Planning a winter wedding in Yosemite is no small task. Especially when your wedding falls within one of the craziest and longest winter storms in decades!
L+D had no doubt about the location of their intimate wedding. The connection they share with Yosemite National Park is quite deep, both individually and as a couple. They each have their own memories and feelings related to this place, and they also have created some strong memories together right here.
While planning for this day, we were dealing with a pretty extreme winter storm warning. Looking at the weather forecast every single day, it seemed like Yosemite was going to get hit with a lot of snow, more than the Park had seen in decades!
Luckily, their wedding was on the first day of this storm! But we still didn’t stick with Plan A.
The original plan was to be there at sunrise for their first look. Well, it was going to be 14 degrees at that time and cloudy, so we really didn’t think there was going to be a sunrise.
Not to mention that, to arrive at the Park at sunrise, you need to drive in the dark. Well, that’s no big deal, but not when the roads are extremely icy!
We made some calls the day before their wedding to make sure everyone was safe, comfortable, and could all enjoy the morning.
What was supposed to be a sunrise timeline ended up being a late-morning one. And it was pure magic.
How to plan a winter wedding in Yosemite
First of all, it is quite hard to pick a “perfect date” for a winter wedding in Yosemite. Unlike other states, we don’t get snow throughout all winter here in California. So yes, there is a lot of luck involved!
Below I will give you a couple of tips so you can plan your own winter wedding:
- Be flexible: Mother Nature does not know it’s your wedding day. And the weather in the mountains can change drastically, especially in the winter. So if you’re coming from out of town, out of state, or out of the country, it’s important to have a couple of days to spare. You might need to change your wedding date or just the time as we did with this elopement.
- Safety comes first: Seeing the amount of snow the Sierras were getting, I even told our bride “I wouldn’t be surprised if the Park closes by the end of the week”. 3 days after their wedding day, the Park announced they were closing due to extreme winter conditions. If it isn’t safe to drive, then it’s not safe, period.
- Pack your patience: driving under these conditions is not an easy task. And the rule of thumb is… drive slowly. So always assume your drive time will be 30 minutes longer than what the GPS says.
- Stay warm: fleece leggings, winter coats, hand warms, winter boots, a good pair of gloves, and the list goes on. It is possible to look and feel amazing even when you’re covered in layers! This couple did an amazing job in simply assuming the weather forecast was right, and that, if they didn’t wear layers, they would be miserably cold. They ordered a couple of winter items a week before their wedding and warned all of their guests about the conditions, and everyone just had a great time!
- Embrace the conditions: and finally, be ready to embrace not being able to take your coat off. Or having your hair full of snowflakes. It’s challenging, but magical at the same time!
That’s a wrap. I hope you’re now ready and inspired to plan your winter wedding in Yosemite!
We are Stephan & Adriana, Yosemite Elopement Photographers. You’ll also find us all over California, in places like Sequoia National Park, Big Sur, Mammoth Lakes, Santa Cruz, and more! Get in touch!