Planning a Northwest Elopement at Run of the River in Leavenworth, WA

One of the many joys of our beautiful inn & refuge property here in Leavenworth is the way it lends itself to hosting picturesque, storybook elopements and intimate weddings. We cherish the opportunity to welcome couples as they step in to marriage, surrounded by nature’s beauty, accented with special touches, and wrapped up in the love they share.

First and foremost, congratulations to all of you newly-engaged couples! We are so happy for you! Over the past few years, we’ve had the pleasure of learning more about why couples choose to forgo a larger wedding and lots of tips and tricks for a beautiful, memorable, and low-stress wedding day! It quickly becomes apparent that Run of the River checks all of those boxes and makes for the perfect elopement destination.

We currently average a few dozen elopements per year here! We have the distinct honor and incredible joy of witnessing these special days take shape during every season. Destination elopements have become a huge trend in recent years and we think they are here to stay! Each couple we meet has a beautiful love story, their own unique reasons for choosing to elope, and every single one of them creates a wedding that takes our breath away and stands out in our minds for different reasons. Whether it is the happy tears during their “first look,” the sweet reminders of home they brought with them for the ceremony, their Sci-Fi-inspired vows, their stunning connection to nature, the meaningful scriptures they chose for readings, or their unique expression of bridal style, we are constantly in awe of the endless ways that an elopement at Run of the River becomes your own.

So what does an elopement or intimate wedding at Run of the River look like? Put simply: it looks like joy, intimacy, and oneness with nature. More specifically, it looks personalized, well-organized, and executed with detail and intention. We offer many different packages to suit each couple’s specific needs and desires, including a fully customizable package. Most of our intimate weddings and elopements involve a luxurious stay at Run of the River, where you will enjoy a warm welcome, stunning accommodations built for comfort and romance, our signature five-course breakfasts each morning, and special touches added to your room to celebrate you as newlyweds! Your ceremony will be structured to your preferences, with special verses, readings, and vows done as you choose. You can select any accessible indoor or outdoor spot on our picturesque property, including our Little Chapel of Amazing Grace (but we do have to bring ceremonies inside when it is below freezing – brr!). If included in your chosen package, you will have photography performed by the incredible Heidi Michelle Photography – a local favorite with world-class skills and two decades of photographing life’s happiest days. After your ceremony, you can snuggle up by your fireplace, take a walk around the property arm-in-arm as newlyweds, or head into town for a romantic dinner. When you return, you can enjoy a glass of champagne and celebrate with your personal cutting cake!

An additional perk of eloping at Run of the River? A beautiful place to celebrate your future anniversaries!

Image by Kate Spencer Photography

So Why Elope?

You may have an outdated or even comical notion of elopements, picturing a clandestine out-of-town getaway or Elvis walking the bride down the aisle (and hey, nothing wrong with either of those!). But we have learned all about our guests and their modern reasons for choosing an elopement or an intimate wedding.

1. Budget: Budget is a common catalyst for elopements and intimate weddings, making them increasingly popular as an ideal choice for younger couples. A traditional wedding near any major city can cost upwards of $30,000. Today, many couples are saving up to purchase a home, are hoping to start a family, or are catching up on bills and school loans. An elopement allows for you to have the dreamy, intimate experience you long for, while keeping your costs low and succinct…with no debt to worry about afterwards!

2. Lots of Family/A Little Family: Either end of the guest count spectrum can lead a couple to decide on a small wedding! Some people simply do not have a lot of close family and friends, which can make building a guest list unnecessary. Conversely, some people have so much family that it would be difficult to accommodate them all in one place. Hosting such a large wedding might also be incongruous with what the couple is comfortable with or what they envision for their big day.

3. Location Questions: We often host couples at Run of the River who have moved to the Northwest on their own from different parts of the country and are away from their family and friends. Knowing that it would be a logistical and/or financial hardship to choose a location for everyone to attend their out-of-state wedding, they decide to keep it small and only invite a few witnesses or just enjoy the day by themselves. A reception can always be held at a later date with more celebrants!

4. Second Marriage: We love meeting our couples who have found new love later in life. In their younger days, they may have had the big, white wedding. Or perhaps they haven’t been married before, but they don’t desire all the pomp-and-circumstance for their big day.

5. Why Wait?!: Another reason that might prompt an elopement or intimate wedding is that the couple doesn’t want to wait 12-18 months from the time of their engagement until the time they say “I Do.” Most of these couples have been together for years, but don’t want to wait any longer before making it official! Whether motivated by practical needs (getting a marriage certificate can have all sorts of positive impacts!) or led by the power of love (hooray), we love being able to start off their lives as newlyweds asap!

6. Desire for Intimacy: At the end of the day, the focus should ideally be placed on the marriage, not the wedding. When keeping it small, couples are choosing to focus on each other instead of the “extras” that are - understandably - easy to get caught up in. We work hard to give them all of those treasured extras that make the day feel special, so that they can focus on the love and commitment they are bringing into their marriage on this beautiful day!

The reasons for choosing an intimate wedding are so diverse and we cherish whatever it is that brings couples to our front door, ready to celebrate their love and commitment.

Tips for Less Stress:

We know that we are first and foremost in the Bed & Breakfast business, but we’d like to think that after so many elopements, we’ve become minor experts in the intimate wedding business! Wondering how we make our betrothed couples feel special and ease their stress on the big day? Here are a few insights!

