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THE BLOG

SEATTLE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER | SEATTLE ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER | THE CARDINALS ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY

seattle wedding photographer

Hi! I'm Natasha! Your Seattle elopement photographer, dog petter and donut eater. While photography is my first love, connecting with people is my love language. You'll find me lovin' on the big moments, the quiet moments, the silly moments – but especially the in between moments. The moments that are unadulterated and unfiltered. The ones where you are the real you. Here on the blog you'll find all of my favorite tips, tricks and resources for planning a wedding that's all about those moments.

NATASHA CARDINAL

SEATTLE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER + WASHINGTON

ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER

IN THIS GUIDE

Why You Should Do Your Engagement Photos Near Seattle
How to Prepare for Your Engagement Photos
The Best Locations for Your Seattle Engagement Photos


Mt. Rainier National Park

  • The Best Hikes in Mt. Rainier National Park for Your Seattle Engagement Photos

Whidbey Island Locations

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Locations

North Cascades / Mountain Loop Highway

WHY YOU SHOULD DO YOUR ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS NEAR SEATTLE

If you've ever seen anything about Seattle, it's probably that it's an unbelievable city to live in because of it's proximity to so many stunning natural areas. For those that love hiking, it's truly a dream come true! Before Brian and I moved to Washington, it was always the dream to live somewhere where we could be in real wilderness, in BIG mountains in under 2 hours. And Seattle is just that! You have access to so many amazing mountains, lakes, rivers, wildflower meadows, bluffs, beaches, you name it! And because of that, there's absolutely no shortage of AMAZING locations for your Seattle engagement photos, and you can still be back in the city in time for dinner. C'mon, who doesn't love a sushi haul after a good hike?

HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR SEATTLE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS

Some of the most commonly asked questions I get about doing engagement photos near Seattle are usually:

  • What do we wear to our engagement session?
  • Where should we go for our engagement photos?

So let's answer all of those! In the rest of this guide we'll cover all of the best places to go for your engagement photos, but one of my favorite things to do is help my couples figure out to wear. Because it can be really daunting! There's so many choices, so what colors do we choose? What patterns? What's going to look the best in photos?

My top tip, above anything else is to choose something that you can comfortably move in, and something that feels the most you. If you're someone who loves to throw on a broken in pair of jeans and a t-shirt, wear that! If you're someone who feels their best in a sun dress, living their best cottage-core life, let's embrace it! Something that makes you feel the most confident will ultimately look the best. But with that said, there are some color and pattern guidelines I always recommend to couples too.

You can read my whole How to Choose Your Engagement Photo Outfits guide here!

THE BEST LOCATIONS FOR YOUR SEATTLE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS

MT. RAINIER
NATIONAL PARK, WA

We're starting this list off BIG (but did you really expect anything less?). Even if you've never been to Washington, you've probably heard of Mt. Rainier (originally named Tahoma by the local Puyallup Tribe). World famous for it's wildflower meadows, up close and personal glacier views, and year round snowy peaks, Mt. Rainier National Parl is one of the most beautiful places in Washington hands down.

Distance from Seattle: ~1 hour 45 min.

Fees: requires an America the Beautiful annual pass or a $30 day pass per vehicle

Pets allowed: No. Because this is a National Park, pet's are only allowed on paved surfaces so it's best to leave them home for this spot!

Best Time of Year to Visit: July, August, September - the summer months are without a doubt the best time of year to visit Mt. Rainier at it's best. In July and August you'll be visiting at peak wildflower season, with mostly sunny days, mild temperatures and most of the snow on the trails will be melted by now. In September and October you'll be greeted with beautiful autumn colors and crispy air. What more could you ask for?!

Best Day and Time to Visit: Weekdays at sunrise is best to avoid the crowds. It sucks getting up super early, but Mt. Rainier National Park is one of the most popular parks in the PNW so crowds build up quickly. To avoid the bulk of the crowds and get some beautiful light, sunrise is the best! On a weekday is even better! If you can't make sunrise, right after sunset can offer some spectacular light still, but you'll definitely have more people around.

