Desert Elopement at Pyramid Lake, Nevada

pyramid lake nevada elopement wedding

Archeologists Shannon and Mark wanted a ceremony that was intimate, meaningful, and set in the heart of the Nevada desert.

“The day started out snowing and super windy, so I wasn’t sure how everything would turn out,” photographer Carrie Tompkins says. “But as I drove out to Pyramid Lake, the weather cleared, and the heavens literally opened up to beautiful rays of sunshine and perfect conditions… Pyramid Lake is such a stunning and sacred location, as it is a Paiute Tribe Reservation… The desert landscape and amazing rock formations surround this magical lake oasis, and the solitude of wilderness when no one else is around is amazing.”

The couple managed to plan their entire elopement in a single weekend, just two weeks before saying “I do.” They found special ways to integrate family traditions into their nuptials, and these details helped them feel closer to their loved ones. “They put a lot of thought and intention into their elopement,” Carrie shares. “Shannon incorporated several family heirlooms and customs to have traditions on her special day, [and] Mark is a talented woodworker and handmade their wedding rings and elopement sign… They said the sweetest vows to each other, danced alone in the desert to music on a phone, and shared beautiful intimate moments together. They truly enjoyed their special day to the fullest in the peaceful beauty of the sacred desert.”

Now that’s our kind of wedding!

Photography by Carrie Tompkins Photography


“We wanted an intimate ceremony where we could freely celebrate our love for each other without the stresses that tend to arise when one has to play host and hostess to friends and family… When you elope, the world is your oyster! You are not restricted by venues, dates, times, etc. You can get married anywhere, anytime… We spent hours scrambling around on tufa formations, dancing in the desert, and cuddling as the sun set… It was just the two of us together, and it was just such an intimate, romantic, and relaxed vibe.”

[Shannon, The Bride]


“It was very important [that we have] the ceremony in a location that was meaningful to us. When our photographer, Carrie Tompkins, suggested our ceremony spot, it all just clicked. To be surrounded by the very things we love – the Nevada desert – was absolute perfection.”



“All of the arrangements for our elopement took place in one weekend, just two weeks before our ceremony…. The first thing I did was research photographers and officiants. Once I booked them, it all rolled from there. I have to give massive props to our photographer, Carrie, who was so helpful in the planning process. She arranged the ceremony time, location, and even a florist who provided me with the most stunning bouquet of wildflowers… Mark is a woodworker on the side and made our wedding rings out of strips of walnut, so the stresses of ring shopping were nonexistent.



The most difficult part of planning our elopement was keeping it a secret. There [were] so many people I wanted to share the experience with… I did, however, tell my parents ahead of time, and I am so happy I did because [they] passed down to me a few special family heirlooms to wear for the ceremony. [One was] a beautiful necklace that my grandmother made from [my great-grandmother’s] wedding ring. The other family heirlooms included my grandmother’s blue garter for my something blue and a dime from the 1950s to wear in my shoe. My mother and older sister wore these same items during their weddings, and even though they weren’t able to be there with me to celebrate, their presence was strong thanks to these traditions.”



Florals | Boho Bouquets
Officiant | Your Memorable Day

Thank you to Wandering Weddings member Carrie Tompkins for sharing this session, and congratulations to Shannon + Mark!

Member Spotlight Page | Carrie Tompkins Photography

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