Taft Point Wedding Photos | Yosemite Wedding Photographer | Yosemite Elopement Photo
Photographing Jessica & Victor’s Taft Point Wedding was not only beautiful, it ended with an incredible sunset overlooking Yosemite Valley.
One of the most iconic views in Yosemite National Park—or in any National Park, if we’re being frank—is from the amazing Taft Point lookout. Just 1.2 miles of a hike from the popular parking lot, you’ll spend longer driving from Yosemite Valley up to Glacier Point Rd. than you will hiking the path to this lookout. But short hike or long, it’s worth it—and is one of the most amazing elopement spots in the world.
You can read more about the actual Taft Point hike in this article. Now on to this adventurous couple, who planned their Yosemite elopement followed by a 4-day REI-led hiking trip in the park!
Jessica and Victor dated for a decade, and finally decided to tie the knot in secret at Yosemite. Not knowing a ton about the park, they asked me for advice for their summer wedding on a Tuesday (Hey, if you’re eloping, you don’t have to worry about your guests’ schedules! Plus, it’s less crowded on weekdays no matter what time of year). Still, snagging a Taft Point wedding permit is no easy feat.
Yosemite Wedding Photographer + Permit “Fun“
I’m a California-based Yosemite wedding photographer and have photographed all around the park. Though I’m not a planner, I do photograph enough Yosemite elopements to help with approximate times and permits. You can contact me here with any questions regarding a Yosemite wedding permit or hiking questions (and yes, you can get married in Yosemite without hiking!). So, I helped Victor and Jessica secure their dream date and location (for that epic Taft Point sunset) for their hiking elopement. You can find more permit information on Yosemite’s website, but essentially, you should apply as early as possible (up to 1 year out), be flexible, and figure out your top 3 spots in case the one you picked is already booked.
Yosemite wedding permits are $150, and involve both email and snail mail to a kind woman named Catherine. She handles all elopement/wedding inquires at Yosemite.
Permits for your Yosemite wedding or elopement can be frustrating at best. It can take months to hear back about the place and date you’ve been awarded, which makes planning very difficult. Luckily, with your Yosemite wedding permit you’re allowed to take photos anywhere in the park. You’re just restricted to your place and time for the ceremony itself.
Glacier Point Road is Back Open in 2023 [updated July 2023].
The Great Glacier Point Road closure of 2022 meant the only way to get to Taft Point and other areas was to hike minimum 8 miles round-trip. Luckily Glacier Point Road is back open in 2023–though with caveats.
Record snowfalls in 2023 changed much of the schedule throughout Yosemite. No matter when you visit, check here for details and road openings.
Much of the southern roads and eastern roads, as of mid-July 2023, are still closed due to crushing snowfalls and snowfall runoff. Additionally, wildfires within the park are actively spreading [July 17, 2023].
Anyhow, back to these two.
After taking photos in other parts of the park, we met in the evening for their sunset wedding. One friend was officiating, and one friend was along with them for their post-wedding hike. They’d just told her they were getting married that very day. She was still in shock! So, the 4 of them along with me and the videographer started along the Taft Point Trailhead for Victor’s first look.
Their First Look on the Taft Point Trail
After their first look, we continued along, taking photos and stopping at some of my favorite spots. The trees are beautiful, the sun peeking through the firs amazing, and the occasional wildlife, spots of ferns, and mosses all make for beautiful hues of green. About a mile in, the trail goes downhill and leads to the famous Taft Point fissures (be careful!), the overlook, and the point itself. Make sure you explore all over, as there’s quite a lot to see. Just be careful where you step, because there are hidden sudden drop-offs that are not marked. Do NOT wander around at night.
A Gorgeous Taft Point Wedding Ceremony
I showed Jessica & Victor various spots to say their vows, and as the sun started to get lower in the sky, they picked a rocky area for their vows.
Jessica & Victor’s Yosemite wedding was beautiful and private, with Victor gazing tearfully at his bride and Jessica giggling as she read her vows. A loud pronouncement that they were married, and the dozen+ onlookers around Taft Point burst into applause.
