| June 22, 2020

Big Sur Elopement

Table of Contents

Unexpected Big Sur Elopement

Tim & Jennings

“This is not where we thought we’d be, but marriage isn’t about the place, the dress, or the flowers. Marriage is about the people.”

Jennings & Tim had been planning their Yosemite National Park wedding for months. We had picked out the perfect location, booked all accommodations, and gotten a permit for a beautiful ceremony location in the valley that looks out to El Cap, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls. Everything was all set to go until the unexpected happened just a few days before: a wildfire broke out. This fire became known as the Ferguson fire and it destroyed nearly 100,000 acres of land around Yosemite National Park.

As the fire began, we kept a close eye on the closures and prayed for more containment, but it just wasn’t working out in our favor. Yosemite NP was slowly closing more and more areas, including the valley, and it was becoming one of their biggest closures in years! With hopeful hearts, we had started making backup location lists that were still in the area, but out of the closures and evacuations. 

When Jennings & Tim arrived at their cabin 2 days before the wedding, the air quality was terrible and there was literal ash falling from the sky. Their families had arrived by this time, too. We quickly concluded that it was not safe to stay there, let alone drive closer to the fire for them to get married. At this time, I (Amber) was just landing in California and on my way to Yosemite. They gave me a call and updated me on the conditions, and we decided to pivot quickly.

So, we put our heads together and decided to escape the smoke, and head to the coast hoping that the winds from the oceans would keep the air clear. We came up with the most perfect elopement location, Big Sur! In just 30 minutes, their florist threw together a beautiful bouquet, we checked out of our accommodations, and we headed west for safer grounds. We really had no idea where we were going, but we knew that we were looking for something beautiful. And we definitely found it in Big Sur!

The day before their Big Sur elopement, Jennings, Tim & I explored the beaches and hiking trails in the area and were blown away by the beauty. We came across a spot along the rocky hillside that they knew would be perfect for their ceremony the next day: a secluded rocky cove covered in lush red & green succulents. It was a romantic ocean side jungle, perfect for an intimate wedding.

On their wedding day, they had a first look outside of their hotel at sunrise. I loved witnessing how they looked at each other with so much love in their eyes; it was such a perfect way to start their day. Our first stop on their wedding day adventure was at a beach for coffee & portraits! They also picked a spot on the beach to read their vows privately. The sound of the ocean waves crashing against the rocks with fog swirling around them as they read their personalized vows…it was incredibly beautiful and emotional. 

After a private morning on the beach, we met up with their family to have their oceanfront ceremony at the spot we had picked the day before. You could feel the love and support surrounding Jennings & Tim as they promised each other forever surrounded by their favorite people. 

Their day wasn’t over after their ceremony…we had a lot more excitement on the agenda. Jennings & Tim are huge fans of sea life and LOVE visiting aquariums, so since we were out near Monterey, we decided to change into some casual clothing and take a wedding day aquarium trip to the Monterey Aquarium. We saw sea turtles, hammerheads, jellyfish, and they got to touch a stingray. These are the experiences that I love so much about elopements. You can truly fill your wedding day with anything that makes you happy! Jennings and Tim absolutely did that, and I will never forget our afternoon at the aquarium.

After the aquarium, we wanted to head back out to the coast to watch the sun set. On our way, we stopped by Target to pick up a lantern, and we were on our way. We arrived back at the coast and took a hike that felt like a scene straight out of Jurassic Park. The trail was misty and lined with bright green foliage. It was such a moody, magical setting. We explored along the rocky cliffs, took some more photos, and they wrapped up their day with sea breeze blowing through their hair, holding each other tightly. 

And what did Jennings and Tim think of this wedding day? Well, the quote at the beginning of this blog is from Jennings, who continued by saying “Our wedding day was the best day of my life, and we got to do exactly what we wanted to do and have an adventure we will never forget.”

Sometimes, regardless of planning and preparation, plans have to change. For Jennings & Tim, their wedding day was not at all what they expected it to be, but it became everything they wanted. And they certainly have an unforgettable story to pass on.

Profile Pic

Maddie Mae

Elopement Photographer

& Planning Consultant

Three photographers

About us

Adventure Instead

Your Elopement Photographers & Planning Consultants. We are Maddie Mae, Amber, and Tori. We're your photographers, your elopement consultants, your cheerleaders, and your go-to adventure buddy on the day you say your vows.

Free guide

Get your free guide

To elopement planning