It's so thrilling to finally share Chelsea and Mike's Yosemite adventure elopement photos!
Flexibility is Key When Planning an Adventure Elopement in a Pandemic
Strange times we're living in, right? The year 2020 is the year of the pivot. With COVID-19 forcing large weddings to either being postponed to a later date or altered in favor of a smaller event. Mike and Chelsea fall into the latter category. For them, flexibility has been the key in planning their Yosemite adventure elopement.
Originally scheduled for a small ceremony in Yosemite National Park in early May, Chelsea and Mike pushed their wedding out 8 weeks due to the park being closed. With the park open but wedding permits not yet being issued, Chelsea and Mike chose a lovely private residence in Oakhurst as the site for their ceremony.
Intimate Ceremony in Oakhurst
With an 8 AM start time, I arrive at 7 AM to begin shooting Chelsea and Mike as they get ready for their intimate ceremony. With an adventure elopement like this one, it's just the family, hair and makeup, and me!
Without the crowd of a bridal party, Chelsea's getting-ready room is wonderfully peaceful. It allows me to focus on details that illustrate tension and build-up, rather than just "stuff". Here, Chelsea grasps her morning tea as Wildflower Beauty does her hair and makeup.
I love frames where the bride and her hanging dress are in the same frame, but it rarely happens with a composition like this.
Chelsea and her father do a father-daughter first look. These don't happen often at larger weddings, but they're perfect for elopements! The emotions can be just as powerful as a traditional bride-groom first look.
An adventure elopement is great because it allows couples to have just close family present.
For me, it makes it easier to capture emotions like this one of Chelsea's mom!
And these two pictures of Chelsea and Mike reading their vows!
And with a kiss overlooking a gorgeous valley in Oakhurst, Mike and Chelsea tie the knot!
Best Spots for Yosemite Adventure Elopement Photos
There are so many wonderful spots in Yosemite for adventure elopement photos! Here are my favorites!
Ahwahnee Meadows Adventure Elopement Photos
Our first stop is Ahwahnee Meadows! There are so many great things about this spot. For example, access is really simple--there's a great parking lot nearby and it's right off Northside Drive. In addition, it has a wonderful view of Half Dome, just beyond The Ahwahnee.
Another reason I love it is that it's such a different look than the usual Yosemite adventure elopement photos. Don't get me wrong, photos Glacier Point and Tunnel View are amazing, but this should definitely be on your list!
Tunnel View Elopement Photos
Driving in from Yosemite's south entrance, as Wawona Road turns east into the valley, you enter a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel lies, quite possibly, one of the most majestic vistas in the world.
Spetactular. Amazing. Surreal. There are not enough words in the English language to describe this view. The minute you exit the tunnel and see the view, your breath is taken away. From the towering El Capitan above and to the left, all the way back to Half Dome in the distance--and all the nooks and crannies in between, it has to be seen with your own eyes.
If you're making a list of spots for your Yosemite adventure elopement, Tunnel View is a MUST!
Accessing the lookout is really simple. There are parking areas on either side of the road, so you can pull over while traveling in either direction. The viewpoint has ample room for pictures, too!
Glacier Point Curve Viewpoint
Our next stop is the Glacier Point Curve viewpoint!
The main lookout at Glacier Point has some of the most commanding views of Yosemite. From here you can see the valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and the high country--all at once!
While many couples opt for adventure elopement photos at the Glacier Point lookout, I actually prefer to go up the road to the curve for a few reasons. For example, the lookout can get pretty crowded, which can be intimidating to some couples. In addition, the I find the composition a bit flat and too similar to that of Tunnel View.
If you park at the main lot, a 5-minute hike back up the road gets you this view. I love the lines made by the curve in the road.
Note: The road to Glacier Point will be closed all of 2021 for rehab, so get it in this year if you can!
Our final stop is Taft Point!
Of the two other Yosemite adventure elopement photo spots I've mentioned, this one is the most work. From the trail head, it's 1.1-mile hike to the point. The hike is fairly easy, although there are a few parts of challenging terrain.
For instance, there's a small stream to cross a few hundred yards into the hike. Here's Chelsea, proving it can be done in a wedding dress!
In addition, the hike takes you through towering evergreen tress. Sometimes it's nice to stop and kiss for a bit!
It's also a great spot to interact with some true Yosemite locals, like this deer!
That feeling when you get to Taft Point...
One reason I love shooting Yosemite adventure elopement photos at Taft Point is that the flat rocks make it easy to play with different poses. You can shoot wide, landscape images or work more closely.
Intimate Wedding Reception
Since your Yosemite adventure elopement will have a very low guest count (if any), your reception can be very intimate and close.
Chelsea and Mike booked a private residence in Oakhurst for their intimate ceremony and reception. The home offers unmatched views and a wonderful deck for gathering.
Even though your adventure elopement will lack the fanfare of a larger reception, you can still pop a bottle of champagne and start your own small party!
As a photographer, small weddings are great because they allow me unfettered access to the emotions of the day.
When the champagne flows, so does the fun!
What's an intimate elopement without beer pong with your parents?!
Final Tips for Your Yosemite Adventure Elopement Photos
Here are a few final tips for your Yosemite adventure elopement:
- Secure proper access to Yosemite: Especially now due to coronavirus, YNP is limiting the amount of cars that can enter the park. This is good because it keeps the crowds down, but you need to make sure you can get access on your preferred adventure elopement date.
- Plan your Yosemite photo session accurately: Yosemite is a huge park and many spots are separated by a long drive. Carefully map out your spots so you're not wandering the park and wasting time!
Planning an adventure elopement or intimate wedding ceremony? I'd love to chat! Fill out the form below to set up a consultation!
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