Adventure Elopement in the Western Sierras: Alison & Martin

High on a rocky orange peak stand the bride and groom against a bright blue and cloudy sky.

Bride and groom embrace on a mountain top with a view of the surrounding lakes and mountains.

Adventure elopements have become a new wedding craze and it’s easy to see why. They typically consist of a super chill couple, zero to 20 guests, and getting married / taking portraits in an epic setting. Some locations are very well known and very well photographed, like Taft Point in Yosemite; others are a little more off the beaten path. To find such places, in can take a very dedicated couple, as was the case with Alison and Martin. Being avid hikers, they knew they wanted to commemorate their day with a hike to a mountaintop and of course epic photographs to remember it all.

We spoke on the phone and after hearing a bit about their wedding plans, I gave Martin a “hell yeah we’re down!” (though not in those exact words) and then crossed my fingers. I’ve been telling Maurice for months how badly I wanted to photograph an adventure elopement; it just aligns with things we love, including being similar to how we arranged our own wedding.

Now, when Martin told me there was a six mile hike involved, I happily agreed (ummm, YES epic photos please!!) and said it was no problem. We’ve done six mile hikes. We like hiking. But it was on this very day, with this lovely newlywed couple, that we learned the difference between people who like hiking and people who are actual hikers. The hike was a biiiit more advanced than we were prepared for (read: we both wore our Doc Marten boots), but did we make it to the top? Heck yes we did. Did we make it back down? Obviously. Did we both imagine different scenarios which ultimately lead to us not making it down the mountain, because the way down was possibly even harder than the way up? Oooh yeah. We laughed about it as we drove back to our cabin that night.

A mountain and trees are reflected in a lake.Chairs are set up for a wedding ceremony in front of a lake and pine trees.Their ceremony was held in front of a peaceful lake in the Western Sierras, with twelve family members and four very close friends, all of whom showed up early to help set up for the celebration.

Guests help spread out gold tablecloths on a wooded patio.A woman smiles as she makes up the wedding bouquet.A lacy off-white wedding dress hangs from a pine tree with a lake and colorful leaves surrounding it.A pine cone sits among eucalyptus leaves as a centerpiece.The groom stands nervously with hands clasped waiting for his bride.The groom smiles as he sees his bride for the first time.The bride smiles as she sees her groom.A close up of the brides lacy dress leads as the groom holds her hand.A tear runs down the grooms cheek.Guests are candidly smiling and laughing together.The groom and officiant smile before the ceremony with a log cabin in the background.The father of the bride walks his daughter down the aisle.The father of the bride hugs his daughter.Guests are seated as the wedding ceremony takes place in front of the lake.A close up of the bride and groom holding hands while the officiant blesses them.A black and white of the ceremony.A very wide look at the entire ceremony showing all the guests, trees, and mountains surrounding them.Another lovely ceremony photo showing off the lake in the background.The bride and groom laugh during the ceremony while holding hands.Guests hold each other during the ceremony.A close up of the special tree engraved ring right before the groom places it on her finger.A black and white close up of the bride with her eyes closed and her hair blowing in the wind.The groom's hands are on the bride's cheeks as he goes in for the kiss.A close up of the kiss!The bride and groom smiling as they walk back up the aisle.The groom holds the bride's hand as he prepares to kiss it with the guests still seated in the background.A portrait of the bride and groom and all their guests in front of the lake and mountains.The groom kisses his mother.The groom's mother reacts in a sweet way to being kissed by her son.A candid of the grandfather laughing.The table scape shows white bowls, napkins with fall colored leaves, and pine cone centerpieces.An overhead view of the wedding luncheon shows homemade soups and cornbread.On the occasion of it being a November mountain wedding (we got lucky with the weather!), Alison’s mom made three different soups and cornbread, which was just awesome.

