Yosemite National Park is probably one of the top five places in the United States couples choose to elope at. The park is grand with its beautiful forests and large granite walls surrounding a valley full of deer, the occasional bear and outdoor enthusiasts. If you are a climber, hiker or national park lover, this is the park for your adventure wedding in California. The park has been drawing people to its beauty for so many years and not just adventurers and couples getting married. Did you know it once was at the location of the Winter Olympics?! This blog is to help you get an idea of what an elopement in Yosemite National Park would look like and how to plan your own very special day.
The park is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. It is not super close to any one airport. You can consider flying into Los Angeles or Sacramento or even San Fransisco. I also recommend pairing a trip to Yosemite with a trip to Lake Tahoe. In this case you may want to fly into Reno, Nevada. Yosemite National Park is also next to Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon, so considering extending your trip for that too. California is home to 5 national parks, so the options are endless for exploring the state. From the airports you will for sure need to rent a car to drive to the park. Once in the park you can take the shuttles around to the trailheads/areas, bike or hike.
Honestly, this depends on what you are wanting to do and if you care how busy the park will be. The general recommendation is early May to late October. The summer is very busy in the park. I highly recommend eloping here on a weekday no matter what. One time we shot in the park at one of the popular locations, there were six other couples eloping and having engagement photos taken, so be prepared to share your space. I think late fall can be one of the prettiest times of year in the park, but mid spring can be less busy than the summer and fall. I would also consider eloping at sunrise here to avoid crowds. Can you imagine watching the first days light shine on the granite walls below you to start off your wedding day?!
Yosemite National Park has a few resorts you can consider staying right within the valley of the park. There are also camp sites all throughout the Valley. However, both of these options can book out even a year out, so you want to plan ahead! We recommend renting a cabin in the West Yosemite area. It is still in the park, but out of the valley and more tucked away from everyone else. It is also closer to areas like the grove and the Glacier point area. Outside of the park you can stay at Rush Creek Lodge or we love Autocamp. Other ways to find a stay are checking out Hipcamp, Airbnb or VRBO.
If you have any guests attending, you will need to choose from a specific location listed within the parks guidelines. For example, one of their ceremony locations with guests is the red chapel located in the valley across from El Capitan. The locations within the park that you can get married at range from the valley floor, to overlooks, to the groves and by the beautiful lakes or waterfalls. Know that some of the roads to some of the locations are closed due to snow until mid to late spring. So have a back up plan in place if you are considering one of the locations effected by road closures. However, you can take your just you two portraits almost anywhere within the park.
To get married in Yosemite National Park you need to pull a permit with a forest service ranger. You do this by downloading the application from their site, filling it out, mailing it in with your money order. Note - they are very specific about their process and it must be done correctly. Also know that your money order is not refundable and must be for the correct amount for exactly what you are applying for. You need to apply for your permit at least 45 days in advance, but we recommend doing this as soon as you have decided which location in the park you want to get married at. Your permit will cost around $150 for getting married in the park. Outside of the permit for the park, you will need your marriage certificate. This is the state of California, so you will need to obtain your marriage license from a local clerk office together. You will need an officiant to perform/sign the paperwork and one witness. You can have a second witness sign, but it is not required.
**It is important to note that as of 2021 the park is requiring a day-of pass to enter the park, or a permit or registered camping/stay within the park limits. Your wedding permit would allow you, your photographer and your guests in for that day only. So if you want to go to the park for more days than that, you need to plan ahead to book those reservations. Also be sure that everyone in your party has a copy of your wedding permit to be able to get into the park. (Expert tip: carpool, the fewer cars the better)
Now let’s talk about where would you want to do your portraits in the park. There are countless locations that are stunning in Yosemite, but there are a few that just hit different. For example, the meadows with any of the falls in the background or El Cap. Glacier Point (also another pre-approved location for a ceremony) is a classic along with Taft Point. However it is important to note the road up to Taft point and Glacier point is scheduled to be closed in 2022 for road construction. If you want to elope or do portraits at these locations you will need to prepare to do a pretty big hike. The good news though is that it will for sure be more private than it usually is!! Don’t limit yourself, the park is huge with tons of beautiful areas, you don’t have to follow the masses, you can always find your own special spot that is just as beautiful.
For your adventure wedding you may already know exactly what things you want to do, what things are special to you two that you want to incorporate on this special day. Or you may be open! Adventures in the park include, but are not limited to, camping, hiking, getting into the river, bouldering, back packing, biking and rock climbing. Yosemite has been famous for its big wall granite climbing for decades before ‘Free Solo’ came out, which put it on the climbing world map for everyone else too. There are of course those insanely epic big wall climbs, but there are also many shorter/easier climbs. There are trails that are short and sweet in the park, but a lot of the park is pretty long steep hikes that take you to wild vistas on top of the granite walls. We have met couples that eloped after completed the climb up the nose on El Capitan and we have met couples who eloped at Taft point after a short 2.5 mile hike. The adventure is truly what you want to make it. We are here to help you figure that out!
If you are visiting Yosemite National Park for the first time for your elopement here are some key notes to think about:
We are a photo video husband and wife team that travel all over the Western part of the United States. We are both familiar with Yosemite National Park and would love to capture your day here! We actually got engaged in Yosemite in the spring of 2021! We are available for bookings in the Yosemite area in the Spring, early summer and fall of 2022. We are also both ordained and can help you take care of the legal parts of getting married in California.
Ahren and Courtney met while both working at REI in Washington State. Having an adventure elopement in nature seemed like the perfect way to tie the knot in celebration of the outdoors and how it has brought them closer together. Not to mention give them the opportunity to have a day focused around what matters to them with an intimate group of people. When they first reached out to me they had quite the list of amazing elopement locations already in mind from Mount Rainier to the North Cascades and beyond. The list quickly got narrowed down once they started refurbishing/rebuilding a small sailboat. The decided on Sucia Island out in the San Juan Islands off the Washington coast. This place already had a spot in their hearts from exploring there in the past, camping and being on the water. They worked diligently leading up to their elopement after work and on the weekends to perfect the boat and get her in tip top shape to row the two miles form Orcas island to Sucia on the big day.
Bill and I had the privilege to meet Ahern and Courtney a week or so before the elopement at a local bar in Seattle. Immediately you could tell the stoke was high to get the boat into the water for a test run after some final varnish touches and for the big day on the island. Their love for each other, travel and the outdoors was also immediately visible. We chatted about hiking the enchantments, big hikes in Wyoming and more. Before long the day had arrived and it was time to board the ferry from Anacortes to Orcas. I met up with their make-up artist, Joey, at the ferry dock to ride over to the beautiful cabin they had rented on Orcas as a stay for before and after the camping elopement. We were welcomed with the smell of coffee and breakfast that was just starting in the kitchen, Courtney and Ahern had started their wedding day doing yoga on the balcony with their small group of friends who had gathered for this special day. After breakfast everyone went their own separate ways to get ready before heading out. Courtney got into hair and makeup as friends took turns sitting with her and chatting, Ahern went to the dock slips to prepare the boat for the launch while their friends finished the olive oil cake. Their friends also finished packing and loading up the cars, squeezing limes for the margaritas, rehearsing the ceremony and practicing a song on the ukulele.
Once everyone was ready and the tides were just right, the friends loaded the ferry over to the island and Courtney, Ahren and I set sail into the big blue in their boat, Madrona Moon. You see, there was a lot of purpose and meaning behind every element of their elopement day. It was truly one of the most special things I had witness. All the thought that went into everything, tying together something so real and raw. Madrona is the name of their favorite tree, which happens to be native to Sucia Island. Their elopement date was centered around the Strawberry Moon. So Madrona Moon was the perfect name for their boat. They had labored so much love into. Courtney started off the rowing across the ocean as we admired the mountains surrounding the waters and chatting about all the different islands they had already explored and plan to explore in the future that we could see. Once Ahern started his turn at rowing we were visited by several seals in the water. Before you knew it we were at the docks for Sucia where their friends stood waving and greeting us. We all undocked and carried our things to camp. Courtney and Ahern had booked a group camp site so we all got to stay together, some of us in tents and some of us in the open bunk house. The group changed into their wedding clothes as dinner was set up and Courtney and Ahern started to prepare the oysters and dinner. The table was a beautiful set up, complete with one of their favorite wines they had found in Port Townsend, the area they worked on the boat for most of the time. Dinner started with a toast to the evening, their love and the start of their marriage.
After dinner Courtney and Ahern got dressed at different areas of camp with the help of friends. Courtney had gotten a beautiful gown that would show off her warrior woman tattoo, but she made it her own by adding a cape, the gold tassels and even doing some of the beading herself. They shared a private first look by the water as friends started to head out for the hike where the ceremony would take place. We hiked to the West side of the island for a sunset ceremony. Along the hike we passed several of the Madrona trees, sailboats in the water and we shared laughter with friends. We arrived to the spot overlooking the water and mountains where the ceremony was to be held. Courtney and Ahern walked into their ceremony hand in hand with big smiles as their friend played a song on the Ukulele. They joined both hands as one of their other friends officiated the ceremony. Each friend in attendance shared beautiful words throughout, some of the readings came from a book, Braiding Sweet Grass, which means so much to each of them and their relationship. Each friend also blessed their rings before Courtney and Ahern exchanged them. Ahern ring was hand made in Colorado with rock form Michigan, where Courtney is from, but also with left over wood from their boat. Courtney’s ring was also stunning and unique. She designed it with the ability to add stones/stars for when they have children. The vows were the most truly open words I think I have heard. I am not sure there was one dry eye in the group, I know I teared up behind the camera as Courtney read her vows. Before the ceremony ended they shared a unity cocktail with strawberry purree (to keep with the strawberry moon theme) Mescal and several other ingredients. As the ceremony ended everyone shared hugs and we made it official signing the marriage license. As we took their couples portraits along the water I looked back and saw all of their friends smiling looking on sitting on the hill overlooking the sunset and their two newly wed friends!
We all hiked back together and as we turned the last corner back to camp we saw the huge stunning strawberry moon coming up over horizon line, giving light to the boats in the water. It was quite the sight. Back at camp they enjoyed a spontaneous first dance to a classic love song and shared a first bite of the olive oil cake before everyone else dived in. The night was spent under the beautiful moon by a campfire sharing memories, telling stories and bonding in friendship.
The next morning as we all slowly awoke from the night before, friends starting cleaning up the dinner area and others started working on whipping up some coffee and breakfast. Courtney and Ahern and I took the boat out for a little row for some bridal portraits. We were greeted with many other older couples who boat-life and they were all awe struck by it all! I think the entire island knew Courtney and Ahern got married on Sucia by the following day. The entire morning folks would walk by camp and congratulate them! We hung out at camp reminiscing on the evening, wedding planning and boat building. We had time before we had to leave the island so we all packed up our camp and set out to go explore! We hiked to an area where you could see Mt Baker. We watched eagles hunting for fish, searched for star fish and fossils. Since the tides were a bit rough and the water was white capped we decided we would all ride the ferry back to Orcas. As we waited on the ferry, some snacked, some took naps in hammocks and several folks hopped into the ocean for a quick dip! It was a perfect day with friends, exploring and hanging out. Upon arrival back to the main island I had to part ways with the group, but they were all set to enjoy a nice dinner on Orcas in celebration of the elopement and had planned to end the night with an epic dance party!
