why they chose to elope
mylinh and zach wanted to escape the pressures of a big wedding that was put on them from their families and wanted to truly elope with just the two of them. they actually won’t even be telling their families about this until a year after!
lastly, their elopement was a little bit of “spur of the moment” thought after seeing inspo on Pinterest, and knew that eloping spoke to them. we ended up planning their entire elopement in about 2 months!
why they decided on the oregon coast and redwoods
although they only visited the west coast once before, they knew they wanted that classic PNW feel of big forests and beautiful coastlines. it also felt so different than where they live in the mid-west!
i suggested the southern part of the oregon coastline where they could reach the towering redwoods as well. this is my absolute favorite part of the coast because it’s less crowded with tourists, has warmer and sunnier weather, and has a unique rocky shore.
i truly hope everyone can experience this part of the world at least once in their lives!
how they eloped on the oregon coast and redwoods forest
because we were planning their elopement in less than 2 months, we worked pretty quickly. after they found my business through a facebook group and we chatted about their vision, we all knew that this was going to be an awesome experience working together!
we instantly connected over our love of animals and traveling to new places. mylinh is actually in vet school and i’ve been a vet tech for 6 years. it felt destined to work with a couple that shared a similar interest!
not only did we vibe well, but mylinh and zach instantly trusted my expertise which was amazing. they had no idea where to start this process, but i knew with their excitement and vision – we could make their dreams happen.
deciding on a budget
although they came in with a budget around $1500 for a photographer, after we spoke about their wants and how much time I’d recommend to capture their full day adventure – they ended up spending $3250.
mylinh and zach knew prioritizing their photos was a huge part of why they wanted to elope and so they saved money on other wedding details to invest in a quality photographer and creator.
they originally booked me for 6 hours, but after creating their timeline and letting me know what activities they wanted to do, i suggested another 2 hours of coverage so they weren’t rushed. this made all the difference in how they emotionally and physically felt throughout their elopement!
picking a location
the first step when you work with me is picking your location. after mylinh and zach answered a questionnaire i sent them about all the things they wanted to see and experience on their wedding day, i sent back a fully customized location list.
they choose 4 epic spots along the west coast that were the least popular to tourists, because they wanted to experience these places all by themselves. we ended up only encountering a few other people on their entire day – it was amazing!!
they even ended up taking my suggestion for a cute glamping dome to stay at in cave junction, oregon. the glamping property is called “cedar bloom farm”.
the farm is widely spread out in between camping domes and equipped with an outdoor kitchen, tea house, sauna, swimming hole, and even has a place where you can hold your wedding ceremony there.
to legally get married in the redwoods or oregon coast, you’ll need to fill out an online application for the county you’ll hold the ceremony in or be present 3 days before to do so. then, you’ll fill out the 2nd round of paperwork on your ceremony day and mail it back in when finished.
it’s not necessarily a hard task to do, but it does require a little more planning.
mylinh and zach ended up taking care of their legal paperwork back in the state where they were living to simplify things for themselves. this doesn’t make your elopement day any less special or real if you decide to do this! honestly, it’s a great way to take the stress of yourself.
officiant and witnesses
because they opted to do the paperwork and legal ceremony at home, their ceremony didn’t require an officiant or witnesses.
if you do end up having a legal binding ceremony in oregon or california, you can use your photographer as your officiant if they are legally ordained like i am or hire an expert!
these states also require 2 witnesses to sign your marriage license. this is easier than you think if you want an intimate ceremony. just find visitors along the trails you visit, the hotel staff, or take the paperwork back with you and have friends/family sign – then mail back! I’ll help you work out any logistics of this process, so don’t let this seem daunting.
mylinh and zach wanted to have their intimate wedding ceremony nested in a grove of redwoods. to make this happen, you must contact the redwoods national park or state park and obtain a wedding ceremony permit. The cost was $100 and covers the photo permit as well.
we ended up finding them a quiet grove up the road from the popular trail “simpson-reed” that is narrow and not a great spot for ceremonies in my opinion. we did take some wedding portraits here after their ceremony though!
last things to note about getting married in the redwoods – No live florals are allowed in the Redwoods and you cannot have your ceremony in Fern Canyon, James Irvine Trail, Stout Grove, or Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail.
another logistic mylinh and zach worked out was traveling to the west coast! because they love road tripping so much together and seeing new things, they saved time by flying into portland, oregon. they then spent the couple days before their elopement exploring bend and making their way down to cave junction.
travel costs totalled about $1600 between their flights, lodging, and epic jeep rental!
like mentioned before, these two decided to spend most of their budget on photos. so, they were able to cut costs in things like florals and attire but still were beautiful details! mylinh actually made their floral arrangements and flew over with them.
they also picked out a perfume and cologne for each other and got to smell those scents for the first time during their getting ready part of the day. what an amazing way to remember those special memories!
lastly, they knew that a jeep picnic was a high priority for them. so, they picked up customized macarons, brought battery-operated candles, and found a little whiskey bottle and cannabis joint to make it complete.
what they did on their elopement adventure
creating an elopement day can feel overwhelming. so when you hire an elopement expert like me, I’ll ask you all the right questions and then take those to create you a fully personalized timeline of your day. i’ll take the best lighting, how much time you need at each spot, and all your other details into consideration to build your adventure day.
