Arches National Park | Moab, Utah

the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers


Josie + Justin’s intimate family-only wedding in moab, utah | first look in arches national park | ceremony in the desert

Josie and Justin brought with them a sense of how to live in the moment and think about the future. What I mean is they had a peace about them, an understanding and wisdom that comes from their love. Josie explained it as balance, saying they were both opposites who complement each other. The way she spoke about her friends, how she met Justin, the way those who knew her spoke about her made me excited to meet them.

We decided on a first look in Arches National Park. Justin wore a dark green suit which matched the desert brush dotting the landscape. Josie looked stunning, savoring the moment as she walked up behind Justin. He turned around and stood there stunned, taking in her beauty. She lowered her blanket to let him see her dress, and he started crying before wrapping her up in a big hug. Moab was cold, but they were troopers as we hiked around Arches. They took time to cuddle Charlie (they have two fur babies of their own) and were really intentional about soaking in every drop of the experience Moab has to offer.

The unique tone of their story carried throughout the day. They were happy just to be where they were, but couldn't wait to explore. They trusted us 100% with all the details of location and time, but it was us who were along for the adventure. They were in their own perfect world inviting us in.

We met up again later in the day for their ceremony. Josie and Justin had put on different outfits, and so we did another first look. The ceremony was uniquely them. It started with a really sweet moment where Josie's dad walked her to Justin. Her father left, and Josie and Justin had this moment to start their ceremony, just them, reading their vows together. It was so sweet, and when they finished the rest of their family and friends joined them.

I loved the plan Josie had about how the day would go. There were a lot of details, little moments, but Josie had really wanted everyone to be there for their first dance, and at the end, all join in and dance with each other. Her vision turned out better than could be imagined with the entire wedding slow dancing on the desert floor. They popped champagne and brought out sweets from a local bakery, feeding them to each other in lieu of cake.

Their wedding guests were so much fun! The girls all showed off the hiking boots they wore with their dresses which they put to good use as we all went on a group hike. One of my favorite parts of the day was when Josie's maid of honor pulled off a perfect surprise. She'd put together the coolest video of Justin and Josie's story. There were messages from tons of people in their life, loved ones who couldn't be there, encouraging and loving and celebrating them. The video was so amazing and perfect, it made everyone cry.

We spent sunset hiking around and taking portraits. The sun setting on the desert is always bittersweet. You wish days like this could drag on forever, but then the desert towers light up with the soft orange of alpenglow. I took a moment to soak in Josie and Justin as they stared up at the towers. I felt like they were made for this moment, but more importantly, I felt like they knew they were made for this moment. The entire day was a culmination of two stories intertwining, a sendoff into a beautiful future, a new story starting in an amazing place.

Elopement Location: Arches National Park, Utah and Moab, Utah

Photographers: The Hearnes Adventure Photography


The Hearnes Adventure Photography is run by Abbi and Callen Hearne, a husband & wife wedding photography team with an emphasis on adventure. They live on the road as full-time nomads, allowing them to serve a large portion of the western US. You can typically find them in Moab, Utah or Yosemite National Park, California, with side-quests to Patagonia and Alaska. They believe love is the greatest adventure and strive to create photos that are epic, romantic, true, and timeless.

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