Adventure Guides

To Help You Plan & Prepare

Isle of Skye Scotland Kilchoan Mingary Castle Elopement

Look Hot, Pack Light: A Guide to Hair & Makeup for Adventure Elopements

Back in 2021, I had the opportunity to photograph a Scottish Highlands Vow Renewal for a couple who was traveling from the Pacific Northwest to celebrate their 10 year anniversary. Over 3 days we road tripped, hiked, and chased pockets of light amidst wind and rain from the Isle of Skye to the coasts of Kilchoan. We stayed in a castle, tried Haggis, and soaked in the beauty of the Scottish culture. A beautiful surprise for me on this trip was meeting and getting to work alongside my now great friend, Meaghan, of Black Fern Beauty Co. She came along as Sam & Brian’s badass and adventurous Hair & Make Up “Trail Angel” and working with her opened my eyes to how deeply valuable it is to have an artist like this accompany a couple on their elopement, or in this case, vow renewal. Meaghan was on top of everything and served as a second set of eyes for Sam and Brian to ensure all the smaller details were fully dialed in and cared for while we photographed their celebration. Being that I am not the pro when it comes to make up and hair, we felt that collaborating on some not-so-talked-about resources for elopement and wedding couples could be of huge benefit to you. So Meaghan, take it away! Explore The Guide Your Dress Your Hair Your Skincare & Make Up When you Get Home What I love about the ultralight backpacking community is that it feels like more of a philosophy instead of an arbitrary pack weight.  You just decide you can get by with less, and rely highly on your own judgment of how best to stay safe, healthy and comfortable. Trusting yourself looks great on you, by the way! Preparation is key so let’s start with the essentials. Your Dress Chances are, if you’re taking on a multi-day section hike for your adventure elopement, you’ll be packing your dress for getting ready when you discover your ceremony location. The average wedding dress will add 7 to 11 pounds to your base-weight depending on style and material, so think light and breezy when selecting material. Another consideration is, whether or not your partner will help you get zipped in.  If you’re aiming for that ‘first look’ moment be sure you can get yourself secured into the style you choose. In my experience, dresses do really well folded over in a cheap, lightweight garment bag that can secure over your backpack. Lightweight lace dresses can roll up into your pack really well too. Your Hair This will sound super counterintuitive, but hear me out.  Wash, blowdry and heat style your hair before you head out-the magic here is to generously apply dry shampoo to freshly blow dried hair.  You’re buying some time before it starts to look obviously dirty.  If you want to bring dry shampoo on trail with you, opt for a small travel size shaker jar style-not an aerosol can. PRO TIP:  Loosely french braiding clean hair will keep its volume and add heatless wave texture.  Using claw style clips will secure your waves or curls without leaving creases or wrecking volume. After all that work, the last thing you’ll want to do is put on a snug fitting baseball cap, so opt for other sun protection like a visor and sunnies, or a lightweight UV shirt with a loose fitting hood. Skincare & Make Up Let’s prep a ditty bag.  First thing, make sure we have a designated mini trash bag as we are going to be making ready-to-use disposables and LNT, always.  I know, I know.  Not ideal, but it’s worth it. In a snack size ziploc type bag, presoak some cotton rounds with a generous amount of micellar water, and for good measure another one with a good detoxifying toner solution. This will be so key in removing your end of day dirt, sweat and sunscreen.  The cleaner your skin can be when you go to sleep at night, the better it will look as you adventure on-and not look too crusty under makeup. Another good idea is to pack a few small individually wrapped makeup wipes.  You’ll need at least one or two to get your makeup off after your ceremony, and then follow with micellar water. You’ll want to pack the least amount of makeup and tools possible, so I suggest really small, double ended,  travel size makeup brushes and makeup products that can multitask for you.  A small tube of concealer can be foundation when mixed or blended out with moisturizer.  Your favorite bronzer or blush can become your best eyeshadow choice.  Darker eyeshadows can be used for filling in brows or as eyeliner.  Mascara choice may vary.  Tubing mascara is the only kind guaranteed to not smudge.  That’s my go to. PRO TIP:  Invest in a lash lift and tint ahead of your elopement to minimize the need for mascara altogether. When You Get Home Upon returning to civilization and on demand hot water, baby your skin.  Lots of sunscreen, makeup, sweat, dirt, and borderline criminal cleansing on trail will leave your skin in need of some extra love. A good exfoliation, and lots of moisture rich masks will return its barrier function and ease any unintentional sunburn and irritation. PRO TIP: Treat yourself to a hydra facial when you return for some immediate repair and relief. Good luck out there, be safe, and congratulations! Hey! I’m Meaghan With Black Fern Beauty Co. I’ve been a Hair and Make Up Artist for over 13 years, and since relocating to the Pacific Northwest from the Washington DC area, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to serve Oregon & Washington Elopement couples along their adventures together. Robert and I met in back in 2021 while working together with a couple for their Destination Vow Renewal in Scotland (it was incredible. check it out here!) and this guide was an exciting way for us to collaborate to help more adventurous couples like you. I’m a

