Written by our rad team member, Amanda Winther
Dreamy Pacific NorthwesT Rainy Elopement
I know you may be thinking “dreamy” and “rainy day elopement” in the same title– what. Is. Mollie THINKING?! And while I know that almost no one dreams of rain on their elopement day, I’m here (with the help of this truly wonderful couple) to show you how you can still make the most of your elopement if it ends up raining. In this blog, I’m not only showing you real photos (from a real couple, in the real rain lol) of how your elopement in the rain could look (hint: slightly moody, and absolutely romantic, stunning, and gorgeous!), but I’m also sharing all of my top tips to prepare for an elopement in the rain, the best locations to add to your day if rain is in the forecast, and what to pack for a rainy day elopement.
And, because giving away secrets is almost like sunshine on a cloudy day (or being the month of May when it’s cold outside lol…) I’m giving away the biggest secret to a successful rainy day elopement right here in the intro. The top must-pack item isn’t a rain jacket, umbrella, or snacks (although those are all important) — it’s your positive attitude. Because no matter what, shine or rain, you get to marry your best person ever. And nothing (not rain, or fog, or mist or snow or hail… you get the point) can take that away from you!
Meet Limary & Brandon: the couple featured in this rainy day elopement
I am *so* excited to share more about Limary and Brandon and their dreamy rainy day elopement. Here I am — months laters — still thinking about how much fun this elopement was and it may or may not be because I ended the day with a throwback winning moment myself (lol… keep reading to learn more about what this means).
L&B reached out to me just a few weeks before their elopement, and luckily I had an opening for their date. We had such a fun time planning their day and we really hit it off right from the start. We ended up with about three weeks lead time to plan their entire day. But, luckily, I know Washington and the PNW extremely well and we came up with a plan (well… a few plans as you’ll learn..) for their dream best day.
L&B had family coming in from Florida and other friends and family some of who had never been to Washington or even seen the mountains. When I heard this, I got even more excited than I already was (the stoke was SO high). I love introducing people to the mountains and Washington… it’s truly one of my favorite parts of leading people through the elopement process!
We had originally planned to do a 3 mile (ish) hike to a fire lookout where we would have the reception and ceremony, but as the day got closer, we knew it was a good idea to go with one of our backup plans. While fire lookouts are one of the more magical things about the PNW, and I love a good fire lookout, a 3 mile hike when it’s going to rain, mist or drizzle throughout the day is a little less magical. Plus, you can never guarantee the views won’t be socked in…
The good news is that we already knew what these backup plans were because we had talked about rain plans prior to the day! Side note: I do this with all my couples. We always have at least a few backup plans in place because you really never know what is going to happen on the day of. Even if the weather looks good leading up to the day, with the microclimates we have in Washington and the Pacific Northwest, you have to always consider what might happen if it’s raining (or misting, or cloudy, or snowing because heyyyy why not) on your elopement day. Did I say how important it is to have back up plans for your elopement in Washington if it rains? Lol… anyways back to this dreamy rainy elopement!!!
L&B’s dreamy elopement day started at their charming cabin, getting ready with family and friends. Then, they did their first look outside near the cabin. We got pictures with their pup of honor (ok, look at his little bow tie and tux suit!) because we knew he would not be able to join us for the next part of the day because we were heading into the National Park!
Next, the whole group headed into the National Park for their ceremony! Because it was raining, we shifted plans slightly and chose a shorter hike in the park. I knew of the perfect spot for their ceremony. Limary’s brother officiated the ceremony and even incorporated some quotes from The Office (one of their favorite shows). Everyone was laughing (and crying) and smiling from ear to ear. It was SO fun and SO reflective of their relationship, partnership and love for each other.
After family photos, the rest of the crew headed to a day use picnic area to set up for a reception, and Limary, Brandon and I hung back on the trails and explored some of the nearby trails lined with stunning wildflowers. The sun came out for a few minutes and we had the best time taking photos. By that point, we were all kind of feeling like ““If I don’t have some cake soon, I might die.” (lol — anyone get the reference?!) and it was definitely time to head back to enjoy some cake, snacks, and reception time with their family.
Limary and Brandon wanted to include both a ceremony with their family and friends, and a more intimate private ceremony where they could read their vows to each other. So, after the reception, their family and friends headed back to the cabin to get things ready for dinner (and the par-tay!) and we headed to the forest for their personal vows. The forest is one of my favorite places to recommend for personal vows *and* when it’s rainy or overcast. That is because not only is it much easier to find a more intimate-feeling, private place in between the pines (or on the pines, or next to the pines.. lol) than on a wide mountain overlook, but pine trees make really amazing natural umbrellas! Also, how amazing do their wedding outfits look against both the mountains and the forest? It’s not something that a lot of people think about, but choosing wedding attire that complements the environment (in both style and color) can make such a difference in how your photographs come out.
