When planning Sam + Monica’s elopement this is what they stated for how they wanted their elopement day to be:

“We want our wedding day to actually be about us and things that we love to do together. We want to be able to look back at our wedding day knowing we had the greatest adventure building memories that are authentic to our relationship. Life has thrown each of us a few curveballs over the last couple years, and through everything we have known that at the end of the day all we need is each other. We want our wedding day to be a reflection of this simple concept. No matter what family drama, life crisis, or pandemic comes our way… we have each other’s back and always will.”

Reflecting on their elopement, it truly was just this. Which I think is so beautiful. Many of their favorite memories together are rooted in adventuring and being outside together. So what better of a place to get married than in a new National park together?!!

Sunrise Elopement Ceremony

Sam and Monica wanted privacy during their elopement so we ultimately decided to do a sunrise hike and ceremony to start off their wedding day. We left Packwood in the wee morning hours to drive into the park and start our hike under the stars! With our headlights leading our way we scrambled up a rock field opening up into the most beautiful view of the mountain with just the twilight light starting to peak over the peaks around us.

Sam got dressed first and then went down the way to wait for Monica to get dressed, so they wouldn’t see each other and could share a first look together. They shared an emotional first look together with Mt Rainier towering behind them. It was 100% for sure that moment of, oh dang, this is finally happening, we are getting married!!! It is also was so special and beautiful to elope at sunrise, I think there is such an emotional and purposeful parallel in doing a first look at vows as the sun comes up to start the day.

Following their first look, they sat together to write the vows they had written on their phones into their vow books. It is so nice to wait until the elopement day to write these into your vow books, as you get a refresher on what you wrote before reading them to your soon to be spouse. It also, I think help sets the tone for the day and mood for the start of the ceremony.

Once they were ready we started the ceremony, just them + Bill officiating and the mountain on this still quiet morning. Sam went first to read his vows. They started out with him getting down onto one knee to re-ask Monica if she would marry him. Monica often joked about Sam not getting down on his knee when he proposed to Monica. So it was a very fun moment during their ceremony that was a big surprise for her!

Monica also had her own surprise for Sam during the ceremony. She had saved one of the many sticky notes Sam had written her over the years and brought one very special one during her vows. He was surprise and taken with emotion. It was a beautiful ceremony filled with so much love and intention for starting off their marriage.

Picnic near Packwood, WA

After the ceremony we started to hike back down the mountain, but in daylight! So we could enjoy the other mountain views we couldn’t see on the way up. We stopped to eat wild blue berries that were in season for this September elopement. We made our way back towards Packwood to visit a stunning waterfall for a brunch picnic.

They hiked through the forest and scrambled over some rocks for a front row view of the colorful falls. It even had a rainbow over the water with the way the light was coming through the trees. They even did a little practice for their first dance which would come later in the evening. It was a fun stop and lovely to see more of what the park has to offer outside of just mountain views. Picnics are a perfect way to slow down the day and spend some quality time together, soaking it all in!

Packwood Cabin Reception

After a short break and nap for everyone to relax and regroup for the evening portion we met back up at the Packwood Cabin. We started the evening portion by Monica calling to let her mom know they had just tied the knot! Monica + Sam went the more traditional route in the sense of an elopement and got married without most of their loved ones knowing!! They planned to share the news with their loved ones by sharing their elopement video + photos with folks privately. Monica’s mom was so excited for her and definitely couldn’t wait to see photos of her in her dress!

Sam then made cocktails for dinner, it was the first cocktail he made Monica when they first started dating – cherry juice, Dr Pepper and Bourbon – you should try it! We ate Pizza together from a local Packwood classic restaurant, even trying THE Packwood pizza! Following dinner they opened up letters from one of the only person that knew this was happening on this day, Monica’s sister. She was very close to the couple and wrote them each a letter of congrats and touching words, bringing them both laughter and tears. Monica also took this time to share a gift she had bought Sam for this day.

As the sun was slowly starting to set over the mountains it was finally time for their first dance!! They had put quite a bit of practice and planning into their dance which they shared on the deck of the A-frame cabin. It was so beautiful to watch the dance and you could tell what a special moment it was for the two of them. It was the perfect space to share this moment together with the twinkle lights surrounding them.

The night was for sure not over though! Sam prepped the fire and Monica set up one of the game they were going to play. They love playing games together and brought one of their favorites for this evening. They played their game by the fire on a blanket. You can tell they each have a healthy dose of competitiveness in them. Monica won the round, in all fun and games. For desert they shared s’mores by the fire. Sam’s trick to the perfect s’mores you ask? Reese peanut butter cup instead of a chocolate bar, YUM!

A drone photo of the couples first dance at the cabin.

Before the night was over star photos were on the docket! Star photos were really important to these two. We knew the best spot for them would be across the river on the rocky river banks. How would we get there in the night you ask?? Well the Kokopelli of course! We inflated the raft while they ate marshmallows. Then Bill rowed each of us across the water after we all scrambled down the rocky shore side. The moon was rising behind the trees surrounding the cabin and the mountain ridges were illuminating. It was a fun and surreal way to end their elopement day.

Monica + Sam planned such a beautiful day with so much intention. I loved that they included so many aspects of their dating life together throughout the day. It was beautiful to see their love and support for each other on the trail. Their connection was evident as they enjoyed their time together at the cabin. Filling their day with their favorite things in a new National Park and having a space that was so perfect for the celebration was key to creating a core memory day.

It was a wonderful celebration and we are so happy to have been able to capture their day and spend the day with them. We love this cabin because we there is a sweet camp spot we stay right across a smaller river. So we just hop the rocks and boom, we are their elopement location! It was fun to stay close so we could meet the day before, ride together into the park and we got to say hello again before they left the area! <3

Rent the Packwood Cabin for your Elopement

The Packwood Cabin is for rent on Airbnb. You can reserve it yourself here. Our tip for booking your rental for an elopement is to be sure to have it at the very least the night before and night after. We say this to give you cushion in case of bad weather or for anything else that may come up. This is also great for just being able to relax and get situated to help have a smooth elopement experience.

Packwood, WA is a great location to stay when eloping in Mount Rainier National Park because it is so close to the South entrance. We love this cabin so much because it is dog friendly, right by the river, lots of outdoor accommodations. If you are looking for other cabin rentals, here are a few other options that are great!

Remember anytime you rent a space on Airbnb or VRBO for your elopement if you are going to have a photographer on property or any type of “event” you need to ask permission from the host.

The couple stands on the cabin deck at night under the stars.

Packwood Elopement Video

We got the privilege of capturing Sam + Monica’s elopement day on video as well! We love elopement videos because they are such a great way to share your day with loved ones. But also to get re-live your day over and over throughout marriage. <3