How to elope

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Fall Winchester Mountain Elopement in the North Cascades

Winchester Mountain is one of my favorite elopement hikes in the North Cascades so I am ALWAYS excited to venture up the mountain with another couple. This adventure with Sara and Dan was epic from start to finish, we got the most BEAUTIFUL variety of weather, starting with fog covering the mountains and then eventually getting a freaking amazing golden hour. Plus Sara wore TWO different dresses, one boho elopement dress and one black dress that gave off allll the Halloween vibes. So of course we had to bring out some Jack-o-Lanterns at the end of the night. I’m obsessed with these two and their Winchester Mountain elopement!

Sara + Dan’s Fall Winchester Mountain Elopement

Sara and Dan got engaged a few years ago on an amazing vacation to Kauai, actually visiting for a friend’s wedding. They fell in love with the island and on the second day of their trip, they got up early and hiked Waimea Canyon together. On the way back home they made a stop and Sara was feeding the chickens everywhere, so she asked Dan to go grab more bread for them! He took way too long to bring her the bread (wonder what he was doing) and when she turned around to grab the bread from him, he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him! She said there was a cat there with them too, and she started crying immediately. So sweet!!

They chose to elope at Winchester Mountain, which is accessible by one of the most amazing trails in the North Cascades. It’s only 3.4 miles round trip with only 1,300 feet of elevation gain, and takes you to an AMAZING lookout 6,500 feet high! You get the most picturesque views of the North Cascades and the Twin Lakes, the 360-degree views are seriously unbeatable for such a moderate hike. You do need to have a high-clearance or 4WD vehicle to get up the road to the trailhead, though! And you will need a Northwest Forest Pass to park there.

Want to see more of my fave elopement locations in the North Cascades? Check out my North Cascades Elopement Guide!

Getting ready at the top of the mountain

Once we got to the top, Sara and Dan got ready right then and there, putting on their outfits & nicer boots for their ceremony. I definitely recommend wearing your normal hiking boots to get to your ceremony spot to make sure you can hike safely on the terrain, then either leaving them on for your ceremony or packing an extra pair of shoes to change into! I loved Sara’s boots that she wore for their ceremony, they were great hiking boots with a cute little design added to the sides that went perfectly with her dress. She wore a beautiful boho elopement dress covered in gorgeous lace patterns and a super loose, carefree style. Perfect for this stunning, outdoor adventure-loving bride! But just you wait – this was only her FIRST dress of the day! Dan also killed it with his outfit, a plaid suit jacket & rust-orange pants that went perfectly with the earth tones of the mountains surrounding them. 

A private mountaintop vow exchange

They wanted a super intimate, private ceremony with just the two of them, so they did just that – exchanged their vows at the mountaintop with nothing but the fog & the mountain peaks around them. The sun shone through the clouds sooo beautifully and gave off a super dreamy glow behind them as they said their vows! Ugh I just love private ceremonies so much, it’s so special to be able to just be with your person and take in the moment together, especially in such a breathtaking location.

Golden hour Winchester Mountain elopement portraits

The sun decided to show OFF even more after their vow exchange, when we started taking portraits of Sara and Dan exploring the beautiful mountaintop! The fall colors were still looking beautiful around the area, even though it was already mid-November, and the golden hour sun just made everything look so magical. Truly, nothing compares to golden hour as the sun either rises or sets over the jagged peaks of the North Cascades as you watch from thousands of feet up in the air!

A Halloween-inspired black wedding dress

Then came that second dress I was telling you about, Sara changed into the most amazing inky-black dress for some Halloween-y portraits. I was OBSESSED with this dress and how freaking regal it made her look, casually standing on the edge of a mountain looking at the alpenglow on the mountains and the sun setting over the forested valleys like a literal queen! And with some snow on the ground at the higher elevations, she looked like a winter goddess with the train of her dress flowing so gracefully behind her + the top layer that she twirled around! AMAZING.

Nighttime elopement portraits with Jack-o-Lanterns

Because why not stick pumpkins on your heads at the end of your elopement day? Once we got back down the trail, Sara and Dan pulled out two Jack-o-Lanterns and two actual lanterns for some hilarious, Halloween-inspired portraits in the dark of the night. I loved it so much! This day was so fun and so reflective of Sara and Dan’s personalities & relationship!

I’d love to come along with ya and hike up Winchester Mountain for your big day, too – hit me up here if you think I’d be your perf Winchester Mountain elopement photographer 😉

If you want some more Winchester Mountain elopement inspiration, I’ve got a few more elopements to share with ya – check them out below for more beautiful mountain elopement inspo!

Winchester Lookout Elopement

Adventurous North Cascades National Park Elopement

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