Bishop, California Elopement

A abstract image of mountains, a couple's hands and them on their wedding day.

Bishop Elopement

Abby + Michael’s Elopement Day in Bishop

Why Elope in Bishop?

Do you remember Courtney + Ahren’s boat elopement off the islands of the Washington Coast?? Welp, during this elopement I got the privilege of chatting and getting to know Abby! Once she and Michael got engaged, they reached out to us to help capture their elopement day in a very special place to them, Bishop, California.

These two started their relationship by happen chance seeing each other on public transit in downtown Seattle and recognizing each other from college. As life does its thing of making things happen when you least expect it, neither of them were looking for love, but little did they know this was the start of forever. On their first date out to lunch they reconnected over chatting about their careers in nursing, travel and their life back in the midwest. The first date then turned into drinks later that night at a speakeasy and the rest is history! Climbing, bouldering and camping is a large part of these two’s relationship and activities they enjoy doing together. The outdoors brought them closer together throughout their relationship. Bishop is a place that holds very special memories for them both as part of all the things that bring them together. Coming back here for their wedding day and getting to bring all their loved ones with them was the dream.

The couple drives into the mountains of bishop on their elopement day.

The Planning Phase

When Abby + Michael booked with us they had a vision for their day already laid out. We could tell from our initial call with them how much intent had already gone into the day. Having already booked their venue and with further ideas in mind, they took a trip out to Bishop to scout for the perfect trail for their elopement day experience. They shared a Google doc with us that listed the trails they liked, coordinates of specific locations and their vision for photos. Michael has a love for a photographing landscapes, birds and working with film cameras. It was fun to be on the other side of the “Location Guide” we typically send out to couples, gaining a bigger understanding of what exactly was important to them.

As we put together the first plan for their elopement, the idea was to backpack the night before the wedding to a lake to camp where in the morning they would share their vows and hike back down, share a picnic at camp and then meet up with loved ones at the venue. However, as we all know, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. This year the Sierra Nevada mountain range got records amount of snow, making this plan not possible with the pup in tow, and would have added a major logistic challenge in company with potential avalanche terrain which isn’t what most of us would like to navigate on our wedding day.

So we moved to a back up plan. Always trying to be a step ahead of the unpredictability of the outdoors, during our scouting trip in the area we scoured the landscape for a location in the foothills at a lower elevation. We spent a few days talking to locals, scanning satellite images, and scrolling all of the hiking apps before coming across a little known local gem that offered stunning views and privacy for their intimate day. When we hiked this trail for the first time, we couldn’t believe what we’d found and were so happy that Abby and Michael were drawn to it in the same way. The new plan was to camp at a spot with great views of the mountains, hike under the stars to catch sunrise for their elopement ceremony, have a picnic near the original trailhead and then meet family at their reception venue space.

While the overall bigger picture plan was coming together, Abby + Michael were so actively engaged in putting together all of the important details that held the root of the power and emotion behind their big day. From heartwarming moments like, Abby going dress shopping with Courtney at the same place Courtney had gotten her dress. Abby + Michael sharing date days to hand pick the glassware for their reception at a vintage market. Even their ceremony being hand written in a book which the company who made it dates back to the 13th century(!), every last detail was intimate and well thought out.

A portrait of the couple holding hands as the groom kisses the brides forehead but the focus is on the mountains behind them.
Bishop Elopement

The elopement day in Bishop

The day finally arrived. We camped just a few spots down from Abby + Michael, so we drove over to their spot early in the morning with just the full moon light illuminating their trailer and the mountains surrounding us. As they got ready under the full moon it reminded me of the story they told us about the first time Michael told Abby he loved her under a full moon evening they spent along the coast together. They hopped out of the door of their tiny trailer with Bluebell (their dog) following suite. They popped open the back hatch of the camper to make their morning coffee and eggs, the coffee being poured into a friends wedding camp mugs. Michael got ready near the back of the camper while Abby got ready inside the trailer with the help of her sister who would also be officiating their ceremony. Once ready, they shared a first look in front of their trailer, their home on wheels that has brought them to endless places of epic adventure. It was private, cozy and romantic under the moonlight as they took in this moment, the start of this very special day.

We started hiking on their wedding day up the steep desert mountain under just the moon light and a few stars. Making our way to the top quickly, excitement in the air. We arrived to the top just as the blue hour, water color like feels set on to the mountain peaks surrounding us. From here, you could see our camp site, the boulders they frequent in two different locations, a crag they love in the mountains and a crag they love in the gorge. It was the perfect place, everything they love about Bishop surrounding them and not another soul in site.

A photo of the couple as they hike up the mountain of Bishop as dawn starts to arrive.

Before we started the ceremony, we asked Abby + Michael to explore and soak it in, as this was their first time at this location in Bishop. They ventured around, Michael sharing with Abby something very personal and meaningful he had sewn into his suit jacket as a surprise. They wrote in the summit registry their names and that they got married at this location. Michael took a few images of Abby + Bluebell on his film camera. As the morning blue hour faded, the sky turned an incredible pink and purple, a stunning sunrise to share right before getting married.