1. Let Someone Help You Plan: You might know the exact dress style you want, but maybe you don’t know everything about legal fees and filing. Get some assistance or input if you have questions or feel out of your element! For elopements at Run of the River, we provide an officiant who takes care of all the paper filing after the ceremony (legal fees included!), we order your flowers through our incredibly talented and trusted florist, and we can point you toward the best spots on our property to get the ideal lighting during your ceremony according to the season and time of day. Let others offer their expertise where desired!

Run of the River offers stunning florals created by Full Bloom Flowers and Plants, and can help you plan for a sweet cutting cake or even a charcuterie spread for you and your guests to enjoy afterward.

2. Give Yourself Plenty of Time on Your Wedding Day: Did you know it is possible to run late on your wedding day, even when you are the only ones attending? Even if you don’t have a church full of guests awaiting your arrival, you still might be racing the setting sun or trying to make it to your romantic dinner-for-two on time! Things like steaming a tuxedo or lacing up a wedding dress might be a foreign concept and can take longer than anticipated! Or maybe you realize halfway through the day that you really need some lunch and would like to grab a quick bite with your spouse-to-be! And don’t forget a caffeine fix! These things all take time and you want to leave lots of breathing room so you don’t feel rushed. Create little pockets of space in your timeline for the day so that you know there is plenty of time for extras.

3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: For large weddings, it’s typically a comfort for brides to remember that guests won't even notice the things that didn't come together as you'd envisioned. The same goes for smaller weddings and elopements! Perhaps your hair accessory breaks or a squirrel throws a nut down during your ceremony (hey, it happens!). Don’t let the little things rain on your parade...even Mother Nature herself! You and your fiancé are the most important part of this day, and nothing can steal your joy if you don’t let it!

4. Understand the Flow: Do you know where and when to meet if you are doing a first look? Do you know if you are meeting the officiant at the ceremony site itself or are you all walking there together? What will the flow of the ceremony look like, how long will it be, and when/where will you be signing your marriage license? Some of these questions can even be answered the morning of, but having those worries off of your plate will be a great help when it comes to calming the wedding day jitters. The more you plan ahead of time, the less there is to wonder about. Keep your mind free to enjoy the day!

Intimate weddings and elopements at Run of the River spark the perfect balance between the splendor and uniqueness you want, with the intimate and laid back vibes you need. The couples we meet have all managed to make the experience their own. From retro glam to modern simplicity, and cozy casual to classic romance. Just because your wedding is small, it doesn't mean your dreams for it have to be!

If anything about an elopement or intimate wedding speaks to your heart (there's a lot to love about them!), please reach out to learn more about making Run of the River the perfect destination for your (little) big day! We would love to hear more about what you're dreaming up!

Kind words from ROTR newlyweds:

July 2017: "We purchased one of the wedding/elopement packages and we were blown away by how special and beautiful they made both our stay and ceremony feel. We came away from the whole thing realizing that we hadn't needed to spend any money on a reception for our small group size (~20). The Ravenwood Lodge was beautiful, romantic, and perfect for two--but also perfect for entertaining guests before and after the ceremony! We spotted deer, birds, butterflies, and a squirrel before and after the ceremony...just too wonderful. I can't gush enough about how lovely they made everything. Rating: 6/5, easily! We can't wait to return regularly on anniversaries, especially considering the standard non-lodge rooms are easily comparable to hotels in Leavenworth."

January 2011: "Words will never be able to describe our perfect wedding at Run of the River, but it was such a great experience that we at least have to try: The Enchantment suite was fantastic from the cozy fireplace to the heated floors in the gorgeous bathroom. The balcony is a place where you can spend hours just looking out over the Icicle River. We had not met our officiant Michael before our wedding day, but his calm, quiet and kind demeanor was exactly what we needed when he married us in front of a large window that overlooked the winter wonderland scenery. The decor surrounding us was warm, lovely, and classy. Our elopement ceremony flowed seamlessly, and our photographer was sweet and encouraging. Taking pictures with her was actually fun! There is NO better place to elope in the state of Washington. Run of the River is the perfect place to marry the love of your life, and we can't wait to come back for our 1st anniversary. Thank you Janna!!!!"

December 2015: "What a wonderful setting for a quaint wedding! Upon arrival the place was secluded and magically decorated with lights and festive décor. The rustic cozy feel was felt before the entrance into this wonderful escape. Once we were welcomed into our suite it becomes clear that we have entered into a retreat (treat) of a lifetime. As the evening approached for our intimate wedding, we were guided by little suggestions of the local offerings to enhance our special day. To truly understand the gifts that this place has to offer you will need to come to Run of the River and see for yourself. We will return to this place again and again for future wonderful memories. Thank you Jan, Steve, and staff."

March 2017: "Every detail is thought of. We were simply blown away by the room, the amenities, the view!!! We stayed in the Enchantments suite and I honestly could have stayed longer. My now husband and I got married on the back deck with the most breathtaking backdrop covered in snow. Thank you to Steve and Jan for clearing off the deck for us to stand outside. I couldn't have asked for more. They helped make our day one we will not forget. The package included two nights in a wonderfully cozy and romantic room/setting, an officiant, photographer, flowers, champagne. Everything we needed really. While we were getting pictures, they provided us with some little surprises which I will keep to myself. I can't say enough about our stay... we are already booked to go back for our one year anniversary. And we cannot wait!"

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