Written by our rad team member, Amanda Winther
Sunny North Cascades Elopement
It’s hard to think of a better way to spend a day (or two!) then taking an incredible couple to one of my favorite parks for their North Cascades elopement. And my oh my oh my did the North Cascades deliver for Sarah and Kyle. In this blog, I’m sharing all about their magical elopement, three of my top tips for adding adventure into your day, the best times of year to plan your North Cascades elopement, and my favorite fun facts about this wondrous place (nerd out time? You know it.). Plus, you’re never going to guess what song the North Cascades make me want to bust out into (although, to be honest, there are so many good choices)!
Meet the couple of this North Cascades elopement
I’m so excited to introduce Sarah and Kyle, the couple of this North Cascades elopement. S & K absolutely love the outdoors and are huge hikers, so it was a no brainer for them to plan their adventure elopement in the mountains. And as far as mountains go… the North Cascades are truly magical! (And North Cascades National Park is one of the most underrated parks in my opinion, but keep reading and I’ll definitely tell you much more about why).
Unfortunately, like a good handful of my other couples in 2020, we had to postpone their initial elopement date because of covid. But, that also meant good news for me because I actually got to know Sarah and Kyle more as a couple since we pushed it back. And in the end it was absolutely worth it! We had what I think was THE BEST weather I’ve ever had in the North Cascades. It was sunny and 70 and it was absolutely amazing.
Covid elopement interlude: if you’re a couple who has had to change your adventure elopement or wedding plans because of the pandemic, first off I am so, so sorry. But remember, that this does not mean you can’t celebrate your love. Check out my full list of covid wedding and elopement resources where I help you through all the steps of canceling or postponing your wedding, planning a virtual bachelorette or bachelor party, and even how to elope during coronavirus. If there’s any silver linings (and I truly believe there’s always at least one), it’s that love is still love, and we are still able to celebrate love, even if it means we need to be a bit more flexible with what (or in S&K’s case when) exactly that looks like.
We started their adventure elopement day getting ready at a beautiful, modern cabin at the base of the North Cascades. We had a first look in the forest near the cabin and then made our way to one of my absolutely favorite forest spots for some stunning shots in the pines (yes I’m biased when it comes to all things between the pines lol). Then we headed to the mountains where S&K exchanged their vows. We ended the day surrounded by snow capped peaks watching the sun light up the mountains and reflect on the stunning reflective alpine lake.
I loved all the unique details they added to their day, from the stunning flowers, veil, and cake (did someone say cake?!) to bringing their dogs along for the day. (Side note: North Cascades National Park borders the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest which is much more dog friendly than the park. So we were technically in the National Forest area so that S+K could bring their dogs. Also, if you’re thinking of including your pups in your day I’m here to say Heck YES. A great place to start is by checking out my guide to planning a dog friendly elopement.) And while we can never plan mother nature and Sarah and Kyle were up for whatever mother nature brought our way, we were so, so lucky to get to spend this perfect sunny day in the mountains together. It was truly a dream.
Three ways to add adventure into your North Cascades elopement
There are so many ways to add adventure into your North Cascades elopement, but here are three of my favorites (aka take some hints from Sarah and Kyle’s stunning day!):
Rent an amazing cabin
Explore the forest and mountains in one day
Make your elopement a two day adventure
My first tip is to rent a cabin for your elopement in the North Cascades. First off, it makes it so much easier logistically. Not only is it really nice to have a place to get ready at and to come back to, but because the North Cascades are pretty remote, renting a cabin in the area makes our drive time way shorter. Also, I am a huge fan of airbnbs and cabins. And there are some really incredible cabins in the North Cascades ranging from contemporary to modern, to retro a-frames, to giant cabins that can host 10 or more people. Bonus: many of the cabins and airbnbs in the North Cascades have hot tubs (umm..yes please!).
One thing I love about the North Cascades is that it is incredibly biodiverse so you can explore the forest and the mountains in one day. It’s also huge! I’m talking over 1000 square miles of wilderness that runs all the way from the Candian border to Lake Chelan. Also, it technically encompasses not only the National Park but two National Recreation areas (Lake Chelan and Ross Lake).
Warning– I’m about to step on my soapbox about why the North Cascades are one of my absolute favorite places to take my couples. The North Cascades are often called the North American Alps, and that’s because the mountains there have some of the most impressive-looking soaring granite spires I’ve ever seen. It’s literally like you’re in the alps but without traveling across the world, including the endless 360 degree views. Not only that, but there’s incredibly lush forests, over 100 alpine lakes, and over 300 glaciers.
This means we can capture so much diversity in our photos and our adventure. Imagine this: we start the day in the forest following a trail along a glacier-fed river, marveling at the ancient giant Douglas firs and many different varieties of ferns. Then, we head up to the mountains for sunset photos surrounded by absolutely epic granite peaks.
But the craziest part of it all is that North Cascades is one of the least visited national parks in the country! And I know of some extra secret gems that are even less traveled. Which is all to say, when I think of taking my couples to the North Cascades for their elopement day it makes me want to bust out into A Whole New World (“unbelievable sights, indescribable feeling, let me share this whole new world with you…”).
Because the North Cascades covers so many different types of landscapes it’s also one of my top recommended places to go if you want to make your elopement into a two day adventure. There’s seriously some of everything — rivers, forests, alpine lakes, mountains. We can be on the top of a mountain at a fire lookout one day, and exploring the forest the next. Or explore a super cute hidden mountain town that you can’t even access by roads! Yep, only by horseback, plane, or boat. It’s pretty much a literal surprise around every turn (hold your breath it gets better!). And would be a wondrous place to make your elopement into a full two day adventure.
I could keep busting out into song about the North Cascades but if you want to learn even more head over to my Full Guide to Planning your North Cascades Elopement. Or, if you’re ready to explore this whole new world with me, reach out! Let me share this whole new world with you (aka I’d love to help you dream up your best day).
Best time of year to elope in the North Cascades
The best time of year to elope in the North Cascades is absolutely the summer months leading into early autumn. More specifically August and September, and October because of larch season. Did someone say larch elopement?! Yes, please! (If you have no idea what larch season is, keep reading and I’ll nerd out all about it).
The summer months are when you can expect the best chance of sunshine, and the highest chances that all the trails will be snow free. Of course, we can never control mother nature, but the weather in the mountains during the summer tends to be mild and perfect. Average temperatures in the summer in the North Cascades range from 50s to high 70s. You also have the highest chances to see wildflowers in the North Cascades between August and early September.
If you aren’t as excited about a summer elopement, the fall is one of my favorite times in the North Cascades for one reason I seriously can’t hype up enough: larches! September through early October, depending on the year, is larch season. What are larches? Why am I obsessed with them? Larches are deciduous conifers (aka pine trees that change colors and shed their pine needles — and you know how your girl feels about pine trees!) So in the fall, larches change their colors and the valleys explode in brilliant golden colors. Larch season in the North Cascades is the best thing ever! Who’s trying to have a larch elopement? Sign. me. up!
The North Cascades are also quite magical if you’re dreaming of a winter elopement. Between November and February, depending on the year, the North Cascades transforms into a serene, white winter wonderland. I’m talking full on narnia! If you want to include winter activities, there are plenty of places to snowshoe or ski. Or, maybe you’re dreaming of a German-style Narnia? Then a wintertime Leavenworth elopement may just be your dream come true. (Leavenworth is also amazing in the fall!).
I don’t often recommend the shoulder months (March, April, May, and June) to my couples because the weather can be hit or miss. Sometimes those months can be incredible, but you also have more rainy days, fewer sunny days, and some of the mountains and trails are not open yet because of the snow. The shoulder season trail conditions also range between muddy, melty, and slushy, which can make hiking a bit less fun.
North Cascades elopement packages
Oh hey…I know of a pretty cool North Cascades 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 and who knows North Cascades National Park well. 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 elopement 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 North Cascades 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! As I mentioned above, the two day package would also be a fabulous choice if you’re dreaming of planning your elopement in the North Cascades because there is just so much to do! Truly, the possibilities of what your day or days could look like here are almost endless!
Meet your North Cascades elopement photographer
I feel most at home outdoors, so it is no surprise that is where I gravitate towards as a North Cascades 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 North Cascades elopements. I’m a Washington-based adventure wedding photographer who knows the North Cascades and other mountain elopement locations well. Basically, I’m dying for a reason to head back to the North Cascades, and I’d love for your adventure to be the reason! Click here to learn more about me, your North Cascades elopement photographer! I can’t wait to share this whole new world with you.
In their words: kind words from Kyle and Sarah about their North Cascades elopement day
“Oh Mollie, where do I begin. First for context, I’m a researcher. I looked at all different types of elopement photographers, double-checked, sent requests for pricing the whole deal. At the end, I loved her photography style and she was so personable.
1. Mollie is professional
2. She provides amazing resources on her website
3. Is just all around a great person!
And, of course, she has talent for capturing amazing photos! She made us feel comfortable and that was seen in the images. Thank you again from Kyle & Sarah ”
Are you ready to plan your whole new world elopement (aka North Cascades elopement?) I’m over here belting it out like a junior ranger Disney princess! 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.