Written by our rad team member, Amanda Winther
Adventurous Olympic National Park Wedding
I’m constantly reminded of how lucky I am to be helping people capture their best day ever, and this Olympic National Park wedding was absolutely no exception. Olympic National Park is one of the most geographically diverse national parks in the US, aka: it offers so much potential variety for your adventure wedding! Want to start your day with a magical first look in the forest with the sun glimmering through the thick overgrowth, casting dramatic shadows? Or maybe you and your best person want to spend a few hours exploring the wild coast and tide pools? (I am SO here for it!) You may even get lucky and make a new animal friend like Bre and Seth did (let’s be honest, this was one of the coolest moments I’ve photographed!). Keep scrolling to find out what animal couldn’t resist getting a closer look of this gorgeous couple, their incredible photos, my top wedding locations in Olympic National Park, what to pack, and so much more!
Meet the couple of this adventurous wedding in Olympic National Park
I am so excited to introduce you to Bre and Seth, the couple featured in this Olympic National Park wedding! They reached out to me over a year ago to shoot their wedding, but I was already booked for their day. We were all super bummed, but they found another rad photographer… then Covid happened. They had to cancel their big wedding, and go back to the drawing board to figure out how they could still plan a day that honored their love as a couple. After choosing an elopement date, Bre reached back out to me to but I still wasn’t available for the date they had chosen. So, they actually ended up changing their date so I could be their photographer and join them on this incredible day. (Wow. It’s honestly like the biggest compliment ever when a couple changes their date to bring me along for their best day!). I think I really was meant to be their elopement photographer.
When I first talked to them about what they wanted to do for their adventure wedding, I could tell that, like most of my Covid couples, they were really tired of planning. They had already planned (and canceled) option A, and B, and C. Luckily, I love helping my couples figure out the best plan for their elopement or adventure wedding, and it was so fun to come in and help Bre and Seth figure out what to do. (Cue Mollie’s hype girl song, because you can bet I am going to do everything I can to make sure my couples have the best day ever!) Since their wedding date was in June when lots of places were still not open yet, we did have to make multiple additional plans for their elopement. But, as always, Covid or not, my biggest priority in helping them plan their day was making sure Bre and Seth felt taken care of the whole time. And the good news is we definitely did have the best day ever!
Now we pause the hype song for a brief, sad yet hopeful Covid-lude…
Has Covid changed yours or a close friends’ wedding plans this year? I hear from couples every day who have had to change their wedding plans because of Covid, and if that’s you, I am so sorry to hear that. It honestly breaks my heart to hear from couples who feel like they can’t celebrate their love and marry their best person because of the Coronavirus. That’s why I created my coronavirus resources page. I cover everything you’ll need to know including how to postpone your wedding day, how to plan a virtual bachelorette party, creative way to elope during coronavirus, how to support a friend when plans change, and more!
Okay… back to sharing all the moments of Bre and Seth’s incredible day.
One of my favorite things about Olympic National Park, the Olympic Peninsula, and the entire Pacific Northwest is that if you want to start your day surrounded by old growth pines and end it with an incredible sunset and 360-degree mountain views you can absolutely do both! Or maybe you prefer ending your day on the rugged coast, with your love framed by huge rocks and the ocean like this Ruby Beach engagement? That’s also entirely possible!
We started Bre and Seth’s day in the dreamy forest of Olympic National Park. Although a lot of trails in Olympic National Park were still closed at the time, this one was open and we were lucky enough to have it completely to ourselves! And, wow, is this scene not like magical forest dreams come true or what?! We explored the old growth and ferns and took lots of photos on the pines, surrounded by pines.. And yes.. between the pines (of course!). Also, Bre’s dress totally was made for the forest. It even had forest details like ferns on it that matched the ferns all around us! It was truly incredible. Want to pick out a dress like Bre’s that works perfectly for your chosen landscape and backdrop? Check out this guide to finding the best elopement dress. Not only was Bre’s dress basically perfect, the little touches they included in their day really made it special, with Bre’s dad officiating their ceremony and a handfasting, using family heirlooms to signify their love. It was honestly such a special day.
