Destination Wedding: Chrissy&Mark Part 1

Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”
― Ansel Adams

Oh where to begin...I knew from our first conversation that Chrissy and I were going to be two peas in a pod. She is just so down to earth, caring, full of life and one with nature. I always ask my brides their story of how they met their future husbands and when I asked Chrissy, she said "Well its a long story, but we really fell in love in Yosemite". They first met at Mark's brother's wedding, which apparently was planned by his brother and sister-in-law, Matt and Gillian. Let's just say props to Gillian and Matt for making a brilliant pair. Chrissy went on to tell me about their relationship and how it blossomed, she described Mark as a nature lover, climber, adventurer, kind and tender man (who also loves snakes- like seriously loves them and would own thousands if he could). When we finally got to meet Mark, I think we all kind of felt we had been friends for a long time and were just picking up where we left off. 

At each wedding, you aren't just a photographer- you really end up being an emotional supporter and sometimes organizer, seamstress, flower arranger etc. basically you have to be prepared to wear whatever hat is necessary:) Since Yosemite National Park was so special to them, Chrissy and Mark decided to have an intimate ceremony there. Sadly, the Government shutdown happened to fall right over their wedding date, so they scrambled to figure out plan B and ended up finding a beautiful lookout in Sierra National Forest. Long story short, about half way up our mountainous drive, we were forced to stop because of snow, Yes Snow. I don't know what bride wouldn't cry over such a frustrating situation, I even cried (but I'm a crier, I literally cry and all the ceremonies we photograph) I felt so bad for Chrissy.

So our next step was for the four of us to leave the chaos, go to Starbucks and brainstorm Plan C. They had rented a beautiful home and property for all the wedding festivities and for the reception so we had thrown around the idea of just doing the entire wedding there. It was unusually dry and there was a beautiful dried up river bed in the back yard, which really couldn't have served a better purpose, than for a ceremony! So Ceremony and Reception were taken care of- oh I should tell you this, we had thrown around the idea of a sunrise ceremony at Yosemite, because a few days earlier they were able to go drive through park. And we thought maybe, the rangers would let us do a quick ceremony and a few photos and leave, but then we decided it was too risky. None of us wanted to give up on Yosemite, so we decided that we would take a chance and try and do sunrise photos of Chrissy and Mark. We were all up about 4 am, we did a first look on the back deck, and left for a long and windy drive. I am so thankful that my husband was so willing to drive! Tyler and I had never been to Yosemite, so I was like a kid in a candy shop and I am already obsessed with trees and large scales, so this was truly breathtaking. As we drove up to the entrance, we noticed that the only road open was one that went through Yosemite Valley, but heck we were happy with anything in the park. The sun started to tease us, peaking threw the thin, tiny trees that topped the gigantic mountains. It was just a dreamy ride of fog, blue tones, and just kept getting better and better as we drove- I honestly feel as though words and photos cannot accurately describe what it like to experience the scale, beauty and sheer magnificence of this place.

We finally made it into the valley and I am pretty sure that all of stopped breathing as we saw a ranger stopping cars in the distance. When it was our turn, I made sure that I had all of my equipment visible, in hopes of him letting us get out and take some quick shots. He asked us what we were planning on doing, told him our story and he simply said, "Congratulations and enjoy your time." So with cameras and blankets in hand, we had just over 30 minutes to photograph in 30 degrees! The whole time we photographed, I felt as though the enormous mountains were watching us and I kept looking up in disbelief at just how amazing this whole experience was. So as we were driving back out of the park, Chrissy was telling us her Yosemite stories and told us that literally, every time she goes to Yosemite she sees a bear. As we approached the last two turns before the classic pull off photo spot, we noticed two cubs just chilling in some leaves. Now, don't worry I'm not stupid enough to get out my car, so we enjoyed the cuteness from a distance and I was just shocked at how this trip could get any better. Our final photos in Yosemite are lovely and I'm pretty sure the mountains were all smiling for us;)

The day continued without a single hiccup and we made it back with plenty of time for the ceremony! It was a simple, intimate ceremony with friends and family. They had a guitar player, her father walked her down then aisle and performed the ceremony, it was perfect. Chrissy and Mark are passionate climbers and chose to tie a climbing knot to represent the two becoming one. The Reception that followed was decorated beautifully and so many personal touches within the decorations. We enjoyed some delicious, wood fired pizza, made right in front of us and finished off with a naked cake. It really was the perfect day, no problems and a lot of love:)

 The day before the wedding and starting to see that plan B for the ceremony, might not happen.

The day before the wedding and starting to see that plan B for the ceremony, might not happen.

 First look in the wee hours of the morning.

First look in the wee hours of the morning.

 Once we entered the valley, we were greeted by this gentle giant.

Once we entered the valley, we were greeted by this gentle giant.

 This is how cold it actually was..... 32°

This is how cold it actually was..... 32°