Best Trails for Photos: There's no shortage is beautiful trails here but some of my favorites are:

washington elopement photographer the cardinals photographs a couple eloping at rosario head deception pass
rosario beach deception pass state park

ROSARIO BEACH,
DECEPTION PASS STATE PARK, WA

One of my most requested engagement photo locations in Washington is Rosario Beach, and for good reason! You'll be greeted with sweeping views of the Puget Sound, the cliffs will be painted yellow by the Scotch Broom in bloom, warm sunsets and long evenings make it the perfect romantic day-trip from Seattle.

Distance from Seattle: ~1.5-2 hours

Fees: requires a Discover Pass or a $10 day pass (there are pay stations to drop cash in an envelope at most parking lots here)

Pets Allowed: Yes! Rosario Beach and Deception Pass State Park are both very dog friendly.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Hands down Summer is the best time to visit.

Best Day and Time to Visit: Weekdays at sunset is the best time to visit, although in my experience the crowds aren't too bad here. Deception Pass State Park often does evens here to teach people about tide pooling and the local critters, but visiting on a weekday will likely be the best bet for some pockets of alone time.

CLICK HERE FOR TALLY + KAILEE'S ROSARIO BEACH ENGAGEMENT

CLICK HERE FOR AUDREY + NATHANIEL'S ROSARIO BEACH ENGAGEMENT

EBEY'S LANDING,
WHIDBEY ISLAND, WA

My second most requested engagement photo location in Washington is Ebey's Landing on Whidbey Island! This place is extra special to me too because it's where Brian proposed to me! So I can say from personal experience it's a pretty damn magical place for your photos. Beautiful lush farmland, views of the Olympics and the Sound. A bit like Coastal California in feel, but with Washington charm. And if you're a history buff there's a very old little cemetery just a short walk away if you're into that sort of thing.

Distance from Seattle: ~1.5-2 hours

Fees: Although this is part of a National Historic Reserve, there are no fees to visit.

Pets Allowed: Yep! Pets are welcome to join you on leash.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Hands down Summer or Fall is the best time to visit. Warm, sunny evenings, with glowing golden sunset. Even a little haze from the inevitable late summer wildfire gives a beautiful soft smoky glow, so you can't go wrong! Midsummer you'll be greeted by wildflowers and soft grass, cool breezes. It's

Best Day and Time to Visit: This is a popular sunset watching spot for locals, but you won't have much trouble finding a place to park or be overwhelmed with crowds. This is a low key day trip from Seattle.

check out KATIE + HAVEN'S EBEY'S LANDING ENGAGEMENT

couple walks in the riverbed of the baker river for the baker lake engagement photos for their engagement photos with seattle engagement photographer The Cardinals
couple dances in the lake bed at baker lake for a blog about the best engagement photo locations in washington

BAKER LAKE,
MT. BAKER-SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST

An amazing hidden gem in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is Baker Lake! A stunning manmade lake with blue as heck water, views of Mt. Baker herself if you're out on the lake, and plenty of beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. You'll have access to lush forest, the Baker River, and plenty of secluded foresty hideaways.

Distance from Seattle: 2-2.5 hours

Fees: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

Pets Allowed: Yep! Pets are welcome to join you.

Best Time of Year to Visit: In my opinion, this location is stunning just about any time of year. In the summer this place is bustling with campers (there are MANY national forest campgrounds in the area). You'll have ultimate PNW lake vibe with plenty of opportunities to canoe, kayak, fishing, and swim. In the winter you may see a light dusting of snow and you'll have the entire area pretty much to yourself! Because the lake is drained in the winter you can walk the lake bed and see some of the ancient tree stumps that you wouldn't ordinarily see when the water is high.

Best Day and Time to Visit: In the summer, a weekday sunrise is the best time to visit to avoid crowds. In the winter, sunrise or late afternoon is best and any day of the week is great.

