FAQ: When eloping in Washington, how do we handle our marriage license? Do we need a park permit?

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Kate the Planner here to answer your questions! Washington is rapidly becoming a popular place to elope. Born and raised in this state, I LOVE watching couples from around the country discover the magic in our mountains, the seclusion in our forests, and the epicness of our seaside home. I plan and officiate a lot of elopements in the Pacific Northwest and each area has its own requirements. With all the beauty nature has to offer here in Upper Left, USA, I frequently get asked questions about what the marriage license and permitting process looks like. So here is a breakdown of the marriage license process AND what you need for some of our most popular elopement locales.

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Q: What does it take to get a marriage license in Washington state?

A: Most eloping couples fly into the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to elope in the Pacific Northwest. It is most convenient to apply for a marriage license through King County if that is the case, however, you can register in any county if you are flying into a different regional airport. Washington has a mandatory 3-day waiting period between when you acquire your marriage license and when you can be legally married. If you are filing and picking up in Seattle, you can start your application process online here. Unless you have a notary handy, I find it's easiest to go into the office and pick up your marriage certificate in person. You do not need an appointment, but you are both required to be physically present to pick up the certificate with a photo ID on hand. The cost of the certificate is $67 (no fees if paid by cash or check; 2.5% fee if paid by credit card). If you want to read up on all the juicy details, you can find them here at the Marriage licensing page for King County.

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Q: How do we know our marriage license was filed properly?

A: You need one witness (often, the photographer) and your officiant to sign the marriage license in addition to the personal information you (the couple) fills out. I recommend having your portion pre-filled and -signed in case of inclement weather (read: rain). Your officiant is responsible for mailing in the finished paperwork. If you want to make a name change or confirm the filing, you can conduct an online records search here.

Q: What kinds of permits do I need for National Park locations?

A: The permit you need will depends on the location of the park you are eloping in. Most require a combination of a park entry pass and special use permit, plus a camping reservation if you intend to spend the night. To make it easy, I’ve broken down the answers for the most popular National Parks to elope in Washington. You can always find more information specific to the trail head on sites like the Washington Trails Association or on the park service’s government website.

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  • Olympic National Park

    • Park Entry: You can use an America the Beautiful federal interagency pass for entry into the park. You can also buy a seven-day pass for your vehicle or an Olympic Annual Pass from www.YourPassNow.com depending on how much you plan to visit the park. You do need a physical copy of your pass present or printed for it to be valid.

    • Special Use Permit: Apply for a Special Use Permit AT LEAST four weeks in advance with the National Park Service staff. You can find the email address to submit applications and here.

    • Overnight or Camping: Wilderness Camping Permits are required for all overnight trips into the Olympic National Park backcountry ($8 per person per night). The nightly fee for camping in one of the established campgrounds ranges from $15-$22 depending on the location and season.

  • Mt. Rainier

    • Park Entry: You can use an America the Beautiful federal interagency pass for entry into the park. You can also buy a seven-day pass for your vehicle or Mount Rainier Annual Pass from www.YourPassNow.com depending on how much you plan to visit the park. You do need a physical copy of your pass present or printed for it to be valid.

    • Special Use Permit: Apply for a Special Use Permit AT LEAST four weeks in advance with the National Park Service staff. You can find the email address to submit applications and apply for a Fee Waiver of the $60 fee (if applicable) here. Your party size determines which locations may be used for wedding ceremonies, which can be found here.

    • Overnight or Camping: A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping. This permit reserves your specific wilderness camping site for the night you want to stay. Campsites fill up quickly in the summer and the majority can be reserved in advance while the rest are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Submit a Reservation Request via the button on this site. Anyone wishing to climb above 10,000 feet or onto any glaciers must pay a climbing cost recovery fee and get a climbing permit.

  • North Cascades National Park

    • Park Entry: Great news—there is no entry fee to elope on the North Cascades! And while the park is open year-round, inclement weather often closes the North Cascades Highway between November and May of each year. The North Cascades Visitor Center is open daily through the summer and closed during the winter.

    • Special Use Permit: Apply for a Special Use Permit AT LEAST four weeks in advance with the National Park Service staff. You can find instructions to submit applications and pay the $50 fee (if applicable) here.

    • Overnight or Camping: You can apply for backcountry permits, car camping reservations by campground site, and other permits here.

Q: What else should we know to be responsible environmental stewards?

A: Whether you are a seasoned outdoor adventurer or a relative novice, study up on the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace. These practices ensure you minimize your impact on the environment hosting your elopement and preserves the great outdoors for fellow explorers. Ensure that you research and prepare for your day trip or overnight adventure (including packing the Ten Essentials if you plan to take a significant hike or camp overnight); stick to durable surfaces; pack out what you pack in; leave what you find; minimize campfire impact; respect wildlife; and remain considerate of other visitors.

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Q: What are some beginner mistakes we can easily avoid?

A: Make sure you download the Google map of your route in advance and while you have an internet connection. Many of our National Parks lose touch with the world wide web at some point. Make sure you know where you’re going on windy forest roads so you can ensure the safety and sanity of other drivers. If you plan to hike on a trail head, make sure you research trail conditions leading up to your big day. Monitor for closures and adverse conditions that necessitate additional gear, as well as monitor how popular the trail head is and when to arrive to ensure a safe parking spot. If you want to change into your elopement clothes later on in the hike or adventure, bring a pack large enough to accommodate your ceremony supplies. Some like to bring a changing tent up with them; if it’s worth the weight, then bring it. If not, then plan on stopping along the treeline to have your presto-change-o moment.

Tory + Brady: Discovery Park Elopement Recommitment

Images courtesy of  Beginning and End Photography .

Images courtesy of Beginning and End Photography.

Tory and Brady are a couple who show up and instantly radiate positivity. They met in St. Louis at a reunion gathering; their parents grew up together but had lost touch after Tory’s dad moved to Seattle. At the gathering, Brady’s mom sent the two of them to the store to get beer and that is where their relationship began. These two soon committed to a long-distance relationship and, after eight months, Brady decided to move to Seattle for good. When you know, you know.

