Intimate Weddings and Adventure Elopements
For the Wild At Heart
For Erica Swantek, of Erica Swantek Photography, simply taking photographs of the couples she works with is just the tip of the iceberg. As an intimate wedding and adventure elopement photographer much of her work takes place behind the scenes and before the big day.
From her first meeting with each potential client, she’s focused on helping them create the kind of special day that they truly want, without any outside pressures and free from expectation about what a traditional wedding should be, all with a focus on highlighting the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Erica has always loved nature. While working for the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado, she dabbled in general landscape photography but after moving to Oregon during the 2008 economic recession, a lack of job opportunities forced Erica to begin exploring her photography interest in earnest. She soon found herself diving deeper into her craft, photographing portraits, maternity sessions, and more until she had the opportunity to photograph a friend’s wedding in 2014.
Over the years she honed her skills, photographing traditional weddings until 2017 when a Tacoma couple knew they wanted to get married outside at a waterfall near Bend, but that was it. They hired her to help and Erica got to work.
“I started doing some research and found them the perfect waterfall for their wedding. It was a very intimate wedding, I think there were 12 people in attendance and I loved it. I loved it. I loved helping them pick the location, I loved everything about it,” she says about the experience.
From there, her new focus was born – adventure elopements. With the perfect blend of expert knowledge, passion, and experience, Erica is uniquely positioned to support couples looking for similarly unique and adventurous experiences – those who aren’t interested in a traditional wedding with a structured (and often stressfully tight) timeline full of the expected customs and activities, but who want to celebrate their love free from routine, surrounded by nature, and focused on their authentic selves.
The majority of the couples she works with for adventure elopement photography still come to her with a location in mind, but find value in working with a photographer who knows the land and how to incorporate it into their big day. But more and more she’s finding clients who come to her for her adventure elopement package which includes location planning assistance. In a true spirit of inclusivity, Erica also points out that both “adventure” and “elopement” may not mean what some people assume.
She describes her adventure elopement package by saying, “it doesn’t necessarily mean going on a 6 or 8 mile hike and going on this big adventure, but it means creating a day for them based on what they’re looking for and what they want.”
She also notes that many of her couples looking for an adventure elopement photographer come to her with a small guest list, and given her couples’ interest in getting married outside in a way that is integrated into the wilderness around them – a lot of planning is involved. These are not the secretly rushing off to Las Vegas-style stereotypical elopements, but rather intentional moments cultivated for couples who want to prioritize a laid-back, experience-centered approach to their celebration of love.
And with all her couples – her background comes in handy. She’s there to help them understand everything from wilderness regulations on group sizes, the importance of planning backup options, to thinking through strategies for hiking to their desired location. (As she reminds couples – you can only go as far or as fast as your slowest party member. And if people are flying in from different elevations, altitude is something to keep in mind!) She provides advice to couples looking for caterers and other vendors well suited to similar kinds of events and can help them navigate any permitting needs for getting married on public land.
Sustainability is naturally a big part of Erica’s work as an adventure elopement photographer and for the most part her clients are similarly passionate about protecting, preserving, and appreciating the environment. But even those with the best intentions don’t necessarily have all of the knowledge on how to create a truly sustainable adventurous wedding.
Luckily Erica has that covered too. She provides each of her couples with a Leave No Trace pamphlet and advises on the little details like making sure to utilize only natural and native flowers for bouquets. She knows, for example, that Mt. Rainier doesn’t allow dried bouquets, understands the importance of staying out of water zones, and how to schedule around the limited windows of time that the grasses are greening and the meadows are lush.
Free-spirits, nature lovers, and anyone who just wants to consider a different option for their wedding, one that focuses on an authentic and laid-back appreciation of their love, will find themselves at home with Erica Swantek’s adventure elopement photography. And with her background, connection to nature and detail-oriented approach, every couple that Erica works with is sure to wake up after their wedding day with beautiful and inspiring memories to last a lifetime.
Learn more about Erica’s intimate wedding and adventure elopement photography on her website.