Zion National Park | Utah Desert
the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers
Sue + Mike’s small family wedding in Zion National Park
Sue and Mike’s intimate adventure wedding in Zion National Park was so incredible special. In fact, maybe because my own brother officiated their ceremony, or because it was in the Utah desert we love so much, but that the end of the day, Callen and I were discussing how amazing their wedding day was and how much it felt like what we would want to do if we were getting married right now. They both agreed pretty quickly that they wanted to do a destination elopement in a beautiful place, and Zion National Park felt right to them! After booking with us and having further discussions about their wedding day, they decided it was super important to them to have family there, so they invited their closest family keeping it to an intimate group of 12. They still really wanted time for just the two of them, so they decided to do a sunset hike with us after their ceremony in the canyon.
The day of their elopement, we met up with them in Springdale (the little town outside of Zion National Park) for their first look as well as a first look between Sue and her dad. Then their guests hopped on the shuttle and we piled into a car to head to their ceremony location! I kind of wish I could have been on the shuttle to see the look on hikers’ and tourists’ faces when a group of people got on the Zion shuttle in formal clothes! Side note — the ladies all coordinated their dress colors as shades of blue and teal, so they looked absolutely amazing together and the color popped so well against the orange/red sandstone around them!! Everyone met up at the shuttle stop and we all hiked a short distance to their ceremony location under a cascading spring waterfall. It was absolutely magic! They picked a little spot on the beach, laid down a rug, and their guests surrounded them as the river rushed by and the waterfall kept everyone cool. Conner, my brother, officiated their ceremony incorporating elements from each of their families and heritage. Everyone passed around tissues to dry the tears and fellow hikers watched from afar, but the sound of the waterfall drowned any outside noise and it truly felt like we were all in our own little world. After their ceremony, we did some family photos and soaked in the views. Then everyone made a little circle so Sue and her father could do a dance together, and Sue and Mike did their first dance as husband and wife. It was the perfect little non-traditional “reception” with traditional elements sewed in.
Sue switched into her hiking boots, their guests headed back to town on the shuttle and we piled in the car to go explore Zion together. We drove down a long scenic road to a little spot where we could scramble up one of the mesas for a big view of the surrounding valley. It was a super steep scramble, but Sue and Mike handled it like champs and were stoked to get some fun physical activity in on their wedding day! Conner joined us and helped with flowers and Sue’s long beautiful veil! Then we all hiked up to one of our favorite overlooks for sunset and the views were absolutely stunning. We had so much fun all hiking around together, taking photos and soaking it in. The sunset was beautiful and we stayed out until blue hour, hiking back as it got dark. By the time we made it back to our truck in Springdale, Sue and Mike had mentioned how glad they were they decided to include family for their elopement, but then still take some time for just the two of them to explore together and make memories as a couple on their wedding day. It was truly such a perfect day!
Zion National Park is a really great place for intimate weddings and elopements with a few guests. Springdale is at the mouth of the canyon and offers hotels, food, and all the regular amenities you’d want for a trip, but the surrounding landscape is still so wild and amazing. There are endless spots inside and outside of the park for wedding ceremonies, beautiful portrait hikes, and various guided activities to do on your wedding trip like Jeeping, rock climbing, canyoneering, and so on. While Zion can get pretty crowded during the high season and on weekends, its surprisingly easy to escape the crowds if you know where (and when) to go.
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.