Matthew and I got engaged in the Hoh Rainforest on January 1, 2016. We camped there for New Year’s among the snow and trees. I knew I wanted our engagement photos here: documentation of this place that’s come to trigger serenity and love and adventure in me. Those woods and river will always remind me of lying awake and shivering in my sleeping bag, the fairy lights Matt had strung throughout our tent, the taste of our wine and chocolates on my lips, and his voice – trembling from nerves or the cold or both – telling me how much the past few years together had meant to him.
As 2016 began to slip into 2017, we had yet to plan an ounce of our wedding. We dove blindly into the overflowing lists of wedding advice, photographers, websites, and blogs. Coming up dizzy and dazzled, we collected ourselves.
This is about us. Don’t forget. You and me.
Repeated over and over like a mantra.
Wanting engagement photos, we had to find a photographer with a style that matched ours. As currently popular and trendy as the light, pastel color pallet is, I’ve been coming into my own and realizing that’s just not me. It can be gorgeous, and it’s everywhere, but it’s not me. It’s not us.
I came across Nick + Danée and knew we had our photographers. They’re adventerous, have a portfolio full of nature-centric shots, and have an aesthetic Matt and I both agreed on.
So onto the next part: what to wear?
I moved to a vegan diet almost a year ago, but getting serious about being similarly conscious about my fashion choices came months later. It’s a process, once you make that decision, that’s slow and expensive (I’m choosing to replace items with pieces of quality). This means purchasing close to entirely new winter/ summer wardrobes. Being in the middle of this process, I have quite a few items in my closet that are tagged to get replaced. I knew purchasing new pieces for our shoot would allow me find exactly what I wanted, but I could also use those pieces to replace others. BUT. There are a lot of little things to look for and know. Sometimes things slip through (and did) because I’m still learning.
Our shoot was going to take place in the cold, in a rainforest. I had orginally settled on wearing heeled boots, black pants, and a large, chunky sweater: appropriate for weather and location, and in line with my personal style. We didn’t know what colors we wanted to focus on for the wedding, but we both gravitate towards neutruals (greys, black, and white), so we went with what we were comfortable with. Trying to recreate what I have in my head doesn’t always go exactly as I imagine, but I found pieces I thought would work as what I had in my head evolved with every clothing item I tried on.
Jacket by Beta Brand + Melissa Fleis | Top by BP. | Pants by Madewell* | Shoes by Sytle & Co. |
Necklace by BP. | Beanie by The North Face
*Madewell’s 9″ High-Rise Skinny Jean‘s are not vegan. These jeans have a leather tag that I missed because I thought, what could be wrong with a pair of jeans? I have since learned the answer to that question is, simply, a lot. I still wear the jeans, but took off the leather branded tag on the back of the pants (after I realized it was there – after the shoot). You can see the tag in a few shots.
Our shoot was scheduled for Sunday, so we made the 4 hour drive from Seattle to the Hoh Rainforest on Saturday. We wandered around the campsite we had occupied a year ago and along the trails offered by the area. Taking our time, we scouted for our “must-have” photo spots. It was a gorgeous day and we stayed until close to sunset. I kept checking the weather app on my phone and grew more and more alarmed as the chance for rain on Sunday increased by the hour.
It’s going to rain tomorrow and ruin everything, I heard myself saying.
It’ll be fine, he reassured me over and over.
We spent the night in Forks since it was the closest town nearby. We sat huddled on the bed, waiting for the heater to warm the room, relaying our worries, concerns, and frustrations to eachother. We fretted over outfits, hair, posing, and the rain. In the morning, we made coffee and watched The Mummy Returns on the hotel TV. We got ready and fretted over outfits, hair, posing, and the rain.
We met Nick and Danée at a bar and grille in Forks for a get-to-know-everyone chat and drink. They were absolutely wonderful, offering us big hugs upon meeting them. Conversation was casual and easy. I’m sure Matthew and I rambled, shooting glances at eachother that seemed to say, “I’m freaking out, are you freaking out? We should probably calm down.” Then we got in our respective cars and headed off.
We should have done shots was mumbled between Matthew and myself several times over the 45 minute drive to our destination. We tried to laugh off our nerves and the fact that the rain had stopped in Forks – but not in the rainforest. It in fact kept raining until we we all called it a wrap on our shoot. Because of course it did.
If you haven’t been in front of a professional camera lens before, it might seem glamorous. For Matt and I, who tend to be mostly introverted, it was strange. Trying to act intimate in front of two people holding cameras was strange. We tried to laugh, goof off, breathe – anything to calm down, to look like normal human beings who loved each other, all the while begging that Nick and Danée’s talent as photographers would somehow morph us into photogentic people.
Nick and Danée were absolutely wonderful. They barreled into the rain as if they’d done it a million times before, like every engagement shoot was shot in the rain. They held our bag and coats between shots. They pretended our awkwardness was nonexistent and smiled the entire time. Matt and I held onto eachother, whispering back and forth about what was happening.
They seem excited. Did you see them showing each other the shots they’re getting? Even with our hair matted down and soaked? Something must be working. If they’re excited, we must be okay, right? Yeah. If they’re happy with it, we’ll be fine. Right? RIGHT? Okay.
We moved between the trails and the river bed as the rain continued. We eventually donned hats. We adventured, explored, climbed, jumped, and laughed our way through our shoot. The sun began to slip behind the mountains, so we headed back to the campsite Matthew and I had stayed at when he had proposed and enjoyed a few s’mores with our photographers.
Once it was over, and we were back at the hotel, there was a surrealness to knowing that something we spent so much time thinking about was over. I realized we will be reunited with this feeling after our wedding, when we finally say goodnight to friends and family, when we are alone with ourselves as husband and wife.
Location: Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park, WA | Photographers: Nick + Danée