March 29, 2022
As an outdoor adventure seeker, you’ve come to the right place to learn more about How to Leave no Trace on your elopement day! We are so excited you are here. This guide is for anyone who is looking to get married outdoors, from adventure elopements to small courthouse ceremonies with your portraits outside, and everything in between! I believe these principles are vital for anyone who wants to enjoy nature, wether that is on their wedding day, or just on a casual Sunday hike. These Leave No Trace principles are vital for anyone wishing to enjoy the outdoors today and in years to come.
Thanks to the rise of social media and the help of a global pandemic, destination elopements have increased exponentially in the wedding industry. Unfortunately, this has caused a huge influx of visitors to National Parks and other popular elopement locations causing many National Parks to reduce the amount of permits given due to the high volume of visitors and lack of resources to properly protect the lands. It is up to us as photographers and elopement couples to do our part to be good stewards of this land. By following these simple Leave No Trace practices and educating those around us, we can help protect our national lands for years to come. We only have one planet to live on, let’s do our best to protect it.
I believe it is possible to have the wedding of your dreams, while also being good stewards of our land. By reducing our footprint and impact on nature we can protect these beautiful landscapes for future visitors. Following these principles will help keep the location safe and accessible for years to come.
You have to be prepared for anything when planning an outdoor adventure elopement. From weather, unexpected wildlife, unwanted observers, navigating unknown trails, etc… The day can be unpredictable. There are lots of things that could go wrong, and you don’t want to be stuck in a dangerous position in the middle of nowhere. So make sure you plan and do your research before hand!
Remember, when you are planning your destination elopement, you are not in this alone! Reach out to your vendors and see if they have any suggestions. There are a lot of free resources on the internet (feel free to check out my guide).
Stick to main trails when hiking. Do your best to avoid satellite trails, aka areas that are already trampled from others going off trail. If you have to go off trail, keep to rock, sand and gravel as these areas are highly durable. Avoid going off trail and walking on living soil, desert puddles and mud holes, and fragile vegetation.
Make sure you research the requirements of the specific place you are eloping. Some make you carry out everything, even #2. Others you just have to dig a hole 6-8 inches down. So do your research and be prepared to dispose of your waste properly. If you are inviting guests, make sure you notify them and they are aware too.
See a pretty flower that you want to remember your wedding day? Awesome! Take a picture of it and leave it there for other visitors to see and enjoy. Some National Parks and lands it is illegal to pick plants, so leave everything you find. Take only pictures.
This is huge. If you don’t need a campfire in the wilderness, don’t start a fire. Especially if you don’t know proper wilderness campfire safety. Even if you do, it is best to play it safe. Many of our national lands are prone to wildfires and can take months and many resources to fight. Campfires can make for some beautifully cozy night time photos, so if you are wanting to have a campfire, make sure you do your research leading up to your day.
If you are lucky enough to see some wildlife on your wedding day, keep a safe distance and enjoy their presence. Feel free to a take some photos to commemorate, but safely and from a distance. Do your research of the area before hand and know what type of animals are local. Also be sure to be prepared with bear spray, if necessary. Some National Parks and forests forbid bear spray, so know the rules before you go!
Finally, be considerate of other visitors. They are here to enjoy the outdoors, just like you. So be respectful. Keep volume levels down. Most parks forbid speakers or sound equipment. Don’t hog prime views or photo ops. They will probably be super jazzed and excited they got to witness a wedding. But still be thankful and respectful of any other visitors you meet.
These Leave No Trace guides are set in place to help you enjoy your wedding day, while also protecting the land for years to come. By following these simple guidelines we can ensure that these lands and parks will be open for years to come and hopefully when it comes time for your 10 year anniversary or vow renewal you can come back and it will be just as you remembered it.