Want a mountain wedding but have to consider family members that can't travel? Today we’re talking about finding solutions, alternatives, and compromises. When I think about why we wanted to get married in the mountains I realized it was because we love spending time together there. The mountains inspire us and bring us closer, it seemed like the perfect setting for us to say our vows. However, when it came to planning our own wedding, the logistics of getting everyone up the winding road and into inclement weather made me worry. It was also important to us that everyone could be there if they wanted to. Since our own wedding and the many that we’ve photographed, I’ve encountered a variety of solutions to this mountain wedding challenge.
Mountain Engagement Shoot
With an engagement session, there is less time pressure and no one else’s schedule to worry about. You can go spend some quality time in remote places in the mountains. You don’t have to rush back to greet guests. It’s all about the two of you spending time together. And getting your picture taken is more fun than you think. I can’t tell you how many couples tell us they aren’t photogenic or they don’t like having their picture taking. We tell them not to worry about that, just worry about enjoying each others company and the beautiful place we are in.
This couple loves both the mountains and the sea. Planning a wedding on the Big Sur coast, they wanted an alpine sunset for their engagement photos. An alpine sunset they got!
Bridal Portrait Session
No one says you can’t have mountain wedding portraits just because you aren’t getting married in the mountains! A bridal portrait session is similar to an engagement shoot but you wear your wedding dress.
We had a couple that really wanted to get married in Sequoia National Park but they had family coming from Japan and there was no easy airport for them to fly into. They would have had to spend most of their time traveling to get there. So we did a bridal portrait session in Sequoia and their wedding in LA.
Vow Exchange or Mountain Elopement
Take the bridal or engagement session one step further and plan to exchange some vows. Make it a time to reflect on the upcoming wedding and tell each other how you feel. You can still get married with all of your friends and family later. Or full-on elope. Have the laid-back stress free wedding that you want without the pressure of a big party.
We had a couple that felt the mountains played a special part in their relationship but that their families wouldn’t be able to make the trek. We backpacked into a valley for a portrait session that included a vow exchange. They would exchange vows later in front of witnesses but this was just for them.
Elopements while romantic and poetic often mean leaving people out. There’s no reason you can’t throw another party later. Get married in the mountains with close friends and family and then throw a reception closer to home.
We had a couple that wanted an intimate Yosemite ceremony by the river. Well, they actually stood on a rock in the middle of the river. The spot wouldn’t have accommodated their entire guest list. After celebrating with immediate family, they went home and threw a reception for their friends and extended family.
Utilize the Foothills or Mountain Venues
You can always have a wedding near the mountains by finding a venue in the foothills. That way its easier to access, guests that want to venture into the mountains can, and the views are still a spectacular setting for your big day. Alternatively, don’t factor out some of the mountain venues that specialize in weddings. You may not be able to get everyone to hike a peak for your mountaintop ceremony but many mountain venues are both comfortable and accommodating.
One of the couples that wanted to get married near Sequoia National Park found this food truck with outdoor seating that let them host their intimate reception after a day in the mountains.
Just Do It
The reality is, mountain weddings require guests to drive and deal with weather, but they are also beautiful and a great experience. If none of the above alternatives sound reasonable, just do it. One thing you’ll learn while planning a wedding is that no matter what you do, you won’t please everyone. So follow your heart and do what makes you happy. The mountains are an adventure, challenges and all!
Photography by Bergreen Photography