The wind blows a couples hair during their engagement session in Sedona.

Adventure Couple Session Guide

From planning an adventure engagement session, anniversary session or a just because adventure this guide will tell you the best locations + give you tips!

Maybe you have seen an adventurous couple on a rock kissing each other just there by the ropes that hold them or maybe you your self are an adventurous couple and taking photos downtown in dressy clothes to annouce you’re getting married doesn’t appeal to you and you’re looking for ideas or more information. Welp, my friend, you are in the right place! In this blog I will tell you everything you want to know about an adventure engagement session from what it is, where to do it, how to prepare, dress and more!

First things first…..

What is an Adventure Couples Session?

Put very simply it’s a photo session with your lover that includes some sort of adventure. Put more in detail with more thought, it is a couples session more rooted in who you two are as a couple. Think of it as a date that you two would typically do together or a date day you have have been dying to do together, but a photographer is coming along to capture it as well! An adventure session can be as simple as exploring a beach together you have been wanting to go to or that is your favorite one you have ever been to. It can be as extreme as rock climbing a spire in Sedona to get to the top just in time for sunset! Here the world is your oyster, no adventure is too small or big. What’s important is that you get to be yourselves and connect with each other on your session!

Adventure sessions are not just for those that are engaged! They are great for folks wanting to celebrate an anniversary or couples that are on a special trip to a new place. If you have a destination wedding and want to get out and explore the following day this is a great way to do it! An adventure session is truly just a great way to celebrate your love doing something you love.

How is an adventure session different from any other couples session?

For an adventure session you’re putting in a little more work! It is pretty similar in the differences between small weddings and adventure elopements. The key word is adventure, which really means whatever ‘adventuring’ means to you. To me this may mean taking a hike to beautiful outlook or going horseback riding through the country side. To the couple next door this may mean rock climbing a new pitch or sky diving!

The second biggest difference in having an adventure session is connection. While you may not be saying vows with each other it is still a very emotive experience. Every adventure session I have done with a couple I leave in awe of the moments that the couple was able to share together. There is a sense of connection, fun, carefree spirit and time that they are really expressing their love and just being with each other that allows magic to happen. One session that specifically stands out was an adventure anniversary session in Sedona at the end of last year. Not only was it an adventure to even get to the location during snow storm that hit Arizona, but Kyle and Amber really took in the rare experience that was being surrounded in the red rocks in the snow and being the only people there on the trial. You may be wondering just exactly how an adventure session can be more emotional or connected than a session not out in the great outdoors. It is has been studied and proven that being outside in general can improve your stress levels, energy, memory and be calming. This in relation to your relationship helps communication and connection.

Adventure sessions are also usually longer than your average couples session. Why?? Well, you are doing an activity so naturally you will need more time. Your session will usually be as long as it would take typically for whatever activity you choose to do and then and an extra 1.5+ hours. What is great about adventure sessions is this time, because it is not rushed and allows you to really enjoy the session and time together.

A couple shares a kiss as the repel into a slot canyon.

Adventure Couple Session Locations!

The location of an adventure engagement session is truly dependent upon you two and where you want to go and what you want to do during your session. For starters National Parks, State Parks, Blm and other open lands are great places to start, but the options do not stop there. Below is a list of location options in the areas that I am based in. I live in a van and get to travel all over the country to elopements! These are just some of the BEST places for some general options:

Arizona Couples Session Locations:

  • Sedona Region: Cathedral Rock, Merry Go Round, Bell Rock, any of the Spires in the region
  • Northern Arizona: Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Slot Canyons, Grand Canyon
  • Phoenix Region: Any of the lakes near by, the Superstition Mountains

The best time to do an engagement session in Arizona is Jan – May and October – December

Utah Couples Session Locations:

  • Zion National Park
  • Moab: Dead Horse Point, Arches NP, Canyon Land NP, etc
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Kanab Region: Pink Coral Sand Dunes, Slot Canyons, Caves
  • Hot Springs or Salt Flats

The best time to do an engagement session in Utah is Feb – May and October – December

California Engagement Session Locations:

  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Big Sur
  • Lake Tahoe
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Sunset Cliffs
  • Sequoia National Park / Red Woods
  • Mammoth Lakes Area
  • Mount Tamalpais State Park

The best time for an engagement session in California greatly depends on where you session will be, some locations summer is best and some locations you do not want to be there in the summer.

Pacific Northwest Engagement Session Locations:

  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • Olympic National Park
  • San Juan Islands
  • Cannon Beach
  • Mt Hood
  • Smith Rock State Park
  • Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
  • Seven Falls State Park

The best time of year to do an engagement session in this region is typically May-September. This could depend on the weather you want though and location specifically within the larger region.

A couple shares a hug and kiss at Mt Rainier National Park.

What to do at your Adventure Session?

