How Your Favorite Color Palette Can Help Determine Your Elopement Location

Find Out How Your Favorite Color Palette Helps You Determine Where To Elope

Swell & Stone | Adventure Wedding & Elopement Photographer | United States & Beyond


I have what some people might call a “strong aesthetic taste”. My favorite color is blue and various forms of blue-green and dark teals. If I were to get married again, I would elope in the desert because I love the way the orange rock looks against the bright blue sky, and how the tan of the sand and the soft green of white sage play in harmony together. My house has exposed brick, which I feel mimics the red rock desert, and I have a teal couch next to a light brown leather couch complete with a southwest style rug. I’m just drawn to that color scheme, and I think part of the reason I love the desert so much is because I get to walk through living art. I keep returning to walk amongst the towers and night skies like an art connoisseur would return to the MoMA.

If you’re considering getting married outside, you might want to think about the color scheme of the location you are interested in. The beauty of elopements is that you don’t have to spend hours weighing decor options, deciding which tablecloths to rent, and picking out how all the pieces of the puzzle will work together. When you choose a wildly different wedding experience like eloping outside, the wilderness is your decor! So, take some time and sit down with your partner, because everything from the location you decide on to the time of day you get married will affect your wedding color scheme. You may decide to go somewhere you’ve never been before, or you may decide that a place you return to over and over is the location for you. Whatever you decide, work with your photographer to make that vision a reality.

Read below to look through a few options, but keep in mind that you can find a huge variety of color schemes and palettes in the same location. This is simply a guide to get you and your partner thinking about what aesthetic you are drawn to. Just because you aren’t mulling over what color your tablecloths are going to be, doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite colors be a part of your day!

Desert Color Palette


The desert is one of those places that has a huge variety of color palette options. There are minimalist options in places like White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, or bold contrasting colors in the red rock desert of southern Utah and Northern Arizona. In some locations you can get some really monotone, gorgeous looks. If you drive a few hours you will get bold colors, and vibrant shots. The thing is, sometimes you can get both in the same place depending on the time of day. Work with your photographer to get an idea of how the changing light will affect your images. Although every photographer is different, all the photographers I know LOVE shooting at sunrise and sunset. Some hate shooting in the middle of the day. I think it really depends on the location, and in some spots, I love shooting in the middle of the day just as much as at dawn and dusk. Also, the desert is a great place to wait until it gets dark and shoot the night sky. I love photographing when the stars come out, and in the desert that is almost every night.

Mountain Color Palette


The high alpine is one of the most enchanting places to be and photograph. Mountain blues and grays are some of the most lovely colors, but depending on the season you can see some orange, red, yellow, and green in the mix as well. Often there are water elements and chances for reflections, too. The season for eloping in the mountains is short…unless you’re willing to dress warmly and get some wildly different shots- winter wedding style!

Forest Color Palette


Foggy forests bring out some ridiculously rich colors and dreamlike landscapes. I always say, “don’t be afraid of rain on your wedding day, because interesting weather makes for the most interesting photos!” I had a client once say to me that she was going for a “woodland nymph vibe”, and I knew exactly what she meant and we scheduled her elopement for the fall in Vermont. The forest is a truly magical place to be, especially in the off seasons.

Ocean Color Palette


If you’re a water person, one of the most beautiful places to elope is to a coastal location. But keep in mind, not all coastal locations are tropical. There are gorgeous spots on the coast of Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Of course, Baja California, and the entire California Coast are unreal for clear, blue waters. Then there are places where the forest meets the ocean, like the Northern California coast, Oregon, and the San Juan Islands in Washington. Keep all of these things in mind, and maybe one of those locations has everything you love all in one place!

Sunrise & Sunset Color Palette


I’ve talked a little bit about shooting at dawn and dusk because those times are what photographers call the “golden hour” and with that comes a different, gorgeous color scheme. If you go to a place that has a primarily blue, green, or neutral color scheme, the golden hour can be the perfect time to add warm colors to those landscapes.

I hope I’ve given you some ideas and things to think about visually as you choose your wedding or elopement location. Not only should it be a place you love or a place you’ve longed to go to, but it’s also important to think about the color scheme of the place because that will affect your photos! If you are searching for an adventure wedding or elopement photographer who can help you work through those things I would love to help. Contact me here or use the button below and let’s start planning your wildly different wedding experience!


