Written by our rad team member, Amanda Winther
Leavenworth Elopement in Washington State
If there is something more magical than a Leavenworth elopement in the fall as the larches are changing colors, I can’t picture it. Imagine a Bavarian-themed town, complete with chalets and breweries, and charming little shops in the middle of a stunning valley filled with lakes, rivers and towering granite peaks. Yep, that’s Leavenworth! Leavenworth really has it all: cabins in the woods, hikes that make you feel like you’re walking through a fairy tale, and so many fun things to do year round. Keep reading and I’ll share a story of E & N’s magical day, plus my tips for the best time of year to elope in Leavenworth, my favorite places to stay, and some of my favorite things to do. But, faire warning, lovers: this blog may cause you to start spontaneously shouting “Ich liebe Leavenworth” (I love Leavenworth).
Coordinator: The Greatest Adventure Weddings
Hair & Makeup: Makeup Artist Angela
Meet the couple of this Leavenworth elopement
Emily and Nick flew in from the midwest for this magical Leavenworth elopement. Leavenworth is a cute little Bavarian-themed town nestled in the Cascades. While Leavenworth is incredible year round, the fall is my absolute favorite time in Leavenworth because of all the changing colors (did someone say larch season?). But in Leavenworth you also get another thing that makes fall extra magical: Oktoberfest! That’s right – of course a Bavarian town would celebrate this festival… I could go on and on about Leavenworth (and if you keep reading, I definitely will!).
Okay, back to Emily and Nick’s magical day!
The day before their elopement session, N & E had a small, intimate family ceremony and reception. And then the next day, we went off on this mountain adventure to capture their first photos as a married couple. The hike we did is pretty short, super steep, and absolutely worth it! You are rewarded at the top with unobstructed views of alpine lakes, and layers and layers of mountains. And, if you’re here at the right time like we were, you even get golden larches amidst the pines. (Larches are pine trees that change colors, and shed their needles. How cool is that!? PS. I’m always up for a larch elopement!).
Along the way we picked blueberries, and enjoyed the gorgeous fall colors along the trail. Then, once we got to the top we had some snacks (of course!) and enjoyed the sunset literally all to ourselves at this incredible place. Because Leavenworth is in a valley with so much hiking nearby, it’s easy to find trails that many people don’t know about. Like this trail, which is a lesser known hidden gem in the area. So even though we were there in prime larch season, we only saw like one other person the entire time. It was a dream.
Emily and Nick included so many unique touches in their day. Like their favorite shoes (Birkenstocks!) that they both brought up to wear at the top together (umm. How fun is that?!). And Emily’s jean jacket that a talented artist from Austin, TX made. It was a magical elopement day elopement in one of my favorite magical places in all of Washington.
The best time of year for a Leavenworth elopement
Did you know Leavenworth is great for elopements year round? Because it is located on the Eastern side of the Cascades, it not only tends to be drier, but also gets more sun. Yes, that’s right. Leavenworth gets something like 300 days a year of sunshine! It also has all four seasons.
Fall elopements in Leavenworth
As I mentioned above, fall is my favorite time for Leavenworth elopements. You really can’t beat the temperatures in Leavenworth in the fall. September and October highs are in the low 80s or high 70s — aka perfection! It’s also Oktoberfest time, which means there is so much to do and see in Leavenworth. Add to that the free, magical show that the trees provide as they shed their leaves for the winter to come. Larch season in the PNW is one of my favorite things to experience. And Leavenworth is such a special place to experience!
Summer elopements in Leavenworth
Of course, the summertime is also an amazing time to elope in Leavenworth. Because of Leavenworth’s location, it gets warm but not usually unbearable (with highs in the 80s and 90s) You can’t do better than to fill your days with hikes in the mountains and time by the lake or river paddling or boating or fishing. And end them by enjoying a good helping of locally made beer and ice cream (or just ice cream!).
Winter elopements in Leavenworth
If you’re dreaming of a German-style Narnia, then a wintertime Leavenworth elopement may just be your dream come true. Snow-kissed chalets, cross country skiing, carolers, sleigh rides, lights twinkling across the downtown as far as your eyes can see. Leavenworth really is a winter lover’s dream come true.
Spring elopements in Leavenworth
While you can definitely elope in Leavenworth year round, spring is the most unpredictable. You do have some incredibly mild days, but it can also be colder and harder to get to some of the best views because of the snow. But, there’s something so lively about spring here as the apple trees start to blossom and the lakes and rivers come to life in spring thanks to the snow melt.
