Maria + Drake's Full-Day

Olympic National Park Elopement

September 2022

I’m willing to bet that I’m probably not the first person who’s told you that time moves fast.

Even on average days, where normal routines are the only real things that happen, you can catch yourself peeking out the window, watching the sun go down, saying something like, “How is today already over?”

If that kind of phenomenon can happen on normal days–when most things go according to your usual routine, and nothing feels out of the ordinary–imagine how fiercely and quickly time can speed past you on days when magical things happen.

Imagine how wildly fast your wedding day could go if you weren’t able to be fully present, soaking in each and every moment as it whispered its way past you.

There are so many couples out there who recall the day they got married and describe it as over in a flash–a beautiful and bright moment that somehow all blurs together into a singular, happy memory.

As an elopement photographer, my ultimate goal for couples is for them to have the day they truly want and deserve, capturing every moment along the way.

But for me, part of making that happen is helping them in any way I can to slow things down, soak things in, and document each memory the way it deserves to be documented.

Part of that comes from attitude–from seeking out intentionality and authenticity while creating the day that speaks to you. The other part comes from giving yourselves the gift of time–time to slow down, take it all in, and melt into the magic of your wedding day.

For Maria and Drake, that wasn’t just a hope for their elopement day; it was their ultimate goal.

They relentlessly chased the feeling of peace and of being present in nature. They didn’t just want a timeline; they wanted an experience. They wanted their day to flow as they floated through it together, eliminating stress and rush entirely.

Ease. Access. Peace. They were looking for a wedding day without sharp edges.

They were after something that weaved together naturally, leaving room for all the things they wanted to experience together–the mountains at sunrise, a slow afternoon at their cabin by a forested lake, an evening on the Olympic coast.

And they wanted every moment of it documented; each second of their stress-free, purely joyful day remembered forever in images they could thumb through weeks, months, and years later, letting the waves of how the day felt wash over them every time.

Embracing the Magic of the Olympic Peninsula

Maria and Drake chose the Olympic Peninsula because it has so much to offer–lush rainforests, wild coasts, and jagged mountain peaks. But more than that, it has a touch of magic that almost encourages you to slow down and take everything in–exactly the feeling they were after on their wedding day.

Though they initially planned to get married in 2023, their on-top-of-it planning and pure enthusiasm nudged them to ask the question–why shouldn’t we get married in 2022?

Seeing Maria and Drake on the morning of their elopement is a core memory for me. When I met them in those pre-dawn hours before sunrise at the top of a mountain pass, we were greeted with wild and whipping winds.

They’d tell me later the look on their faces that I witnessed was mirrored in mine–it was pure rush, equal parts excitement and enthusiasm with a layer of terror that the wind was so powerful.

M & D were more than game to continue on with the plan, but we quickly pivoted on their ceremony spot. Initially, they’d planned to stand on the cliffy side of a mountain, but that spot was far too windy, given the weather.

They hurried into the trees, and things immediately began to shift. Huddled in the evergreen trees, they met the peace they’d been chasing from the start. Getting married outside–where things are always a little unpredictable–is about embracing Mother Nature. You can’t always go into it saying that you’ll get blue skies, sunshine, and nothing else. You need to be ready to embrace whatever she throws at you. It takes a special couple, people who are willing to go with the flow.

They didn’t bat an eye when the weather turned out to be crazy. Instead, they focused on finding a spot that felt right. They created a moment for themselves that was truly ceremonious. We pinned her veil down under a rock, they poured their hearts out to each other, and as they shared their vows, the wind slowly began to settle. When they started their vows, all I could hear was the rush of the wind. By the end of their ceremony, it was absolutely silent.

The views opened up, the clouds hung low over the mountains, and M & D danced their first dance to a Shania Twain song. They wandered the mountainside together, basking in the wild weather and getting caught in awe over the rainbow that appeared as we headed down the mountain and back to their car. We drove back to their Airbnb on a forested lake where they made lunch together, taking a break in the day for intentional downtime together. They fed the ducks on the lake their own lunch of crackers and bread before taking a rowboat out onto the lake. M & D paddled around for a while, and I followed along, documenting this mellow part of their day. But as I took photo after photo, I realized that what was more important than overdocumenting these moments was the opportunity for them to embrace that experience alone.

I paddled in, letting them enjoy those moments on the lake together.

When they were ready, we packed up the car and headed toward the coast. We drove through some serious rain and cloudy weather. Driving along in my own car, I couldn’t help but think the coast might be a little rough–I think they were probably thinking that, too. But just like the rest of their day, everything started to align.

By the time we got to the parking lot at the coast, the rainy downpour had shifted into the lightest drizzle and mist–not even enough rain to need a rain jacket.

At the ocean, they skipped rocks, explored, chased waves, and played in the tide pools–all in all, fully embracing the silly, sweet moments of exploring a new place together. The sun poked out from behind the clouds. The sky turned pink. They laid out a picnic blanket topped with a charcuterie board a vendor had brought and made for them.

Slowing Down & Soaking In

Everything about M & D’s day was slow, intentional, and easy-going. That’s the beautiful thing about planning a wedding day or elopement day with full coverage; it leaves plenty of room for all the things you’re looking for–even if all you’re looking for is to take things at your own pace.

I want to be honest with every couple out there who might be reading this blog. This is not a 12-hour elopement day coverage push. This is an enjoyment push–it’s an encouragement to book the time you need to fully enjoy and absorb every moment of your elopement day.

For some couples, that might look like 12 hours. But that’s not right for every location or every couple. For others, it could be eight or 10–it’s got a lot less to do with the number of hours and more about what those hours mean to you.

M & D understood the gift of time. They understood the gift of taking things at a pace that let them breathe, embrace the quiet moments, and live in each second as it unwound. More than anything, though, they knew their wedding day wasn’t about perfection. Leaving room for changes in pace, for plans that might pivot, for those extra moments spent looking into your partner’s eyes on a rowboat on a lake wondering, “Can you believe this is really happening for us?”–that’s what it’s about.

No matter what anyone else tells you, this day isn’t supposed to be perfect.

Really, it’s not. Demanding perfection is an injustice to what your wedding day can be. Strive to make this your favorite day, not the perfect day–just like M & D did.

Embracing Each Moment of Your Elopement Day

with Full-Day Coverage

Maria and Drake’s elopement day had a profound impact on me. All of the couples I work with do. But thinking back on Maria and Drake, I can’t help but fully recognize they’re the embodiment of what Come to Bliss is all about–experiencing the beauty of each moment as it becomes a permanent part of you, nestling itself into your heart and your brain, calling out to you in moments of sweet nostalgia.

No matter what your day looks like (an elopement in the forest or an intentional wedding in a beautiful venue), no matter what full coverage might mean to you (eight hours or two days), no matter who you want at your wedding (just the two of you or your closest people), I want to help you embrace and remember each moment.

If you’re ready to create that day–your favorite day–I’m here to help. Let’s talk about your elopement, your intentional wedding, your plans, and the vision you see for your wedding day.

Let’s create the day together.

- Tori

Vendors who made this day possible:

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Central Oregon Waterfall Elopement


love is love:


I do not discriminate by gender, religion, race, background, sexual orientation, Age, nationality, or "style."
I welcome + celebrate love in all its forms.








wedding + elopement photographer

come to bliss

Tori Mercedes Ware



Based in Bend, Oregon

Available worldwide

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