After their private vows, we headed back to the cabin, but not without a stop for ice cream at the local general store (because that’s definitely a must stop!). We ended their day at the cabin, enjoying dinner and games with family and friends, and celebrating their love and commitment to each other. A bit earlier in the day, I found out that Brandon and his friends love basketball (and I played college basketball!) so we totally geeked out over sports and ended the evening playing HORSE. This entire day and everything leading up to it was so much from, from start to finish — from the planning, to getting to meet in person, to spending some incredibly special (and hilarious) moments together, to ending the day playing HORSE with the groom and his friends. AND to top it off, I may or may not have won that game of HORSE… but don’t worry Brandon, I’ll never actually tell!
How to be prepared for a rainy day elopement
Okay, let’s be honest — almost no one envisions their dream day to be a rainy day elopement. But, if you’re planning to elope in the Pacific Northwest, rain, wind, fog and mist are all possible at any time during the year (or day!). So, it’s a good idea to think through your rainy day elopement plans. Here are my top tips to prepare for a rainy day elopement:
Talk through rain plans prior with your vendor team
Create a rainy day timeline
Learn about Leave No Trace elopement recommendations
Always pack rainy day gear just in case!
100% take time to feel the feels! Then, remember you’re marrying your best person
First and foremost, make sure you talk through rain plans prior to your elopement with your entire vendor team!
With all my couples, we talk about rain from the very first conversation we have! I want to make sure to set the expectations that while we can (and do!) absolutely cross our fingers and pray for sunshine, it does not always happen. We cannot plan the weather. What we can do is to make sure we always have backup plans. In other words — we will talk through options A, B, C (and probably D!) of where we can go and what we can do.
While you should absolutely address this with your entire vendor team, make sure you definitely discuss rain plans with hair and makeup. You may want to have a backup hair and makeup plan in case of rain. A few questions to think through with your hair and makeup team: Have they dealt with rain before? What is your hair (and makeup) going to look like if it ends up raining? For makeup, this may mean to keep your look a little simpler, and of course to use waterproof options whenever possible. For hair, this might mean going with a different style if there is rain on your forecast the day of your elopement. Limary’s hair choice (a beautiful braid with wildflowers in it) was perfect for the weather because it stayed pulled back throughout the day. And her hair still looked amazing no matter what weather we dealt with!
Next, make sure to create a rainy day elopement timeline
Your elopement day timeline will likely look a little different if there is rain in the forecast. With all my couples, we make a list of the ideal sunny day plan. And then we also make a rainy day timeline and plan. That way if it does end up raining, we do not need to worry about what to do. We already know *exactly* what we will do.
On Limary and Brandon’s day, it would switch between rain, drizzle, mist and overcast. To take advantage of our time in the park and forest, we would take shelter when it was raining and then when the rain let up, we would go adventure! Luckily weather moves very fast in the mountains so this usually means you do not have to be out in the rain when it’s pouring (unless you want to!). Building this kind of extra time into your rainy day elopement timeline is so essential!
Learn about how to make your elopement Leave No Trace
Although this is always something I recommend to everyone who is eloping or even just adventuring outside, if there is rain in the forecast on your elopement day, you will want to learn about Leave No Trace principles. In particular, you will want to double check trail conditions (Principle #1: Plan Ahead and Prepare) because some areas close when the trails are very muddy. In addition, you will want to make sure you say on the trail (Principle #2: Travel on Durable Surfaces). This is why I *always* recommend bringing sturdy, waterproof shoes (and you can always bring a change of shoes in your backpack).
Did you know you can actually cause more damage or erosion on the trails by going off trail to avoid mud than you do by walking through the muddy trail? Or that driving fast on wet and muddy unpaved roads (like many Forest Service roads) is what causes washboarded or rutted roads. The Leave No Trace recommendation is to always stay on the trail and road. To learn more, check out my full guide to planning a Leave No Trace elopement.
No matter what, I always tell my couples to pack the proper rainy day elopement gear, just in case.
Even if it looks perfect and sunny the morning of your elopement, you still want to pack your proper rain gear. This is because, as mentioned above, weather can move very quickly in the mountains. In addition, Washington and the Pacific Northwest is full of areas with microclimates. This means that even if it is sunny in one area, if you drive just 20 miles away it could be rainy or overcast. This is especially true if you’re in the mountains! Keep reading for my specific recommendations of what to pack.
Last but absolutely not least: you can absolutely feel (and voice) your feelings if needed. But remember that you still get to marry the love of your life!
It’s completely okay (and can be necessary) to feel sad or disappointed that it might be rainy on your elopement day. I totally get that! But, in the end, you are still getting married to and committing to your best person. And, like in Limary and Brandon’s case, you may also get to share this day with some of your closest friends and family. Try your very best to feel these things and then accept what the day is going to give you. You can absolutely still have the best day with your best friend ever! Nothing — including the weather — can change that!
