The vast diversity of Arches National Park will continue to inspire me, especially when I have the honor to experience it alongside my amazing couples.
When I met J & J before dawn in the middle of the desert I immediately knew that it's gonna be a day filled with adventure, love and a touch of emotion. And indeed it was, every elopement I have the honor to photograph will always be remembered. This is one for the books for sure.
But before I tell you their story, here's a few quick tips on how to elope at Arches National Park. One of the many beautiful parks Utah has to offer.
Almost every (pretty much every) national park requires you to obtain a permit to legally marry there, these permits are very helpful to make sure more than one wedding don't happen at the exact same time, to have a sense of control over the crowds and to make sure that couples know what is feasible to elope at that specific National Park. Here is the link to Arches National Park's wedding permit. https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/weddings.htm
As you can see on that web link, you are only allowed to perform a ceremony in very specific locations, here's the list of ceremony locations for Arches National Park:
La Sal Mountains Viewpoint
The Windows Section (North Window, South Window, Turret Arch, or Double Arch)
Sand Dune Arch
Delicate Arch Viewpoint
Pine Tree Arch
Devils Garden Campground Amphitheater
Leave No Trace in Arches National Park:
The use of rice, birdseed, non-native plant seed and releasing wildlife is prohibited. Props like tents, caterers, sound systems, tables etc is also prohibited. If you plan on playing music - plan to keep it on the very low end because playing musical instruments and amplified sounds are also prohibited. As always, stay on trail as much as you can and make sure you are aware of any fragile ecosystems in Arches National Park.
That being said, these limitations does not make it impossible for a truly beautiful and fun elopement in Arches National Park. This is created to keep this park beautiful for generations to come!
Weather & Exclusivity:
Arches National Park is a very beautiful, very popular park. It can get pretty crowded. Try to plan your Arches National Park elopement for off - season. The best time of day to elope in Arches is for sure sunrise, it will still be nice and cool and you most likely will have the place all to yourself for that first hour but that's tops. Arches National Park is in the desert, that means HOT. Make sure you do some research on the weather before you decide on a day for your Arches National Park elopement.
Okay now I really want to tell you the incredible story of J&J's Arches National Park elopement day! They have the same name! Jordan and Jordan, they say that friends usually call them "Girl Jordan" and "BJ" short for "Boy Jordan" needless to say, both Jordan's was so fun to plan this day, here's their story.
We met up long before the crack of dawn to photograph some incredible stars, did you know that the deserts in Utah is genuinely some of the best places to see the stars very clear? It is always so beautiful and never disappoints.
We hiked up the trail with our headlamps on chatting and just enjoying the short hike, girl Jordan suddenly looked up and said "Oh, we're right by the arch" seeing the arch at dark was so eerie and exciting at the same time! We had a true blast photographing these starry shots, it wasn't long when we could see the crack of dawn.
When the sun started to rise we headed back to the car, grabbed our bags and found a great spot to get ready, J&J wanted to do a first look and I gotta say, this was one of the sweetest first looks I've ever witnessed. Boy Jordan have some of the most incredible hair I've ever seen, Girl Jordan helped him with his hair then they separated between the red rocks to get ready. Talk about getting ready out in nature! J&J took their time to admire each other, the sunrise and just how beautiful the day is.
A sunrise first look in Arches National Park will never disappoint!
Told you, that sunrise and the moments they experienced was incredible! During the first look I stepped away a lot of times to give them their space and for them to be able to take in these moments together, to really witness the sunrise, each other and to be able to just live in the moment.
Right after the first look, before we head up to the arch, I stepped in and took some time to set the intention for the rest of the day. With this I mean that I spoke to them about my approach of photography, I also let them take a few deep breaths to relax those first look anxieties and just so they know that I am here to document their moments and for them to truly just be themselves, to have fun together and experience a day that is all about the two of them. Are you curious to learn more about the experience of being photographed by me? Click here to find out.
We then headed up to the arch and played around like kids, the sunrise peeking through the arch was remarkable.
The beauty of nature is truly the only decorations you need on your wedding day.
J&J wrote these incredibly intimate letters to one another, we chose a spot to privately read these, emotions were high but wow it was as always incredible to witness.
Let these moments speak for themselves:
.......yup, it was truly moments I myself will hold dear to my heart. J&J's story is just incredible, hardships, love, everything you can think of. For me to have the honor to photograph these two is just an opportunity I will never forget.
J&J packed a super fun picnic, they picked a picnic spot on the red rocks and had a few moments to themselves, joking around and just enjoying this picnic together.
J&J ended the day with a champagne pop and first dance, dancing to one of the most beautiful first dance songs I have ever heard. Strawberries by Caamp: https://youtu.be/IyRJlWTYZ80
A beautiful Arches National Park elopement indeed. I am always incredibly honored that I get to photograph THESE moments, like damn my job is the best in the world!
Here's what Jordan x 2 have to say about our experience together:
"I'm not sure where to start or how I can concisely write what an amazing time it was to be photographed by Shanmari. From day one she kept my fiance and I informed of the whole process and later provided us with a detailed itinerary, packing list and more - which for someone like me, is VERY important ;). Our day with Shanmari was beautiful. She was a stranger but from the moment we met, it was like meeting up with an old friend. She made us feel extremely comfortable, she let us do our thing and she captured some of the most beautiful moments I've ever shared with my now, husband. We will forever remember that day. The photos she took will be ones we can always look back on and actually FEEL the emotion and love we have for each other. If you are trying to decide whether or not Shanmari is the one to photograph your special day, she is. She is incredible at what she does and I know you will be as grateful as I am that I took the leap and chose to go with her!" - Jordan & Jordan