We get it. You’ve decided you want to get married in a way that is true to you and incorporates what makes your relationship feel alive. That looks different for every couple and that’s the beauty of deciding on an elopement style wedding. Whether you and your partner have escaped the rat race and chase good weather year round to the best crags across the country or if you two take every possible weekend to visit your favorite crag, we’re here to tell you that heck yes you can and should have a rock climbing wedding day!
What is a Rock Climbing Wedding?
To state it plainly, a rock climbing wedding is simply an adventurous wedding where a couple chooses to climb a route to their ceremony location or a day that includes rock climbing as a part of their day. With the rise of elopements and adventurous weddings, more couples who are climbers are choosing to include this in their day! Why? Well, if you are a couple that climbs together you know it takes trust, communication, pushing each other and celebrating together. For the adventurous couple, a strong belay-tionship can be such a powerful element to a romantic relationship. Rock climbing is truly a bonding experience.
Where can you have a Rock Climbing Wedding?
You can have a rock climbing wedding anywhere that allows weddings/elopements and has climbing routes. Most public land areas are happy to have you sharing your vows in this special way, but permits vary widely so it is always important to check in with the area that you have in mind before fully committing to that location. When it comes to world class climbing and photography however, there are some places better than others. Here our top places for a climbing elopement + why:
- Moab, Utah – Moab in general is an epic place to elope! Moab also is a huge adventure and climbing mecca. You can hop on Wall Street to stay in town, go to Indian Creek for some splitters, climb spires, jump on some big multi-pitches or even take a day off and jump into some canyoneering here.
- Leavenworth, Washington – Leavenworth is home to a lot of big awesome hikes that are perfect for getting married on. From the Enchantments to the Larches full of yellow in the fall, this slice of the state is so stunning. However, it is also a great climbing area in Washington state. There are routes in the mountains and routes near by town from bouldering to trad!
- Sedona, Arizona – Believe it or not there are actually tons of climbs in the Sedona area! We like to call these adventure climbs because there is usually quite the approach to hike to them and almost always some bushwacking. The bonus? Not many people are out climbing in Sedona so you get more privacy than you would on the trails! Not far outside of Sedona you’ll find Flagstaff which also has some awesome crag in the pines. Don’t sleep on the waterfall climbing area with long routes and rows of moderate routes!
- Smith Rock State Park in Bend, Oregon – Smith Rock is a known climbing area from all over the world! There is the famous Monkey Face route you could summit and say I do on or you can climb in the many other areas of the park. This location is SO beautiful and offers a desert vibe, but don’t worry those snow capped mountains are not far away.
- Joshua Tree National Park in California – Another world class climbing area that folks have been climbing in with so much history! There are SO many climbs in Joshua Tree that it seems endless. We love that there are many different areas in the park for climbing so you do not have to be in the busy spaces. The lighting + color of the rocks here is also perfect for taking photographs of people up against them. If you haven’t climbed this granite before, you won’t regret taking a special trip to hop on these routes.
- The Sierra Nevada area of California – Within this region you have great areas to climb like in Yosemite National Park, Bishop, Alabama Hills and Lake Tahoe. There are others, but these are some of our favorites. Within this area you can also find things like hot springs, lakes, mountains, via ferratas, bouldering, hiking and more!!!
- Mt Erie in Washington – We love this spot for a sunset rock climbing wedding because it overlooks the bay near Anacortes. There are many routes which are good for photography. Beautiful place, fun climbing!
The above list is not exhaustive by any means. There are MANY other great places and routes for a climbing elopement, but these are our top recommendations for places that we work within. There are also places that make a wonderful wedding/elopement location that have climbing that you could add into your day. Even if the climbing isn’t “world class”, that is okay because your wedding day is about the overall experience not just the route you may be choosing.
What makes a good location for a Rock Climbing Wedding?
When it comes to just going out for a climb, the general list you likely go through when choosing a route will have a little more behind it when you’re looking to have some great photos captured of you and your partner. The best locations for a climbing wedding will have the route you want to climb with a climb near it/beside for the photographer to climb that has beautiful views around it. That is the most ideal. So because of this we love places that are more crag like, but multi-pitches can certainly work. We’ve captured a handful of climbing weddings on multi-pitch climbs and we can say it does greatly increase the logistics behind capturing it well. But hey! We love the adventure and we’re down for whatever is calling your hearts.
The best way to pick an elopement or wedding location for a rock climbing would be based on these three things:
- It’s a climbing area that means a lot to you. This could be your favorite place to climb together, where you have climbed the most together, where you first started climbing together, anything like that.
- You pick your wedding location based on the climbing location. In this case I would do one of the locations listed above.
- The last option would be to pick where you want to get married and find climbing near by that you can add as an activity to your day. A great example for this would be Olympic National Park and the nearby National Forest area.
What to wear for a Rock Climbing Wedding?
For a bride there are two great options for attire for a rock climbing elopement: a bridal jumpsuit or a flowy lightweight dress with a large slit and a pair of white biker shorts underneath. The reason we recommend this is you need to keep the type of climbing you’ll be doing in mind. If it’s relatively straight forward sport climbing, then a flowy dress may not get in the way while leading your way up the route. If you’re getting up some slick and technical slab, then a jumpsuit can bring the bridal vibes without you getting gripped trying to find your feet among the layers of dress.
For a groom things are a lot simpler. You can wear a suite, a tux, or “fancy” outdoors/climbing attire. This is basically up to you! It is just important to make sure that your pants allow you to be mobile. Being mindful of the weather during the time of year you’ll be climbing is a must. You probably won’t want to be wearing a suit jacket while making your way up a full sun multi-pitch on a late spring day in the desert.