FRANKLIN FALLS, MT. BAKER-SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST

A short easy day hike of only 2 miles, Franklin Falls is a stunning waterfall that's a quick trip from Seattle! One of the benefits of visiting Franklin Falls as opposed to other waterfalls in the area is that you can even go right up to the base of the falls and in the summer take a dip in the pool below the falls.

Distance from Seattle: 1 hour

Fees: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

Pets Allowed: Yep! Pets are welcome to join you on leash.

Best Time of Year to Visit: While the falls is accessible year round, the best time to visit is in the Spring, Summer and Fall. In the winter there's the opportunity for a beautiful snowshoe hike but it's known for being in an area that can have some avalanche risk.

Best Day and Time to Visit: In the summer, a weekday sunrise is the best time to visit to avoid crowds.

ARTIST POINT, MT. BAKER,
MT. BAKER-SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST

One of the most beautiful and iconic mountains in all of Washington state is Mt. Baker! The third tallest in the state after Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, she stands at 10,786 ft., on a clear day you'll have up close and personal views with her at Artist Point with zero hiking needed. Artist Point is the perfect base for all levels of outdoorsiness, with trails that are ADA accessible, many very short trails, and plenty of long distance moderate difficulty trails. You'll have everything from alpine lakes, epic mountain views, wildflowers, lush forest, everything you could ever want!

Distance from Seattle: 2.5 hours

Fees: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

Pets Allowed: Yep! Pets are welcome to join you.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Summer is the most popular time of year to visit. Clear skies will give you sweeping views, tons of wildflowers line the trails, the alpine lakes are at their most blue, and all trails are open. In the winter, you'll have limited access as the road up to Artist Point closes, but you'll still be able to visit locations like Bagley Lakes and then snowshoe up to Artist Point.

Best Day and Time to Visit: In the summer, a weekday sunrise is the best time to visit to avoid crowds.

Recommended Locations:

click here to see a winter artist point elopement

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ELOPING AT ARTIST POINT

GOLD CREEK POND, MT. BAKER-SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST

One of the most popular destinations close to Seattle, Gold Creek Pond is a beaaaautiful spot with an easy hike around a crystal clear sparkling blue lake, with dramatic mountain views. The landscape makes it look like it should be deep on an alpine lake trail, but really it's a quick day trip and has plenty of wow factor.

Distance from Seattle: 1 hour

Fees: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

Pets Allowed: Yep! Pets are welcome to join you on leash here.

Best Time of Year to Visit: It's beautiful here all year! Because it's such a short distance from Seattle and such an easy hike, this is a particularly popular location. In the late spring and summer you'll have wildflowers, in the fall the beautiful changing leaves, and in the winter it's a great snowshoeing location.

Best Day and Time to Visit: A weekday at sunrise is the best time to visit to avoid crowds. Sunsets here aren't the best because the sun is blocked early by the mountains, but is still gorgeous even after the sun is hiding!

Heybrook Ridge, Central Cascades – Steven's Pass, WA

Breathetaking views of the Northern Cascades (4 mountains in particular), sweeping scenes of the Skykomish Valley, and beautiful second growth forest, this 3.3 mile trail was actually saved from a clear cut logging operation! The Washington Trails Association works tirelessly to maintain this busy and beautiful trail, and since it's so close to Seattle!

Distance from Seattle: 1-1.5 hours

Fees: None

Pets Allowed: Yep! Pets are welcome to join you on leash.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Like so many of the other spots on this list, pretty much any time of year is wonderful to visit. The summer months are extraordinarily busy here (for good reason, it's beautiful in the summer), but I usually recommend fall for a visit here to avoid some crowds.

Best Day and Time to Visit: Weekdays are ALWAYS recommended here, but sunrise is great if you can drag yourself out of bed early!