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How To Have A Truly Unforgettable Engagement Session

Explore The Guide What Story Do You Want To Tell? Choose An Adventure Over A Photo Shoot Go The Extra Mile Find A Dynamic Photographer Build Trust With Your Photographer Engagement season is in full swing and I felt it’d be a great tie to share some things I have learned over the last almost two decades of photographing couples and capturing engagement sessions. In this guide, I’m sharing the best tips I’ve learned about what makes an engagement session truly unforgettable for couples who really feel drawn to my work or who are looking for more than just a photographer for their engagement, wedding or elopement day. What Story Do You Want To Tell? It’s very easy to approach your engagement session like a task on the checklist and something to simply “fit into your schedule”. I encourage you to slow down and take a breath where you are. This is such an exciting season that you are in and there’s no rush on getting to the next part of this party. I’m a big believer in self leadership and how you lead yourself in this season will determine how solid and stable the next one is. When it comes to your session, I always tell couples to treat this as the one day you will always remember your engaged season by. When you look back in the years ahead and think of this season, what story do you want to tell? An engagement session isn’t just about the photos, it’s far more about the experience. Let you engagement session be the one story that you will tell for years to come about this season of your life. Choose An Adventure Over A “Photo Shoot” When thinking about your engagement session, don’t start with, “what should I wear” or “where should we go”, instead start with, what would be the most inspiring adventure we could go on for our shoot? Getting great photos is a must but having an unforgettable story to tell on the backend of your shoot will make it that much more fulfilling and leave you and your partner even more connected than before. I have climbed mountains with couples where we were forced. to bunker down because of an unexpected storm. I have road-tripped 7 hours to explore a mind blowing area, camp under the stars and spend the next sunrise in a hot spring. I have spent a weekend on a private island where the bride grew up and photographed her and her partner in her original stomping ground while watching for whales. When you choose an adventure over a photo-shoot, you come out with so much more than just images… and the images are that much better because there’s a story to them. Want to get inspired by some epic engagement session adventures, check out my portfolio! And when you’re ready, reach out and let’s start planning your engagement session adventure together. Go The Extra Mile Full stop. This is the one of the most important tips I could share with you. The engagement sessions that have left my couples truly blown away, even more madly in love, and feeling wildly alive are the ones that we all decided to drive a few hours further and hike a couple more miles deeper into the location we were exploring. Why? First and foremost, because it gives us all more time together, to talk, to build trust, to connect, share our hearts, and really create a level of safety that shows once you step in front of the camera. How comfortable you feel with your photographer will literally make all the difference in the world around how you feel while getting photographed. Relationships are the core of my business and it’s what I love most about this work. The second reason you should go the extra mile is because the most unforgettable stories come from when you choose to go explore, see something new, experience something. you haven’t before. Choosing to drive or hike a little further really does take your engagement session from “That was a lot of fun!” to “The was fucking amazing!!!” Go the extra mile. It’s worth it 100% of the time. Find a Dynamic Photographer Does the photographer you are looking to work with have work in a lot of different settings, lighting situations and locations? Do they have candid, fun, outgoing shots as well as intimate, connected, and more romantic moments? Do they capture portraits, landscapes, wide shots, tight shots, etc.? When you look back on your engagement session in the years ahead, you aren’t going to just want great portraits of you looking at the camera. You are going to want a story, you are going to want art, you are going to want to remember how you felt that day and what the world looked like on that specific day. Find a photographer that is dynamic and you are sure to walk away with loads of images you love and an epic story to tell. Build Trust With Your Photographer Building trust with your photographer is the most important thing you can do for your engagement session, your wedding or your elopement. And trust isn’t something that just happens, takes intention and authenticity. Most people think trust is built when individuals are reliable, when the reality is that trust is actually built when people are vulnerable. Vulnerability can be a really hard thing for some people, especially if it they grew up rarely feeling seen, heard, understood, or safe to express themselves fully. It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable but that is secret sauce if you will to getting photos you truly love. Getting in front of a camera can bring up fear, insecurities, and sometimes even anxiety or awkwardness. That’s why it’s so important for you to really build an open, honest, vulnerable, and authentic relationship with your photographer. If you feel safe to be fully yourself with your photographer, you will walk

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Best Locations To Elope in Washington State

The Pacific Northwest is a paradise for couples seeking a breathtaking backdrop for their elopement and in this guide, I’m breaking down the Best Locations to Elope in Washington State. From rugged coastlines to majestic mountains, the Evergreen State offers a wealth of stunning locations to exchange vows and officially begin your lifelong adventure together. I was born on the Kitsap Peninsula and I’ve explored and hiked a lot of the trails throughout the state of Wasshington, including the 500+ mile long section of the Pacific Crest Trail that spans from the Columbia River Gorge to the Canadian border. As someone who is constantly seeking out the most epic, dramatic and jaw dropping landscapes in the state, here are some of the most enchanting elopement destinations you will find Washington and several that you won’t find many others share about. Where to Elope in Washington State: A Guide to Unforgettable Wedding Destinations Columbia River Gorge Why You Should Get Married In The Columbia River Gorge Choosing the Best Place To Elope In The Columbia River Gorge Best Time Of The Year To Elope In The Columbia River Gorge Best Trails For Your Columbia River Gorge Elopement Mount St. Helens Why You Should Elope On Mount St. Helens Best Time Of The Year To Elope On Mount St. Helens Eloping In The Mount Margaret Backcountry Best Trails For Your Mount St. Helens Elopement Mount Adams Goat Rocks Wilderness Why You Should Elope In The Goat Rocks Wilderness What You Need To Know About Eloping In Goat Rocks Best Trails For Your Goat Rocks Wilderness Elopement Mount Rainier National Park North Cascades National Park Olympic National Park Washington Coast (Olympic Peninsula) San Juan Islands Gifford Pinchot National Forest 1. Columbia River Gorge Elopement Why have a wedding In the Columbia River Gorge? Nestled along the border between Washington and Oregon, the Columbia River Gorge boasts dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests. Couples can elope amidst the awe-inspiring beauty of iconic landmarks like Multnomah Falls or find secluded spots along scenic hiking trails. One of the most sought after locations in the Gorge is an old abandoned stone house in the forest which makes for an incredibly unique and intimate space for your elopement. Keep in mind that a Washington Discover Pass, Northwest Forest Pass, or in some case, local permits, may be required for ceremonies in certain areas of the Gorge. If you have any questions about a specific location, reach out and I’ll help you out! Click here to see Danielle & Cris’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest & Columbia River Gorge Elopement Choosing the best place To Elope In The Columbia River Gorge Being that the Columbia River Gorge is also the border of Oregon and Washington, the locations to elope are abundant. The Oregon side of the Gorge is stunning and littered with countless waterfalls such as Multnomah Falls (tallest waterfall in the Cascades), Bridal Veil Falls, Latourell Falls, Elowah Falls, Wahclella Falls, and many more. The two big things to know about the Oregon side of the Gorge is that not every waterfall works well for photos due to space, position and lighting. You also have loads of great hikes out there such as Angels Rest but you will definitely want to plan a Gorge Wedding or Elopement in the spring or summer months when everything is lush and green. The Eagle Creek fire back in 2017 had a very big impact on the gorge so knowing where to go to still capture that beauty of this place is important! Another location that serves as as an amazing location for a small wedding or elopement is Government Cove. This little island juts out into the Columbia River and has some of the best views of the Gorge. It’s a perfect place if you are wanting a nature inspired wedding but maybe have family that couldn’t make it up a hike. The thing to note about Government Cove is that it is privately owned by the Confederated Trribes of the Warm Springs Reservation so a permit is required if you plan to have your ceremony there. The biggest reason why Oregon’s side of the Gorge is such an incredible place to consider for your small wedding or elopement is because it’s been very well protected since the start of the Historic Columbia River Highway in 1913. The Washington side of the Gorge boasts a different kind of beauty and though it is a little more developed than the Oregon side, there are still a handful of incredible hikes to waterfalls and viewpoints you could include in your Elopement day. My two favorite Washington Gorge locations I’d recommend are Horse Thief Butte, which is a great location for rock climbing, or the hidden Skamania Stone House. Click here to see Danielle & Cris’ Elopement at the Skamania Stone House! Best Time Of The Year To Elope in the Columbia River Gorge? The Gorge is an amazing location year round however I’d recommend planning your elopement or wedding between when the wildflowers bloom in May to when the first rains falls in September or October. This is the time frame in which is the Gorge is going to be incredibly lush, green, and the waterfalls won’t be flowing wildly hard from the winter melt, making it much easier to get photos by the falls without getting soaked – though I’ll always support you in embracing the elements, especially on your wedding day! Best Trails For Your Columbia River Gorge elopement There are a ton of trails in the Gorge but having hiked every trail multiple times both in Washington and Oregon, these are the ones I’d recommend for your elopement based on multiple factors such as feasibility and space to shoot, the trails have the best natural light for photography, and which ones have the most diversity in landscape. Make sure to note that either daily or annual permits are required at most trailheads in the Columbia River Gorge. For Oregon,

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Romantic Washington Adventure Elopement


