Let’s face it – elopement planning can be overwhelming…
What if there was a way to bring your dream elopement setting to you without any travel involved?
Hear me out – I found a way.
One that is not only creative, but completely customizable to your elopement style, personality, and budget.
This idea can eliminate concerns for weather, underwhelming scenic views in your hometown, and the stress figuring out travel logistics of an elopement.
& to understand how this problem was solved, you must first understand that it all started because of a pandemic….
To Open a Pandemic’s Box
The year was 2020. It was the dawn of a new decade and a record number of nuptials were being booked by bright-eyed, newly engaged couples with high anticipation. 2020 was THE year to get married. I mean, does it get much cooler than every anniversary milestone marking the beginning of the next era? As a wedding photographer I have never seen so many weekends blocked in my calendar, and to say I was giddy about that is a serious understatement. At this time, I found myself really getting the hang of my niche within the wedding market, and I was so pumped to say that each and every one of my 2020 couples aligned with my re-launched brand seamlessly. What more could I possibly ask for? This year was about to kick ass!
Suddenly, the whisperings of ‘COVID-19’ surfaced. It started with the occasional international headline, then it moved a little closer to home until it hit me right in my rounded frames. To my dismay, the world seemed to stop right at the edge of busy season #1: Spring. Looking back on that third week of March still gives me chills…and not the good kind my couples give me on their wedding day. It was a slew of phone calls, contract disputes, postponing, rescheduling, cancelling, and consoling the sweet couples of mine who could have never prepared for this wedding planning disaster. The beginning of this pandemic was the single most challenging obstacle for a wedding industry professional to date. You know those large gatherings full of family, friends, laughter, hugs, dancing, and love? The same gatherings that happen to be the most ‘high risk’ activity during a pandemic according to the CDC? Yeah, those are the reason thousands of vendors like me have kept a roof over our head and food on our plates for years. It froze the industry in its tracks and made me question everything.
You might think me dramatic, but I assure you I’m well aware this is not our world’s first pandemic. Historically, widespread tragedy has resulted in the most beautiful artwork, creation, and change. I think back to the Renaissance Era. It took the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages to bring about modernity and enlightenment. Some of the greatest ideas and works surfaced during that time. So, after the storm of rebooking and cancelling 2020 weddings, I began to ease into isolation and tap into my own creativity without distraction. During this downtime I became hyper-aware that the wedding industry has upheld the same dated traditions for centuries, and couples were becoming more open to exploring options that pushed the monogrammed envelope. Let me welcome you to the rebirth of ‘elopements.’ Think pulling exactly what you want from the traditional wedding and fusing it with Grover Washington’s “Just the Two of Us” at the destination of your dreams. Want your fantasy wedding dress, but not so crazy about a traditional tuxedo? You got it. Want your wildly colorful florals? Your wish is your command. Want the professional photographer, champagne toast, and the cake, but not the silver spoon? Done. Anything is possible. This is the modern elopement. There’s just one small hiccup to address, and that’s traveling during a pandemic (cue dramatic music).
Just when I thought I had my grand solution, a new roadblock emerges. How do I show my COVID couples they can have their dream destination elopement in the safety of their hometown? That’s when it hit me. I can bring the destination to them. With a background in studio photography, I’ve had experience conceptualizing sets for editorial-styled shoots. The beauty of a studio setting allows one to think outside the box while being boxed in — a perfect metaphor for 2020 if you ask me. With these thoughts my styled elopement concept was born. I’m going to bring my personal experience of Mount Rainier’s seasonal beauty to Tulsa, a city in Oklahoma where the tallest “mountain” (Turkey Mountain) stands at a whopping elevation of 804 feet.
Summers in Washington are best spent hiking the Skyline Trail with the view of Mt. Rainier on a warm, sunny day. The valleys are rich with brilliant hues of wildflowers that contrast so brightly against green grass and the snowcapped mountain. It never fails to bring me feelings of romance and childlike wonder. I feel like we often forget how life-giving an abundance of color can be. The Pacific Northwest Winters? Equally stunning. It’s common to have foggy, overcast days mixed in with evergreen pine trees, and the occasional snowfall like icing on a cake. With my inspiration now as locked-down as myself, I sought out hours of set-building YouTube tutorials and a team of talented creators to build two different scenes with these opposing seasons in mind. I chose both Summer and Winter because I wanted to show couples there is beauty in getting married at any time of the year. If they feel it, they should go for it.
So without further adieu I created the mood board, gathered raw materials to build a 7×8 ft mountainous backdrop with my trooper of a husband, and put my makeshift photoshop scaling techniques to the test. I spent a total of eighteen hours over the span of two and a half days building a mountain and pines with power tools I had no idea how to use. It was a ‘fake it til you make it’ situation, and I will never forget the sense of empowerment I felt knowing that I built something directly from my imagination to completion with my very own hands. I get the hype with DIY projects now.
With a completed backdrop set of Mount Rainier in Washington, a team of vendors set out to create two elopement styles based in opposite seasons of the PNW:
Blooming Summertime & Foggy Winter.
For the Summer scene I built a studio-friendly version of Mt. Rainier to be accompanied by florals that would represent the vivid wildflowers on the Skyline Trail. The vision was to create a picnic-esque setting that was relaxed, playful, and romantic. We brought in some desserts to add a personalized dash of sweetness, and some pillows for style and comfort. Our Summer models were as kind as the imagery suggests. Landon and Breanna have a chemistry behind the camera that translates perfectly in front of it. They were a dream to shoot and worked so well with me on every unique pose I suggested.