Where to stay for your Leavenworth elopement
There are so many great options for places to stay on your Leavenworth elopement. Leavenworth is a small town in a valley surrounded by forested hills, with mountains and alpine lakes nearby. In general, you can stay near downtown Leavenworth, and be walking distance to all the shops and the cute downtown area with shops, restaurants and breweries. There’s a beautiful river that runs right through Leavenworth, so you can find cabins and other places to stay right along the river with mountain views. It’s amazing! Or, you can stay a bit outside of Leavenworth near Lake Wenatchee, which has a bit more remoteness and more of a mountain feel. That’s where you will find all the cute a-frame cabins. Here are some of my favorite places for where to stay on your Leavenworth elopement.
This is a really famous adult-only spa hotel right in downtown Leavenworth on the river. The rooms are gorgeous, with things like hand-carved marble tubs (umm yes please!). And most of them even have little balconies or patios with views of the river and mountains. Your stay includes access to the spa and wellness area, with lots of pools, saunas, and even a nap room. You can also add on spa services to treat yourself to something extra special. Also included in your stay is a European breakfast, light lunch and evening coffee and dessert. (And it’s supposed to be amazing!). They even include bicycle, snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals, depending on the season. Talk about a dream! For anyone wanting to elope or honeymoon in Leavenworth this is an absolute must stay at least for a night or two!
This airbnb is a beautiful, restored red barn that is less than two miles from downtown Leavenworth. You can enjoy your coffee from the patio overlooking the lush meadows, or take a short walk and sit by the river on Adirondack chairs at your private riverfront. The property is gorgeous year-round and would be perfect for your Leavenworth elopement.
Note: this property specifically only allows registered guests. So it likely wouldn’t be the best option if you’re thinking of a small family elopement, but you could always reach out and check with the owners. I always recommend that my couples do this anyway! (For more of my tips check out my guide to planning your airbnb elopement.)
Gorgeous A-frame cabins near Leavenworth
Who doesn’t love a charming, cozy cabin in the pines?! I absolutely love cute A-frames. And there are a bunch of dreamy cabins within about a 15 minute drive from downtown Leavenworth. Here are a few of my favorites:
Are you dreaming of an airbnb wedding? If so, you should definitely check out this guide for more of my favorite airbnbs and my top tips to help you plan your own airbnb elopement.
Things to do on your Leavenworth elopement
There are seriously so many activities you could do during your Leavenworth elopement. Here are a few of my top recommendations:
Explore downtown Leavenworth
Obviously you’re going to want to explore this cute little Bavarian town! You could spend an entire day walking around, checking out the restaurants, cafes, bakeries and shops. There are so many unique little shops, some with German influence, and others with handmade crafts and other goods. There is even a shop entirely dedicated to nutcrackers and one dedicated to cured meats! There’s also a trail along the river called Waterfront Park. Depending on when you’re there, there are other events and things to see. In May, they have a festival called Maifest. In October, there is Leavenworth Oktoberfest. During the wintertime, Leavenworth becomes the village of lights. And more!
Enjoy some traditional German food
Leavenworth would not be a Bavarian town without German food! My favorite restaurant there is Munchen Haus, which is a really famous sausage place. This is a slightly more casual spot and they serve amazing sausages, Bavarian hot dogs and pretzels with over 20 homemade condiments! They even have vegan sausages Extra bonus: the outdoor seating area is pet friendly. So bring your dog (or pet someone else’s if you’re lucky)!
Visit a brewery
There are a bunch of breweries in Leavenworth, but my favorite is Icicle Brewing. Icicle is a super fun place to visit in Leavenworth with lots of different beers on tap and both indoor and outdoor seating. You can order a flight of beer to share with your love. They even have one made out of german chocolate cake (Yes that’s a thing. Yes, you’re probably going to need to try it!).
Take a winery tour
The Columbia Valley is known for producing some of the best wines in all of Washington. There are a handful of wineries and vineyards surrounding Leavenworth, including Icicle Ridge Winery, Silvara Wine, Wedge Mountain Winery, Eagle Creek Winery and Chateau Faire Le Pont. They each have slightly different specialities. But this is a gorgeous valley, and so all of these wineries have stunningly beautiful grounds and views.
Visit Lake Wenatchee State Park
This gorgeous state park is located just about 20 minutes from Leavenworth and would be a great place to explore on your elopement! The lake is around 5 miles long and over 240 feet deep! There’s so much to do there, all year, from hiking, to activities on the lake like boating, kayaking, or even windsurfing. You could rent standup paddle boards at the lake. Or bring your bike for miles and miles of trails. The park is available year round so if you’re dreaming of a Leavenworth winter elopement, you could come here to snowshoe or cross country ski. And there’s even camping here year round. Yes, it’s basically a playground for adults, or families, or really, anyone!
