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As an Olympic National Park and Hurricane Ridge Elopement Photographer, I can’t help but jump at any chance to photograph a session in the Olympic Mountains! I had barely stepped off the airplane at Seatac when I heard from Bonnie that she was looking for a photographer for her 2021 wedding. Since she and Chris also wanted to do an engagement session on the Olympic Peninsula, we made plans for a drive in to Olympic National Park for a Hurricane Ridge Engagement Session. But while Hurricane Ridge itself is spectacular, I wanted to show them some lesser known backcountry spots too!
Hurricane Ridge and the surrounding wilderness of Olympic National Park are a spectacular location for an elopement! Just about 45 minutes of driving from Port Angeles will bring you to the Hurricane Ridge visitors’ center at 5,242 feet above sea level. From there, if you have the right gear and equipment, you can venture into the backcountry via numerous trails. But even if you aren’t planning on a week trek through the Olympic National Park wilderness, Hurricane Ridge is a fantastic day-trip and elopement spot.
Because of its easy access from a car, you can quickly get to stunning alpine locations for a spectacular elopement site. Just check in with the rangers and make sure you’re following all the rules! During another visit this summer, I sadly saw an elopement party traipsing directly through the meadows themselves. Thankfully, a ranger quickly showed up to direct them back on to the paths. Around the visitor center itself, it’s important to stay on paved trails so as not to impact the flora and fauna of this fragile wilderness area. Hundreds of thousands of people visit Hurricane Ridge every year, so it’s incredibly important to protect and respect these areas!
Further out from the visitor center, the crowds quickly thin out. The best time of day for a Hurricane Ridge elopement or engagement session is close to sunrise or sunset, which means even fewer other visitors will be there! But that also means that it will likely be quite chilly, even in the summer months, so be sure to bundle up!
I always encourage my clients to dress up for their Hurricane Ridge elopement or engagement session, and Bonnie and Chris did not disappoint! Hopefully these photos will show up on their walls, their phone backgrounds, and maybe even wedding stationary. In my mind, an engagement session is a perfect time for taking things up a notch, while feeling your best about how you look. Lots of clients schedule a hair and makeup trial with their HMUA to coincide with their engagement session! It’s an ideal way to try out your wedding look and look and feel great for your engagement portraits.
Bonnie wore a flowy yellow dress that contrasted perfectly with the dark evergreens and mountainscape background. Chris’ blazer and jeans combo was the perfect amount of dressed-up while still being relaxed and comfortable during the session! I especially loved the cognac leather touches in his shoes and belt.
When you are picking outfits for your Hurricane Ridge elopement or engagement session, you’ll want to consider the location, time of year, weather, your comfort, and your favorite styles. I love when clients bring glamorous dressed-up outfits to the gorgeous landscapes of the PNW! Ballgowns on the beach and black-tie in the mountains? Yes please!
It may be totally obvious to say, but you’ll also want to dress for comfort. If we’ll be going to an alpine location or shooting in the snow, bring warm boots, a cozy coat, and a change of dry clothes for the ride home. A thermos of hot chocolate and those little pocket hand warmers are a great idea too!
If you want to wear a beautiful pair of high-heels, I totally encourage it. I also encourage bringing a pair of sturdy flats or even better, hiking boots to get around in, then changing into your heels once we’re on location. Even Pattie Gonia changes into her stiletto boots after hiking in sturdy shoes! (Oh, you don’t know about Pattie Gonia?? Here: http://www.instagram.com/pattiegonia You’re welcome.)
Bonnie and Chris were so fun to work with — totally relaxed and game for everything I came up with for them to do. We spent a couple hours traipsing across the backcountry roads and trails surrounding the visitor center; it was a blast showing them my favorite spots and finding some new ones too! And now to the photos!
Flowers provided by my sweet cousin’s spectacular garden Tin Can Floral Co. and arranged by yours truly (me).
Looking for more elopement and engagement inspo? Be sure to check out these sessions: