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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 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.” ;)

If you hired us to be a part of your elopement this year, please comment below so that we can thank you again for giving us the honor of helping you create it, and document it.

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 spend 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 amount 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

 
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AmberAdventureInsteadElopementPhotographersHowtoElopeElopementHelp
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Maddie Mae

  • • Bought a house

  • • First Skydive

  • • Did Keto for 6 months

Amber

  • • First Scuba Dive & got scuba certified

  • • Got Married

  • • Learned Spanish

Tori

  • • 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. ;)

Elope on your terms! Choose the location that fits your relationship, whether it’s eloping on a Swiss mountaintop or in the desert. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Choose the time of day that’s best for you to elope. Both sunrise and sunset elopements have their benefit. These are a few of our favorite moments from our heroic couples who chose to elope this year. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Celebrate your dream destination elopement by spraying a bottle of champagne, like this couple who eloped near a waterfall in Iceland. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
No matter what happens on your elopement wedding day, it’s your day! Embrace the adventure, like this couple who’s elopement day featured an epic summer thunderstorm. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Hike in your wedding clothes and have an adventure on your elopement day! This couple chose to look out over Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park for their adventure elopement day. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
You still have a choice when it comes to your wedding! These are a few of our favorite moments from our heroic couples who chose to elope this year. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
You have a choice when it comes to your wedding! We help you plan your ideal elopement day anywhere in the world. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
We believe in capturing your entire elopement day, from start to finish. This couple chose to elope on a mountain and hiked down in the dark after which resulted in this epic starry night sky shot from their elopement day. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Running through Antelope Canyon on your wedding day is great. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! This couple chose to elope on top of Yosemite Canyon in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
During your elopement day, let your emotions fly. Be present in the moment with your partner. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Eloping at sunrise or sunset gives you dramatic photos and an incredible experience on your elopement wedding day. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
You can still have guests with you and call it an elopement ceremony. Surround yourself with the guests you want on your wedding day. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
This couple chose to elope with an officiant and a backdrop of a stunning arch with flowers. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Embrace adventure on your wedding day! Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! This couple chose to elope in the deserts of Namibia, Africa. Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
You can elope in winter! This couple planned a mountain hiking elopement ceremony and walked through frozen snow fields at night after saying their vows. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
What kind of vehicle will you need during your elopement day? Maybe a 4x4 vehicle? Or even a private helicopter, like this couple who eloped in Alaska? Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Winter elopements are still possible! Dress in layers under your wedding attire and take frequent breaks to stay warm, like this couple who eloped in the winter at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado and hiked to the frozen Zapata Falls waterfall for couple’s portraits after saying their vows. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
It’s still an elopement if you have guests with you! Surround yourself with those closest to you on your wedding day. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Embrace adventure on your elopement day! This couple chose to elope in the Scottish Highlands and jumped through the bogs all day. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Eloping at sunrise or sunset will give you dramatic photos. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
This couple chose to have their first dance as a married couple following their elopement vows by a campfire in Alaska. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
If you have guests present during your elopement day, you can have them sprinkle you with flower petals as you have your first kiss. Make sure that it’s allowed at your elopement location and always leave no trace! Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
A bride walks through a forest barefoot during her elopement ceremony. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
If you’d like to have a furry friend with you when you say your vows, make sure it’s allowed by your location. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Eloping at sunrise or sunset gives you dramatic photos and an incredible experience on your elopement wedding day. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Adventure is important on your elopement day! This couple chose to elope at sunset in the deserts of Namibia, Africa, as the sun glowed orange behind them. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Even a little rain shouldn’t stop the adventure of your elopement day. You can also have guests, including family and friends, at your ceremony and still call it an elopement! Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
To hike on your elopement day, plan to carry your wedding clothes up and hike down in them. Furry friend and cute customized ‘Just Married’ signs attached to your hiking backpacks not required. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
If you want to have your dogs present with you when you elope, make sure your location allows animals. Have a plan for where they’ll go during the day if they’re not with you the entire time. And maybe let them dress up a little for the occasion too. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
A self solemnizing ceremony is when you and your partner are the only two witnesses to your elopement. It is a legal way to get married at certain spots around the world. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
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An elopement allows you the freedom to add in elements of your personality to your wedding day, like this couple. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Traditional elements of a wedding day can still happen during an elopement. Plan a special time to eat and drink with your partner after saying your vows, like this couple who had a picnic by lantern light as the sunset on the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
For winter elopements, make sure you dress in layers and take frequent breaks to stay warm. Stay out after the sun goes down at your hiking elopement and you’ll get stunning images of the Milky Way Galaxy. This image was also selected to Junebug Wedding’s top 50 Best Wedding Photos in the World! Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
An elopement day can be filled with more than just saying your vows. This couple chose to go for a swim together after saying their vows in Europe. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Embrace your partner and all the emotions that come with a wedding day during your elopement. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Bring your dogs with you during your elopement day! Make sure your location allows animals and you have a plan for where they’ll be during the day but they’re an important part of your life and should be included! Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
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Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Embrace adventure on your wedding day! This couple chose to elope on the snowy glacier fields of Alaska. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
For a winter elopement, it’s key to take breaks to warm up frequently. This couple used their renovated trailer as the perfect break spot as they eloped at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Bride kicks up sand in the Namibian desert at sunset after her elopement. Eloping at sunrise or sunset gives you dramatic photos and an incredible experience on your elopement wedding day. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Eloping at sunrise or sunset gives you dramatic photos and an incredible experience on your elopement wedding day. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Once you’ve said your vows it’s time to celebrate! The key to a great champagne spray is to really shake the champagne, like this couple did following their Yosemite National Park elopement ceremony! Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
What vehicles will you need for your elopement day? Certain activities will require certain vehicles, like this 4x4 two grooms used for their elopement ceremony. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
You can hike on your elopement wedding day! Bring all your gear and plan to carry your wedding day outfits. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
You can have your furry friends with you when you elope! Just make sure dogs are allowed at the location you choose to elope and have a plan for where they will go. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
Embrace each other freely during your elopement day! Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.
If you plan a hiking elopement at sunrise or sunset, chances are you will be hiking in the dark. Embrace this and keep photographing! It’s all an important part of your day. Where you elope and how you say your vows matters! Photo by Maddie Mae, Adventure Instead Elopement Photographers.

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

P.S.

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 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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HEY THERE!

We're Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori. We are adventurous elopement photographers & guides based in Colorado that travel worldwide to help fearless couples like you create your unforgettable, wildly different wedding experience—that is completely yours.

Are You Ready to Create Your Own Adventurous Elopement?


If you would like help dreaming up your intimate wedding day, a customized elopement location idea list just for you, planning tools, vendor recommendations, and a creative, laid-back, documentary approach to your adventurous wedding photography—we would love to help you make your adventure elopement dreams come true.

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