Columbia River Gorge Wedding at an Airbnb
It’s no secret around here that I’m a fan of adventure weddings, and I really think this secluded, intimate Columbia River Gorge wedding is about to make you a big fan of them, too! So, hold on to your computers, friends, and scroll on to read the sweet story behind this wedding day in the Columbia River Gorge.
Meet the couple from this Columbia River Gorge wedding
I first met Juliana and Zach when I got to take their engagement photos at Gold Creek Pond back in the fall. Their Adventure Session was so fun, so naturally I was so stoked to get to capture their Columbia River Gorge wedding day.
Juliana and Zach wanted to elope, but they realized their families wanted to be a part of their wedding day. So, they landed on the idea of a small, intimate wedding ceremony at a lodge tucked away in the woods of the Columbia River Gorge. Their day began before sunrise as Juliana began to get ready in their Airbnb wedding venue. It was a cloudy winter day with no rain in sight (which is a big deal during a Pacific Northwest winter).
They hiked into the forest for their first look, but before they saw each other, Juliana and Zach read letters they had written to each other. Zach, being the engineer that he is, wrote Juliana’s letter on graphing paper. How incredible is that? That sweet detail left tears in her eyes (and mine!!).
After we got back to their Airbnb lodge, they said to their guests, “Let’s walk outside and get married!” The guests stood and gathered around them among the forest as they said, “I do!” Their entire Columbia River Gorge wedding day was so laid back and truly their own. All planning, catering and florals were created by my friend Erika, who owns The Greatest Adventure Wed. The details were simple, whimsical and full of life.
One of my favorite moments with my couples on their wedding day is right after their ceremony. I always whisk them away from the ceremony-to-reception-transitional-craziness that can happen to capture that initial bliss after becoming husband and wife. Juliana and Zach went down to a riverbank in the Columbia River Gorge for their portrait photos. Then, in true Juliana and Zach fashion, they took some tequila shots before heading back up for their reception. Their friends and family all gathered together in their Airbnb lodge, shared speeches, watched their first dance and enjoyed the warmth of a roaring fire kept ablaze by wood freshly cut by one of their friends.
Best Columbia River Gorge adventure wedding locations: Mollie’s top four picks
Does Juliana and Zach’s intimate Columbia River Gorge wedding day have you dreaming of your own adventure wedding day? I’m sharing my top location recommendations for adventure weddings in the Columbia River Gorge below:
Columbia River Gorge waterfall
Forest surrounded by pines (of course!)
Columbia River Gorge overlook
Tie the knot at a Columbia River Gorge Airbnb wedding venue
I really love when my couples use Airbnbs during their adventure wedding day, and there are some incredible airbnb options near the Columbia River Gorge! Airbnbs can add so much creativity and flair to the day and the images, too (yes please!). Want to add something extra special to your elopement or adventure wedding? What about a reception or first look in a cozy Frank Lloyd Wright inspired cabin? Or a cute, cozy 1920s vintage cabin in the woods? I think you get the point. Did I mention I’m a huge fan of airbnbs yet?! I even wrote a full guide to how to get the most out of your airbnb wedding (keep reading!). Oh, and here’s the exact Airbnb where Juliana and Zach got married. (so dreamy right!?!)
Exchange your vows at the base of a Columbia River Gorge waterfall
Did you know there are eight iconic waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge? Or that they range in height from 65 feet to over 600 feet? Or that there are at least eight different types of waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, from the classic “plunge” to horsetails, to plunge waterfalls? Why not get married at the base of one of nature’s most powerful natural phenomena, surrounded by nothing but mist and the echo of the falls? I’d be happy to join too, but you may forget I’m there. One of the greatest compliments I receive is when couples say they forgot I was there! If this has you dreaming of chasing waterfalls, (and the answer is always yes you should!) you’ll want to visit my blog Columbia River Gorge waterfall vow renewal for everything you need to know to plan your own waterfall elopement.
Elope deep in the forest of the Columbia River Gorge
It may be my bias towards pine trees talking, but I truly believe a forest is one of the top landscapes for an elopement and this intimate forest elopement will prove it! The Columbia River Gorge has everything from old growth western hemlock to Douglas fir to walls of spring green moss. Once you get into the forest a bit, it can be moody, misty and vibrant, and the way the light reflects off and through the trees is pretty much a recipe for your own fairytale forest wedding. Did someone say recipe? I will definitely bring the snacks! Bonus: some forest hikes in this area also offer incredible views of the Columbia River Gorge.
Say “I do” overlooking the Columbia River Gorge
Last but absolutely not least on my list for top locations for your Columbia River Gorge wedding is a Columbia River Gorge overlook. I’m a huge fan of overlooks and fire lookouts because who doesn’t love big, expansive 360-views as your backdrop? And the only way it can get better is if you’re exchanging vows with your best friend and soon-to-be life partner! The Columbia River Gorge is actually home to the “the oldest scenic byway in the nation” and was named “King of the Roads” (Backroad Planet). I have some amazing locations in mind, so reach out to me if you’re ready to begin planning your Columbia River Gorge wedding!
