My first elopement couple hired me two weeks before their big day, driving up from Texas to get married
in the mountains in Colorado, where I live.
They asked me to pick out the spot for their
ceremony in Rocky Mountain National Park,
so I spent a whole day hiking around, looking
for the most stunning views, and picked out
the most jaw-dropping one I could find.
It was a 12-person wedding. The bride
got ready in a log cabin, slipping on the $60
dress she found online. She didn’t believe me
when I said it could be 45 °F in July at 12,000
feet, so when we got up to the spot at sunrise,
she wore the shawl and thermal leggings that
I brought along for her just in case.
It was one of those rare foggy days in
Colorado—we even got a sprinkling of snow.
A herd of elk made it into the background
of some of their images, and we spent
more than two hours after their ceremony
wandering around all my favorite photo spots
in the park while they enjoyed the scenery,
just being together before they met everyone
back in Estes Park for lunch.
That day changed me forever as a
wedding photographer. I had started shooting
weddings five years earlier, but that day was
the first wedding that I could actually imagine
having myself someday. I had never dreamed
of a big wedding with a tribe of bridesmaids,
That couple from Texas made the brave
choice to have a wedding that truly represented
them, without putting on a big production
and performance for everyone else. It was a
perfect day, I thought. And something in me
clicked. Coming home on that day, buzzing
with excitement and completely fulfilled rather
than feeling drained and tired like usual, I was
sure that photographing elopements—and
changing my business to something that truly
represents who I am—was all I wanted to do.
Within a few weeks of shooting my
first elopement, I had blogged it, put it on
Pinterest, featured it on my Facebook page
(I wasn’t even using Instagram back then)
and carefully curated my portfolio, getting
rid of any images taken indoors or ones that
looked like they were taken at big weddings.
I changed my pricing structure to offer
From that first elopement, which luckily
did very well on Pinterest and gave me great
SEO for Rocky Mountain National Park, I
booked 25 elopements for the following
season. (And ten more big weddings—girl’s
gotta eat.) I only shared content that was in
line with elopements. By the next season, 18
months after my epiphany, I was only shooting
elopements. Last year, I shot 55 of them.