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My mission as a wedding photographer is to help happy couples celebrate life's biggest joys with high quality photos and a dang good time. I believe the experience is just as important as the photos and that you deserve beautiful, lasting memories.

Hey!! I'm Gabriella.

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adventure elopement in maryland

Billy Goat Trail Adventure Elopement

Let’s set the scene: I’m working at my desk in late fall as busy season is (supposedly) coming to a close. I get a notification that a couple has inquired about a wedding and I squeal with excitement. I immediately opened their inquiry and stumbled upon the phrase “adventure elopement”. My jaw dropped and my hand covered my mouth.

No. Freaking. Way.

For some people, the term adventure elopement might have never been spoken. For others, it was reserved for couples who planned extravagant elopements at the Dolomite mountain range in Italy. But for a wedding photographer like myself, an adventure elopement simply means this: a couple is ditching the traditional wedding to get married … and they’re gonna have a dang good time doing it!!!

And friends, that’s EXACTLY what Lesa & Max did to celebrate their marriage.

I went into the consultation call with high expectations after their inquiry and STILL came out blown away. Lesa and Max were SUCH sweethearts who were so in love and who were committed to making their adventure elopement as authentic to their love story as possible (they even planned on including their 11-year-old Golden Retriever, Chewy!!!). I could not WAIT for their big day to arrive!!!!

A little bit after the initial excitement subsided, reality set in. We were planning an outdoor elopement in the middle of February. Translation: We better be prepared for ANYTHING!! I made sure my hiking boots, winter coat and camera rain covers were all in working condition. But when February 12th arrived, the craziest thing happened – it was partly sunny with temps almost reaching 60 degrees. How freaking perfect!!!

I began my trek to Billy Goat Trail in Maryland by driving into the most beautiful sunrise I had seen in quite some time. I’ll share below:

The Adventure Elopement Begins

It was a super easy drive to the trail head and I met up with Lesa & Max right away!! She joked that she would be the one in the wedding dress, and I said “cool, I’m the one with the massive cameras!” 🤣 With that being said, we had no trouble finding each other in the crowded parking lot. Soon after meeting, I snapped some photos of Chewy and we started our journey.

Lesa & Max has previously scoped out this massive rock overlooking the river to have their ceremony. I was blown away by how perfect a location it was!!! I positioned them where they felt comfortable & safe but also where I could see the water below and had the best light from the sun.

As they were getting settled, I sneakily set my phone up against a tree to record their ceremony. Once that was set up, I signaled that it was go time!!


Max held onto Chewy’s leash while their friend, Annette, began officiating the ceremony. Fun story about that – Annette’s husband is a certified officiant and Annette has always said she wanted to officiate a wedding, too. Fast forward to Lesa & Max’s engagement when they asked Annette to officiate their elopement, and BOOM – Annette’s officiating dreams came true!!

(We joked that Lesa & Max’s marriage was making so many dreams come true. Lesa and Max became husband & wife on a beautiful trail, Annette finally officiated a wedding and I finally photographed an adventure elopement!!!)

Okay, back to the scene. Chewy was laying down at Max’s feet, content as could be despite being near the precipice of a long drop to moving water. After moving through the introductory part of the ceremony, it was time for Lesa & Max to read the vows. They wrote their own vows to each other which is usually a shoe-in for at least one happy tear to make an appearance!!

Sure enough, soon after Lesa began reading aloud why she was choosing Max to be her life partner, it did. She said the most wonderful things and even quoted the musical Hamilton (which I LOVED), promising to be “best of wives and best of women”!! (And for everyone wondering, yes I sung that as I was typing it 🤣). 

Max went next, reminiscing on how they met and speaking with joy and wonder about their future together. Already, it was time for the rings!! As I was photographing close ups of the rings in their hands, I noticed Max’s ring was super duper bendy. (More on that later.) They slipped the eternal circles onto each other’s hands and sealed the deal with a smiley kiss!!! Yeeeehawww!!!!

The Hike to Portrait Locations

As we got to the entrance of the difficult rocky trail, we were met by two trail security guards (?) monitoring the entrance to the trail. Lesa explained what was going on and asked if we were allowed to go on the trail. They let us on, but not before making a comment about Lesa being able to “make it” with her wedding dress. 🙄 No comment could derail her adventure elopement – she pulled up her dress to reveal her hiking boots and started moving!

Y’all, I need to make this clear. Lesa displayed expert sure-footedness as she made her way through the trail, swiftly and without any difficulty. There was zero doubt in my mind that Lesa would be able to hike in her dress … but my GOODNESS was she MOVING!!! I couldn’t help but wish those guards had been able to see her absolutely crushing this hike.

Adventure Elopement Portraits

I photographed Lesa & Max along the way to our destination and we made two pit stops for photos when the inspiration struck. The final destination for their adventure elopement was awesome – a huge pile of rocks & boulders overlooking a winding river!!!

