Desert Dreams: Sierra + Colton’s Intimate Capitol Reef Elopement
At Wandering Weddings, we cherish the stories of couples who dare to break away from tradition and carve their unique path toward marriage. Sierra and Colton’s elopement at Capitol Reef National Park in Utah is an epic adventure to get inspired to elope this year.
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About This Elopement at Capitol Reef in Utah
Sierra and Colton, true desert lovers, sought an unconventional celebration at Capitol Reef National Park, specifically at the Temple of the Sun and Moon. Their elopement adventure started with a sunrise ceremony in a remote spot 17 miles into the desert, illuminated by the soft glow of the full moon.
“Sierra and Colton got ready on either side of their car, then hiked out to their ceremony spot – bundled in layers as we waited for the sun to rise.
We arrived just as the light began to crest the horizon. There are some places in nature that just feel like they were made for a wedding ceremony, whether it be a rock just big enough for two people to stand together as they read their vows, an arch carved into the red rock landscape, or a cliff’s edge. The spot where Sierra and Colton read their vows might have been my favorite natural alter of all. They stood framed by two giant sandstone monoliths on either side, with another one towering in the distance behind them.
After our sunrise adventure, we all took a little mid-day break before meeting up again in the evening. Sierra and Colton snuggled in their bed together for some photos, before getting dressed to head back out into Capitol Reef. They both ride motorcycles (with license plates that say “Bonnie” and “Clyde”), so we decided to head out for a sunset ride through the park. Sierra strapped her bouquet to the back of her bike and they rode hand and hand (literally) through the winding desert roads. We stopped to explore as the sun set behind the red cliffs, before heading back to their A-frame for the best homemade carrot cake I’ve ever tasted!” [Carissa, the photographer]
Tips for this Location From The Photographer
Carissa shares crucial insights for couples considering a similar elopement. Obtaining a special use permit for remote locations is essential (this particular one at Capitol Reef is $100), emphasizing the significance of Leave No Trace (LNT) principles, especially in delicate desert environments.
“The main concern with LNT in the desert is avoiding the cryptobiotic soil. Fortunately, we did not see any crypto at this location, but it’s always important to be aware of that and stay on the trails / trafficked areas. We were also very careful to pack all food and trash out, so as not to leave anything behind! These remote locations are so pristine and untouched, and it’s so important that we keep them that way.” [Carisaa, the photographer]
Her top tip? Choose a sunrise ceremony for a magical, solitary experience. Additionally, thorough preparation and hiring experienced vendors are imperative for safety in such remote locales.
Couple’s Decision to Elope
Sierra and Colton’s decision to elope stems from their desire for a private, intimate celebration focused on each other. Their love for Capitol Reef National Park, particularly the Temples of the Sun and Moon, played a significant role in choosing this unique location.
“Those who know us knew this would likely be how we got married. Eloping felt like a natural option as it allowed us to focus on each other and our day, rather than catering to a large group of friends and family. We wanted to keep the details minimal so we could have a relaxed and intentional day.” [The Couple]
Carissa’s involvement in the planning process eased the couple’s journey. From scouting locations to obtaining permits, the meticulous planning ensured a seamless experience. Sierra and Colton’s hands-on approach, including picking up flowers and making their own cake, added personal touches to their day.
“We also decided to split our day into two parts, a sunrise ceremony, and a sunset motorcycle ride to another location. This let us add in and document something that we love to do as a couple, riding our motorcycles together.” [The couple]
Sierra and Colton graciously share an estimated cost breakdown, offering valuable insights for couples in the planning stages:
- Photographer: $6000
- Permit: $100
- Attire (Sierra): $2200
- Attire (Colton): $1000
- Bouquet: $300
- Airbnb: $1400
- Makeup: $150
From the photographer:
“I loved our sunset experience. We headed out to a second location in Capitol Reef National Park, and they rode their motorcycles (with the license plates “Bonnie” and Clyde”). I followed them in my car, and at one point I watched them reach out and hold hands as they rode next to each other, through the winding desert road.”
From the couple:
“When we arrived at the location, we were anxious and it was still dark out so we didn’t look around us much. After we exchanged vows, we looked over the valley at the vast landscape, glowing in the sunrise. Looking out over the Temple of the Sun & Moon and knowing we had this spot all to ourselves was incredible. We have visited Capitol Reef a few times, but the intention this time made it so meaningful.”
Photos From This Elopement