Adventurous Hiking Elopement – Aspen Colorado Elopement Photographer - Adventure Wedding Photographer

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Adventurous Hiking Elopement – Aspen Colorado Elopement Photographer - Adventure Wedding Photographer

Sunrise Hiking Elopement Near Aspen Colorado — Colorado Adventure Elopement Photographer

Marcela and Vasily

 

“We met over a broken bookshelf.”

That’s what Marcela and Vasily told me about the beginnings of their love story. While living on a tiny island of only about 800 people in Alaska, they were next door neighbors, who didn’t meet for a long time. Vasily remembers seeing Marcela eating at a local diner and hoping that she would come up to him so that he could meet her. When he found out she was his neighbor, his friends and co-workers joked with him that he should go ask to borrow a cup of sugar so he could meet her. Too shy to introduce himself,  one day Vasily saw a bookshelf that Marcela wanted rid of, and had left outside his door with a sticky note, as his chance. Marcela can’t remember what he said when they met but she remembers his smile and calling her mom afterward , joking that she had just met her future husband. Turns out, she was right.

Originally, Marcela and Vasily were planning an intimate wedding with other guests. When the planning started to stray from their original vision, they decided to refocus the day to be about just the two of them, without anyone else’s opinions or involvement. A few months before their big day, they switched to planning a two person intimate elopement, instead of a wedding. They wanted an epic elopement with both mountain views (Marcela's fave) and an intimate forest (Vasily's fave) so I found one of the most stunning hidden-gem hikes I've ever scouted near Aspen, CO—so that they could experience both on their day.

This trail is unnamed with no sign post or designation. It's not on any of the main hiking websites and forums we use as resources to help couples find their elopement destinations. This trail was buried deep on a site with just one person reporting on it. I did some research and found it was only a two mile hike up. So starting at 3 am, before sunrise, Marcela, Vasily and I met and started to hike up in the dark.

Hiking in the dark s a totally surreal & unique experience. You get a sort of "tunnel vision" as you can only see how far your headlamp will show you—and have no idea where the summit is. I find hiking in the dark to actually be easier than hiking during the day. During the day, you keep looking up, trying to find the summit while you hike. Sometimes it’s a false summit or you can psych yourself out by thinking “I have to hike WHERE?!” But when you hike before sunrise, you lose track of time. You’re not aiming for a specific spot in the distance, watching it slowly getting closer to closer. The only thing to focus on is putting one foot in front of the other and anticipating what it’s going to look like when you reach the summit. Hiking before sunrise means the hike actually gets more exciting as time goes on because you can slowly see more and more, as the dark outlines of the horizon become incredible vistas as it gets closer to dawn.

We reached the summit right before sunrise. Marcela and Vasily each chose a secluded spot to get dressed, choosing to change into their wedding clothes separately so they could have a first look. Marcela wore a gorgeous blush colored wedding dress, layered with blush and white, that blew so beautifully in the winds that roar across the Continental Divide. She tapped Vasily on the shoulder right at sunrise, surrounded by stunning mountain ridges. The views of the peaks at the summit reminded me of the mountains in Switzerland or the Italian Alps with their steep, jagged beauty. As the sun continued to rise, they said their vows, through frigid cold that made it hard to even put their handmade rings on each other’s fingers. Marcela and Vasily traveled to a jewelry shop and made their rings together by hammering them out of metal, which added a uniquely cool element to their day.

After their vows, they popped some champagne.We all sat and had breakfast and then wandered around on the ridge to take some photos as the sun came out and warmed the ridge. The mountains absolutely glowed as we walked. Even better, the wildflowers were just starting to be in full bloom at the top. It was lush, green and full of  the distinctive, blue "Forget Me Nots", Marcela’s favorite flower.

Vasily is originally from Ukraine and loves big forests. He was very excited when we decided to trek to the Maroon Bells as their second stunning location for the day. I found a magical aspen forest with huge, straight, tall, very old aspens that were perfectly aligned with a large natural aisle going down the huge hall of forest. Together, Marcela and Vasily hung up their pack hammock in this ethereal forest and took the opportunity to cuddle after saying their vows. We finished the day taking photos at the Maroon Bells, with more stunning mountain views.

Altogether, Marcela and Vasily got an entire day exploring together—with some of the most stunning mountain views I’ve ever seen, with only a four mile hike and an magical aspen forest to boot. They had started planning an intimate wedding but ended up with a day that was just about them, exactly what a wedding should be.

Contact us, if you'd like help planning your own unforgettable & unique elopement or intimate wedding. We'd love to help you create you own "you-centered" day.

 Marcela and Vasily started their elopement day hike before dawn, seeing only the stars and faint outlines of the mountains. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 With the hike illuminated only by their headlamps and a lantern, Marcela and Vasily begin to hike near Independence Pass, hoping to summit before sunrise for their intimate elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily hike in the dark before sunrise, surrounded by the peaks of Independence Pass, Colorado, for their early morning self solemnizing elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 The sun begins to rise at the top of Independence Pass outside Aspen, Colorado. Marcela and Vasily hiked two miles for their intimate elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 With the sun beginning to rise, Marcela and Vasily hike to the summit above Independence Pass in Colorado's Rocky Mountains for their intimate two person elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 The jagged peaks of the Sawatch Range above Independence Pass, between Aspen and Twin Lakes, glow as the sun begins to rise before Marcela and Vasily's intimate elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Dark clouds give way to the pink glow of sunrise on the jagged peaks above Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily chose to get ready separately for their intimate elopement, even though they were the only two on the mountain top, so they could do a first look. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Vasily walks along the ridge above Independence Pass, outside Aspen, Colorado as he waits for his fiance so they can have an intimate first look at more than 12,000 feet elevation. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela approaches Vasily for their intimate first look on top of a mountain ridge at the top of Independence Pass. Even though they had an intimate two person elopement, they were able to get ready separately and have a first look. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela taps Vasily on the shoulder for their first look with the jagged peaks of the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains behind them before their intimate two person elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Vasily sees his fiance Marcela for the first time before their intimate two person self solemnizing elopement on the top of Independence Pass, outside Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Surrounded by wildflowers and the pink glow of sunrise at more than 12,000 feet elevation, Marcela and Vasily share a kiss during their first look. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Wrapped in a blanket as alpine winds whip around her, Marcela wipes away a tear while Vasily reads his vows during their intimate two person self solemnizing elopement ceremony on the top of Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Surrounded by alpenglow as the sun begins to rise, Marcela and Vasily say their vows during their intimate elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily read their vows to each other during their self solemnizing intimate two person elopement ceremony at the top of Independence Pass outside Aspen Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Vasily wipes away a tear reading his vows to his bride as the sun begins to rise around them above Independence Pass outside Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Her blush wedding dress covered in a blanket to protect her from high winds at the top of Independence Pass, Marcela reads her vows during their intimate two person elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily's intimate self solemnizing wedding included them reading their own vows, while surrounded by the high, jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily share their first kiss as man and wife on the top of Independence Pass, following their intimate elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 With the jagged mountains of the Sawatch Range glowing pink around them, Marcela and Vasily share their first kiss after their intimate self solemnizing elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 To celebrate following their intimate self solemnizing adventure elopement ceremony, Marcela and Vasily pop open a bottle of champagne on the top of Independence Pass, outside Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily pop open a bottle of champagne after their intimate self solemnizing ceremony that they hiked to the top of Independence Pass for. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 To celebrate their elopement ceremony, Marcela and Vasily opened a bottle of champagne and drank it while surrounded by the jagged peaks of the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace at the top of Independence Pass as the wind blows her blush colored wedding dress following their self solemnizing elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace at the top of Independence Pass after their intimate elopement, with only the two of them in attendance. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 With dark clouds and the jagged peaks of the Sawatch Range behind them, Marcela and Vasily walk along the ridge at the top of Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Stunningly jagged peaks lit by the rising sun loom before Marcela and Vasily as they walk away from their hiking elopement ceremony on the top of Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela's blush wedding dress was layered with both blush and white layers. It blew beautifully in the wind on the Continental Divide above Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Newlyweds Marcela and Vasily share an emabrace on the top of Independence Pass following their intimate self solemnizing elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily handmade their rings for their self solemnize elopement ceremony on the top of the Rocky Mountains at Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela twirls her blush colored wedding dress with the jagged peaks of the Sawatch Range behind her after her elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily hike down following their adventure elopement ceremony on the top of Independence Pass, outside Aspen Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Wearing her blush wedding gown, Marcela hikes down with her new husband Vasily, following their hiking adventure elopement ceremony on the top of Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily hike along the ridge at the top of Independence Pass after their elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace at the top of Independence Pass following their self solemnizing elopement as a bird flies behind them. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 The jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountain's Sawatch Range rise behind them as Marcela and Vasily embrace on the top of Independence Pass following their outdoor hiking elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace on the top of Independence Pass following their adventurous outdoor sunrise hiking elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace at the top of Independence Pass, outside Aspen, Colorado, following their hiking elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Following their elopement ceremony at the top of Independence Pass, Marcela and Vasily hike through old growth aspen forests outside the Maroon Bells. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Old growth aspen forest towers above Marcela and Vasily outside the Maroon Bells following their outdoor self solemnizing elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily run through a hall of old growth aspen trees outside the Maroon Bells outside Aspen Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 In old growth forests outside Aspen, Colorado's Maroon Bells, Marcela and Vasily hang a pack hammock following their outdoor elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily hang a pack hammock from old growth aspen trees outside the Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado following their outdoor hiking elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Following their hiking elopement ceremony at the top of Independence Pass, Marcela and Vasily cuddle in a pack hammock surrounded by old growth aspen trees outside the Maroon Bells. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily are dwarfed in their pack hammock, hanging between old growth aspen trees outside the Maroon Bells, following their intimate elopement ceremony at the top of Independence Pass. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace outside in a pack hammock while surrounded by giant aspen trees in a forest outside the Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 After their sunrise hiking elopement ceremony on the top of Independence Pass, Marcela and Vasily embrace in a hammock strung between two old growth aspen trees. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Surrounded by giant old aspen trees, Marcela and Vasily embrace following their intimate self solemnizing elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace while surrounded by old aspen trees following their elopement ceremony at the top of Independence Pass outside Aspen, Coloardo. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 With Colorado's famous Maroon Bells behind them, Marcela and Vasily embrace following their intimate elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily ended their epic hiking elopement day with a trip to the famous Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 The Maroon Bells of Aspen, Colorado make for a stunning background for Marcela and Vasily's intimate elopement day. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.
 Marcela and Vasily embrace at the Maroon Bells, following their intimate elopement ceremony on the top of Independence Pass outside Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead.