What to pack for a Pacific Northwest elopement in the rain
Here is my must pack list for a rainy day elopement in the Pacific Northwest. Basically, you want things to help keep you as dry as possible, as warm and possible… and to keep the hangry away:
Rain jackets (obviously)
Clear umbrellas (linked my favs below)
Layers of clothes
Toe & Hand warmers
Quick drying towels
Of course, if it rains on your elopement day, you will want to protect yourself from the rain and elements as much as possible. So that means everyone in your party should have rain jackets (maybe that one is super obvious, but… still so important!). I also always bring two of my favorite clear umbrellas for my couples. (These are the ones I use, and they’re really nice looking!) If you will be having guests, I recommend bringing extra umbrellas for your guests, and it’s never a bad idea to have a few on hand as backups. Rubber boots or waterproof hiking boots are a must to help prevent water from seeping into your shoes. Extra socks are always on my packing list, even if there is not rain in the forecast. There’s also nothing better than putting on dry socks after having wet feet. (Tell me that isn’t just me?!!)
It can get chilly in the mountains or if it is misty or overcast, so it’s a good idea to bring extra layers. Pro tip for brides wearing dresses: if your dress is flowy, you can always wear lighter colored leggings under your dress to help you stay warmer. Throwing in a few toe and hand warmers is a no brainer since they’re really small and so nice to have if it’s chilly. I have had couples do their ceremonies in the rain (like full on downpour rain!) without umbrellas (#YOLO and embrace the moment right?! Does anyone else get big time The Notebook vibes thinking about this — that scene where they finally embrace kiss in the rain…swoon). Having a few quick drying microfiber style towels on hand are really great if you need to dry off quickly. Or wipe your face mid ceremony.
Finally… don’t forget the snacks! You can’t be hangry and have it also be raining on your elopement day. That is just not allowed! Having snacks is always an essential, and doubly so when it is raining. Limary and Brandon had their snack game on point thanks to Limary’s mom who packed snacks for everyone. She even portioned them into baggies, and labeled them!! Yep. They. Were. Dialed! Because we didn’t end up hiking as far as we initially planned, we even made a detour to get ice cream at the general store. It was so nice to be flexible and spontaneous with whatever the day threw at us. And of course the ice cream was amazing. Where was I going with this?! Oh. Yep. It’s *so important* to have snacks.
Best photo ideas for a rainy day elopement
We never know what mother nature will send our way, so my best advice for rainy day elopement photos is to always have at least one of your elopement locations be in a place where the rain will not affect the photos. This means you will want to choose at least one location for your day where you have something interesting in the foreground instead of the background. Here are some of my top recommendations for taking the best rainy day elopement photos:
Venture to the forest
Visit an alpine lake
Go chasing waterfalls
Find a field of wildflowers
Head to the mountains (but expect more negative space in your photos)
Have a few accessible backup location options (hint: keep reading for my recommendations!)
My absolute favorite option for rainy day elopement photos is the forest. Unlike a big mountain peak, the forest will not be socked in. Actually, the forest looks almost the same whether it is raining or sunny. The green canopies of the trees diffuse the lighting. And some slight fog can even make the forest appear even more magical. And extra bonus: trees make incredible umbrellas! Another great option is to go to an alpine lake or waterfall. These tend to be lower elevation and also you can usually get closer to them so the photos will often be less affected by rain. If you can find a field with wildflowers (like we did on L&B’s day) this can also be a great option for a rainy day.
Sometimes my couples ask what those big views look like when it’s rainy. It can actually look really epic and artsy. But expect to have more negative space around you instead of clear mountains in the background. So imagine you are on a ridge in your wedding outfits surrounded by fog and mist (or it could be totally white out). Or maybe clouds are covering the mountains but you can still see the outline of mountains. Think more moody and romantic!
In addition to choosing a location that will photograph well in the rain, if it is rainy on your elopement day, you can ask your photographer to focus more on close up and detail shots. Just look at the genuine smiles, excitement, and love in Limary and Brandon’s photos. Yes, you can still see that it’s cloudy and raining, but their faces say it all!
As I mentioned, Limary and Brandon had originally planned a longer hike and switched to a shorter one because of the rain. This is usually a good idea. I often recommend finding ADA accessible hikes because they tend to be shorter and super accessible (ok, that last part might be really obvious). It can be hard to find accessibility information on National Park and other websites. That’s one reason why I wrote this blog about the top ADA accessible hikes in Washington. You may want to have this bookmarked as backup options for whatever area you’re going to!
Kind words from this rainy day elopement couple
“Mollie was our dream photographer for our very last minute elopement! We planned everything in 3-4 weeks and Mollie was the perfect person to not only capture our perfect day but to spend the entire day with! She brought professionalism, quick thinking on her feet when our original plans fell through multiple times, and just all out amazing human to hang with for multiple hours! We had the best day, with the best photos to reminisce for years to come! She is worth every penny and it is so evident through her work and passion for her job! Thank you again Mollie for being just THE BEST!”
Are you ready to start planning your best day ever no matter what, rain or shine? 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.