Remote Alaska Elopement
And here I tell the tale of the most beautiful remote Alaska elopement ever. Because I’m obsessed, I will also post some non wedding photos in this post. It was an adventure and I’m here to tell you if you’ve never been to Alaska, been on a float plane, seen hundreds of otters at once, eagles fighting, whales, or stepped foot on an uninhabitaed island….you need to.
Last fall MaKayla emailed me about her small wedding in Alaska at her family’s fishing lodge. I immediately responded, we set up a meeting, and her and Jake hired me to be their photographer. I’ve wanted to visit Alaska for so long, and to be able to photograph a wedding would be insane. How did both dreams come true at the same time, I have no idea. MaKayla’s family runs Salmon Run Fishing Lodge, and it’s only accessible by boat and float plane, how cool is that? The weeks leading up to my trip, we kept in contact about everything, adjusting plans as Covid 19 got involved. Flight were changing and the guest list got a lot shorter. But I was going to be on that plane unless I physically couldn’t.
After getting tested for Covid 19 I packed my bags and flew to Juneau. I arrived and met up with their officiant and grandma, and we three got on a float plane and headed to the lodge. We were greeted by the family and settled into the lodge. That evening everyone just visited and relaxed, preparing for the most amazing Alaska elopement the next day.
the wedding day
With a late ceremony, there was time to chill Saturday morning. So I jumped in a boat with Makayla’s dad Jeff and two of her sisters to go check crab pots, something I’ve never seen in person. There were enormous mountains everywhere, waterfalls pouring down their slopes. I found out most of the banks were state owned (hello option to pick whatever stunning spot you want to elope…hint hint) along with a bunch of cool info about the area. Three crabs trapped and we headed back. One of the girls said “we’re out here crabbing on Makayla’s wedding day haha” to which I replied ‘Sounds like the best wedding day ever.”
As the afternoon approached, the skies got darker and the waves got bigger. Makayla and Jake picked out a quiet spot in the forest to read vows before the ceremony. I love when couples do this, such a beautiful moment together. MaKayla gathered quite a lot of things in her dress, so after a moment of nothing Jake peeked back to see her ripping logs out of her dress. He laughed, she laughed. After vows, tears, and kisses, they walked together back to the lodge.
It was warm inside with a roaring fire. Jeff walked MaKayla down to Jake, and the I do’s where said and sealed with a kiss. It was emotional, and I really mean that. There was many smiles, laughs, tears and lots of love in that room. They went straight into dances, which is one really neat thing about intimate weddings and elopements. You can literally do anything at any time, and it’s not a big deal. There’s not a huge need for a super structured timeline, you can just go with it. Jake danced with MaKayla, Jeff with Kim, and Bryn with Barry (the dog). Prime rib and cake was enjoyed by all before all the formal photos.
Sunset is like at 10:30, so for once in my photographer career I wasn’t concerned about doing photos late, no rush at all. When it was time for bridal photos it was cold and breezy, but MaKayla being the badass she is was there for it. We shot there on the beach and I coulda shot forever. Serious mood, cool tones, and views make my heart happy. Once back inside, they finished packing a few things for their “honeymoon.” Basically had the family drop a camp for them on an uninhibited island nearby. This camp was what honeymoon camping is about. Wine, heated blanket, string lights, and a sheet hung up with a projector. It just seems really fitting for an Alaska elopement, ya know?
after the wedding
The next day was Jeff’s birthday, and there was a fishing derby happening among the family. IT was really rainy so everyone got a late start. I went out with one group to watch and take photos. That’s when we saw all these otters out just floating around in ginormous groups. It was strange. Also saw some whales, watched them reel a few small halibut in. We headed back early because everyone was wet (besides me that is, I was hiding under the canopy). They lost the competition but it was still a blast. Our float plane came in that evening, most of us were going home. They packed up a box of Halibut for me to take home, and I cannot wait to eat it. Such a sweet gift, thank you all!
I just had the most amazing experience up there, and kinda feel like I had too much fun. The whole family treated me so well and I loved every moment. They run the coolest operation up there and I think everybody should go. Go to see the wildlife, watch the tides, go fishing, hang out and enjoy every second.
And that is the tale of my experience of my first (and hopefully not last) remote Alaska elopement, and I hope you enjoy these photos I edited on the trip home to Montana. ☺️
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