Yosemite National Park
the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers
Jamie + Augusto’s Intimate Wedding in Yosemite National Park | Tuolumne Grove Wedding Ceremony
Jamie and Augusto’s intimate wedding in Yosemite National Park was such a dream!! When they got engaged, Jamie said “The idea of having a huge wedding that costs a ridiculous amount of money surrounded by people that we are hardly close to, has never sounded appealing to us. It is such an important moment in our lives and I really only want to share it with our closest family and friends” so they decided to have a small destination wedding out in Yosemite National Park. They had never been before, so when these two reached out to us for their wedding photography, they were also super trusting with location selection, vendor recommendations, and the timeline for their weekend! We absolutely loved guiding them through the process, sending photos of different locations and talking through Jamie’s vision: an intimate ceremony in the forest officiated by her grandfather, followed by a romantic picnic and cake desert, and then sunset with the big mountain views that Yosemite is known for! It was also important for Jamie and Augusto to have some time between the two of them, so they chose to do a sunrise session to read their private vows the day after their wedding.
The day of their wedding began in Tuolumne Grove, a less-known part of Yosemite that we think is super underrated! It’s about 45 minutes from the main valley, up Tioga Road, but close enough to Crane Flat that it stays open year-round even when Tioga closes for the winter. In fact, the first time Callen and I hiked to Tuolumne Grove was in the snow! We got to explore the giant sequoia trees all alone (Yosemite is much less crowded in the winter) and see them covered in snow, it was magic! Also, the trail to Tuolumne Grove is paved and dog-friendly, which is a rarity in Yosemite, so we got to bring Charlie along! While the hike to the grove is only one mile (one-way), it is quite steep down hill, meaning you have to end your hike with a steep one mile uphill, which should’t be taken lightly.
While the grove itself would make an amazing (dog-friendly!) ceremony location, Jamie and Augusto chose to do their first look and some portraits down in the grove and then hike back up for their ceremony in the trees closer to the parking lot so it was more early accessible for their guests. Choosing to do a two mile hike together for their first look before their ceremony allowed Jamie and Augusto to really focus in and have some time together to talk through what they were doing, and let all the sometimes stressful details of planning a wedding weekend with family melt away — they were here, in Yosemite, surrounded by giant ancient trees, committing the rest of their lives to each other, and that was all that mattered. By the time we got back up to the parking lot forest to start the ceremony with their family, all their nerves and stress were out the door, these two were just stoked and ready to be married! We walked with their 20-ish guests out to a little clearing in the trees, close enough to be easy for everyone, but far enough to be quiet and feel like they were in the middle of nowhere. Jamie’s grandfather officiated the ceremony and everyone held back (or, tried to hold back) tears as these two shared rings and vows and a kiss to make it official. Everyone was so stoked for them, and any hesitations from their guests about traveling all the way out to Yosemite, to stay in a rustic cabin and walk through a forest in dress clothes, completely melted away as everyone saw just how happy Jamie and Augusto were to have their wedding this way.
After the celebrations, everyone walked over to a picnic area and began setting up Jamie’s dream reception — within a few minutes the table was beautifully styled with all the details Jamie had collected to fit her vision. We really love when couples choose to incorporate traditional elements like this into their non-traditional wedding day. Choosing to do a special table with candles and napkins and an official wedding cake with an adorable topper — it was such a cool way to center in a remind everyone that this was in fact a wedding day, despite the very non-traditional setting and circumstances! They chose to do a cake-cutting together, and then served cake to each of their guests. Everyone kept commenting on how perfectly this suited Jamie and Augusto — two people always challenging the status quo. After everyone had their fill of cake and drinks, we headed up to a secret spot with a magnificent view of Yosemite Valley but no tourists in sight! We explored around the granite slabs and soaked in the beautiful sunset, taking portraits of Jamie and Augusto as their guests climbed boulders in dresses and marveled at the crashing waterfalls nearby. As the sun dipped below the horizon and we watched the giant moon rise, Jamie commented on how perfect this day was, how it was more amazing than she could have ever imagined. We were, yet again, struck with awe at the amazing job we have — getting to help couples make their dream wedding day happen and always exceeding their expectations with just how amazing it can be.
The next morning, Jamie and Augusto woke up early and threw their wedding clothes back on to meet up with us at Glacier Point at sunrise, so they could soak in some more Yosemite views and read their vows to each other privately. Again, they were so so thankful to have done that and taken intentional time to spend with each other in Yosemite. When our couples choose to invite guests to their adventure wedding, whether its 5 guests or 30 guests, we always highly reccomend they carve out time either on their wedding day, or the days before/after, to spend some time as just the two of them (and us of course!). Not only does this allow them to get some photos in a more private setting (it can be intimidating to get photographed at all — much more so when your friends/family are watching!) but more importantly, to give them time to really enjoy each other and the place they’ve chosen to get married in. Even the most chill family members can bring a little bit of stress, so taking time away from everyone, whether it’s a one-hour first look or a full session the day before/after, is always a good idea. Our couples that do this never regret it!
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.