yosemite national park california mountain elopement wedding

East Coast natives Brittany and Brian truly embraced the adventure of saying “I do.”

Feeling most at home in the wild, the couple traveled to sunny California to exchange vows in a private Yosemite ceremony, basking in the park’s vast beauty. Their photographer, Laura Harding, says capturing their love was easy. “They kept each other laughing and smiling all day, and you could tell they were just living in the moment and soaking in every minute,” she shares. “My creative process for these pictures was to make sure the landscapes and nature were included along with the intimacy between Brittany and Brian. They both love the outdoors and wanted that to be a part of their elopement, as it has been a big part of their lives so far… It was intimate, personal, and a perfect representation of the two of them.”

The anticipation was palpable as the couple eagerly awaited their first look near Cook’s Meadow. “You could feel the excitement between them both,” Laura recalls, and her own heart began to race as she watched Brian catch his first glimpse of his bride. Although they admit there was a moment when they felt the absence of their families, both Brittany and Brian were without regret at the end of the day. Standing hand in hand at Glacier Point, they took in their first sunset as husband and wife and felt certain they had chosen the right path. “Eloping means there are no rules [or] expectations,” Laura says. “You can truly make your day reflect exactly who you are as a couple and make it that much more meaningful!”


“I had been following elopement photographers through Instagram for a while and had fallen in love with the idea of a National Park elopement… As a couple, Brian and I bond over anything and everything outdoorsy… Not to mention the struggle we experienced every time we tried planning a full-blown wedding – nothing quite felt like us. We wanted intimacy, and we wanted to 100% enjoy our day without the stress and expense of a 100+ guest wedding. We live simply and aren’t super glamorous or formal people, so a fancy wedding didn’t make sense to us, and to be honest, neither of us enjoyed even entertaining the idea of being the center of attention, being overwhelmed with the hectic mess of a wedding, or being swamped with greetings from guests. It would have taken away from us bonding and sharing our day, moment by moment, together.


No distractions, no pressure, just us in nature being our genuine, authentic, best selves. It was truly indescribable bliss, and I wish I could relive the entire day on repeat forever.”



“When choosing our location, the options were infinite! I personally had never been to Yosemite. Brian had, but he was fairly young when he visited, so Laura was capturing the purest amazement we were experiencing amongst Yosemite’s grandeur. Yosemite is such a majestic, breathtaking masterpiece. I’m also a devoted admirer of John Muir, the greatest advocate Yosemite has ever known. We actually had a favorite John Muir excerpt read during our ceremony. It brought on the waterworks for sure.”


“Yosemite is incredibly romantic and adventurous. It’s the most beautiful place we have ever been together, and now Yosemite holds a special place in our hearts.”



“It was actually much simpler than I ever imagined… We simply coordinated with Laura, and she was amazing at finding the best spots for breathtaking photos… I Googled and booked the best of the best – a highly rated stylist, florist, and officiant. Since we flew across the country from the East Coast, we needed to be able to trust in who we hired – we didn’t have room for error. We got our marriage license two days before our wedding, [and] that process was a lot simpler than I thought it’d be… The planning wasn’t stressful because we were passionate about our wedding vision and excited about the entire trip in itself. Experiencing the vision manifest in real time still feels surreal. It was wise on our end that we strayed from the norm for the sake of our happiness.”


“The entire experience felt so natural… We didn’t have to put on any fake smiles for the camera. Our joy came from such intense appreciation and [the] happiness that only nature can provide.”



“During the ceremony, we were missing the element of having family and our closest friends there to celebrate with us, but to be honest, the day was still perfect. Our advice for couples who are considering an elopement is that at the end of the day, just be sure to put yourselves first. Do what makes you happy as a couple… Our day was carefree and felt so natural [because] we were in our element… it didn’t surprise people we knew one bit that we chose to elope in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”


Elopements are not selfish… Elopements are so special and intimate on a level that is indescribable and irreplaceable.”



Florals | Jennifer Lyster of The Enchanted Florist and Whatnots
Hair & Makeup | Grace DeMasters of Bellissimo Brides
Bridal Designer | BHLDN
Suit Designer | Polo Ralph Lauren
Officiant | Reverend Jack Climer with Mountain Valley Ministries

Thank you to Laura Harding for sharing this session, and congratulations to Brittany + Brian!

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