Maddie Mae | Colorado Wedding & Elopement Photographer
Intimate Weddings & Adventure Elopements for those who Live & Love Fearlessly. Maddie Mae is a Colorado Elopement photographer who specializes in adventure weddings, hiking elopements, Rocky Mountain National Park Weddings.
I have known Rachael for almost 10 years now, so when she told me that she was engaged to her girlfriend Emily and planning to elope—I was absolutely thrilled out of my mind. I got to know these two through their long-running tradition of "Adventure Tuesdays." They both had Tuesdays off due to their work schedule, and would each week plan a new hike, road trip, or place to explore. I joined along whenever I could, and they inspired me to make this a tradition in my own relationship. So when they got engaged, it was only perfectly fitting that Rachael & Emily chose to have an adventurous destination elopement in a new place they hadn't explored before—the Dolomites (Italian Alps)—their most adventurous Tuesday ever.
One of the most fun parts of the process of working with couples planning destination elopements, is assisting in the dreaming & exploring process and giving all of my best suggestions for locations for their ceremony & portraits. I spent countless hours scouring all of my favorite resources of maps, forums, and software to find the absolute most gorgeous views in South Tryol—which in my opinion is the most beautiful part of the Dolomites. I found a series of mountain passes that we could explore as well as the beautiful & iconic Lago Di Braies as a perfect place to say their vows in a bit of a warmer place than on top of a snowy mountain pass.
We started the day with a first look at sunrise right outside of their amazing AirBnB, which had the most incredible views—we could have happily stayed their all day, but we hit the road, and headed on our journey through the most beautiful scenery I've seen in my life. The Dolomites in May were very cold, with brutal winds at the top of these vistas and still plenty of snow—but these two kept each other warm—and when it came time to say their vows, I had a hard time looking through my viewfinder through all the tears. The scenery that we saw that day was unlike anything I've ever experienced. The Alps are truly world class, and as a die-hard mountain lover, I was in absolute heaven and I can't wait to go back.
None of the couples I've ever photographed have been models. Most humans are scared of cameras—but there's nothing more fulling than helping a couple get lost in their love for each other in front of my camera. It's the most incredible part of what I do as a photographer.
Almost every single couple I've ever photographed has said to me, "We're not super photogenic" or "We're awkward in front of the camera," or sometimes even "We really hate having our photo taken." And rather than put me off... I absolutely love hearing comments like these, because there's so much room for transformation. A couple who has never been photographed professionally before is a completely blank canvas and it's the most fulfilling experience to take a couple on a journey to being completely vulnerable, relaxed, and purely themselves in front of my camera.
One of the weddings that will forever stick out in my mind as a mind-blowing journey is Erin and Graham's intimate wedding in Rocky Mountain National Park. Through intentionally getting to know Erin & Graham and planning an elopement from start to finish that would reflect their relationship, it was incredible to see the walls tumble down, and see their hearts unfold in front of my camera on their wedding day. The stars truly aligned and the scenery, the light, the weather, the location, and the emotion perfectly blended to create one of the most magical wedding days I've ever experienced. Watching these two cuddle in the morning light in the mountains was awe-inspiring. Their love is passionate, magnetic, free-spirited, and completely unhindered.
The combination of fearless adventure & passionate intimacy is what drives me from the core of my photographic soul. From their intiamte first look on Trail Ridge Road, to their beautiful elopement ceremony at 3M curve in Rocky Mountain National park, and ending with a casual picnic at a cabin in Grand Lake, Erin & Graham's wedding represents the perfect type of wedding that I love being a part of—and the one I imagine having myself some day.
Hawaii was one of those places that I was pretty skeptical about visiting—I really didn't think I would enjoy it. I imagined Hawaii being full of overrated beach resorts, too many tourists, and not enough real adventure for my taste. Wow...was I wrong.
Kauai was one of the most magical places I have been and it absolutely captivated me. Particularly the Koke'e State Park & Waimea Canyon areas were simply awe-inspiring. Kauai is the oldest of Hawaii's volcanic islands and the 4,000 ft cliffs of vegetation-covered cliffs going straight into the sea is a crazy sight. It's almost an optical illusion to be that close to the ocean and also so high above it—the line is almost blurred where the sky meets the sea on the horizon.
When Kourtney (a great photographer herself) invited me to document their intimate wedding on Kauai, I was incredibly honored. She tasked me with finding the most epic views for an epic day-after session for them and I scoured the Island for just the right hike. I absolutely love helping couples find incredibly unique & secluded locations to say their vows and have a one-of-a-kind adventure.
