Back story + planning the elopement in Puerto Rico
Samantha + Troy were recommended to us by one of our past couple’s that eloped in Sedona and with us being brought together, life could just not align better! When Samantha + Troy contacted us they knew exactly what they wanted, an elopement in Puerto Rico around the El Yunque Rainforest with a meaningful and spiritual ceremony that also included their daughter’s and closest loved ones. Puerto Rico is a special place to these two, some of Samantha’s family is from there and they have spent lots of time together creating so many beautiful memories. Throughout the year planning together, we had many phone calls and Facetime’s getting to know each other, talking over the vision for the day, deciding which locations in the area were going to be the best fit and putting together a ceremony that would include everything to them that was important.
We arrived early into Puerto Rico so we could personally check out each location. Some of the areas Samantha + Troy were already familiar with and had already spent lots of time in the past there, but we wanted a visual to determine the best ways to photograph the place and to tell their story in relation to the location. We also checked out the trail we would be hiking, a place they had never been and made a plan to work around road and trail closures to get to some of the most epic mountain views on the island. The night before their elopement, we finally got to meet these two in person at the Airbnb they had rented for their ceremony. We explored the area, chatted over ideas for the ceremony and logistics. Ultimately, they decided to go with a different Airbnb that would be a better fit experience wise for the family, kids and flow of the day. We all said our good byes full of excitement for the next morning, their wedding day!
The Elopement Ceremony in Puerto Rico
The morning started out early, just before sunrise. The vibe was relaxed, happy and peaceful. We captured them writing their vows, holding family close and getting ready for the big moment. Once everyone was ready, the ceremony began. Troy’s family walking him down the isle, followed by their close friends and Samantha’s family walking her down the isle. They started off the ceremony lighting sage on a table where they had placed a few important items to them. They shared beautiful, emotional vows with each other leaving tears in everyone’s eyes that were there. You could feel their love for each other through their words. They also shared a special moment with their daughters showering them with words of love, commitment and giving them special gem necklaces. Before they sealed the deal with a kiss they had the family gather, circling them for a sage ceremony. The wedding ceremony felt true to them, there wasn’t a timeline, there wasn’t pressure. It was simply true and beautiful. The ceremony was followed by some alone time for them, then hugs and congrats with family before doing some group photos with all of the guests.
Adventuring in El Yunque for their Elopement
Following the family ceremony and some toasts, Samantha + Troy left the Airbnb with their closest friends to go to a familiar spot to them. We all stopped for some local food on our way and met up at a local river/water slide access area along the edge of the forest. Everyone took off their shoes venturing in their fancy clothes to explore the rocks and to hike along the river banks. It wouldn’t be a true experience to them and this place without a little cliff jumping into the river and sliding down the natural water slide! It was so fun to see a couple fully embrace the experience of an adventure elopement, getting dirty in the dress, just completely being themselves and having a freaking good time! It was a pure reflection of what eloping is all about, there was nothing but joy all around them from the bystanders also hanging out at the river, their friends taking turns on the slide with them and watching them jump in the water and with each other getting to fully live it up together!
After enjoying the river and hanging out with friends for a bit, we left with just us and just them for the big hike up the mountain! It was the first time in the day they got to be just them together and soak in the day that it had been while also exploring a new area of El Yunque. As we hiked up through the beautiful moody foggy rainforest we chatted about their life together, adventures they had been on, raising their daughters and what their future goals are together. The super cool thing about the El Yunque National Forest is that it closes at 5pm. While this may not sound cool, when we pulled our permit for a sunset session they allowed us to be in the park until one hour after the sun went down. This meant that they literally got the entire rainforest to themselves to celebrate their elopement day! Once we got to the top of the mountain we entered an old fort estimated to be built in the 1400’s. This is where they got to share their first dance together which was freaking epic, these two have moves! They also just sat together and took it all in spending, some quality time together. After their first dance we scrambled up to a different rocky peak along the top of the mountain, where we became completely engulfed in a cloud! Once they reached the top they started a rain dance in attempt to get the clouds to clear and the sun to shine light on the world below us. We got to see bits and pieces of the rainforest’s plant life, but eventually these two cuddled up holding each other and embraced the moment with small little water droplets collecting in their hair. It was by far an incredible experience getting to feel the clouds moving around the mountain and being surrounded by it.
Samantha and Troy loved the unique airbnb space they had rented a lot and wanted as many photos there as possible. The day before when we were chatting about their every day routines and life together we decided to end their elopement day in the claw tub outside of one of the rooms. This would serve as a reflection of Samantha’s love for taking baths as a way to relax, but also way for them to end their day in a romantic, relaxing way and gain time to reflect before rejoining the family to continue the celebration! It truly was a perfect ending to this extremely personal, magical and authentic day.
Samantha and Troy’s elopement was by definition what eloping means and is all about. It is about choosing a day that is a reflection of yourselves, who you are, what’s important to you and embracing the day while truly getting to connect with each other, the loved ones that may join you and the land around you. It is about purpose and being present. I felt like throughout their day you could feel their love for each other and who they really are shined through. You knew important memories were being made and it wasn’t about the photos, but amazing photos followed because of the choices they made to embrace and be themselves.
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“Traci exceeded our expectations in every way and our expectations were high, having already seen the photos she’s taken at previous elopement’s. Tracie and Bill are very much a team throughout the entire process and it is beautiful to stand witness to their relationship and the magic their teamwork produces. Tracie loves what she does and that shows throughout every step of the process. Watching her gears turn as she figures out the best lighting, best angles and overall best locations for shots is to watch a true master at work. We were BLOWN AWAY by the photos. There was such a perfect combination of natural photos and posed ones when we needed guidance. Since their personalities are so pleasant, we made quick friends and that made the photographing process very comfortable for us, an awkward couple. This is a day that you need to be perfect and they made sure it was in every way from the planning aspect of it to the delivery of photos. We chose the sneak peek photo option and we’re so glad we did. We were sent quite a few pictures from our elopement as our night concluded and everyone we showed was impressed by the artistry of these photos. Looking at them, I found myself going – Oh! That’s what she was seeing when she put us there. The vision comes together to create such beauty. At one point, Bill and Tracie were at two different mountain tops communicating through walkie talkie to get the perfect shot. WHAT! Who can say their photographer did that. We can! They did that and the story of that adventure is one we will carry with us for life.
Bill married us and there was not a dry eye. His words were pure poetry and specific to us using the details we shared prior to our elopement. We had quite a few specific request that may have been odd for someone else to perform but he handled it so gracefully and lead our group through ceremony together. We are forever grateful to them both and we know we made the right choice. There was no other choice for us. These photos will be blown up and spread throughout our home, cherished and loved for our lifetime. When asked who took these glorious photos we will tell the stories of Tracie and Bill for years to come, on mountain tops, climbing the hills of El yunque rain forest.” – Samantha