This elopement is a true testament to the planning process and how with intention and gumption, you can really have the day of your dreams.
Katie and Ben reached out to me wanting to elope in Zion (easy to see why- Zion is stunning). Katie and Ben had a very specific vision in mind- which I loved. They’d spent lots of time really visualizing what they wanted their day to look like. We went back and forth over a few locations and finally settled on two… only to find out 2 weeks out that one of their locations was suddenly closing on weekdays for trail maintenance. ::Sad trombone:: We revisited some old options, some new options, and a true plan was set.
But then! ::dramatic music:: Katie saw a recent star photo from a previous elopement and reached out curious about adding something like that to their day. I took a deep dive into google looking for a spot with great sky vies and, if we were lucky, a view of the Milky Way. Mostly out of curiosity I checked the spot they’d chosen to say their vows (a spot that happens to be a 7 mile round trip hike… a hike we were already doing very early for sunrise).
And wouldn’t you know the galactic core was going to be over their favorite spot right before sunrise. It was a longshot- would demand a very *very* early start time, a long hike in the dark, likely cold temps, and some downtime before it got light enough to resume photos. Even as I was pitching it I was thinking “This is ridiculous. Who would go for this?”
But Katie and Ben were STOKED by the whole idea- starting their elopement day under the milky way was exactly what they wanted and the type B fun of the early start sounded like their perfect kind of adventure.
So, on May 4th (May the 4th be with you) we set our collective alarm clocks for 1:00am, set out on our hike at 3:00am, and arrived at our location at 5:00am. Katie and Ben quickly changed in the dark for their starry photos and… well the results speak for themselves.
Once it got to late for star photos to continue (but it was still too dark for photos) the couple bundled back up, feasted on breakfast tacos they brought for the occasion, and we waited for the sun.
Once it was light enough they had the sweetest first look ever. Fun thing about AM star photos- they are in the dark. So Ben still didn’t have a very good idea of Katie’s (incredible Stevie Nicks inspired) elopement day look! Though already legally married, the couple exchanged meaningful words as sunlight hit the red rocks behind them. Then we got to take some fun portraits where- surprise- it was revealed Katie is pregnant and the couple will be sharing the news after their elopement. So yes- that means Katie hiked in the dark, in the cold, at crazy early hours, all while pregnant. Is she superwoman? Yes she is. Katie and Ben snuggled in the suns warmth (everyone was very grateful for the sun at that point- ya’ll it was COLD up there. Katie and Ben were such troopers. Thank goodness for handwarmers and fleece lined leggings!) and then we hiked back to the trailhead (with the cutest “Just Married” signs ever.)
We met up again for a sunset hike (were we traded cold for being super warm in the desert sun. It really is a place of extremes) where Katie and Ben got the valley views they were hoping for.
It was legit the best day- and not without struggles! Fatigue, cold, then heat… but the adventure was worth it. Katie and Ben kept saying all day how it was the perfect elopement for them- complete with people they love, views that were so meaningful to them as a couple, and experience they would never forget. Thank you so much, Ben and Katie. It was an immense honor to be trusted with documenting this chapter of your adventure 🙂
If you want to learn more about National Park Elopements, check out this post on How to Elope in a National Park.
— Ryan + Styhiln