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Serene Elopement in Yosemite National Park, CA | Yen & James

yosemite national park california elopement weddingTorn between an elopement and a traditional wedding, this couple forged their own path and found a way to enjoy the best of both worlds!

Although they envisioned an intimate outdoor ceremony, Yen and James understood the importance of including all of their loved ones in their special day. They initially planned to hold a backyard wedding, combining nature with tradition. When a family member voiced concern that guests might be unable to hear the ceremony if they moved forward with this plan, Yen made an important realization: the only person who truly needed to hear her vows was James.

“Where most couples would have given up and gone the traditional route, Yen and James fought for what they wanted,” photographer Randi Kreckman explains. “They planned the traditional wedding but also planned their own private ceremony beforehand in Yosemite… The result is something heartfelt and intimate, focusing more on their connection and the love they share…” The couple kept the planning process simple by ordering their attire online, creating their own floral arrangements and vow booklets, and relying upon family and friends for hair and makeup styling. The weather forecasted a chance of rain, but Yen and James were too excited to let this dampen their day. “I love finding the balance between wilderness and love,” Randi says. “I gave them space during their vows and watched the magic happen as James gave Yen the giggles before making her cry with some seriously sweet vows. Afterward, we focused on movement as we wandered through the valley.”

By telling Yen and James’ story, Randi hopes to inspire more couples to find a balance between their vision for what they want and managing any expectations voiced by others. “Yen and James got back to the basics of love by choosing to have an elopement before their traditional wedding… I really think that this could be a valuable story to share with couples who feel they have to have something traditional for family.”

Planning your elopement? Check out our Yosemite Elopement Guide.

Photography by Randi Kreckman Photography


“…the biggest thing I want to share is that couples really don’t have to choose one or the other when it comes to a wedding or an elopement. If eloping is something you really want or you want to make sure you have time with just the two of you in an epic space, you can definitely have a small ceremony before a traditional wedding. You can also have a post-wedding session, or just have a smaller wedding in a national park or somewhere out in nature. There are so many options now that there’s no reason to sacrifice getting the images of your love that mean the most to you. Just go for what will make you happiest while saying your vows and enjoying each other!”

[Randi Kreckman]


“Remember what’s important to you. This special celebration of love is about the two of you, and you should do… what makes you happy… our plans changed so many times… I took a step back from all the wedding planning and asked myself what [was most important] to me, and I came up with these things: I wanted us to exchange our vows outside somewhere beautiful, but I also wanted to get married in a Catholic church. I [wanted] to celebrate with all our family and friends, but really all that mattered to me was that James and I were together… And of course I wanted an awesome photographer to capture it! That’s when I proposed the idea [of] an elopement… [with] the bigger church wedding separately with our family and friends [later]. We chose both!”



“James and I love traveling, exploring, and hiking together. I always knew I wanted us to exchange our personal, sacred vows to each other [in nature]. We had a few places in mind, but when we visited Yosemite together, we [fell in] love the beauty of it. We loved the gray stone, green trees, and changing grounds… we both felt something special and knew it was where we wanted to be when we spoke our promises to each other.”



“I found Randi through a blog… She always [put] so much time and thought into her detailed responses, [and] always offered help and advice! During the elopement, she made us feel so comfortable and… I love how she caught these natural beautiful moments. I can’t say enough [about] how much love and gratitude we have for Randi!”



“When James was reading his promises to me, [one part said], ‘… I am proud of what you have become as a woman. From seeing you finish school and graduating, to establishing yourself as a great hygienist… I used to only care about Levi’s 501 jeans, but now that I have met you, I also now care about my high jeans.’ Then he paused and kept staring at me… I thought he was trying to say something about how he used to care more about name brands, but after he met me he liked some non-name brands… I was very confused, and he kept saying, “HIGH JEANS. HIGH JEANS. HIIIIGH JEANS.” I could not get it… Afterwards we were chatting, and I told him I still did not understand. Then he said, “Hi, Jean,” and I got it. Hygiene. Oh, James.”


Hair & Lashes | Blend Studio
Gown Designer | Aidan Mattox 
Groom’s Apparel | Target

Thank you to Wandering Weddings member Randi Kreckman for sharing this session, and congratulations to Yen + James!

Member Spotlight Page | Randi Kreckman Photography

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