| May 20, 2020

Oregon Waterfalls Elopement

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Lindsay and David got married in the Willamette National Forest during an adventurous weekend filled with unique rentals, quiet hikes, and some of my favorite Oregon locations. We laughed together, explored Oregon trails, and truly enjoyed each other’s company. I love it when I become friends with the couples I get to photograph, and these two beautiful souls are no exception! Their love for each other was evident in every little detail – from the way they spoke to each other to how they reached out on reflex to grab each other’s hands while hiking. Looking back through these photos, I fall more in love with Oregon and the endless beautiful trails here perfect for adventurous elopements.

A bride and groom smile at each other while standing in front of an Oregon waterfall.

Spontaneous In-Home Session at a Treehouse

I met Lindsay and David for the first time two days before their elopement ceremony. We had planned to break up their wedding weekend coverage into two days – a 4-hour session the day before, and 8 hours of coverage the day of their elopement. I called them when I got to Oregon and we were going through the schedule when they invited me to just come over and watch Game of Thrones. I got there and I was so excited! I’m obsessed with unique rentals and getting to stay in cool places. When I saw their Airbnb was a treehouse library, I had to pull out my camera. We ended up taking photos for about an hour, then went outside to explore amongst the trees and watch the sunset.

The treehouse was something out of a Disney movie! Imagine wall-to-wall books and a ladder like in Beauty & The Beast. The whole space was open, inviting, and my dream house – pretty much the coolest rental ever! I highly recommend couples traveling for their elopements find a house or cabin they adore to spend the weekend in, but I think treehouses might now be top of the list!

Getting to spend an evening exploring with Lindsay and David meant we were already friends when their photography coverage started the next day! I felt so grateful to already be comfortable with each other, and their relationship was a beautiful thing to witness over the next two days. Lindsay and David have a truly special kind of love, and they complete each other so well.

A couple sit in a library room at an Airbnb.
A couple sit in a hammock at an Airbnb.


After the treehouse adventure, I met up with Lindsay and David the next morning before sunrise. It was a two-hour drive to the coast where we explored a few different trails. I had picked out some locations, but we weren’t in any rush to get anywhere specific, and the time to simply enjoy the beautiful Oregon coastline was something I’ll always remember with a smile. 

Lindsay and David had gotten engaged at a lighthouse, so I found a trail with a lighthouse on the beach! We hiked around the rocks and explored the tidepools at the base of the lighthouse. At this point the sun was beginning to rise. We saw anemones, starfish and giant crabs! We explored amongst the driftwood, sandy beaches, rocky beaches, coastal forests, and caves. The Oregon Coast is an extremely varied environment, and we wandered our way through so much diversity of plant and animal life. The whole morning was relaxed and joyful – we were extremely lucky to have the trails to ourselves with such perfect weather!

After a very enjoyable day meandering through some of Oregon’s gorgeous beaches, we headed back to our rentals and had a good night’s rest. We planned to begin very early in the morning and no matter how many times we do this – it’s still so easy to stay up late from excitement the night before someone’s wedding!

A couple kiss on a beach at the Oregon Coast.

Oregon Waterfalls Elopement

On May 7 I met up with Lindsay and David at 3 a.m. at their second rental. We began with getting ready photos and a first-look in the living room. David had already seen Lindsay’s dress, but it was still so sweet to witness their excitement getting ready in the very early morning. Then, we drove about 30 minutes to the trailhead of one of Oregon’s most beautiful waterfalls. Being there so early, we were extremely lucky to have the place to ourselves and didn’t see anyone until we were hiking back out. Sahalie Falls was actually a trail Lindsay and David discovered themselves – we often help our couples choose their ceremony spots, but I don’t think they could have picked a more perfect place! The 2-mile loop trail to Sahalie Falls isn’t steep, and it’s also dog friendly, so I’d definitely recommend it to other couples looking for an Oregon waterfall location.

Lindsay and David donned headlamps when we got to the trailhead because the sun hadn’t yet risen. We took some slow-shutter photos in front of the falls and watched as the sun began to rise and glint on the spray of water hitting rocks at the base. Spring is the best time in Oregon to hike out to waterfalls because the snowmelt has flooded the rivers and the result is truly dramatic.

When the sun had risen, Lindsay and David shared their vows in one of the sweetest ceremonies I’ve had the pleasure to witness. They were already legally married, which is an adventurous story on it’s own! David summed up his views on their commitment ceremony, and I couldn’t agree more. He said, “it doesn’t really matter what the government says because I knew I wanted to marry Lindsay from the start.” Their elopement was their wedding day, but they decided to make the paper-signing fun in their own way anyway! Rather than just go to the courthouse, David took Lindsay up in the air (he’s a pilot) and they got married while flying and the photo of their first kiss is an incredible image with a crooked horizon in the background. Their elopement ceremony, with feet on the ground, was a beautifully romantic way to cap off an adventurous marriage experience that spanned the country! They exchanged rings, even though they had already been wearing them, and it was all perfectly “them” and wonderfully unique! 

Landscape of Oregon. There is a rainbow reflecting in the air.


After their ceremony, we explored further along the Mackenzie River. The trail is miles and miles long – you can explore as long as you want!  We kept walking and the light streaming through the mossy trees could only be described as magical. After a while spent truly enamored with the scenery around us, we went further back down the road to another trailhead we had passed on the way in. We hiked about two miles out and came across some water that was some of the bluest I’ve ever seen and there were more falls cascading into the bright blue waters. We took more photos on the shores of this magical pool, and somehow our timing this entire weekend was perfect! Again, as we were hiking out there were dozens of others on their way in.

After this perfect Oregon waterfall elopement, we returned to Lindsay and David’s rental. We each poured a glass of gin they had picked up in Eugene and mixed that with some blackberry bubbly. We cheersed to their marriage and their future! Their “wedding cake” was a couple of artisan cupcakes. David and Lindsay didn’t hold onto many traditions during their elopement, but they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to shove cake in each other’s faces! We all couldn’t stop laughing when Lindsay’s cupcake smashed to her forehead and stuck there, just stayed right smack in the middle of her face! It was such an awesome way to sum up our last few days together, laughing and already talking about how awesome this wedding celebration was. I’m so grateful to work with incredible couples like Lindsay and David!

Now that they were married, legally and officially on their own terms, Lindsay and David chose to stay in Oregon for a few more days before returning to Florida. They continued the adventure by returning to the trails and exploring more of Oregon as husband and wife. Their elopement weekend was perfect. Our three days together made evident to me how wonderfully paired these two are – he’s talkative and outgoing, while she is quieter. She’s a nurse, and they are each extremely caring individuals. Each detail they planned was authentic and conscientious. Our timing was perfect and even the most popular locations were quiet during the early hours we were there. It felt like we had the whole wild fairytale Oregon wilderness all to ourselves.

xx Amber

Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

A bride and groom hold hands while walking through a forest.
A bride and groom look at each other while standing on a bridge in the forest.
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Maddie Mae

Elopement Photographer

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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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