety of criteria you should consider when choosing your photographer. Identifying which photographers meet your checklist should actually help you narrow down your choices to find the perfect one for your elopement. 

Here’s what to look for in your Washington Elopement Photographer and Videographer:

Photos and Videos That You Love

Like I said before, experienced photographers and videographers will have plenty of eye candy on their websites to woo you in (myself included). But if you pay close attention, you’ll start to notice a lot of differences between these photos—and it’s really important to notice them! From different lighting to the kinds of shots they prefer, to how staged the photos look, every photographer’s style is different, and you should find someone whose style really feels right for you as a couple.

Positive Reviews

This probably seems like a no-brainer, but you can actually learn a lot about a photographer from their reviews—even the positive ones! Happy couples tend to leave positive reviews describing exactly what they loved about their photographer. Reading their reviews can offer some insight into whether or not a photographer will meet your expectations.

Availability for Your Dates

Another no-brainer, but obviously this is important! Sometimes a photographer’s availability can even influence a couple’s wedding date.

Familiarity with the Area

Ideally, your elopement photographer should be able to recommend locations for your ceremony, as well as destinations for other special moments throughout your day. I live in Washington State and therefore have the ability to guide you in the right direction based on local knowledge like road closures, seasonal shifts, and the popularity of trails. etc.

Vendor Recommendations

Experienced photographers have worked with other local vendors, sometimes many times. That means they have insider intel on the best vendors, from florists to officiants, and they can recommend folks who might suit who you are as a couple and the elopement you’re envisioning.

Outdoor Experience and Knowledge

If you’re planning an adventure elopement, you will be—surprise!—outdoors. And while that has a whole bunch of advantages (trust me, I could talk about it all day), outside does come with some risks. From what to do if it rains to real emergencies, it’s best to have a photographer who knows their way around a trail. I spend the majority of my time outdoors and take it very seriously, from taking avalanche awareness courses to being Wilderness First Aid Certified.

Someone Who Won’t Turn Your Wedding into a Photoshoot

Remember those gorgeous photos we talked about above? Those are great—but never at the expense of your actual wedding. You want a photographer who won’t pose you all day and turn your wedding experience into a full-on photoshoot. Instead, look for someone who will give you time to be yourselves, connect with each other, and have fun!

Someone Who Lets Your Day Unfold Naturally

As a couple, you know your relationship better than anyone else. So no one should be telling you how to interact or what to do on your wedding day! I believe every couple should be given the space they need to feel comfortable and directed just enough to get the photos they’ll love (when the moment is right). Otherwise, the day is yours, and I’m along for the ride!

Shared Values

If you’re looking for an adventure elopement photographer, chances are your values are already pretty aligned. But still, there are many things that will be important to you on your wedding day (and beyond), and it will feel best if those things are important to your photographer too. I personally focus my business on being environmentally conscious, representing and celebrating the love of all couples, no matter their sexual orientation or ethnicity, and experience-centered storytelling.

A Personality That Meshes With Yours

This might be the most important factor in choosing an elopement photographer! Your photographer is probably going to be with you during the most intimate moments of your big day, so you want it to be someone you’re comfortable with. If you’re looking for a light and bright, calming yet encouraging personality for your day—I’m your girl.

The Ability to do Both Photography and Videography

Some videographers (like me!) offer both photography and videography.
This offers a lot of advantages:

  • A similar style across your photos and videos
  • Fewer vendors to worry about hiring
  • The lower expense than hiring two vendors
  • Fewer folks pointing a camera at you on your big day

Additional Services and Amenities

In addition to photography and videography, some elopement photographers (again, like me!) offer even more to their couples, like planning support, timeline creation, guidebooks, etc.

Meet Your Washington Elopement Photographer:

A redheaded, female, Washington elopement photographer is standing in front of a mountain landscape with a lake and pines smiling at the camera.
Photo by Adventure Instead

Now that you know what to look for in a Washington elopement photographer and videographer, allow me to introduce myself! I just might be the one you’re looking for. 

My name is Kathryn, and I’m a big fan of feelings, photography, and the outdoors, so saying that being an elopement photographer is my dream job is kind of an understatement. I started shooting weddings six years ago, and I’ve never looked back. 

In those six years, I’ve shot weddings all over America’s national parks and forests, in hidden valleys, and on freezing cold mountain peaks.

Some of the most breathtaking bits of nature I’ve seen in those travels are right here in Washington

In fact, I packed up my gear and moved here after shooting a wedding in Washington!

While the views are epic, what I really love about being a Washington elopement photographer and videographer is getting to witness some of life’s most beautiful moments. I connect authentically with each one of my couples so that I can fully support them on their elopement day and capture sweet moments as they unfold organically. 

Rather than direct my couples’ every move, I choose to let the day unfold naturally, creating space and moments of connection between you and your partner and your guests in order to capture those interactions honestly. I believe the best photos and videos come from genuine moments when you are able to be your true selves, so posing you, as other photographers might do, is not my approach. Instead, I let you focus on each other, the gorgeous places you’re in, and the experience you’re having. That’s more than enough. 

If you’re looking for a photographer to direct your high-fashion, epic photoshoot, you won’t find it here. But if you’re looking for someone who will truly listen to your hopes, adventure alongside you, share your laughter and tears, and support you every step of the way, then you’ve found her.

