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Adventure Elopement Photographer Mariah Arianna – My Origin Story

When you’re from a small midwest town, becoming an adventure elopement photographer takes some work. Where I grew up, there wasn’t much a-happenin’ and it took a big imagination to bring big adventures to life.

Small town, rural Michigan doesn’t have mountains or oceans. But it does have the woods and “up north.” I spent winters building caves in snow mounds, creating jumps for my sled and snowboard and tracking small animals through the backyard in one of those fluorescent, pink and yellow 90s snow jumpers (you know the ones…) When the ice thawed, I kicked off my boots and spent the summers barefoot, usually in no more than my bathing suit, chasing frogs and snagging crawdads, pier jumping into Lake Michigan, skateboarding and climbing trees. 

I wanted to be an adventurer and an artist. I wanted to write and photograph for something like NatGeo. I more or less fantasized about traipsing the world full blown Lara Croft or Frodo Baggins style. Although I don’t have an ice pick or any wizard friends (yet), I do climb cliffs and have full stoke for second breakfast. All other things being equal, I really just love doing fun shit outdoors with cool people and good vibes. 

Honestly some things really don’t change much


Well. Here’s where the adventure starts:

I left home at 18 and didn’t look back. In 2010 I started university at UofM in Ann Arbor, and by the time I graduated, I’d lived in Spain, been all around Europe, and Morocco, and had my eyes set on Colorado. I wanted to be a snow bum at Vale or Breckinridge for a while, giving lessons to kids and living out of my car, but the furthest I made it was Omaha.

I spent 4 really fun years based there. It’s not exactly renowned for it’s landscape, but I had a great time. I met some folks I’ll never forget and learned that rock climbing is how I’d spend all my time if I didn’t need to make money to eat. I got to travel through California, Colorado, Arizona, Arkansas and basically anywhere the climbing was good and the views worth the risk. Eventually, I quit my job as a photographer and copywriter at a pretty cool company and went freelance in spring of 2017. I went to British Columbia for half a year to work in a remote lodge as a mountain guide while I applied for journalism grants with National Geograpic in other countries.

That’s where I met Johannes.


There’s something about an impossible love story that had me hooked on this guy.

Here we were in the middle of *NO* where, a 1.5 hour drive from the power grid, and 4 hours from the nearest grocery store; I didn’t speak any German, and this guy barely spoke English. Somehow it didn’t matter. We worked and laughed and dreamed about van life the whole summer. When it was time to say goodbye…well, we just didn’t. We found work in Hawaii together, bought some plane tickets and spent the next two months snorkeling, hiking jungles and getting tossed around in the winter surf.

Fast forward to December 2018. The grants I applied for ultimately didn’t work out.

I was devastated. I undershot my lifelong goal of working with National Geographic by a millimeter, but because of all that work, I was set up to move to another country anyway.


So I sold the few things I had, packed up two of the biggest suitcases I could find on Facebook marketplace, swaddled my camera gear onto a Lufthansa flight…

 – and left.

I got a work visa, started my freelance linguistic consulting business and have been in Germany over 2 years now. In that time, we’ve mountain biked all over the Alps, travelled back to Hawaii for 2 months and built our dream camper van during the 2020 quarantine. I’ve learned German, Johannes has learned English, and together, we’ve learned that life is ‘effing nuts but in a really good way.

I thrive on adventures, overcoming challenges and testing my limits. How I grew up, the sports I love, the things I dream about and even my own relationship with my partner are all part of why adventure elopement photography lights my SOUL on fire. It’s adventure, art, journalism, sport, the outdoors and a little bit of passion and risk all bundled into one crazy, heart pumping experience.

Elopements are adventure. Elopements are inventing your own game. I want others to experience that rush, and that’s why I love what I do: I get to share my passion for adventure and empower others to do the same.

Being an adventure elopement photographer is my dream job, but it’s also me just being totally myself and thriving in my element.

adventure elopement photographer mariah arianna

How to Begin Planning Your Adventurous Elopement: hire an experienced elopement photographer

Choosing an adventurous wedding is like charting unknown territory. Most likely, no one you know has done something similar, and the logistics and planning can feel overwhelming.

But don’t stress, I’m here to help.

Figuring out exactly where to get married or elope in Germany is easier when you know where to look. Therefore, hiring an experienced elopement photographer is crucial. I live in these areas and specialize in the type of wedding you’re bravely choosing.

If you find this article helpful, then let’s talk! Now that you know your main options, I’d love to help you plan the most amazing elopement ever.





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