Elopement Photographer | Avonture Elopem

About 

AVONTURE

I'm Shanmari - elopement crafter and photographer here at Avonture. I'm based out of Ohio and travels worldwide to help venturing couples like you plan their dream elopement that values their beliefs and authenticity.

Leave No Trace When Eloping

Table Of Contents



"TAKE NOTHING BUT PICTURES, LEAVE NOTHING BUT FOOTPRINTS."



What is Leave No Trace/LNT?


Leave No Trace was created to teach us outdoor enthusiasts how to protect the outdoors better when we are adventuring together or alone. To more easily learn what impact we truly have on the outdoor environment, sometimes it is much greater than we can imagine.

The leave no trace principles are not a set of rules that anyone has to follow, it’s simply just a set of ethics/morals that the leave no trace centre has put together in order for us to enjoy the outdoors safely while also taking care of it.


Every little bit of


THINK

BEFORE

I

DO.


will have an incredible impact on our beautiful public lands and

therefore we’ll get to enjoy them for many more years to come.





Leave No Trace has a set of 7 minimum-impact principles, that help guide our decisions when we’re outside.

  • Plan Ahead & Prepare

  • Travel And Camp On Durable Surfaces

  • Dispose Of Waste Properly

  • Leave What You Find

  • Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Respect Wildlife

  • Be Considerate Of Other Visitors



Principle Number One:

plan ahead and prepare


| “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”


Researching prior to your wedding day will truly allow you to have a stress free wedding day. You can check online resources and recent trail or location data, you can even call local land managers or rangers. Getting to know the area well will give you that knowledge to bring the right gear and attire, the flexibility to truly enjoy it and allow you to educate your guests to have an amazing experience together.


Problems LNT principle #1, Plan ahead and prepare, will solve for you:

  • Finding the correct/how many permits you’ll need.

  • Knowing the trail surface, difficulty and more.

  • Understanding the seasonal changes there.

  • Knowing when to be careful around certain animals and fragile natural elements.

  • Knowing what type of bouquet you are allowed to use (faux or real)

  • Knowing where the nearest town is and what it has (stores/hospital etc) ...

  • Being prepared with the right gear and attire.

  • Being knowledgeable on peak season/ tourist season and off peak season (busiest and least busiest time)

  • Know where the beautiful hidden spots are.

  • Gives you the opportunity to educate and prepare your guests.

  • Know when there will be certain trail/road closures.


And so much more!


bride and groom stargazing silhouette next to a tree while bride lifts her dress up


Principle Number two:

travel and camp on durable surfaces


| “Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints” (on durable surfaces)


Hiking trails exist for a good reason, our footprints have a much bigger impact than we ever thought it could have. Staying on designated trails is a good start to travel on a durable surface. Durability refers to the ability of surfaces or vegetation to withstand wear or remain in stable conditions. So simply put - if you can step on it without destroying/killing it then it’s durable!


Living soil and biome for example can be destroyed with one footstep and can take years to restore.


ONE FOOTSTEP!


Alpine Tundra Ecosystem that you can find between elevations of 11,000 to 11,500 feet is a fragile ecosystem with tiny but brilliant flowers and plants growing in a harsh climate. Footsteps can destroy them.


Biological Soil Crust, found in desert areas, is a living soil that creates a crust over the landscape, it helps control erosion by keeping soil stuck together in one continuous crust. Only one footstep can destroy these entirely and it takes years to restore.





Durable surfaces to and not to walk on:


YES to gravel, paved trails, rocks and sand, these are highly durable and can tolerate repeated trampling, these are your best options. Deep snow and a layer of ice are also good options as the effect of traveling across these surfaces are temporary.


NO to living soil and fragile vegetation like moss, tundra and wildflowers. Do your absolute best to stay off of these fragile ecosystems - one footstep truly can destroy these and they take many years to fully restore.


MAYBE to vegetation, the resistance of vegetation to trampling varies. Dry grasses tend to be resistant to trampling. Wet meadows and other fragile vegetation quickly show the effects of trampling. So make careful decisions and only go off trail when absolutely necessary.


bride and groom walking on a trail in Moab

Your footprints could create a

“satellite trail”

= a walkway that looks like a trail that’ll cause many other visitors to follow that trail even though it’s not and then destroying that area permanently.



PRO TIP

If you and your guests absolutely have to go off trail, spread out instead of forming one line, because that will prevent creating a new satellite trail and causing more footprints to follow.


BUT, on designated trails form one line to avoid making the trail bigger and to follow proper trail etiquette.





What is trail etiquette?


Think of it as a few guidelines to avoid a traffic jam on trails.

  • Stay right - pass left. (opposite in countries that drives on the other side of roads)

  • Yield to uphill hikers and horse riders. (downhill hikers have gravity and a broader perspective on their side that allows them to easily see what’s ahead)

  • Single hikers and smaller groups yield for bigger groups.

