This moody elopement on Memorial Day was, well, something to remember.
Central Oregon is an incredibly vast, varied landscape. Drive one or two hours from Bend (or less) in any direction, and you’ll find yourself in an amazing outdoor playground.
The Christmas Valley Sand Dunes are no exception. For those seeking solitude during their elopement, these dunes are a great option… Unless, of course, it’s a three day weekend. Then it’s a party.
I had not considered this when I was scouting the location for Em and Wyatt’s photography session. Just a week before, I’d gone in search of the perfect place to meet and explore for this gorgeous dusty adventure elopement.
I knew we’d need a really solid plan because it is extremely remote, and cell reception is limited at best. But Em and Wyatt were down for an adventure and that’s what they were going to get.
Out here in these Central Oregon sand dunes, there are basically no rules. On BLM land, there’s less regulations and so a lot more activities are allowed. You can pretty much camp wherever, but there are a few designated camping spots.
On my scouting mission, I’d decided that the Juniper dispersed camping area was the perfect spot to meet. Easy to find, lots of wide open and varied places to explore, and easy access to the dunes.
And, you may have guessed where this is going, but the Juniper dispersed camping area was unrecognizable on the day of Em and Wyatt’s elopement photography session.
I rolled up into a sea of RVs, Jeeps, ATVs and throngs of people out there to have a good time.
This was a totally different atmosphere from the one I’d pictured, but a good one nonetheless.
Everyone was out there to have a grand old time off-roading on the dunes. Em and Wyatt’s friend party came equipped with a truck and a motorcycle, so fun was had out there on the sand.
(Sadly, the vehicles didn’t have the proper safety flags until after our shoot… so you’ll see no pictures here…)
It did make walking and running around on the dunes a bit more challenging with all the other folks recreating on the sand. It was quite a comical sight, I’m sure, for all the off-roaders to come up to the crest of a hill and see these two people in love, just walking around in pretty clothes, just trying to celebrate their love.
But nothing deterred Em and Wyatt from having a grand time, celebrating their love with an outdoor adventure.
I could not have asked for a more gorgeous day to shoot this Central Oregon adventure elopement.
I religiously checked the weather, knowing that Central Oregon’s springtime can mean ANYTHING. Thunderstorms, snow, blistering heat… nothing is off the table.
It looked like we were going to contend with a bit of rain on and off during the day. And when I was driving to the location from Bend… I thought I was going to come upon the armies of Mordor. Swaths of dark dark grey covered the horizon in the EXACT DIRECTION of the dunes.
And there was no chance of a back up location at the moment because I wasn’t able to call Em and Wyatt to chat about it.
But part of deciding to have an adventure elopement is deciding to say “yes” to weather. And deciding to be flexible and a good sport about whatever the day will bring.
So I drove on my merry way, hoping that Em and Wyatt were going to have a good attitude if wee got caught in a violent hailstorm.
And luckily, no such hailstorm arrived. Though I know that these two would have been 100% down for a party in a thunderstorm if it had.
In fact, the skies opened up and gave us brilliant sunshine with an amazing cloudy horizon. A totally gorgeous sunset that I would have never predicted on my drive into a war-torn Middle Earth…
Plus, some breezy weather, which I LOVE to shoot in. It can be slightly uncomfortable to be in super windy weather, but it makes for amazing, dynamic photos. Plus it add some more adventure elements to the elopement day. And that’s what we’re all here for, right? ADVENTURE 🙂
The wind did come with sand, though. And as beautiful as it made photos and the experience, it did eventually get to us.
Sand whipping around and hiking face, legs, fingers (and camera) can start to hurt after a while… so we packed it up and headed back to the campsite.
After getting comfy, Em and Wyatt cuddled up on their rad truck for some cute, intimate photos.
One of life’s great pleasures is putting comfortable clothes on after wearing a less-than-practical, but super-stunning, outfit. And another of life’s great pleasures is the ability to be totally comfortable with a person you love.
Even in thunderstorms, sandy wind and crowded campgrounds, you can find comfort when you’re with your person.
If you’re feeling inspired to have your own adventure elopement in Oregon (or California or Washington… ) get in touch!
Whether you’re ready to book a photographer (and adventure planner) or not, I’d be super happy to chat all things adventure elopement with you.
Email me or fill out my contact form to chat!