Early on in their relationship, Brady appreciated how Tory held space for his authentic self and helped him realize his “natural coolness”. Tory found herself magnetized towards Brady’s ability to talk about the universe and his theories of the world for hours. They both mark their meeting as the beginning of their journey towards self-discovery and self-betterment, growing equally as individuals and as a couple. “Tory is the creative brainstormer and Brady keeps us grounded”.

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Why choose an elopement recommitment in Seattle?

Fast forward to current day where Tory has grown into a savvy, independent business owner and Brady is back in school to pursue a career in cyber security. These two have learned to live for their individual growth and their family, including an adorable baby boy named Apollo. When our elopement collective met this couple, we wanted to celebrate their story of growth and self-discovery with an elopement recommitment in Seattle.

In choosing the location, we wanted to create a day-long getaway where the couple could experience their day with ease. We wanted to make sure that Tory and Brady could easily find childcare and enjoy as much of the day for themselves as possible. Runaway With Me Elopements selected Discovery Park for their urban getaway due to its convenient location inside the City of Seattle and the expansive nature of the park, making it a true urban getaway with a touch of escapism.

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What did we include to make their Seattle elopement reflect their growth?

While Tory and Brady made their first stop at Holly Tipp’s hair and make-up studio, the rest of our team assembled at the park to set up the ceremony site. Kate from Tapestry Event Company created the vision for the day starting with a styled ceremony in the forest, to a stroll along the oceanside bluffs, and ending in a first dance at the beach. Sally from Couture Blossoms made our ceremony vision come true with a sprawling floral install along a commanding Pacific Madrone tree native to the Pacific Northwest. Our florist not only brought the most beautiful materials; she also knew how to ethically attach them to the tree to not cause any damage or leave any matter-out-of-place after the fact so as to preserve the tree and the park for others enjoyment. Holly at Sablewood Paper Company created a special suite of elopement cardstock to announce the couple’s recommitment. Our elopement team spent the afternoon in the sunshine styling, meeting passersby, and handing out excess floral material to spread the love.

Tory and Brady arrived on site a couple of hours later to get dressed and make their recommitment in the afternoon sunshine. When selecting the small details for Tory’s look, we brought out her strong sense of independence by choosing statement accessories like wood earrings, a silk scarf, and a braided ponytail look. We also highlighted her passion for healthy movement with a simple, sleek, open-back dress by A La Robe from The Dress Theory that emphasized her form and draped with ease. Grooms are their style are often overlooked when it comes to big wedding celebrations, so we flipped the script to celebrate Brady’s bold sense of style and desire to step outside of his comfort zone. Brady rocked (and we mean ROCKED) a tan suit and glasses with a crisp white shirt and stellar shoes.

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How did they spend their elopement day together?

The couple shared sweet words of gratitude and lots of laughs under the fragrant boughs of the madrone tree. They shared stories of their “Jim and Pam” style of love, their love of their baby boy, and their mutual pride in each other’s growth. A lifelong commitment to love was present throughout their ceremony and the day began to disappear quicker than anyone would have liked. After their ceremony, we whisked the couple away for portraits on the golden bluffs overlooking the Puget Sound. While Tory and Brady ran around the hills with Ashley from Beginning and End Photography, our florist deconstructed the ceremony site and transformed some of the materials into a second set of floral designs to travel to the beach.

After some intimate portraits at the bluffs, we took the couple down to the beach to share a dance as the sun disappeared behind the coastline. We played their song—“Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Haley Reinhart—as they danced barefoot on the pebbled sand and exchanged happy tears. We fell in love with them all over again and could not share enough hugs before parting ways. Our elopement team was honored to play a small part in this couple’s epic life story and look forward to being lifelong friends and cheerleaders on Tory, Brady, and Apollo’s team.

Are you ready to elope in Seattle?

I would love to meet the two of you. I want to hear your values and vision for life together. Click the link above, tell me a little bit about you two, and you’ll hear from me in the next 48 hours to schedule our first face-to-face hang. Thanks for taking the time, beautiful humans!

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The Vendor Team.

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Photography: Beginning and End Photography // http://beginningandendphoto.com/ // @beginningandendphoto

Design + Planning: Tapestry Event Company // www.tapestryeventco.com // @tapestryeventco

HMUA: Holly Tipp // https://www.facebook.com/hollytippmua/  // @hollytippmakeup

Stationary: Sablewood Paper Company // https://sablewoodpaper.com // @sablewoodpaperco

Dress Designer: A La Robe // https://www.alarobe.com/ // @alarobe

Dress Boutique: The Dress Theory Seattle // https://www.thedresstheory.com/seattle // @thedresstheoryseattle

Elopement Collective: Runaway With Me Elopements // www.runawaywithmeelopements.com // @runawaywithmeelopements

Couple: Tory + Brady // @toryvera + @lookitsbrady

Taylor + Ryan: Cape Disappointment Beach Elopement

Images courtesy of  TMInspired Photography .

Images courtesy of TMInspired Photography.

Taylor and Ryan never have a dull day. They know how to bring fun to the lazy days, work hard to lift others up, and provide a compassionate set of ears when needed. When our elopement team met these two intuitive humans, we couldn’t wait to create the elopement getaway of their dreams.

Taylor and Ryan are the definition of human magnets. They met at Skagit Valley Community College in 2011 as collegiate athletes on the school’s soccer teams. Ryan found Taylor very down to earth and easy to be around. He saw that they shared mutual passions and, more importantly, that she made him feel comfortable. Taylor thought Ryan was a babe who, while quiet at first, was an easy conversationalist. Through their conversations, she could see that Ryan was an extremely loyal and caring person who had a deep love of family. They also share a love of dogs, and if that doesn’t mean you are meant to be together, we don’t know what does. That was the foundation that inspired a relationship of adventure, growth, and mutual support leading to their elopement.

