Adventurous Wedding in Yosemite National Park
Michele + James are avid hikers and enjoy a big hiking trip together each year. After getting engaged on a big hike in Yosemite National Park. They knew they wanted to get married in this place which was already so special to them. They wanted to celebrate their union by hiking to the places that meant the most to them and share it with those closest to them. We spent about a year planning together their dream elopement experience. Planning is always so fun as we get to know the couple, hear what values they have that are important to include in the day and how to include guest.
Wedding Day 1 – Hiking to Taft Point
The plan was to hike the trail they did when the got engaged – taking Four Mile trail to Panorama Trail. However, due to smoke that came into the valley and surrounding areas, we changed gears and put together another super meaningful and adventurous plan. The new plan was a similar trail as far as difficulty, experience, but somewhere totally new they hadn’t been to in the park yet, Taft Point. We started our hike in the morning hours from the classic Tunnel View area.
We started our way up from the valley floor gaining in elevation to some incredible views. Along the trail we talked about their travels and adventures so far together from Patagonia to hikes within the park and other areas of the US. About half way up we stopped for lunch at one of the many view points, eating our sandwiches on a massive downed tree. As we continued hiking we went through forests with the most beautiful mosses, lush florals, passed creeks and only one group of backpackers through our epic wonderland. Eventually we arrived at a spot where we could see our final destination. They were so excited to see where they were headed even though it still looked quite far.
Once we finally made it, we all sat down to take in the views and have a water break. Michele did her make up and hair while we capture the details of their attire and vow books. They got ready together near a tree, without seeing each other so they could share a first look together with the trail they had just conquered in the background. Michele’s dress was so beautiful with the lace and bow in the back! After their intimate first look, Michele helped James with his tie and they walked together to where they would be sharing their private vows.
Taft Point is one of the most iconic and busiest places in Yosemite National park. It is so rare to get it to yourselves. This year (2022) the road to the location was closed, so not many people are willing to make the hike up there. We had the entire area to ourselves except for the group of backpackers we passed earlier on, whom gave us plenty of space to enjoy the location. They got to share their vows standing on the famous cap rock with El Capitan in the background. It was serene, stunning and unreal. They shared their vows in total privacy, taking their time soaking it all in and wiping each others tears away as they were able to share their love deeply with just each other. You could tell they poured their whole hearts into their words to each other.
After sharing their vows, Michele gifted James a traditional Korean wedding present, wedding ducks, to symbolize being together for life. We explored the Taft Point area, taking portraits with the incredible landscape and enjoying this once in a lifetime opportunity. We had our dinner at the top and started our hike down the mountain, stopping for a few photos with the milky way. It truly looked like we were in a snow globe, but surrounded by an unreal, bigger than life sky.
We reached the valley at around 1am after hiking 19 miles with 5600 ft of elevation gain. We were tired, but, we were all so full from the experience. It could not have been a more fun, meaningful or surreal day to start off their marriage celebration!
Wedding Day 2 – Wedding Ceremony in Yosemite
After some well deserved rest, we met the following day to celebrate with their family and hold their official ceremony. Michele + Jame’s chose a stunning lake location to hold their ceremony out past Tiago road. We set up chairs on the sandy shores facing the lake and granite mountains. As we got ready in the parking lot and gathered together, a bird joined us, who also followed us to the ceremony location and stayed for the entire event! Michele’s parents walked her down the aisle to James as their family and friends watched on.
Since Michele + Jame’s had already shared their personal vows, but wanted their family to be a part of this special experience, they did something different with their ceremony. They called up each person to share with them why they were so important to them, some of their core memories together and how they had shaped their life. Being invited to an elopement I always say is so special. You’re not just a seat at a table. You are being asked to intimately share a wedding experience with a couple.
So many laughs were shared as Michele + James took turns speaking of and to their guests. There was also not a dry eye at the ceremony throughout many vulnerable and beautiful moments shared. The still shared a version of their own vows with their guests at the end of the ceremony. This was followed by many cheers and hugs. Everyone gathered at the nearby picnic table for pre-dinner snacks and cake prepped by the private chef.
Before dinner, we headed to a different location with a great view of Half Dome for photos and to watch sunset. It was a perfect, fun and peaceful way to end their time within the park together and with their guests.
At one point during the couples portraits, I saw all of their friends smiling at them, watching on in awe and taking photos on their phones. We had each of the couples that were already married share their favorite image from their own wedding days. To which Michele and James to recreate which was super fun and touching. As the sun set, everyone headed back to the Airbnb for dinner. Their friends paired wines with each course the chef prepared, all of it was simply amazing. The private dinner was the perfect way to gather around one long table and end the night together over good food. It truly was an event filled with so much love around these two!
Yosemite Wedding Photographers!
It was truly an honor to capture James + Michele’s day as it is to work with all of our adventure wedding couples! We will never get over how incredible these experiences are and we are so thankful to get to work with couples who want more out of their wedding day, something that is real and authentic to them. If you are looking for a wedding photographer that knows the parks, is here to help you bring your dream elopement together and capture your story then we are your people!
Read what the couple had to say about working with us as their Yosemite Wedding Photographers!
“Perfect. That’s the first word that comes to mind when my partner and I reflect on our adventure elopement. And with Traci and Bill, we couldn’t have asked for two better people to help us make that happen.
When we first began looking for adventure elopement photographers, there were a few things we knew were important to us (and likely every other prospective eloper): how much we liked their photography style, what their price range was, how much experience they had hiking and shooting in our preferred destination, and finally how we thought our personalities meshed. Traci and Bill checked off all these boxes for us. But honestly, it wasn’t until after the elopement was all over that we came to really appreciate just how important that last box was.
As an eloping couple, you’ll be spending more of your special day with your photographers than you will with anyone else. You want things to be completely comfortable so you can be completely present with your partner on your special day. For us, Traci and Bill were more than just our photographers that day: they were our hiking buddies, keeping us company and in good spirits all the way through our ambitious 19 mile journey; they were our guides, making sure we never got off path (especially at night!) and reassuring us about time (which was never a worry due to Traci’s meticulous planning and timeline); they were our (much needed) extra pair of hands for all the little things, like buttoning up the back of a wedding dress, or carrying the train, or fluffing it just right for a photo (yes, wedding dresses still need a lot of care, even at an elopement!); finally, they were our very own cheerleaders, cementing our special moments with warm words, encouragement, and congratulations.
Of course, there are a bunch of other things that make Traci and Bill such a great team. Namely, as a team, they can do things that a single photographer simply can’t, like shooting different coverage at the same time, and even from separate locations. For example, we did some shots where Traci was photographing us from afar (far enough that they could only communicate via walkie talkie), while Bill stayed with us to shoot up close and to also tell us how Traci wanted us positioned for her own shots. Getting that kind of coverage during magic hour when the light is just right put our minds at ease that we would definitely get some great pictures. We weren’t disappointed!
We couldn’t be more thankful to have had Traci and Bill with us, and we genuinely feel they played a huge part in making our special day what it was. If you’ve made it this far, what are you waiting for?! Go book them now before their schedule fills up!!” – Michele + James
This Yosemite Wedding was recently featured on The Wedding Standard California.