For a National Park elopement to end all National Park elopements, Brady & Tegan’s Wildly Lovely Elopement In Yosemite, captured by Emily Jenks Photography, was epic and romantic. And best left to the couple to tell us about their incredible wedding day. Brady tells us about how they came to be, and the choice to elope in one of the world’s most incredible destinations. 

We have been asked so many times, “Why did you choose to elope?”And here is the answer for everyone playing at home. Eloping was an easy decision for Tegan and me. It was never about saving money (that was an added bonus) – we would have loved to celebrate with all our family and friends, but a big traditional wedding never really felt ‘us’. Neither Tegan nor I enjoy dancing. We would have felt obligated to do the first dance and encourage people to dance, which in turn would have made us feel uncomfortable. I am a professional photographer, and I have witnessed so many moments putting couples in a situation that doesn’t make it their day anymore. In all honesty, the decision to elope was an easy one because what drew Tegan and me together was our love of hiking, camping and travelling (it was a 30-hour transit from Adelaide to Yosemite), and I feel so lucky that we were able to incorporate those 3 things into our wedding day.

Both Tegan and I have a shared love of Survivor, so I decided to propose to her with a Survivor-style idol hunt with clues that led her to where I was waiting at the beach where we had our second date.

We really felt the love and support from everyone with our decision to elope. We understand that it might be viewed as a selfish decision in some people’s eyes, but I wouldn’t change a thing because I had the most romantic and special day with my best friend. I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing day. I truly wouldn’t change a thing. We also get asked ‘why Yosemite?’ and my response is always, well just look at how stunning the photos are. It was amazing to be able to capture some pretty beautiful photos at your own wedding.

The backdrop to our ceremony was the world-famous Tunnel View lookout at sunrise in Yosemite National Park. We also shot at various locations around the Yosemite Valley (El Capitan, Yosemite Falls etc). Yosemite was stunning. Every stop we made we were in awe. The sunrise at Tunnel View, a rainbow at the bottom of Yosemite Falls, waterfalls literally everywhere you looked. It was perfect.

We stayed at the Yosemite Valley Lodge which had a stunning view of Yosemite Falls from our window. Our dinner (which we booked very last minute – an hour before, in fact) was at the Mountain Room Restaurant, and pre-dinner drinks at the Mountain Room Lounge.

We were married in April 2022 (our favourite Thursday) at Yosemite National Park in California. The ceremony was overlooking the Tunnel View lookout. And as a very important side note, I don’t think we could have done it without our celebrant’s husband, Dave, who lugged our jackets, bags and cameras up quite a steep mountainside to get to our location.

I chose a very casual look as a traditional suit didn’t feel ’me’. I spent all of $180 on my outfit!

I loved seeing my wife for the first time in her wedding dress. It was a very special moment, and I was blown away (and still am) by how beautiful she looked.

From Tegan… 

I found my dress at Luv Bridal in Adelaide. It was one of 3 that I tried on. One was a definite no (a more traditional style white wedding dress with a large skirt that I just wanted to try on for the sake of knowing what it would be like to try on such a large dress), and one was a lace dress of a similar look to other dresses in my closet, and then mine. I almost went for the second because it was cheaper, but ultimately decided on the one I choose because it was so much different to what I would wear any other day of the year. It was made as a sample and so I’m told that’s unique in that there were only ever two made and the fact that it was both on the sale rack, and fit me so well seemed like a pretty good sign. Every time I tried it on after that day I loved it more and more.

The experience was easy and the lady helping me that night was so lovely and patient with me asking me to re-try it several times to make sure I was sure.

The flowers I held are actually fake. I looked at a few different places online after Emily suggested faux flowers. The process was incredibly easy – I sent through maybe 2 photos of the kind of bouquet I liked and a colour scheme I liked and the miracle workers at Ginger Says put it together perfectly.  They also held up so well being in her carry-on luggage for a total of 10 flights.

