| November 6, 2020

Umpqua National Forest Wedding

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Devlin + Colton’s Umpqua Elopement

Devlin and Colton’s adventure elopement in Umpqua National Forest took place at three incredible waterfalls – the first two were totally private and intimate, which made this the perfect place for their emotional ceremony! From the moment we began planning this elopement until we parted ways, their excitement over exploring the lush green forests of Oregon was absolutely contagious. From planning the details of the day, to finally meeting that morning, it was clear how deeply they loved each other and wanted a wedding that reflected their unique personalities. One of my favorite things about this day was their style – Devlin’s stark white dress and sheer cape were iconic, and she looked like she could have stepped right out of an old Hollywood glamour magazine! 

First Look at a Yurt

The day began at their rental “cabin” – a yurt on a horse property just outside Eugene, Oregon. The yurt was nestled into the trees and surrounded by mountains and forest. When I arrived, Devlin was finishing up getting her hair done, and her makeup was already applied. Colton sat with her, being her hype man, not yet ready himself at all. It was still early in the morning and the sun had just begun to rise. 

I photographed their detail shots while Colton put on his suit and headed outside. Devlin then got into her dress and it was honestly one of my favorite dresses I’ve ever gotten to photograph – it was stark white, strapless, and had a gorgeous train. She paired it with a sparkly sheer cape and golden crown – it was one of the most unique and classic wedding styles I’ve witnessed! Together, Devlin and Colton looked like they stepped right out of the 1940s. To add to the classic vibe, they curated a playlist that we listened to throughout the day, many of the songs old classics.

When Devlin stepped out of the yurt to see Colton for their first look, the emotion was palpable. Tears were flowing and it was such a sweet moment between them as they got excited for the adventures ahead. 

Our first stop was at a waterfall called Spirit Falls – we got there by taking a network of forest service roads and logging roads that crisscrossed like a complex spider web. When we parked, it was at a small trailhead only a short distance from the falls. It was still really early in the day and the rising sun hadn’t yet reached the forest floor. The fern-covered ground was a magical  deep dark green that I love so much – it’s the kind of color that is iconic to the Pacific Northwest. Devlin and Colton had traveled to Oregon from southern California, and before that they lived in Arizona, so it was amazing to witness them enjoying the Oregon environment! 

The way they moved through the dark forest, listening to their vintage playlist on a bluetooth speaker, I felt like I was watching a classic film. The way she kissed his forehead, and the way he brushed hair out of her face and smiled – it was so romantic!

When we reached the first waterfall, their joy was contagious – the first thing they did was walk over to the water, take off their shoes, and dip their feet in the freezing runoff! They did this because they said they wanted to feel every part of their day, and experience all the sensations of being in this magical forest. The moss covered rocks that the falls were cascading down lent well to the narrative that this scene was truly pristine. Colton then helped Devlin put her shoes back on and they explored the surrounding forest.

Waterfall Elopement Ceremony

I don’t think any one photo of this location can do justice to just how tall these falls are! The hike to this location is about half a mile each way, and the first moment we were able to see the 105-foot waterfall took our breath away! The sun had risen at this point, which made the forest look completely different than it had at daybreak. The way in which these two stopped to enjoy every single thing about their surroundings was a reminder for each of us to be truly present and experience the moment. 

To really seal the memory, Devlin did something I like to do as well –  she bought a special perfume she’s never worn before, just for the wedding. Smell is one of our senses best able to  trigger memories. Now whenever she smells that scent again, it’ll bring her back to this beautiful wedding experience! I often do this when traveling, or trying something new and exciting, because being able to remember specific moments from smelling something incredible is such a great way to hold onto an experience. It’s kind of like how fresh baked cookies remind you of grandma’s house!

Devlin and Colton selected a spot along the rocky “shore” at the base of the waterfall. They settled in, took out their vow books, and shared some of the sweetest memories – I think. I actually couldn’t hear their vows at all over the sound of the rushing water, but capturing the joy, laughter, and happy tears they shared over their private moment certainly told a story. After they were done, they turned to me and I cheered – they were married! They also cheered, and then we heard a third faint cheer coming from the woods behind us. Until this point, we’d been totally alone but apparently a hiker was coming up the trail and paused when they saw a ceremony was taking place. I was so glad Devlin and Colton got to share this totally private moment, but it was also super sweet to hear someone else congratulating them!

They popped champagne, then we headed back to the trailhead to visit the third and final waterfall of the day. We walked back along the trail, checking out this incredible thick field of ferns along the way. It was truly a joy to get to spend a day with two people who so obviously appreciate their surroundings and clearly enjoy the little details in life!

The third waterfall was a wider waterfall cascading over thick mossy rocks. This was the only location we explored where other hikers were present, but they were all super respectful and we were able to capture lovely portraits here too. A couple of other hikers at the base of these falls actually ended up signing Devlin and Colton’s marriage certificate as witnesses! 

Devlin and Colton completed their wedding adventure with snacks, hanging out near the falls, and reading letters from loved ones back home. It was really sweet how they were able to incorporate family members, while still eloping just two of them. Once they were ready to head back, we drove the many forest service roads back to their rental yurt and said goodbye. It was such a gift to witness these beautiful forests through the eyes of this couple – living here, I’ve fallen so in love with all the gorgeous outdoor recreation, but there’s nothing quite like seeing the lush green PNW for the first time. 

Ready to plan your own Oregon elopement? Check out this list of Oregon elopement locations, and reach out!

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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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