Real Weddings: Leslie and Mary's Oregon Coast Adventure Elopement

By Kirrin Finch
Real Weddings: Leslie and Mary's Oregon Coast Adventure Elopement

Leslie (she/they) and Mary Gelder (she/her) live in Tacoma, Washington. The couple were married on October 1st, 2021 on the picturesque Oregon coast with just seven of their closest friends and family, plus their two dogs. We were blown away by the creativity of their photographer, Henry Tieu, and also the beautiful backdrop of Arcadia beach and the rocky cliffs along the coast.  

How Did You Meet Each Other?

We liked each other on Bumble! Messaged back and forth for a bit and decided to meet up the day after Christmas to go snowshoeing. It was Leslie’s first time snowshoeing and she affectionately referred to the date as, “something new with someone new!” It was also Mary’s retriever’s first time wearing booties, which provided endless entertainment on the trail. 

Leslie and Mary getting ready for their wedding

When You Were Planning Your Wedding What Was The Most Exciting? What Was Most Challenging?

Once we decided to elope and keep the ceremony intimate, the entire process of planning became more fun. It was easier for us to envision our day and fine tune details. The most exciting part was watching the individual pieces we’d planned come together in the weeks leading up to the big day. The dress, the suit, the shoes, doggy bow ties and floral leashes, beach frisbees, making the bouquet, watching this day we dreamed about come to life! The most challenging part was deciding whether or not to invite guests during a pandemic, and who those intimate guests would be. 5-10 people quickly becomes 20-40, then we’d get stressed and go back to planning it for just the two of us. Ultimately we decided on 7 close friends and family that live in the same state and would not have to fly. 

Display of wedding rings and vows

When getting married, how did you choose what to wear for your special day?

We started out talking about our vision, then put together a sort of vision board on Pinterest. We wanted a classic look with seasonal colors that would pop against a coastal background. Mary knew she wanted to wear a white wedding dress and found her dress at a local non-profit organization that donates money from wedding dresses to youth programs. I started my search for the perfect suit in the same way I shop for nearly everything these days, “best queer/androgynous...suit designer” and found Kirrin Finch. I fell in love with the style, the colors, the material, and most importantly the fit of Kirrin Finch’s suits. The website overall made me feel like I’d found my people.

Leslie and Mary walking on the beach with their dogs

When you first tried on your suit and looked in the mirror, how did you feel? 

I felt like me! And I felt like I was wearing a suit that was made for me! I’m 5’7” and 123 lbs and the size 2 was perfection. I knew when I first tried it on that I would be able to fully feel like myself on my wedding day. I felt relieved. I felt confident. I felt seen. 


Leslie wearing Kirrin Finch navy suit on the beach


Why did you decide to elope vs a traditional wedding?

We had a lot of reasons that made the decision to elope easy for us. Most importantly, neither of us ever dreamed of having a big or traditional wedding; we both feel much more comfortable and have the most fun in settings with close friends. Then we learned about adventure elopements while searching for photographers and knew that was perfect for us.

Leslie and Mary holding hands on the beach

Where did you end up eloping, and how did you both decide on a location?

We eloped on Arcadia Beach on the Oregon coast.  The Oregon coast has always been a magical place for us. It’s where we first talked about getting married, where we got engaged, and so we knew it was the place where we would get married.

Leslie and Mary on the beach with their dogs

How did you choose your photographer, Henry?

I saw some of Henry’s adventure elopement photos on Pinterest and his images were exactly what we had in mind. He does elopements and weddings all over the world and our favorite location that we’d seen in some of his photos just happened to be 15 minutes from the place where we got engaged! As if his photography doesn’t speak for itself, he’s also genuinely kind, gay, and owns a pug! (So do we, and IYKYK) It was meant to be.

Leslie, Mary and their photographer, Henry

What advice would you give to couples thinking about eloping?

We loved eloping! It was fun and exciting with less stress. You’ll have more time and money to spend on the details you love about weddings and forget the rest. This is so freeing and makes your day truly about your love for each other! Surround yourself with a few people that make you feel loved and accepted or run away together just the two of you and surprise everyone when you get back with awesome photos. However you plan it, we’re sure you won’t regret it. 

Lesbian couple by the water on their wedding day

Photographer: @henrysdiary
Hair & Makeup: @seawolfbarbershop / @underwoodmakeup
Dress: @brides_for_a_cause
Suit: @kirrinfinch

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