Michael & Ayla | Elopement in the woods

Sorry in advance for the long story here.... feel free to skip over it if you just want to see the images from the day. But if you're curious to hear about one of the most eventful wedding days I've ever been apart of, it's a pretty good story. 

I'm just going to come right out and say it: this day did not go as planned. I have been working with Michael and Ayla for about a year now, when they originally booked me for their wedding in August 2016. After an eventful year for the both of them, they decided to scratch their wedding plans and keep it simple with a small intimate elopement-style ceremony with Michael's immediate family and Ayla's father. Together we planned a Pinterest-worthy elopement up at Mt. Baker. As the photographer, leading up to the day I was like "omg these are going to be the images of my career!" I was dying for an opportunity to shoot a ceremony like this. 

The day of the elopement comes, and things had been going wrong for them that morning. I won’t go into details, but it seemed like they had a rough morning by the time I showed up with my assistant to leave for Baker. But finally everyone gets ready and we head out. There were three cars: I was in the first car with the ladies (bride, grooms mom and sister), the car behind us was the groom, and the car behind the groom was my assistant, grooms dad, and grooms brother. We were well on our way to Mt. Baker when the grooms mom (who is driving) notices the two cars behind us aren’t following us anymore. At that moment I get a text from my assistant saying: “we just hit Michael’s car.”  (To clarify, my assistant was not the one driving). So here I am, with this piece of information nobody else has, that the other two cars in our party up to Baker got into a car accident with each other. Michael’s car is in a ditch, the car that hit it is leaking transmission fluid, and the cops have arrived to start taking statements.(Luckily, everyone was totally okay). In this moment, I’m thinking “omg, this wedding isn’t happening!” If it was my wedding day, I would have snapped. Wept. Given up. But Michael and Ayla are different. It was clear we weren’t making it up to Mt. Baker that night. But these two kids still wanted to get married. So instead of letting this ruin the day, we set off to find a place to get them married. We passed this wooded field and I just knew that was “the spot.” We pulled over and got these lovebirds married. AND LOOK HOW HAPPY THEY WERE! You would have never known that this wasn't the elopement we originally planned, because that wasn’t what was important to them. I am so inspired by a couple who doesn’t get hung up on the details. Who didn’t let the “Pinterest-inspired mountain elopement” make the difference between getting married and not getting married. They were just happy to be getting married, period.  And you can see it in their faces in these images. Their joy is tangible. We got them married despite everything that happened that day, and it was an honor to witness and capture.

As a wedding photographer, sometimes we have expectations. I woke up that morning thinking I was shooting an elopement in the middle of the mountains. But at the end of the day, my expectations don’t matter. My couples mean everything to me and the love they share is what this job is all about. No matter what my expectations were, it was my job to make sure they still had the special wedding day they hoped for and to give them the dreamiest elopement.

Truth be told, I have no idea where this is. I wasn’t the one driving, I am not sure where we were on our drive (somewhere east of Mt. Vernon on the Mt. Baker highway, I think?). I could never find this spot again even if I tried. But it was PERFECT.  Sometimes things don’t go as we plan. And that’s what being a wedding photographer is sometimes: plan b’s and managing chaos. I am SO in love with these images. The location we found on our drive ended up being the perfect backdrop for the dreamiest elopement.

Things don’t always go as we plan. But sometimes they turn out better. I checked the weather when we got home, and it had been pouring at Mt. Baker all day. And these still turned out to be some of my favorite wedding images I've taken.

This collection of images will always be extremely special to me and so near and dear to my heart, because it was the perfect way to kick off my wedding season. Reminding me what it is really about and reminding me why I love my job so much. The details don't matter, stuff will go wrong along the way. But what's important is the love my couples share and walking alongside them while they give their lives to each other, no matter what happens.

/// second shooting + assisting by Jeremy Millar