P.N.W. Elopement on Loowit… Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Planned by the bride in 2 weeks.
PHOTO TAKEN BY KARINA TAYLOR

Indigenous Mountain Names To Know

  • Loowit: Mount St Helens among the Cowlitz Tribe. Loowit is a shortened version of Lawetlat’la. Which translates to “The Smoker.
  • Taxu’ma: Mount Rainier – Cowlitz Tribe.
  • Pa’tu: Mount Adams – Cowlitz Tribe.
  • Wy’east: Mount Hood – Mult-no-mah Tribe.
  • Klah Klahne: Three Sisters – still gathering reliable resource.
PHOTO TAKEN BY ALEXIS MARTIN

After 5 years of engagement, we trekked 5 miles and gained 5,000′ of elevation underneath a moonlit trail to our ceremony on *Loowit’s summit at 8,365′. Underneath both the sun and moon, right after the sun painted the sky with brilliant purples, we officially became a married couple!

PHOTO TAKEN BY KARINA TAYLOR

The famous Pacific Northwest peaks surrounded us while we took our first steps into marriage. *Taxu’ma to the north, *Pa’tu towards the east, *Wy’east, *Sun-a-do in far northwest, *Seekseekqua and *Klah Klahne to behind us to the south. The night skylines of Portland, Vancouver and the Hood River area accompanied the wedding party on the way up by showing off their night skylines in the distance. And even Eastern Washington’s blinking, red wind turbines put on a light show at the summit.

INVITATIONS MADE BY BRIDE

We’re sad that we couldn’t include our friends and family members, but are over the moon that the ceremony reflected exactly who we are and happened on one of our favorite mountains. The big party (food, drinks and dancing!) with close family members and friends will happen sometime next summer, either around Wy’east or in the Gorge.

To learn more about our special day and the process leading up to it, keep scrolling!

PHOTO TAKEN BY KARINA TAYLOR

I Do At 8,365′ – Our Wedding Day

Traditionally couples don’t spend the night together before their big day, but trekking 10 miles and wearing a wedding dress for 5 of them on the day you tie the knot is far from traditional.

PHOTO TAKEN BY KARINA TAYLOR

To make going to bed and getting up at such odd hours easier, bags and wedding supplies were packed the night before. The room darkened by 3:30PM and at 9:15PM heart-attack inducing beeps from 2 separate phone alarms went off. By 9:45PM Brenda, the trusty, white Subaru Crosstrek, was heading north of I-5. Rather than a rehearsal dinner with a big price tag, the golden arches (McDonalds) in the sleepy town of Cougar, Washington catered the pre-wedding meal. The rehearsal dinner menu: 20 pieces of chicken nuggets, medium fries, McChicken with Big Mac and water. An hour later the officiant and witnesses were greeted with Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married.” After some stretches, double checking the packs and filling out the registration log, the wedding day officially started at 12:30AM.

iPHONE PHOTO TAKEN AT 12:30AM

At 8,365′ tall, Loowit is the 11th tallest prominent summit and the 35th tallest summit in Washington state. Fun fact: this was the 5th tallest mountain in the state before the 1980 eruption! The party hiked 5 miles up through a dark and muggy forest, climbed over boulders bigger than them, pushed through an ash field and gained 5,000′ of elevation to get the summit ceremony spot before sunrise. While singing songs and quoting movies, of course.

With the skies completely clear, an 82% illuminated moon, no wind and mild temperatures, it was perfect weather for a ceremony.

PHOTO TAKEN BY KARINA TAYLOR

The group played a huge part in making the ceremony happen and the day couldn’t have been done without them! Karina was the photographer and a witness and Alexis the officiant. Torrey played videographer, champagne bottle carrier and was the other witness. All of them even went beyond those duties and took extra photos and videos of the day too.

PHOTO TAKEN BY KARINA TAYLOR

Temperatures were a tad more chilly at the top, but once the sun rose it started getting hot.

After watching the sunrise together and dress reveal, a few photos were snapped then it was time for the ceremony. Nick’s vows highlighted the bride’s passion for the family and life, while she praised the groom for his constant support and understanding.

PHOTO TAKEN BY KARINA TAYLOR
PHOTO TAKEN BY BRIDE

A short, but sweet ceremony, which also included personal vows, started at 8:05AM and was over by 8:10AM. Followed not only by the hiking party’s cheers, but a few other individuals watching from afar as well. The group then continued celebrating along the volcanic rim overlooking the smoking crater, Spirit Lake and mountains of the Cascade Range before heading down for another hour.

There were a traditional wedding day activities on the summit, like spraying champagne and having the dress be a surprise. While other things had a more outdoor touch, such as signing the marriage certificate on top a rock.

The bride even wore the wedding dress for the 5-mile trip back to the trailhead!

PHOTO TAKEN BY BRIDE

Passing hikers offered a congratulations and some took photos to prove that they actually saw a bride walking down the mountain. Even small party favor bags filled with Hershey kisses and Mambas were handed out to other hiking groups.

PHOTO TAKEN BY KARINA
PHOTO TAKEN BY KARINA TAYLOR

The party arrived back at the trailhead around 2:00PM. Where a shortened, personalized ‘ava ceremony was held, gifts were passed out, and celebratory drinks and chocolate cake were shared. The “trailhead reception” ended with food at a small bar in Cougar, Washington before making the 45-minute drive back home.

It was a perfect day that represented exactly what our love is all about. And best of all, we did what we love and we did it our way!

Love on Loowit

Mr. and Mrs. Griffith

8.15.2022

Before The Ceremony

The Beginning

Nick and I met for the first time in June of 2014 at a Buffalo Wild Wings in downtown Portland, over happy hour 25 cent chickens with some mutual friends. We spent every day together for the next 2 weeks then “made it official” at a mutual friend’s Fourth of July bbq.