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How did we capture their relationship in the design of their beach elopement?

Elopement planner Tapestry Event Company was immediately inspired by Taylor and Ryan’s love of travel and the outdoors, so together we journeyed down to the South-Western tip of Washington State to celebrate their elopement commitments at Cape Disappointment State Park. Photographer TMInspired found the perfect location for their elopement down on the rocky beach of the park, secluded from the more heavily-trafficked forests, grass fields, lighthouse. Anueva Jewelry’s green emerald cluster ring picked up on the natural greens and golds found at the venue, so we knew it was meant to be.

As part of the planning process, Taylor and Ryan shared their story, the strengths of their relationship, and their family plans with our team. Our creatives took inspiration from their shared joys and wove them into the design elements of their elopement. Because elopements are elegant in their simplicity, we embraced the challenge of editing down to the most meaningful design elements for their day. We took the words that define the strengths of their relationship—compassion, forgiveness, loyalty, and love notes being among them—and collaborated with Oh Hey Face to create resin panels to plant in the sand as part of their candle and wildflower ceremony circle on the beach. We also included fun elements like the names of their dogs, Piper and Mya, in these panels to tie in the fur babies that make their world go ‘round.

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What elements made their PNW elopement truly unique?

The airy, muted design elements and pop-of-coral color was inspired by their careers. Taylor is a flight attendant and always up in the air, which inspired the flowing ribbon elements found in the Daci Gowns dress, Lady Grey cake design, and Oh Hey Face stationary. It also inspired the banner with a beautiful quote and characterization of their relationship.

“I will be the breeze behind you and beneath you to push you forward and to lift you up.”

Ryan has worked hard over the years on his dream to become a firefighter, which inspired the pops of coral throughout the elopement design including the cake, stationary, and Wildflower + Co. floral design. While their relationship is almost constantly in motion, Taylor and Ryan have a balanced energy between them that breathes mutual support into their relationship, which is exactly Tapestry Event Company created in the design of the elopement.

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How did they spend their elopement day together?

Taylor and Ryan arrived at the park all smiles and excitement, fresh from their at-home hair and make-up morning with Amelia Zaborac. Our team was ready and waiting with a pop-up changing tent, in true elopement style, and took off down the path with the elopers. TMInspired took time to walk the loping pathways with the couple, pausing to catch the small, sun-kissed moments before their ceremony. As Taylor and Ryan made their way down the steep cliffside to the ceremony site, our artists cheered them on and welcomed the couple with big hugs and fruit juice. It wasn’t long before laughing turned to gasps and happy tears as the couple made their commitments to one another during their beach elopement. They expressed their mutual excitement for their future family and gratitude for the safe home they hold dear in each other. Taylor shared that, “Marriage is an easy decision because I am marrying my best friend.” They sealed the deal with a tequila shot and a pop of champagne in the candlelit circle of their ceremony. As we hiked up the cliffside together, we hugged and shared our gratitude for the opportunity to bring the Taylor and Ryan’s beach elopement to life.

Are you ready to run away to the beach?

I would love to meet the two of you. I want to hear your values and vision for life together. Click the link above, tell me a little bit about you two, and you’ll hear from me in the next 48 hours to schedule our first face-to-face hang. Thanks for taking the time, beautiful humans!

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The Vendor Team.

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Photography: TMInspired Photography // http://tminspired.com/ // @tminspired

Design + Planning: Tapestry Event Company // https://www.tapestryeventco.com/ // @tapestryeventco
Floral: Wilderflower + Co. // https://wildflowerandconw.com/ // @wildflowerandconw_
Stationary: Oh Hey Face // https://www.ohheyface.com/ // @ohheyface
Dessert: Lady Grey // https://www.ladygreyseattle.com/ // @ladygreyseattle
HMUA: Amelia Zaborac // https://www.ameliazaborac.com/ // @ameliazaborac
Dress: Daci Gowns // https://www.dacigowns.com/ // @dacigowns
Ring: Anueva Jewelry // https://anuevajewelry.com // @anuevajewelry
Couple: Taylor + Ryan Fakkema // @taylor.jewel + @rfakkema07

Christina + Tanner: A Rainy Day Mount Baker Elopement

Images courtesy of  Forthright Photo .

Images courtesy of Forthright Photo.

Christina and Tanner met in Texas on a summer internship at an animal sanctuary. Both of them were studying animal care at their respective universities and share a heart for service and furry things. After school, they decided to take jobs in Minnesota and haven’t looked back since. They love spending as much time as possible together in the great outdoors, so when planning a wedding proved challenging, they enthusiastically decided to elope and made a cross-country road-trip out of the event!

While they balance opposite schedules living in Nashville, they make the effort to spend time together with their dogs at the park, swimming, hiking, and watching Netflix. Tanner proposed to Christina on their weekly walk with their dogs. They make a habit of unleashing their dogs and playing fetch together. Tanner surreptitiously packed along a stick with “Will you marry me?” carved into the wood inside his jacket. When Christina wasn’t looking, he pulled it out and told her, “Here’s a nice stick to throw”. Mid wind-up, she noticed it has writing on it and while she was reading it, Tanner dropped to one knee behind her with the ring waiting.

“I want to bind our love; I want to commit to her that for the rest of my life I will do whatever I need to do to make her happy.”

-Tanner Michels

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Since that day, they had been trying to get a wedding together for awhile but found it impossible between job promotions and a move. Christina and Tanner found themselves more excited about an elopement than anything else. They love the mountains and came to realize that an elopement meant they could have their vision, their way, including a traditional ceremony and a laid-back approach to the day. Not only that, but they could also bring their two dogs: Loki and Riley.

So how did two Nashville residents (and their fur babies) decide on Mount Baker?

