Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic locations for adventure elopements. It is easy to see why it is one of the most popular national parks in the country. Yosemite also happens to be the place where my husband and I went on our honeymoon, so it has an extra special place in our hearts! It was such an honor to photograph this Tuolomne Grove elopement in Yosemite National Park.
When Allison & Kevin asked us to photograph their elopement, we could not have been more excited! They were initially going to have a big wedding in the summer of 2020. When their wedding had to be postponed due to the pandemic, they realized a big wedding wasn’t truly what they wanted. They wanted a quiet, private ceremony in a place that they loved. They wanted to spend the day together without all of the anxiety that often comes with more traditional weddings. When it came to choosing a location, we all quickly agreed that it had to be Yosemite.
It is important to note that Yosemite requires permits for getting married in the park. For more information on wedding and commitment ceremony permits in Yosemite, check out this link. For the list of places within the park you can get married, check out this other link.
I made sure to take a few detail photos the evening prior to the actual elopement day. Kevin & Allison rented a cozy AirBnB in Yosemite West – right in the park. We started elopement day at about 2AM so we could be at Glacier Point by sunrise. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: any couple who is willing to get up for sunrise is automatically our favorite!
We all piled into the car to travel to Glacier Point for their first look at sunrise. Kevin drove and wasn’t allowed to look in the back seat to see Allison before we got there. I’m so glad they chose to wait until sunrise for their first look, because it was freaking magical!
We spent the rest of the golden hour after sunrise running around Glacier Point soaking up that amazing view. This is probably the most popular spot in the park for sunrise, so there were quite a few people around. There was still plenty of space for us to get some amazing photos, though! Other couples getting married in the park that day were there, and even a wedding happening while we were there. This is important to note because if you elope in Yosemite, you probably won’t be the only ones. Of course there are ways to avoid the crowds, such as eloping on a weekday or visiting less popular locations.
After leaving Glacier Point, we made a quick stop at Tunnel View. This is the most iconic view of the park and is accessible right off the road. We then made our way over to the Tuolumne Grove trailhead. Kevin & Allison chose to have their ceremony in Tuolumne Grove to have more privacy. This is especially true earlier in the day, which is why they chose the morning. We were all by ourselves hiking into the grove, and did not see anyone else until we were hiking out after their ceremony (except for some curious deer).
The hike into Tuolumne Grove is 2.5 miles roundtrip, with 500ft of elevation gain on the way out. You are essentially hiking downhill the whole way in, and uphill the whole way out. It is a relatively easy hike, but the uphill on the way out can be challenging. Allison and Kevin chose to hike in their wedding attire on the way in, but changed on the way out. There are no rules on elopement days!
Allison & Kevin chose to get married underneath the overturned root system of a giant sequoia tree for their Tuolomne Grove elopement. It felt like a private, little chapel in the middle of the woods. Meghan officiated the wedding, but as they read their vows it felt like they were the only two there. We are so happy these lovely, sweet people found each other.
After their beautiful ceremony under the sequoias, we headed back to the AirBnB for some SLEEP. After some rest and a charcuterie board, we headed out for a sunset hike. This hike was easy and absolutely gorgeous, but not accessible for those with mobility issues due to rough terrain and a little stream crossing.
This was also definitely the busiest part of their elopement day. Many couples, families, content shoots, and even a wedding were happening all at the same time. People were respectful and gave each other as much space as they could, but know that this was not a private location by any means. It was absolutely breathtaking, though! When you think about an elopement in Yosemite, this is probably what you imagine.
I could not be more grateful to Kevin & Allison for trusting us with such an amazing day! I would happily travel around the world for any of my clients.