…and then it was time for one of the big draws here at Yosemite: a Taft Point sunset to cap off Jessica & Victor’s elopement!
I ran (literally, ran) to the point to make sure I could give the videographer enough time to get her own footage as well, then ran back and forth getting shots. As you can see, we got them at the PERFECT time. Sunset at Taft Point is beautiful, and with a couple standing on the edge—it’s amazing.
Weddings on Taft Point
You always have to be careful on the edge, but in all honesty, when you’re on the point itself, it’s a lot of flat rock and doesn’t seem as high up as the vantage point where I took these photos shows. A bit deceiving in a good way.
When taking wedding photos on the point, it’s helpful to have a variety of wide and zoom lenses to accommodate the immense height, the distance, the colors, AND the couple. Having the couple a bit further apart helps emphasize the immense space over the valley.
There was also a bouquet toss, champagne, fruits and cheeses, and cake. 2 local gals were invited in on the bouquet toss, and one caught it! It was caught on tape and made us all laugh. We also shared amazing cake made by my colleague Ashley @darkheartdesserts.
Photographing Jessica’s silky elopement dress and flying veil on the cliff edge made their Taft Point wedding photos—with the sun turning the sky purple behind them—quite incredible. As we packed up our gear and the leftover cake, the colors just kept coming. So…we took our gear back out and got a few more photos and videos.
Then it was back up the hill (where we saw a scorpion!) and to the car park with our headlamps on, their elopement day complete.
Driving to Taft Point Yosemite National Park
Getting to Taft Point takes about 80 minutes, give or take 10 minutes, from both Yosemite Valley and northern Oakhurst.
To get here, take Glacier Point Rd. (off of Wawona Rd.) nearly to the end, going about 12 miles. If starting in Yosemite Valley, you’ll wind up past Tunnel View, go through the tunnel, and continue for nearly 10 miles. Then, you’ll take a left to turn onto Glacier Point Road.
From Fish Camp/Oakhurst (bottom of the map), you’ll drive up Route 41 (which turns into Wawona), pass through the entrance, then make a right onto Glacier Point Rd.
When Glacier Point Rd. is back open in 2023, you’ll still need to drive this curvy, high, wildlife-ridden road with care. Bears, rattlesnakes, and hikers can be right around the bend, so please be careful as accidents can occur here.
Yosemite Elopement Photographers: How Many Hours Should You Hire Your Photographer?
All in all, it took about 4 hours, plus another 4 hours in another Yosemite spot (and hours more of driving). This is why, as an experienced Yosemite wedding photographer, I make sure couples book a minimum of 4 hours for their Yosemite elopement. Because no one lives anywhere close to Yosemite, any elopement or wedding photographer you book will need to drive a minimum of 3 hours to photograph your ceremony. Most (like me) are based in the Bay Area, or Fresno, or SoCal, and so it’s typically 6 hours to Yosemite and back, not counting the actual shooting time or driving time within the park. This is why most professional photographers have Yosemite pricing at around $3000 or more. You can find photography services for cheaper, but they won’t be experienced with the ins and outs of the park, photo spots, rules, optimal times, etc. Go with a professional so you get the most amazing experience AND photos.
With all the hiking, special spots, planning, driving, and more that goes into it, you simply can’t do a Taft Point elopement in much less than 4 hours and not feel rushed. Add 3 for driving to that, and you’ve already got a full day. But boy is it worth it. Enjoy the rest of their wedding day photos!
Enjoy, plan ahead, and I can’t wait to hear about your Taft Point wedding experience!~
Yosemite Wedding Vendors:
Photography (moi): Instagram.com/KathrynCooperWeddings
Dress: Belle Dress
Dress shop: Vero Bridal in Pasadena
Tux: Tuxedo Junction Westfield Topanga Mall
Victor’s boots: Calvin Klein
Officiant: Daniel Thomas
Hair & Makeup: Bellissimo On Location