This entire two day experience was one of the most special experiences I have been apart of. It is almost hard to put into words, it was beautiful, authentic, raw and meaningful. It was so special getting to know their group of friends and see how much love each of them had for this couple. Courtney and Ahern’s bond is so beautiful and true and their love for the water and exploring the great outdoors was so present and celebrated. Each bit of the day was designed to bring them to life in wedding day form. I personally can not wait to read Braiding Sweet Grass now and look forward to seeing these two out on the trails later this summer.
If you have ever heard the false claim that elopements are not special my friends, just look at Courtney + Ahern’s elopement day.
Want to learn more about eloping on the San Juan Islands?!
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Annelise and Duncan really wanted a wedding day that was focused on the union of marriage, two people and two families over a large event full of distractions. They were most stoked on getting to spend a day together that was so meaningful and celebrate their love with their family and of course their puppo - Wallace. These two met in Seattle, WA but have since moved to San Diego together. Throughout their relationship a steady bond has been spending time in the outdoors together back packing, camping in their van, hanging out with Wallace, but also their own personal adventures. When it came time to pick a place to get married, most importantly they wanted to be outside, somewhere that reflected this part of their relationship together. When these two reached out to me they had already booked their ceremony location in the park and it was time to plan the rest of their beautiful elopement in Joshua Treat National Park! Covid hit and shifted their plans a little bit. So they decided to get married officially before the wedding day celebration in Joshua Tree. They eloped at the court house in San Diego celebrating with donuts on the beach after. This did not make the day in Joshua Tree any less special thought, from the dress, to the gathering of family, the beautiful vows and dinner.
The day before the elopement we met them at their epic Airbnb to scout it out as most of the day would be happening there, and for good reason. The home they had found to rent for the event was this beautiful old cabin and stable on the hillside in the desert. It had withstood many years and was full of character and space for the family and friends to really enjoy the evening with everyone. The day of the elopement we arrived to the Airbnb to capture them writing their vows and getting ready for the most special moment. Those quiet moments before joining up with everyone else reliving the words you have written for this very special person are everything! While getting ready, Duncan realized he had left his suit shirt back at their hime in San Diego, but they did not let this effect their day, instead with joy decided to wear a hawaiian shirt he had brought along. They shared a casual first look together in the house as they were all setting out and the joy, smiles and love was so evident. After everyone was ready to go we all hopped into our vans and cars to head to the park for the official ceremony. it was a short walk to the spot we had chosen with a joshua tree that had a perfect natural arch for a wedding. Friends carried benches for the family to sit on and soon we were there. One of Annelise’s friends played a sound bath to start the ceremony, followed by a beautiful poem written and spoken by Duncan’s grandmother. They shared their commitments to each other in front of the folks that mean the most to them followed by hugs and congratulations before heading back to the trail head. We took a few portraits of the newly weds at the iconic split rock and headed back to the airbnb for champagne and snacks.
Following toasts we headed out for sunset portraits with just these two and of course Wallace! We had to get portraits in their new van, Vannallise. This will be the second van they have built out for all of their epic adventures and camping trips together, I can only imagine how many awesome memories will take place in it throughout their marriage. After dancing around the Joshua Trees, we headed back towards the house for dinner with the family and grabbed a couple of cocktails that a family member was whipping up in the ole bar area of the home. They hired Chef V, a private chef local to Joshua Tree, to prepare the most delicious dinner with the most romantic desert setting I have ever been a part of. From a perfect salad, to mussels and yummy vegetables, it was fantastic. We are so lucky and thankful for our couples saving us a seat at the table to join the dinner. We loved getting to know their family more and hearing stories from their lives together so far. Before dinner ended they cut into a cake complete with a Toyata 4runner in true fashion for Duncan. After dinner, several of the folks headed out to bed, but some gathered around the camp fire in the courtyard of the Airbnb to enjoy their stay. We waiting until the milky ways appearance was over the hill and we hiked out for some the last shots of the evening under the stars. Quiet and beautiful, it was the perfect ending to a perfect day.
As a couple that had spent the last five years together adventuring and traveling, enjoying experiences these two knew an adventure elopement somewhere they had never been was right for them. Jennifer and Bryce wanted an intimate elopement somewhere beautiful with a dinner to follow that looked like it had appeared in nature. We set up an epic elopement location that their family could also get to, via off roading. We ventured high up into the desert for an awesome view of Sedona, Arizona. Jennifer's mother and father walked her down the trial to her soon to be husband as the rest of the family gathered around. They wanted their ceremony to be more than vows and be interactive for the family. They made a unity cocktail that was passed around to each family member to start off the ceremony. The cocktail they chose was a new one to them and meaningful to their personalities and story. The cocktail consisted of champagne and a little Crème de Cassis. After the vows and formalities they had a family member from each side come up to sign the marriage license before sealing the deal with a kiss! It was beautiful to see all of the love that surrounded them, I do not think there was a dry eye during there ceremony. After the ceremony we set out to explore the rock ledges for couples photos, share a beer and soak in the sunset. During portraits the family headed back to their jeeps to drive back to the Airbnb where dinner would be held. While some of the family members stayed behind to take some of their own photos and hang out on the ledge. We took in the last big of light hanging out, enjoying the view and watching them enjoy an intimate first dance where they had said their vows to each other.
We returned to where the couple was staying for dinner on a beautiful property surrounded by the river, lots of land and under the beautiful starry sky. While these two eloped in Sedona, they opted for a place to stay in Page Springs, which is not too far of a drive but offers a lot more amenities and privacy. Did I mention this is wine country of the Northern Arizona area? The dinner set up was stunning, just like a fairy-tale. They had chefs prepare a salad and cheese board for appetizers as everyone trickled in from the trail. Following that was a variety of wood fired pizzas. The family shared laughs, stories and toasts before the couple cut their cake for everyone to enjoy. One of my favorite moments from the dinner was when the newly wed couple resolved the debate on if its better to resolve an argument before going to bed or sleeping on it and talking it out in the am. They decided it was best to take a short nap and then talk it out before bed lol. Following dinner everyone retreated inside to relax and reflect on the day as Jennifer and Bryce joined me for star gazing on the balcony.
Jennifer and Bryce's day was a perfect example of an adventure elopement that was connective, fun and beautiful all while including family. It was the best of both worlds tying together a traditional ceremony and reception, but also having a unique intimate day in nature. While these two didn’t decide to split up there day like Ashley + Daniel, they still got their alone time to just be together, soak it in that they just got married and enjoy the stunning place they had selected as their wedding location. Their elopement day is also a really good inspiration to heck yes, you can have that epic adventurous wedding that is authentic and connective, but not miss out on the beautiful reception/dinner details that maybe you have always dreamed of or traditions like being walked down the isle for that first look with your future husband.
Ashley and Daniel met in college while both living in Colorado. From the first moment she saw him, she knew Daniel was who she would marry. While Daniel never thought he would get married, Ashley was going to be the one that completely changed his mind. Through the seven years of dating each other, their love with stood long distance and big moves to a different state. When they moved to Arizona together, they visited Sedona, Arizona and it was a memorable and special trip for them, leading them to choosing it for their elopement location where they wanted epic backdrops for their wedding day celebration.
The morning of their elopement, Ashley and Daniel met us before the sun came up and the stars were still twinkling in the sky. We started our ascent up one of the red rocks for a cliff side view overlooking all of Sedona. We got to the top just as all of the colors started to pop during the morning blue hour. The stunning greens started to show up more, the red rock with its purple tones from the dewy blue sky. The two got changed into their more formal wear and prepared to share their vows together. We gave them some space to share this intimate moment together without any distractions. Daniel lost his bet that he wouldn’t shed any tears during their wedding day. One of my favorite parts from their day was after their vows when Ashley looked at us laughing and smiling saying that she felt like she was just looking into his soul. We love elopements for the sheer fact that couples get to share this super special moment together, free of stress or expectation and be moved in such a beautiful place together. I’m not sure about you, but I think it’s the perfect way to start out your wedding day. We hung out up top as the sun rose over the red rocks shining light down onto the trails we had scrambled up. We hiked down looking back on where we were before leaving the area.
We took a break for them to be able to catch up on some sleep from the early am and get ready for the rest of the big day! They set up their reception space in Amara together. It was a super special moment for them to be able to create this romantic space they would later join their family for dinner after the ceremony. They decorated with candles, flowers and photos from their last seven years together. It was the perfect space for them, that they got to do together before not seeing each other until the first look. We arrived back at the Amara resort to capture them getting ready into their wedding attire before seeing each other for the first time. We did the first look down by the river in an intimate setting. Their smiles were big and you could feel all the excitement to finally get married! We left the resort to drive to their ceremony location where their family had already started the short hike. They hiked the trial together towards their family and the location they had hand picked to become husband and wife at sunset. Daniel walked down the hill to the plateau overlooking Cathedral Rock first to start the ceremony. Followed by Ashley accompanied by her brother, mother and the two flower girls that carried her train. During there ceremony they both were able to include their moms. Daniels mom brought forward the ribbon for their hand fasting during the cermeony and Ashley’s mom brought forward the rings. The location picked up some intense wind, which happens in Sedona sometimes, so we moved family photos following the ceremony to a spot along the trail with some protection provided by the Juniper trees. We ended the evening with a beautiful sunset taking portraits with views of Courthouse Butte and Cathedral rock before heading back to Amara to rejoin the family. The newly married couple entered the ceremony space with cheers from everyone and hugs of congratulations. We signed the marriage license, grabbed drinks and cut the cake before leaving the couple with their family to enjoy their intimate dinner together.
Ashley and Daniel’s elopement day was so beautiful, intimate, purposeful and authentic! We loved getting to hike different locations with them and grabbing coffees together when we were in the same part of Arizona! It was a perfect mixture having family along for the adventure wedding and getting to celebrate with just the two of them in an intimate space, but also bring so much joy to tying two families together! Read what Ashley said about their elopement day with us:
“There are not enough good things to say about Traci + Bill! They made all of our elopement dreams come true! From the moment I saw Traci's work, I knew she was the photographer for our elopement. From the first time I reached out to her she was so friendly and had excellent communication - and I know that as a bride trying to work through all the details of getting married.. communication from a vendor is so important. Traci was key in making sure that our day was connected to us and was meaningful. We are absolutely in love with our photos and the video - both the photos/video perfectly captured our intimate day with our families and all the emotion that was involved.