Fun fact: we’ve had some mutual friends since middle school! The Portland area is small, needless to say.

After 2 big moves between Oregon and Washington, 3 years of dating, multiple road trips and adventures across the west coast, Nick proposed in front of Cinderella’s Castle on December 9th, 2017.

PHOTO TAKEN BY BRIDE

How The Idea Came Up

Getting married on top of a mountain has been continuously brought up over the last 2 years of our 5-year engagement, but we had a few goals to accomplish – graduate, get a loan for a house, erase all debt. After hitting all of those by the end of 2020 the next step was to purchase a house, then we would finally have a wedding. A year passed in the current housing market with no success so our search was put on hold, but it didn’t stop the conversation of a wedding like the goal of finishing college had.

Earlier in the year (March) we made a plan with some friends to summit Loowit. A hike that Nick and I have done together since 2018, making 2022 our 5th trip together. One day I realized that would be a perfect spot to get married and that was pretty much it.

PHOTO TAKEN BY BRIDE

Days Leading Up To The Wedding

7.29.22

  • Woke up and decided I didn’t want to wait anymore.
  • Texted my friend Alexis and asked if she wanted to marry us.
  • Made an appointment at Brides for a Cause in Portland, Oregon for that Friday.
  • Filled out the online application for a marriage certificate.

8.4.2022

  • The rest of the group was told about the special day-except for Nick.
  • We picked up the marriage certificate at 3:30PM.
    • I hid the plan by telling him we should tie the knot with our friends on a camping trip at the end of the summer “because I would never want to pack a heavy wedding dress up a mountain.” *wink, wink.*

8.5.2022

  • I had my “secret” dress appointment at Brides for a Cause at 10:30AM.
  • A wedding dress was purchased! I found one that could flow in the wind, under 10 pounds, with straps, had tulle, and best of all, only cost $100.00. It was actually the first dress I tried on! I couldn’t be picky and didn’t have time for alternations, so I was just happy to find anything.
  • *Note to brides: don’t go dress shopping the day you’re leaving town.

8.8-14.2022

Over the next week I secretly created and shopped for

  • wedding supplies
    • signs
    • party gift
    • ‘Ava ceremony supplies
    • ceremony & TH celebratory drinks
    • trail party favors
    • vow books
    • items for the celebration at the TH
  • digital announcements
  • this wedding blog
  • a place to grab a celebratory drink and food from
  • shopped & planned both our outfits
  • created a small trailhead party seating area and decor
BACKPACK SIGNS MADE BY BRIDE

8.12.22

  • To include my Sāmoan culture I purchased a *siapo belt and *Ula Nifo from a Polynesian store, Arts of Love, in Auburn, Washington.
    • I hid the 6-hour roundtrip from Nick by telling him I was meeting up with my tāma for lunch in the Seattle area. At this point I started to to stress out from all the lying.
SIAPO BELT + ULA NIFO PHOTO TAKEN BY BRIDE

Siapo is a fine cloth made from the bark of the Paper Mulberry tree. Also called tapa. It has many uses, floor mats, bedding and room dividers. Traditionally, it was a common form of clothing and is still seen at cultural & ceremonial events. It is also often given as a gift at formal presentations, funerals, and weddings. Siapo design elements and symbols reflect things found in the Sāmoan environment.

Ula Nifo (‘ula lei) is one of the most valued Sāmoan necklaces and traditionally only worn by chiefs and their offspring. Anciently, they were a symbol of status and wealth. Made from the teeth of the sperm whale, they were split and ground down into curved and pointed pendants. From there, they were smoothed and polished and threaded onto a cord. These replicas today are now made from bone pieces, white plastic and threaded onto a nylon line. The dark seeds in between the the long bone pieces are a modern twist.

8.13.22

  • The surprise ceremony was revealed to Nick on the way home after a short hike up at Timberline Lodge.
    • I can’t keep a secret from him. Plus, the whole point of the elopement was to have the best time, and I was not having a good time stressing over hiding everything from him. Although I’d say keeping it a secret and planning every detail on my own can still be considered a “surprise ceremony.” I bring organization, planning and creativity to the relationship while Nick brings the easy-going, non-stressful attitude that we need. So it was the perfect plan.

8.14.22

  • We finished putting together our packs, grabbed the last few items left on the list and put the wedding supplies in the car.
  • Bedtime: 3:30PM
PHOTO TAKEN BY A KIND HIKER

Loowit Love Notes

  • Wedding theme: Love on Loowit.
  • Wedding song: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye.
  • Bride’s favorite compliment of the day: “Wow! A wedding on top of a mountain. Talk about the ultimate Pacific Northwest flex!”
  • Groom’s favorite compliment of the day:
  • When the Bride wrote her vows: at the trailhead.
  • When the Groom wrote his vows: brainstormed the day before, spoke from the heart during the ceremony.
  • Bride’s outfit: Dress from Brides for a Cause in Portland, OR., Sāmoan siapo belt, ula’lei, haiku lei, Wigwam hiking socks + Merrell hiking boots.
  • Groom’s outfit: Columbia navy blue long-sleeve, sun protection shirt, green hiking pants, red Columbia moisture wicking t-shirt, Nordstrom Rack sunglasses, Wigwam hiking socks + Merrell boots.
  • Movies and TV shows watched the weekend of our wedding: Wedding Crashers, Meet the Fockers, I Love You Man, Tag, The Wedding Ringer, The Office episodes S3.E16, S6.E4, S6.E5, S9.E22, S9.E2, S9.E25, Friends S7.E23 + E24, S10.E12, Modern Family S4.E18.
PHOTO TAKEN BY A KIND HIKER

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