Hike the Enchantments
For the backpackers and adventurous couples, add hiking the Enchantments to your Leavenworth elopement must dos! The Enchantments are truly one of the world’s most magnificent places. Towering granite peaks, pointy alpine spires, turquoise lakes, creeks, and super friendly mountain goats. Yes, this place truly earns its name!
Most people thru-hike or backpack, and you will need a permit if that’s your kind of thing. The permit process is a bit complicated, so visit the Forest Service website to learn more. Basically, you’ll want to apply during the annual lottery at the end of February for your highest chance to get a permit. You can also day hike, but prepare for a long, full, strenuous day. The shortest hike that most people do is to a lake in the Upper Enchantments is around 7 miles with over 4,400 feet of elevation (which is like climbing over 440 flights of stairs!). But, it’s totally worth it! Even if you don’t make it to the Enchantments specifically, many of the hikes near Leavenworth have similar features with glacier-smoothed, cool gray granite peaks, and pristine blue alpine lakes that inspire serious awe.
Go on a guided horseback riding tour
Imagine the feeling of wind through your hair as you’re riding through the forest or meadows or mountains of Leavenworth on horseback. Well, it doesn’t just have to be in your imagination! Check out Wild at the Horse Rides, which has all kinds of different tour options, for all levels, from beginner to more advanced riders. Some of their rides also include lunch. They even offer private tours. If you ever dreamed of riding a horse to a secret location with the best view of the mountains, and then getting eloped with your love.. I can’t imagine a better place than Leavenworth. (And you know I’m so down to help capture your best day ever!).
Get above the trees ziplining or rock climbing
If you want to do something a little more exhilarating, you could go ziplining over the valley with Leavenworth Ziplines. There are a few different packages to choose from, and you can do up to 9 different zip lines!
Did you know Leavenworth has been listed as one of the top 10 climbing destinations in the U.S. by Rock and Ice Magazine? If you climb or have ever wanted to try, this could be the time! There are more than 50 different climbing sites nearby. Reach out to Leavenworth Mountain School to take classes or hire a private guide.
There are so many more things to do in and around Leavenworth! Definitely check out Leavenworth’s website for more ideas of things you could do when you’re in Leavenworth.
Leavenworth elopement packages
Oh hey…I know of a pretty cool Leavenworth elopement photographer who would love to document your mountain top wedding day…just saying (lol). But, truly, hiring the right adventure wedding photographer is a really important step in your elopement planning process! Of course, you’ll want photos of your day to treasure for years to come. But, you also want to book a photographer with experience in adventure weddings and elopements. From day-of timelines, Pacific Northwest weather patterns (aka microclimates!!) and uniquely scouted locations (and backup locations, and backup to the backup locations), it’s so important to work with a photographer who is well-versed in adventure wedding photography. I work really hard to care for my clients to make the planning process simple and their elopement day unforgettable.
Below, I’ve included the different Leavenworth elopement packages I offer. I recommend the full day package the most often to my couples. That way you can start your day in the forest (or by the cabin), including something like a first look, a small, intimate ceremony, and even a fun adventure together, and finish with your mountaintop wedding photos. And sunset really is the absolute BEST time in the mountains!
Meet your Leavenworth elopement photographer
I feel most at home outdoors, so it is no surprise that is where I gravitate towards as a Leavenworth elopement 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 mountain trails across the Pacific Northwest, exploring the bases of waterfalls in Kauai and experiencing as many mountain top sunset views in Washington as possible. I am passionate about this job of mine and adventuring to the most beautiful locations to document Leavenworth elopements. I’m a Washington-based adventure wedding photographer who knows Leavenworth and other mountain elopement locations well. Basically, I’m dying for a reason to head back to Leavenworth, and I’d love for your adventure to be the reason! Click here to learn more about me, your Leavenworth elopement photographer!
In their words: Emily and Nick’s thoughts about their Leavenworth elopement
“Mollie is the ABSOLUTE best! She is so incredibly talented and brought such a fun energy to our wedding! We opted for the day-after adventure session, and we had such a blast hanging out and hiking with her after our big day – and she brought snacks and beers. I seriously have a lowkey girl crush on her and would 1000% be her friend if we lived in Seattle.
Long story short, look no further for your photographer! She’s so knowledgeable about the area and the Washington wedding industry. She got us connected with our wedding planner and picked out the COOLEST hike for our adventure photo session. All the photos turned out amazing and she was absolutely worth every penny.”
Are you over there shouting “Ich liebe Leavenworth”? Me too! Reach out and let’s start planning your best day ever!
Ready to explore more elopements, weddings and adventures? Wander away below!
Between the Pine is an adventure elopement and wedding photography brand created by Mollie Adams. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Mollie travels with her camera in hand to document “I dos” in epic landscapes including Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii.