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Best of 2019 — Adventure Instead
2019. Wow. How do we sum up an entire year in just a few words? 2019 has been absolutely incredible and none of us (Maddie Mae, Amber, or Tori) can even believe that we get to call this life a “job”.
We love these end-of-year wrap-up posts — it’s so fun to look back over the past 12 months and see how we’ve grown, how many incredible couples we’ve gotten to work with, how many incredible experiences we’ve each had — truly — we are so grateful.
SO BEFORE WE SAY ANOTHER WORD ABOUT US… WE HAVE TO SAY THANK YOU.
Thank you to every single couple who was brave enough to decide to say “heck with it” to the big wedding industry and choose to get married in their own unique way this year.
To the couples that held hands and traipsed through the Alps in Switzerland, the Rocky Mountains, the Tetons, and more – we thank you.
To the couples who embraced wind, rain, snow, and storms with a smile on their face and an unfaltering love in their heart for their partner on their meaningful, perfect elopement day – we thank you.
To the couples who looked at each other on the elopement day they created together to perfectly reflect who they are as a couple, who chose to honor what they wanted most of all on a day that means so much, we thank you.
To every single couple who invited us (us!) to be a part of your love story, your unforgettable day, your limitlessly beautiful adventure, we couldn’t possibly thank you enough to express our pure gratitude.
We can’t thank you enough. It’s absolutely pure magic to watch two people take hands and say, “Hey, let’s do this thing together forever.”
Your beauty, your love, your admirable and impactful bravery that brings us to tears every time we think about it.
Without your choice to adventure instead, we simply wouldn’t be here.
So thanks for the best job in the whole world — and for the best year we’ve had yet.
2019 at a Glance
- 90 Adventure Elopements & Intimate Weddings
- 10 Adventurous Couple Sessions (Vow Renewals, Proposals, Engagements, Anniversaries)
- 12 Countries: Peru, Chile, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Scotland, Greece, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, France, New Zealand, U.S.A.
- 14 States: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia
- 178,868 miles of flights and 46,000 miles of driving (read more about what we did about our carbon emissions below)
- 350+ miles hiked (we lost track)
- 300,000+ photos taken
Some Big Goals We Accomplished in 2019
- Added a 3rd amazing photographer, Tori to our team and are getting her settled in a whole new elopement market for us in the Pacific Northwest (yay for more Washington/Oregon couples in 2020!)
- Grew to a team of 8 amazing women: 3 photographers, a full-time business manager (Bessie), a full-time editor (Alex), a social media manager (Sophia), a copywriter (Hanna), and our new intern (Becca)
- Taught 2 live elopement photographer workshops in Page, AZ that sold out in 20 minutes
- Launched the very first online course that teaches how to become an elopement photographer (and now has over 500 students)
- 2019 Winner of Junebug’s Best of the Best of Destination Photos Competition
- 2019 Winner of Junebug’s Best of the Best of Wedding Photos Competition
Bought a 2nd House
Did Keto for a Full Year
Launched Adventure Instead Academy
Bought a House
Went Paragliding for the 1st Time
Learned to fish
Moved to Seattle
Rappelled & rock climbed waterfalls underground
Toured New Zealand in a Campervan
Our Environmental Impact in 2019
Before we dive into some of our absolute favorite images from 2019, we want to show you something we’ve been dying to share — something we’ve been thinking about very deeply this year — our environmental impact.
We accomplished a lot of awesome stuff together in 2019, but one of the things we’re most proud of has been our efforts to make Adventure Instead 100% carbon neutral.
We know that we drive and fly a lot for our job — so of our goals for 2019 was to offset all carbon emissions of travels that the three of us did for our elopements — AND the carbon emitted by the travels of our couples (many of whom also travel to their elopement location).
In general, we’re very proud to enable couples to have a wedding experience that is significantly less impactful on the environment than a big wedding. On average, a single big wedding has as much carbon cost as 4 people for an entire year. The total carbon cost of flying or driving for 100-200+ people to come to a single wedding location is pretty horrendous… not to mention the 400-600 pounds of trash as a result, most of which is likely single-use plastic. Eloping is a much greener way to get married — but still, we wanted to do more. We wanted to do our best to make our business as low-impact on the environment as possible.
So at the start of 2019, we partnered with a local, Colorado non-profit Trees Water People. And for every elopement & shoot this year, we calculated all of the carbon used to travel to each location (not just ours — for every single couple, too!). In total for 2019, we offset 228 tons of carbon (from 765,000 miles of flights and 61,000 miles of driving) by planting trees in Central America (where they mature and grow the fastest) to help expedite the carbon offset. [Read more about how Trees Water People offsets carbon].
And thanks to the over 500 students who purchased Maddie’s online course on how to become an elopement photographer, we were also able to make an impact by donating to causes we care about a lot.
In 2019, we also proudly donated nearly $30,000 to five philanthropies that we believe are doing their very best to make the world a better, more sustainable, kinder, and beautiful place.
- Trees Water People — $2,280 Donated: This badass organization is who we teamed up with to help offset our carbon impact. Local to Colorado, this group is focused on preserving ecosystems and involving local people as best as possible to help them play an active role in the care and management of ecosystems. Staffed by dedicated, hardworking conservationists, the entire team emphasizes reforestation as well as the design and distribution of clean energy products.
- The Ocean Foundation — $6,725 Donated: This organization is dedicated to reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments around the world. They support, strengthen, and promote other organizations with a similar mission, collectively using their expertise to manage emerging threats and create high-tech solutions to better protect our oceans.
- The Trevor Project — $6,725 Donated: This outstanding and impactful group is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under the age of 25.
- Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics — $6,725 Donated: An organization very near and dear to our hearts, the LNT Center for Outdoor Ethics is all about providing research, education, and initiatives to every person who ventures outside so that they can not only protect and enjoy our world responsibly but ethically and kindly teach others the same.
- The National Park Foundation — $6,725 Donated: Where would we be without our national parks? Every single one of us must do our part to protect our national parks, and through the NPF’s mission (to support the NPS and safeguard our national heritage), we help to ensure that national park enthusiasts can safely and responsibly enjoy these wonders for generations to come.
And you know what? In 2020, we’re going to do our best to do even more. The better we take care of our planet, the more sustainable our actions, and the harder we consciously consider and minimize our impact, the better our world will be. Thanks to every couple who made this possible and every photographer who invested in our education too.
And now, the moment we’ve been waiting to share with you all year!
We put our heads together to come up with a very special collection of photos from 2019 as a tribute to this badass year we embarked on. Before you start scrolling, we’ll give you a spoiler — this isn’t a list of our favorite elopements.
Because every single one of our elopements is our favorite elopement.
No matter how many places we go, no matter how many couples we meet, and no matter how many elopements we’re lucky enough to be a part of, no day has ever been the same. Each day and each couple is so magical — no two have ever been alike. And of all the things we love about what we do, that’s probably one of our top 5 favorite reasons — every elopement is beautiful, powerful, and full of wonder in its own, unique right.
Instead, we’ve put together our favorite photos from every single elopement we captured in 2019. These are the images that made us smile, made our jaws drop, made us tear up, and what continue to inspire us to do what we do.
Start scrolling, and (if you’re like us), get some tissues — 2019 has truly been one hell of a year.
P.S. To all our couples this year — if you comment below, we’d love to respond to your comment & thank each & every one of you personally! Thank you for choosing to adventure instead. Thanks for the best job in the whole world — and for the best year we’ve had yet.
xx Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori