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What if I want to elope?

Okay guys, let's talk about elopements.

For a little back story, I will start with 2018 - in 2018, 3 separate brides who either had already booked with me for their full day wedding coverage OR were waiting to secure a venue before officially booking with me - three separate brides decided to say "no thanks" to the traditional wedding and all of the family drama and time and expense and expectations and demands that went along with it. Some of these ladies already had secured a venue and other important vendors (such as myself). Some of them were earlier in the planning process.

My point is, I know that there will be others, and I know this is a growing trend. Perhaps most couples who have these thoughts shove them under the rug and trudge through the big traditional wedding trenches. Maybe for family. Maybe for their friends. Maybe just because they decided it was what they really wanted. But I am here to tell you it's okay to do something different!

Weddings for me (and the kind of couples who book me) are about to create something unique to the couple. There is a longing that I see in my clients to design a wedding that is cohesive with their lifestyles, their values, their love story, and their vision for the future.

Unfortunately, and very often for the less traditional couples, this special vision is often stamped out by unknowing family members and friends (but let's be honest, usually parents and grandparents). I was lucky to have parents who really let me be and just supported my nontraditional wedding vision, and on my wedding day, they told me how happy it made them that I had created a wedding that was "so you."

But what happens when mom and dad have different expectations (and maybe they are the ones with the budget)? What happens when you have to choose between the wedding of your dreams and your parents' wedding? I am finding more and more couples simply choose to take it smaller and elope!

For many of these couples, this means amazing destination locations - a wedding where it is just you, your fiance, an officiant and the most amazing, vast landscape as the backdrop to your vows. Others opt to include a small group of parents, siblings, and closest friends.

Let me be the first to tell you that there is nothing wrong with changing your mind - in fact, these kind of weddings are my favorite, and even if you have already booked the "big wedding" with me, I will work with you to make your dreams come true and be there to document your unique wedding story. But seriously - the UP, California, Oregon, Iceland, Italy; you name it, I am there. Let's work together to make your wedding dreams a realty and preserve those dreams in photos for the rest of your lives - and beyond.

Here are a few places that make amazing backdrops to your elopement vows in Michigan (our home state) and beyond:

Black Rocks, Marquette, MI

This amazing place is in the upper peninsula of Michigan on the coast of Lake Superior on Presque Isle. I have had the awesome privilege of photographing here already, but I would love to go back. I mean, can you believe this is in Michigan?

The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive near Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

I took this drive (unfortunately on a cold, windy, rainy day), and got out to hike to scenic spots along the way, and let me tell you, it is breathtaking.

Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains, Michigan

Fitzgerald Park/The Ledges Park, Grand Ledge, M

And just a few locations outside of Michigan:

Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, OH

Um, can you believe this is in Ohio? Well, it is!

Cumberland Falls in Kentucky

We happened upon this place on our way home from Florida, and GORGEOUS.


For real though, this is on my list of must-go places, and I am dreaming of photographing elopements there.

Check out some great options for elopement places from Wedding Pioneer here.

But I mean look at this place.


This place looks like something from a dream.

I mean, why not elope on the hike, am I right?

The West

As I am from California, the West will always hold a special place in my heart. There are just so many places to choose from. I mean really - there is Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Big Sir, Cannon Beach, Rocky Mountain National Park...the list goes on.

So where do you begin?

Here is how you can get started on planning your destination elopement (or adventure session if maybe you want to redo your wedding photos):

1. Pick a spot!

Research different locations - learn about traveling there, how much preparation if needed, the best and least busy seasons to go, where to stay before and after the big day - and choose!

2. Acquire permits

While many places do not require permits, it is always better to be safe if you should get asked for one on the big day! These can run between $50 to $100. Check with the local authorities and park administration for more details.

3. Book Travel

While we may drive for many of these locations, in some cases, flying is a better and even less expensive option. Let's work together to find the best way to get us all out there!

4. Embrace your vision and your decision and GO!

Remember how special this time is and that the whole purpose is to celebrate your love, your story, and your marriage - and let's do this!

Photo Credits:

Photos of Black Rock, the rainy Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, and the "up close" with people ones at Cumberland Falls - Me

Photos of Hocking Hills, Iceland, and Yosemite taken by my sister, edited by me.

All others were found on Google Images without credit.


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