Tanner and Christina had never been to the Pacific Northwest before. The mountains are really what sold it for them. They’re an adventurous couple and road-tripped all the way from Nashville in their CR-V to the North Cascades to make this day happen. Their stops along the way included plenty of National Parks and historic sites and hikes. The photography team at Forthright Photo helped them select the perfect, off-the-beaten-path locations for their ceremony and portraits, ensuring that we would be undisturbed by the stray hiker or passerby.

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Of course, the weather had a plan all its own. Our team arrived to meet up at the bottom of the Forest Service Road mid-day to start our adventure. A very short distance into the drive—up potholed mountain roads and a snowed-in trail—it started to rain in the middle of a sunny June day. We tackled the mountain until the snow stopped us from going any higher, threw our backpacks on, and started our hike up the mountain in the direction of Twin Lakes. We stopped a short way up with a view of the mountain range in the background, changed in a pop-up tent, and laughed through the rain as we started their ceremony. Loki and Riley kept us lively and on our toes and Christina and Tanner shared their vows with one another.

“I feel like marriage is that extra piece to prove that you're really committed to a person. It's easy to sit there and live together and raise a family and do all of it together without actually tying the knot, but to me it just shows that much more how committed a person really is to a relationship if they are willing to give up their separate identities in a way and become one with another person.”

-Christina Michels

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Where does their adventure go from here?

We hiked around the mountain surrounded by views of rain clouds and the North Cascades while Christina and Tanner celebrated their commitment, Pacific Northwest style. They scribbled their signatures on their wedding certificate until the pen didn’t work any longer. The photographers and newlyweds then traveled from the mountain top down to some groves of fern, moss, and pines to have their first dance under the trees and share a The Office themed cake out of the back of their car. We were soaked to the bone but brimming with the warmth and love shared between these two. After sharing our Washington and Oregon Coast recommendations, Christina, Tanner, Loki, and Riley took off to continue their road trip down the West Coast and into their first day of marriage. I feel so blessed to have witnessed their story and their commitment to each other, and sang in my car down windy mountain roads the whole way home through the rain.

Are you ready to get out there and do the deed?

I would love to meet the two of you. I want to hear your values and vision for life together. Click the link above, tell me a little bit about you two, and you’ll hear from me in the next 48 hours to schedule our first face-to-face hang. Thanks for taking the time, beautiful humans!

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The Vendor Team.

Photographer: Laura + Devon // Forthright Photo // @forthrightphoto // forthrightphoto.com // Seattle, WA

Officiant: Kate Faoro Wright // Tapestry Event Co. // @tapestryeventco // tapestryeventco.com // Seattle, WA & Beyond

Florals: Carlee // Rusted Vase Co. // @rustedvaseco // rustedvase.com // Seattle, WA

Hair + Make-up: Olive + Opal Beauty // @oliveandopalbeauty // oliveandopalbeauty.com // Lake Stevens, WA

Dress: Wear Your Love // @wearyourlovexo // wearyourlovexo.com

Cree + Lo: A Kentucky Wedding Turned Pacific Northwest Elopement

Images courtesy of  Tracy Burch Photography .

Images courtesy of Tracy Burch Photography.

Planning a wedding can be a big sticking point for couples: some feel pressured to put on a big event; others get stopped by the number of details involved; and others interact with businesses that cannot fulfill on their promises. Whatever your hold up, we don’t want it to get in the way of celebrating and declaring your love legacy to the world. Read on for the inspiring story of a couple who ran into wedding planning roadblocks at home and joyfully transformed their plans into a Pacific Northwest elopement adventure.

Cree and Lo are two very special humans. They met one another at a taco shop on an off-day where Logan reached out to start a conversation with Cree that continues to this day. Lo’s empathic ear and ability to make anyone laugh is one of the things that Cree holds most dear. He has taught her to temper her independence and open up to sharing more of her life with those around her. Logan, in turn, admires Cree for her fierce sense of commitment to her beliefs and pursuits. She has taught him to become more independent and confident in the way he chooses to live his life. Together, these two hold space for the whirlwind and the calm in life and share unwavering commitment to their partnership.

When they decided to get married, Cree took the reins on planning a wedding to rival any of the others she had attended.

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Cree is a photographer herself and loves everything about weddings: the bride getting ready with her dearest friends, the groom dressing up to his best, the nervous laughs, the vows, the DANCING- literally everything- because that's her job. As a wedding photographer, she documents 20-30 weddings a year. While she didn't have time to plan a wedding (and really just wanted to elope in the mountains with the man she loves most), that sense of obligation to throw a wedding remained and caused her to stress over every little detail. Just two months before the big day, they had a band, fine silk table runners, gold plated decor, dusty blue bridesmaids dresses, and exquisite food at a winery that had a beautiful view in Kentucky.

About 45 days before their original wedding, their plans were abruptly brought to a halt with some bad news: the venue cancelled their contract due to a change in ownership and everything they had planned fell apart. It takes a special set of humans to set aside their plans and joyously embrace that which life presents them, and that is just who these two are.

“Instead of sobbing, we celebrated. This huge wedding wasn't US, it wasn't how we wanted to remember our engagement. We decided we were going to elope the way WE wanted to.”

-Cree Kidwell

When their venue cancelled less than 2 months from their date, how did they create a new game plan?

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Luckily, these two had already planned their honeymoon in the Pacific Northwest. They made sure their photographer was down to take her first trip to the Northwest; reached out to vendors who mattered and made a difference in the local market; and made arrangements to fly Lo’s dad out to witness their special day. Lots of research went into identifying potential trails and monitoring weather conditions via AllTrails and the Washington Trails Association websites to ensure that the adventure matched what they wanted out of their day and was a feasible hike for their first-time mountain-climbing photographers. Cree scouted Pinterest for PNW elopements and reached out to photographer and hiking groups on Facebook for Washington State advice, specifically. She fell in love with Artist Ridge and Huntoon Point and kept returning to those locations.

On the day of their wedding, Cree slowly rolled out of bed after hours of cuddling Lo and talking about how excited they were for the day. She put some wood in the fireplace of their A-frame cabin and made pancakes for the family. The vendors met up and the cabin and everyone spent the morning giggling, swooning, and relaxing while getting ready. Both Cree and Lo have a rushed and busy life back home, so the opportunity to relax and slow down enough to remember the little details and feelings was very important to both of them.

Cree, Lo, Lo’s dad, and their photographers drove up to the Artist Point trailhead to meet with their officiant (me!) and get walking. As fortune would have it, the drive to Artist Point was open for the first time that year, so we could conveniently meet and park at the top together. We hiked out toward Huntoon Point through slushy snow in our hiking boots and stopped when Cree fell in love with the location. One of Cree’s favorite memories is of her photographers—who had never been on a mountain before nor owned hiking boots prior to the trip—who kept marveling at the snow pack and commenting, “ GUYS! THESE ARE THE TOPS OF TREES!” We all loved seeing someone react to something you know and love so dearly for the first time. During the ceremony, some skiiers stopped at the top of the small hill facing the ritual space so as to not interrupt. When Cree and Lo officially sealed the deal, the small collection of outdoor enthusiasts cheered and, in Cree’s words:

“Along with Kate adding words form our loved ones back home, it really brought that sense of family and friends celebrating us in real time. It was like we had everyone we cherished right there with us through the hearts of others.”

What did the rest of their trip look like? And would they recommend eloping to others?

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Cree and Lo spent two weeks hiking, camping, and exploring from Vancouver and Garibaldi, Canada down through Snoqualmie, Mt. Bandera, and Mason Lake. They spent a day in Seattle exploring Pike Place Market and the coast with a few friends who had recently moved to the area, then ventured to Mt. Baker area for their elopement and the remainder of the trip. Cree and Lo fell in love with the varying landscapes in such a short distance; they are avid hikers and climbers in Kentucky and loved the playground here in Washington State. It may or may not have stolen their hearts.

Telling the truth fast: they would ABSOLUTELY recommend eloping to other couples! Every couple is different, but if you truly want to elope and are feeling the pressure to throw a big event for your family and friends, Cree and Lo give all their love and encouragement to do what feels right. Take a moment before you dive into planning and think about what matters most to the two of you. It was important to include family in the celebration for Cree and Lo, so to add that layer into their elopement, they held a reception with their loved ones upon their return at their family’s brewery with cupcakes and beer. It rocked.

Are you ready to start your elopement adventure?

I would love to meet the two of you. I want to hear your values and vision for life together. Click the link above, tell me a little bit about you two, and you’ll hear from me in the next 48 hours to schedule our first face-to-face hang. Thanks for taking the time, beautiful humans!

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The Vendor Team, introduced by Cree herself.

Our Bad Ass Officiant: Kate Faoro Wright // Tapestry Event Co. // @tapestryeventco // tapestryeventco.com // Seattle, WA & Beyond

The World's Prettiest Florals: The Floral Babe // @thefloralbabe // Seattle, WA

Hair that never budged: Areca Hollinsworth // Hair by Areca // @hairbyareca // Ferndale, WA

The fastest Calligrapher ever: Kayla Hutchinson // Lucky Dog Mail Club // @luckydogmailclub // luckydogmailclub.com // Lexington, KY

My favorite Photographer: Tracy Burch // Tracy Burch Photography // @tracyburchphotography // tracyburchphotography.com // Owensboro, KY

Makeup that Withstood a Flood of Tears: Natasha Gendron // @tashamaemua // natashagendron.com // Bellingham, WA

The Dress that Never Got Dirty: Rebecca's Bridal Boutique // @rebeccasweddings // rebeccasweddings.com // Louisville, KY.

The Dreamiest Veil: Julie Smereky // Jules Veils // @julesveils // julesveils.etsy.com

The Rings that Sparkle: Olive Avenue // @oliveavenuejewelry // oliveavenuejewelry.com

Custom Jewelry that made me Sob: Hair Piece & Earrings --- Gilded Shadows // @gildedshadows // gildedshadows.etsy.com // Phoenix, AR

Memorial Necklace--- TSK Silver // tsksilver.etsy.com

The Boots that Were Made For Hiking: Columbia // @columbia1938 // columbia.com

Melissa + Tamara: An Elopement for Two Soul-Elevating Brides

Melissa + Tamara: An Elopement for Two Soul-Elevating Brides

Tamara and Melissa are women who remind us of why we do what we do. Our highest aim is to serve humans in love who want to capture a moment in time—beautiful, complicated, whatever they need it to be—and let it be truly just for the two of them.

Your Officiant Is NOT An Afterthought: How To Find Your Ceremony-Elevating Human

Images courtesy of  Forthright Photo .

Images courtesy of Forthright Photo.

Has finding an officiant been an afterthought when it comes to wedding planning? Are you developing an incredible elopement and find yourself totally lost as to where to begin with the ceremony itself? Or are you a fellow vendor who doesn’t have any officiants you enthusiastically recommend to your clients? I am sharing the common roadblocks my couples face in finding an officiant, the genesis of my work in this area, and a guide to considering your values and criteria to select your perfect match.

From nonprofit program manager to yoga studio manager to wedding and elopement planner, I am lucky enough to do work that I LOVE and that I truly believe makes an impact for the beautiful people of this world. I love wedding and elopement planning because it is work that allows me to flex my creative muscles behind the scenes while allowing my couples to shine. It is the ultimate act of service (which also “happens” to be my love language). One of the planning challenges I hear about often is finding an officiant that fits my couples’ ceremony and lifestyle.

These are the most common concerns that crop up…

“We want to get married but we know nothing about officiants. We want someone who is down to earth and ‘gets us’ without the religious backdrop or required counseling. We want the ceremony to have a nod to tradition without feeling bogged down by it.”

“We are having a hard time finding someone who is LGBTQ friendly, open to using non-traditional pronouns, and excited to create a script that sounds like us. It matters to us that the person we choose has experience working with different kinds of couples and who understands how the ceremony dynamic is affected by those nuances.”

“We’ve talked to a lot of officiants, but they mostly talked about themselves on the phone and didn’t spend a whole lot of time getting to know us. We want someone who is interested in who we are and what this day means to us, our friends, and our family.”

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…and these are EXACTLY the kinds of desires I want to hear from my couples. I work with people who are not only interested in throwing a rad party to celebrate their commitment, but who are also equally invested in co-creating a ceremony ritual that kicks off their marriage legacy. You heard me: joining your lives together is an epic decision worthy of ritual and ceremony. Why not treat it as such and find the humans who support you?!

It’s from planning and consulting with my clients that I saw which humans were not yet being served by officiants and how this ultimate act of service could improve. I believe that officiants, much like planners, should lead with empathic listening and curiosity, be more invested in the couple than in themselves, have a clear road map for creating a custom ceremony experience, and elevate the experience of all who are present. My couples are the inspiration that led me to lean into officiating ceremonies; they are the ones who first asked me to officiate for them and who continue to inspire me with how they want to be uniquely self-expressed on the day of their marriage. I delight in taking our existing relationship into a deeper conversation around values and family. I crave the opportunity to understand why and how couples choose to take on a deeper commitment to one another in this world. I enjoy holding open space for people to love freely and be seen and recognized for who they are and how uniquely they love. And I am lit up by work that allows me to integrate you, me, and we together as one on their special day.

So where the heck do we start?!

Whether it is a friend, a family member, or a professional you are considering to officiate your ceremony, here is my criteria for finding the special human to elevate your marriage commitments:

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  • Who are they to you? Because I work with couples who are heartily invested in co-creating marriage celebrations that reflect their souls, their values, and their joy, I get to know my clients on a deep and meaningful level. In the course of planning their celebration, I ask: “Do you have a well-spoken friend or family member that would bring love and joy as your master of ceremony?” If such a human exists, I would rather that someone of great meaning speak their love with the support of my officiant coaching package. If not, like any planner, I also have a list of wonderful officiants that I recommend to my couples if they are truly a fit. I will never make a blanket recommendation or push a preferred vendor if the creative experience does not align with my couples’ values.

  • What is their values system? Don’t be afraid to ask point-blank. You want a person who is aligned with and understands the way you see the world and how you want to proceed together. If family is a cornerstone of your identity, you want a person who can speak to that same value from their heart-space (rather than from the Google-space). If you want someone who is fluid in the language of gender identity, you want to ask whether or not they have experience performing ceremonies for LGTBQ couples. Before you enter the conversation, take time with your partner to create a list of the top 3-5 values you share and want present in your ceremony ritual.

  • What does the ceremony creation process look like? Most officiants have a creative process for putting together the content of your ceremony. Be sure to ask what their process is and what you are expected to contribute throughout so that the terms of your relationship are clear, leaving more time and space for creativity and ease. For example, my process looks like this…

    • Conduct a 45 minute meet-up or video call with the couple to get to know one another on a human level and see if we are a match for one another in the ceremony realm;

    • Deliver the proposal and finalize the who, what, when, and where of their date, including any travel fees, add-on packages, or other accommodations;

    • Send my questionnaires for the couple to complete, both of which reflect my values as an officiant and their values as a couple and family;

    • Produce a first draft script no later than one month prior to their date (unless otherwise specified) to review together in person or via video chat for feedback;

    • Create a final draft for written approval from the couple no later than two weeks prior to their date; and,

    • Show up with a managed state and all the soul shine on their special day to share their crafted ritual and articulate their marriage legacy.

  • How do you move forward together? Chances are you aren’t reading this piece because you’re price shopping officiants (and if you are in that boat, my advice is to pay $50 to ordain your Uncle Steve to do the deed for you). All joking aside, you’re likely reading this post to the very end because you’re a little stuck finding the balance between making sure you have an officiant to make your marriage official AND finding someone who will make your day a true reflection of the two of you. When you find your person, make sure you are empowered to move forward! Ask about how to sign the contract, create a payment plan (if offered), place your deposit, and get started on the pieces you provide throughout the process.

Are you inspired and want to explore working together?

I would love to meet the two of you. I want to hear your values and vision for life together. Select your celebration style, tell me a little bit about you two, and you’ll hear from me in the next 48 hours to schedule our first face-to-face hang. Thanks for taking the time, beautiful humans!

TO WED!

TO ELOPE!

I Am Collab.

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Collab. is new charity education and networking community in Seattle, Washington; a merging of artists and creatives seeking and supporting authentic business development through education, innovation, and of course - collaboration. Here we spark business relationships that develop into friendships, mentorships, and partnerships. At Collab. events we discuss topics in business development that matter to the creative community. Keynote speakers are invited to share their knowledge on the topic, and attendees have the opportunity to speak with assistance from our team developing their presentation. Afterwards, we host happy hour and hang time with the people behind the brand. Read on for our origin and a review of our inaugural event.

In October 2018, three artists, business-owners, and soon-to-be friends got together over coffee and shared. They shared their big, bold dreams; their struggle to balance personal and professional pursuits; the roadblocks they came across in getting their message and passion out into the world; and their desire to create a community around their work. That coffee date sparked many, many more hangouts where these women decided it was high time that they broadcast a radio signal to call in other like-minded artists seeking growth, inspiration, and a flow of information and sharing between artists to knit our community closer together. And so Collab. was born.

The theme for our first event was “Know Yourself”. Regardless of whether your business is new or well-established, there is an omnipresent challenge for artists to stay true to their unique voice in an interconnected world with new and innovative ways to pull us away from our True North. Some days it might show up as imitation without an authentic “why” behind your actions. Other days it might show up as messaging that doesn’t reflect who you want to call in to your customer base. Still other days it might show up as making business decisions that steamroll and sacrifice your personal values. We wanted to create an event that uncovered how this challenge shows up in your business and your life and share how artists have navigated their way back to their core values.

I personally have pages and pages of inspiration from the keynotes and mini-speakers who presented. We had experts share about topics in branding strategy, listening to your heart space, establishing your values, leaning into your superpower, the excitement of starting a new dream, and harnessing the power of a pause in life. Rather than deep-diving into a description of an event that could truly only be felt in your heart, I’ll share a few of my favorite quotes and ideas from our keynote speakers.

“Decide how you want to be seen and deliver on that image...A brand built well is a holistic experience. Where do your best practical skills and the problems you want to solve, intersect?”  -Briaan Barron,  @brandingbybri

“Decide how you want to be seen and deliver on that image...A brand built well is a holistic experience. Where do your best practical skills and the problems you want to solve, intersect?”

-Briaan Barron, @brandingbybri

“Be giving of your time, energy, and self. Take risks. Listen deeply. Ask targeted, personal questions. Always find common ground. On the wedding day, you aren't just a vendor; you are a family member.”  -Lynnsey Phillips,  @lionladyphoto

“Be giving of your time, energy, and self. Take risks. Listen deeply. Ask targeted, personal questions. Always find common ground. On the wedding day, you aren't just a vendor; you are a family member.”

-Lynnsey Phillips, @lionladyphoto

“What is worse: failing at the thing you set out to do, or failing to live in alignment with your true needs? What do you need to let go of to live in alignment with what is actually true?”  -Kelly Sullivan,  botanique_flowers_seattle

“What is worse: failing at the thing you set out to do, or failing to live in alignment with your true needs? What do you need to let go of to live in alignment with what is actually true?”

-Kelly Sullivan, botanique_flowers_seattle

The content of the day was magically aligned in its message of connecting with yourself, identifying the work you WANT to do, and trusting in the experiences you can feel into in order to move forward with grace and confidence. Every human in the room stayed for every presentation. We shared lots of laughs in mutual recognition, hugs of friendship new and old, and cozy learning space beautifully supported by @vintageambiance, @grateboards, and @admiralbirdws. Our attendees left after self-celebratory head shots full of warmth and inspiration to create balance and joy in their business. Together, we were able to raise hundreds of dollars for Treehouse for Kids to pay it forward to an organization supporting foster care in the Seattle community.

This event is the first of many, and we are so honored to build a community of artists who are passionate about sharing on the topics that deeply matter to their businesses and the world around us. If you want to tap into our community, follow @iamcollab for inspiration from our first event and updates on future topics and events to follow!

With love and community,

Kate (@tapestryeventco), Lynnsey (@lionladyphoto), and Angelene (@villanellefloral)

What to Expect from an All-Inclusive Elopement

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With the rise of platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, there is a wealth of ideas and innovation when it comes to creating a marriage extravaganza. You can search for “all inclusive wedding planners” and find an incredible number of vendors in your area, instantly. We believe that the same opportunity to co-create your marriage ceremony and celebration should exist for the elopers of the world, too. But what is the difference between wedding and elopement vendors? How do finances differ? And what does an all-inclusive elopement entail? We’re here to tell you.

Why do couples choose to elope instead of having a wedding?
Our couples decide to elope for a variety of reasons. Some of our couples are clear and rooted in their financial goals to save money for a house or other investments. Other couples have adventure as a hallmark of their relationship and want to honor their love of the outdoors as part of their commitment. Some couples prefer the intimacy of a private ceremony, whether to avoid a big crowd or to get back to when it was “just them” before kids. And other couples have a diversity of family dynamics that make the wedding planning process challenging, especially when trying to hold space for a variety of ideas and opinions. Whatever your reason for eloping, know that it is the right reason and that we are here to encourage you to listen to your intuition.

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Are elopements one-size-fits-all?

While we have a few different packages or buckets that most elopement couples start with, no elopement is the same. First, there is the consideration of location. You are free to venture forth to any location you choose! That often determines which vendors will be a good fit to execute your vision at the destination that strikes your fancy. Second, we add on the layers of “who” and “how many”. Different couples may want any number of people present, from just the two of them to a party of 50 (what we would call an “intimate wedding”). The human(s) you want to share the day with will determine how much support you will need and from which vendors. Third, we take a look at the elements that make the experience pop. What details make your ritual a custom experience? And what does your team of elopement artists look like? A planner can help you navigate and select the team that is equal parts creative, adventurous, and genuine to bring your vision to life.

How much money will I save by eloping?

Such a great question! Everyone has different expectations when it comes to a wedding budget; elopements are no different. If saving as much money as possible is your #1 priority, then an all-inclusive elopement may not be for you. Our mission is to create a custom ceremony and experience that reflects your soul signatures and kicks off the next epic chapter of your love story and legacy. Each of the contributing artists make the effort to connect with you, our couple, and each other to create a custom, seamless experience. An elopement planner start at $1,200 and does not include the expenses for any vendors or artists on the project. All-inclusive packages that include planning, photography, florals, and an officiant start at $3,750. Read on for a breakdown of the beauty that includes.

What do your starting packages entail?

Because every location is different, we create our packages around the size of your elopement guest list. While every elopement is different, we find that the number of people present is correlated with a higher number of vendors and artists co-creating your day. So here is where we start the conversation with our clients to craft a custom experience.

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  • Elopement for Two: This package is perfect for the fun couple looking for a low-key elopement with a few beautiful touches to highlight their celebration together. It includes planning, 4 hours of photography, an officiant, a bouquet/flower crown and boutonniere, and hair and make-up services. The starting price is $3,750.

  • Elopement for a Few: This package is made for the couple who have close friends and family (up to 15 people) with whom they want to share their first steps into married life. It includes planning, 4 hours of photography, 3 hours of videography, an officiant, a bouquet/flower crown and boutonniere, hair and make-up services, a cake, and stationary. The starting price is $7,500.

