Courtney tugged on my heart strings when she mentioned in her inquiry that her and Adam were engaged a few days prior and the first thing she had to do was contact me. She had followed me on instagram for awhile in admiration of Yosemite and my worked. Swoon :). They chose October, midweek. May and October are my favorite months in Yosemite, for so many reasons. Pair that with a intimate elopement and I’m in heaven.
They decided to make their home base at Rush Creek Lodge while visiting. If you have never been there I highly suggest it, i recommend Everygreen Lodge more, which is owned by the same family and just down the road. Both theses lodges have the rustic woods atmosphere, pools, LOTs of games for the family and great restaurants. Rush Creek is a far drive from where I live but its so worth it.
Elopements are really flexible with time and locations. We emailed back and forth about the pros and cons of some locations. One reason its good to hire a local is because we know the seasons and have a better idea on the weather, road closures and fires. For instance: Courtney and Adam liked the views at Bridalveil falls look out. They were looking at images with a rushing river, green bushes and a raging waterfall. Thats in May… one reason I love May is the WATER! But they were eloping in October, by that time of year the waterfalls are a trickle (unless it rains), plants are not blooming and the water level is down. Also the lighting is different. There are so many factors to consider in the realm of photography and Yosemite with its seasons.
Anyways, back to Rush Creek. Courtney put together the cutest gift bags for their closest loved ones. And Adam brought some bitters to share with everyone. If I still enjoyed a glass I would have liked to try his creation. The welcome card was stunning with a beautiful watercolor image of Tunnel View and the sweetest appreciation and blessing for those who attended. Both Courtney and Adam have lost their mothers, Courtney also has lost her dad. Maybe ‘lost’ isn’t the correct word. They are watched over from heaven. Adam had an image of his mother, on her wedding day with the biggest smile and silky sleeves, with him. I love to see images from the past of wedding days. The style maybe different but the love and smiles are always the same. Adam placed this picture in the breast pocket of his jacket. She will always be near and in his heart. Hal and Jeremy, Adams dad and brother, where with Adam while he got ready. My super awesome second shooter, Krystal Preciado, captured these guys as they hung out, got ready and got some sweet shots of Adam writing things, opening a present from Courtney and straightening dads tie. Meanwhile in Courtneys room she was surrounded by her stepparents, brother and stepsister. I always love it when I see the Bride doing her own make up and hair, or has a loved one helping. It’s all so intimate and I feel so blessed to be the only ‘stranger’ witness such a day. Courtneys stepdad, Miles, was reading a book on the deck. He was to stay outside as they planned to do a father/daughter first look. Miles hadn’t even seen her dress. While I was photographing the details Sharon, Courtney’s stepmom, filled me in on some of the precious details. One of the rings she was wearing was pieced together; the band from her dad and the jewel from Miles. I may have cried a bit. Courtney was practical with her shoes, which tied in well with her flowers and dress. She looked stunning! Her smile! Its such a bright and warm smile, especially when her eyes lit up. I positioned her and Miles for the first look. Miles was stunned when he turned around. He cried, she cried, Sharon cried, I cried. Then she showed him the ring and that just sent him over the edge. You could see how touched he was. I love my job because of these moments.
We headed to Yosemite! But not before Courtney put the train of her dress in a trash bag. Wow, never seen that before and it was genius! A great way to keep it clean. We arrived to Cathedral Beach in Yosemite Valley. There Adam and the rest of the family were enjoying the beauty around them while they waited. Courtney was escorted down the sandy aisle by Miles and Sharon, with only one vail fail ;). And Adam stood tall, almost frozen but lit up. I get my shot of Adam and Courtney then trusting my second shooter I relax and watch the moment. While shooting I’m thinking about the shot, the position of the videographer, my position, the expression of everyone there and aware of myself so that im not in the way. It all happens so fast. But there is always a few moments I can breathe and be present with the moment and those in it. I can rest my camera down, look at Adams face and body language as his Bride approaches, I can watch Courtney looking around at her loved ones, the mountain standing tall behind them and I can see her breath being held in her chest. Those moments when life is so powerful we forget we live in our human body and must breathe haha. It’s like this big build up where the air is thick, all noise goes away, tunnel view on one another, shoulders are little tense and the breath is shorter, or not even there ;). There seems to be a slight moment where they are are no longer in their bodies, rather communicating with their Souls. Then the officiant speaks. And back to this beautiful reality. Back to remembering how to breath. Back to the sensations.
The family created a circle around Courtney and Adam to pray/bless the weddings bands. Everyone there held the bands and sent their own prayer in silence. Then everyone joined hands. This always makes me feel lighter. To know that the good vibrations are being shared through intentional touch and the energy of all that matters in life, love, is being shared and charged around the couple is a powerful ceremony. Another moment felt more energetically than physically.
They wrote their own vows and both had great love and humor to share. Everyone laughed and lit up. Im crying a bit right now thinking about how beautiful this ceremony was. The look in Adams eye while putting the ring on Courtney finger was so focused. I feel like he didn’t even need words, just his eyes to speak for him. After the I Dos and kiss everyone cried, laughed, embraced and were joyful. We did some family formals then everyone left to explore the park some more while the newly weds, Courtney’s brother, Nathan, and us set off for an evening of photos around Yosemite.
If you notice the images are a bit hazy and warm thats because there was a big fire near by. Fires have become a common thing around here. But it always seems to work out. We went around the valley snapping photos here and there. Doing our best to avoid the crowds. Tunnel View is stunning and kind of a must, everyone knows this and stops there. So we waited for an opening in the crowed then got a few quick shots on the wall. One more veil fail as the wind took it to the ground. Adam, in his wedding suit, jumped over the wall to the get it, then climbed back up :). Don’t worry, it’s not a crazy drop off. After that we headed to the Taft Point trail head for a short hike then sunset to end the day.
Taft Point at sunset is something everyone should experience. I would like to ask that everyone respect the moment and whisper if you wish to speak. I understand the exhilarating feeling of standing on a cliff, feeling your heart beat out of your chest and connecting with God and Nature that you must voice it, UUUUHHHWEEEE! In the same respect to silence; Watching the sunset can mean so many things for so many people. It is a reflection of the day. It is the beginning to the silence of the night. A time to rest. A moment to praise. A moment to feel alive and be thankful. For some people it is the first time they have felt alive in a while. A sunset can mean so much. Respect those around you and go inward.
Courtney was fearless on the edge while Adam was a bit more reserved. All in one day I got to see the love and fear in his eyes lol. Totally understandable. They danced around the area, snuggled, giggled, looked, took selfies and loved. I always feel so blessed when I’m sharing the sunset at Taft Point with a couple. I usually step back and let them have the moment alone. I have been up there for clear skies, fog, snow, rain and smoke. The smoke in the sky made for some interested images and also a stunning sunset. I am so thankful, I can’t express it enough with words. Just know I cry on the wedding day, while editing photos, and in reflection. From the first email to the continued joy through watching ya’ll grow on instagram I am blissfuly grateful to have met you and document your wedding day. This goes for everyone I meet 🙂
May you be Happy,
Kate Michelle Photography
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