We breifly went over this when defining what an adventure engagement session is, but let’s dig a little deeper. Digging deeper is exactly what I recommend you two do over date night! Talk about what would make the most sense to your relationship. Talk about things you love doing together, how some of your favorite memories together were made and talk about places you love or that’s on your most go to list! Below are some ideas of activities to do at your adventure engagement session:

  • repel
  • rock climb
  • kayak/canoe
  • go boating/sailing
  • hang glide/skydive
  • horseback ride
  • hike
  • picnic
  • star gaze
  • camp fire
  • surf
  • hot air balloon ride

After you decide what type of adventure you want to do it can help you figure out where may be the best location to elope. Also, choosing where to do your session will help you decide what you can do for your session. These elements go hand in hand. Once you have both figured out you can plan the rest of your session! I will always say the most important things are communicating with yourself, your partner and your photographer about what you want out of the session, what matters most to you to come from the session and what you are comfortable with. After you have more plans into place you can decide if sunrise or sunset is the best time to hold the session. You can decide the best time of year so that you can prepare better for the weather and what to wear. Once you have location, activity, photographer booked and a time you can plan anything else you may need to like travel, lodging or booking other things you may need like an off road car, guides, tickets, etc.

A woman looks into a mans eyes as they sit together at Horse shoe bend.

What to wear on your Adventure Couple Session?

What you CAN wear greatly depends on what you are doing on your session! Remember though, you can always change into something else after you have done the big adventure or got to the main area you will take photos. Here are my biggest suggestions when deciding what to wear to your engagement session:

  • Wear something that works for what activity you’re doing. I almost always suggest to my clients to wear a boot. Closed toed shoes for almost any adventure is a must! There is absolutely no shame in a hiking boot, but if you want something a little more stylish check out this North Face boot for ladies and this one for men. My rule of thumb for clothing is also to usually wear long pants or a long dress/skirt for style reasons and safety reasons. If you know you dont want to do the hiking or other activity in your out fit for photos just throw it in your pack and change somewhere along the trail!
  • Coordinate do not match. This little golden rule you will find also for almost any photo session and there is a reason! Visually it is great, you want a little contrast in your photos. Try to match each other in color or pattern. Wearing colors that are complimentary is a great way to go. If you want to look more into this check out the color wheel. Thinking about the color wheel is also a great way to put in perspective what to where in relation to what colors will be in your photos from the location the session will be held at. I also tell my couples to feel free to send me photos of the outfits if they want a second opinion or to bring options.
  • Flowy for the win! Often times for adventure sessions we are on a mountain peak or along the coastline. This usually means there will be some great wind! Flowy dresses and skirts photograph amazingly in these situations. Here are some websites that you can find a great dress at: Lulu’s, Free People, Revolve or you can go thrifting! Not all flowy dresses are created equal! Dresses that are a lighter weight in fabric like silk catch wind better and dresses with slits look more beautiful in the wind typically.
  • When in doubt layers. If you are unsure of the weather layer up. Mountain tops can be much cooler than where you start at the trail head so if you are in a flowy dress some nude tights might be a good thing to have on hand. You are also likely to get warm while hiking to the spot where most the photos will be captured. I always suggest prepare to shed layers or prepare to layer up depending on what type of environment the session is in. When selecting your layers just think to yourself “am I okay having photos with this as apart of my outfit” and “can I move in this.” The chances are I will also be photographing you during the hike and during those chilly moments.
  • Accessories. Have fun with your session and be you! If it is cold and you just love fun winter hats, bring one! Going on a big hike for your session? Bring all your gear! It makes for an epic adventure photo. Bringing your lady pup along?? Flower collars are super cute! Hats are all the rage right now!
  • Communicate!!! This is my BIGGEST suggestion. Your photographer is a resource. This is our job! I LOVE working with my couples to help them have the best experience, feel the most confident and love their photos after. I am here to help you plan your outfit and/or give you a second opinion on what you have picked out. I have a Pinterset board I send to every client doing an adventure session with me that has tons of ideas and useful tips for dressing the occasion. Every adventure is different and I cater the information to each couple based on their session.

How much does an Adventure Couples Session cost?

The average cost in the United States for an Adventure Engagement session is $2500, this wildly depends on where and who you are booking. You may be wondering why is an adventure engagement session more than your average engagement session. This is because adventure engagement sessions are very much so like an adventure elopement! The session itself takes more time than showing up to a park in nice clothes at sunset and taking a few photos. The session also takes a lot more planning and preparation. A lot of the locations will require a permit that most photographers cover.

Working with Adventure and Vow for your Adventure Session!

For us we do not travel for engagement sessions, but we are available all over the Western Part of the United States and Iceland throughout each year. Engagement sessions are available based on our travel schedule listed on our home page.

For a two hour adventure session the rate is $2500

For a four hour adventure session the rate is $3500

For a 6-8 hour adventure session the rate is $6000

Our packages include help preparing for your session, permit costs up to $200, our basic travel, sneak peaks same day and a full online gallery of edited images with printing rights.

We take limited bookings for these each year so be sure to inquire soon! Our adventure sessions are available for engagements, anniversaries w/o a vow renewal and ‘just because’ sessions. We believe just like your elopement day this is a great time to come together, connect and have the best date day ever together! <3

A couple kayak together at the Seaside Hostel on a cloudy day in Oregon.

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