Winter Elopement at Grand Teton
So excited to hear from Traci, we first started talking about having a winter elopement at the Grand Tetons. I’d never been there but I knew shooting a winter mountain elopement was in my dreams. Already researching work for many other national parks and public lands, I couldn’t wait to help Traci and Kevin plan their elopement.
Traci and Kevin wanted to elope somewhere adventurous. The ‘wild west’ and the Grand Teton/ Yellowstone areas was a part of Kevin’s bucketlist for a long time. They wanted to be there in the snow, which is pretty unusual. Many people get married in the spring or summer at Jackson Hole.
Florals by Sarah Kay and I met Traci and Kevin on zoom early on. We discussed the logistics and hoped to bring in our own officiant and potentially a private chef. In the end, a simpler plan came into place with just Sarah Kay and I in attendance.
Sarah Kay is more than just florals to me. She is instrumental in making things flow, she has this Mary Poppins bag of all the things you might need, she can find it, zipit, lock it and all while carrying snowshoes, 😛 and not miss a single beat. I don’t know if I could do an elopement like this without her. Nevermind needing two people as a witness for the marriage license.
Arriving in a new wedding location
We got to Jackson Hole a couple days early. Foolishly, I’d thrown my skis in the car but little did I know, I would never have the chance to use them.
Working from the minute we arrived, until the minute that we left. Driving the planned elopement location loop two nights before the wedding, we canceled locations and investigated others. The only thing that was really set in stone – the wedding itself, 4:30pm at a place called the Wedding Tree. Being unsure if we would be able to access the wedding tree, we went to it first.
The Wedding Tree
Driving, we were pleased to see that only the last bit of roadway covered in snow but easily passable. I saw some photos of the wedding tree online, and I have to admit, they didn’t impress me.
We parked and walked on the path that was snow packed down out toward the wedding tree. I was ecstatic. It is magical sacred tree in an amazingly beautiful location. The view of the of Grand Teton is incredible. I walked around looking for the right vantage point to photograph the wedding. We went on to scout other locations for a few photos but came upon some winter/covid challenges.
Looking for the Mormon Row, we found the road closed at a point that might take too long to snowshoe away from. We were pretty sad, I really wanted to include the Mormon Barn, it was a classic Grand Tetons photo. Traci mentioned wanting to take photos there on our skype meeting. Luckily, the next morning, we found that the other end of the road was open and from the parking at the end of the road, the Mormon Row was visible. And we took wedding photos at Mormon Row.
Traci and Kevin
Sarah Kay and I saw their love from the start. Their love is beautiful and it’s enough to celebrate but you can see their mutual trust in each other. We could see that Kevin’s willingness to take on any adventure, as long as she was part of it! Traci’s joy in bringing him to his bucket list place and arranging details …adventure hearty-ness at its best!
You might not describe Kevin and Traci as brave at first, but because they decided to stand and be tall in that landscape they are to us. They trusted us to help plan their dream. It is ultimately the life that they are committing to creating together.
That was the power of these two. The way she described him with honor and humor and the way that he so adores her and is thrilled to be invited on her adventure! It is truly humbling to see people experience the parks that we hold dear with the same reverence and awe. That’s the good stuff. And to be trusted to chaperone people through this experience… And let it all unfold beautifully… Trusting it to be as it should
Meeting Traci and Kevin at the famous Jackson Hole antler arches, we took their photo and chatted with them a bit.
Our first stop would be Mormon Row. Along the way we didn’t see many others and no one at barn at all. Maybe winter is the perfect time for a Grand Tetons wedding.
Walking 30 minutes on the closed road to the end, Sarah Kay offloaded the snowshoes. Putting them on Traci and Kevin with a quick basic lesson in snowshoeing we took off toward the historic barn before heading back to the car.
Stopping at a couple other locations on the way to the wedding tree for the elopement, and to a river view. Snowshoeing a little bit more, we helped Traci pin a boutonniere on Kevin. We drove on, all along the way we stopping to witness amazing wildlife – bison, moose, and finally a couple of foxes.
Arriving at the Wedding Tree, we met Judd Grossman, the officiant and musician. He greets us with a smile, all the while still playing guitar softly, looking just like a cowboy. Of course, no wedding is perfect, and the marriage license paperwork – still in the car. Kevin ran to retrieve it an as he walked the “aisle” back toward his bride to be, Judd jokingly plays “here comes the bride on the guitar”. We all laugh and then Traci takes her turn walking the the “aisle” toward the tree and I smile as I watch Sarah Kay weep at the ceremony.
Super cold after being without coats in the snow, we wrangled Kevin and Traci back into the truck and tucking a basket of snacks between them, they follow us to a new location. It is just another one of Sarah Kay’s Mary Poppins tricks in taking care of people and keeping our wedding couples fed and happy. Celebrating with cake and champagne into the overcast sunset with perfect view of the Grand Teton’s landscape surrounding us we feel love surrounding us.