Bill was our officiant and did such a beautiful job writing our ceremony and added such a nice touch to our day. They both truly take the time to get to know their couples and it is so appreciative. Thank you, Traci + Bill for helping Daniel and I make our day everything we dreamed of and more. We can't wait to get together again sometime soon and look forward to taking anniversary photos before we know it!” - Ashley
Here at Adventure and Vow we strongly believe in couples having a wedding day experience that is true to who they are, that is authentic and connective. We know that often times elopements come with the stigma that you’re getting married on a whim with no family. Each couple, relationship, family and wedding day is different. Some folks get married with just them two and some people get married with their family, this doesn’t mean you cant have an epic adventure wedding!
Brooke and William decided to elope in Joshua Tree because they wanted a wedding that reflected their love for adventure and travel, which is large part of of their lives, but also because they knew the super moon would be super visible in this region. Brooke and William had never been to Joshua Tree National Park and after discovering elopement photos in a magazine, much how I came across elopements, Brooke’s ideas of what she wanted for her wedding shifted. Looking more into the idea of eloping she came across my starry night photos in Joshua Tree and considering they were wanting to elope on the full new pink moon on April 26th she reached out to me to help create the magic!! We got right to planning between their busy lives working opposite shifts and daily life with the kids, a day that would be centered around just them two and their love. They were able to find the cutest airbnb, that fit the whole vibe of their day, complete with a hot tub for them to enjoy under those night skies during their elopement and honey moon stay. Brooke’s sister pitched in to help book the florist, hair and make up and other details while Brooke got the most perfect ear rings and smaller details to match their day. We met them the day before at local restaurant in Joshua Tree for drinks and dinner to hang out and get to know each other before spending their elopement day with them. We were so excited to hear more of their story and giddiness for the next day. Which was much like their own first day where they shut down a cigar bar simply sharing stories with each other from their lives.
The day of the elopement we met them at their Airbnb outside of the park. We captured all those special moments before leaving of writing their personal vows, getting dressed and the hand picked details for their day. After they were each ready, the car packed for entering the park for the day it was time for their first look. They decided to do their first look in front of the old school bus and metal star and sun banner her sister gifted her. From the start it was a light-hearted, happy, playful day and I loved that so much for them! When we were planning before the elopement where to go in the park, since they had never been here we decided to hit a few of the main locations. We started with Arch Rock. The hike was a bit windy, but we got to the arch and the earth stilled for some beautiful portraits and even a little dancing. It was that first moment that was like, yeah we are doing this!!! Up next was the iconic skull rock. We happen to get there when no one else was there so they could get some moments in privacy together. Following that was their ceremony location, Cap Rock. If you are planning a Joshua Tree Elopement, note that you must pull a permit with the park to get married here, or anywhere within the park boundaries. We met up with Brooke’s sister and her fiancé to head out to a natural arch created by the Joshua trees facing the direction the moon would rise later for their ceremony. I loved how personal their ceremony was. It started out with a toast and pouring out of Champagne to those that are dear to them who had previously passed, watching this ceremony from up above. Their ceremony was filled with so many beautiful words from poems, prayers and of course those emotional hand written vows. Followed by a deep hug and kiss, these two were officially marred! We celebrated with a few photos before heading to the car to get out of the intense wind. We shared pizza and they shared their first toast as a married couple eating in the Range Rover (“come over”). Since the wind was pretty extreme we decided to do the rest of the days activities back at the Airbnb. However, before exiting the park we had to get the range off road for a few photos!
As we were leaving the park the beautiful moon rose, and its stunning slightly pink face shined over the mountain range. We stopped for a few more photos with its beauty in excitement. We stopped for a couple of coffees at the local Starbucks and headed towards the homestead to celebrate the event. Upon arriving to the Airbnb we cut their cake, traditional style to start the evening. After the signing the marriage license Brooke’s sister presented the two of them with a surprise. Her family, and his family and their friends and kids had put together a video of clips within them congrats, good luck and remembering stories of meeting each other. It was so special and brought so much tear and laughter to the evening. As we packed up and parted ways for the evening, they were headed to the hot tub to enjoy the night together.
Throughout the elopement they had both mentioned how special it would be to bring the kids back some day to show them where they got married. I love elopements so much, for hundreds of reasons, but this is one that stands out so much to me. To be able to go to a place that means so much that you can enjoy SO much, without it just being your wedding day is so special.
Hair/Make-up - @beautyby_lidia
Dress - @loveshackfancy
Flowers - Walden Florals
Ear rings - Wolf and Badger
Nails - @catladyclaws
Pizza: Pie for the People
Airbnb - @staycocoon
Bakery - Porto’s Bakery
Venue- Joshua Tree National Park
Officiant - Adventure and Vow
For starters be sure to check out the vendors that William and Brooke had, most are local or ship from online. Not to mention their Airbnb stay owns several properties in the area. Outside of that if you are looking for a place to stay in the area check out my, best places to stay in Joshua Tree National Park blog post.
As an elopement photographer I often get asked what would you do for a full day elopement? Or why would you book a full day elopement? I ask you to think of an elopement more as an adventure wedding. Your wedding day, like every other day is approximately 12 hours of day light. Your wedding day is your entire day, and it is a very special day that deserves the attention of that. I can not think of a better way to explain the magic and purpose of a full day elopement any better than sharing with you Rhonda and Jeremiah’s elopement story…..
Rhonda and Jeremiah reached out to myself and John (wedding videographer) to start planning their epic day, originally thinking they would elope in Zion with some big cliff views and then go elsewhere to spend the rest of the day together. We met with them on Facetime to introduce ourselves, hear more about what they are looking for in a location, things they want to do on their day and hear more about their love story. After several different ideas within Zion and elsewhere in the Southern Utah and Northern Arizona region we had a plan, an epic off road location for sunrise in Flagstaff, going down into the canyon for lunch and ending the day at a beautiful cliff in Sedona. Sadly, a few days before their elopement a big snow storm hit the area, and roads closed everywhere. Obviously when getting married in the great outdoors, sometimes things are out of your control and that is why we are always sure to have an epic plan B.
