| January 2, 2018

Best of 2017 – I got engaged!

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It’s hard to write these end-of-year posts. In my 8 years of being a wedding photographer, this will be my first end-of-year synopsis. 

Besides the fact that I took over 200,000 photos this year — and narrowing down to any reasonable set of “favorites” is nearly impossible — this year has been absolutely something straight out of a dream for me.

Looking back over a full year of experiences is incredibly humbling & awe-inspiring. 

I can say for certain that when I photographed my first wedding back in high school at age 17, I never would have imagined that just 2 years out of college, I would get to have a life like this. 

It looks the craziest to me when I look at the numbers. 



  • 55 Adventure Elopements & Intimate Weddings
  • 13 Countries Traveled
  • 300+ miles hiked (I lost track 😉
  • 200,000+ photos taken
  • 3 Scuba Diving certifications & 36 dives (not bad for living in a land-locked state 😉

Before I say anything else, I have to say thank you.

Thank YOU, to all the incredible couples that make the brave choice to have the type of wedding day that truly reflects & celebrates your relationship — thank YOU for daring to have a wedding that truly is about you two. I could never have this life that I have without all of the amazing couples that gave me the honor of documenting their day — who trusted me enough to invite me into the most intentional & heartfelt of moments and to document their love story. 

When I photographed my first elopement just a few years ago, it was a life-changing moment for me. It was the first wedding I had ever been to that I could imagine myself doing something similar someday. I knew right then, at that 12 person elopement in Rocky Mountain National Park — that photographing adventurous outdoor elopements & intimate weddings were all that I wanted to do in life.

Couples who choose to elope are my type of people. The wedding industry is this giant $60B capitalist machine, that survives by creating a huge list of “have to’s” when it comes to a wedding. From the engagement ring to the dress shopping — in the midst of 16-person wedding parties, 250 guests, table garlands, 4-tiered wedding cakes, stilettos, garter & bouquet tosses — it’s easy for a couple to get lost, and get spit out by the wedding industry machine $40-60k later asking themselves “what was really the point of all that?” 

Saying instead, “How do we really want to celebrate our commitment to each other? What kind of wedding day would make the most sense for us? How could our wedding be a true & authentic reflection of who we are as a couple?” — yields such different answers than what the wedding industry dictates is necessary.

If you’re the type of couple that spends their weekends’ camping, hiking, backpacking, rock-climbing, paddle boarding, snowshoeing, road-tripping, traveling, or exploring — if being on a mountaintop, the edge of a canyon, the base of a waterfall, rocky beach, or high alpine lake feels more at home to you than a “venue” where hundreds of other couples have already gotten married — having an adventurous elopement or intimate wedding is the way to go.

It’s funny to me that having a wedding day that’s really about “YOU TWO” is such a novel idea — that it’s “non-traditional” for a couple to want to celebrate their commitment by planning the most awesome day together for just the two of them, and say their most heartfelt and personal promised to each other with no one around. 

Having photographed over 200 weddings, I can say with confidence that elopements are the absolute best way to get married — whether just the 2 of you want to jet off to Iceland (learn more about eloping in Iceland), or if you and your 25 closest family & friends want to celebrate together in Kauai, or you want a small mountaintop ceremony with your parents or best friends followed by a first dance & picnic around a campfire — whatever you imagine could be the best day for the two of you and the perfect way to celebrate your commitment — that’s what you should do. 

I’m so inspired by couples that take their wedding day back into their own hands with a vision to authentically reflect who they actually are, instead of “doing what everyone else does.” All of you who made the brave choice to have the wedding day of your dreams — that truly reflected you and as purely about celebrating your love & commitment — YOU are the reason I exist. You are my inspiration — you are my passion. You are my heroes.

Here’s a brief collection of some of my favorite moments from this year… read on below for a special announcement. 

Photos from the 2017 year

Bride and groom embracing in front of a waterfall in Iceland. The bride's white dress is flowing in the wind behind her.
Bride and groom holding hands and hiking up a hillside with yellow wildflowers. They are both smiling. There are mountains in the background.
Groom lifts up bride as they share a kiss. There are snow-covered mountains behind them.
Bride and groom standing at the edge of an alpine lake in the dark. They are wearing headlamps and there are snow-covered mountains in the background.
Bride and groom read their vows in front of an alpine lake in Colorado. There is alpenglow on the mountains in the background.
bride and groom sitting on rocks at the edge of an alpine lake at night. There are stars in the sky, and snow-covered mountains in the background.
Bride wipes away a tear during intimate elopement ceremony with groom. Bride is wearing a flower crown and white dress with a white shawl. Groom is wearing a suit.


If you’ve made it to the end of this post — I would love to thank you. If you comment below I’d love to express my heartfelt gratitude for your support. 

The amazing friendships I’ve made this year with couples, other photographers, and fellow adventurers mean more to me than any amount of money or awards. 

As if I hadn’t already had the most unforgettable year, 1 week before the end of 2017 I decided to embark on another lifelong adventure. 

On December 25, 2017,  the love of my life, boyfriend of over 4 years, travel partner to 14 countries, co-puppy parent — asked me “how much more traveling like this would you like to do?” We were in Tikal, Guatemala, on Christmas Day, and had just climbed to the top of one of the tallest ancient Mayan pyramids in the world, and had it all to ourselves. I turned to him and said, “So much more.” He pulled out a ring and asked me if I’d spend the rest of my life with him. 

I said “yes”. 

Yes to more adventures. Yes to traveling. Yes to an intimate wedding day that truly reflects us. 

I didn’t think it was possible to be even more excited about my job as an elopement photographer — but being engaged now brings a whole new perspective and level of passion & excitement. 

In 2018 and as for as long as I can in life, I want to continue to challenge the status quo of “weddings” and empower as many couples as possible to have a wedding day that’s truly about them. 

I can’t wait to see what adventures 2018 brings.

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Maddie Mae

Elopement Photographer

& Planning Consultant

Three photographers

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Adventure Instead

Your Elopement Photographers & Planning Consultants. We are Maddie Mae, Amber, and Tori. We're your photographers, your elopement consultants, your cheerleaders, and your go-to adventure buddy on the day you say your vows.

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