On July 29, 2019, my husband Daniel and I tied the knot at one of my favorite locations in the world: Artist Point in the Mount Baker Wilderness. Read on more for more details on our big day and how you can plan your own Artist Point wedding or elopement.
The Big Day Arrives
Sun streamed through the blinds in our bedroom at the Sumas Mountain Lodge as I tiptoed out the door. I planned to eat breakfast in the restaurant on the ground floor before getting ready for the big day. We’ve stayed at this rustic hotel many times before, but our previous visits had taken place on the weekend. Apparently they were not open on weekday mornings. Darn.
And so that is how I found myself eating a breakfast of microwaved oatmeal on my wedding day in a gas station in Sumas Washington. A few elderly gentleman sat at a table next to me drinking coffee and chatting amiably. I’d spent a lot of time in gas stations like this one during my 2017 PCT Hike and I felt right at home. I lugged my suitcase across the street to the Sumas City Park and spent a few peaceful moments watching the creek while I waited for my ride.
My sister Bethany and her daughter Ava came by a few minutes later to pick me up for my hair appointment. My friend Jarid did a fabulous job of cutting and styling my hair a few days ago, but it was starting to look a little disheveled. A quick trip to Bethany’s hair stylist and my hair looked as good as new.
The Lunchtime Wedding Reception
Soon it was time for our lunchtime reception. We had initially scheduled our reception to take place after the wedding, as is customary, but we decided to switch the two events. We wanted to take advantage of the better lighting in the late afternoon for the wedding photographs. I’ve never been much for tradition anyways.
Lunch was a relaxing and casual affair, except for the fact that we were wearing our wedding clothes. I’d decided long ago to limit the guest list to immediate family, and it was the best decision I made regarding the wedding. We ate lunch at my parents’ house like any other holiday meal, with kids racing around the living room and adults sitting in the dining room chatting over sandwiches. Daniel and I fed each other cake.
And then it was time for the main event. We all piled into our cars for the 1.5-hour trip along the Mt. Baker Highway to Artist Point in the Mt. Baker Wilderness.
I have fond memories of hiking up in the Artist Point area with my parents when I was younger, but haven’t been there in years. I had almost forgotten all about this amazing location until I took a solo overnight backpacking trip to Chain Lakes last year. And now I can’t stay away. Since then I’ve taken Ava on a special aunty-niece hiking trip to Artist Point and, more recently, Daniel and I visited Artist Point to prep for our wedding.
The Ceremony and Vows
We kept the wedding short and sweet. My brother Jonathan officiated our simple ceremony, with Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Baker and my family as witnesses. We could not drop flower petals on the ground, since Artist Point is a wilderness area, so the kids blew bubbles. Ava presented us with our rings. We said our vows.
First it was my turn:
I love you and your shining beautiful soul.
You bring out the best in me and challenge me to be a better person.
You seek out magic in the little things and bring a sense of joy to life.
Every day with you is an adventure.
I can’t wait to go on more adventures together with you.
Then it was Daniel’s turn:
Katy Shaw, I choose you.
I choose you to share my adventures with
Both the easy and the hard times.
You make me happy.
And make me a better person.
Will you be my wife?
From now until the end of our days.
And that was it.
I am so happy to marry this amazing, wonderful man. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him.
Artist Point Wedding Photos
Here are my favorite photos from the ceremony and our time up at Artist Point. You can click on the images and scroll through the gallery if you’d like to see them in more detail. Credit for the photos below goes to Dan DeWaard from Hatch Photography
Tips on Planning an Artist Point Wedding or Elopement
We chose Artist Point for our wedding location because we wanted a beautiful wilderness setting that was located close to my family in Whatcom County and was also wheelchair accessible. Artist Point also holds many special memories for me because I’ve been there many times over the years, so it was a no-brainer for us.
Here are some tips for planning a wedding or elopement at Artist Point:
- Artist Point is located in the Mount Baker Wilderness which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. It is covered with snow most months of the year except for typically July, August, and September and occasionally October.
- When planning a wedding, pay attention to the snowpack levels that winter so you have an idea on when the snow will melt out. Also, Washington State occasionally has years with heavy forest fires which can make things smoky up at Artist Point. The forest fires typically take place in August. This is why we planned our wedding for late July – to be timed after the snow melted but before forest fire season.
- Artist Point is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. While technically only gatherings with over 75 people need a permit, it is still best to contact the Forest Service anyway to let them know you plan to have a wedding. Here is the Mount Baker Commercial Events web page with the relevant contact information. For our small wedding, the Forest Service gave us a letter expressing permission for the wedding which I brought with us.
- All vehicles at Artist Point will need to pay for parking. I recommend carpooling if possible as Artist Point can get pretty crowded (especially on the weekends). You can pay at Artist Point (with cash) or bring your own pass – here are more details about the Northwest Forest Pass. (You can also use an America the Beautiful Pass if you have one. Note that a Discover Pass is not valid at Artist Point).
- If you don’t want to share your wedding with tons of other people, I recommend planning it for a weekday. That’s what we did and it was perfect.
- As Artist Point is a wilderness area, follow Leave No Trace best practices. Do not leave anything behind like rice or flowers. Do not pick flowers or bring anything back from Artist Point. Stay on the paths and avoid standing on the alpine areas. Try not to block the sidewalks for other visitors who may be there at the same time.
- There are only outhouses up at Artist Point, and the one at the very top can get kindof nasty. So, prepare yourself for that.
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