in partnership
Adventure elopement photography is a new trend for couples who want to celebrate nature as well as their love for each other. Kathleen Castaneda helps them plan every detail of their special day, including taking gorgeous wedding photos. (Photo: Kathleen Elizabeth Photography)

Local couples are saying 'I Do' to adventure elopements

You could say that at Seattle Refined, we {heart} love. Sharing couples' stories through our Documenting Love series sets our hearts aflutter! Due to the health crisis, many weddings have been put on hold, but some local couples are pivoting and opting to celebrate their union in a totally unique way - outdoors in a gorgeous natural setting.

The trend is called 'adventure elopement' and there's one local woman who helps people plan every detail of their big day, from choosing a location to getting permits, even taking photos and serving as minister at the wedding. We connected [virtually] with adventure elopement expert extraordinaire Kathleen Castaneda.

Seattle Refined: Kathleen from Kathleen Elizabeth Adventure Photography, I am so excited to talk to you because adventure elopement is a whole new trend - and you are kind of at the forefront of it. You are an adventure elopement photographer so - what does that mean?
Kathleen Castaneda: So an elopement is really centered on what matters the most. It’s really about pulling a wedding back to its core. I specifically focus on outdoor adventure elopement, a lot of times with the adventure aspect that can involve anything like hiking the mountains to being on the beach or going to a waterfall or even kayaking on an alpine lake somewhere even riding in a helicopter.

So right now no one is having big weddings because we are in the middle of a pandemic and no big crowds. So has business picked up since lockdown?
Yeah definitely. Kind of a silver lining of COVID is that people have been introduced to this idea of elopements and they are considering them as an option for themselves.

So what are your three favorite elopement destinations right now?
I love the North Cascades and the Mount Baker area. It’s just so remote and full of these really gorgeous rugged peaks. I also really like the Mt. Rainier area. Mt. Rainer is really iconic, it’s one of the first things people think about when they think about Washington. It’s just this really magnetizing powerful place. The last place would be Olympic National Park and the National forest surrounding it. It’s incredibly diverse you can see Rainforests you can see mountains just all in the same day which is really cool.

What’s been the most strenuous hike you’re had to do so far?
This summer I did one that was eight miles but it was 4,000 feet of elevation gain. So steep the whole way, it was a grind, but ultimately it was super worth it. The couple had a lot of fun.

Thinking about the mechanics of this day - these people are getting married. So are they hiking in to these remote destinations in their tux and wedding dress?
Especially if it’s a trail that has a lot of views, a lot of spots we want to stop and take photos along the way. They hike up in their wedding attire and hiking boots and they got a lot of looks on the trails and happy - it makes people really happy to see them all dressed up.

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Are you packing in the wedding bouquets and like the cake - what’s happening? Do you bring everything with you?
Yeah my pack is pretty full! I have this bridal emergency kit so it has everything in it you could ever need.

So you come fully prepared, you are taking the photos - but you actually do a lot more than that right?
I do location scouting. And depending on what they want that day - if there are guests, fitness level - I send a guide with about five or six locations they can pick from. I also help acquire any permits. I’m also an ordained minister so that’s a lot of fun, I really like doing that.

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So this is kind of a niche business, how did you discover your calling for this?
It fit really perfectly because it is a way for me to combined my two biggest passions which is spending more time outdoors and hiking and photographing a couple on the day they get married. So it’s just been this magical, wonderful thing that I have gotten to be a part of.

So what’s the most rewarding part of this for you?
Getting to plan and curate that day from the start and then getting to watch that happen and then getting to document is so personally gratifying.

Kathleen, I hope more couples say 'I DO' to Adventure Elopement Photography! Thanks so much for chatting with us today.

For more info on Adventure Elopement Photography, check out the Kathleen Elizabeth Photography website or Instagram feed.