| October 25, 2020

Forest Park Portland Elopement

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Forest Park Portland Elopement

As with so many of our 2020 couples, this story begins with a change of plans. Jennifer and Michael had originally hoped to marry in June, but delays acquiring their intentionally-curated attire led us to push things back a few weeks. When we finally all got together in July, it was perfect! I’m honestly so glad they waited to make sure everything was as they wanted because the amount of attention to detail in this elopement was something out of a fairytale. Plus, the change of date allowed them to bring along their dog, Esme. The location, Jennifer’s dress, Michael’s suit, and Esme’s flower collar all perfectly complemented their gorgeous ceremony spot in Forest Park. This Portland elopement truly captured the best of this Pacific Northwest city!

Bride and groom

Wedding Ceremony at the Redwood Deck

The day began in the morning – I arrived while Jennifer was getting her hair and makeup done at their downtown AirBnb. Michael was upstairs getting ready – his custom suit was handmade in Atlanta, where they live, and the detail was incredible! His name was sewn into the side, and the custom fit truly looked perfect on him. Jennifer’s custom dress looked amazing on her as well! The fact they were able to bring so many details from their hometown to their Portland elopement was an example of how much care went into each step of their wedding plans. They put thought into every detail – the Pendelton blanket, Esme’s flower collar & leash, and Jennifer’s bouquet. She had specifically wanted flowers that looked like they fit into their PNW surroundings – a bouquet that looked like it could have been foraged from the hillsides of Portland. Color Theory Design did an amazing job crafting just that – a collection of greens and earth colors, which smelled amazing because they also incorporated mint and lavender. When we hiked into the forest for their ceremony, the florals complemented the surroundings perfectly. The details added to the scenery, rather than distracted from it.

Before we headed up to Forest Park, Jennifer sat at the dining table in their rental and transcribed her vows from her phone to a vow book. Michael headed out first with Esme, to grab a bottle of champagne and meet us at the location for their first look. Once she was ready, Jennifer hopped in the car with me and we headed up toward the Hoyt Arboretum, which is the site of the Redwood Deck – a wedding ceremony venue surrounded by redwood trees in the heart of Portland. It was amazing to be directly downtown at Jennifer and Michael’s AirBnb, then travel only 10 minutes to be deep in the forest! One of the good-for-us things about all the rescheduling this year was that Jennifer and Michael were able to get married at the Redwood Deck, when it normally is so busy there’s a lottery system. When their date changed, I contacted the permitting office and was told it was totally free because so many bigger weddings had been canceled. 

It was nice to see a silver lining during an otherwise stressful time – Jennifer and Michael were able to have a totally private first look at one of the most popular wedding locations in Portland at a public park. There were a lot of other people out and about, but they were super respectful of these two getting to share an intimate moment by themselves. When Jennifer walked up, Michael was standing there with Esme at his feet (she got so excited to see Jennifer). After their first look, they launched right into their vows. They had been legally married back in Atlanta a few weeks prior with their loved ones present, but that didn’t detract at all from the joy and sentiment they shared now. They had expressed to me a little worry that they wouldn’t feel the momentousness of the occasion because they were already legally married, but afterward they assured me it was all they had ever imagined!

Surrounded by the gorgeous Oregon redwoods, Michael and Jennifer shared such meaningful vows. Esme sat between them, partially on Jennifer’s dress, wildly adorable in her flower collar. It was such a gorgeous ceremony! Afterward, we headed into the forest to explore the trails. There are over 70 miles of trails in Forest Park, more than enough to make you totally forget how close to a major city you are! We were walking through massive trees, and thick fern-covered hillsides. Sometime remarkable about this elopement was that Jennifer was wearing high heels – a lot of Adventure Instead couples are known for pairing hiking boots with their wedding attire. But Jennifer was more steady on heels than some other brides in flat shoes – she hiked effortlessly, to the point where I legitimately forgot she was in heels. Then, we came across a fallen log and she jumped up on it to walk across to the other side. Michael tied Esme to a tree and joined Jennifer. I snapped some photos and the whole time Esme was making the funniest bulldog snorts and huffs – she wanted in on the fun!

We then went to a part of Forest Park called the Wedding Meadow –  it is a beautiful green grassy space, perfect for a picnic. We laid out the Pendelton blanket they brought and popped champagne. Esme was running around enjoying a bit of freedom, but the grass was so tall she was basically bunny hopping over it to get around! After relaxing in the park for a little longer, we headed back toward Jennifer and Michael’s downtown AirBnb. They pulled out the most delicious carrot cake I’ve ever had – it wasn’t too sweet, but had a little spice and even small pieces of candy ginger beneath the buttercream frosting. I’m convinced Jennifer and Michael had the best Portland vendors – I’m not a cake person, but this one from Sweet Dreams Bakery was incredible! After eating cake, they changed out of their wedding attire and planned to go grab lunch somewhere downtown with Esme. This elopement might not have gone exactly as originally planned, but it was perfect. I’m constantly inspired by the couples who are being so flexible with the uncertainties of this year, but Jennifer and Michael sure managed to make the most of the opportunity they had. 

Considering a Portland elopement? Check out this list of our favorite elopement locations in Oregon!

Ready to begin planning? Reach out!


Airbnb: The Foody Farmhouse

Hair & Makeup: Emily Mercer and Kelly Thomsen

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Maddie Mae

Elopement Photographer

& Planning Consultant

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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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