Written by our rad team member, Amanda Winther
Epic Mountain Elopement in Washington State
These mountain elopement photos in Washington state are some of the most epic photos I’ve ever captured, and I’ve been seriously dying to share them with you! Amanda and Luke reached out to me a few weeks before their elopement date, but luckily I was still able to fit them in, and we planned an incredible full-day elopement adventure. Their elopement day started at one of my favorite forest elopement locations and ended on a mountain top, with 360-degree views and the most dramatic sunset. (Potentially one of the top mountain sunsets of my life?) I still can’t believe how much the mountains showed off for us! And I can’t wait for you to see these photos! Keep reading for the full story of Amanda and Luke’s epic mountain elopement, and all my tips to help you plan your own mountain top elopement.
Meet Amanda and Luke: the couple of this epic mountain elopement
Meet Amanda and Luke, the amazing couple in these mountain top elopement photos. I mean, I almost had to do a double take when I saw these shots on my camera! Amanda and Luke have been together for over 10 years and traveled all over the world as a couple, but aren’t as familiar with Washington, so they trusted me to help them pick the most epic spots for their mountain top elopement. It was an absolute treat to plan a DREAM elopement for (and with) them. We ended up going to two of my favorite spots in Washington. And wow! I’ll say it again, because I seriously can’t believe how much the mountains showed off for these two! It was a DREAM for me to capture these moments as well! We started the day near my hometown in one of my favorite forest spots in all of Washington. As I mentioned, Luke and Amanda were a bit less familiar with Washington. If you’ve been following Between the Pine, you may know that one of my favorite things in the world is showing my couples around and going into full-on tour guide, junior ranger, historian, geologist mode. (If you haven’t been following me for long, I’m so glad you’re here!) Amanda, Luke and I spent a few hours wandering around the forest, and I got to point out different species of ferns and giant pines (and you know I love pines!). We also chatted about the microclimates, geology, and biodiversity around Seattle that we would experience that day, from lush green pine forests blanketed with ferns, to incredible valleys and layers upon layers of snow-capped peaks.
After our morning shoot, we headed back to the airbnb and met up with some of Amanda and Luke’s friends to grab some more food and snacks (snacks are always a must for me!) and head out to the trailhead together. The mountain road to get to their second location was pretty gnarly but Amanda, Luke, and their friends were total troopers and in it for the adventure! As we hiked up to their mountain elopement location, it was so fun to get to know Amanda, Luke and their friends more. We shared travel stories and I got to hear more about them and their years together as a couple.
Although the weather was iffy when we looked at the forecast, when we got to the top, we were greeted with 360-degree clear views of ALL the mountains. We had some of the clearest views I’ve seen of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Mt. Stewart, even all the way to the Olympics, and the Puget Sound! It was truly incredible!
Once I picked my jaw up off the (wildflower-blanketed) ground, I got on my Junior Park Ranger soapbox and shared some of my favorite facts about the area and specifically specifically Mt Tacoma, the Puyallup name for the iconic mountain that was later stolen and renamed Mt Rainier. In 1792, British explorer George Vancouver re-named the iconic volcano after his friend, Peter Rainier, a navy admiral. But, interestingly, Rainier never saw this mountain nor walked these grounds. Over the years, many people have advocated for changing the name back to Tacoma or Takhoma, but it hasn’t yet been formally changed by the National Park Service or federal government. Then I shared a little bit about the land we were in at that moment, part of the Tatootsh Range, the ancestral homeland of the Upper Cowlitz (or Taidnapam) Tribe, who would climb up the ridge to hunt and gather, possibly even near the spot where Amanda and Luke would be saying their vows and sharing their first dance. (Not ready to get off this soapbox?! Head here for more history of the Upper Cowlitz People.) It was both fun and an honor to teach Amanda, Luke, and all their friends about the history of this incredible place!
Once we were all done freaking out about the mountains (and I got back down off my Junior Park Ranger soapbox), we set up a little picnic. We ate so many delicious snacks and enjoyed some music and drinks. Next, Luke and Amanda got ready, and we found the absolute perfect spot for their mountain elopement ceremony. After the ceremony, they shared the most magical first dance. Then, we brought out cake and popped champagne (truly one of my favorite parts of any elopement or ceremony!).
Then, something really fun happened! Since this spot is in the National Forest, you don’t need to reserve it for smaller groups like you would for a National Park. So, you can run into other hikers. There was actually another group of hikers up at their mountain top elopement spot and Luke and Amanda started offering them cake. It was incredible to see this line of random strangers who had just witnessed this incredible couple’s first moments as husband and wife so quickly turn to friends enjoying some delicious wedding cake together. We ended the day watching the sunset, and hiked back out with headlamps. I’m smiling as I write this because this elopement was seriously just such a fun time that even thinking about it makes me smile!
Can’t stop dreaming about getting married to your best friend on top of a mountain? I’ve got you covered — keep reading for all my tips to help you plan your own epic mountain top elopement.
What to consider when planning a mountain elopement in Washington State: Mollie’s top five tips
Mountain elopements are some of my favorite elopements to help my couples plan, but when you’re going to a mountain there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. So here are my top five things to consider when planning your own mountain elopement:
Desired accessibility (length of hike, road conditions)
Are there towns or cabins nearby?
What to pack (for you and your friends/family!)
Wedding attire to complement the landscape (dress or suit, and shoes)
When you’re choosing where to elope, it’s really important to first think about everyone in the wedding party’s ability. How far are you all comfortable hiking? Do you prefer accessible or paved hikes? What kind of vehicles do you have and how comfortable are you driving in different road conditions? Some of these locations include a pretty gnarly mountain road (including the one we took to get to Luke and Amanda’s mountain top elopement location) or hike to get there, so it’s really important to think about everyone’s hiking ability and the car’s ability to get to the trailhead. I wrote a lot more about this in my guide on how to include your friends and family in your elopement, so head over there for more of my thoughts.
Along the same lines, it’s important to look into how close your mountain elopement spot is to places you’ll stay like airbnbs, and towns. Some of these locations are stunning, but they’re in the middle of nowhere. So it’s important to think about what you want on your day. Are you willing to drive a few hours to get to trailhead? If not, that’s totally fine! Remember, this is you and your partner’s day so some questions I always ask my couples to help them narrow down their elopement location include: are there nearby towns? Are there nearby airbnbs? Are we going to be driving quite a ways for our day? If so, how can we plan that into our day’s timeline?
As you’re planning your best day ever, you’ll want to think about what you should pack well before you need to pack! If you’ll have friends or family joining you on your elopement day, it’s equally important to help guide family and friends on what to pack too! Two major things to keep in mind are proper (comfortable) footwear and layers, especially in the mountains! Sometimes it can get windy and you want your whole wedding party to be prepared. And, of course, don’t forget the snacks!
The main thing to keep in mind, especially for mountain elopements, is that you can never quite predict what the weather will be like on top of a peak or mountain pass. So it’s good to be flexible and open-minded. Especially if a mountain view is a must-have for your day, you might need to change plans or locations based on the weather. The good thing about mountainous areas in the Pacific Northwest is that with the microclimates and unique geography, you can often drive 30 minutes away and the weather could be completely different. I always help my couples make these kinds of decisions and we discuss backup locations in advance so they can focus on enjoying their partner and their elopement day. We got so lucky with Amanda and Luke’s day because while the weather forecast didn’t seem entirely favorable, we ended up with just the right amount of cloud cover for an absolutely epic sunset. (I mean look at those photos! The mountains were just showing off for us!) I’ve also had some of my most memorable elopements with less-than-ideal weather. There’s something so mysterious and beautiful about clouds that really can make photos a special kind of ethereal magic, too.
My last tip to think about when planning your mountain elopement: choose wedding attire to complement the landscape! I wrote a whole guide to choosing the best elopement dress, but my main recommendation when thinking about your mountain elopement dress is to choose something that is flowy yet simple. A dress that is overly complex may unintentionally compete with your elopement location backdrop. Especially with a captivating background like layers and layers of mountains, you don’t want your wedding dress or attire to overwhelm the eye in photos. Amanda’s dress was PERFECT for this landscape because it had so much movement to it and the material reflected the light. It was also simple and really allowed the complex rocks, layers of white-capped mountains and wildflowers to literally reflect off of it!
When choosing a suit for a male or female, I also recommend sticking to neutral colors like dark grey which look really good with mountain backdrops during blue hour or golden hour. For more of a pop, you could look into greens or burgundies depending on your elopement location. As you can see, Luke chose a dark neutral color for his suit and it worked so well against both the forest and mountain backdrops.
I sometimes get asked about what shoes are best to wear for a mountain elopement. First, I always recommend that my couples hike up to their mountain top elopement location in comfortable shoes like hiking boots (and that they carry their wedding attire with them). Amanda did just that. She wore her regular hiking shoes up and changed into these tan lace-up hiking boots with a heel at the fire lookout. Aren’t her shoes the coolest?! The shoes you bring for your mountain elopement are a great way to express some personality on your elopement day. You can have fun with them and take some gorgeous, memorable photos just like we did with Amanda and Luke.
The best mountain elopement locations in Washington State: Mollie’s top four
Are you searching for the best mountain elopement location? Can’t decide which national park, state park, or national forest would best suit your Washington elopement? I get it! The Pacific Northwest, specifically Washington, truly does have so many incredible mountain top locations for you and your love to say “I do!” Here are my top four favorite spots for mountain elopements in Washington:
Mt Rainier National Park
North Cascades National Park
Olympic National Park
Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Mt Rainier has some of my favorite trails, views, fire lookouts and campsites in all of Washington so it’s no surprise that it’s at the top of my list of the best mountain elopement locations. Within Mt Rainier, you’ll find lush forests with old growth pines, alpine lakes and endless options for mountain elopement locations with 360-degree views of some of the most iconic mountain ranges in all of the Pacific Northwest. Also, if you have any interest in a winter wonderland elopement, you can’t beat Mt Rainier — it’s basically Narnia! I wrote a full guide to eloping at Mt Rainier National Park so I recommend hopping over there for all of my insider tips and tricks.
North Cascades National Park has so many options for an epic mountain top elopement location. Did you know the Cascades are nicknamed the North American Alps? That’s because the mountains there are made up of seriously impressive and dramatic granite spires and glaciers. Combined with fields of wildflowers exploding in shades of blues, purples, pinks, reds and oranges, and you pretty much have a recipe for the ultimate mountain elopement. Oh, and North Cascades is one of the least visited national parks, which I seriously do not understand! It’s a hidden gem and one of my favorite places to bring my elopement couples. Check out my full guide to planning your North Cascades National Park elopement, where I share my favorite elopement spots in the park and the best time of year to visit (who’s looking to have a larch elopement? Because, yes please!).
Olympic National Park is another one of my top location picks for a mountain elopement, and not only because of the mountains. Olympic National Park is incredibly geographically diverse. From the forest floor of the Hoh Rainforest to the snow-capped mountain peaks, you will find a lot of different climates and weather patterns within Olympic National Park. Just like the diverse climates within the national park, there are so many possibilities of what your wedding day could look like. You could begin your elopement day on the coast and end it at sunset at a mountain overlook! Dreaming of a Narnia elopement? Olympic National Park might be your spot! Check out this wintertime mountain elopement at Hurricane Ridge, an amazing drive-up location with snowshoeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, and more! Truly, I could keep going on and on, so head over to my Olympic National Park elopement guide to learn more.
Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is actually nestled between the western Cascades and Mt. Rainier, and has some of the best mountain elopement locations, especially if you’re looking for a dog-friendly or last-minute option. Unlike all of the other mountain elopement locations above, which require special use permits (you’ll want to apply to get them a few months in advance), Baker-Snoqualmie only requires a special use permit if your group is larger than 75 people. Amanda and Luke’s elopement location was actually in Baker-Snoqualmie because they contacted me only a few weeks before their elopement date. But as you can see, it’s no less epic than a national park mountain elopement. Bonus: national forests tend to be less crowded than national parks! For more of my favorite lesser-known elopement spots with epic mountain views, including some in Baker-Snoqualmie, check out my guide to the best places for your Seattle elopement.
Note: According to the National Park Service, most special events require a Special Use Permit. From this list, you’ll need a special use permit for all of these locations except Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (unless your wedding party is larger than 75 people). So keep that in mind in the elopement planning process! I usually tell my couples to start this process a few months in advance. Booking an adventure elopement package with me? Leave this step to Team Mollie! Roger that! We’re on it!
One of the reasons I love being a mountain elopement photographer is helping my couples find the best location for their elopement. There are honestly *so many* epic mountain top elopement locations that this list barely scratches the surface. I know of other dog-friendly and less-traveled options, so reach out if you want to chat about other mountain top elopement locations!
Eloping made easy: choose from these Washington mountain elopement packages
Oh hey…I know of a pretty cool Washington mountain elopement photographer who would love to document your mountain top wedding day…just saying (lol). But, truly, hiring the right elopement photographer is a really important step in your mountain 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 and mountain elopements. From day-of timelines, Pacific Northwest weather patterns and uniquely scouted locations (and backup locations), it’s so important to work with a photographer who is well-versed in adventure elopement photography. I work really hard to care for my clients to make the planning process simple and their mountain elopement day unforgettable.
Below, I’ve included the different mountain elopement packages I offer. I recommend the full day elopement package the most often to my couples.
Meet your mountain elopement photographer
I feel most at home outdoors, so it is no surprise that is where I gravitate towards as a mountain 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 mountain elopements. I’m a Pacific Northwest-based elopement photographer who knows the state of Washington, the national parks, forests, state parks, and other mountain elopement locations well. Basically, I’m dying for a reason to head back to the mountains, and I’d love for your adventure to be the reason! Click here to learn more about me, your mountain elopement photographer!
Are you ready to start planning your mountain elopement? Let’s do it! Reach out and let’s start planning your greatest adventure yet.
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.