The Perfect Elopement at Wahclella Falls Mixing Culture & Adventure With Family
Adventure is such an important element to their relationship, so Sharon & Kshitij decided to elope in the Columbia River Gorge and do a full day experience by hiking to a waterfall, ziplining through a lush green forest, and ending the night by watching the sunset on the water. They chose to elope with their parents and sisters by their side.
Are you thinking about planning a more intimate wedding ceremony? Use our elopement directory to start planning your wedding day.
About This Columbia River Gorge Waterfall Elopement
“They started their day getting ready with their families at the cutest B&B on the gorge- complete with its very own turret. They had so many incredible details, including invitations, traditional desserts, wooden boards handmade by Kshitij, a handmade floral bouquet, henna, and lots of beautiful red accents. Sharon looked so incredibly beautiful and wanted to do a first look with both her dad and Kshitij’s family- who were all so sweet! The amount of love and support from both families was overflowing the entire day- exactly what you want and need on your wedding day. Then Sharon & Kshitij shared the sweetest, incredibly emotional first look before finishing writing their vows together.
We then drove over to one of my very favorite trails in the Gorge where we hiked through the forest, which was lush & green after all of the spring rain. Shortly after, we arrived at an absolutely breathtaking waterfall (which we were lucky enough to have almost to ourselves as it was still early in the morning).
For their ceremony, Sharon & Kshitij had their sisters officiate, which made it so much more personal and special. Sharon & Kshitij surprised their families with mini-games to decide who said their vows first. Game one was trying to get an Oreo from your forehead to your mouth without using your hands, which Kshitij’s dad won. Game two was trying to eat a Fruit by the Foot as fast as you can without using your hands, which Sharon’s sister won. For the tie-breaker, Sharon & Kshitij faced off to try and stack dice on popsicle sticks and see who could stack the most in a minute without them falling. Since Kshitij won- he got to say his vows first!
After some of the most heartfelt and emotional vows, each family member blessed the rings- wishing well for the couple and pouring their love out for them. They were officially married!
We then explored the area, soaked in the views, and Sharon & Kshitij reveled in the fact that they were now married. Then it was time to hike out and head over to Skamania Lodge to go ziplining in their wedding attire!” [Kathleen, the photographer]
Deciding to Elope
“We were initially planning a more traditional wedding, but with COVID and our families spread all over the world, we didn’t feel comfortable asking everyone to travel on our behalf. Once we decided to change our plans, we wanted to make sure it didn’t just feel like a ‘small version’ of a traditional wedding. We brainstormed about what was most important to us and what creative ways we could take advantage of the flexibility and freedom a more intimate ceremony gave us. We knew from the get-go that having our parents and sisters celebrate with us was our first priority. We also were excited to include pieces from both our backgrounds and childhoods and to incorporate our shared love of the outdoors and adventure. Based on that, we felt that an adventure elopement would be a perfect fit.” [The couple]
Deciding Where to Elope
“We both were drawn to outdoor wedding venues where nature would be the backdrop to our ceremony, even when we were looking at more traditional venues. When we pivoted to an elopement, it opened up a world of possibilities that let us get even closer to nature…When we listed things like “waterfalls or water features”, “easy hike”, “drivable from Seattle”, and “beautiful in springtime” Kathleen scouted on our behalf and helped us choose the beautiful Wahclella Falls!
After Kathleen suggested Wahclella Falls, we went ourselves to scout the hike. We wanted to make sure the hike was doable by our parents and would be feasible in formal clothing. We also looked around for non-traditional wedding day activities that we could do with our families. We found a ziplining place nearby – Skamania Lodge – which seemed like a great way for the families to bond and for us to have some unique stories about our adventure wedding. We checked in with the ziplining place ahead of time because we thought it would be cute to zipline in our wedding clothes – they were super supportive and went above and beyond to make that happen.” [The couple]
Explore more places to elope in Oregon!