One of the first steps in planning your Washington Adventure Elopement or Small Wedding is deciding which season or month most aligns with the vision you have for your day. Are you looking to do a romantic winter elopement in the snow with a cozy log cabin to retreat back to after your ceremony or are you dreaming up an epic backpacking elopement in the backcountry of the Cascades? Maybe you want something in between these! Whatever your vision, and however you define “adventure”, I’m here to help you feel more clear around how you want your day to play out. Below, I’ve shared a breakdown of the weather in Washington by month so you can decide which month is best for your day. If you feel like you are needing some help in your planning, click here to reach out to me via my contact form and I’d love to set up a time to connect with you and your partner! Table of Contents January February March April May June July August September October November December Best Month to Elope in Washington The weather in Washington varies greatly throughout the year and will have a big impact on the experience you want to have for your Adventure Elopement or intimate Nature Wedding. Washington’s climate is greatly influenced by its diverse geography, which ranges from coastal regions to mountainous terrain and everything in between. As a result, the climate can vary significantly depending on the location within the state as well as by the type of climate patterns that occur across the Pacific Ocean. In the most recent years, we’ve experience recurring El Nina which brought a lot more snow than usual and an El Nino in 2023/2024 that dropped significantly less. In general, Washington experiences a temperate maritime climate in the western part of the state, which means that the weather is usually mild and influenced by the nearby ocean. This type of climate tends to have cooler summers and warmer winters compared to places farther from the ocean. Additionally, it often brings plenty of rainfall throughout the year. Additionally, the Cascade Mountain Range divides the state, creating a rain shadow effect where the western side receives more precipitation than the eastern side. The eastern part of the state has a more continental climate, meaning that the weather is usually more extreme, with hotter summers and colder winters compared to places near the coast. This type of climate tends to have larger temperature differences between seasons and less rainfall overall. Here’s a breakdown of what each month is like as the seasons change in Washington so you can determine which month may be best for your Adventure Elopement or Small Wedding in Washington! January Elopements January typically brings cold temperatures and rain to most parts of Washington State. In the western regions, including Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula, temperatures range from 30°F to 50°F (about -1°C to 10°C), with frequent rain showers and a lot of fog. In the eastern regions, such as Spokane and the Columbia River Gorge, temperatures range from 20°F to 40°F (about -7°C to 4°C), with occasional snowfall. January is better suited for indoor weddings or snowy mountain elopements. February Elopements February continues to be cold and wet in the western regions, with temperatures similar to January. Snowfall is possible in the higher elevations, making mountainous areas like the Cascades ideal for winter elopements. In the eastern regions, temperatures remain chilly, but snowfall may be less frequent than earlier in the winter. Not the best for outdoor weddings unless you love the idea of a winter wonderland ceremony. March Elopements March marks the transition to spring in Washington State. The flora starts to bud as temperatures start to gradually warm up, with highs ranging from 40°F to 55°F (about 4°C to 13°C). Rain showers are still common, but the frequency may decrease towards the end of the month. In the eastern regions, temperatures begin to rise as well, with highs ranging from 45°F to 60°F (about 7°C to 16°C). Snowmelt in the mountains creates stunning waterfall backdrops for outdoor ceremonies. April Elopements April brings milder temperatures and the first signs of spring. If Washington wasn’t already incredible, the wildflowers level up the experience! In the western regions, temperatures range from 45°F to 60°F (about 7°C to 16°C), with increasing sunshine and blooming flora in coastal areas and lowland forests. In the eastern regions, temperatures continue to rise, with highs ranging from 55°F to 65°F (about 13°C to 18°C). It’s a beautiful time for outdoor weddings, especially if you have a killer Airbnb for yourself and your guests nearby, as Washington starts to have more sunshine and milder weather. Rain is still common and planning with flexibility in mind can help in making sure you have a great weather window. May Elopements May is a popular month for outdoor weddings in Washington State. The rain is starting to disappear and we are right on the cusp of summer! In the western regions, temperatures range from 50°F to 65°F (about 10°C to 18°C), with longer daylight hours and more consistent sunshine. Coastal areas and alpine meadows come alive with vibrant blooms, providing stunning backdrops for ceremonies. In the eastern regions, temperatures climb into the 60s and 70s°F (about 16°C to 24°C), making it an ideal time for outdoor celebrations in the Cascades, the Olympic Peninsula and along the Columbia River. Unless you are going for a winter elopement in Washington, May is the start of the Pacific Northwest turning into the Garden of Eden. The weather is warm but not too hot, and everything is in full bloom. Perfect for outdoor ceremonies and photos. June Elopements June brings the arrival of summer in Washington State! It’s an excellent time for outdoor weddings, whether you prefer mountain vistas or beachside ceremonies. The only downfall to June in Washington is that depending on the year and the timing of the melting of the snow in higher elevations, it can

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