Why you should elope in Yosemite, CA
Yosemite has some of the most iconic mountains in the world! The deep valleys, rushing waterfalls, the stunning granite rock faces of Half Dome, the legendary El Capitan, and North America’s highest waterfalls, all combined into one spot making Yosemite one of the best outdoor places to elope!
If you want to elope in the park, you’ll want to get a permit. But Glacier Point is not the only a portion of what makes Yosemite great. There are so many underrated spots and hidden gems on the northern side of Yosemite to host an elopement or intimate wedding!
If you love the epic and wanderlust vibes of Sierra Nevada mountains, you have to come to Yosemite!
Jenna & Stephen’s full day elopement in Yosemite National Park took place at my bucket-list location to photograph: Glacier Point and Taft Point! The day before we met at Sentinel Dome to go on a small hike with their family to do a gift giving. Then the following morning we all met at Glacier point for an intimate family ceremony at sunrise. Then later that day, Jenna & Stephen went on an adventure, just the two of them to watch the sunset at Taft Point and exchange their personal vows. I’d have to say that this elopement was one of the most epic ones I’ve witnessed. The flex is my full day timeline allowed them to get both sunrise and sunset on their special day!
Keep scrolling for photos from these epic mountains, plus more on how Jenna and Stephen managed to fit both sunrise and sunset in their day with a family-friendly elopement and still found time to celebrate in a “just us” kind of way!
ELOPEMENT WITH FAMILY IN YOSEMITE.
Jenna and Stephen got married during August in California. Late in the summer of 2020 the wild fires created smog all over the state of California giving us this hazy look to the landscape. And even though you might think “I can’t see the mountains as clear!” I would argue that the “limited” view of the landscape give the images exactly what it needed, the focus back to the couple. The smoke from California fire hid some of the details from the mountains, giving you just enough wanderlust vibes while keeping the couple in front, crystal clear and in focus! –– a truly special condition for a unique elopement!
I came to Glacier Point & Taft Point a day in advance to scout out the best spot for them and it really paid off! Here’s why
Jenna and Stephen hadn’t seen each other before we all got to Glacier Point. Jenna planned on waking down the “aisle” but things were running late. So the boss lady said “I want to do the first look now and then take pictures before the ceremony since I don’t want to waste the golden hour light!” so I literally coordinated the first look on the spot!! Haha Luckily, I knew that this might happen and already positioned Stephen to look away from Jenna from the start. So the first look went very smooth, a super emotional and sweet moment for them.
After many hugs and a few tears, we knocked down a few Insta Banger pictures before the ceremony because that’s what Jenna wanted and she can do whatever she wants on her wedding day haha
Golden hour is precious, so I picked a ceremony location that could easily be accessed and close to a photogenic spot for quick photos. And it paid off!
We then started the ceremony. A very emotional ceremony I must say!
It was wonderful to see their family members be 100% supportive of Jenna and Stephen as they chose to get married in a place far from home. Stephen’s mom injured her foot a two days before the ceremony and she managed to hike with us the day before and attend this special ceremony! She deserves a mom of the year award for sure!
In the middle of this circle of friends, the officiant declared their marriage and everyone blessed the cheers! The super-casual setting felt very intimate –– They decided to save their vow exchange for later that day. They wanted to keep their vow exchange as intimate as possible! Jenna and Stephen, and their family went the extra mile to curate super personal and intentional details into their elopement day. Their family carried the cake all the way from NC to CA! The cake almost didn’t make it through TSA haha
This was a great example of how elopements with family should be –– intentional, authentic, and all about the couple getting married. Jenna and Stephen have an amazing family support system, which was a beautiful thing to witness!
After the ceremony, we explored more of Glacier Point and took family portraits. One thing about family portraits — small guest lists combined with flexible timeline create amazing and fun family portraits!
After that we had breakfast! –– everyone just hung out in the mountains, picnicking amongst the rocks, laughing, and spending time together! Ohh and the cake! The cake was so beautiful, I’m surprised it survived that far! They also popped champagne to celebrate their marriage! And I definitely got wet from that haha
Everything about this elopement ceremony embodied what a wedding should be –– everyone was there to fully support Jenna and Stephen, and this family-oriented elopement was full of love all around!
TAFT POINT – INTIMATE VOW EXCHANGE
I met back up with Jenna and Stephen at 6pm to hike to Taft Point for more photos and the vow exchange. I love when elopements do the family ceremony first –– now, there’s nothing to worry about or plan, and the couple can be fully present and enjoy their “just married” life! Jenna and Stephen were all smiles as we spent our sunset together, this time hiking to my favorite viewpoint in Yosemite.
Taft Point isn’t a super long hike. At the end, you’re rewarded with an epic view of Yosemite valley and El Capitan! (Yes the one that Alex Honnold free solo, climbing without a rope!) The lookout at Taft Point is the perfect place to sit and watch the sun go down –– the sky turning orange, then red. Again with the California fires going on, the smoke created a unique atmosphere. It felt like we were dreaming.
After many moments of pure joy and laughter, we walked up to the Fissure to grab a must have shot from Taft Point. Jenna and Stephen pulled out their vows to read to each other –– It was an emotional one to say the least!
But one thing is missing, they never got their First Dance! Well, that’s not going to happen on my watch! So I started playing music from my portable speaker and just let them do their thing.
Helping couples create beautiful moments like this is very important to me. Not only do you get better photos but the experience is going to take it home. It just brings me so much joy to see couples let loose and authentically express their love for one another.
This day was such a great day, and I was honored to capture such an epic and beautiful elopement –– we got to visit one of the most beautiful places to elope in California or the US even! But most importantly, Jenna and Stephen treated me like family, and I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity and friendship they have given me. This will always be remembered as one of my favorite elopements ever!