When we heard Joey and Mia wanted us to shoot their wedding we were so excited. Even after their first inquiry for an adventure wedding in Yosemite, they sounded exactly like the type of people we love shooting with - a fun, kind, and wildly adventurous couple who were excited to do something a little different for their wedding day. The more we talked, the more I saw Mia's heart come through for a genuine day of celebrating the person she loves the most surrounded by the people she loves most. They emphasized how important it was to have their families there, the people who shaped their lives and their relationship. I've gone to Yosemite more times than I can count, but the more I heard about the whole weekend, the people there and the plans this couple had, the more I knew it was going to be different, extraordinary - a weekend I'd never forget shooting.
On top of having us come travel from Las Angeles to Yosemite to shoot their wedding photos, they invited us to stay with their friends and family at the Airbnb they rented! As soon as we arrived Joey and Mia were there to welcome us and soon we met everyone else. There was an energy like going to another country, the excited nerves and the surreal feeling when you make it somewhere you've thought about for so long. Everything felt like a party, and we weren't even in the valley yet! We spent the night chatting, talking about plans the next day - all the beautiful photos on Taft Point and Glacier Point, all the beautiful places we'd see, but most of all I kept my eye on Joey and Mia. They were excited about this beautiful corner of Northern California but more than anything this was all about their story, their love. We're never really creating images as much as we are witnessing moments. I was really excited about all those moments we were about to experience.
The next morning came pretty quickly. The morning air was still cool as we sipped on coffee and shook the sleep from our bodies. Mia and the girls were starting to get ready at one of the cabins on the property while the guys were in another. I headed over to see what Joey was up to and found him writing his vows out on paper. I love it when couples do this! It just adds such a special feel to their day, plus they have a little hard copy memento to hold onto forever, another aid to remember their day next to their photos. Joey got the groomsmen gifts together, and I headed over (following the letter Joey wrote) back to the girls' cabin.
Mia took a moment to open the letter on the porch by herself. These moments are some of my favorite - the early morning anticipation and assurance for each other of being in this together, building this together, it's so beautiful. The girls took a little peek at the letter when Mia was done and then got together for a little champagne toast before putting their dresses on to be ready for the ceremony.
I loved seeing the moms watch their children as they helped during the last moments. They had happy, proud tears in their eyes as they straightened boutonnieres and helped put the dress on. Then it was time to head out, drive up along Glacier Point Road to the ceremony spot!
Mia and Joey actually brought their dogs to join in on the wedding! Glacier Point is one of the dedicated parts of the park where dogs are allowed, and it was so much fun having the pups along (and helped me as I miss Mali whenever I'm gone from her for more than a day). Joey fought back a few tears (along with most everyone else) when he saw Mia. Half Dome sat off in the distance as they read their vows in front of a handful of the people. The rest of the ceremony was just beautiful, simple, and after pronounced as husband and wife they took a little time to celebrate with everyone!
Then, we headed just down the road to start the hike to Taft Point. The sunset that night was one of the best I'd ever seen over Yosemite. We headed back down the mountain to celebrate with everyone at the reception. The rest of the night was magical, and we were so stoked we didn't want the day to end. Thankfully, these two had a little more in store for us!
The next morning we woke up bright and early again to go snag a few more beautiful shots featuring the landscape at Glacier Point. Joey helped Mia as they hiked around some rocks. He was so focused on her the entire time I didn't need to give them much direction at all, just sat back and watched as they loved each other. The sun rose up behind Half Dome as dawn gave way to the day. The light was light and golden - a signature to Yosemite - and we ran around the rocks soaking in every last second before these two would leave and head off officially into their life as a married couple.
Truthfully, I didn't want this weekend to end. I never want wedding days to end, but I am so glad to be there when they happen, to capture memories in the form of beautiful wedding photos that can be cherished forever. I am glad I got to know this couple, get to keep them as friends, and get to have their wedding in Yosemite stored as one of my favorites I've ever been a part of - a day and a place I will go back to time and time again.