I remember one of the first things J + E said to me:
“We are tree people.”
So it made sense why they chose Big Sur for their incredibly intentional, sweet, and personal elopement. Big Sur already held a special place in their heart, as a spot they visited frequently, so it only made sense to them that it would be where they eloped. J + E’s story is honestly? Incredible. I got to hear it a few times over the course of the days we spent together, and each time it stunned me. The short version: J + E knew each other in high school, dated in fact, until they went their separate ways for college. Fast forward 20 years and their paths crossed again, this time for good. It was super important to J + E that their respective daughters and family come together for a magical time. They wanted everyone to feel welcome, comfortable, and enjoy all the beauty that Big Sur offers. Because it wasn’t just two people getting married- it was two families coming together.
Something that made this really special was J really wanted candids. Lots of candids. Of course they wanted the magazine cover banger shots but really, wanted the photos to capture the love and personalities of all present. This, coupled with the fact we had two days, made the entire process entirely fun. We were never rushed, never stressed. This is one of the fantastic things about two-day elopements. J + E were able to have a day focused on family and relaxing, and a whole day focused on their wedding and starting their lives together. It was perfect.
On day one I met up with the family at their *spectacular* airbnb, where E played some music while the girls took in the views and the family played some games (a family tradition). Afterwards, we ventured out to a quiet and secret trail leading to some classic Big Sur cliffs. And the family just… played. It was incredible to watch and an honor to capture. From the girls dancing and twirling in the dresses to making funny faces at the parents, to interacting (so gently) with the surrounding plantlife… the love this family has for each other was so so evident. This day was meant to focus on the family a lot, with just a few couples portraits. So as the sun got low I grabbed a few shots of J + E (with the girls running away with a shrill “ewww!” whenever J + E kissed. Classic) before the sun dipped below the horizon and we hiked back through the fields to our cars.
The next day was the wedding. It was SO FUN getting creative with detail and getting ready shots. Js dress was, full stop, *incredible* and watching her and girls excitedly get ready was so so special.
And then? The trees. We ventured over to Henry Miller Library (a place definitely worth checking out in Big Sur) for their ceremony. Big Sur Flowers provided the blooms and ya’ll- they were incredibly stunning. Still swooning over J’s bouquet.
I have to say. There is something so romantic about those ancient trees. Getting married beneath them with a very quick ceremony, there was just… so much joy and magic in the air. J + E said a few words, and then planted the longest kiss on one another ever, much to the horror of their respective daughters (one of my favorite photos of the day honestly). Afterwards the family adventures around in the trees, looking up at the far away canopy, hugging, laughing, crying. So much joy.
Then J, E, and myself went off on a solo adventure to a very special spot for sunset. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way of setting off the day than looking out over the mountains, seeing Highway 1 wend into the distance, and taking it all in as the sky turned pink.
I am so, so grateful to have been a part of this very special weekend. It’s not one I’ll soon forget.
Also fun: a number of these shots were featured in my Rangefinder Rising Stars of Wedding Photography submission. Check those out here!
Lastly- my perpetual struggle of narrowing down favorites for blog posts is on full display here. But there was too much gorgeousness… I had to include as much as I could 🙂
— Ryan + Styhiln