We didn’t have an ’aisle walk’ as such, as we were in a small space on the side of a mountain, but our ceremony began with a piano version of John Williams’ “Jurassic Park Theme” song, followed by Mumford & Sons “Forever”, and then Brent Morgan’s acoustic version of “Kiss The Girl” from The Little Mermaid. Our love of Disney will become clearer when you see the honeymoon photos!

Being an elopement it was small and intimate – exactly what we wanted. We were able to customise the celebrant’s script to be more personal so it ended up with references to our cats. We also decided to write our own vows. I decided to go short and sweet but with a lot of love and laughter, however, Tegan blew me away when she pulled out a journal which I soon learned she had been writing to me since 6 months into our relationship. At the beginning of her vows, she read the first entry she wrote. It was incredibly moving.

My favourite photos of the day were of the champagne spray. I am a massive fan of Formula One and have always dreamed of spraying champagne as they do on the podium, and as you can tell by my face I had a ball doing it (and accidentally sprayed Emily because I was far too excited).

From Tegan…

Everyone who helped us bring our wedding together was excellent, but Emily Jenks and Nichole (our celebrant) both deserve a shout-out. Nichole was such a beautiful presence and even though we didn’t know she existed until a few days before, she felt like an old friend.

Also Corin from Beauty by Corin. This wonder woman had to wake up at 2 am and did the most amazing job. I don’t wear makeup often and felt worried that I’d feel overdone and not myself, but yikes was she incredible! I sent two photos the night before of looks that I liked, and a hairstyle that I ended up changing my mind on the morning of. She was so easy to talk to and deserves further props for a) filming our first look, and b) putting up with me immediately coming back to knock on her door for a touch-up because I cried and smudged my make-up already.

From Tegan…

A common theme among bride friends who I’ve spoken to found the process of wedding planning really stressful, and the day rather overwhelming with the feeling of needing to make sure everyone is having fun. The only stress I had in the whole process was the impact of Covid on border restrictions – or knowing if we got it in that last week then the whole thing would be cancelled. Once we had a negative test, everything was so smooth that it felt surreal. As an absolute introvert, I am grateful that I got to have a special day entirely with my best friend. I was able to feel completely myself and completely confident the whole time.

Emily Jenks Photography has been incredible from the first email. Planning a wedding overseas probably comes with challenges but it sure didn’t feel like it. She was so helpful throughout the entire process and very patient with the fact that for the majority of the planning process, our borders were shut to international travel so it was uncertain whether it could go ahead. Emily made the day run so smooth and knew the perfect spots to go. We are so grateful for her suggestion for the ceremony location up the mountain overlooking the Tunnel View as it made the ceremony secluded from the crowd of sunrise photographers who had gathered at the lookout, Oh, and as well as being lovely and helpful, her photos are incredible, we couldn’t be happier with them.

I don’t have a lot of advice, but one thing I can say is, if you are thinking of eloping and are unsure – do it. Ultimately it is your day and if the ‘ small and intimate’ that comes with eloping will help it to feel fully you, and fully ’your day’, you will not regret it. We have definitely felt so much love and support.

Once we finished photos with Emily around 9 am, Tegan stayed in her dress for me to capture some images myself while walking around the park. We were constantly stopped by people who congratulated us and told Tegan how beautiful she looked. One couple stopped to tell us that it was their 40th wedding anniversary and they too were married in Yosemite!

At our stop for pre-dinner drinks at the Mountain Room Lounge, the bartender Derryn shouted us delicious cocktails and sent a cheesecake slice to the table with ’congratulations’ in chocolate. Prior to this while I was at the bar, he congratulated me on the day and told me, “marriage is easy when you’re with the right person. I’ve been married 17 years”, and another patron standing with us added,” I’ve been married 40 years and it still feels like the first day”. This small interaction on my wedding day was really meaningful and will live on long in my memory.

The most special thing about our wedding is that it was 100% us. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to say that.

Thank you to Brady & Tegan for sharing this amazing elopement with us! And to Emily Jenks for the incredible images. Keep an eye out for the couple’s fun & fabulous honeymoon which we will feature very soon!