adventurous hiking elopement in Vancouver

Adventurous hiking elopement tips

We’re stoked to share this epic, styled, adventurous hiking elopement that Jelger and I photographed last June! Try saying “epic styled adventurous hiking elopement” tree times in a row, hahaha. I learned so much during this adventure and now I want to share some great tips with you!
The initial idea for the shoot came from a chat with Simon from Capture Productions, a fun hubby and wife videographer duo. He’s equally (if not more!) crazy about hiking as Jelger and I. And so we decided to combine our forces and hike up a mountain to create and document an elopement styled shoot at the peak. Check out their epic video at the bottom of this post!
We’re also excited that Rocky Mountain Bride magazine has recently featured this shoot. Definitely check out the list of talented wedding vendors at the bottom of our post. Because this adventure certainly was a team effort!
Our main goal for the day was to convince couples that it is in fact an option to go for the ultimate adventurous elopement: venturing out to a remote mountain location and tie the knot in the intimate atmosphere of scenic nature.
As expected, a hike comes with a few practical challenges. But nothing that can’t be met. Here are some great tips to get started!

1. Choose your location wisely

When choosing the location for your adventurous hiking elopement, you’ll want to consider these aspects.
First, inform yourself on the weather as well as on the actual, recent condition of the trail. In the mountains, the weather can change in a heartbeat. This can impact not just the trail accessibility but also your physical wellbeing (imagine a sudden temperature drop and getting soaked in a wedding outfit). In our case, despite it already being close to Summer (mid June) a snow-laden hiking trail made our hike considerable harder.
In our case, I’d unfortunately relied on incorrect information: a person on Instagram had assured me the trail had no snow at all. Once we arrived, things looked surprisingly different. I can only suspect she must have erroneously referred to a different trail. Lesson learned, always check the official park/trail websites! And even then, hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
Second: know your physical skills, and your limits! Choose a spot that you feel is realistic to reach within a reasonable time frame for you. And consider that you’ll probably bring more weight than usually (such as a wedding outfit). 
For our shoot, we’d picked the beautiful First Peak of Mt. Seymour Provincial Park. It’s a 7 km hike (round trip) with an elevation gain of 5oo m. Very doable at a leisurely pace in normal circumstances. But the snowed-under trail and considerable weight of gear and outfits for the shoot made things a whole lot more challenging. You may not have to carry any gear, but keep in mind that your wedding vendors do. And they might have different physical limits. Poor Jelger’s backpack was about 23 kilos (50 pounds). Our fantastic couple Meghan en Drew were seasoned trail runners and literally ran down the mountain after finishing the shoot. But the we arrived a lot later, huffing and puffing ;).

2. Know about safety precautions

Never (ever!) skip the safety precautions you’d take in consideration when going out for a regular mountain hike! Bring plenty of water and food, more than you think you’ll need. Too many people skip on this!
Next, inform a friend or relative on your planned location and route, and agree on a time to check in when you’ve returned from your adventure. If you prefer to elope in secrecy, ask your wedding professionals to follow the same procedure. 
Third, bring a survival kit (first aid kit and emergency/space blanket) and lots of warm layers. In the mountains a hot Summer’s day can change into a freezing Winter night in the blink of an eye.
Finally, Jelger and I were extremely happy about throwing a bottle of bug spray into our backpacks. There were A LOT of bugs on that mountain, and they were hungry! Luckily they were the only hungry critters that bothered us, but just in case, we always carry a bottle of bear spray.

3. What about your wedding dress/suit?

For wedding dresses it’s quite impressive how many fabrics don’t wrinkle when you stuff them into a backpack! Especially knit fabrics, certain types of lace and crochet work well. Check with your dress store, or research before purchasing :).

For our shoot I decided not to stress test the wedding dress (The Corta from Laudae). So instead, for the ascent, I hung it (in a protective cover) on the outside of my backpack. And it arrived in pristine condition. That said, after the shoot I’d stuffed the dress in my backpack for our hike down the mountain, and still it came out wrinkle-free.

In addition to the dress, I also had the groom’s suit hanging on my the outside of my backpack. Again this was an unnecessary precaution, because the same rules of fabrics apply (wool is a groom’s best friend). Additionally, you can find find some great videos online on how to fold a suit and shirt for wrinkle-free packing!

Last but not least, there’s always the option of not wearing your typical wedding attire during your adventure elopement. Instead, you can pick ANYTHING you like, as long as you’ve considered transportation :).

4. How to preserve your hair and makeup on the hike to your adventure elopement?

While you might find an active and enthusiastic makeup artist willing to join you on your venture, it’s probably more likely you’ll have to arrange your wedding hair and makeup beforehand.

For our shoot we relied on Amber from Blended By Amber, who had numerous amazing tricks up her sleeve to keep Meghan (and Drew!) looking “fresh” after a hike up a mountain.

The first concern was protection from the sun. In snowy mountains, sunburn happens a lot faster than you expect. For preventative care, Amber used a moisturizer with SPF50. If that wouldn’t suffice, she also provided us with Dermalogica UltraCalming mist, which actively reduces skin redness by 30% within 30 minutes of application. Additionally, she also prepared a little touchup kit for minor fixes that our bride could take care of herself.

Next we’d thrown our hair artist a true curveball: creating a beautiful wedding hairstyle that is both festive and hike-proof. But Amber loved the challenge and created a loose, low bun for Meghan. This hairstyle proved to be a perfect choice, because if strands of hair would come loose during the hike, the end result would still look as a deliberate, creative and beautiful whole.

In other words, what I’m saying is this: when hiking (especially in the mountains) aspects like the sun, wind and perspiration are inevitable. But you shouldn’t let them get in the way of realizing your dream mountain top elopement. Set your expectations appropriately, find a team of enthusiastic wedding vendors who are happy to take on the challenge and make it happen.

5. How about decoration and flowers?

Just because we felt brave enough to lug an entire set of decoration and florals up a mountain doesn’t mean you should feel the same. When it comes to your wedding or elopement, nothing is a ‘should’! If you don’t feel like taking up flowers (or anything else), don’t do it! That said, when you do decide to bring decoration (like we did) here are some lessons we learned from our experience.

First, delicate flowers don’t like exposure to harsh sun or hot temperatures. And hiking will usually extend how long the flowers are exposed to the elements. My best advice is to either have your bouquet made as freshly as possible (for instance on the morning of your wedding celebration) and to opt for a lot of greenery and succulents which are less likely to wilt.

Next a word about the boutonnière, and this goes for all weddings (not just a mountain elopement). Our florist made a gorgeous boutonnière for Drew with a double magnet system so he wouldn’t have to pin holes in his suit. Additionally, it makes for a fool-proof method of fixing the flower the suit. No special pinning knowledge or technique is required. Simply hold the boutonnière against the front of the lapel, and clip the magnets to the back of it. Done. Best of all, it excludes getting stabbed inadvertently (which shouldn’t happen anyways with a proper pinning technique, but that’s another story).

Finally, for the decoration, you’ll want to think twice about every object you take. While hiking, weight is your biggest concern, and once you pack it in, you’ll need to pack it out. Luckily, nature already offers you the best possible backdrop, and often lots of on-the-spot elements that you can bring to good use.

For our shoot, I’d planned to create a small rock circle for the ceremony site. Finding rocks on a mountain top is the easiest thing. Eventually the plan fell through because of time constraints, but the idea remains the same regardless of your chosen location. Get creative, and use whatever is available. And it’ll look all the better because they’re natural elements that belong in that environment.

6. How to make your adventure elopement more festive?

Keep it simple. What do you usually do on a break while hiking? Eating and drinking! So how about you bring a fun picnic! For our photo shoot, we had a cake designer create adorable mountain-shaped cookies, but you can do anything you like! Yummy foods are always a must in our book. 😉
Next up is the ceremony. Consider personalizing your vow books! Paper hardly weights anything and afterwards you’ll have a beautiful keepsake! I loved the sketch of the Mt. Seymour mountain range that our calligraphy artist created.

7. Should you hire an event planner?

The short answer is yes, if you can, and here’s why. Unless you already know exactly the where, how, what and with who of your elopement, you’ll quickly notice that organizing your wedding takes a lot of work. Let alone when you’re looking for wedding vendors who are up to the additional requirements of your adventure.

Most wedding coordinators offer smaller packages for elopements and can help you find the right vendors (for instance an officiant that is also an enthusiastic hiker) and the best location for your wedding ceremony. And thanks to their experience, they can help you hash out all the nitty-gritty wedding details that you didn’t even know about 😉

In our case, we relied on the priceless help of Natasha from Clearwater Events who helped bring our vision to life and gathered an amazing team of participating vendors. And that’s not even mentioning the countless emails she sent (and read) as well the hours of running running around to collect all the materials for the shoot!

8. As always, have fun!

Because of the nature of an adventurous hiking elopement, there is a good chance things won’t go as planned. Embrace it, and make it part of the adventure! After all, what would an adventure be without the excitement for the unexpected.

Whether the hike gets too intense, the weather turns too harsh or other circumstances hold you from your envisioned goal, do your best to go with the flow and make the best out of it. In the end all that matters is that you’re getting married to the love of your life, and that you’re sharing an amazing, unforgettable experience on which you can look back for the rest of your lives! And know that the best stories, came out of the wildest, most unexpected events.
Have fun!

vancouver-wedding-photographer-tanja

Adventurous hiking elopement vendors:

Videography: Capture Productions (look at their amazing video below!)
Stationery: The AYLA View
Wedding dress: Laudae
Accessories (necklace, earrings and wedding bands): Foe and Dear
Cufflinks: Cabin and Cub
Models and real couple: Meghan Robinson and Drew Powell
Hair and Make-up artist: Beauty by Amber (Amber Rodan)
Suit: Hugo Boss
Location: Mount Seymour Provincial Park in North Vancouver

Adventurous hiking elopement video at Mount Seymour

Considering an adventurous hiking elopement with us? Get in touch here and let’s start planning!

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