Sunrise Elopement in Yosemite


Sunrise Elopement in Yosemite

Of all the reddit connections.. who would have thought that a stray comment would lead to an incredible sunrise elopement in Yosemite? Well, me. Connecting with Kyrielle and Matt was just that easy. It was like we had been friends for decades. Maybe because they are one of the most hilarious, carefree and frankly ridiculous twosomes of all time. On our first meeting call, they asked me if my cameras could handle the rain, because if it rained, they would still be hiking and wanted me to join. Foreshadowing..

Sunrise Elopement Hike & First Look

I spent the night in my car at the trailhead for our 4:30am wakeup call. Lacing up our boots in the dark felt just right after all the planning and permitting that comes with any sunrise elopement in Yosemite. We packed their clothes in our bags and began the hike before dawn. They changed at the top, where we were completely alone. With clouds obscuring the eastern skies, there wasn’t any golden light. But the blue-purple light of pre dawn was just as beautiful. Their first look was jaw-dropping, as Kyrielle’s star-inspired dress was complimented by a double floor length veil. The breeze took hold of the veil immediately, and I joked that she looked like an “ethereal mess.” Thus, her trailname for the day was born. Matt was absolutely gobsmacked, and even more so when she put on a fake mustache for extra hilarity.

Sunrise Ceremony at Sentinel Dome

Soon it was time for the ceremony. I read them a few words, since I was also to be their officiant in this remote location. Then it was time for Rock Paper Scissors to determine who would read their vows first. She always wins and this morning was no different. They laughed, cried, and jumped up and down during their vows, making some of my favorite candid images of the day in the process. I declared them married and played the Parks & Rec theme song in place of a recessional, and they danced in just married bliss, which may have included some twerking from Matt. The backdrop of their sunrise elopement in Yosemite was Sentinel dome, which is positioned above Glacier point with epic views of Half Dome, Nevada falls, and Yosemite valley. Foreshadowing..

Elopement at Taft Point

We then hiked to Taft Point, through a mossy forest with panoramic views of the valley and Yosemite Falls. Apart from three Sooty Grouse, (#birdnerd) we were totally alone and enjoyed the views, views, and more views. Matt climbed a rock and got wedged up above us, and he may have farted. At Taft point, the sun came out, and Kyrielle immediately burnt to a crisp. We had our socks blown off by the sheer cliff and scenery – we could have spent all day there, but we had more to see! There were so many epic photos, it was hard to submit just 12 to WPJA’s Elopement Story Awards, where this pair were awarded my 26th story award for outstanding candid elopement photography.

Yosemite Elopement on Panorama Trail

Phase 2 of the elopement plan was finally happening, a hike I’d always look forward to doing! Enter the one-way descent from Glacier Point on Panorama Trail all the way to the bottom of Yosemite Valley. This plan was probably the most complex of any elopement scheme I’d made: I arranged for my husband to drive his truck to the bottom to pick us up, and then we’d head to a little forest spot outside of Yosemite for a small family ceremony near sunset. Leaving our cars at the top of the hike, we’d have to return after dark to retrieve them. On the way down the epic trail, it began to rain, but morale was high. All in all, it rained on us 3 times, soaking our entrepid heroes from head to toe and giving Kyrielle’s white dress a respectable mud patina.

Disaster or adventure?

Then we got a text from my husband halfway down the hike, that the keys to the truck were lost. I thought that I’d accidentally brought them with me, and they were now locked inside my car at Glacier Point. But to this day, we haven’t found them. We have a spare truck key, but the only key to the steering wheel lock was missing. Options were considered like my Husband biking to the hardware store, buying a power saw, and cutting off the wheel lock. After some frantic texting, Matt suggested we call his bretheren at the fire department for assistance. My husband ended up having to drill out the lock with a long drill bit, destroying it, while the firefighters watched. Yeahooo, we would have a way out of Yosemite after all! It rained again.

Nevada Falls Yosemite Elopement

The most stunningest areas of this 9 mile hike were crossing over the tops of Nevada Falls and Vernal falls. These two iconic waterfalls made us pause and rest our sore knees and revel in the magic of this incredible national park. There truly isn’t a more breathtaking landscape on our continent than Yosemite in summer. The rainbow in the afternoon light at Vernal falls was one I’ll never forget. We trudged on – what was meant to take 6 hours took us over 7 because of our aching bones. I chafed in places only my gynecologist knows about. We met up with my husband and blasted Gold Trans Am by Ke$ha on the stereo as he drove us out of the park in the darkness.

Family Elopement Ceremony at Yosemite

Their sweet immediate family members had flown out to Yosemite to witness the newlyweds re-read their vows to one another. But because we’d missed the last shreds of daylight, we couldn’t have the second family ceremony in pitch blackness that night. So we met back up the following day, in a small clearing in the forest, to make it happen. More tears were shed, Matt dropped his pants, there was a group hug and family photos to boot. Matt & Kyrielle set up their road-trip-mobile, a subaru outfitted with a glamping rig so they could get some photos that captured the reality of their giant national park road trip elopement. Things got delightfully weird when Matt playfully removed his shirt and posed, pin-up style on the hood of his car. Soon his brothers-in-law joined in.. and dropped their pants. It was a moment I will never forget.

One Comment

  1. Absolutely stunning!!!

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