megan + zach's las vegas elopement | sunset wedding portraits at zion national park | utah adventure wedding photographer
I honestly don't even know where to start with Megan + Zach's incredible whirlwind of a wedding day, but I will preface this story with this: Megan is a complete boss, one of the most badass brides ever, and gave me her blessing (and encouragement!) to share the full story of their day, so here we go! I'd be remiss if I didn't start with the fact that Megan (and Zach) and I actually went to high school together! We went to a huge school and I was pretty anti-social (I like to think I'm over that phase) so we didn't spend time together but always knew each other. When I started doing photography professionally, I remember Megan always commenting that we were going to shoot her wedding one day and I was so psyched when they got engaged and she reached out immediately! Side bar - it's one thing when strangers love your work, but when someone you grew up with has loved your work since you were a newbie photographer and then hires you to shoot her wedding, it's really really special. So, we got to planning and threw around a bunch of different ideas - she was pretty much game for anything as long as we did portraits in a National Park and they could include their families and closest friends. After a lot of ideas, they were really drawn to Zion National Park and decided they'd elope in Vegas then drive to Zion for photos! It ended up being such a fun week for them and their guests to get to explore such a fun city, and then we got to escape to Zion for peaceful, beautiful sunset portraits. BUT - everything didn't quite go as planned haha.
Since their wedding was between Dreema + Jay's Yosemite session and Jena + Kyler's Washington wedding, we opted to fly me out instead of drive to Vegas. I arrived in Vegas the morning of their wedding and took an Uber straight to their ceremony site where we planned to meet up. After a few minutes at the venue, I got a text from her maid of honor with news of what might be every bride's biggest fear (short of a runaway groom I guess): Megan had woken up with a horrible stomach virus and was pretty much throwing up all morning. My heart broke for her! My mind started turning with alternatives - I could delay my flight back and we could try tomorrow, or we could skip out on the Zion trip, or do sunset photos somewhere closer to Vegas, but then I got a text that they were on their way and Megan was going to try to tough it out! I'll be honest (because she told me to), she didn't quite look like she was ~glowing~ when she got there haha. BUT, she rallied, drank a ton of water, and survived (thrived!) through the ceremony and on-site portraits despite the 100 degree temps and full sun. Thankfully, we had some time before we needed to head to Zion - which Megan insisted we were still doing no matter what - so everyone ate lunch, relaxed, and Megan got some meds in her that really helped! Within an hour she was ready to road trip so we headed out to the park! One fun thing - the drive was only 2.5 hours, but we went through three states AND entered a new time zone! As we were getting closer, Megan and Zach were marveling at the rock walls in the Virgin River Gorge and I got giddy thinking of them seeing Zion.
As we drove into the park, Megan's eyes were glued to the windows. They were both blown away. I always say watching a couple experience a new park for the first time is one of my favorite parts of my job! We ended up hiking to one of my favorite overlooks in the park and had one of the dreamiest sunset sessions ever. These two are so adorable with each other and we all had a great time hanging out. We stayed until the sun was long gone and left Zion with huge smiles on our faces. I love that these two will get to return to this amazing place and always be reminded of their amazing - and eventful! - wedding day. I am so thankful for their friendship, all of their amazing guests for making the day so great, and their huge amount of trust in me to create something beautiful for them on their wedding day. I'll end with this - a quote from Megan's instagram when she posted one of the photos: "Over the course of planning our day I'd randomly get the reoccurring question; "Won't you regret not having a wedding?" So here is my answer for those who care to hear it. I got to fly to Las Vegas, get married at the famous Neon Museum, and then this. This view and this human took away every doubt I could possibly have. Zion was like a dream or a postcard, and was hands down the most beautiful thing Zach and I had ever seen. @abbihearne was right. Eloping was the best decision we ever made. Not only do we have zero regrets, but now we have the bad ass pictures to show for it."
Ceremony Venue: The Neon Museum Las Vegas
Portraits Location: Zion National Park, Utah
Bride's Dress: Jacinda Gown from BHLDN
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 in their big white van, allowing them to serve a large portion of the western US including California, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming. They believe love is the greatest adventure and strive to create photos that are epic, romantic, true, and timeless.