Frank and Melissa's Yosemite Elopement at Swinging Bridge

eloping to Yosemite never DISAPPOINTs


Yosemite National Park has always been a special place to me and since I started photographing weddings almost a decade ago, it has been a dream of mine to photograph weddings and elopements there. So when Frank and Melissa inquired if I would be interested in photographing their elopement, I couldn't even begin to express my excitement. There's a reason Yosemite made my list of best elopement locations in California. Their elopement was in December, which is a wonderful time to be in Yosemite as the park's greatest flaw, the endless hordes of tourists, is at a minimum. Instead of sitting in traffic jams in the middle of the valley, the park was rather empty. All the better for enjoying the word class views Yosemite has to offer.

For elopements, I always travel to the destination at least a day early in order to have the opportunity of scouting out the locations we have decided on. I left my family's cabin in Mariposa and headed into the park to check out Swinging Bridge picnic area where the elopement ceremony would be held. Interestingly, the bridge at Swinging Bridge does not in fact swing at all. But what it lacks in swinging, it more than makes up for in charm. The area is popular for elopements and anyone who visits can see why. Who doesn't want the majestic Yosemite Falls as the backdrop for their ceremony? While scouting out the location I was lucky enough to see the falls be wholly enveloped by a rainbow and it was utterly magical. Satisfied with my recon work, I headed out and got ready for the big day.

A new day dawned and I headed out to meet up with Frank and Melissa at the Yosemite Valley Lodge. At the ceremony site, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Melissa's parents and Franks mom and aunt who had made the trip out to bear witness to their elopement. Despite the fact we were all meeting each other for the very first time, there wasn't an ounce of awkwardness and they made me feel right at home. Nestled between two towering pines, that so perfectly framed the majestic Yosemite Falls in the background, Frank and Melissa had their elopement ceremony.  As the bride and groom said their vows to each other, and exchanged rings, it was easy to see just how much these two loved each other. Truly two halves made whole. After the elopement ceremony concluded we proceeded to do family photos and it was insisted that I be in the photo as well. I don't always join in family photos but when I do, awkward band poses are the way to go.

I love doing elopement photography because most of my time is spent doing creative portraiture, as opposed to the more event coverage work that makes up the bulk of a traditional wedding. Romantic portraits are the main reason why I shoot weddings. So as the sun set, we headed out into the meadows of Yosemite to create stunning photos in the golden light of  late afternoon. The result was a series of photographs and memories that Frank and Melissa, as well as myself, will cherish for a lifetime. 


If you're interested in a yosemite elopement of your own check out my guide to where to have a wedding ceremony in yosemite National park

Norm from Fifth Photography. Where to even start? He deserves a billion stars! He is seriously the best photographer we could’ve asked for. He made us feel so relaxed and at ease. All of the photos, and I’m not kidding when I say ALL of them, are stunning. We thought there might be one or two that we may not care for, but he proved us wrong. We can’t decide which one’s are our favorites because there’s just so many amazing moments that he was able to capture between the two of us and our family. We had a small elopement, only the bride & groom and our parents, and Norm fit right in making us all feel right at home.
— Melissa