mylinh and zach wanted to see and do a lot of activities while still getting time to enjoy each location through their scenic wedding roadtrip! Here’s what their day looked like.
waking up and sharing breakfast
these two woke up around 7am to meet me at their glamping dome on the cedar bloom farm. they started by prepping their wedding attire and mylinh put on a touch of makeup. then, they laced up their shoes and headed toward the teahouse!
no one else was awake and had the entire morning to themselves. when they approached the tea house this is where they shared their tea, coffee, and chocolate croissants! As they sipped their drinks, we spotted deer eating leaves from the trees and had to go see them. it was a perfectly foggy morning and seeing wildlife made it that much more special.
before starting to get ready, they ended the brisk morning by walking down to the swimming hole where they cuddled on the dock and even met some of the property cats! This was really fun for them because they have 2 cats of their own and of course didn’t travel all the way out with them.
getting ready together
mylinh and zach wanted to break the rules of a traditional wedding and spend their getting ready time together. it started with an intimate cuddle session in their bed and swinging in the hammock as we put on some special love songs.
they then completed their wedding attire looks by putting their florals onto one another. they even brought perfume and cologne to exchange as their “wedding scents” to remember – which is just an incredible way to relive these memories over again in the future.
next, they packed up their things and hopped into their jeep to head to the redwoods!
ceremony in the redwoods
as mentioned before, I helped the two of them pick a more intimate spot in the redwoods where they could say their vows without a lot of visitors. they wanted to choose the exact spot to say “i do” on a whim, and found a grove of trees that spoke to them along the trail.
i take a stepback approach to capturing ceremonies, but was still able to document their emotional and meaningful ceremony.
They also had a hilarious moment during their ceremony when Zach’s phone went off. It was his favorite hockey team’s theme song, which Mylinh had just mentioned in her vows how she still loves Zach even though she hates his team. It was spot on timing and memorable moment!
exploring the redwoods
before breaking for lunch, they finished up their morning by getting one last experience in the redwoods. they choose the simpson-reed trail for its short trail and iconic redwood views.
this was not their ceremony location because you can encounter a lot of visitors on this trail, especially memorial day through labor day and weekends. this was the only location we passed visitors! pretty damn awesome if you ask me.
tidepooling and sunset in brookings, oregon
after we all breaked for lunch and they checked into their other lodging stay closer to brookings, we met back up at one of my most favorite beaches on the oregon coast. even though this beach is located right along the highway, most don’t choose it for their elopement location. so I was stoked when the two of them said hell yes!
this beach also holds some of the best tide pools along the oregon coast. we worked around low tide so we could have the best chance of viewing sea life and ended up seeing starfish and sea anemones!
If you are tidepooling, be careful where you step. If you do not know if you can touch a sea creature safely, don’t or be sure to research this before as they are very fragile! You CAN touch sea anemones by dipping your hand in the water, then touching with 1 finger.
jeep picnic, first dance, and stargazing celebration
the last location of their day ended up at another “lesser visited” beach near port orford, oregon. this beach is uniquely fantastic because it has large sea cliffs which are amazing for sunset watching and you can even access the black pebbled beaches.
these two spent the last bit of sunlight getting the most beautiful golden hour photos and sat side-by-side literally watching the sun go down. as they made their way back to their jeep, we stopped for some quick lanterns shots as it hit blue hour. it’s one of my favorite things to elevate your photos and so easy to do so!
if you’re stuck on what to do during your elopement day, you can also visit this helpful resource.
to end their amazing elopement day, they set up a cute jeep picnic with candles and string lights. they shared whiskey, smoked cannabis, ate their customized macarons, and just enjoyed each other’s company.
lastly, we got so freakin lucky with clear skies that we ended up being able to take some milky way photos and celebrate with some sparklers!
hear what the couple raved about:
“We couldn’t have imagined our elopement being any more magical and special than it was and we have to thank Sharlee for making all of our ideas come to life! We had never been to Oregon before but knew that was where we wanted to get married, Sharlee was able to give us the best recommendations on lodging, activities, and locations for our special day! Our elopement was planned quite last minute with only two months before the day but her communication and planning throughout the whole process was amazing and prompt!
My husband and I are both somewhat introverted people, however, Sharlee made us feel comfortable the moment we met her and it truly felt like we were best friends! She was able to capture the best day of our lives from morning adventures at the river, getting ready together, our ceremony in the Redwoods, playing in tide pools, watching the sunset, our first dance in the headlights, toasting to the start of our new life together, and stargazing!
We cried, laughed, and enjoyed every single moment that she captured! She even created beautiful effects with the photos and made GIFs that gave us little glimpses of our day in action! The adventures and memories that we created that day will be cherished forever and Sharlee was able to capture our day so beautifully! We are forever thankful to Sharlee and cannot recommend her highly enough for your elopement!”
this post was also featured on wandering weddings, and you can read more details about their day here!
want to create your own elopement adventure?
your first step to creating your own adventure wedding is finding a photographer you love. i do much more than just take pretty photos, i’ll help guide you through the entire process and make it a simplified experience that you’ll be excited about!
If you think we’d be a good match, check out more information below or get into contact with me. can’t wait to hear about your elopement vision!