Yosemite National Park
the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers
Erika + Grant’s intimate Yosemite National Park destination wedding + romantic backyard reception under twinkle lights
As a professional photographer, there is probably no greater compliment than to have repeat customers. For someone to comb through the hundreds and thousands of photographers out there, a majority of them shooting on the same equipment as us (and to be honest, a lot of them charging less money than us), and choose to work with us is so so meaningful in itself. We absolutely love every single one of our couples and feel so lucky to know them! But due to the nature of our work, as wedding photographers, we often only work with couples once! It’s not like they’ll have an annual wedding, and most of our couples travel super far to work with us so it’s not always realistic to even do repeat sessions with us. So, when Erika and Grant went out of their way to meet us in Moab for their engagement photos, AND THEN two days after their session told us we’d inspired them to have a destination wedding in Yosemite, AND THEN worked with our schedule and picked a wedding date based on our availability so we could photograph it, well…I can’t quite describe how amazing and affirming that feels. Not to mention how freaking stoked we were to work with these two again!
As I mentioned, Erika and Grant weren’t one of those couples that knew they wanted to elope in a National Park immediately, but as they began to consider wedding planning, nothing traditional and expected felt quite like *them*. They decided to do a destination engagement session with us in Arches National Park because one of their favorite things to do together is take big road trips out west! We had so much fun during their session, and the more we talked about how much we love destination elopements and intimate weddings, the more the things we were saying resonated with Grant and Erika. As we wrapped up their session, I remember hoping they’d elope so we could work with them again :) And sure enough, two days later Erika texted me asking for our schedule the following year! We were so psyched! And what a huge compliment — we hadn’t even delivered their gallery yet! They ended up picking Yosemite based on our schedule, and we got to work helping them plan out an amazing destination intimate wedding to celebrate with their 30 closest friends and family.
The day of their wedding began at 1am with Erika’s hair and make up (yes!! wild!), and once they were all ready they met us in the dark parking lot of Glacier Point for their sunrise first look. We walked out to the overlook and soaked in the most amazing sunrise over Half Dome as the clouds in every direction lit up all kinds of colors. Erika rocked an epic leather jacket that she hand-painted herself (!!!) and all the colors perfectly matched her gorgeous bouquet from The Flower Method. We walked around enjoying the sunrise and laughing about how wild it was to pop champagne at 6am, but reminder, her wake-up call was 1am, so champagne was very well deserved!! We eventually made our way down to the valley to meet up with their guests at Sentinel Beach. The four of us picked a romantic spot along the Merced River under giant trees for their ceremony. It was absolutely amazing, with their closest friends and family present, to watch these two commit their lives to each other. We felt so so lucky to be there witnessing such a sacred moment. Then, we explored Yosemite Valley together, running through the spray from Lower Yosemite Falls, walking in the freezing creek, and petting many dogs on the (dog friendly!) trail.
We met back up that evening for their intimate reception up at a dreamy AirBnB on top of a hill in Oakhurst! They had thought of everything, from an awesome painted globe as their guestbook, to custom drinks named after their two dogs. The Painted Table from Fresno handled all of the set-up, styling, and catering! It was STUNNING. They turned the backyard into a perfect spot for a garden-party dinner and the food was delicious. We all laughed around the table as the sun set, the twinkle globe lights came on, and the stars came out. As a grand finale, they had Ampersand, a gourmet ice cream truck, come out and serve everyone delicious hand-crafted ice cream!
Erika and Grant had such a special wedding day and we felt so so thankful to be a part of it. They made us feel more like friends and guests than vendors, which always means the world to us. After the cameras were put away, Callen stayed to party and set up his mobile sweat lodge with a few of the guys! We camped on the property and got to hug them goodbye the next morning, knowing it wouldn’t be the last time we saw these two.
Lastly, I want to end with the e-mail Erika sent me after receiving their gallery, which completely made my day and continues to do so no matter how many times I re-read it!
You guys truly outdid yourselves. I cannot stop looking at them and got zero work done today as a result haha. We are obsessed and can’t believe how well they turned out! Well, we can but you guys went above and beyond with this one. We spent the afternoon reminiscing and remembering all the little moments you were able to capture. Thank you SO much for being such amazing people- we wouldn’t have probably done our wedding this way if not for meeting you and we feel so grateful for the experience and friendship as a result ☺️. Both of our moms said they cried looking at them so you achieved the highest honor in our family lol.
We really hope to keep in touch with you guys and hope to get to see you again when we’re wandering around the southwest! Or we’ll get divorced and remarry so we can work with you again 😂
I also want to add — I reminded Erika they could do anniversary sessions in the future…no re-marry necessary 😉
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.