John and I were able to get to the Airbnb prior to Rhonda and Jeremiah due to road issues, so we decided to make dinner! We made a nice Italian dish and dinner was on the table just in time of their arrival. After dinner we went over the game plan for the big day and helped Rhonda select the best dresses out of the options she brought for the locations we would be. With that, we all went to bed for maximum rest for a early am start! The alarm clocks went off at 2:50am. John and I met outside of Rhonda and Jeremiah’s bedroom waiting for the welcome. They had asked us to capture their daily morning prayer and scripture reading on this day. This is something they do every single morning together, no matter what time they have to get up and it means a lot to their relationship. On this morning the scripture said something about a big event happening on this day, and it couldn’t have been more spot on. After the prayer I went back to rest for a bit as Courtney, with Seventh Ave, started doing hair and make up for Rhonda. I woke back up before our departure to capture some detail shots of them writing their vows, the dress and getting ready. We set out with dark skies for our first destination. Before we lost service Rhonda was able to Facetime her daughter who had been anxiously waiting to hear if they were married yet!
We arrived just as the sun started to come up. They each got into their wedding attire for the first look together. Jeremiah waited along the cliff edge overlooking the water for Rhonda to come greet him in her stunning wedding dress! As she turned him around his face lit up and his smile was undeniable. They share some time together before walking over to a different overlook to say their vows and exchange rings in a completely private and emotional ceremony. After they sealed the deal with a kiss and said I do we explored there a bit longer before heading out to the next location.
An off roaded adventure through deep snowy sand surrounded by desert plants and nothing more to the second location. We arrive in a snowy wonderland all to ourselves. With a change of clothes we set out to explore a beautiful slot canyon. I always like to think slot canyons kind of bring out the romance or the children in a couple. It is a perfect place to just have fun together and enjoy each others company. These two I dont think ever stopped laughing in the canyon, they both have the brightest laughter together. After walking through the slot canyon together and enjoying the snow it was definitely time for lunch. We made our way back towards our last destination, but I knew the perfect spot for these two to have their picnic lunch they had spent time picking out things together that held meaning to their relationship to set up. As we drove to our next spot they were able to Facetime another one of the kids to check in and share how their day was going. I loved that even though their kids were not with them they were still a part of the day and joy. We arrived to a sandy beach shore with no one around on land or water for a great view with blue skies. They set up their adorable picnic for lunch together in the sand eating fruits, nuts, breads, cheese and more. It was a perfect moment to refuel, but also take it all in before the day came to an end. They laughingly said to us they’re not sure they had taken in any of the beauty around them so far during the day because they were just enjoying looking at each other and connecting with each other so much they forgot to look around them lol. As the picnic came to an end these two changed one last time for sunset. We set out on an easy stroll to an iconic desert location for the final moments, light and images of the day. It felt so surreal. It was hard to believe the day was over already. It was so beautiful, all of it from the moments together, the views, the privacy and changes in weather. As John and I packed up to head back home we asked what they were going to do for the rest of the evening. They said probably sleep or enjoy a cocktail in the hot tub of the airbnb, I can’t imagine a better way to end such an epic day.
I can not think of a better way to spend your wedding day and to have this experience to look back on. Everything was purposeful, there was so much connection and it held so much meaning. Full day elopements are just that, it’s not a full day being in front of the camera. Yes, I may be there with my camera documenting your day, but it is your day you are experiencing with your now forever mate. A day you planned around your relationship and the start of your marriage. Rhonda and Jeremiah plan to have a bigger celebration with their closest family and friends back home later in the year and I can only imagine their excitement to show them the photos and video captured on their wedding day and get to relive it all surrounded by all the folks that support them in love.
If you are looking for an elopement photographer that cares just as much about your experience as you do on this day, look no further! I am an elopement photographer, planner and I am ordained! I am here to help you create a day that is the wedding day you want to have and capture it so you can relive it during any hardship, celebration and every single anniversary! This day shouldn’t be about table cloth colors or what aunt karen wants you to walk down the isle to or planning traditions that make you uncomfortable. It should be about your love story, your relationship and what marriage means to you. I can help you find the perfect place to say I do, help you plan the logistic and more and be your best support system the day of!
To get married in the state of Arizona you will need an officiant to perform the ceremony and two witnesses. You can pick up your marriage incense at the court house and mail it back or bring it back to any Arizona offices. During covid the process is a littler different, buy typically you both need to go in person to pick it up together with your legal ID. You both must be 18 years old or older. (side note: myself and my assistant are bth ordained and can perform your ceremony for you if you do not want to hire this out or want to elope with essentially no one else there!)
As you may know Phoenix is HOT lol. This doesn’t mean that it is out of the question for an epic elopement though! If you want to elope in Phoenix consider a date between mid to late October and early to mid March for the best chances of mild temperatures. I strongly urge you to stick to these months. As you know it can be cool in the evenings and mornings in the desert, but that mid day heat and sun while in your wedding attire is a killer. It’s not just about what is logistic, it’s also about what the experience will be like and you want to enjoy this day! I also tell all couples eloping anywhere also try to avoid weekends so the trails are less crowded and parking is smooth.
