Oh gosh, what a dream. Ryan and Stihlyn’s wedding in Yosemite National Park was seriously the dreamiest, most fun of days. These two definitely win this year’s award for most grueling travel schedule- the day before their wedding they left their home in Tucson at 3:00am (with their flowers in a Coleman cooler in the trunk), drove to LA to get coffee/Boba tea, then drove to Fresno. Then, the morning of their Yosemite wedding, drove from Fresno to Yosemite.
As an aside: I do not necessarily recommend this as Fresno-Yosemite is a lot of hours in the car and can potentially make the day feel more exhausting than folks are used to… but these two told me a story of one time they spent 24 hrs in the car together, stopping only for gas so… they were well suited for the driving. I always joke that my definition of “driving distance” is pretty warped because of my job, but these two gave me a run for my money. And what’s more- they seemed to legitimately enjoy themselves. The road trip was all part of the adventure.
Ryan and Stihlyn reached to me initially interested in eloping in a slot canyon- but after looking through my site fell in love with Yosemite- and decided to have their wedding there sight unseen. I couldn’t wait for these desert dwellers to experience Yosemite for their wedding 🙂
We started the day at one my favorite spots in Yosemite National Park- among the Sequoias. Ryan and Stihlyn put a lot of trust in me, liking the idea of having their ceremony in a lesser known spot in the park… then heading out for the iconic views later in the day. They had the sweetest first look at the trailhead (and I spent a great deal of time gushing over Stihlyn’s dress) and we made our way down the trail. Despite our walk to the grove not being “epic” by the terms most folks thing of when they think of Yosemite, these Arizonians were *delighted* by the trees and glimmer of changing fall colors. Hikers wished the couple congratulations (and two little girls looked at Stihlyn in absolute awe) as we made our way.
I let the couple know that if, on their walk, they looked at a tree and thought “Is that a Sequoia?” The answer is probably know. The second you see a Sequoia, you *know.* And sure enough, we rounded the bend and Ryan excitedly said, “Oooooo I think I see it!!”
We took our time wandering the loop of the Sequoia grove a little before I led the couple to a spot I had scouted the day before- a little nook that wasn’t out of the bounds the trail but would offer the couple some privacy during their ceremony. Sure enough the couple was able to exchange their vows, in Yosemite National Park, alone and in the quiet of the woods- just the two of them, the birds, and the towering giants looking on.
I let the two them sit and enjoy the “just married feels” while picking pine needles out of the hem of Stihlyn’s dress and watching the squirrels chase each other. After taking some time to take it all in we explored the rest of the grove, admiring the giant Sequoias (and talking about how the exposed root system reminded us of Game of Thrones.) We made our way back to the trailhead and caravanned up up up to Glacier Point Road to one of my favorite hikes and views in the park- Taft Point.
They were totally blown away (how can you not be) and they enjoyed a champagne toast (which I partook in using a Nalgene bottle) and first dance as the sun set, lighting the valley yellow and pink. It’s truly one of the most beautiful views and it never gets old. We stayed as long as the light would allow, even using lanterns to extend our stay. We were even able to glimpse the twinkling lights of the climbers on El Capitan’s face across the valley. As we hiked back in the dark by lamplight we chatted and laughed and felt like old friends.
We hugged and parted ways, the couple speeding off to San Fransisco (again: not recommended. These two are road trip pros) and the classic post-elopement dinner: Taco Bell. It was a perfect day- made even better by a relaxed and meaningful day spent with an amazing and stoked couple. Thank you so much Ryan and Stihlyn for trusting me to be a part of your epic wedding 🙂
It was an incredible day. Sitting here writing this and thinking back on it all, I can’t help but be in wonder at the power of this park. It is just a collision of families an dirtbags and climbers and hikers and artists and folks getting married… all brought together by the wonder and beauty of Yosemite National Park. If it’s a place that speaks to you, check out this guide on how to elope in Yosemite National Park or for more inspiration, check out this Glacier Point Elopement.
If you want to learn more about National Parks, check out my National Park elopement guide.
— Ryan + Styhiln