Table of Contents
2022 – expansion. transformation. growth.
2022—wow what a ride the past few years have been—eh? We can’t believe it’s already the end of another incredible elopement season and we are so excited to take a pause once again to reflect on the past year and gush about every single couple we’ve gotten to work with.
Before we go any further, we want to say a huge THANK YOU to every single couple who trusted us with documenting their intimate wedding day this year.
YOU always have been, and always will be the hero of our story at Adventure Instead.
All 3 of us are in this for you—you are what make the early (sometimes 1am) alarms, and traveling for (sometimes) weeks away from home, and the crazy schedules worth it.
You are why we are elopement photographers—and every single wedding day that each of us gets to be a part of is an incredible honor that none of us with ever forget.
Thank you for trusting us with your stories, with helping you design the experience of your day, with documenting your private moments committing your lives to each other. We will always be incredibly grateful for you.
You’ve given the 3 of us our dream jobs and enabled us to see places and sights that we would have never gotten to experience otherwise. The fact that we get to call this our job is nothing short of… well, sort of unfair to everyone else who has jobs!
Thank you for choosing your relationship, your story, the experience of your day over everything else. Thank you for choosing to adventure instead.
As we reflect back on this incredible season and what it’s meant to us—we each summed it up in a word. Our 3 words for 2022 are expansion, transformation, & growth.
The past few years have been a wild and unpredictable journey for the wedding & elopement space. Fortunately, in 2022, we’re on the path back toward normalcy within our industry, and so at the beginning of this year, we all took some time to start working on our “next step” together as a business, to push our brand, the experience we provide, and our work further for our couples.
As we shared in our “Adventure Instead’s Next Adventure” blog post—these deep and heartfelt discussions led us to a unique path forward for each of us, which has us all incredibly excited to enter into 2023 with a clarity like never before.
2022 is our “metamorphosis” year—as cheesy as it sounds, it was the year of being a caterpillar preparing to transform into a butterfly. We too made the tough decisions, knowing it would be hard in the present, but would pay off in the future.
2022 was a year of transformation, of listening to our hearts, of re-aligning with ourselves. We’re thrilled you’re along for the ride with us.
xx The Adventure Instead Team
Maddie, Amber, & Tori
2022 at a Glance
- 88 Adventure Elopements & Intimate Weddings
- 3 Countries: Greece, Iceland, & the United States
- 8 States: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
- 112,000 miles of flights and 27,000 miles of driving (read more about what we did about our carbon emissions below)
- 319,000 photos taken
WE ACCOMPLISHED SOME BIG GOALS AS A TEAM & INDIVIDUALS IN 2022
We’ve always believed in the phrase “Because “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. – African Proverb
And it constantly blows us away how much we’re able to accomplish as a team of 3 photographers. This year, we photographed 88 adventure elopements and intimate weddings in 3 countries and 8 states. We flew 112,000 miles and drive 27,000 miles and took 319,000 photos.
And we’d also love to celebrate what we’ve accomplished as individuals and what we’ve each learned this year.
- Joined a gym for the first time (Orange Theory) and went regularly for an entire year
- Released the first ever comprehensive course on how to photograph adventure weddings & elopements in collaboration with Henry Tieu
- Finally went on my honeymoon in the Maldives after it was postponed for 2 years
- Photographed an elopement in a new country (St. Lucia) bringing my total to 37 countries traveled and 20 countries I’ve photographed couples in
Lessons learned (or relearned):
- Know when to let go—which sometimes can be a stronger move than defending or holding on
- Progress can look like simplification—more complication is not always better
- Sony mirrorless AI autofocus is pure “cheat mode”
One word to describe 2022: Expansion
- Ran my first half marathon
- Learned how to navigate by map and compass
- Raced in two adventure races with my best friend, and placed first in our category both times
- Took podium in a local 10k race
- Photographed my last elopement of the year with food poisoning
Lessons learned (or relearned):
- Time is non-refundable. This lesson hit hard this year.
- Just how much energy + persistence pays off in accomplishing goals
One word to describe 2022: Transformation
- Showed up fully for all of my eloping couples, 34 of which I photographed while pregnant
- Ran my first half marathon ever
- Didn’t let a pregnancy keep me from meeting any of my fitness goals or stop me from any outdoor activities—including our annual thanksgiving backcountry trip
Lessons learned (or relearned):
- Life is far too short and everything as you know it can change in an instant
- Time is the most valuable thing there is
- Pregnancy is not a handicap
One word to describe 2022: Growth
Before we dive into some of our absolute favorite images from this year, we wanted to celebrate some of the organizations we supported in 2022.
Since 2019, Adventure Instead has been a 100% carbon neutral business with the help of a local non-profit Trees Water People and in 2020 we partnered with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor ethics to develop the first and only How to Leave No Trace Course for photographers which is a 100% non-profit course teaches photographers to operate responsibly and sustainably on public lands. This course has now raised $70,600 for the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
Alongside our commitment to being carbon neutral and the Leave No Trace educational program, each year we also donate money to groups who are are aligned with our values of a sustainable, equitable future.
Donations in 2022
In 2022, we 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.
- Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics — $26,400 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.
- Trees Water People — $1,400 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 Center for Reproductive Rights — $1,000 Donated: A global human rights organization of lawyers and advocates who ensure reproductive rights are protected in law as fundamental human rights for the dignity, equality, health, and well-being of every person.
- Native Women’s Wilderness — $750 Donated: This organization aims to inspire and raise the voices of Native Women in the Outdoor Realm, encourage a healthy lifestyle within the Wilderness, and to provide education of the Ancestral Lands and its People.
And you know what? In 2023, 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.
We’re proud to share we’ve donated $132,000 since 2019
In The News
Some exciting places our business has been featured this year!
A moment from EACH 2022 ELOPEMENT
Huge congrats to every single one of these beautiful couples—we are so honored to have been a part of your wedding days this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
As we shared in our “Adventure Instead’s Next Adventure” blog post, the 3 of us each have new and exciting plans for our 2023 season.
Read the full story behind this exciting news here, and don’t forget to follow and support Amber & Tori in their new businesses they are building in 2023.
Thank you for being a part of our journey—and we hope you come along for the ride.
xx Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori