Romantic Olympic National Park Wedding
Updated: Feb 9
Washington Coast and Hoh Rainforest Elopement
Chellie and Blake’s elopement day was so incredibly magical. They came to me just two weeks before their proposed elopement date and are living proof that you can have the most intentional and beautiful day no matter how quickly you plan it. Their entire Olympic National Park elopement day was so full of love and laughter- it was truly the perfect day.
Every aspect of their Olympic National Park elopement was personal and authentic, down to the littlest detail. Chellie’s into gardening & succulents, so she made the cutest succulent arrangements. Their ring holder was in the shape of a cat, modeled after their four adored & pampered kitties. They got pastries & coffee at their favorite local shop to enjoy before the ceremony. They played their favorite board game together laid out on a favorite picnic blanket. Their elopement date was 4/3/21 because they share a love of numbers. Chellie even wore her mom’s beautiful wedding gown. Everything was so full of meaning and was just so them. And isn’t that how your wedding is supposed to be?!
They decided to elope after being stressed out by the idea of a “traditional” wedding.
After reflecting on what they really wanted, they realized it just wasn’t a good fit for them and for what they wanted. They also grew closer throughout the pandemic and wanted a wedding experience that reflected the togetherness they shared throughout the past year. Overall eloping felt more like “them” and seemed like the perfect fit!
We started their day at their close friend’s property which had an incredible overlook of the Puget Sound. Not only is it a gorgeous view, but it’s where Blake first introduced Chellie to his friends, and they started an amazing friendship within the group. Along with their close friends, Chellie’s cousin and her husband served as witnesses. The Judge that officiated the ceremony was also an old friend whom Blake knew from previously working as a clerk for him.
Their ceremony was so incredibly beautiful and sweet. They filmed it for friends and family to watch virtually all around the world, so they could still be a part of their special day. They then had one of the most fun champagne pops I’ve ever seen- they couldn’t stop laughing and smiling!
We then set out for the coast and went to one of my favorite beaches in all of Washington. The coastline on the Pacific Northwest is unlike any other. The rock formations (otherwise known as sea stacks) towered out of the ocean, and stand in stark contrast to the water yet are so beautifully complimented by the surrounding trees and beach. Chellie and Blake changed into their wedding clothes and wanted to have a first look right by the water. When Blake turned around and saw Chellie, his eyes lit up and he had the biggest grin on his face. It was the sweetest moment. Then they wandered around on the beach, exchanging romantic words and promises with one another, laughing, climbing up on rocks, walking by the waves, exploring the little caves the rock formations create, and just overall having a wonderful time enjoying one another’s company.
We then hopped back in our cars and headed to the Hoh rainforest where the trees dripped with moss and vibrant green, lush ferns adorned the forest floors. We soon ran into an unexpected wedding guest! There was a giant, young elk buck grazing right off the side of the trail! It was certainly the closest I’ve ever been to an elk, and it was so majestic, if not a tad bit scary as we carefully squeezed by him on the farthest side of the trail. The elk then became the running joke for the night as we imagined him waiting for us as we hiked back down the trail in the dark.
As we explored the lush rainforest, Chellie and Blake found a cozy spot to set up a blanket to play one of their favorite board games together. Board games are an integral part of their relationship and are something they love doing with one another, so it made sense to play one on the happiest day of their life! Blake actually proposed by designing an entire game based on a British quiz show they watch together (Only Connect). It included puzzles and lateral thinking over four rounds with all of the clues being centered around them and their relationship. The proposal game also guided them to specific locations that were significant to them. Before their last round, they ended up on a hike where they found a nice spot, which ended with Blake’s proposal. After their game, we then explored the mossy forest a bit more as it started to grow darker and darker before we set back for the trailhead.
They ended the night with one of the most fun first dances I’ve ever witnessed. They danced in the parking lot to “Into the Unknown” from Frozen illuminated by golden headlights. It was such a wonderful day and one that I know I will never forget.
About a month and a half after their elopement, Chellie and Blake wanted to do another adventure and read longer vows to one another! It was such an incredibly sweet, intentional and special experience and I'm so grateful I was there to document and witness it. So, we met up at a lake right before sunrise and we were lucky enough to have it all to ourselves so they could exchange the most heartfelt vows with complete and utter privacy.
P.S. When you elope, you can choose to have your vows be COMPLETELY private- even from your photographer! This moment was so emotionally powerful, raw, and moving, and honestly I have no idea what was said during any of it. Which I think makes it even more special because this moment, that space, and those emotions were reserved just for them and I just had the honor in documenting it and telling their story. Which I think is a pretty beautiful thing! How did I do it? A really long lens and space to roam around and be farther away from them (i.e. not on a tiny cliff)!
Another incredible perk when you elope? Your vows can be as long and as in depth as you want! Chellie and Blake's vows lasted nearly an hour as they promised themselves to one another and it was so beautiful. You can stop and hug as many times as you want, kiss in the middle of them- it's your wedding day and there's no one around but you!
After exchanging their vows, they headed up to their comfy chairs overlooking the lake to enjoy watching the rest of the sunrise over the lake. They had brought their favorite pastries from a local bakery to enjoy with French press coffee. Chellie thought they were going to play a board game, but instead Blake had taken out the game from inside the box and filled it with prints of photos from memorable moments of their relationship together! They had so much fun looking through them together and reminiscing about old stories and memories from their past. After enjoying their coffee, pastries and photos, we explored the lake shore and wandered around marveling at all the tree stumps in the water. It was such a beautiful morning and every time I think about it and look back on these photos, my heart fills with such joy.
My advice for any couples who are considering an elopement is to open your mind to the idea that an elopement is so much more than just a quick ceremony and some portraits. It can truly be anything you want it to be. Take the opportunity to really design your perfect day from beginning to end. (This day only happens once, so why not make it the best experience ever?) Ask yourself- What do you like to do together? What are your best memories together? Is there something new you want to try or somewhere new you want to go? Is there someplace or something you do together that’s meaningful to your relationship that you want to incorporate into your day somehow?
I truly believe that no two elopements are alike, each are special in their own unique way! So whether you’re hiking up a mountain, playing a board game, flying in a helicopter, exploring a glacier, having a campfire on the beach or just about a million other things in between, if you do whatever speaks to you and your relationship- I guarantee that you’ll have the best elopement ever.
Kind Words From the Couple:
"We had such a great experience with Kathleen! My partner (and now wife) and I were looking to elope during the pandemic. We wanted a fun, sweet, adventurous wedding day. We needed someone who would be a helpful, informative, and confident presence throughout the process and who has a knack for capturing those special moments on camera. We found all of this and more with Kathleen.
We reached out to Kathleen just weeks before our proposed elopement date and she immediately got us set up with a consultation appointment with her. Kathleen was a flexible and supportive partner in the process, from working around the logistics we had planned, to encouraging our imaginations for how we could make our special day uniquely ours. Kathleen used her knowledge of the area to recommend several locations based on the ideas we brainstormed and she also provided guidance for the preparation and materials we'd need for the day. Some of our favorite memories of the day--playing board games, exploring the coast, and an impromptu dance party--stem from the inspiration Kathleen gave us that allowed us to be ourselves and celebrate who we are as a couple.
On the day of, Kathleen arrived on time and ready to help, equipped with extra snacks and hand-warmers. She gave suggestions when we asked and otherwise gave us the space to be vulnerable, silly, and focus on one another. Throughout, she was a steady, encouraging, and quiet presence.
We are thrilled with our pictures and how Kathleen captured so many special moments—the emotions on each of our faces, the little ways my partner and I relate to each other, and the beauty of our chosen locations and activities. We especially appreciate the sneak peak Kathleen sent us the day after to help us share our joy with family and friends.
We felt safe and comfortable in Kathleen's adaptable, capable, and competent professionalism, and we would recommend her to all of our friends and family.
Thank you Kathleen for helping make our day so special!"
-Blake & Chellie
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Hi! My name is Kathleen and I'm an adventure wedding and elopement photographer (and your new friend!). I'm based in Washington, but travel to Arizona, Utah, Alaska, and all over the world! I'm here to help guide you to having the ultimate wedding day experience, and to document every single moment of it. I would love to help you plan your elopement and answer any questions you may have! You can also check out my Washington Elopement Packages for more information on how to get started. Get in touch with me and let's start planning your dream adventure. CONTACT ME HERE!