They walked hand in hand to their ceremony spot with Bluebell following. Abby’s sister started off the ceremony then each of them read a piece they had written in their ceremony book. Abby’s sister gave them some space for their personal vows and they sat together on a blanket to share those. Their vows were written separate, but they both took inspiration from poets, authors, books they had read together like Eight Dates by John Gottman, their journals they had kept together over the years and moments from the start of their relationship. Michael even referenced a tattoo Abby had gotten in his vows that means be one together in love which has incredible meaning to her own personal journey. As they shared their vows, without hearing them you could feel the emotional impact, heart and intention behind them. This time felt sacred, connected and as if time did not exist. There were many tears shed, laughter, smiles and quiet moments where they simply held hands and looked into each other’s eyes – of course, Blue sitting by their side watching the mountains. At the end of Abby’s vows, she gifted Michael a very special watch as a surprise that was connected to a podcast Michael had recommended her listen to as it had moved him. After their vows they exchanged further vows with Abby’s sister leading the ceremony again. They had their rings custom made by the amazing Young in the Mountains (my all time favorite jeweler), their rings designed after the idea of bringing light to the darkness, purpose and connection to nature. With their rings on they tied a unity knot to bring the ceremony all together, using rope from the local Bishop gear store. They plan to turn this rope into a prusik so they will always have a part of their elopement day with them when climbing together. They celebrated their ceremony with a kiss, holding each other as Bluebell wagged her tail and circled them.

We took a minute to take it all in, on a huge high from all the emotion around their ceremony and simply soaking in the incredible beauty surrounding us. We hiked back down the mountain together, seeing the trail for the first time since it was dark when we camp up. Hikers starting out their morning stopping to congratulate the two. At the bottom of the trail we said our good bye’s for now to Abby’s sister and headed out to the original trailhead they were planning to get married at. Together we all hiked out instead to an area near the climbing crag here surrounded by massive peaks for them to set up a picnic. For their picnic they had made home made soup together to reheat. This was a newer soup recipe for them, but still in memory of some of their first dates together when they would make food together. They sat on their blanket laughing at memories of their childhood, where they are now in life and in awe of the day so far. It was a fantastic way to relax, spend some quality time together and not let the day just fly past them. The first part of the elopement day felt sacred, it felt like nothing else in the world existed except these mountains and their love shared in a vulnerable, warm way, it was exactly what they had envisioned.

The Reception at Cardinal Village in Bishop, CA

A group photo at the reception with all the couple's guests.

We parted ways for a short break after the picnic to regroup and take a power nap. We followed behind them on the mountain road leading up in elevation to their reception venue. Here all their loved ones awaited enjoying a stunning charcuterie spread, hand picked wines they selected to support a local LGBTQ+ owned winery, local beer from the brewery they held their “rehearsal dinner” at and good company. As they arrived they were greeted with hugs and joy. They had selected a local food truck to come and serve tacos, tamales and more for them and their guests. A cute touch with the adorable pink food truck in the mountains and a great way to get people up and mingling. Michael’s brother gave a heart warming toast where you cold really tell how much these two had changed each other’s lives and how important they were to their loved ones. Abby’s dad also giving a toast, touching on how he may not understand their desire to climbing (like most parents), but his admiration for what it takes to climb and their partnership in climbing together, which is truly a beautiful bond two people can share with each other. Before too long, the local live band started up with violin, vocals, guitar and drums getting folks out on the dance floor to celebrate. Bluebell napped by the couple’s sweetheart table as guest chatted and Abby and Michael shared about their morning with everyone. It was a hard celebration to leave as the room was filled with so much love, joy and really the best vibes.

At the end of the night, after everyone had left, Abby + Michael shared with us that they stayed and sat for a while in the empty reception room, with only their decor and Blue left. Truly an unforgettable experience, a day they had poured their hearts into that they didn’t want to end. Taking in those last moments, reflecting and just being with it. A special moment to have together, as life goes by too fast, especially on the biggest days.

After the Wedding

Following the wedding, Abby and Michael invited us to go climb with them and some of their guests at the Gorge. We were stoked and said of course! We hiked down into the Gorge immersed in stunning volcanic tuff following a river up stream until we arrived at the routes. It was so much fun climbing with everyone and getting to spend time with some of their guests doing the things they love together. The next next day we met up with them at one of their favorite bouldering areas for some climbing as we chatted about their honeymoon plans. They were set to spend time in Greece climbing together, a bucket list item.

We are truly in awe by Abby + Michael’s elopement day. A celebration of love that was planning with so much intention behind who they are as people and a couple, a dedication to starting their marriage off with love and purpose, an honor to a place that has moved them deeply and the bringing together of their community. To us, this is what eloping is all about and we were honored to capture this day. We look forward to climbing again with Abby + Michael and we wish them the very best in marriage and all the adventures ahead!!!!

Vendors from this Bishop Elopement

traci and bill laughing. traci has her eyes closed and is squatting behind bill on a rock.

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Magically, this little high desert town with a rich connection to the climbing world has found it’s way into our life from our couple’s connections to it. We’ve spent so much time camping here, exploring the valleys filled with hot springs up to the mountain trails and everything in between!

Hey there! We’re Traci and Bill, the husband and wife team behind Adventure and Vow. To us, this Bishop elopement captures everything our personal and professional hearts dream of. A couple with a connection so deep it pours through every image in a landscape with stunning views around every corner. Whether it’s backpacking, climbing, canyoneering, or hiking our way to your ceremony spot, we are an all about it team that stops nothing short of your dream wedding day. We can’t wait to hear what you’ve been dreaming of!

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The bride smiles after taking a photo of the groom on his film camera.