Small Yosemite Elopement Complete with Airstreams & El Cap | Swell & Stone- Adventure Wedding Photographer

Megan & Michael Elope in a Breathtaking Yosemite Landscape

Swell & Stone / Adventure Elopement Photographer / California and Beyond


I think one of the things that says the most about who Megan & Michael are as people and as a couple is the number of times each one of them bent down in formal wear to pick up trash off the ground during their Yosemite elopement. I can count at least two hand fulls of times- really it was habitual. Megan & Michael developed that habit because they spend a lot of time outside, and clearly care deeply about keeping it clean for others to enjoy. They run Fresh Off the Grid, a blog that serves as a cooking resource for outdoor enthusiasts.

Their wedding was an incredible combination of personal, beautiful, adventurous, and so much fun. They had their families in attendance, and stayed at AutoCamp Yosemite, which is a really nice camp/glamp spot about 30-40 minutes from the El Portal entrance to Yosemite National Park. When I arrived, Michael was hanging out in their airstream and Megan was over in Michael’s sister’s tent getting ready. They were all having a great time, enjoying breakfast and taking in the pondside scenery of the camp spot. One of my favorite moments was when Megan saw herself with her hair in a braid and her makeup done, after she had put the dress on, and she smiled and started to tear up. “I just never see myself like this,” she said. It was an emotional moment for her mother and soon-to-be mother-in-law as well as they looked on with tears in their eyes.

After she was ready we did a first look and headed out for a 9 am ceremony at Cathedral Beach in Yosemite. It is a stunning beach with the unreal backdrop of El Capitan and views for days. They said their vows in a sometimes tearful but completely joy filled ceremony. Celebrations of champagne followed before the wedding party headed off for lunch at the Awanhee Hotel. Later we reconvened at AutoCamp Yosemite where Megan & Michael works their outdoor camp cooking magic in a special dinner reception for their family. The setting was stunning, the details were beautiful, and the couple cherished getting to spend this quality time with their family all together in one place. The weather could not have been more perfect for their day.

The next day after having breakfast with their family, and packing up their lives into backpacks I met them down in the backpackers campground in Yosemite Valley. Their honeymoon was starting the next day, and they were planning to spend 3 weeks hiking the 211-mile John Muir Trail! When I walked up they had set up their tent and were already chowing down on freeze dried meals to lighten their load. But they had one more adventure in formal wear before spending the next three weeks dirtbagging! They jumped in my truck and we went up Glacier Point Road to hike to Taft Point just before sunset.

Walking through the forest the light filtered through in just the right way. The temperature was perfect, the light was amazing, and Megan & Michael took some time to look back on the events of the weekend. They talked about how it couldn’t have been more perfect, how happy they were to have the whole amazing experience with their close family.

When we arrived to the point we looked around. Neither of them had been to this spot before and they were in awe of the view. As the sun began to sink lower, colors lit up the sky. They walked out the cliffs edge and the light danced around them as they peered down at Yosemite Valley.

After the sun set I returned them to their camp spot, and the next day the headed out on the JMT. I’m happy to report that they completed the trip and they reported back, “The JMT was pretty amazing - challenging but so rewarding, and really a perfect honeymoon for us.”

If you’re looking for a photographer for your wildly different wedding experience get in touch with me ASAP! You can do that HERE- or by hitting the button below.

The Best Locations to Elope in Each Season

Best Adventure Wedding Locations By Season

Swell & Stone / All photos by Kat Carney of Swell & Stone / United States & Beyond



You know what they say- LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! And it rings especially true for adventure weddings and elopements. Picking the right location at the right time is one of the most important parts of creating a wildly unforgettable and different adventure wedding experience. So if you’ve never been to the location you’ve been dreaming of for your wedding, it’s best to find a photographer who has, and who can help steer you in the right direction when it comes to what time of year to plan your event. With that said, depending on the type of experience you’re looking for, the off-season might be the on-season for you if you’re in search of fewer crowds and a sometimes more adventurous experience.

During “high season” you are likely to find the nicest weather, but don’t rule out low season. I like booking elopements in a location’s “low season” because it means fewer crowds, easier transportation, and seeing a different side of a place. However, it also means potential road closures, restricted access, and bad weather. Contact a local, ranger, or guide service to find out what is possible in your location during the time frame you are considering for your elopement.

You can only do so much to avoid bad weather. Start by researching beforehand to determine seasonal average temps, rain/snowfall and wind.

If you want to go in the low season to avoid crowds make sure to research seasonal road and transportation closures that may impact your day. Also, think about extreme weather like wildfires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes.