Want more ideas for where to elope? I’ve got you covered:
Columbia River Gorge conditions after the Eagle Creek Fire: things to keep in mind when planning your Columbia River Gorge wedding
In July 2017, a 15-year-old started the Eagle Creek Fire, a massive wildfire (it was over 48,000 acres) in the Columbia River Gorge. Over 121 miles of national forest trails were affected. Although many of the trails have reopened, some of the U.S. Forest Service and State Park trails in the Columbia River Gorge area are still closed. The Columbia River Gorge was already a dynamic area before this fire, and a massive fire like this can definitely change the risks you might encounter. (For example, the Eagle Creek Fire increased flood and landslide risks in the Columbia River Gorge).
With that in mind, here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as you plan your Columbia River Gorge wedding:
Read the Forest Service’s guide on safety tips for the Columbia River Gorge burn areas
Check trail conditions
Check weather conditions
After a wildfire of this size, there are a few specific risks you’ll want to keep in mind. Specifically, falling or fallen trees, rocks, holes from burned root systems. There’s also increased chances of landslides or mudslides especially during high winds or storms. The Forest Service put together a comprehensive guide with a list of 10 safety tips for burn areas. So, my first recommendation is that you pop on over there and read that so you know what to expect! Either way, you’ll want to check the trail conditions to make sure the trail you were thinking about is open. You should also check weather conditions and be especially mindful if there might be high wind or storms when you’re in the area.
Planning a Columbia River Gorge Airbnb wedding: a complete guide
I am a big fan of weddings that raise the bar creatively, but an Airbnb wedding truly takes the cake for me as one of my all-time favorite creative wedding venues! Airbnbs are great locations for anyone planning a small, intimate wedding or an elopement. I love when couples utilize Airbnbs on their wedding days as lodging for family members, spaces to get ready, ceremony locations and reception spots. Explore my complete guide to planning an Airbnb wedding, that covers all the things you need to know and understand when planning an Airbnb wedding.
Florals/Planning/Design/Catering: The Greatest Adventure Weddings
Photography: Between the Pine
Officiating: Bethany Community Church
Dress: Brides for a Cause
Meet your Columbia River Gorge wedding photographer
I feel most at home outdoors, so it is no surprise that is where I gravitate towards as a Columbia River Gorge wedding photographer. In college, I was known as the “granola girl” because my outfits were always fit to go to class or hiking (not that I ever skipped class to go to the mountains, lol). From my days of exploring the hills of the Ozark Mountains, I am now hiking through Columbia River Gorge Trails, chasing waterfalls in Oregon and beyond. I am passionate about this job of mine and the landscapes that the Columbia River Gorge has to offer. I’m a Pacific Northwest-based elopement photographer who knows Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge well. Basically, I’m dying for a reason to head back to the Columbia River Gorge, and I’d love for your adventure elopement to be the reason! Click here to learn more about me, your Columbia River Gorge wedding photographer!
In their words: Zack and Juliana’s thoughts about their Columbia River Gorge Wedding:
Zack and Juliana’s Columbia River Gorge wedding was so beautifully theirs, from the airbnb they chose to the time of year. One thing I always do when working with my couples is help make their day EXACTLY how they imagined it. But don’t just take my word for it! Here’s what Juliana and Zack had to say about sharing their time with me on their best day ever (and if you end up naming your foster dog Mollie, too, please send me photos!!!)
End your search for a photographer now, Mollie is the gal for you!! We simply cannot recommend her highly enough!!!
We knew we wanted to hire Mollie from the moment we subconsciously nicknamed our foster dog after her. It very well may have been the best accidental wedding decision we ever made. Mollie did both our engagement photos and our wedding photos, but she was present for so much more than that. She met with us semi-regularly, not just to chat photography poses, but to talk about marriage and dogs and hiking. We sincerely felt like she was invested in us as a couple, not just as a business. We felt so comfortable in front of her and in front of her camera. Our photos felt genuine and natural and honest.
We got married outside, underneath the pine trees, in January. A recipe for rain and cold, as many, many, many people liked to point out to us. For all the naysayers, we were fixated on doing our wedding our way. At times, Mollie (& our awesome wedding planner), was the only person to embrace our wild idea, run with it, and celebrate it full-heartedly. She was so encouraging and supportive throughout the entire wedding process. And that is exactly what sets Mollie apart. Not only does she take brilliant photos and is she incredibly personable, she is 1000% focused on what makes weddings so important: the commitment that they celebrate. Mollie made sure that Zach and I made our wedding about our marriage. She used photography not only to capture the moment, but to set aside time for Zach and I to enjoy each other’s company and to soak it all in. It was a little thing, but she prioritized our time together, and it made our wedding feel like the private elopement + party with friends that we wanted. We feel so overwhelmingly grateful for Mollie for not only capturing our wedding day, but for enhancing it and celebrating it with us.
Also, just look at some of our photos!! Do you even need to read my words?? They’re amazing!! She’s amazing! Hire! Mollie! Name your foster dog or child or plant after her! You won’t regret it!
I’m not crying (okay, yes I am!). I seriously love all of my couples! Interested in planning your own magical Columbia River Gorge wedding? Reach out. I’d love to help you make it your perfect day.