5 tips for planning a Yosemite wedding or Elopement

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This year I’ll be shooting multiple shoots and weddings in Yosemite National Park! Every time I shoot in Yosemite I write down little bits of advice to help future couples who plan on shooting in this amazingly beautiful place. These are my top 5 tips to keep in mind if you are planning a Yosemite wedding

Tip #1: Plan a Yosemite wedding date for August-November

If you are wanting to plan a wedding or photoshoot in Yosemite be sure to plan accordingly. Planning a date between August through November will guarantee that glacier point road will be open. Glacier point road is the road to the most popular overlooks such as Glacier point and Taft point. This road is usually closed in the winter months due to weather and the off season. If you have already booked your date, you can still access these outlooks by hiking the road which is about 10 miles each way. What ever you do, don’t plan a ceremony date on a Holiday weekend because the crowds are crazy and you’ll most likely be sharing your ceremony spot with a ton of strangers.

Tip #2: Research your Yosemite wedding ceremony spot

If you are planning a Yosemite elopement with just the two of you and an officiant you are allowed to do so pretty much anywhere early enough in the day. If you’re planning a wedding with more than a couple guests you can choose between selected ceremony locations through the parks permit selection( you can find it here). Be sure to take into account where the sun will be hitting when you start your ceremony. Yosemite valley walls get blown out in photos once the sun hits them around 10am so I suggest starting meadow ceremonies as early as possible. If you can’t get a meadow time slot early enough, go with a covered ceremony spot such as bridal veil falls. Take into account bridal veil falls isn’t really visible in photos during the summer because it doesn’t have any water flowing down. Make sure to really research whatever location you are thinking of going with before you lock it in.

Tip #3: Start as early as possible!

I know what you’re thinking…”I’m not a morning person though!” Trust me, you’ll want to be for your Yosemite wedding or elopement! When you get an early start you win big in national parks. You’ll beat out the crowds and get the best lighting. I would say thats a win win! Getting an early start can mean doing a first look at glacier point right as the sun rises or having an elopement ceremony at Taft point with just the birds and nature as your witnesses. Sounds dreamy right?! You’ll never regret getting up early on your wedding/elopement day, especially when you see the photos!

Tip #4: Stay in the park

Did you know it takes over an hour to get to Yosemite valley from the neighboring towns? When you look at a map it doesn’t seem that far but Yosemite is made up of windy roads that wind all the way down to the valley floor. I always suggest staying in the park so you can be right there especially if you’re planning an early start. There’s plenty of hotels, airbnbs or my personal favorite, Half dome village canvas tents available to stay at. I’ll link my favorites below.

Tip # 5: Get a wedding permit… ASAP

If you have your date, secure your Yosemite wedding permit! Permits are given out for certain time slots for different locations. Since National park weddings are becoming so popular the dates and times get snatched up fast! Don’t wait around or you’ll end up regretting it. You can apply for your permit here, which will cost you $150.

There you have it, my top 5 tips for planning your wedding or shoot in Yosemite National Park! I hope you will find this resource to be helpful in your wedding planning. Yosemite is seriously an incredible place to shoot and have a wedding!

If you’re looking to hire your Yosemite wedding or elopement photographer please get in touch here! I’ve got plenty more tips for you and I would love to capture you + your love in the most beautiful national park!


- Maya