There is always the chance of bad weather during an outdoor elopement. It’s best to be prepared with the right gear and mindset. Remember, sometimes bad weather makes for the best story and photos.

Each season has its pluses and minuses. The best thing to do is to keep in mind what is most important to you and also what works best with your schedule. Summer tends to be the time most people want to get married, but depending on your comfort level in the outdoors, the dead of winter could be the perfect time for you.

North Cascades, Washington

North Cascades, Washington


Winter has so many amazing things to offer. If you’re a skier or mountaineer, or if you like snowshoeing or hiking in the snow, this season might be for you. There is nothing quite like getting your wedding portraits taken in front of an ice waterfall, just ask Hannah and Collins in the photo above!

Here’s the thing about winter- there are so many fewer people out and about. A winter hike can be calm, serene, and silent, and if you plan it right you might not be all that cold either. Alternatively, there are a ton of locations you can drive to, stay warm in the car, and pop out for a few minutes at a time to take photos. But there are some locations that even in winter are perfect for spending the whole day outside. Want to know more about how to comfortably get married outside in the winter? Check out this post!

Southern Utah Desert

Southern Utah Desert

The Desert Southwest

Winter is the perfect time to explore the desert southwest, which includes southern Utah, Arizona, and parts of Nevada and California. These places remain mostly temperate in the winter, so planning your adventure wedding can be a breeze. Also, these places are mostly dry during this time, although there are always exceptions. The desert is ideal for eloping in winter because even though the weather can be nice there are still fewer people out and about. This is partly because winter nights can easily drop well below freezing, making camping still a bit dicey for some.

The day before I photographed Cam & Rick’s adventure wedding pictured above, it rained the entire day. We were nervous that the 4x4 roads out to this spot would be impassable, but they weren’t and this spot was enhanced by the myriad of pools dotting the desert floor- a rare sight indeed! It made for the most memorable adventure wedding experience. And that is an important tidbit about planning an adventure wedding- YOU NEED TO BE READY FOR ADVENTURE. Just as when you’re adventuring any other time, inclement weather and adapting to things as they come is part of the fun.


Rhode Island Coast

Rhode Island Coast

Spring can be wet season just about anywhere, but if you plan it right it’s also beautiful in a number of locations. It’s best to stay at lower elevations in the spring because high in the mountains will still be snowy and sometime wet and muddy.

Coastal Regions- Southern Rhode Island & Southern California & Florida

Southern California

Southern California

These spots are often nice on the coast, but can still be really nice inland during this time of year as well. When considering weather as a factor, places like Florida become too hot in the summer months, so it’s best to take advantage of the nice spring weather and plan your elopement for then. Also, as long as you avoid spring break, you can still take advantage of some of the relative peace of fewer crowds before summer comes.

Check out Kavita & Brice’s spring adventure wedding that took place in a tree grove in Florida! Or Makeda & Tej’s adventure anniversary session that I shot on the coast of southern Rhode Island at Castle Hill Lighthouse and Fort Adams State Park. Logistics become very difficult at these locations in the summer because of huge tourism crowds. It’s best to plan sessions in these places for either spring or fall.




Ahhh summer, when it’s finally in the air and everyone you know plans to get married. It can often seem like your summer is lost to attending weddings. Well if you’re going to plan your wedding in the summer it may as well be somewhere awesome!

High Altitude Alpine Locations

Unless you’re an extreme adventurer, this is really the only time of year you can plan an adventure elopement or wedding high in the mountains, so take advantage! Include a small hike to the ceremony location to break away from the crowds. There are so many beautiful options, but here are some of my favorites.

From mountain meadows to alpine lakes, this is the best time of year to get away from it all.





North Cascades, Washington

North Cascades, Washington



Wildflowers and mountains in Utah

Wildflowers and mountains in Utah

But the waterfalls and picturesque pools of New England and the Pacific Northwest are calling as well. It’s up to you, but no matter what you choose in the summer months make sure you’re either prepared to work around the crowds, or work with your photographer to find a location that is a little more secluded. Sometimes this can be as easy as going early in the morning at what will be a very crowded location later in the day.

Upstate New York

Upstate New York

Upstate New York

Upstate New York

Pacific Northwest

Pacific Northwest

Pacific Northwest

Pacific Northwest


And finally, fall. It’s my favorite season to photograph and my absolute favorite place spend the fall is in the Northeast. From the mountains of the Adirondacks to the waterfalls of Vermont. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts have unbelievable views during this time, too. Enjoy the crisp air, fog covering the valleys in the morning, and an absolute feast of color for the eyes.