LAKE SERENE, CENTRAL CASCADES – STEVEN'S PASS, WA

One of the most beautiful alpine lake hikes this close to Seattle! Sitting at 8.3 miles roundtrip, this hike is a bit of a challenge, but is worth the sore legs you'll have the next day. The trail starts in beautiful old growth forest, with massive trails that line the trail, then open up to stunning views of the Cascades, and finishes at a gorgeous alpine lake. (This location requires a Back Roads Session)

Distance from Seattle: 1-1.5 hours

Fees: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

Pets Allowed: Yep! Pets are welcome to join you on leash.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Spring, Summer and Fall are the best time of year to visit. Snowy conditions in the winter make it a difficult snowshoe hike, but if you have some micro-spikes this is doable in the spring. I've hiked it in March with micro-spikes and it was beautiful to see the lake still frozen and watch tiny avalanches fall across the lake.

Best Day and Time to Visit: This is an all day affair, but late afternoon on a weekday is recommended.

RATTLESNAKE LEDGE – NORTH BEND AREA

At 4 miles roundtrip, this is a moderately challenging hike with views of Mount Si, Rattlesnake Lake, and Mount Washington, the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail is a breathe taking option for some beautiful Seattle engagement photos.

Distance from Seattle: 40 minutes

Fees: None.

Pets Allowed: Yep! Pets are welcome to join you on leash, although I don't recommend it because of the sheer cliff drop.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Summer and Fall are the best times of year to visit since the trail can get icy! And with a cliff drop, it's best to avoid icy days altogether.

Best Day and Time to Visit: This is a particularly busy trail, so a weekday sunrise is recommended.

RATTLESNAKE LAKE – NORTH BEND AREA

Super close to Rattlesnake Ledge, is the popular Rattlesnake Lake! Sitting at a nice chill 1.3 mile hike, this lake is similar to Baker Lake in that it's drained in the winter months, which is my preferred time of year to visit! The summer months offer beautiful mountain views, crystal clear water, and a great spot that's under an hour from Seattle to take your engagement photos. This trail is also a gravel path and relatively flat.

Distance from Seattle: 40 minutes

Fees: None.

Pets Allowed: Yep! Pets are welcome to join you on leash.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Spring, Summer, and Fall are all stunning times of year to visit, but my personal favorite time is winter! It's the best time of year to avoid crowds, but also is when the lake is drained, leaving tons of cool stumps to explore in the lake bed.

Best Day and Time to Visit: During the busy months, sunrise is recommended, and during the winter late afternoon is recommended. Weekdays no matter what time of year you visit are usually best.

LAKE 22 – NORTH CASCADES / MOUNTAIN LOOP HIGHWAY

One of the most iconic alpine lake hikes in the Cascades, Lake 22 is WELL known for it's stunning blue water and it's popularity due to Instagram. But it's popular for a reason! Lake 22 has everything mountain lovers dream of. Blue alpine lake, old growth forest, mountain views, wildflowers, plenty of incredible photo opportunities. And is under 2 hours from Seattle!

Distance from Seattle: 2 hours

Fees: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually)

Pets Allowed: Yep! Pets are welcome to join you on leash, although I don't recommend it because of the sheer cliff drop.

Best Time of Year to Visit: This is an *extremely* popular hike no matter what time of year. For overall beauty summer and fall are the best time to visit, but in the winter this would be an extraordinary snowshoe hike for some ultimate PNW winter vibes.

Best Day and Time to Visit: If you can get to the parking lots before the sun comes up, you'll have no problem finding parking, but expect the parking lot to fill up quickly! Sunrise on a weekday will be your best bet to avoid crowds.

hudson valley wedding photographers the cardinals

MEET YOUR SEATTLE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOGRAPHERS

We're Natasha and Brian! Your Seattle engagement photographers, dog petters, and donut eaters focused on creating the dreamiest and intentional photos of your elopement. But we're so much more than just photographers. When you work with us, you get built in engagement photo planning experts, guides for all of the parks most beautiful trails, snack holders, dress fluffers, tissue providers, and friends.

We know exactly what it's like to elope, because that's what we did too! We eloped on a misty August day on Mt. Baker with our sweet dog Fern, 7 of our closest friends, and it couldn't have been more us. Creating a day that's undeniably you and honors your relationship is what we know best.

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