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Flanked by the gorgeous Steen mountains and canyon, this white crumpled lake basin rivals the most popular salt flats in the U.S. offering unbeatable views and endless miles of public land to explore! The adventure and seclusion the Alvord Desert in Central Oregon offers exceeded all of Alyssa and Kevin’s expectations for their wedding day.
Alyssa and Kevin turned this expansive and secluded Central Oregon desert location into their dream elopement destination.
How they chose to structure their day
- Getting ready in their camper van
- First look on the banks of Mann Lake
- Nearby Steens Mountain canyon hike
- Seek out the perfect mud flats ceremony location
- Dessert desert picnic
- Soak in hot springs until nightfall
- Make a fire and stargaze
Why Alyssa and Kevin chose the Alvord Desert for their elopement
For Alyssa and Kevin seclusion was of the utmost importance and they truly couldn’t have picked a more perfect location to fulfill that desire! This expansive and diverse desert area is 3 hours from Bend, Oregon, 8 hours from the coast, has next to no cell service, and no major town nearby–talk about seclusion! What it lacks in people and amenities it makes up for in endless white mudflats, lush canyons, towering mountains, and natural hot springs to explore from sunrise until sunset.
Their Alvord Desert Wedding
Getting ready in their camper van
Prior to their wedding day Alyssa and Kevin rented a camper van to travel and boondock in for the weekend. On the way to their camping spot, they picked up their favorite foods, treats, firewood, a telescope, and extra gas so they were ready for their unplugged elopement adventures! On the day of their elopement, they carefully got ready back to back in the van. Meanwhile, their dog, Nova, facilitated necessary detail shots between fetch tosses. After successfully staying hidden in plain sight from one another they had their first look on the banks of Mann Lake before we headed to a nearby canyon for a little hike and to escape the heat.
Mud flats ceremony
It was peak wildflower season and the canyon was teeming with flowers, flushed in colors. They relaxed in some soft grass waiting for the heat of the day to break—Alyssa and Kevin couldn’t have been happier simply enjoying one another’s company. We headed back to meander across the mudflats, waiting for the perfect location to claim them, and in no time it had. They spread out a blanket on the white crackled surface of the earth and began a sentimental candle lighting ceremony. Their cames became one and flicked in the breeze as they tearfully shared their handwritten vows. Sealed with a kiss and champagne pop they were ready to celebrate the rest of the evening!
Reserved hot springs soak
The heat set with the sun as the sky turned soft watercolor hues around us. They reserved a beloved local hotspring so they could soak in total seclusion as blue hour slowly unveiled the stars. Alyssa traded her lace wedding gown for a white bathing suit. The desert dirt from the day was washed away as they did back floats and giggled on the dock. Due to the remote nature of the Alvord Desert there was no light pollution for the stars to compete with, making it the ideal location for stargazing. Luckily, Kevin came prepared—upon returning to the van he set up a huge telescope. Leaving them out there in the middle of nowhere, cuddled up underneath the night sky, laughs echoing up the foot of the mountains, fire crackling…felt absolutely surreal.
5 Tips for planning an Alvord Desert Wedding
#1 Pick out your general camping area ahead of time. There are miles upon miles of BLM public land you have free access to!
#2 Bring plenty of supplies. This area is very remote, you’ll be hours away from gas stations and grocery stores so it’s crucial to be prepared!
#3 To beat the heat, plan your elopement in late fall, late winter, or early spring!
#4 Pack layers! With this being a desert the temperature is literally night and day with it being hot during the daytime and around 20-30 degrees cooler at night.
#5 The best time to see wildflowers is the month of May through the first week of June.
How Alyssa and Kevin’s care-free personalities shaped their wedding day
Their laid-back demeanor made their day of meandering soul-fillingly slow and pressure-free. Our timeline was more of a brief bulletproof list of things they would like to do throughout the day—in general, they let the day unfold with ease. Despite their carefree pace, they were able to see so much of what the desert had to offer! Alyssa and Kevin’s only expectation was to have a beautiful and fun-filled day just the two of them (and Nova)… and that’s exactly what their elopement was. There was no shortage of silliness, soft embraces, and vulnerability. Who knew that a place notorious for its vast emptiness could feel so incredibly full.
Think you want to elope in Oregon? Check out our blog How to Plan your Oregon Elopement and snag a free guide!