  • Elopement for the Crew: This package is made for the couple who want to invite significant friends and family (up to 60 people) to be a part of their elopement or intimate wedding celebration. It includes planning, 4 hours of photography and a second shooter, 3 hours of videography and a second shooter, an officiant, a bouquet/flower crown and boutonniere, hair and make-up services and bridal trial, a cake, and stationary. The starting price is $11,500.

We care deeply about the quality of your experience. All of our elopement services include unlimited email communication, all-in-one customized vendor booking, location and activity recommendations, design board, rental coordination, day-of timeline, and vendor coordination and communication. That means that, as a planner, we offer the same depth of services as we would any wedding client so that your experience is smooth and structured from start to finish. We also have a la carte items and services so that we can create the perfect fit for your ritual.

How do I find the elopement fit for me?

While elopements are becoming more popular among modern couples, the wedding industry has not yet responded in mass. There are very few elopement-specific planners as compared to wedding planners, and trust us, that specialization makes all the difference. We recommend finding an elopement planner whose message matches your values and vision. It is far more challenging to find a planner that will execute the experience you crave than it is to find a location-based planner. Most elopement planners LOVE to travel and are fantastic at researching new locations. If you feel connected with them, it will be worth the travel expense (and then some!) to work with them. If you are looking for an all-inclusive elopement experience, look no further! You already found us. We are one of the first and few to provide this kind of service in the world and we would LOVE to celebrate your love together.

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Backyard Wedding: How to Have it All

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MJ + Jon got married at the father of the bride’s ranch in August 2018. They exchanged vows and partied the night away just north of the Washington-Oregon border on beautiful farmland abundant in acreage and horses. Their backyard wedding was as detailed and organized as any venue-based wedding, but without the support of a venue manager. We were elated to make this sentimental setting into a seamless soiree for this joyful couple. Here are the careful considerations we took as their planner and coordinator to make it happen!

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Vet your vendors. Not every vendor is adaptable to an unconventional space. In fact, some vendors may only work with preferred venues because they know and can rely on the support they get from the venue owner. Fair enough! Planners with expertise in this kind of event will know or have a list of vendors that are inspired by non-traditional spaces. These vendors are knowledgeable about their creative boundaries and will be able to ask for what they require to make your event work from the planner. If you have specific vendors that you like, that’s great! Your planner can work closely with them to ensure they feel confident on the day of your unique wedding. If not, ask your planner for the best fit and let them do the legwork of vendor vetting—that’s what you pay them for (and we not-so-secretly love it).

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Schedule early and often. Your planner will work with you to create a detailed timeline of events a couple of months prior to your wedding. They will also help you cultivate a contact list of vendors so they can effectively communicate with everyone on the day of your wedding. We recommend having your planner reach out to vendors a month in advance of the event with a draft timeline to review. This allows key players—like your photographer or caterer—to give input on the timeline and ensure that the event runs in a cohesive fashion, as well as make special requests for equipment or assistance. From there, your planner can finalize the timeline a few weeks out and provide a final copy to vendors, the wedding party, and immediate family so everyone is aligned. Humans instinctively look for direction, especially when it comes to a big collection of people or a large event, so sharing the timeline with your wedding party, family, and close friends creates a sense of ease and intention about the day’s activities and their place in them.

Make a map (#MischiefManaged). With non-traditional venues it is not always clear where decorations or rental items should be placed, which areas are in- or out-of-bounds, and where you can find sources of energy or water. Create a map with your planner that clearly identifies where rentals and decorations go so they can work efficiently with your set-up team to execute your vision on the day of your wedding. We recommend making a running list (in Excel or Word document form) of each of the decorations you purchase, where they should be placed, and how many should go there; these are small pieces of guidance that go a long way! Detail which areas are out-of-bounds and prepare signage, especially if you are hosting the event at someone’s private property. For vendors coming on-site, also point to where they can hook up to power outlets, extension cords, or water sources so they can roll in and set up quickly and quietly.

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Rally the troops! Supplying your own venue—whether it’s a backyard setting or a public park—means that you will not have built-in staff to clean the venue prior, set up, move furniture, cue the staff, or help tear down. We recommend connecting with your family and friends, specifically non-wedding party members, a month prior to the wedding to ask for volunteers in each of these categories: decorations, ceremony arch, ceremony chairs, table settings, bartender (if not provided by catering staff), chair transition from ceremony to reception, Emcee (if not provided by DJ), officiant, garbage removal, and end-of-night clean-up. The primary function of your planner on the day of the wedding is to ensure that vendors are fulfilling on their contracted services in the approved timeline and, in the case of backyard weddings, also act as venue coordinator to ensure everyone is playing by the house rules. There is very little time focus on decorations the day of the wedding unless you hire extra hands through your planner (which we HIGHLY recommend—you often get a huge bang for your buck by hiring a planner’s assistant). Your planner can work with you to create a contact list of who has which role AND give loving reminders to fulfill on their duty the day of the wedding. Having your to-do’s ready to rock also creates an opportunity for your loving friends and family members to contribute to the wedding in a meaningful, productive way that has an impact on everyone’s experience of the day.

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Walk it out. Rehearsal events are essential for non-traditional venue weddings. Your planner will explain, often more than once, where your wedding party lines up, how they walk, where and how to stand and smile, what the mechanics of the processional and recessional look like, and what comes next. The rehearsal is essential to building the confidence of you and your wedding party before the feelings, nerves, and excitement come in to play on the wedding day. Think of your planner as the conductor to your orchestra; for everyone to play in harmony, it requires practice, practice, practice.

Plan to adapt. Nothing ever goes perfectly to plan which is why it is important to have trusting and open communication between you and your planner. Ask questions, stay as involved as you want in the small details, and be ready to hand off the process to a person you trust in the weeks leading up to your big day. We know your vision and have your back. We understand what your priorities are and will make sure they happen. We are your #1 fan and will create the experience you seek for your friends and family. You can have it all…and in your own backyard.

Photos courtesy of    Kamra Fuller Photography   .

Photos courtesy of Kamra Fuller Photography.