  • On trails hike in a single file line.

  • Let faster hikers pass you and give hikers ahead of you a warning you're about to pass (a simple hello will suffice)

  • Be friendly!


Just a little disclaimer

NO ONE is perfect, we all make mistakes.


Even I have stepped on natural elements before only to find out afterwards that it was destructive. Trust me, you feel extremely guilty and like a terrible human being.


We all make mistakes but being open to educating yourself even after you’ve made those mistakes and learn from them instead of dwelling in them says a lot about your character - like I mentioned before, leave no trace isn’t there for everyone to do everything perfectly, but instead, it’s there for everyone to do things a little better than before.




Principle Number three:

dispose of waste properly


“To leave the world better than you found it, sometimes you have to pick up other people's trash."


Not asking you to pick up trash on your wedding day - I'll make sure that's taken care of - if you book me of course. All you have to do is not leave your own trash behind. Pack an extra plastic bag in your pack to make this easy.


You picked this beautiful spot to get married at - make sure you leave it beautiful.


Elopements have a much smaller ecological footprint, but there’s still some ways that elopements could be harmful. Here’s a few guidelines and alternatives to help you have a harmless elopement day.


How to have an elopement that CARES


Bouquets & Decorative Flowers

It’s always best to avoid bringing invasive species of plants into environments in case pollen or seeds do drop. You’re not allowed to bring foreign flowers into some parks. Make sure you reach out to the park to see what their restrictions are.


Confetti, Seeds & Rice

The same counts for these - it can take years for a place to be restored after an invasive/damaging confetti is thrown there. Research first.


Leave Everything You Find

Mementos are super sweet, but imagine if every single person that visits the park take something home to remember it by, what will be left in a few years? If you see something you want to remember, take a photo instead and leave it for the next person to admire.


Pack Everything out

Just absolutely EVERYTHING, take it back home. Even items that seems harmless are likely not native to the environment and take a lot of time to degrade.


Human Waste

Yes we're gonna talk about poop.

In this case you have two options:

WAG bags & a 6+ inch cat hole.

Make sure you know where you're allowed to make cat holes but always try to be prepared and make sure to prepare and plan for your guests and any pets.

You'll never know when Mother Nature calls.



Healthy Alternatives


"Let nature be your wedding decorations, let the stars be your arch and the sound of the wind your wedding bells " - Shanmari Shehaj


| Champagne - sparkling water with no sugar (sugary smells can attract wildlife)


| Confetti - native leaves, snow or anything that can easily be brought back home like ribbon wands.


| Decorations - instead of hauling a bunch of big destructive decorations in and out on trails, use natural arches and the beauty of nature instead. Find an arch between two trees or an arched rock, you can even let the landscape create a natural visual frame around you two.


Like this:


The landscape FRAMES them




A true natural ARCH.

I mean come on, who doesn't want to be framed by the Milky Way?



Principle Number four:

leave what you find


“The earth has music for those who listen. ”


Imagine if every single person that visits a park take something home to remember it by, what will be left in a few years?


n o t h i n g.


Once again, elopements does have a much smaller ecological footprint, but there’s still some ways that elopements could be harmful.


Here’s a few guidelines and alternatives instead.


How to have an elopement that's HARMLESS


Wild Flowers


Picking a few flowers does not seem like it would have any great impact and, if only a few flowers were picked, it wouldn’t. But, if every visitor thought “I’ll just take a few,” a much more significant impact might result.


  • Take a picture or sketch the flower instead of picking it.

  • Find ones on the ground that has already fallen/fell due to wildlife activity.


Taking photos in Wild Flowers

Here's a magic trick that I learned from the Foxes on the LNT course.


Let your photographer create the effect that looks like your standing/laying in the wildflowers:


Stay on the trail standing up or even laying down on a blanket and have your photographer crouch down super low to the ground, even laying down works.


Let them frame you with the flowers.


Then you get this:

couple hiking on their elopement in the smoky mountains



They are on trail as you can see here,

there was this huge rock that I used to crouch down on off trail and I was able to capture this. Also their matching shirts are so cool!






lesbian couple kissing at sunset in a wildflower field in Cleveland Ohio


These soft purple wild flowers melted my heart! Here there was a big muddy gap where they are standing and getting this effect while I was on trail was easy.






guy hugging girl from the back surrounded by wildflowers in Cleveland Ohio


They are on the trail as well and I was standing next to to wildflower field using my zoom lens to get this effect.







gay couple kissing at sunset in a sunflower field in Cleveland Ohio


In sunflower fields this effect is easy to get because they have numerous little "trails" next to every line of sunflowers that were planted.







Ceremony site & decorations