The Phoenix region has an abundance of location options from the surrounding mountains to within the city. Some of my favorite locations are within the Superstition Mountain range. There is a state park just outside of the city called, Lost Dutchman State Park with amazing views and epic hikes it is a perfect place to elope. It offers a great space for family too with communal fire pits, cabins, tent space, rv space and locations where family wouldn’t have to hike for a ceremony but you could after! The Salt River where Nat and Jon eloped is also a great location since you can fish, watch for wild horses or relax by the water, just out of the Mesa area of Phoenix. Within the city limits you have the South Mountain area with great hikes and vista views, Squaw peak and Camel Back Mountain! If you want to go further out look into the Cave Creek region, Four Peaks, White Tank Mountains or even more south you will find more mountain ranges. Outside of the peaks there are also many lakes in the Phoenix Region: Canyon Lake, Reflection Lake, Roosevelt Lake and more. These are great options if you want to hop on a boat, kayak or have a picnic by the water for your elopement.
This all depends on where you elope in the Phoenix region! A lot of the areas are within the Tonto National Forest region and if you are eloping with no guest and no set up you do not currently need a permit. South Mountain, Camel Back, Papago Park and other things within the city will be apart of Parks and Recreation and you would need to contact them. You will notice with permits every location is different. What I urge my couples to do and I do myself is call the park service to get the initial information and get in contract with the right ranger. From there I email over all the specifics of the day to see if permits are needed.
The desert is a little different that those high alpine elopements. You may not need bear spray, but there are some things to keep on hand! You may for sure want sunscreen or a lite hat if you are going on a long day hike. I suggest hiking in pants and high socks so in case you brush a cactus you are safe from the prickles. For sure bring the right hiking boots so you are steady on the rocky trail. And it goes with you say, but WATER!!! How much water depends on how far you are hiking, how hard the hike is and how hot it is. Staying hydrated in the desert is so important. No matter what you are doing keep at least one liter on you.
I personally recommend Airbnbs or VRBOs so you can have a cozy space to hangout and get ready at. Outside of Airbnb’s you will find there are SO many hotels in the region. Some of the top resorts or hotels I recommend are Boulders Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona Baltimore or Royal Palms. Anything in the Scottsdale area will be super nice and near a lot of the great places to dine. If you are eloping at Lost Dutchman and looking for something quieter I recommend one of their cabins. Not wanting to stay inside somewhere or maybe you’re a van lifer like me and you dont need a place? There are countless places to camp and/or disperse camp on the outskirts of the city near the Superstitions and Cave Creek.
Top 5 Airbnb Suggestions for Phoenix:
Elopement cost is so different per couple, it all depends exactly what you want your day to look like. A simple way to break down costs is:
If you are eloping in Phoenix you are close to an Airport which makes travel easier. It can be cheaper to elope in Phoenix due to travel and the cost of hotels and food since it is not based around tourism much like Sedona. The trails will be less crowded on the week day than Northern Arizona trails and finding any other vendors that you need will be easy. If you elope in the Phoenix region you can go out on your adventure, but also come back into town for great cocktails or food since there are so many awesome places to dine, maybe check for a private room dinner?! You also get the chance for many different options of adventure on your elopement day in Phoenix. Starting with a hot air balloon ride, picnics, off roading, horseback riding, climbing, or water activities. From Phoenix your honeymoon options are vast as well since just a short drive away is Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Page, Tuscon or Joshua Tree. Phoenix is urban meets adventure elopement.
Are you ready to elope in Phoenix?! Reach out to me! I am an Arizona Elopement Photographer and Planner. I am here to help you have the very best day designed specific to you two and your relationship!
Now that you know a little bit about eloping in Phoenix, here is some full day elopement inspiration for you!
John and Natalie met each other in college at Arizona State University. Natalie was in the all girls choir, The Pitchforks, and Jon was in the all Men's Choir, Priority Mail, that he started. They instantly clicked upon their first meeting and started seeing each other more and more. These two were initially supposed to get married in April on the anniversary of their very first date together. But due to Covid they had to change their plans. Since it was very important to them to get married on that specific date they got married in a living room with just their family present to still celebrate their marriage and then rescheduled the full celebration to October of this year. They wanted something casual and private. So we started the day on a weekday early in the morning at the Salt River. Since they live in Phoenix, they were able to come out and find the exact spot that felt right to them for their ceremony. Natalie and Jon shared a private first look over looking the river with the most excitement for the day ahead. Jon's twin brother officiated and was able to share stories of their relationship through the last ten years starting from when was first introduced to Natalie, their college days, travels and more. During their ceremony, they passed their rings around to each of their guests who was just close family members to bless the rings and put their love on the rings that they were going to wear forever. Also during the ceremony they made a burrito together and they chose to make a burrito because that's something that they both really have in common is their love for burritos and they wanted to physically make something together on this day. They planned to have the burrito for dinner later that day! Once the ceremony was done we headed closer to the river for family photos which was followed by a family picnic with sandwiches and fruits. Natalie’s father proposed a toast to couple and they spent some time enjoying themselves before the evenings adventure.
Once we had a small break to regather ourselves for the hike ahead we met at a trail on the opposite side of the Salt River in the superstitions to hike out for sunset for them to share their private vows with each other and quality time. Their vows were very sweet and talked about this year and how this year is kind of like marriage and how it's changed their perspective on life in a relationship and how they really admire each other's minds and their their ability to connect and share those deeper conversations with each other. After their emotional vows, they shared a first dance on trail and even some champagne. As the last light started to touch the desert mountains they sat down to enjoy their Sprinkles Cupcakes one of which was pumpkin and the other was caramel, true to fall flavors. It was a special moment as the day ended and they got to soak all the events in together just them and the desert. It was just a really beautiful day listening to them talk about their relationship, laughing together and connecting.
