Eloping is about doing exactly what you want on your wedding day–no matter what that looks like to you.
Hiking a few miles in your wedding attire? Sure. Having a family-included ceremony in a stunning outdoor setting? Absolutely. Rafting on an alpine lake, eating pastries in the parking lot, saying private vows, and having a reception at an amazing restaurant right after a Grand Teton National Park elopement? Of course.
For Rachel and CJ, their dream elopement day actually looked exactly like that–and they managed to scramble all over the Grand Teton National Park in one day to fit it all in.
For both of them, it was truly important to have private, secluded moments together where they could sit back and soak up the reality of getting married. They wanted chances to slow down, do what they love together, and embrace a day designed exactly for them.
But they wanted to include their closest friends and family, too.
Rachel and CJ created a unique elopement experience–one that so beautifully blended alone time and celebration with loved ones it almost felt like every wedding had always happened this way.
They began their day with just the two of them right before the sun came up.
I met them at their Airbnb in Wyoming, just outside the Grand Teton National Park. They each got ready as secretly as they could in their small space. Rachel put on a large coat to hide her dress while we scurried off to a gorgeous spot for their first look.
We found a breathtaking spot with the gorgeous Tetons in the background. As the sun came up, the alpenglow took full effect. As Rachel and CJ had their first look, the first glimpses of golden-pink light were stretching out over the mountains, illuminating them in a glow that felt other-worldly.
They immediately started their private ceremony, sharing their vows with each other in total seclusion.
After their private ceremony, we piled in our cars and headed over to their second ceremony–one that included their family and friends at Snake River Overlook. Before the ceremony began, Rachel had another first look–this time with her mom and dad. As she removed that large coat again, tears started forming in her dad’s eyes. It was a touching, sweet moment that I could tell was so special for not just Rachel but for her parents, too.
Her dad took her arm and walked her down the overlook aisle. One of their dear friends officiated their short but incredibly sweet second ceremony. Then, two other friends signed their marriage license as witnesses.
Rachel and CJ took the parking lot to pop champagne for breakfast mimosas with their family; they opened up boxes of delicious pastries and had a makeshift party right there in the parking lot. They took a little time together, hugging their families, spending time with their loved ones, and fueling up for the next epic part of their day.
They waved goodbye to their guests and set off for another just-them part of the day–a hike up to the Teton’s gorgeous Taggart Lake. Before the hike, Rachel and CJ changed out of their wedding attire, donning some hiking gear, and packing up packraft paddles into their backpacks for the way up.
The hike up was intense, but once we got to Taggart Lake, Rachel and CJ–who both love hiking and being active–agreed the effort was worth every moment of incline. They made some quick snacks, ate some sandwiches, and got ready to explore the gorgeous lake.
Rachel and CJ changed back into their wedding attire so they could snap some more memorable photos together in their surreal elopement location. They were in awe–but they weren’t the only ones.
One of the only people we saw on that day hiked up to us and asked if they could snap a picture of Rachel and CJ–otherwise, no one would ever believe what he saw all the way up on this hike. Rachel and CJ, too sweet to say no, obliged for a quick photo in their wedding attire. But after that, it was time to do what they came there to do–blow up the Kokopelli pack rafts and explore the lake in a totally different way.
They climbed into their rafts–wedding attire and all–and kayaked out to their hearts’ content, exploring the lake, laughing together, and enjoying every second of the moment together. Before long, though, it was time to paddle back in and head back down the trail–their family and friends had set up a stunning spread and reception at The Kitchen in Jackson, WY.
CJ and Rachel are proof–the perfectly balanced wedding day does exist. They didn’t compromise a single thing, did every just-them thing they wanted, and got to celebrate alongside their loved ones as much as they wanted.