What I Bring to Your Elopement

I bring a lot more than my camera gear to every elopement. In addition to the physical item support of hand warmers and a med/extra kit full of helpful things, I offer unlimited idea support, recommendations, and a whole lot more to every couple, from the moment you book your celebration.  

Here’s what you’ll get if you choose me as your wedding photographer and videographer:

Experience

6 years of experience shooting weddings in the wilderness across the country, from Washington to Maine to North Carolina

Washington Elopement Photographer and Videographer

I specialize in both photography and videography (you’ll get two vendors in one, and I don’t know ANYONE else who can do that!

Planning Support

This can include the following: vendor, location, and rental recommendations. You also will receive multiple planning guides and questionnaires along with unlimited access to questions, ideas, and inspiration. All of this can be accessed directly through me or through your own organized online client portal.

Day-of Help

This can be everything from getting dressed to managing your elopement timeline.

I always carry a Medkit (just in case) as well as extra gear! Basically, I do my best to provide you with everything and anything you need to feel comfortable and connected.

Flexibility

I always ensure to include a flexible, additional day in case of bad weather adjustments.

Pack it Out Mentality

I always do my very best to have an environmentally conscious approach to every single thing we do, to make your elopement (and the work I do) as kind to the planet as possible

Heart and Passion

I genuinely connect and truly care about every single one of my couples. That allows me to help you have the elopement day of your dreams and remember how beautiful your life is long after we hug goodbye through beautiful photos and films. 

A landscape of Mount Rainier in Washington late in the evening with a cloud halo and wild flowers in the field in the foreground.

My Favorite Washington Elopement Destinations

  • Mt. Rainier National Park
  • North Cascades National Park 
  • Snoqualmie National Forest
  • Olympic Peninsula / Olympic National Park
A landscape view of some snow covered mountains that are rocky and covered in pines, located in Mount Rainier, Washington.

My Top Washington Elopement
Tips & Recommendations

I’ve been a part of many elopements, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. I love sharing these insights with my couples. Here are just a few of my top tips and recommendations for your Washington elopement: 

Plan Ahead

While elopements are great because the planning feels a lot more manageable than a traditional wedding, you shouldn’t wing it. Hiring a planner (or a photographer who offers planning support 🙂 ) can help keep everything on track and on time. 

Look Into Permits and a Marriage License in Advance

While eloping in a national park feels natural—literally and figuratively—most do require permits for a ceremony. Research whether you’ll need a permit in advance (I recommend calling the rangers to ask). Also, in Washington, you need to apply for your marriage license at least three days before you elope (in person or apply in advance online). It’ll be valid for 60 days. 

Consider the Season and Weather

A lot of national parks in Washington have areas that aren’t accessible in certain seasons (those mountains get snowy!), so keep that in mind when choosing your elopement day. On the other hand, many scenic areas can be really busy during the summer months, especially if they’re easily accessible. Planning your elopement for a weekday or certain time of day can help you avoid crowds.

If Possible, Scout Your Location in Advance (OR ASK FOR INSIGHT FROM A LOCAL LIKE ME)

You might have a dreamy location in mind, but it could look or feel different in person. The hike might be harder than you realized, the location less intimate than you expected, or views crowded by foliage in the summer. Checking it out in advance means you won’t be disappointed on your elopement day. 

Leave NO Trace

I love that adventure elopements are growing in popularity, but I don’t love the impact they’re having on our protected natural lands. Be conscious of the impact your elopement might have on your outdoor destination. Make sure you don’t leave anything behind, don’t walk off the trails, research whether florals are allowed, etc.

Find Other Fun Things to do on Your Big Day

One of my favorite parts of elopements is that they offer couples way more flexibility to celebrate their wedding day in their own way! Ceremonies are usually pretty short, and without a traditional reception, you’ll have the rest of the day or evening to celebrate outside. Kayaking, a helicopter ride, a campfire, an intimate dinner—the options are endless. 

Preserve Your Day with Photos/Videos Because You’ll Remember Less Than You Think

Most couples think they’ll remember every moment of their elopement—after all, it’s one of the biggest days of your life. But the reality is actually the opposite. You’ll be so wrapped up in experiencing your elopement and all the feelings that prompt, from nervousness to ecstatic joy, that your memory will be foggy, even by the next day. That’s why it’s so important to capture it all on film and in photos! 

Getting Started with Your
Washington Elopement Photographer

So you’re thinking you might want me to photograph your elopement? Yay! Here’s what the process will look like: 

A Washington elopement photographer is walking up a trail at sunrise in a big jacket and hat. She is a young redheaded female holding a camera and smiling while looking down at the ground.
Photo by Adventure Instead
  1. We’ll have a call to get to know each other.
    It’s important that your values and personality align with your photographer’s, so I always meet with new couples first to make sure I’m a good match for your day.
  2. Brainstorm your location, itinerary, etc.
    Together we’ll plan the perfect place, activities, and timeline for your elopement so it is personalized to you fully!
  3. Get married while experiencing in a stress-free, adventurous way!
    The best part, of course, is your elopement itself! I’ll be there to capture the magic and help guide you along the way.
  4. Enjoy your photographs/videos for the rest of your days.
    Actually, the best part is being married and looking back on your beautiful elopement for the rest of your lives. 

I’m so proud of you for choosing to celebrate your marriage in a way that feels true to who you are—it will inspire others to do the same. It would be an honor to help you make that celebration come to life and capture it in a beautiful and authentic way.

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