All guests are seated together enjoying their soup.Three different homemade wedding cakes are displayed with a copper M heart A as the cake topper.Her custom tree engraved wedding band and his dark grey band with a blue liner sit in the middle of the top of a pinecone.Dressed in hiking clothes, the couple smile for the camera in front of the mountain we will soon be on top of.The couple smiles at each other in front of the mountain we are about to hike.A long view of the bride, groom, and father of the bride hiking through the mountains.The bride and groom, dressed in hiking clothes, embrace right next to a lake.The couple hikes further up the mountain as the lake looms n the background.The couple turn to smile as they hike up in to the mossy trees.A bright green hiking jacket lays on the ground with wedding pants and tie laying on top of it.MY FAVORITE “GETTING READY” PHOTOS!!! Can’t beat the scenery…

A black and white of the groom getting ready in the mountains.The bride smiles as the groom buttons her dress sleeves and the wind blows through her hair.Black and white close up showing off the groom's ring as he buttons her dress.Ok, also my favorite “tying the shoe” shot… Hahaha it’s soooo good!!! The hiking shoes! Her dress! The trees!

Her white dress fans out white he helps lace up her hiking shoes.Now in their wedding attire, the bride and groom hold each other in front of moss covered trees and the sun streams in behind them.The groom helps zip up the bride's bright blue jacket on top of her wedding dress.Dressed in wedding attire and hiking jackets, the couple makes their way to the top of the mountain.The bride and groom are small on top of a glowing orange rocky mountaintop with dark blue cloudy skies behind them.The brides dress flows as she tosses it beside her, still standing on top of a bright rocky mountaintop.His hands are on her cheeks while they look at each other.His hands cradle her face as they go in for a kiss.A close up just after their kiss.His hands are on her shoulders as they stare in to each others eyes.He pulls her in close with one arm around her shoulder while they smile at one another.He kisses her forehead with a blurred out background of mountaintop and lakes.An epic wide view of the mountaintop and surrounding lakes as the wind blows her dress and they are tiny in the frame, standing out against a blue lake directly behind them.She fixes his tie as they carefully stand on the mountaintop.Her arms are around his shoulders as they stand against a mountain background.A closer up view of the couple on the mountaintop. Her white dress blowing in the wind and a lake perfectly framing them.A dramatic close up of her holding his arm while standing in golden light.Her hair blows in front of her face while he nuzzles her.They laugh as they wipe the snot from their faces! It was very cold.The above photo is what happens when you ask a couple to Eskimo kiss on a cold mountaintop… the snot must be wiped away. Hahaha… whoops!

Still laughing in the aftermath of the snot incident.A silhouette of the bride and groom along the peak of the mountain.Another silhouette as they hold hands raised in the air. A soft orange light and light blue sky make them glow as they hold each other.A full length view of the bride and groom holding each other with her dress softly blowing in the wind.Same pose but not his hand is on her arm and their foreheads are together.They are both facing the camera and candidly smiling.He zips up and pulls together her jacket on the mountaintop.Ahhh soooooo sweet.

Still holding her jacket tightly togeter to keep her warm, he pulls her in for a kiss.A wide view of a distant mountaintop and pastel sky as the sun sets.The setting sun shines through the silhouetted trees.Pine trees are silhouettes against a very bright red, orange, and blue sky.Everything about the day was perfect… even the hike! Even the freaking cold, windy mountaintop (thank you, wind, for the epic hair and dress movement). And thank you sunset! And of course, than you Alison and Martin for being super chill, super sweet, and super in love.

We all beamed that day for finding each other and for everything working out so well. They needed photographers that could hike (determination and dedication will get you far! At least 6 miles and 2000 feet) and photographs that weren’t blown out. We needed to take some well-exposed photos of some rad people on a mountaintop. I’ll never forget their first look and the tears that rolled down his face, and we surely will never forget that hike. But let me say, bring on the next adventure!

A night shot of the couple holding eachtother, back in their hiking clothes as they hike down the mountain.

- Julie

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