The Winter scene was set to take on a more moody approach. The deep green sofa spoke to the evergreens as well as the standing studio pines built into the backdrop. We used a fog machine to add more emotion to the lighting, much like an actual foggy day in PNW. The color scheme may have been darker, but it was full of magnificence. Robert and Sam were the perfect couple to complete this natural, luxurious scene. They brought the longing stares, and the loving smiles. I could feel their flame. It was magic.
I get it – there were a lot of words and photos are easier to look at.
Here’s a RECAP!
The whimsical & romantic florals of wildflower tones we’ve all been inspired by while scrolling were designed by some of the most incredible florists in the industry, Ever Something.
Ever Something creates truly unforgettable floral pieces fit for the celebration of a nature and all of its beauty. Conveniently located in Tulsa’s Kendall Whittier District, you can also find their curated shop for gifts, bouquets, and everyday items. They can do it all, even plan your elopement.
www.eversomething.com – firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay Gold Event Rentals
Every piece of furniture seen in this blog was intentionally picked & conceptualized by the one and only – Lesley of Stay Gold Event Rentals.
Their all encompassing rentals are forging the way for event design in Tulsa, with a collection of furniture/rugs/pillows/decor of every color imaginable. It is a true dream to walk into Stay Gold Event Rentals warehouse and see an option that fits right into your wildest wedding dreams.
www.staygoldevents.com/ – email@example.com
Did your eyes catch sight and fall in love with Smoky Blush Ivy? The gown that showcased delicate romance with cascading tulle fabric laced in floral detail was curated by Bryde – a Tulsa bridal shop that provides the ultimate dress shopping experience. Not only did they provide the gown, but the intricate hair clip and earrings as well.
With a collection of stunningly unique gowns & accessories, Bryde will leave you feeling inspired and confident in your gown choice. It is truly an experience everyone should have when finding the one.
www.shopbryde.com – firstname.lastname@example.org
Shaina Zeff Makeup
As the day progressed, Shaina blew us away with every makeup transformation. From a soft, natural look to a fiery addition of orange eyeshadow to a wildflower field picnic pink lipstick, Shaina brought every ounce of summer to life. Within every look, Shaina’s eye for complimenting skin tone, color palette, and style all at once is unmatched.
Time and time again, I have witnessed Shaina give full confidence to every person that sits in her chair.
When I tell you my jaw dropped at the quality of Molly’s work, I’m telling you – Molly has a flawless knack for hair. As you scrolled, you may have noticed that we had two hairdo’s, and both of them were styled to convey the playfulness of summer. It was important to allow Bree’s natural hair to shine, and Molly made that happen in the most wonderful way.
Not only can Molly transform hair, but she is also a makeup artist with the incredible knack for allowing your own natural beauty to shine.
www.mollykmcguire.com – email@example.com
Sweet Devotion Cakery
You have not tasted heaven yet if you’ve never had Sweet Devotion Cakery. Seriously – I mean it. Angela & her baking skills are a slice of literal heaven. Could you imagine? A dessert arrangement for two with delicately decorated cake, cookies, and chocolates to complete the picnic of your dreams. With both a beautiful design & flavor in every item Angela bakes, she is sure to win your heart (and cravings).
No matter your longing for a cake or dessert, Sweet Devotion Cakery always delivers the highest quality of design and taste.
Landon & Bri Foster
The sweetest duo – Landon & Bree – gave us a soft, joyful energy throughout the entire process. Without their willingness to help find the perfect wedding style, we wouldn’t have completed the project with the seamless results you see here.
Along with their efforts as a couple, Landon-San is also an especially talented artist – who has brought our concept to life with multiple paintings. Below, you’ll see the Mt. Rainier painting he created for the picnic scene, as well as a painting inspired by a photo from our collection. With his talent, he will recreate your very own fav wedding photo into a work of art on canvas.
www.landonsan.com – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam & Robert
Wow to these two! As soon as I reached out to them, they were down for anything! Wearing their own wedding suits for our photos (with ultimate style I must add), they brought magic to the foggy PNW world. Let me tell you – Sam & Robert made it so easy to capture their essence. Their easy-going, silly, lovable personalities brought light to an otherwise dark & moody scene.
Words can’t quite capture how amazing Carley is in the way that she can bring life to words, but it’s important that I try. From co-owner of Bryde to stylist to ghost-writing the article, Carley played an essential role in conveying our concept. We couldn’t have done without her eye for style and artistic mind.
Scroll to enjoy more inspo from our Mt.Rainier inspired elopements!
and to read a lil’ love letter from myself to you.
By the end of this project I was on a high that might as well have taken me straight to Mt. Rainier’s peak.
I can’t thank the team of creatives who accompanied this concept with me enough, pouring themselves into my vision without even questioning my sanity. Every detail within these photos show the unspoken understanding of a theme we all shared. This production was more than a styled shoot for me. It was a symbol of what can blossom in the midst of uncertainty. It showed me how incredibly important it is to step outside of comfort zones, and to never stop creating, even when life is steady and comfortable. It’s time to start getting more secure with insecurity. Magic happens when we push our creative boundaries.