Colorado Hiking Elopement Photographer & Guide: Maddie Mae 
Venues: "Trail that shall not be named" near Aspen, CO & the Maroon Bells
 


Hi! We're Amber & Maddie. We are adventurous elopement photographers & guides based in Colorado that travel worldwide to help fearless couples like you create your unforgettable, wildly different wedding experience—that is completely yours.

If you would like help dreaming up your intimate wedding day, a customized elopement location idea list just for you, planning tools, vendor recommendations, and a creative, laid-back, documentary approach to your adventurous wedding photography—we would love to help you make your adventure elopement dreams come true.

Don't let the wedding industry swallow you whole.
Let us help you create the perfect day with no regrets.

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Great Sand Dunes National Park Elopement - Colorado Elopement Photographer

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Great Sand Dunes National Park Elopement - Colorado Elopement Photographer

Olivia & Justin

Olivia and Justin love traveling together in their vintage camper so a road trip elopement was the perfect fit for them. They traveled up from Florida for a Great Sand Dunes National Park elopement, located in southern Colorado near Alamosa and Crestone and parked the camper outside a rented cabin. From start to finish, everything about Olivia and Justin’s day was intentional, thought out and beautifully focused on them. This elopement might have had the most amazing details of any elopement I’ve photographed with Olivia’s stunning dried wildflower bouquet, which she made herself, her two piece wedding dress, with a fur vest from a thrift store, and, of course, the inclusion of their adorable camper.

We hiked into Zapata Falls, a beautiful quarter mile each direction hike. Being January, the falls were frozen but it made for a gorgeous natural ice castle and stunning scenery for photos. Zapata Falls has a completely different vibe than the Great Sand Dunes National Park, so we got two sceneries in one day and endless opportunities for gorgeous photos. We stopped by the side of the road on our way from Zapata Falls to Great Sand Dunes for more photos of Olivia and Justin inside their camper. Their story is about their love of travel and being together, about exploring and having adventures together, and the camper features heavily into the story.