After the ceremony, we had a magical picnic in the forest with Bre and Seth’s parents before heading up to Hurricane Ridge for sunset photos. And did Hurricane Ridge ever deliver! Not only were the blue and purple lupine out in their full glory, we even met a new deer friend. (Get it? Deer friend! Lol. Maybe I need another cup of coffee!) PS: don’t worry, I used a telephoto lens, which makes it look like we were super close to the deer but we gave it plenty of space and followed Leave No Trace elopement practices to respect wildlife by giving them distance. It’s honestly so hard to choose just one favorite moment of this day, but it was a joy to be around Bre, Seth and their family because they all had so much gratitude and presence throughout the day. They were soaking up every single moment, and so was that deer, and so was I (well, maybe snapping up some too!).
The four best locations for an Olympic National Park wedding or elopement
Olympic National Park is incredibly geographically diverse, which means that there are tons of great locations for a wedding in and around the Olympic Peninsula. Olympic National Park features everything from snow-capped mountains, to lush green rainforests, to alpine lakes and rugged coastal beaches, and even dog-friendly beaches (yes, please bring your dogs on your wedding day!) so there really is something for everyone. Did you know that Olympic is one of the most visited national parks in the US every year? Over 3 million people visit Olympic National Park each year! And the vast and diverse ecosystems plus the fact that you can find milder temperatures year-round definitely help make this a great place to visit (or get married!).
So here are my top four picks for the best wedding locations in Olympic National Park:
How magical would it be to get married surrounded by dense, lush green vegetation and tons of pines dripping in moss and ferns? The rain forests in Olympic National Park are absolutely one of my favorite places to take my couples. There are lush temperate rainforests in the Quinault, Queets, Hoh, and Bogachiel valleys, but the Hoh and Quinault are the most popular and for good reason. The Hoh Rain forest was even designated as both a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve Site by UNESCO. Head over to my blog featuring ADA Accessible elopement locations in Washington to learn more about two of my favorite wedding locations in the magical otherworldly Hoh and Quinault rain forests.
Hurricane Ridge, which sits at 5,242 feet of elevation, is the highest point you can drive to in the park, so if you want epic mountain views for your wedding in Olympic National Park, this is your spot! On a clear day you get views of over 18 separate peaks (yes, it’s incredible!). It’s also a great destination for a winter elopement. There is snowshoeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, tubing and more available here! Are you intrigued to learn more about Hurricane Ridge? Click here to be transported to Narnia in this winter elopement at Hurricane Ridge. Fair warning – it may have you grabbing your winter boots and doing a snow dance!
Lake Crescent is another one of my top recommendations for an Olympic National Park wedding location. It features a glacially carved lake (so cool right?), and amazing hiking trails surrounding the lakes that are easily accessible for all people. Some trails take you to amazing views overlooking Lake Crescent.
NatureBridge is a wedding venue in Olympic National Park on Lake Crescent. It’s like a dream glamping experience, featuring canoes, cabins and even a custom dining experience for your entire wedding weekend. Want to see how gorgeous this lake is? Lake Crescent was featured in this winter elopement, and I also wrote about it in my best places to elope in Washington State blog.
There are so many location options along the Washington coast for your Olympic National Park wedding. You could tie the knot at the northwesternmost point of the contiguous United States at Cape Flattery. There are beaches that are easily-accessible drive-up locations and there are other beaches that you have to hike to get to. There are dramatic rocks (called sea stacks) jetting out of the ocean along the Washington coastline, and some beaches in Olympic National Park even allow bonfires. There are dog-friendly beaches, and beaches that allow bonfires. One of my favorite beaches in Olympic National Park is Ruby Beach. Ruby Beach is located where the Hoh River meets the Pacific Ocean. With incredible rock formations and huge pieces of driftwood marking the coastline, this beach is an amazing drive-up location for your Olympic National Park wedding. Does this sound like your dream wedding? Head over to my blog on Ruby Beach to learn everything you’ll need to know to plan your Ruby Beach wedding.
Looking for more recommendations of the best places to get married in Olympic National Park? Head over to my Full Guide to Planning your Olympic National Park Wedding for my top recommendations for where to elope in each season. I know so many great locations in Olympic National Park that I haven’t even had a chance to write about yet! Want to know which are the best dog-friendly locations for your Olympic National Park wedding? Reach out. I’d love to help you figure out *your* best day ever. Because in the words of the great Miley Cyrus, it’s your wedding you should do what you want! That’s totally what she said right?
What to pack for your Olympic National Park wedding
Not sure what to pack for your Olympic National Park wedding? Here are my top recommendations of what to pack for your intimate elopement or adventure wedding:
Clear umbrellas (I linked my favorite clear ones below!)
Layers of clothes
Hiking boots or shoes that can get muddy or dirty
Sunglasses and sunscreen
National Park Pass
Special Use Permit + Washington marriage license
Who’s surprised that snacks is number-one on my list? If I have the honor of capturing your best day, I always bring extra snacks! I always recommend embracing the weather, whatever it may throw your way! The Olympic Peninsula can get really rainy or cloudy, and with the microclimates, temperatures can change throughout the day, so throw in a long sleeve, sweatshirt, down jacket and rain jacket and you’ll be set. I also love these classic clear umbrellas. To see them in action, check out Megan and Eric’s stunning first look in the Olympic Peninsula featuring clear umbrellas. Also, definitely bring hiking boots or shoes you’re willing to muddy or dirty for your hike. You can always bring an additional pair to change into for your ceremony like many of my couples do. A headlamp is super important if you’re wanting to catch sunrise during your Olympic National Park wedding because most of your hike to the mountain views or coastline will be completed prior to sunrise. Also, you can’t have an Olympic National Park wedding without a Washington marriage license and an Olympic National Park Special Use Permit. Keep scrolling to learn more about how to get your wedding permit. Do you have questions about how to get a Washington marriage license? Head over to my complete guide to planning your Olympic National park wedding where I explain everything you need to know!
Ready to start planning your Olympic National Park wedding? Check out these helpful resources!
How to get an Olympic National Park wedding permit
One thing you definitely don’t want to forget for your Olympic National Park wedding is your special use permit, aka: your wedding permit. Here’s how to get your Olympic National Park Wedding or Elopement Special Use Permit:
Fill out an Olympic National Park Special Use Permit Application
Email your application to Olympic National Park firstname.lastname@example.org
The park will send you back an application number and link to pay online
Pay a $50 non-refundable Special Use Permit application fee
The National Park Service will send you back a permit draft for you to review and sign.
Send the draft permit back and you’ll get your super duper officially signed Olympic National Park wedding permit.
Don’t forget to bring your signed special use permit with you on your big day!
Pro tip: you can get your special use wedding permit up to a year in advance. They require about four weeks to process, so you won’t want to put off getting this step checked off of your list!
Olympic National Park wedding costs: what you need to know
I’m here to help you with all things related to your Olympic National Park wedding. I partner with you to plan your best day ever with my library of resources and knowledge of the outdoors, and I’ve created the elopement packages below to help you decide the best way to invest in your day. These elopement packages are tailored to fit any type of adventurous wedding day. So, click below to explore the breakdowns of the packages I offer to find the one that is right for you!
On average, a Washington elopement costs an average baseline of $10,000, including the wedding dress and suit, bouquet, photographer and marriage license. Which, considering the average wedding costs $30,000, everyone should consider eloping! I recommend the full day elopement package the most often to my couples.
Meet your Olympic National Park wedding photographer
I feel most at home outdoors, so it is no surprise that is where I gravitate towards as an Olympic National Park 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 now spend my time hiking Olympic National Park trails, exploring the bases of waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, and experiencing as many fire lookout sunset views in Washington as possible. I am passionate about this job of mine and the landscapes that Olympic National Park has to offer. I’m a Pacific Northwest-based wedding and elopement photographer who knows the state of Washington and Olympic National Park very well. Basically, I’m dying for a reason to head back to the Olympic Peninsula, (like, today!) and I’d love for your adventure to be the reason! Click here to learn more about me, your Olympic National Park wedding photographer!
Are you ready to start planning your Olympic National Park wedding? 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.