From long-distance dating to parking-lot proposals, Ben & Leah’s relationship is guided by a sense of adventure and an unwavering commitment to their unique dynamic. Their wedding was no exception! The couple’s journey began in Turkey in 2015, where they met while studying abroad. In the years since, their relationship has grown and flourished. As queer people, they wanted to hire a photographer who understood that aspect of their identity; they were thrilled to team up with Molly & Outdoor Chronicles Photography. Together, the three of them created an unforgettable, totally individualized Adirondack elopement experience!
An All-Day Elopement Experience in the Adirondacks
After a relaxing morning of French toast, backgammon, and making music together, Ben and Leah were ready to explore. Waterfalls are particularly meaningful to them, so they kicked off the outdoor portion of their day with a dip. Molly found a secluded cascade swimming hole for them to enjoy. Later, Ben and Leah got legally married in a bait shop with the owner as a witness. The trio then paddled across a lake to hike up a remote mountain for their evening picnic and exchange of vows. Molly, acting as both photographer and officiant, captured the unmistakable glow of the joy and affection radiating from the couple.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: BEN & LEAH’S STORY
We met on a study abroad program in Turkey. We were both in the beginner language class and arguably spent more time flirting with each other than focusing on our coursework. Leah had caught Ben's eye at the program orientation in Washington D.C. He eventually won her over by bringing her favorite snacks on weekend excursions all over Turkey. There were a lot of great conversations and belly laughs during that summer, and soon after returning to the U.S. we decided to give long distance a try. We were long distance for 2 and a half years before moving in together in 2018.
THE PROPOSAL & ENGAGEMENT
BEN: We picked out Leah's engagement ring together and agreed that I would surprise her with a proposal. I bought the ring without her knowing, and then tried to throw her off my trail. I was really stressed out leading into one particular weekend, so Leah planned a day trip visiting local waterfalls to cheer me up. When she told me about her surprise plans that Saturday morning, I thought it would be the perfect day to propose. I got a little antsy and so I popped the question in the Pittsfield State Forest parking lot while we were searching for the trailhead for the first waterfall.
LEAH: Even though we had picked out a ring together and had been talking about getting married for a few months, I was totally surprised when Ben proposed. I didn’t expect him to do it on a day that I had planned for us! When we were ring shopping, I told him I would love to be surprised by a proposal. He definitely achieved that. Even though I tease him for proposing to me in a parking lot, I loved that he did it early in the morning so the entire day was spent celebrating.
TEAMING UP WITH OUTDOOR CHRONICLES PHOTOGRAPHY
We found the prospect of planning a traditional wedding to be stressful, so we put it off for almost a year after getting engaged. I had never heard of hiking elopements until my cousin told me she was considering one. Ben and I both love hiking, traveling, and exploring new places together. We were both really excited at the idea that we could just spend our wedding day focused on each other and doing the things we love to do together. I started searching for adventure elopement photographers online and made a list to share with Ben. We were both drawn to the authenticity of Molly’s pictures. One of the things that drew us to Outdoor Chronicles Photography is their commitment to leave no trace principles. It was important to us to work with a photographer that shares our respect for and appreciation of nature.
SUPPORTING SUSTAINABLE BUSINESSES
We got our rings from Brilliant Earth. We love that they not only offer lab-grown diamonds, but that they also offer rings made of recycled metals. Leah got her dress on clearance from BHLDN, while Ben got his outfit from Valenti's in Pittsfield, MA. Leah did her own makeup, and Ben braided her hair.
We knew we wanted something in the mountains by a body of water. We also knew we wanted to hike to our ceremony location. During one of our first conversations with Molly, we mentioned that we enjoy canoeing. They suggested incorporating both hiking and canoeing into our day. Molly did some impressive scouting work to help us locate the right spot. We canoeed to a trailhead that is only accessible by water and then hiked to the top of Baldface Mountain, where we had a beautiful view of the lake and the sunset.
THE WEDDING DAY
Molly really encouraged us to think outside the box and make our wedding day whatever we wanted it to be. We decided to fill our day with our favorite activities. In the morning we made ourselves a nice breakfast and played backgammon, a board game we learned together in Turkey. After breakfast, we swam in an incredible natural swimming hole by a waterfall that Molly recommended to us. We are always on the hunt for waterfalls and swimming holes when we travel, so that was really special. Then we ate one of our favorite meals (which we had cooked the night before) for lunch before heading to Indian Lake for a paddle, hike, and picnic. We exchanged our vows (which were totally improvised in the moment!) as the sun was setting.
It was a difficult decision not to invite any friends or family, but we just wanted to focus on each other during our wedding day. Our parents and other loved ones were totally understanding and supportive of our choice.
In a lot of ways, our wedding was also a mini honeymoon, since we stayed in the Adirondacks for a couple days after the wedding. However, we have been talking about doing a honeymoon in Patagonia since before we were even engaged. We don’t have concrete plans yet, but we're excited to plan the trip when the timing is right.
FAVORITE MOMENTS FROM YOUR NEW YORK ELOPEMENT
LEAH: Beating Ben at backgammon! Just kidding…I don’t think I can pick a favorite moment. The entire day was so fun!
BEN: Although I respect Leah’s competitiveness and love for backgammon, my favorite moment was definitely our improvised, authentic, and moving vows to each other.
The ones where Molly captured our communication and laughter with each other.
WORKING WITH MOLLY
Molly did an incredible job scouting locations for us. When we mentioned being interested in visiting a waterfall and going for a swim, Molly put together a packet for us with several options to choose from. We had total privacy both at the swimming hole and on our hike. We don’t think we would have been able to find such off the beaten path places without Molly’s help.
We love how authentic our photos are. Out of the hundreds of pictures we have from our wedding day, maybe three or four of them were posed. Neither of us feels very comfortable posing for pictures, so we love how natural and candid the images are. We would absolutely recommend Molly to friends and family. They exceeded our expectations and made it clear from start to finish that they were committed to supporting us in having a magical and fulfilling wedding day.
ADVICE TO OTHER COUPLES
Do whatever you want on your wedding day!. We’re so glad we took the time to really reflect on what we wanted on our wedding day, rather than letting societal norms or our assumptions about other people’s expectations dictate our plans.
Meet Your Adirondack Elopement Photographer!
Hi! I'm Molly, an award-winning elopement photographer and licensed hiking guide! I would love to chat about photographing your perfect elopement in New York (or anywhere else, for that matter!)
I'm a small wedding and elopement photographer who is always up for a new adventure. I regularly travel between the Austrian Alps, Alaska, and the White Mountains, and travel is included in all of my packages.
Interested in talking to me about your Adirondack elopement or small adventure wedding? Let me be your guide to making the best of your perfect day!