As we made our way into the dunes themselves, Olivia and Justin hadn’t picked a spot for where they were going to say their vows. I asked them to feel it out and find the spot that felt right. That’s the great thing about being an adventure elopement photographer - there’s no one spot where couples have to say vows because there’s no ceremony spot, no waiting guests. It’s about you as a couple and finding the spot that feels right to you. Eventually, Olivia and Justin settled on a spot in the east end of the dune field, where there are more untouched dunes with stunning mountain views. I mark the GPS coordinates for each couple where they decide to say their vows, so they have the memory of their spot. Olivia and Justin loved knowing the exact coordinates so much, they got matching tattoos of them the next day.

They said their personal, handwritten and very heartfelt vows to each other in a beautiful and emotional ceremony. Everyone cried, including me. After their ceremony, I always give couples ten minutes to themselves to just enjoy the fact that they got married. We don’t take photos; I just let them be. Then they popped some champagne and we watched the sun set across the dunes before heading back to the cabin.

Olivia and Justin parked their camper outside the cabin and built an enormous bonfire. When it was time for their first dance, they played their first song on a vintage record player. With gifted jars of green chile they had picked up in New Mexico in hand, we left Olivia and Justin to dance by the light of the bonfire.

 A cabin outside Great Sand Dunes National Park where Olivia and Justin got ready for their winter adventure elopement.
Great-Sand-Dunes-National-Park-Elopement_0002.jpg
 A hand picked and dried floral bouquet, fur vest, and new white hiking boots were some of the details for Olivia and Justin's winter wedding. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin getting ready for their Great Sand Dunes National Park winter elopement in a cabin and refurbished trailer. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Justin getting ready for his winter adventure elopement outside Alamosa, Colorado at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia getting her hair done and getting ready for her winter elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Extra layers of clothing, including white leggings and extra warm white socks were important for Olivia's bridal outfit during her outdoor winter elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin before seeing each other outside Alamosa, Colorado for their winter elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Justin knocks on the door of his refurbished trailer for his first look of his bride outside Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin have their first look outside their refurbished travel trailer before their winter elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin outside their cabin near Great Sand Dunes National Park before their winter adventure elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin hike up to frozen Zapata Falls outside Great Sand Dunes National Park before their winter elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin sit on a log outside Zapata Falls, frozen in ice, during their winter elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin standing on frozen ice during their January winter elopement wedding on Zapata Falls in Southern Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin on the frozen Zapata Falls outside Great Sand Dunes National Park in Southern Colorado during their winter adventure elopement wedding. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Hiking through frozen Zapata Falls on ice, Olivia kept warm on her wedding day with a fur vest and maroon blanket. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin stand surrounded by ice at the frozen Zapata Falls outside Great Sand Dunes National Park for their winter elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Zapata Falls forms a natural ice cave around Olivia and Justin during their winter wedding elopement in Southern Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Ice cascades around Olivia and Justin from the frozen waterfall at Zapata Falls before their winter adventure elopement in Southern Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Cuddling in their refurbished trailer, Olivia and Justin take a few minutes to warm up after exploring frozen Zapata Falls. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin cuddle in their refurbished trailer before their winter wedding outside Southern Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin cuddle and keep warm during their winter wedding elopement outside Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Cuddling inside the trailer they refurbished, Olivia and Justin take a break during their winter adventure destination elopement outside Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin outside their refurbished Fiber Stream trailer for their wilderness wedding. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin's couple photos near their refurbished Fiber Stream trailer that they road tripped across the US in for their Southern Colorado winter elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin run alongside their renovated Fiber Stream camping trailer before their winter elopement at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 A winter Great Sand Dunes National Park Elopement in Southern Colorado near Alamosa
 The sand patterns of Great Sand Dunes National Park in January before a winter adventure elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin run through the Great Sand Dunes National Park for their winter adventure elopement.
 The Great Sand Dunes National Park makes a great place for a winter adventure elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Exploring the wide open Great Sand Dunes National Park in Southern Colorado before their winter elopement wedding ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin kiss at the Great Sand Dunes National Park before their winter elopement wedding ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 The only two people on the dunes, Olivia and Justin hold each other close during their winter adventure elopement at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin explore Great Sand Dunes National Park together before their winter elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin walk the Great Sand Dunes National Park together during their adventure elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Walking hand in hand along the dunes before their winter elopement, Olivia and Justin were the only two out for their ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin run hand in hand as bride and groom before their winter wedding ceremony at the Great Sand Dunes. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 The wind blows Olivia's white bridal skirt as she walks along Great Sand Dunes National Park during a winter adventure elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Running along the dunes before their winter Colorado Elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin have a self solemnizing ceremony for their wilderness elopement at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin read their vows to each other during their self solemnize ceremony at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 The bride reads her vows at their two person small elopement ceremony outdoors at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia cries reading her vows to Justin during their intimate self solemnizing elopement wedding ceremony at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Emotions ran high during Olivia and Justin's private wedding ceremony that was just the two of them in the midst of huge sand dunes in Southern Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin's emotional wedding ceremony was witnessed only by themselves and  their photographer. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin stand on the dunes during their private, intimate wedding elopement ceremony at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Standing along on top of the dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Southern Colorado for a self solemnizing wedding elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin share their first kiss as man and wife after their intimate adventure elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Newly married, Olivia and Justin embrace after their intimate elopement on top of the dunes in Southern Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 During their private elopement ceremony, Olivia and Justin exchange rings. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 On top of the dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park, Olivia and Justin celebrate saying their vows in an intimate ceremony by popping a bottle of champagne. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin celebrate their recent vows on top of Great Sand Dunes National Park by popping a bottle of champagne. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Bride and groom enjoy a long walk alone after their intimate self solemnizing ceremony on top of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Bride and groom walk through the Great Sand Dunes National Park after their intimate elopement wedding ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 The Great Sand Dunes National Park is a great Colorado elopement venue especially in the winter where you can be totally alone. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Walking along the dunes together after their intimate wedding ceremony, Olivia and Justin explore the National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin take some time to themselves after hiking the dunes of Great Sand Dunes National Park during their intimate elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Walking through the desert after their elopement at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Southern Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 The light shines through Olivia's skirt as she spins for her new husband after their self solemnizing ceremony at The Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 The sun sets at Great Sand Dunes National Park for Olivia and Justin's intimate Great Sand Dunes National Park winter elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Driving their refurbished trailer, Olivia and Justin leave the Great Sand Dunes National Park following their winter elopement ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Cabin lit up at night outside Great Sand Dunes National Park in Southern Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Fire set up outside a cabin in Great Sand Dunes National Park after a winter wedding elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Elopement desert table with a record table, chocolate cake, cookies and champagne for newly married couple Olivia and Justin. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Cake can still be had at elopements! Choose your own wedding traditions to keep or ditch and make your intimate wedding your own. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Newly wed couple Olivia and Justin sit by the fire outside Great Sand Dunes National Park after their winter elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin keep each other warm after their intimate adventure wedding at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Sparks literally fly as Olivia and Justin sit by the fire with each other after their winter elopement ceremony at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Sitting by the fire together in their winter wedding attire after their self solemnizing ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin cuddle up next to the fire after their intimate adventure elopement wedding ceremony outside Great Sand Dunes National Park in Southern Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Newlywed couple has their first dance outside their refurbished trailer after their intimate outdoor elopement in Southern Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin share their first dance as a married couple by firelight outside Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin share their first dance after their winter elopement ceremony at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Southern Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Dancing by firelight after their self solemnizing ceremony at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Southern Colorado. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Cutting the cake after their winter elopement ceremony at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.
 Olivia and Justin stand outside their refurbished trailer at the end of the day of their intimate winter wedding. Photo by Maddie Mae Photo, Adventures Instead.

