WILD & ADVENTUROUS ELOPEMENT
BEKKA + JESS
Our beautiful world is full of indescribable and adventurous places — but when it comes to spots that are purely stitched together with wildness, nothing quite compares to Patagonia.
At the southern tip of South America, Patagonia marks the end of the Andes mountain ranges. It’s famous for its icy blue lakes and craggy peaks that are so dramatic and so stunning you hardly believe they’re real – even while you’re standing in front of them. But Patagonia isn’t only known for its peaks. It’s also known for its wildly unpredictable weather.
When Bekka and Jess, a couple from New York, contacted me about capturing their elopement day, Patagonia wasn’t the first location I thought of. We went back and forth for weeks, throwing around ideas of gorgeous, epic places where they could commit their lives to each other — we talked about Alaska, we talked about Colorado.
But at the end of the day, it was genuine wildness they were looking for, and nothing so beautifully and so perfectly intersects that description as Patagonia.
When we started planning, we came up with a timeline that included everything they wanted on their special day — pre-sunrise alpenglow (with a 4 am wakeup call) for their first look, a gorgeous sunrise at the top of a mountain (following a hike up in their wedding gear), a secluded, intimate place to say their vows, a first dance, a gift exchange, and (of course) a mid-day nap before a gorgeous dinner, more exploring, and stunning star photos.
That was the original plan, but that’s not exactly how it all went down. And that’s the beautiful thing about elopements: things don’t have to go to plan. At the end of the day, even if nothing goes according to plan, you’re still in a jaw-dropping place with the person you love saying, “Hey, I choose you for the rest of my life — let’s do this together.”
The moment I knocked on Bekka and Jess’s hotel room door at 4 am on their elopement day, I already knew we were in for some classic Patagonia weather.
Outside it was raining, it was windy, and we weren’t sure when it was going to let up.
But Bekka and Jess were ready to face whatever the day threw at them because they were ready to get married.
They both wanted to go forward and have their first look, so with some careful maneuvering, they were able to get ready separately in the same hotel room, each of them donning the most unique, true-to-themselves details as part of their wedding attire.
Then came the fun part.
Bekka and Jess wanted to do their first look right before they started their sunrise hike. The problem? We only had one car for everyone. But with a little more careful maneuvering, some white sheets, and some dedication, we packed ourselves up in the same car, the two of them never seeing each other in their wedding attire.
When we got to their first look spot, the dark clouds were still rolling in.
The air was frigid. The wind was blowing so hard it was rocking the minivan back and forth. We all waited together in anticipation, wondering if today would be the day when Bekka and Jess could say their vows and commit their lives to each other.
The whole thing felt very up in the air.
It was in the very final moments of deciding whether or not we should stick it out or head back to the hotel to try again later when we all looked up and saw something unreal, something I have never seen before in all of my years of travel and elopement photography.
A vibrant rainbow stretching across a pink alpenglow sky — directly over an icy blue lake.
This was it. This was perfect.
In the midst of all the rain and the wind and the cold, this was happening — almost like it was happening just for them.
We all took that as the perfect sign.
We scrambled out of the car. I helped Bekka get set up at the lake. I positioned myself far enough away so they could have their private, intimate moment. I signaled for Jess. It was time.
Jess walked down to the lake toward Bekka, her dress whipping around her wildly.
She tapped Bekka on the shoulder. Bekka turned to face Jess. They instantly melted into each other. They held each other close, battling the wind, letting it sink in that this was it — this was the moment they’d promise to choose each other.
It didn’t matter that the wind almost knocked them over, it didn’t matter that the dark clouds were still rolling in, it didn’t even matter that the world’s most beautiful sunrise was happening all around them — the only thing that mattered was that they had each other.
After their emotional first look, we opted to hop into the van to warm up, this time, with Bekka and Jess sitting side-by-side, holding each other close.
With the weather still flip-flopping (in total Patagonia fashion), we decided to head back to the hotel and try again for their hike and their vows later in the day. But they weren’t disappointed. They weren’t stressed at all.
“The first look is over,” Bekka told Jess, gently holding her hand in the minivan, still rocking back and forth in the wind.
“That’s what was scary about it — we had to do that part alone. Now we can do this whole thing together.”
The rest of their elopement didn’t happen on the schedule we’d intended. There were delays. We had to wait out the weather. There were roadblocks in our plan.
But they still did everything they wanted to do for their elopement.
We went on to do the hike they’d planned. They explored the mountainsides and the forests, and the almost-black-sand beaches. They said their vows when it felt perfectly right for them. They had the gorgeous dinner. They explored Patagonia by starlight.
They did everything they set out to do — and they did it in a way that was perfect for them. No matter how many elopements I shoot, that’s the part that always gets me.
We can plan and plan. We can design every moment as best as we can. We can build time into our schedule for flexibility and spontaneity and leave room for things to go “wrong”— but things might not always work out the way you intend.
And that’s OK.
Because even when the wind is so strong it’s going to pull you down, or when the freezing cold is nipping at your nose, or when the rain clouds are ominousl
y looming above your head — you have your partner to hold you up, to keep you warm, to point out the rainbow just beyond the horizon.
That’s what elopements are all about — that’s what Bekka and Jess are all about, too.