Their words were, “We’ve decided we don’t want to wait another second to get married!” Their enthusiasm caught my attention and because they kep their elopement wedding simple, the planning was finished within a month. We originally planned their elopement in Yosemite. However, the forest fires forced the park to close, so we quickly changed our plan of action to Zion in Utah. This webpage on the Yosemite National Park Website is a good resource to check for current updates and conditions at Yosemite. Thankfully, I’ve been to Zion before and was aware of the potential it had to be the perfect elopement spot for beautiful scenery.
Planning their elopement was a challenge because during covid, there were additional restrictions. The entry shuttles and its tickets sold out very quickly in the mornings. To make sure their elopement session went smoothly, I went on the recreation.gov website at 7 am PST the day prior to get the tickets!
Pro Tip: If you miss out on purchasing the tickets ($1 per person), then your chance of getting into the park was almost nil. The long lines were true and we definitely saw them mid-afternoon. There were options of hiring private shuttles which I considered but in the end, I’m glad we did not because they were expensive for the limited stops they provided. The public transportation in the park was frequent and enjoyable to ride, but the trick is to be informed and to prepare the day prior for tickets.
On Day 1, we started hiking and went to the sunset canyon overlook around 4 pm. When we got to the top, I told Amber and Jess that I just wanted them to spend time walking, exploring together. I can’t remember the last wedding where we had the luxury of time to do that for 2-3 hours. The extra time allotted led to many creative photo moments! I loved documenting and taking candids. We had the luxury of time to explore and Jess came upon this quirky-looking rock that they both eventually climbed into. It looked like Lord of the Rings meet the Flintstones!. They ended up being some of my favorite photos out of the whole set.
The following day, we did the ceremony and had the entire meadow to ourselves. There were hundreds of people in the park near the popular areas such as The Narrows and hiking Angels Landing, but while scouting, I noticed there was an area that nobody goes to, so once I showed them, they knew that was the right spot for them. My priority for finding a ceremony location hinged on the ease of travel, privacy, and the view, all which the Big Bend meadow offered. A nice thing about filming in mountains is that they provide natural shade for everyone to be comfortable away from the blazing sun.
A Ceremony All To Themselves
Their ceremony was intimate, with their good friend, Vivian, as their officiant (as well as every other role you can think of: maid of honors, driver, production assistant, hiking caddie, etc). Their feet were bare and “humbled in the earth” as in Jess’s words. The majestic rocks surrounding them on all sides as their cathedral. The rope in their ceremony was symbolic of their unity and lifestyles as avid climbers.