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Lago Di Braies Elopement - Pragser Wildsee Wedding - Italy Destination Elopement Photographer - Dolomite Mountains Italian Alps Elopement Photographer

16 Comments

Lago Di Braies Elopement - Pragser Wildsee Wedding - Italy Destination Elopement Photographer - Dolomite Mountains Italian Alps Elopement Photographer

Rachael & Emily

I have known Rachael for almost 10 years now, so when she told me that she was engaged to her girlfriend Emily and planning to elope—I was absolutely thrilled out of my mind. I got to know these two through their long-running tradition of "Adventure Tuesdays." They both had Tuesdays off due to their work schedule, and would each week plan a new hike, road trip, or place to explore. I joined along whenever I could, and they inspired me to make this a tradition in my own relationship. So when they got engaged, it was only perfectly fitting that Rachael & Emily chose to have an adventurous destination elopement in a new place they hadn't explored before—the Dolomites (Italian Alps)—their most adventurous Tuesday ever. 

One of the most fun parts of the process of working with couples planning destination elopements, is assisting in the dreaming & exploring process and giving all of my best suggestions for locations for their ceremony & portraits. I spent countless hours scouring all of my favorite resources of maps, forums, and software to find the absolute most gorgeous views in South Tryol—which in my opinion is the most beautiful part of the Dolomites. I found a series of mountain passes that we could explore as well as the beautiful & iconic Lago Di Braies as a perfect place to say their vows in a bit of a warmer place than on top of a snowy mountain pass.

We started the day with a first look at sunrise right outside of their amazing AirBnB, which had the most incredible views—we could have happily stayed their all day, but we hit the road, and headed on our journey through the most beautiful scenery I've seen in my life. The Dolomites in May were very cold, with brutal winds at the top of these vistas and still plenty of snow—but these two kept each other warm—and when it came time to say their vows, I had a hard time looking through my viewfinder through all the tears. The scenery that we saw that day was unlike anything I've ever experienced. The Alps are truly world class, and as a die-hard mountain lover, I was in absolute heaven and I can't wait to go back. 

 Starting off in Ortisei in South Tryol (Val Gardena), in Northern Italy, the morning sun shone brightly while Rachael & Emily got ready for their intimate Italian elopement in the Dolomites. Photos by Maddie Mae Photography.
 Their simple wedding bands, a symbol of their eternal love, were some of the only details that these ladies brought for their adventurous mountain elopement in the Italian Dolomites.
 Wearing white and showing off her freckles, they anxiously got ready in separate rooms. Keeping the tradition of a first look before embarking on their Italian Dolomite mountain ceremony. Photo by Maddie Mae Photography.
 Making sure that they could wander and hike in their white wedding dresses was important to this wanderlust loving couple. Their love as wild as the wind and spanning taller than the Dolomites where they would hold their intimate wedding ceremony with photographer Maddie Mae in tow.
 Patiently waiting for her bride and taking in the grand view of South Tryol in Northern Italy had to offer, she found her nerves calm when she would have been so anxious on her on her wedding day. Photo by Maddie Mae Photography.
 Down in the valley of Ortisei, the town was lush green. A stark change from the high alpine terrain of the Dolomites where these adventurous brides would be heading to for their intimate mountain elopement ceremony. Images by Maddie Mae Photography.
 Meandering their way into the high alpine terrain of the Dolomite Mountains in Northern Italy, this couple was in for some of the most breathtaking views for their intimate elopement. Photo by Maddie Mae Photography.
 Taking their time to find the perfect intimate ceremony spot amongst the snow with the Dolomites looking down on them they began their hiking adventure for their non-traditional wedding ceremony. Photos by Maddie Mae Photography.
 As the fog began to roll out from the highest peaks of the Dolomites and the wind began to pick up, these adventurous brides continued wandering through the foot hills with an oversized bouquet to find their perfect intimate elopement ceremony location. Photos by Maddie Mae Photography.
 Pausing to enjoy the company as the high alpine Dolomite wind rushed around them. These stunning brides radiated love far beyond the Northern Italian mountainside where they were about to celebrate their intimate elopement. Captured by Maddie Mae Photography.
 As the fog rolled in slowly they stopped to take in the amazing Northern Italian Dolomite mountains where they had picked for their intimate elopement ceremony. Photos by traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 Their love could be felt through over the hills and well into the Dolomite mountains where these adventurous brides choose to have their intimate elopement ceremony. Inviting only their wedding photographer, Maddie Mae, to be their witness as they said, "I do."
 With the wind whipping through their hair these stunning brides continued their hunt for the perfect intimate elopement ceremony location high in the Italian Dolomite Mountains. Captured by Colorado wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 While keeping much of their intimate elopement simple, these brides did opt for an oversized spring flower bouquet brilliantly designed by Il Profumo dei fiori flower design in Northern Italy. Photos by adventurous wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 Donning a fur stole and simple but stunning white wedding dress, the love that E felt for R could be felt for miles through the Italian Dolomites where this adventurous couple picked for their intimate elopement. Photos by wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 The simplicity of this intimate elopement, punctuated with the incredible oversized spring flower bouquet made with care by Il Profumo dei fiori flower design. It held up through their adventurous hiking elopement through the Italian Dolomites. Photos by Maddie Mae Photography.
 Making their way down from Gardena Pass in the Italian Dolomites the snowy landscape began to fade giving way to more lush valleys below. Photo by intimate wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 There are few things as simply sweet as a long and loving embrace surrounded by snow and jagged rocks in the Italian Dolomite mountains where these brides picked for their intimate elopement ceremony. Photos by traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 While most couples find themselves in a church or hall for their wedding ceremonies, these adventurous brides threw tradition to the wind and traveled to the Italian Dolomites for their intimate elopement with only their wedding photographer, Maddie Mae as their witness.
 Gardena Pass in the Italian Dolomites provided these adventurous brides with all the high alpine views and wild wind for their intimate elopement. Photos by intimate wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 Hiking their way down the Italian Dolomites' Gardena Pass and on to their next location for their intimate and non-traditional elopement through Northern Italy with wedding photographer Maddie Mae by their sides to capture every sweet moment.
 Watching the Dolomites get smaller and smaller and the landscape get greener and greener this adventurous couple made their way down to Lake Braise for their intimate wedding ceremony with photographer Maddie Mae in tow. 
 Taking in the sights, surrounded by the views of their dreams. These gorgeous brides picked the perfect spot along Lake Braise with the Dolomites behind them for their intimate elopement ceremony. Photos captured by traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 With no one in sight, they put down their oversized bouquet and began their intimate elopement ceremony with only their adventurous wedding photographer as their witness. This Dolomite mountain elopement captured by Maddie Mae Photography.
 Holding tightly to each other and making promises for their future while the wind blew next to Lake Braise at the foothills of the Dolomite mountains where these gorgeous brides eloped. Adventurous wedding photographer Maddie Mae captured each tender moment of this intimate Italian elopement. 
 Sharing their first kiss at Lake Braise with the Italian Dolomites in the background was the most surreal setting for these non-traditional brides who opted for a hiking elopement through Northern Italy for their wedding. Photo by intimate wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 There are few moments as sweet and honest as the embrace after an intimate elopement. With no one around, these gorgeous brides fell into sheer bliss at Lake Braise in Northern Italy where they had just said, "I do" at their intimate elopement. Captured by traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 The old chateau style buildings were a real treat for this history loving and adventurous pair. They opted out of the traditional wedding and chose to adventure through Northern Italy for their intimate elopement. Photos by traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 Pausing to take in the moment, the one where they realized they were wed in their dreamy location of Lake Braise with the Italian Dolomites surrounding them. These brides had lived their dream of eloping together with only their intimate wedding photographer Maddie Mae looking on.
 Walking along Lake Braise with the Italian Dolomites looking down on them. These adventurous brides knew they had found the place where they wanted to share their vows. Photo by intimate wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 These stunning brides smiled and snuggled next to the Italian lake where they had just said their intimate elopement vows at the foothills of the Dolomites. Photos of this epic romantic destination elopement by traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 With the sun shining brightly they spent their first few minutes of married life walking along the water of Lake Braise with the Italian Dolomites in front of them. This intimate elopement captured by traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 Running off into the forest, starting off their wedded life as they had always dreamed - with an adventure through Northern Italy, no one around but their intimate wedding photographer Maddie Mae to capture each step of their incredible day. 
 The changing landscape of Lake Braise made for a gorgeous backdrop for this intimate Northern Italian elopement, photographed by traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 After their intimate elopement ceremony, they wandered through the tall pines of Lake Braise, almost loosing their oversized bouquet by Il Profumo dei fiori flower design to the wind. Photos by wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 No wedding is complete until a bottle of champagne is popped! These gorgeous brides in the forests near Lake Braise in Northern Italy for their intimate elopement. Captured by Maddie Mae Photography. 

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Kauai Hiking Elopement • Hawaii Adventure Wedding Photographer • Hawaii Elopement Photographer

23 Comments

Kauai Hiking Elopement • Hawaii Adventure Wedding Photographer • Hawaii Elopement Photographer

Kourtney & Chris

Hawaii was one of those places that I was pretty skeptical about visiting—I really didn't think I would enjoy it. I imagined Hawaii being full of overrated beach resorts, too many tourists, and not enough real adventure for my taste. Wow...was I wrong. 

Kauai was one of the most magical places I have been and it absolutely captivated me. Particularly the Koke'e State Park & Waimea Canyon areas were simply awe-inspiring. Kauai is the oldest of Hawaii's volcanic islands and the 4,000 ft cliffs of vegetation-covered cliffs going straight into the sea is a crazy sight. It's almost an optical illusion to be that close to the ocean and also so high above it—the line is almost blurred where the sky meets the sea on the horizon. 

