Okay, so I promise that this will be all about Megan and Robby’s epic hot air balloon elopement in Seattle, but first I need to tell you how their elopement day came to be. Because I’ll be honest – how this day came to be is just as (if not more) epic as what we did.
Last summer, we got a rather unusual email from someone at Pack Up + Go. I think I had seen something online about them before, but I hadn’t ever really looked into them properly. If you haven’t heard of them yet either, Pack Up + Go is a “surprise travel brand.” They’re a travel planning company built for adventurers who want to add a bit more spice into their explorations.
Here’s how it works: you fill out a pre-trip survey going over your travel dates, adventure preferences, travel history, and interests, as well as your budget. Then the planners over at Pack Up + Go completely build your trip for you. They take care of everything from booking flights and lodging, to creating a suggested itinerary filled with things to do and places to eat.
They send you an envelope with all of your travel details, and you open it up THE DAY OF YOUR TRIP. Awesome, right?! Well it gets better.
So the email we received was from a travel agent at Pack Up + Go, who told us all about how they were working to plan a surprise trip in the PNW for a couple living in Texas. Megan and Robby had done a surprise trip through the company previously and loved it, so they decided to do something pretty freaking epic – go on another total surprise trip, but this time they wanted to get married too!
“I got lucky. I was in the right place, at the right time, when I met Megan. Strangely enough, that was in an entirely different state; I lived in Georgia at the time when I met Megan in Houston. This shot we took with each other hit the bullseye, and after a year of long distance dating, a move to Houston, and a year in a pandemic, here we are. We were brainstorming how we’d like to elope and recalled how wonderful the gamble we took on our first and only Pack Up + Go vacation was, and it just seemed like the perfect way for us to tie the knot once and for all. We met by chance, endured the distance by the strength of our love, so why not leave the stage we set to call Eternal Dibs™ on each other to fate as well?
If you haven’t gleaned this from the above by now, we’re weirdos. We love the adventure we find ourselves on together. The good ones and the less good ones. We love the road less traveled. We like getting lost, those quirky stops that make fun stories at parties, making friends with locals, and trying that weird thing that sounds interesting. I love the lights and sounds of the city, but Megan won’t let me finish this without saying she loves (loves) nature. We’re the perfect compliment to each other.”
Suffice it to say, we couldn’t say “yes” fast enough.
I hopped on the phone with Megan and Robby the next day, and we just clicked immediately. We had to work out a few kinks with the travel company so we could actually keep the day a surprise. Things like making some one-off contracts and questionnaires without any of our brand info, so we could keep the couple totally in the dark about where they were headed. Then we were ready to get planning!
Once we got back our ‘getting to know you’ questionnaire from the couple, their day pretty much planned itself. They wanted to get married at sunrise somewhere beautiful out in nature, spend the afternoon in a nearby town, and wanted to “end the day with a romantic activity, like a picnic in a hot air balloon ride.”
I worked with their travel agent to get everything booked, then just two months later I met Megan and Robby at their hotel room in Seattle around 5am. Despite the early hour, they were full to the brim with smiles and laughter as they helped each other get ready. Then I took them out to share their vows at sunrise at one of my favorite locations less than an hour outside of Seattle. Many happy tears were shed and we spent some time exploring around the little lake before heading back to downtown Seattle for lunch and a bit of exploring around Pikes Place.
Once evening rolled around, it was time for our final adventure for the day – a sunset hot air balloon ride. And man, I cannot recommend Seattle Ballooning enough. Everyone on their team was a blast. We enjoyed the most stunning sunset views of Mt. Rainier from above, learned how to safely land in a hot air balloon, and celebrated the end of the night with a champagne toast traditional to hot air balloon rides. It was one magical AF day.
Take the time while the balloon is getting prepared to take portraits in the field. This is the best way to get photos of you actually with the balloon, and the colors of the fabric make for some gorgeous backdrops! Once up in the air, it’s a tight fit in the basket which limits couple photo options, though your photographer will document some epic landscape photos for you to remember your adventure by.
Looking back, this seems obvious. It’s a HOT air balloon after all. The evening was cool, so we had all brought layers with us, thinking it would be cold with the elevation and wind chill. While I’m glad we had warm clothes for when we landed, we were super toasty the whole time we were in the air.
Especially when you’re in a wedding dress. Once the balloon is up, you have a very short span of time to get into the basket before it needs to take off, and clambering in and out is pretty awkward. This would be a difficult option for folks with limited mobility.
Because the balloon is floating with the wind, the ride is a very smooth one. We all felt so safe the whole ride. However, do be advised that landing is not the smoothest process. It’s not uncommon to “bump” along the ground a few times before coming to a complete stop. And it’s also not uncommon for the basket to tip over once on the ground! Your crew will teach you how to position yourself to land safely.
It’s tradition to enjoy a champagne toast after a hot air balloon ride! You can read more about this fun tradition here.