Leading up to Emily and Erik’s elopement I enjoyed their excitement for planning this day and hearing stories from their time as a couple. Emily and Erik met at a mutual friend’s gathering, but their first date was on a sunrise hike. Their proposal story convinced me they were going to LOVE their elopement experience. Emily loves to hike, where as Erik if he could choose would prefer to trail ride on a bike. One Saturday Emily asked Erik to go on her favorite hike- off of the the Appalachian trail-- in the fall time its absolutely stunning and the views overlook West Virginia and Maryland. They headed out again early for the trail to make sure they could beat the rest of the crowds. Once they were on the trail, Erik couldn't contain his excitement/nerves and basically went running up the mountain. When they got to the top it was a little busy, so they hiked further to a different location to stop for snacks. Emily heard Erik talking about something and she turned around and he was on his knee with this beautiful aqua marine gem. To celebrate their engagement they hiked back down the trail and grabbed lunch in a small town nearby.
Erik and Emily eloped at the base of Cathedral Rock with ten of their closest friends and their pastor, a close friend of Erik’s for the last twenty years. They had the most beautiful weather after almost a week of rain here in Sedona. They flew in the day before their elopement and there were so many rainbows to greet them from Cottonwood to Sedona to the Village of Oak Creek. It was quite a welcome to one of Emily's favorite places in the United States. When Erik and Emily first started dating Erik asked her where in the world she would want to get married because she was a flight attendant and she has seen so much of the world. She told him Sedona. He remembered that, so after proposing to her on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland, they started immediately planning their elopement here. Their wedding day came just as the break of the Corona-virus became a pandemic and National Emergency. All of their friends kept their commitment to support each other on this day and spend the special weekend with them.
After their ceremony, which was filled with prayer, laughter and love we were ready for the hike. Emily and Erik were set to hike to the top of Cathedral with me for their portraits. We ended up being joined with her brother, Erik’s son and one of Emily’s best gal pals for the adventure. We took portraits in all three of the saddles at the tip of the rock with congratulations from other hiker’s along the way being shared. We ended our hike on Cathedral with an absolutely gorgeous sunset. On our way down I learned that March is a really special time for the couple because both of their birthdays are in March and their cat Luna's birthday is in March. Emily's ring is Aquamarine, their birthstone, but there is also a fun story about giving a girl an aquamarine ring. The tale is that sailors give mermaids this type of ring to help guide them while they’re at sea. So Erik says that he's Emily’s sailor and she’s his mermaid.
Following the ceremony and couples portraits we met everyone back at their Airbnb for a dinner and some time to spend together and celebrate in good company of people that mean a lot to them and their partnership. Emily's cousin who is a chef came up from Tucson to cook dinner. She prepared different types of salsa, guac, a brisket and chicken taco bar. It was some of the best food! Emily and Erik ended the dinner with cutting into the carrot and blueberry cake her cousin had also prepared. It was a great evening filled with love and enjoyment during a time that was stressful back home.
The following day we hiked Bear Mountain for sunset. We were supposed to hike Birthing Cave and other trails in that region so Emily and Erik could have some time alone before the elopement, but due to conditions from the rain the prior week we had to re-plan this part of their elopement. Bear mountain was actually a trail they had considered at the very beginning of their elopement so it worked out well. Due to hardly any trial traffic and the usual trail conditions, we were still able to hike this one. It is a very hard trial , but they hiked on with excitement to get to the stunning red rock views and enjoy the sunset. We even got to see a waterfall, a rarity here in the desert. We left the top in time to hike down during the end of the sunset and the whole way down we were in awe of the sky. Towards the end of the session they popped open a bottle of champagne and sat to watch the sunset together, just taking in the beauty of Sedona and the begining of their marriage. Emily explained a little bit about why they chose an elopement over a traditional wedding, part of the reason just being they wanted to get married here in Sedona and to have a big wedding here would just cost astronomical amounts of money. Emily has a huge family and it would just become very difficult to be able to pull off. They knew they wanted to get married in March so the timing just worked out easier as an elopement since they had gotten engaged in late fall. They also wanted to be able to just spend time with a really tight group of people, so having a low-key event felt more like them and true to who they are as a couple.
It was truly an honor to get to know these two, work with them in the planning and re-planning process and photograph this special moment in their lives. I know the COVID-19 is affecting a lot of couples weddings and I am SO glad that these two were able to pull this off with everyone they wanted there just before this got bad in our country. I know they will always cherish the time they got with their friends and family who live all over the states, spending their wedding outside, witnessing two epic sunsets in the desert and exploring Sedona and Prescott on their honeymoon. Cheers you two! Maybe I will see out on the road on adventures <3