Riverside Adventure: Hannah & Steven’s Earth Day Elopement

Riverside Adventure: Hannah & Steven’s Earth Day Elopement

Hannah and Steven shared a special love for Mother Earth and decided to share their elopement day with Earth Day. The rivers and the trees stood witness, as they both adventured together and had the most loving wedding day. This intimate celebration in the Sequoia National Park foothills included family and a “just us” vow ceremony.

Ready to plan a similar adventure together? Search for an elopement vendor here.

A Symphony of Intention and Love

Photography by Pam Jeanne Photography

From the start, Hannah and Steven’s journey surrounded intentionality. With a love for Mother Earth, every aspect of their elopement was carefully chosen. Earth Day became the canvas on which they painted their commitment to each other and the planet. The venue, a house by the river in Kern River, held significance as a midpoint in their journeys, a place of reflection and anticipation during their adventures together.

“It was an incredibly beautiful experience working with them as I watched them excitedly explore the area we were visiting together — climbing into caves, touching the moss on rocks, admiring the wildflowers lining the trail, feeling the cold water run through their fingers. They weren’t just there because it was a pretty area, they were there because it meant something so deep to both of them where they could “celebrate the earth and the water.” [Pam, the photographer]

Navigating the Wilderness

Pam offered some insight for couples considering a similar elopement. The location, being next to a river, requires visitors to pay special attention to Leave No Trace principles. With still photography not requiring a permit at the time, the focus was on responsible waste disposal and respecting the environment.

“Since permit requirements change frequently, I recommend reaching out to the SEKI permit office to double-check whether one is required for your specific use.
Since the location is next to a river (ie. a water source), it is especially important to dispose of waste properly and scattering any liquid waste more than 200ft from the water source if packing out is not feasible. Also, refrain from plucking wildflowers (leave what you find!).” [Pam, the photographer]

Her advice included staying updated on park conditions, especially after significant weather events, and preparing for mosquitoes during sunrise and sunset. She emphasized the need for suitable footwear, especially if hiking along the river. She shares the winter season is difficult to elope in the area since there are a good amount of trail/park closures.

Memorable Moments During This Elopement

The private exchange of their wedding vows held a magical surprise. Steven unwrapped a watch, and as the box opened, time froze at precisely 7:25 a.m.—a beautiful moment capturing the essence of their day.

Pam’s favorite moments included observing Hannah and Steven’s deep connection with nature and the thoughtful details like the label on Hannah’s dress, echoing their commitment to “honoring Mother Earth.”

We’re so happy that we went forward with our little elopement/surprise wedding — it felt right for us and we didn’t need to sacrifice on any of our values or what we wanted/didn’t want because of it. Since we had our family present for the surprise wedding ceremony, we knew we were losing the intimate moment of sharing our vows with one another. Pam was awesome in suggesting that we can go off somewhere in the morning before the day under the ruse of ‘going on a hike’ to have our own moment for ourselves where we share our vows with one another and just for one another.” [The couple]

Budgeting For Your Elopement

For couples inspired by Hannah and Steven’s journey, their estimated cost breakdown provides a practical guide. With a budget of just over $12,000 for 14 people, they prioritized the venue and photographer, recognizing the importance of capturing the essence of their day.

The majority of their budget went towards photography and Airbnb with separate rooms. Other expenses included decorations, food, drinks, and meaningful gifts.

“Whenever we go up to and back from Oregon, we always stop in Kern River. It’s a ‘mid-way’ point that we’ve used to charge up during long drives by jumping into the river or soaking in the hot springs. It’s where we reset to get ready for the vacation and fun of Oregon AND where we unwind for one last time before coming back to LA to get back into the groove of things with work and stuff. It just made sense that we should look to Kern River as the place for us to have our wedding, where we can reset our life as husband and wife.” [the couple]

A Day of Surprises and Joy

The surprise element for their parents, who believed they were attending a family weekend, added an extra layer of joy. The couple’s siblings, co-officiants, and confidantes, contributed to the magic of the day, keeping the surprise under wraps until Hannah and Steven emerged in wedding attire.

Even though we wanted to do a full ‘just us’ elopement, we also knew we wanted to celebrate with our immediate family, those who had seen our relationship grow over the decade. And so we planned on having a family week/weekend getaway to Portland just for fun, where we would then surprise everyone with the fact that we’re going to get married with a small ceremony.” [The couple]

The day concluded with a candlelit dinner reception by the river, a collaborative effort by the entire family.


Dress: Christy Dawn
Rings: Lina Jewelry
Neon Sign: House of Rounds (Etsy)
Photographer: Pam Jeanne Photography

Photos From This Elopement

Ready to Elope?

Explore our California Elopement Packages