Yosemite Wedding Photos | Yosemite Elopement Photographer | Yosemite Wedding Photographer
Weddings in Yosemite are like nothing else, and these Yosemite wedding photos + elopement tips will help you plan the perfect day
Yosemite Wedding Photos & Tips
If you’ve landed on this post, you probably already know that Yosemite National Park has some of the most beautiful views on earth: Iconic mountains towering above the valley, great wildlife, world-class rock climbing, incredible waterfalls, and vertical views from the mountains above with magical sunsets. So why not get married here?
Yosemite weddings are quite popular in the park, and for good reason. Where else can you have your pick of places, seasons, backdrops, and more? From the little Yosemite Chapel to Taft Point, I’ve photographed elopements and weddings all around Yosemite NP for years.
I’m a Yosemite wedding & elopement photographer here at Kathryn Cooper Weddings, and I’ve compiled some beautiful images and many tips to help you finalize a celebration here of your own.
These Yosemite wedding photos represent some of my favorite images in and around Yosemite, along with helpful tips on how to plan your own Yosemite wedding, get your permit, and enjoy the park while getting amazing shots.
In this article…
As an experienced elopement & wedding photographer in Yosemite National Park, here I’ll go over:
-Beautiful Yosemite wedding photos, and where I took them
-Times of day for your elopement/wedding
-How to prepare for Yosemite wedding photos
-Yosemite wedding permits
-Wedding photographer costs in Yosemite
-Elopements vs Weddings in the park
Gorgeous Yosemite Wedding Photos
First off, here are some of my favorite wedding photos I’ve taken in and around Yosemite National Park:
My favorite locations include:
-Secret spot near Yosemite Valley
-Glacier Point Road
How to Get the Most Epic Yosemite Wedding Photos? Wake Up Early.
Sunrise and sunset in Yosemite are the most amazing times for wedding and elopement photos. Everyone knows about sunset, and the crowds do, too. But very few people are willing to wake up at 4am, drive 1.5 hours to Glacier Point, and be there with jackets and headlamps on for sunrise!
But trust me, it’s worth it. You’ll have none of the crowds, incredible color, sun rays up the wazoo, and epic locations to yourself.
Sunsets are amazing in Yosemite—some of the most amazing anywhere, actually (and I’ve photographed in over 60 countries around the world!).
Because of the high elevation of many locations, sunset is earlier than you may expect. I love capturing incredible sunset wedding photos with my couples.
Be prepared with:
-Boots for stability and critters (scorpions come out at dusk!)
-Good car headlights, since deer and bear often appear on the roads in the evening
Many of the best locations are the overviews, which are on Glacier Point Road. This road tends to only be open from Memorial Day through to the end of September, so plan accordingly. The only other way to access Taft Point or Glacier Point is to hike a 9-mile trail from the bottom of the valley up and then down again. Plan your wedding dates accordingly.
Getting Your Yosemite Wedding Permit
If you want to take wedding photos in Yosemite, you’ll need a permit. It costs $150-200, depending on the permit, and you need to be approved before you can take photos. Sometimes you need an additional photo/video special use permit as well, but call 209-279-1858 to get up-to-date information. Please make sure to follow the rules, because after a string of people not following permit regulations, many national park offices are trying to eliminate weddings and elopements in the parks altogether, which would be extraordinarily sad. Please follow the rules, and Leave No Trace principles!
Sorry—No Pets Allowed
Though so many couples want to elope with their pets, dogs and other pets are not allowed at any ceremony sites. No exceptions.
You can find the official Yosemite wedding permit application right here, along with rules, advice, and guidelines.
How Much Does a Yosemite Wedding Photographer Cost?
Getting married in Yosemite National Park has a bit of a price tag, and here’s why: Most Yosemite wedding vendors don’t live all that near the park. In fact, even those who live close to the park are still about 1.5 hours away one-way, so you need to factor 3-12 hours round-trip into the pricing for every photographer, florist, and makeup artist. The park is just so large that commuting is the only way. Gas,, wear & tear, and time are a huge pricing factor when getting married here.
Like many California photographers who shoot in Yosemite, I’m based in the SF Bay Area. My commute is generally about 3.5-4 hours one-way, so I have to factor my commute and 1-2 nights of accommodation into my pricing, whether that’s for an engagement, a proposal, an elopement, or a wedding. That said, there are photographers who charge very little, but they typically don’t know the best locations, times of year, permitting rules, and tricks of the trade here. Because there are many dangerous spots and rules in Yosemite, make sure you go with a trusted vendor who knows what to look out for!
Plus, most elopement photographers like me help you for hours with planning out your wedding day. We don’t just take photos, we connect you with vendors, plan around sunrise and sunset based on driving routes, and make sure we have time for epic photos along the way!
You can expect to pay at least $1000 for proposals and engagement sessions, $3500 for elopements and small weddings, and $5000+ for standard weddings in the Yosemite, Wawona, and Oakhurst areas, given that our second shooters need travel and accommodation as well.
It can seem like a lot of money, but you’re getting everything planned out for you, with none of the stress. Plus, experienced wedding photographers will make your day fun, adventurous, and absolutely incredible.
Yosemite Elopements vs. Yosemite Weddings
The beauty of Yosemite elopements and Yosemite weddings is that you can spend the entire day in the park, getting images of every place you love (or that your photographer recommends). Based on the wedding permit you’re granted, you’ll have to have your actual ceremony in a specific location, but you can take epic wedding photos anywhere you like in the park.
Sunrise and sunset are the best times for these, so plan accordingly, and bring plenty of sandwiches, water, and snacks!
– What’s the difference between a Yosemite elopement and a Yosemite wedding? –
Mostly, the difference between eloping in Yosemite and having a large Yosemite wedding is time and number of guests.
Read this article to understand what an elopement is historically, and now in 2023.
When you elope in Yosemite, you will do it at the location approved of by the permit office after submitting your paperwork no less than 3 weeks before your date. Elopements typically have 0-15 guests. Before or after your official vows, you’ll want to take advantage of all the beautiful spots in the park so you can have wedding photos all around Yosemite.
For larger Yosemite weddings, you can get married inside (with under 50 guests, typically) or outside the park, but use the park for photo/video and/or your private vows.
There are several locations in and around the park for a inside-Yosemite wedding, including the Ahwahnee Hotel, Tenaya Lodge (just outside the park entrance), or roughing-it/glamping Curry Village:
If you want to have a traditionally large wedding, you have the options ONLY of Ahwahnee, Tenaya, or a lodge that is outside of the park, such as The Redwoods.
If you do end up having a weekend or 3-day Yosemite wedding, leave at least a day free not only for you to get photos inside the park, but for your guests to have ample time to explore. Driving from one end to Glacier Point and back takes a good 5 hours, so add hikes and other sites in there, and you need several days!
So there you have it!
I was expecting to showcase some of my favorite Yosemite wedding photos I’ve taken over the years, but because there is so much to know about the park, it was hard to not delve into more detail about this magnificent location.
If you want to get married here, reach out to a Yosemite wedding photographer or planner early, because the times of year that the best photo spots are open also are the busiest months for photographers in the USA! It’s recommended that you get married on a weekday in order to avoid more crowds.
Enjoy, be safe, explore, and go get those epic Yosemite wedding photos!~