Olympic National Park Elopement from the Brides Perspective!

Our last blog was a Sedona elopement from the bride’s perspective, but I could not leave out an elopement story told this way in the Pacific Northwest as well! Luckily, another one of our 2021 brides offered to write her version of their elopement day in Olympic National Park this past summer. I am so excited to share with you another elopement day story from the bride’s perspective, check it out below and to follow my own side of the story.

Anne here! Joe and I eloped in Olympic National Park on July 5, 2021, with Adventure + Vow. Here’s the story of how and why we decided to elope. For years when I thought about my wedding day, I imagined the stress and anxiety leading up to it. I thought of the expectations others would put on me for the event to be just right. These preconceived notions made me stressed each time I thought about getting married, far in advance of being engaged. I knew a big wedding was not right for me. It terrified me. It made me feel like the time leading up to my wedding day would be stressful and uncomfortable. Instead, I decided to seek another option. One where I could focus on the love I had for my partner and the importance of committing to each other forever. A day that was focused on us.

Joe and I were together a long time before we got engaged, over 8 years. The first Christmas we were together, Joe gave me a long weekend trip together. It was the perfect first Christmas present because travel was a priority for me, and I was impressed by how quickly Joe picked up on this. From the destination options he provided me, I decided we should go to Olympic National Park and Seattle, WA. Months later we took our trip and Olympic National Park became the first US national park we traveled together.

We made traveling together a priority and some of my best memories from our developing relationship were on trips- getting knocked over by the wind in Patagonia, sharing my first fine dining meal in Washington wine country, and exploring Tokyo were a few of them. We got engaged in September 2020 on a rim-to-rim hike through the Grand Canyon. It was important to me that we got engaged in a place that was special to us, but also while we were on an adventure together.

When it came time for Joe and me to decide where to get married, we debated several options- the dark red rocks of Canyonlands NPS, a glacier in Alaska, or the verdant green forest of Olympic NPS. After much debate, we finally decided on Olympic National Park, the first national park we explored together. We found Adventure and Vow online, reached out, and locked down a date that worked for us in July of 2021. Planning an adventure elopement turned out to be infinitely simple and straightforward compared to how I imagine planning a full-blown wedding with guests would be. Traci and Bill helped us determine our locations for the day and we decided to split our time between the Hoh Rainforest and Rialto Beach on the Pacific Coast. We debated how much hiking we preferred to do in our wedding dress and tux and after much debate decided 4 miles or less would work just fine. We have so many good memories hiking together and supporting each other through panic attacks, general fear of heights, and slippery slick rock hiking situations. Hiking together is one of the ways we feel closest to each other, so it was a natural fit to hike on our wedding day.

On the day of our elopement, Joe wrote his vows and I tried to stay calm while getting ready. I was fearful about spending most of the day crying because I was extremely emotional. My emotions were overwhelming and intense, which was not normal for me. Once we navigated some holiday weekend-related national park traffic, we met up with Traci and Bill in the early afternoon. We started by reading letters from our closest family and friends filled with advice about marriage and this set the tone for our wedding day. We hiked through the thick trees, moss, and huge ferns in Hoh Rainforest and marveled at the unexpected sunny weather. After a few hours in the rainforest, we proceeded to Rialto Beach and were slightly dismayed by the thick marine layer of clouds while approaching the coast. It wouldn’t be a Pacific Northwest Day without some gentle mist and fog, so we quickly let go of the notion of sunset vows on the beach and embraced the mist. At least it wasn’t torrential rain!

Bill officiated as we shared our handwritten vows on the beach with no one around. It was so peaceful to be able to focus on each other while sharing our vows without the distraction of others. I found myself only tearing up for a few seconds, but mostly smiling ear to ear as Joe told me how much I meant to him, his promises for our future together, and that he loved me. It was pure magic.

We spent time at the beach scrambling in our gown and tux over huge fallen tree driftwood which proved to be more logistically challenging than I expected. Joe and I had waterproof Xtratuf boots which we put on to get in the ocean surf, only to be surprised two minutes later by a massive, soaking wave that hit us from behind. It had been a long day and we decided it was time to settle onto a tree-sized piece of driftwood to have a picnic of salt and vinegar chips, cheese, focaccia, and chocolate chip cookies. We used a small piece of driftwood off the beach as our cheese plate and popped some high-quality champagne to toast our marriage. The plan for our elopement day was simple. Go hiking, open letters from loved ones, and say our vows while soaking up the extraordinary landscape around us. We finished the day as it was getting too dark to see and said goodbye to Traci, Bill, and Indy.

Anne and Joe booked us many months before their elopement date in the summer at Olympic National Park. I will never forget one of our first calls as we chatted about each of our cats and traveling. I was excited for these two as they had decided to do an awesome cruise around Alaska before their elopement. It was going to be one of those freaking awesome trips you never forget together! We had planned to start their elopement in the rain forest of the park. Bill and I headed out to location to arrive a couple of hours early,which is pretty typical of us, what we had not prepared for was the very long line to get into the parking area. We luckily had one bar of service to check in with Anne and Joe to see how they were looking on time and make a back up plan if needed. The line picked up quickly and we were able to park with enough time to walk the cat, enjoy the views along each of the trail prior to Anne and Joe arriving. Once they arrived we set out to a spot we had selected that would be private for them to be able to read all the letters their family had sent them. Their were cards that were cool drawings, cards with cats on the front and cards with beautiful messages to the couple on their wedding day. After we finished reading the cards Anne and Joe got to explore the river and rain forest, checking out all the moss and big ole trees or a short hike.

Following the rain forest we ventured off to one of Olympics moody beaches for a sunset ceremony and time on the coast. One of my favorite things about Olympic is that it offers mountains, beaches and rain forest to explore and enjoy on an adventure or your elopement day. We arrived and hiked out to a spot on the beach that offered some privacy for their ceremony. They shared their heartfelt vows they had written for each other followed by a hug and kiss, their first as a married couple! We signed the marriage license following the ceremony to make it official! After the ceremony we ventured around the PNW beach shore climbing over down trees and taking in the cliffy views. Anne and Joe brought their Xtratuf boots, which had been a big part of their Alaskan adventures for some fun photos out in the ocean. It was a fun way to tie in both adventures and of course spark some laughter. We ended the evening with these two setting up a super cute charcuterie board on a piece of near by drift wood, not complete though without their salt and vinegar chips. They relaxed, ate, laughed and reminisced on their trip and wedding day as the last light disappeared into the night behind those moody skies. It was such a beautiful and special day that was so filled with love, peace and enjoying the great outdoors to celebrate the start of marriage! We are so thankful to have gotten to work with Anne and Joe and help bring their day to life!

“Traci and Bill helped plan and photograph our outdoor elopement in a way that is authentic to us as a couple. They were responsive when we initially requested help on deciding our elopement location and mapped out a full schedule far in advance to help me plan our day. We felt immediately at ease with Traci and Bill when we met them for the first time on our elopement day. They scouted our multiple locations in advance to make sure we did not encounter any unexpected roadblocks during the day of our elopement. We received our photo gallery extremely quickly following our elopement date and received sneak peek photos same day which was amazing. The turnaround time of our full photo gallery was SO much quicker than industry standard! The true emotion of our day was captured in our photos which was incredibly important to me. The quality of our photos exceeded my expectations and I love that our elopement was so well documented to look back at through the years. I would 100% recommend Adventure and Vow to friends and family based on our seamless experience working with them. They quickly built our trust, made us feel at ease, and captured our elopement, a sacred day, in an authentic and true to us way. We are thrilled with our photos and would work with them again!” – Anne