New York

New York




The truth is that the best location and season to elope in is really your preference. Some of the most fun elopements I’ve photographed were in the dead of winter in cold places. I loved the adventure and the couples who chose to plan them that way did too! Keep in mind the comfort of your guests if you’re bringing some along, but otherwise the sky is the limit. Pick a place that means something to you and your partner or a place neither of you have ever been before, but would love to visit. Either way, if you plan the day that you’ll love and come prepared to roll with whatever weather comes your way, you’ll have a truly memorable and wildly different wedding experience that you’ll be able to live over and over again through your photos.

Epic 4x4 Outdoor Adventure Wedding in Southern Utah Backcountry | Swell & Stone- Utah Elopement Photographer

Cameron & Rick say “I Do” in an Enchanting Ceremony in the Desert Southwest

Swell & Stone / Adventure Wedding & Elopement Photographer / Utah/Arizona and Beyond


I can honestly say that in terms of weather for Cam & Rick's adventure elopement in the backcountry of Southern Utah, or Northern Arizona (who even knows ;P) we got about as lucky as we possibly could have.
I drove in the day before and it literally rained the entire length of Arizona- I drove from Phoenix. It NEVER rains the ENTIRE length of Arizona! But the morning of their wedding day it was clear and beautiful. Cam was a flurry of calls and texts in the days leading up to the day, but ultimately she and Rick made the best call- to GO FOR IT!
Four 4x4 vehicles met me at the access road. We figured with enough wo(man) power and tow straps we would be fine even if the roads weren't passable. And hell, it'd make for a great wedding day story either way. And make for a great wedding day story it did! We all made the 1.5 hr drive safely, but we all had to navigate frozen puddles that covered entire sections of road! As soon as we arrived we went to hike around the area. We were able to see it in a completely unique way, reflecting pools of water dotted the whole desert, a rare sight!
Cam & Rick had known each other for a while before they started dating. They are both part of the canyoneering community, which happens to be fairly tight knit. Rick had a crush on Cam, and one of her friends asked if she liked him back. She responded, "I wish I liked Rick!" But as she spent more time with him and their mutual friend group she realized that she did, in fact, like Rick. Fast forward to their beautiful, love filled wedding day.
The day was spent hiking, marveling at nature, spending time with family and friends in on of their favorite places. Cam was walked down the aisle by her soon-to-be step son Gavin, and her good friend, Everett. Rick's daughter Hannah looked adorable in her lavender dress and Vans.
After the ceremony, and some group photos the group enjoyed some food and watched the sun get low on the horizon before heading out. Cam & Rick stayed back with me and venturing back out to a spot when the stars came out. There had been scattered clouds all day, but they cleared to the north just after sunset. Even in very cold temps Cam & Rick were stoked to help create the star photo you see above. A perfect ending to an absolutely perfect day with one some of the best people I've ever had the pleasure of spending time with.

Stunning Winter Adventure Wedding in the North Cascades | Swell & Stone- Elopement Photographer

Hannah & Collins Wed in Dreaming Winter Adventure Elopement in the Pacific Northwest Mountains

Swell & Stone / Adventure Elopement Photographer / Washington and Beyond


When Hannah first contacted me about photographing her and Collins in Washington I was so excited...except it was going to be in the dead of winter, in the North Cascades. But I truly had nothing to worry about, they are the super adventurous, and tough as nails. Their ceremony was actually on Saturday in Seattle. After listening to their family and friends tell stories about taking on challenging outdoor endeavors with them I knew they would be troopers for our adventure shoot the next day.
We headed out in clear weather Sunday morning. I had found a webcam online that show beautiful sunny skies in the mountains, so even though they had a whirlwind wedding the day before Hannah and Collins were down to push up the timeline a little and get to the mountains. They chatted on the way there about how nice it was to be escaping to the mountains, if only for the day. When we drove in the weather was still nice, but cold. And the clouds where moving in, an indication of a storm building for the afternoon.
Hannah and I had exchanged quite a few emails regarding road closures in the North Cascades in the winter. We were able to park at Diablo Lake. We saw so many beautiful landscapes that day, from the mountains with a storm moving in, to ice waterfalls, to whirlwinds of snow on the dam. We explored the varied landscapes, and then warmed up in the car when it got too cold.
The laughed and explored together easily, even in freezing temps. To be honest everything with Hannah and Collins seemed easy- their love for each other and their family and friends' love for them.
The last place we stopped was the first place they ever camped together. They reminisced about that trip, and where they are now, and they walked down the road with Hannah's gown gathering an array of pine cones and needles in the train. It was an absolutely perfect way to end their weekend of celebration, and to continue their life together.

Winter Elopements: The Definitive Guide to Getting Married Comfortably Outside in the Winter

Adventurous Couples Brave Winter Weather and Get Unique, Jaw-Dropping Photos as a Result

Swell & Stone / Adventure Elopement Photographer / United States and Beyond


When it comes to getting married in the winter the vast majority of people assume it will have to be indoors. But if you’re the adventurous type and plan on eloping with just your partner and maybe a friend or family member or two then you don’t have to worry about if grandpa is going to freeze standing outside. Winter landscapes provide an almost otherworldly backdrop, and talk about a memorable experience. So if you’re look for a wildly different wedding experience, consider getting married outside…in the WINTER! Here are a few important factors to keep in mind.



Keeping your feet warm is one of the keys to staying comfortable in frigid temps. Luckily most wedding dresses are long so women can easily wear wool socks and comfortable hiking boots with their dress. Choose something you will be able to walk around in for hours if need be. Depending on your chosen location for your ceremony you may need to hike in them for a little while. These boots are some of my favorites and they happen to look stylish under a wedding dress too. This is not one of those times to skimp on comfort. In fact, comfort is of the utmost importance here, because if you’re suffering, it will be difficult to want to continue. Danner makes a classic and beautiful boot that look great under dresses.

Long Underwear

Men can wear just about anything, thin, warm, and wooly underneath their suits, but classic long underwear is a good place to start. Women, on the other hand, need something warm but also not obvious, and for that I love nude fleece lined leggings. If the bride’s leg peaks out from under the dress while walking you can’t even tell she’s wearing leggings in the photos. Women can also opt for a long sleeve gown to make their top layer a bit warmer. However, I also recommend having a jacket you don’t mind being photographed in. Which brings me to my next point…


Stylish Jacket

It doesn’t hurt to have a nice jacket you don't mind being photographed in. You can take it on and off as needed, but you might as well be warm while walking around. For a lot of brides it's a white down jacket or some other kind of white jacket. For men, it's often a black down jacket. But it doesn’t have to fall in line with the standard wedding color scheme, the beauty of it all is you get to be yourself and wear whatever you like, not what other people expect you to wear. So break norms and traditions, after all you are eloping outside in the winter- if that’s not already breaking traditions I’m not sure what is.

Foot, Hand, & Body Warmers

These things are pretty much the best ever. They are thin, warm, and last for hours, and they just might be your key to getting married outside in the winter even if you thought that was something you could never do. They come in different types- foot, hand, and body, and yes, it makes sense to get all the types because the hand warmers do not fit in your shoes comfortably the way the foot warmers do. The body warmers are larger and cover more surface area, so if you are really worried about being cold, pick up some of these and you might be sweating before you can say “I do!”


If you have family or friends in attendance, offer them the above advice for sure, but also maybe have a couple extra blankets in the truck of your car if someone comes a little unprepared. They can be national park themed or just pretty blankets, but whatever you choose, make sure it’s warm and you don’t mind having them in your photos.

Hot Drinks

It does not hurt to have a thermos full of something hot to take along with you. Whether it’s hot chocolate, tea, coffee, or spiced rum- pick your favorite warm drink and carry it along in a backpack to help keep you hydrated and warm. Here’s a recipe for a delicious special occasion drink that will definitely keep you warm, even on the coldest of days.

Have a Car Nearby to Warm Up In

Finally, there is no shame in driving to a beautiful location and getting out for 10-15 minutes at a time. Most ceremonies only last about 15 minutes, so use all the above suggestions to stay warm during that time and then jump back in the car with the heat cranked up full blast! When shooting winter adventure weddings this is a common strategy, the couple gets to have the ceremony where they want, but also check out several other locations for photos. It’s easiest to do in the winter because there are usually fewer crowds. An important thing to work out with your photographer beforehand are any potential road closures. You don’t want to plan to drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, for instance, between December (or the first big snow) and mid-May.


I hope this info was helpful and gave you a different perspective on getting married outside in the winter. As an adventure elopement photographer, winter weddings have been some of my favorite to photograph. Crowds aren’t an issue and there is something so quiet and peaceful about being outside in the winter that translates to a wildly different wedding experience for couples. If you’re looking for a photographer for your wildly different wedding experience get in touch with me ASAP! You can do that HERE- or by hitting the button below.