We are a husband & wife team. Based in the mountains of Montana & Washington State, we’ve been photographing and filming couples since the start of 2021.
Welcome to our blog where you’ll discover elopement planning resources, as well as beautiful galleries from real weddings!
Leave No Trace (LNT for short) is a set of principles created to help protect the environment. More than that, though, it’s a movement to leave nature better than it was when you arrived! As the Leave No Trace Center says, “We are all the solution to conservation, and Leave No Trace is leading the way. With pioneering science, hands-on training, and simple guidelines, Leave No Trace helps you explore the 0outdoors sustainably every time you get outside.”
These principles aren’t just a set of rules to follow. It’s a way of living and respecting the environment; a set of ethics that we all need to uphold for future generations. These ethics are specifically aimed for backcountry users. The backcountry refers to areas that are more remote, and typically only accessed by backpackers. But the problem is that people don’t always respect the frontcountry, which causes a lot of damage. The frontcountry refers to areas that are easily accessible by vehicle and day users. These areas are often more trampled and trashed because they are popular due to their accessibility. But LNT is often not black and white, and it really depends on the situation. It’s just super important to try your best and continue to learn how to be better.
The Leave No Trace ethics are extremely important for a lot of reasons. LNT helps…
We want to preserve the environment for future generations. More and more people are enjoying the outdoors, and it’s extremely important to make sure that we all are doing our best to take care of nature. Going off trail one time doesn’t always visibly damage the environment, but if it is repeated over and over again, it can create permanent damage.
Also, it’s important to note that small outdoor weddings and elopements can have a huge impact on the environment, especially over time. For example, certain locations are getting damaged from becoming more popular, and are even beginning to become off-limits for future weddings. We want to make sure this doesn’t happen so that you can enjoy the spot you got married at, and so that other couples can elope there in the future!
Areas with living soil are super important to pay attention to. Living soil is also known as crypto, and is found in desert environments such as Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Living soil is made up of small organisms and it retains moisture, making the soil extremely fragile. Since it looks like dirt, it is vulnerable to traffic by foot and vehicle. It’s important to not step on living soil if you can help it. In a lot of desert areas, such as Arches National Park, there are hefty fines for damaging crypto. So long as you stay on the maintained trails or on durable rock surfaces (like sandstone), you’ll avoid damaging the crypto!
Speaking of the desert, try to avoid puddles and mud holes as well. Water is a valuable resource in the desert, and it can be a home for certain organisms (even prehistoric organisms like tadpole shrimp). So, when you step in puddles and mud holes, you’re destroying thousands of micro-organisms. Other areas, like the Bonneville Salt Flats, are easily damaged when wet as well. When the flats are wet and vehicles or foot traffic takes place, the salt crusts can be irreversibly damaged.
Another environment to be careful of is meadows and areas with a lot of vegetation. For example, Mount Rainier has a lot of alpine meadows with wildflowers. Do not step on these flowers or grassy areas, but instead stay on the trail! Meadows and fragile vegetation can show the effects of foot traffic very quickly, and it’s hard for those areas to recover. In the past, we’ve thought that we could step off trail in “dirt patches,” and avoid the meadow. However, these “dirt patches” are actually scars from repeated misuse of the landscape.
Traveling off trail to take a short cut or get a better picture of the meadows creates what’s known as social trails. These social trails (or shadow trails) make it so that other people think they can walk off trail. But what’s actually happening is the soil is getting packed down, not allowing new growth to emerge. If you want to learn more about Mount Rainier (one of our favorite places to explore), check out our page here!
When you venture to elope, make sure to venture ON the trails or on durable surfaces!
A lot of the time, you see a photo that you absolutely love and you immediately want that iconic image of you and your partner on your wedding day! We get it. That makes sense! It’s beautiful! But the thing that people don’t always realize is that those epic locations have a completely different experience than what it appears to be in that one image.
For example, you see this couple by themselves with a beautiful sunset at Horseshoe Bend in Utah. But what you don’t see are the hundreds of people that also came to watch the sunset. You don’t see the time you need to wait to get your shot, and the 30 seconds you have before it’s someone else’s turn to get the shot. Or you see an image of a couple in a meadow at Mount Rainier, not knowing that you actually aren’t supposed to go there, and that you’re killing tons of fragile plant-life by walking off trail.
We want to give you a better experience. So, it’s important to know the conditions, accessibility, crowd, and the interactions before you choose a location.
Venture to Elope does their homework! Adam and I (Hannah) prefer to hike and scout locations before we take our couples there because we want you to have the best possible experience. We can get those iconic shots if that’s a dream of yours, of course! But we’ll help you find an equally beautiful spot or time to get married that is a more private experience! Plus, we can capture epic moments and still be on trail. Often times, all it takes is a little bit of compositional magic to get that meadow shot while still being on trail! We’ve got you covered in that department, don’t worry.
As mentioned above, we make sure to do our research! We research online and scout our locations in person before taking our couples there. It’s important to do this because then we are educated on what the experience will be like, and how we can prepare beforehand. We are also aware of the landscapes and organisms there, so we know how to be respectful of the land.
Once a couple inquires with us, we make sure to communicate about Leave No Trace, especially when it comes to certain locations. It’s super important to us that we’re all on the same page about taking care of the environment! And if you’re having guests, we make sure to provide you with the resources to educate your family and friends as well.
In the location guides that we provide each of our couples, we include pertinent information regarding the Leave No Trace principles, so that everyone is educated on the environment. For example, we talk about which surfaces are durable and can be walked on vs. which surfaces cannot be walked on.
We stay on the trail when we hike! Don’t worry, we’ll get EPIC shots, but we’re going to get them in a sustainable way!
Human waste – Make sure you are aware of what environment you’ll be adventuring in because in environments like deserts and high alpine, you always need to pack your waste out. So make sure to bring bags with you in case the location does not have any! But there are other locations where you can dig a cat hole. Just make sure it isn’t close to a water source and that it’s at least 6 inches deep!
Stay on trails – Stay on designated trails whenever you can! It’s important to not walk off trail and damage the land. Certain areas have a hard time recovering from human traffic. However, if you can’t stay on the trail (for a survival reason), make sure to widely disperse if you can, so that you aren’t creating a new trail.
Pack everything out – Everything that you brought needs to come back with you! This includes things that you might think are “natural” or “biodegradable.” Oftentimes, these things aren’t native to the environment, so they can actually cause damage. Plus, things take a long time to degrade!
Leave what you find – Make sure not to take anything from the environment when you’re on an adventure! Instead, take a photo or video. It’s important to leave things as is so that the environment can thrive and so that others can enjoy it as well.
And just make sure to follow all of the other principles to the best of your ability! The cool thing about Leave No Trace is that it’s a learning experience. Be humble if someone reaches out to educate you, and be polite if you need to help educate someone else. Everyone makes mistakes, and no one is perfect. We’ve made mistakes before, and we will probably make more mistakes in the future. But we’re doing our best to educate ourselves and our couples!
For example, we’ve done many champagne pops before, but that can actually be harmful for the environment. Sometimes you can’t find the cork, which isn’t great. Also, the spray can attract living organisms and put them at risk, so instead, we’re going to try non-flavored sparkling water in the future! Whenever you make a mistake, just learn from it and recognize how you can improve. Get creative and find ways to have an epic experience, while still respecting and taking care of the environment!
If this sounds like something that resonates with you, feel free to contact us! We’d love to document your day in an environmentally conscious way.
Hannah and Adam are a Montana and PNW-based Elopement Photographer + Videographer Team traveling across the US and abroad to capture couples' special days. They firmly believe love is love, Black lives matter, and in respecting our planet.
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