The last three weeks have been a blur. I had the amazing opportunity to photograph Chantelle & Nicole at their Yosemite elopement earlier this month. The entire experience was a dream-come-true, and thus, I’m not sure how to put my excitement and gratitude into words, but I’m going to try.
Chantelle & Nicole considered having a large wedding back home in Louisiana. However, when they began planning, they quickly found the process of planning a large wedding to be overwhelming and distracting from the true meaning of the day — their union and vows to spend the rest of their lives together. Thus, they began contemplating eloping. At first the plan was to elope in Costa Rica; however, with strict guidelines that prohibited a true legally binding marriage ceremony, they turned their hearts to Yosemite. Nicole explained that she’s a nature girl! She loves hiking, exploring and getting out of New Orleans (where they currently live) and into the wild as much as possible. Nicole is a girl after my own heart! Thus, Yosemite Valley was chosen for their intimate ceremony and union.
I stayed at Yosemite West, which is about 17 minutes away from the famous Tunnel View. My condo was minutes away from Chantelle & Nicole’s. When I showed up to their condo, I was delighted at the modern interior with lots of natural light. Since this was an elopement, the atmosphere was very laid back with no attendants or family around. Mimosas, music and conversation filled the early-afternoon as I shot their carefully curated details.
I was BLOWN AWAY by the floral design by Anthony at Floréal! How incredible are these flowers?!
Once hair and makeup was done, Chantelle & Nicole hid away into separate rooms to slip into their wedding attire and put on the final touches. Since it was just me and these two ladies, I went full-on concierge running hairspray between them and tying up Nicole’s bustier bodice (a first for me!).
When it came time for their first look, I positioned Chantelle outside on the deck, which offered a view of pines shrouded in mist. This was such a lovely moment to witness <3
After their first look, we departed for El Capitan Meadows. We were all nervous about the rain and were praying that it held off for the ceremony. When we arrived, Donnie Alexander of Yosemite Adventure Elopements met us and prepared for the ceremony. (A special thank you to Donnie for holding my umbrella while shooting portraits after the ceremony!)
The three of us spent a lot of time researching ceremony locations in the park. There are SO many amazing spots in Yosemite Valley, it’s hard to choose just one! Luckily, we didn’t have to choose only one spot for photographs since there weren’t any guests or family to coordinate with. Chantelle & Nicole chose El Capitan Meadows for their ceremony location. The meadow is closed during the summer to preserve the delicate grasses that grow there. However, during the winter, you can walk out into the meadow and revel in awe and the grandeur of El Capitan’s granite rock wall.
Chantelle & Nicole exchanged vows and rings in the chapel of nature. Smiles, laughter and tears were met with a sprinkle of rain followed by a dramatic spot of sunlight on El Capitan’s face.
After the ceremony, we drove the loop around the valley and stopped at Yosemite Falls — one of the world’s highest waterfalls with two plunges totalling 2,425 feet! The trail to the base of the falls was one of my absolute favorite locations in the park. It was *perfect* for photos with pops of color from the greenery, red tree bark and white snow. Seriously, y’all.
We ended our time in the valley at the famous Tunnel View. It’s kind of a hard spot to miss (unless the valley is enshrouded in fog) and offers a “highlights” view of the valley including sights of El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls and Cathedral Rocks, Half Dome, and the valley floor.
Chantelle has so much swagger.
I cannot express my gratitude and just how happy I am for Chantelle & Nicole. I feel like I’ve made friends for life. Chantelle is a family friend and like I said, Nicole is a fellow outdoorswoman. I can’t wait to spend more time with these two back home in NOLA.
Congrats to their union and an unforgettable adventure!