yosemite elopement portraits

Yosemite Elopement | Emery + Richard

Adventure Sessions

2020 brought with it a lot of changed plans for engaged couples, and for Emory and Richard it brought the added hurdle of the California wildfires. Keep reading to find out how this couple rolled with the punches and still managed to have their perfect Yosemite elopement!

yosemite elopement portraits

Emory and Richard planned their elopement for 2020 in Yosemite National Park, during the peak of the wildfires.

As their date approached, we were carefully watching the news updates on the fire. Part of Yosemite was actually closed near their elopement location, so we were all praying and hoping that everything would work out in time for their big day. 

The fires were still intense the week of their wedding, but Yosemite was open so we decided to go forward as planned and adjust if we needed to. I arrived two days before the wedding and was amazed at how different the park looked. Ashes were falling and an orange haze covered the sky – it looked like an old sepia movie. 

Sometimes we couldn’t see anything because of the smoke, and other times it would clear out. My second shooter and I ran through the event the day before, but we really couldn’t predict what the smoke would do one day to the next.  

Emory and Richard planned to have a sunrise ceremony at Glacier Point. The sun rises right over Half Dome and Glacier point, creating a gorgeous sunrise and the perfect backdrop to their ceremony. 

So on the morning of their wedding we woke up early, drove an hour up the road, and met at the trailhead for their first look. 

Before the first look, Emory shared a special moment with her mom over Facetime so she could see her in her dress. It was a sweet way to incorporate her mom in her big day!

We saw that the smoke had gotten so bad when we arrived that we couldn’t see Half Dome at all. But let me tell you – this couple was awesome. They didn’t panic, but laughed it off and readjusted the plan for the day!

We went ahead with their first look photos and enjoyed breakfast while we made a new plan.

Even though the haze interrupted our day, we did get to see some wildlife up close – including a bear in the parking lot as we returned to our cars!

After breakfast we headed back to our hotels to rest, freshen up, and planned to reconvene around noon. We arrived at Emory and Richard’s AirBNB and found them enjoying coffee and soaking in some time together. 

Then we took a few detail photos and some getting ready shots of Emory putting on her dress – she was stunning!

After lunch, we headed to Cathedral Beach for their ceremony. By this time, the smoke had cleared away from El Capitan so we had a great view during their vows! Emory and Richard exchanged heartfelt vows using books from May Designs (who eventually featured their wedding on their Instagram page)!

We headed to the valley for a few more photos, then drove to Taft Point to start our hike for the sunset. The smoke was clearing even more, and we could see the beautiful valley below and El Capitan. 

The couple had their first dance as husband and wife, a celebratory toast, and spent the evening soaking up their beautiful day.

Yosemite Elopement Vendors

Dress: Olia Zavozina


Bow tie: DAZI

Vow books: May Designs

Click here to learn how you can book me for your Yosemite elopement!

wedding rings in white ring box with jewelry
bride and groom portraits in yosemite elopement
bride and groom vow books
bride and groom portraits in yosemite
bride and groom in yosemite elopement portraits popping champagne


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