- Bethany Beckley
The art of eloping and why scaling down is really scaling up!
The year was 2020. You sat at your desk pinning photos of your dream wedding and ordering invitations to 150 of the people you hold near and dear to your heart. Fast forward a few weeks. Everything has changed. All of the planning you have been doing, all of the sleep you have lost and deposits you have paid, everything comes to a halt. What now? How can we possibly have a wedding now? You pick up the phone to start post posing and cancelling and in the meantime you queue up some more sleepless nights. Sound familiar?
Elopements have blown up in a big way this year and I couldn't be happier about it. Every "regular" wedding I have shot always poses one question after the fact: "Why did we invite all these people?" a marriage is a vow to one another that you will be there for each other. That you dedicate yourself to grow with, learn with and accept each other through your ups and downs. Think about the vows you have written out. Think about your love story. That doesn't have to stop because life threw a wrench in your plans. In fact, maybe that wrench served as a reminder that the love you have for each other is more important than your wedding plans.
Getting to share this moment on a smaller scale with less distractions is a gift. Less people = less stress and more time to really relish in the most intimate moment of your lives together. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have an abundance of beauty around us. Not only does it make the most beautiful backdrop for your wedding photos, it also provides a setting to express just why you fell in love in the first place. Feeling the wind in your hair, the sun on your face and hearing the sound of the birds is something you can't buy.
Maybe it isn't that your big wedding plans fell through. Maybe eloping was your plan all along. More and more couples are realizing that an adventurous elopement in the great outdoors speaks to them and it is obvious to see why! You get to save money, have more freedom, and have an experience that you will remember when you are old and grey.
So now that you have decided to elope, where are you going to do it? Most state parks, national forests and BLM land have no permits and no rules against eloping. The best part is that many of the locations allow you to do this without spending a penny. Put on your hiking boots and get ready to adventure, because I am going to share with you prime locations in the United States you can make the perfect backdrop to your own elopement.
Where do I start with the North Cascades? This is one of the most profoundly beautiful areas I have gotten to explore and offers a stunning backdrop around every. single. corner. Countless trails, a ski resort and the striking layers of the Cascade range surround you in this PNW dreamland. North Cascades National Park is one of the least visited national parks and they have no entrance fee to go and enjoy the park. Drive in, lace up and get ready to have the best day of your life.
Not only is the Columbia River one of the largest rivers in the country, but it has carved out an impeccable landscape and serves as the state line separating Oregon and Washington. You will see this one on almost every elopement location list and there is a reason for that. With over 80 miles of waterfalls, canyons and islands there is something everyone can enjoy. Fancy kayaking to your wedding destination? Yeah, me too.
Zion is profoundly beautiful. With famous trails like Angels Rest, The Narrows and Watchtower Mountain there is so much to see and do in such a small area. This slot canyon boasts beautiful red rocks, a cool temp river and plenty of greenery. Utah is full of National Parks, but there is a reason this one is so iconic. It stays warm even in the later months while offering less crowds making this a perfect off season elopement location.
Laguna Beach remains one of the most stunning slices of coastline this side of the country has to offer. You find endless kelp forests, friendly marine life and a surfers haven. With pristinely clear water and impeccable rock formations there is no way to have a bad wedding photo here. Moss Cove is a lesser known beach that is small, intimate and allows you to go from "I do" to free diving in the kelp fields without having to take a step.
Taos has quickly become one of my favorite places under the sun. Nestled in the mountains at about 7,000 feet is this quirky little Southwestern town. There is a thriving art scene, the historic Taos Pueblo and Wheeler Peak that sits at above 13,000 feet. Taos offers a ski in ski out resort that will make ski and snowboard lovers swoon. New Mexico is the home of hatch chilies and Taos has so much local food you can eat your heart out.