To say that this year has been a rollercoaster would be an understatement - from the first emails back in April checking in with 2020 couples on how they're doing, to walking with them through changing their wedding plans, to pivoting with every new situation, to getting them excited again about their wedding day again. But when it all finally comes together, it's so incredible to see two people get married in a way that focuses on what's most important. Getting to witness and capture W + J say their vows with the most tears I have ever seen in a ceremony, chase the sunset over the hills, and return just in time for the best surprise visit (and more tears) reminded me of how deep and meaningful these 2020 weddings can be. Check out the rest of their beautiful backyard wedding!
When it comes to elopement locations in the US, Big Sur is one of the top places people come to get married. With its vast coastal views and redwood forests, it's a place full of wonder and natural beauty. As a Big Sur elopement photographer and a local who spends countless weekends exploring the endless trails in the area, I'm here to help you craft an epic day that feels genuine to your love story. Check out this guide for location recommendations, best months to elope, day-of timelines, and planning tips! (Updated October 2020)
For the past 3 years, I’ve photographed weddings at Slowcoast, a beautiful cabin venue in the redwoods near the Santa Cruz coast almost exactly a year apart. Coincidentally when K + C’s larger celebration had to be changed due to the pandemic, they decided to get married in an intimate setting at no other than Slowcoast on September 14, 2020. But then their plans were changed again - my heart was broken when I heard that Slowcoast was one of the casualties in the CZU Lightning Complex just a few weeks before their wedding. It was a place where so many of my couples had gathered with their family and friends, said their vows under the giant redwoods, sat around bonfires cooking s’mores and sharing stories, and danced under the moonlight and stars. It was a place that held so many memories, stories, and magic.
But that didn’t stop K + C from getting married in 2020. Somehow the world had brought them back to their original vision - getting married where they grew up, having their first look at the fallen tree where they used to hang out, chasing the sunset where they used to sneak out to before it became an official landmark. It was a day of absolute magic and joy, as they reminisced over the places that had held so many memories and created new ones together as husband + wife.
Though sparks didn't fly immediately between A + E when they first met, slowly A managed to melt her heart through the course of a semester over college and they became best of friends. 4 years later, A reached out for help planning his Big Sur proposal. Having never been to the California coast, I showed him some of my favorite hidden gems and we set a plan to secretly find each other at the trailhead. Though smoke and fires had just hit the area a few weeks before, luckily we ended up with a stunning sunset and incredible crazy waves over the rocks. Check out their sweet and emotional Big Sur proposal below!
From their first date, C made it his mission to show K (who had recently moved) all the wonders of the West Coast. They went on countless foodie and hiking adventures, which eventually led them to their first international trip together in Thailand. When they decided to get married, they knew they wanted to say their vows in a place that inspired just as much awe as the many places they had explored together. So they settled on the Big Sur coast, where they got married in front of just family and spent the day doing what they loved the most. Check out the rest of their Big Sur elopement below!
When T first reached out, we started laughing about how similar our stories were. T + J both grew up in the Bay Area like my husband and I did, started dating just before leaving for college in the same year that we did, and spent our first few years doing long distance. He even went to SJSU and studied business like my husband, coincidentally also where I had studied for graduate school as well. Having run in many of the same social circles, we even realized we shared mutual friends!
The moment B saw his bride walk down the aisle for the first time, it was pure magic. These two had their wedding plans in the Santa Cruz redwoods cancelled due to COVID-19, and knew that getting married was more important than waiting another year. So instead of postponing, they downsized their wedding, let go of their plans, and moved their date up. In 3 months, they pulled off the most incredible DIY wedding in the mountains. Though it meant having masks in many of their photos - even as their wedding party walked down the aisle - it was so clear how excited everyone was to see these two get married and how emotional of a day it was - from the J.R.R. Tolkien reading during the ceremony that harkened back to their story, to the surprise song the bride’s father wrote and played for them, to the groom inviting both his mother and mother-in-law for a dance to celebrate the amazing new families they joined. Congratulations T + B, it's been such an honor to capture your love story!
H + K met in a whirlwind romance with their shared love of stargazing and kayaking on the ocean waves, so it was only fitting that they chose to elope on the coast of Big Sur. Though the day started off with a near-disaster - somehow K's pants got lost in the packing - he pulled off a last-minute outfit change and couldn't have been more excited to marry his bride. We started off at Glen Oaks Big Sur, where they said their vows by the Big Sur River in a sweet ceremony in the redwoods. They shared a first dance on the beach and ended the night on the coast with all the laughter and smiles of newlyweds. Check out the rest of H + K's Glen Oaks Big Sur elopement!
For T + B, the mountains have always been where they called home. They spent their weekends training for triathlons and backpacking in Yosemite - T even backpacked the John Muir Trail a month before the wedding! What better way to spend their first day as newlyweds than at Mt. Rainier, where they had their first date snowshoeing there. We spent the day after their wedding adventuring up the trail and had the best time battling in an intense snowball fight, watching marmots sploot and nom on all the wildflowers, and watching the sun set over the mountains. Check out the rest of their adventure session below!
Need Napa proposal ideas? You can't go wrong with a 13th century Tuscan castle winery tucked in Napa Valley. When someone accidentally said “Congratulations” too early - before the proposal had even happened - A thought it was a little odd but continued on their tour. After their tour was over, they walked back over to the drawbridge for some quick photos where T surprised her with a proposal. Even the 105 degree heat wave couldn’t stop them from rocking their engagement photos. Check out the rest of T + A's Castello di Amorosa proposal below!