This Arches National Park Wedding was so perfect you would never expect it was not the original plan. It seems it’s the narrative of 2020 that plans are made… and then plans change. And this wonderful elopement was no exception. When Haley and David reach out to me they planned on getting married in Yosemite, just the two of them. Yosemite had recently reopened and late September is a gorgeous time in the valley… but then a month before their elopement the devastating Creek Fire erupted through the Sierra Nevadas, just south of the park.
We kept an eye on the fire for a while, but with containment going slow and the air quality completely awful on the entire west coast, I had a call with Haley and David and advised them to start thinking about different options.
And to their everlasting grace and credit- they did so with smiles on their faces and positive attitudes. It’s no easy feat to pivot on a dime (less than two weeks before your wedding) but that’s exactly what they did. On that very phone call we decided to move things way further east, to Moab, and replan their day from scratch.
We got to work, quickly securing lodging, necessary permits, and plans were made. And while Arches National Park is… completely different than Yosemite (in almost every way), it still invokes that same sense of awe. Haley and David decided to split their day- spending their morning of their wedding at Arches and their intimate, two person reception at Canyonlands in the evening. This is one of my absolute favorite ways of structuring a timeline. Sunrise/sunset is often the time spots are the least crowded, it allows for more fun and more locations, the couple gets to chill and relax during mid day, and the photographer in me loves sunrise and sunset light 🙂
The morning of their Canyonlands and Arches National Park wedding dawned… sunny, cold, and windy. Haley and David were total champs with the cold, adventuring around some of my favorite arches at sunrise. It was so fun getting to see Haley and David experience the park for the first time. They’d never been to the desert (and being a huge desert fan myself) it was fun for me to experience it through their fresh eyes.
They said their vows, just the two of them, in one of my favorite spots in the park (a sweet, quiet spot that also offered some protection from the wind!). We explored some nooks and crannies before breaking for midday (giving us a change to nap- and also empty all the sand from our boots), then coming back together at Canyonlands for some celebrating.
Haley and David shared some DELICIOUS cake (I would know- I was lucky enough to score some) and had a first dance overlooking the desert. They finished off their perfect day with a champagne celebration just as the sun set and the sky put on a show. It was such a wonderful time- Haley is such a positive soul and didn’t stop smiling the entire day, while David (claiming to be afraid of heights) totally impressed me with willingness to dance and celebrate beside cliff edges.
As their perfect day wound down, it was hard to believe their Arches National Park wedding wasn’t their initial plan.
Want to know more about eloping in Moab? Check out my Moab Elopement Planning Guide. Or if you are curious about the general process about eloping in a national park, my National Park guide on elopements is a great starting off point 🙂
— Ryan + Styhiln