Amberleigh and Jeff contacted me after deciding to cancel their big wedding because they wanted something more intimate. Initially the thought was to go to Joshua Tree for their big day since they were already in California and they love the area and photos they had seen from elopements there. After seeing more and more of Sedona they decided to take a trip with just the two of them to visit the area and see if it felt right. We met at a local winery for snacks and a drink to talk about the areas there were going to explore. Either way star photos were for sure going to be apart of this special day! Upon returning home Amberleigh let me know Sedona was the place! We started planning the details and logistics to make sure the day fit their desire for intimate, beautiful and adventurous; but also easy enough that the family members attending could do the hike.
When the day finally arrived we all met at the trail head hiking ready! In all they had about thirty guests, including their kiddos! We hiked up passing the wilderness signs going deep into the red rocks. We stopped at a big plateau with 360 degree views of Sedona where they would have their ceremony. Jeff, Amberleigh and their officiant all set out behind different rocks or trees to get changed into their formal wear while family set up a zoom for other family members to be able to watch and took in the views. Amberleigh’s cousin officiated their wedding and it was by the funniest ceremony with the most character. Amberleigh’s two sons walked her down the red rock aisle to Jeff as he saw her for the first time in her stunning dress! Family gather around closer to enjoy the ceremony that started off with shots of fireball. They shared their touching hand written vows that went back many years of memories together of friendship, dating and parenting together. They sealed the deal with a kiss and after a few family photos everyone else started their hike back down the parking lot as we continued our hike up the mountain to even more big vista views. Together they enjoyed the views and the killer sunset full of orange and pinks we had on the walk down. The excitement was not over! The officiant left behind his totally custom jeep complete with a lift, lights and more. Before riding over to our location for night shots we stopped to take some photos with the jeep as the final light went away for the day. They danced in front of the head lights and got all settled in for the short ride. We arrived to a new location requiring only a short walk near their VRBO for starry night photos. Amberleigh had brought string lights for a romantic touch to the images and we even saw a couple of shooting stars!
When I parted with these two they still had more celebrating a head! That night they were heading back home for a simple night relaxing and eating pizza with family. The following day they were set for a more formal reception celebration on the balcony of their VRBO with amazing views for a fantastic dinner. I can not imagine a better day and trip for these two! They got to take a little vacation spend time with their boys, get married in the most beautiful scenery, share a romantic evening under the stars and celebrate with those closest to them! Big congrats to you both, I can’t wait to see where you all go together!
I am your gal! I am an elopement photographer and planner based in Sedona. I am here to help you plan the most YOU day family or no family. I fully beleive that eloping is the most authentic and connected way to say ‘I Do.’ I am with you all the way from planning, zipping the dress, the small moments and those big adventurous moments.
Meet Shylo and Rob!!! These two Vegas locals decided to get married where they live for convenience during the covid pandemic. They scouted out trails in Red Rock Canyon for months finding the perfect places that spoke to them to spend some quality time together before their ceremony with friends and family. We met just before the sun broke over the mountain ridge lines for photos at an overlook with Joshua trees and grand views. After the sun made its appearance over the desert landscape we hopped back into our cars to head to the location they personally selected for a picnic breakfast. We started our hike on a quiet peaceful trail ending at a 360 view of the rocks. They set up their picnic with a blanket, orange juice, muffins and more as they watched the sunrise continue lighting the day. After they ate, they read their hand written vows to each other in privacy so they could fully embrace the commitment to each other without anyone else around. They swapped gifts, a necklace and tie clip that they were able to wear for the rest of the day and at the ceremony. After the picnic, we headed out to hike further into the red rock for their first dance at another location they also selected. They shared their first dance at a great overlook in privacy to theme songs from the Hobbit. The morning time together was so special, it was just about them two and their connection. It was time reflecting on all of the hiking they had done in the area together prior to this day imagining their wedding day. It was fun getting to know them and hear their love story. They met on Match and their first date was at a local Italian restaurant, one that would be catering their dinner later in the evening at their home. They have a beautiful connection and so much in common with each other.
I met Shylo and Rob back at their home for their ceremony with friends and family and of course their cute pup, Zoey! The back yard was done so well with beautiful fall colors and spooky vibes as they both love the Halloween season and things of character. Shylo’s mother and sister were able to attend and help her get dressed for the big moment of walking down the isle. Everyone joined for the ceremony as Shylo walked down the isle to a Star Wars song. The ceremony was personal and sweet, ending with a handfasting ceremony. After the ceremony they joined in family photos and a champagne toast. The resturant came to set up the food for them and I am telling you, it smelt amazing!!! As dinner began to start they gave a toast to their family in thanks for attending this special day. In turn, Rob’s sister and Shylo’s father gave a toast commenting on how special these two’s bond is and how they couldn’t be more perfect for each other! It was so fun hearing their love story told through people who were close to them as well!
This was an elopement for the books for sure! I love full day elopements because you can get a little bit of both worlds, time alone and time with family. You get to start and end the day together focusing on becoming one in marriage. Everything about this day was true to who these two are and I love that their personalities show through the photos from their day. One of their big things during planning was not loosing sight of what this special day was all about that they had waited so long for. I think we accomplished keeping the day centered around marriage from the private picnic to start the day, to the emotional hand written vows, personal gifts to a ceremony/reception that spoke to who they are and ending the day circled around their closest friends celebrating their love! I can not imagine a better way for them to tie the knot! Congrats Rob and Shylo, may you have many more adventures in your back yard as you go through life together!!! <3