No matter your attire you want to make sure you have mobility in your arms and legs. To state it again, it is important to keep in mind temperatures because you want to be comfortable.
Pro Tip: When shopping for wedding attire do not be shy to bring your harness and try it on with the dress!
Do I need a guide for a rock climbing wedding?
This answer depends on your experience and comfort with your chosen route. If you are not comfortable leading the route or do not have climbing and rappelling experience than 100% yes. For some quick knowledge when it comes to being a working professional on public lands, It is important to note that we are not climbing guides. The permit officers on public lands require different commercial use permits for different things, like guiding a climbing route. This would be quite the logistical nightmare as your professional photography team to balance all of the permits in all of the areas we capture love stories in. We love climbing and have all of our own gear and can climb right along side of you without a guide. However, we can not be your guide. So be sure to keep this info in mind when selecting your route!
What type of Climbing Wedding can we do?
So as you may know within rock climbing you have Trad and Sport. You can do either of those for sure for a rock climbing wedding! Outside of the traditional rock climbing options for your wedding day you can: Canyoneer (highly recommend Moab, Page or Zion for this) Ice climb or canyoneer (highly recommend Alaska or Iceland for this) or you can do a via feratta (highly recommend Amangiri for this in Page, Arizona).
Can you have guests at a Rock Climbing Wedding?
Yes of course you can have guests at a rock climbing elopement! How you may ask?! Welp, if your guests are also climbers than they can also get to the location the same way you do! If you they are not climbers here are a few options:
- Pick a location you can climb up to that also has a way to hike up to!
- Climb before or after the ceremony! A lot of our couples do split days so they spend half of the day just them two and the other half with their family.
- Rappel down into your ceremony! There are canyons you can rap into but also hike into. This could be a good middle ground and a freaking epic way to enter your ceremony space. Several great examples of this exist in Moab.
How much time do you need to book a photographer for a rock climbing wedding?
We recommend booking us for a split day (which is a full 12 hours) or a two day package for a rock climbing wedding! You want time to enjoy, not feel rushed when climbing, but you also want to think about the overall experience as your wedding day and not rush that either.
Check out these real timeline examples for a rock climbing:
Split day example from a rock climbing elopement in Joshua Tree
- Getting ready at Airbnb starting mid morning
- First look at Airbnb
- Couple goes for picnic brunch in the park and writes vows
- Leave the park to go to get tattoos together in Yucca Valley
- Break for late lunch
- Re-meet at Real Hidden Valley for climb
- Vow exchange/ceremony after rap down and sunset portraits
- Dinner at picnic table in Hidden valley (couple to cook)
- Star photos on the way out of the park
Two Day example for a rock climbing wedding in Sedona, AZ
- Meet early morning to hike out to climb
- Climb 7 pitches/600ft – alternating leads – photo team shooting from different areas and on diff pitches
- Portraits at the top at sunset as couple has a picnic dinner
- Rap down during blue hour for more portraits on rope
- Hike out + star photo
- Meet before dark to hike into location
- First look + private vow exchange
- Hike back out + Break (lunch)
- Meet back up with couple at separate locations for getting ready photos with family
- Leave and hike into ceremony
- Ceremony + group photos
- Couples sunset portraits
- Hike out + drive to reception space
Your Rock Climbing Wedding Photographers!!
Hi-ya! Looking for a team that loves spending time at the crag or going on an all day adventure climb? We’re Traci and Bill and there isn’t anything that we love more than getting out, on or off the trails to spend a day. Even our cat, Indy, loves getting down rappels deep in the canyons!
Whether you’re envisioning hiking deep into nature to be all alone with your partner on a big wall or relaxing with friends at the crag, reach out and let’s chat about your dream wedding day! We would love to go over all of the details big and small and help bring your dream to life!
We have personally put ourselves in your shoes and climbing and canyoneered in wedding attire to know the logistics of being on ropes in this way. We have also photographed several couples doing their own climbing adventure!
We believe that a rock climbing or adventure wedding in general can be a direct reflection of what marriage is all about – working together as a team. It is important to us to help couples plan wedding days that are authentic to who they are and what they connect to. We can not wait to connect with you about your own day!
Check out this recent review from a rock climbing wedding we photographed:
“I don’t know that Tucker and I can adequately put into words how wonderful, fun, and excellent Traci and Bill are at what they do or recommend them more!! Their overall professionalism and genuine personalities, their attention to detail and meticulous planning, the sheer amount of effort they put in behind the scenes to make everything flow perfectly on the day of, the extent they are willing to go to make your dreams come true on every level, their communication skills and timely responses to any and all questions, not to mention their actual talent level and ability to naturally take perfect photos throughout your entire session while making it feel so effortless and like you’re just outside having fun with a couple close friends, they nailed it all so perfectly They were the definition of under promise and over deliver on all levels, and what they promised already set the bar pretty high.
We wanted to have the best of both worlds with an adventure climbing day while also having private vows and a small ceremony with 30 of our closet family and friends and they made that happen! We never felt like we were doing a photo shoot, or had a camera in front of us – we felt completely comfortable as if we were around friends the whole time!
They went out of their way to scout and really LEARN a new climb they had never done before when we said that’s what we wanted to do! And then when bad weather rolled in on our scheduled day, they moved it earlier for us! During the whole process they made everything seamless and truly enjoyable! We never worried about a thing! Not only were they amazing to work with, but were so friendly! After spending 2 days with them, we cried having to say goodbye!
Bottom line – if you want to adventure and you want the best of the best in all respects DO NOT HESITATE TO BOOK ADVENTURE AND VOW! They are better than words can do justice in every regard.” – Chelsee