This particular trailhead is totally unmarked—it starts when you open a secret gate and start hiking down an insanely steep & muddy trail. It's more of a locals secret—probably because it's one of the scariest trails I've done in my life. We hiked along the 4,000 ft ridge with steep drop-offs on each side—this one was definitely not for the faint of heart. If it was any muddier, it would be nearly impassible without dying. We met at the trailhead before sunrise and had it all to ourselves—truly an absolutely unforgettable morning.
I'm so happy to be heading back to Hawaii in April! Get in touch if you'd like to chat about an adventurous session or elopement while I'm there.
Elopements have changed a lot in the past few years—and in the absolute best way possible. No longer do the majority of people see elopements as last-minute, unapproved, tacky events in Vegas. Couples all over the world are intentionally choosing to have incredibly meaningful, thoughtful, intimate wedding days that truly reflect who they are.
From the first conversation I had with Jen & Dan, I knew they would have the most incredible elopement day—both of them are such passionate & intentional people—and it was so natural for their elopement to be the same. After getting to know them, I sent my favorite spots in Colorado that would fit the vision for exactly what they were imagining for their elopement—and they settled on the gorgeous are of Yankee Boy Basin in Ouray, CO. The San Juan mountains are my absolute favorite in the whole state—towering high above the little mountain towns—much like the Alps. Ouray is actually called "The Switzerland of America" and having been to the Swiss Alps earlier this year, I can attest that it has a similarly epic vibe.
We hiked up to a waterfall they found and scrambled up its rocky face so they could get married directly above it—with the stunning mountain peaks in the background. Only the sounds of the waterfall cascading below, they tearfully said their vows to each other during their self-solemnizing ceremony. Colorado is just one of 4 places in the country that a couple can get legally married without an officiant or any witnesses. Read more about self-solemnizing elopements here.
After their incredibly emotional ceremony which left us all in tears—we explored around the basin, enjoying the fall colors and an incredible picnic basket created by a private gourmet Chef who I connected Jen & Dan with to make their elopement absolutely epic in the food department. Afterwards, we headed back to their AirBnB, where Chef L Kent created the most spectacular meal and food experience I have ever encountered as a photographer. There was fire, liquid nitrogen (sometimes at the same time)—ingredients from all over the world—specifically picked for Jen & Dan's pallets & needs.
It's super important to stay fueled & sustained during your wedding—especially if there's hiking involved—but this experience was SO many million miles better than the normal granola bars & trail mix I'm used to as an adventure elopement photographer. It was almost like watching a magic show—that you got to eat at the end. I love when couples go all-out for their elopement day, and choose to make it truly unforgettable. If there are any foodies out there, wondering how to make your elopement day incredible—hire an incredible private world-class chef like L Kent.
The scenery, the emotion, the mind-blowing food—Jen & Dan's elopement will go down as one of my favorites. Elopements are the best way to get married and deserve to be made unforgettable—and honored as the important day that they are.
Get in touch with me if you'd like to chat about your own dream elopement. I'd love to help you make something awesome.
When they are together, Beth and Colin can't help but smile—they have the most loving and genuine smiles I've ever seen. Their cute little Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield wedding was a beautiful summer day with sun streaming through the clouds and lighting up the flower-covered landscape. Their first look was in a field of flowers. It couldn't have been more perfect.
One thing I love about adventure weddings is you never quite now how exactly they will turn out. You can have ideas, plan, and schedule—but the thing about wild outdoor elopements, is that nature always has the beautiful final word.
Resa, Grant, & I had spent months finding the most perfect epic hike in Mt. Rainier National Park (one that I definitely still want to do for an elopement), but by the time September came, Rainier had both forest fires, and early snow causing closures all over the park. We put our heads together, pivoted, and came up with several alternative plans the week of their elopement.
Honestly I don't think it could have been more beautiful or perfect. It was rainy & cloudy all day, with no views of Rainer, but we found a perfect piece of rainforest for them to say their vows with their 2 closest friends (one of whom officiated). I got the honor of being their second witness on their marriage license. We played some more under the trees, until we were all soaking wet from the rain.
We decided to try for some more Rainier views the next morning before I headed to the airport—hoping for a gap in the clouds. Luckily that the wiley temptress, Rainier, poked through the clouds and put on a show for Resa & Grant, to wrap up their beautiful elopement story, frolicking around in the fresh snow.
I love that elopements boil down the idea of a wedding back to what really matters: 2 people, in love, committing their lives to each other. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you married the love of your life—and it's phenomenal when nature plays along and creates a magical day like this turned out to be.