We made our way to the top, where the newlyweds received tons of congratulations from hikers passing by. I directed Lesa & Max through a few different portrait prompts before we decided it was time to pop the champagne! Lesa had a successful pop and I had them kiss in celebration as the spray was fading. After a few “cheers” pictures I let them sip their champagne and chat while I photographed their rings.

Remember how I said we’d get back to that super bendy wedding band? Turns out it’s a rubber wedding ring, which is honestly pretty common nowadays. What isn’t common, however, is the design on Max’s ring, which is absolutely iconic.

adventure elopement in maryland

BABY YODA!!!!! Yes, in addition to having a Baby Yoda water bottle, Max now also has a Baby Yoda wedding ring!!!!! If that isn’t making your wedding day as authentic as possible, I don’t know what is 🤣🙌🏼

After Lesa & Max finished their champagne, we began the trek back to the trail head. I made sure to snap a polaroid of the newlyweds and to take a selfie with them to commemorate our time together!! We made one more portrait on the way back on the edge of a beautiful vista. I just couldn’t let a view like that pass by!

Forever Together

The end of a wedding day (or in this case, adventure elopement day) is always bittersweet. I had such a fantastic time with Lesa & Max and didn’t want to say goodbye … but I had a long drive ahead of me and lots of pictures to back up & edit!! We said our goodbyes at a cute little lunch spot where Lesa & Max had a celebratory meal with Annette, Chewy and some friends that stopped by. I couldn’t WAIT to start editing!!!!

Congratulations, Lesa & Max!!! You two are incredibly fun & kind humans and I am SO excited for y’all to embark on the journey of marriage together!!!! Wishing you lots of love & joy in the years to come 🤗💛

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  1. Kathy Doegen says:

    What an Awesome Wedding uou two. The Pictures are Beautiful! Congratulations again and wishing you many years of Happiness.
    Kudos to your photographer ❤

- Melissa & Johnnie

“Gabriella was absolutely amazing!!! Words cannot even describe how perfect she was, but I’ll try my best. Right from the beginning, I knew she was the one. She was so caring, calming, organized, and just a genuinely happy person. She made me feel even more excited for my wedding. She was so helpful throughout the entire process right down to the big day. AND THE PICTURES - OH MY GOD. They are absolutely breathtaking and she definitely tells the story of your day in the most perfect way. She captures every precious moment while having a smile on her face the whole time she’s with you. I can’t say enough amazing things about her. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone looking to have the BEST photographer for any occasion. We had such an amazing experience with Gabriella and we can’t thank her enough!”


- Aaron & lydia

Gabriella is the BEST photographer and we could not have asked for anyone better to capture our proposal! I had intentions of interviewing multiple photographers, but after seeing her work and talking to her over the phone, I immediately booked with her. Her passion for photography is so evident. She goes above and beyond to make your shoot about YOU. She does a great job of taking control and guiding you with poses that you will love, and her candid shots are unbelievable. She had a smile on her face the entire time and we felt like a close friend was there doing this for us. Would recommend her 100 times out of 100!

Gabriella was absolutely amazing. She made the photography session so easy and effortless. Her personality is so warm and inviting, she made us feel so so comfortable during these pictures. Gabriella went above and beyond for us and I’m so grateful my significant other found her as a photographer. I would highly recommend!


- Alex & mike

Gabriella is not only an amazing photographer, but she is an amazing person! She was incredible to work with and made everything from our engagement photos to our wedding day extremely easy. She really understands your vibe and does everything she can to help make that come true! My husband is extremely camera shy, but he was so comfortable with her and the photos were amazing!


- kevin & riya

Gabriella is the BEST photographer and needless to say she went above and beyond our expectations! She was hired by my fiancé for our surprise proposal and she did a phenomenal job at capturing every single detail of it. She made our lives easy by understanding us, our personality, the way we wanted to be captured and she did just that! From showing us every beautiful inch of Longwood gardens to telling us about different poses to capturing the beauty and essence of nature! She made my dream come true with these beautiful pictures. We spent 2 hrs with her and there was sign of rush of ending the session and it was more like whatever we felt in the moment which is what I truly enjoyed. She sent us our sneak peak pictures the day off just several hours later and needless to say not only did our jaws dropped but every single person who viewed those pics while asking who the photographer was! We proudly share her information with every member of our family and friends because she truly deserves the best❤️ Thank you Gabriella for capturing the most beautiful and intimate moments of ours and We can’t wait to work with you again!


- brandon & nasia

Gabriella captured our special moments perfectly! She photographed our proposal, Holud night before the wedding, and wedding day. She was very easy to work with and always communicative and responsive. She was able to handle a 300 person wedding with ease and always got the shot. I've only seen the sneak peek from our wedding weekend but I am already in love with the pictures. She truly captured the joy and happiness of the weekend through her photos, which I will treasure forever. She is also just a genuinely kind person, which makes working with her even better :) Highly recommend.