When Kourtney (a great photographer herself) invited me to document their intimate wedding on Kauai, I was incredibly honored. She tasked me with finding the most epic views for an epic day-after session for them and I scoured the Island for just the right hike. I absolutely love helping couples find incredibly unique & secluded locations to say their vows and have a one-of-a-kind adventure.

This particular trailhead is totally unmarked—it starts when you open a secret gate and start hiking down an insanely steep & muddy trail. It's more of a locals secret—probably because it's one of the scariest trails I've done in my life. We hiked along the 4,000 ft ridge with steep drop-offs on each side—this one was definitely not for the faint of heart. If it was any muddier, it would be nearly impassible without dying. We met at the trailhead before sunrise and had it all to ourselves—truly an absolutely unforgettable morning. 

I'm so happy to be heading back to Hawaii in April! Get in touch if you'd like to chat about an adventurous session or elopement while I'm there. 

 High on the hilltops above the shorelines of Kauai where most people think of when they envision Hawaii, Kourtney and Chris said their vows privately at an intimate elopement ceremony with their traveling wedding photographer, Maddie Mae.
 With the Hawaiian sun behind them, causing them to glow Kourtney and Chris hiked down the Kalepa Ridge Trail in Kauai to a private location to say their intimate elopement vows privately with only their traveling adventure wedding photographer Maddie Mae as their witness. 
 They found a clearing in the trees and suddenly felt like they were transported from their tropical destination elopement in Hawaii to another world of tall grasses and random twisted trees. They smiled affectionately at each other as their intimate elopement photographer Maddie Mae captured each romantic moment.
 Hiking their way along the narrow path of Kalepa Ridge Trail, Kourtney and Chris paused to take in the incredible sights of Kauai where they were about to elope privately with only their intimate traveling elopement photographer Maddie Mae as their witness.
 The Hawaiian sun high in the sky lighting up this romantic adventurous couple. The twisted trees of Kokee State Park framing them perfectly as they meandered their way to the perfect location for their intimate elopement ceremony. Photos of this epic Kauai hiking elopement by traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 Deep in conversation, as though no one was around, Kourtney and Chris made their way through Kalalau Valley where the ferns at their sides were a mess of shaggy greenery and the twisted trees looking perfect to climb. Photos of this intimate Kauai hiking elopement by traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 Climbing the trees like they were kids, they stopped to realize how truly magical their elopement day was - celebrating each minute of it exactly how they wanted to, with adventure. Photos of this awesome Hawaiian elopement in Kauai's Kokee State Park by intimate wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 They hiked their way around the bend of the Kalalau Lookout in Kauai, high above the beach, ocean and clouds. These adventurous lovebirds threw tradition to the wind and opted for a destination elopement to Hawaii where they hiked Kokee State Park with only their intimate elopement photographer Maddie Mae.
 Among the warm Hawaiian sunlight and hight above the Kauai beaches along the Kalepa Ridge Trail Kourtney and Chris had found the perfect location for their intimate elopement. Their destination wedding was nothing traditional as they hiked in Kokee State Park for a private elopement ceremony with just their traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 The sun hung low in the afternoon sky as Kourtney and Chris said their vows at Kokee State Park on Kauai. Their adventurous Hawaiian elopement avoided the touristy beaches and instead they chose to hike to Kalalau Lookout with their intimate traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae.
 Taking a detour off the beaten path Kourtney and Chris shared an intimate moment among the spindly trees in Kokee State Park where they had just privately eloped high above the Kauai beaches, getting to see a part of Hawaii most people don't even know exists. Photos of this romantic adventure around Kalaulau Valley by traveling elopement photographer Maddie Mae.
 Basking in the warm Hawaiian sun and realizing that they had just begun the adventure of a lifetime with the most epic hike through Kauai's  Kokee State Park for their intimate elopement. They chose to say their vows privately high above the touristy beaches with only their traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae as their witness.
 They wandered in and out of the trees to the cliff sides of Kalepa Ridge Trail on their intimate Hawaiian elopement adventure. Kourtney and Chris along with their traveling wedding photographer Maddie Mae, hiked in the warm Kauai sun through Kokee State Park for this romantic elopement.