Planning Their Intimate Wedding Ceremony While Incorporating Adventure and Two Different Cultures
Incorporating their immediate family and combing their cultures was important to this couple. Learn what was on their list of priorities while planning:
- We come from two different cultural backgrounds, and we wanted to incorporate both of those in the wedding – Sharon is from the US and Kshitij grew up in India. We fused mehndi (henna) with a Western white dress/black suit for our outfits, picked food and desserts from both backgrounds and sent our invitations with traditional Indian sweets to invite our families.
- This was the first time our families were meeting in person, and we wanted everyone to be comfortable. We planned some getting-to-know-you icebreakers, sometimes with each set of parents individually, and traded off between activities that would be more familiar for one family vs the other.
- We didn’t want our elopement to feel like a scaled-down traditional wedding. We opted to splurge on things (like lodging and activities) that would have been cost-prohibitive with a larger group. We chose a ceremony location that incorporated our love of nature and adventure. We were able to personalize the day more than we would have ever been able to do with a larger, more traditional wedding.
- We wanted our extended families and friends to be included, even if they weren’t there in person. That ended up being a website (custom-built by Kshitij) where everyone shared stories, pictures, and wedding advice in advance of the weekend. We read those posts out loud with our parents/sisters and then shared all the professional pictures of the wedding on the website after the fact.
Learn more about planning a micro wedding here!
Permits and LNT For This Elopement
“At the time of their elopement when we reached out, a permit was not required for their elopement. However, permit regulations change frequently so I recommend photographers and couples first research if a permit is needed. Then, if it is unclear- reach out to the proper authority. As for LNT, always make sure to stay on the trails, try and go at infrequent times so you aren’t disrupting others & leave it as you found it!
This area in particular (especially in the spring) can be a bit rainy, so make sure you pack & wear layers and be prepared for any weather! I honestly think the rain is beautiful and can be a lot of fun when you choose to embrace it.” [Kathleen, the photographer]
Learn more about leaving no trace during your wedding adventure.
Estimated Cost of This Elopement
Here are some elopement costs from this beautiful elopement weekend (4 days):
- Photography and planning: ~$8000
- Clothes for us and our officiants (our sisters), hair/makeup for everyone, and mehndi: ~$4000
- Lodging (two nights in two picturesque Airbnbs near the location as alternate photo spots and a rainy day backup venue, and a wedding-night hotel room for us): ~$2000
- Activities (ziplining, boat tour): ~$1500
- Car rental: ~$300
- Misc (meals and desserts, photo props, getting-to-know-you games, and activities, flowers): ~$1000
“When we were trying to figure out our budget, we were mindful of spending money on things that were most important to us and foregoing some of the more traditional expenses which weren’t a priority for us. For instance, we swapped grocery-store bouquets in for a traditional florist, sweets, and homemade desserts in for a wedding cake, and opted for a clearance wedding dress and got it altered to fit.” [The couple]
Learn more about elopement costs here.
Memorable Moments From This Wedding Day
From the photographer:
“When Sharon had a first look with Kshitij’s family. Their reactions were so sweet as they were just so excited and happy to see her all dressed up. I also really felt honored and loved witnessing their ring warming ceremony where every family member blessed the rings, wished well for the couple, and just poured out their love for them. And of course when they all went ziplining! It was so fun to capture them experiencing that and I loved that they did it in their wedding attire.”
From the Couple:
“Kshitij says that his favorite part was the mini-games we played with our families to choose who would say their vows first. Our families had a friendly competition in front of the waterfall in a series of Minute-to-win-it style games, and the “winner” went first.
Sharon narrowed to two favorites – ziplining in her wedding dress with everyone, and the dinner the night before the ceremony where both mothers (with help from us of course!) made our favorite meals from our childhood.”
Kathleen Elizabeth Photography
Hair & Makeup Artist | Anne Timms
Henna Artist: Henna Art by Nisha
Ziplining: Skamania Lodge Adventures
Photos From This Elopement