COVID threw a wrench in some many plans for 2020 and weddings were one of the social events hit the hardest. Couples became more open to elopements and smaller weddings to work around restrictions and still have the day of their dreams. Katie and Ken chose to have their outdoor and adventurous day in Yosemite with two of their closest friends. In fact, the friend they brought along not only introduced them to one another but became an officiant to marry them as well. In this blog post you will get a break down of our day, our struggles, and some tips on a successful Yosemite elopement.
I should start with saying that Katie is an EXCEPTIONAL planner. She mapped out all of the locations she wanted to shoot at, made sure to buy tickets way in advance, and had a detailed timeline of what she wanted to accomplish. Somethings were out of our hands like traffic and *hangovers* (lol) but it still made for some gorgeous shots.
We started out our day at Glacier Point which provides you with a clear and wide view of Half Dome. This is where we did our first look and a good portion of the portraits.
I would recommend at this point you use the restroom because they are hard to come by at our next spot! And if you are wearing a dress, make sure you have someone help you keep it clean in the bathroom. There is no soap or other type of luxuries at these porta johns so bring your own antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, and other essentials.
From Glacier Point we made a short drive to the entrance of the Taft Point hiking trail. This is where it. got. real. Parking is EXTREMELY limited even with the entry limitations Yosemite had due to COVID. This was an extremely popular spot and people were parking in ditches on the side of the road to try and squeeze in. We parked about a thousand feet from the entrance and walked along a narrow shoulder of the road to get to the entrance.
Now, I didn't think this "hike" would be bad. It was a 1 mile hike to Taft Point from the entrance which in my head wouldn't be a big deal. It was mostly a flat trail with a few rocks to walk over. There were quite a few brides in dresses walking along this trail too! I even saw children. Katie and Ken made it look EASY. But... admittedly... I was struggling. Apparently I wasn't as fit as I would like to think! Ken is a firefighter with CalFire and Katie is an avid runner. They knocked out this hike without breaking a sweat (picture below of Katie and Ken mid hike). So if you are a photographer with a lot of gear, PREPARE TO SWEAT.
Once at Taft Point we were slightly behind schedule due to our party being not as fit as the bride and groom. But let me tell you it was SO worth it and I would do another elopement here in a HEARTBEAT.
At this point, the sun was quickly setting and we weren't sure we would make it to our last spot, the ceremony site, in time. By the time we made it back to the vehicle it was completely dark but we pushed on to get these two MARRIED!
Final thoughts and tips:
Lodging in the area the night before and night of is a MUST. We all stayed in Oakhurst. Hotels and other lodging were extremely affordable. I stayed at Yosemite Southgate Hotel & Suites and it was a really nice spot surrounded by tons of food and shopping choices. The hotel itself was a very clean and comfortable stay.
Start earlier than you think you need to! Our goal was to be at Glacier Point at 4 pm but there are so many unforeseen challenges (like someone being slower than you expect on a hike *cough* me *cough*) you want to be extra safe!
Bring the essentials: water, snacks, wipes (to clean yourself up), and beauty touch up items like a brush, blotting paper, extra make up for touch ups, etc.
Bring an extra pair of shoes! Slip on some shoes up for the walk and the hike and pop on your fancy shoes after. OR hide those hiking shoes under your dress (no one will know).
Order your permits and vehicle passes at least a month in advance. Tickets move super fast for Yosemite so make sure you and all of your guests, photographer, videographer, etc. purchase tickets early on in your planning process.