| January 4, 2019

Best Photos of 2018 – Adventure Instead

Table of Contents

WOW. 2018.

We are at a loss for words really.

In just one year, this business has gone from being one single photographer (Maddie Mae), to a 3-person strong adventure elopement team.

Before we write any further, we first want to say a deep and heartfelt THANK YOU to every incredible couple who invited us to be a part of their elopement story this year. You truly are the HEROS here — and none of the accomplishments we’re celebrating today would be possible without YOU having made the brave choice to rage against the traditional wedding industry — and to have the intentional & meaningful elopement of your dreams — to “adventure instead.” 😉


We (Maddie Mae, Amber, and Tori) are absolutely inspired by you, and so value the amazing friendships we have created with couples this year.

From Maddie Mae:

I remember writing the end of year blog post for 2017 (when this business was still really just me), and being amazed at what I had accomplished, and anxious about 2018. I had just joined forces with Amber a few months earlier, and was embarking on the new journey of running a team of people, instead of just being a solo photographer (like I had done for 8 years). I wanted so deeply to be able to serve more couples, and enable more people to be able to make the brave choice to elope — and after photographing over 55 adventure elopements by myself last year (and ending the season very tired) I knew it was the right choice to build a team.

But creating an elopement photography collective was a whole new adventure — and not one that there were many successful examples around the industry to look up to. Creating a new business & brand that was bigger than myself felt very risky, unknown, and yeah a bit terrifying. So now, looking back on how this year has shaped, I couldn’t be happier that I took the risk of turning “Maddie Mae Photography” into the top-notch team of elopement photographers & guides that is “Adventure Instead.” It is a scary thing inviting people to be a part of your business (one that I have spent almost 10 years building), but I can say for certain that Amber & Tori are the absolute BEST decisions I made for this business. I feel so incredibly lucky that they were willing to give up their own personal businesses and join forces with me to create this powerful collective — centered around our mutual belief in the power of elopements. The number of couples that we were able to help create their dream elopement days this year, would never have been possible on my own. I’m so excited for where “Adventure Instead” is headed, and continuing to be a resource for couples who want to elope, and an elopement-positive force in the world.

So before we get to a selection of our favorite images from the year, here’s some numbers of what 2018 ended up looking like for us.

2018 at a Glance

  • 87 Adventure Elopements & Intimate Weddings
  • 5 Adventure Sessions
  • 9 States: Colorado, Alaska, Hawaii, California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Wyoming, Pennsylvania
  • 6 Countries: U.S.A., Iceland, Switzerland, Scotland, Namibia, Argentina
  • 300+ miles hiked (We lost track)
  • 300,000+ photos taken

Some big business goals we accomplished

Maddie Mae

Bought a house

First Skydive

Did Keto for 6 months


First Scuba Dive & got scuba certified

Got Married

Learned Spanish


Learned to lead climb.

Shot medium format film after a long hiatus.

Dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time

Wow — what an incredible year! We truly can’t thank our couples enough for all of the laughs and adventures.  

Below are some highlights of just a handful of our favorite moments of 2018. With over 90 incredible couples we worked with this year, we couldn’t possibly share everything, but here are a few selected highlights.

And….. Scroll down for a special super secret announcement. 😉

Bride and groom walk along trail with snow-capped mountains in background.
Silhouette of couple walking along rocks at sunset.
Bride and groom pop champagne in front on waterfall.
Bride and groom look up as it rains on them with lake and forest behind them.
Bride and groom overlook mountain range.
Groom holds bride as they kiss in desert.
Bride and groom embrace and look into each other's eyes with alpenglow mountains in backgrounds.
Bride and groom wearing head lamps and looking up at stars.
Bride and groom hold hands and run through slot canyon.
Bride and groom stand on cliff, holding hands, with mountains in background.
Close up of bride shedding tear during ceremony.
Groom kisses bride's cheek with mountains in background.
Family surrounds bride and groom during ceremony with mountains in background.
Bride and groom wipe away tears during ceremony.
Bride and groom hold hands and run along a sand dune.
Bride and groom walk up a snow-covered hill, with headlamps at night.
Bride and groom embrace in front of helicopter and mountains.
Bride and groom embrace in front of frozen waterfall.
bride and groom surrounded by family during ceremony in cave.
Bride and groom stand on rock in front on lake and mountains.
Bride and groom run, as bride leaps across puddle with mountains in background.
Silhouette of couple facing each other and holding hands during sunset.
Bride and groom kiss with fire crackling in foreground.
Bride walks barefoot along log in forest.
Bride, groom, and their dog stand in front of lake and mountains.
Two brides laugh while reading their vows.
Couple holding hands during sunset with mountains in background.
Bride and groom holding hands and walking under tree, with sunset behind them.
Bride and groom laughing while running down a sand dune.
Family surrounds bride and groom during their ceremony with fog and mountains in the background.
Bride and groom walk on trail with their dog. Wooden signs that say "just married" are displayed on their backpacks.
Close up of bride and groom's two dogs, wearing wreaths around their necks.
two grooms read their vows to each other with forest and mountains in the background.
Bride stands in front of groom on cliff as they hold hands and look out at the view.
Groom rides bike and kissed bride.
Bride sheds tear as groom reads vows.
Bride and groom have picnic in the desert.
Bride and groom face each other  and embrace at night with stars in the sky.
Two brides during their first look on top of a mountain.
Bride and groom laugh as they cuddle their two dogs on top of mountain.
Close up of bride holding up her dress and walking barefoot along sand.
Bride and groom laugh while they pop a bottle of champagne.
Bride and groom on trail in forest.
Groom carries bride on top of mountain.
Bride and groom with headlamps, and their dog, at night. There are stars in the background.

Wow…If you made it all the way to the bottom of this post, please comment below so that we can THANK YOU for your support.

Seriously, we will reply to every comment — and we truly want to thank you for being a part of our lives, and supporting us on this journey.

We (Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori) are so incredibly grateful for all of the friendships we have made this year (with our couples, with other photographers, and with supporters along the way) — and all of these things mean so much more to us than anything. We are elopement photographers because we believe in intentional and meaningful experiences — and we are always striving to strip away the “fluff” the “stuff” and focus on the things that truly matter.

xx Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori


Super secret announcement from Maddie Mae:

Everything we’ve ever done is because we truly believe in it — and I believe in eloping.

As someone who has never connected to the idea of a big family-oriented wedding… I always knew that when it came time for me to commit the rest of my life to my partner, that I would elope. From having photographed big weddings for 5 years prior to photographing elopements… I can truly 100% say that eloping is definitely the most meaningful, intentional way to get married.

So… 6 weeks ago, my Scottish fiancé & I decided to go ahead and elope on this South America trip I had planned over the holidays (to photograph 3 other couples elopements), and I couldn’t think of a more fitting time to say our vows than the morning of New Year’s Day.

So we did it. On 12/31/18, we hiked up 5 miles, to over 13,500 feet in the mountains of Peru. We camped overnight, I got ready in a tent, and had the entire place to ourselves at sunrise. I sobbed my eyes out as we said our vows overlooking an Incan temple fortress at sunrise on New Years Day — with a cloud inversion filling the canyon below us.

It was absolutely everything I ever dreamed of — and I’m still really soaking in how incredible it was. I know what it means when our couples say that they wish they could re-live their elopements over and over again — as that’s exactly how I feel.

I wanted to start my 2019, by getting married to the love of my life. I’ll obviously have more to share on this — but if you made it to the bottom of this post, there ya go, that’s my special announcement. Happy New Year!

xx Maddie

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Maddie Mae

Elopement Photographer

& Planning Consultant

Three photographers

About us

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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