On October 1st 2013 the powers that be closed down “non-essential” government. Included in the midst of that group are all national parks. Living in a town with a primary economy based on tourism, it’s a wreck here. I’m watching businesses struggle to stay alive, friends lose their jobs, tourists heartbroken that they will not be able to see the natural beauty of Yosemite, and an entire national park empty.
Politics aside, it left me in a wild position. The day the government shutdown and Yosemite closed, I looked at my calendar and saw four weddings in the next seven days. What was I going to do for these Yosemite weddings during the government shutdown? Suddenly it became clear that the plans of all of these couples were about to be drastically changed and we needed to help. Some scrambled to relocate their weddings. Some have postposed their weddings hoping the park will be open soon. Some changed their plans entirely and decided not to come here for their wedding. Together with local vendors, we’ve done our best to make sure that every couple has the chance to still have the wedding they want.
Which brings me to Aeriana and Mike. I’ve been working with them since June to plan their wedding, and they recently moved to the Yosemite area. They had their sights set on Glacier Point as the perfect place to exchange their vows, but because of recent changes, there was no way for that to happen. We met one night and looked at all of our options, whether to relocate or postpone. On one hand, they had hoped to be married in a beautiful place like Yosemite and were willing to wait, but on the other hand they did not want to wait. They wanted to be married.
One of the blessing about living in the Yosemite area is being able to visit so many beautiful places that are not inside of Yosemite. I love to explore the surrounding lands and find new places. Place that unlike Yosemite are often empty of tourists, places that often even longtime locals have never visited. It was in one of these favorite places of mine that I suggested that Aeriana and Mike should consider getting married, right on schedule, instead of in Yosemite. I assured them that it was the right place and thankfully, they trusted me.
Two days later we met in the backcountry in high up in the Sierra. Together with their loved ones and Dr. Emily Susann, we hiked off into the woods until we reached a clearing looking across across the mountains. Distant peaks soared, while all around us was silence. This was exactly the place that Aeriana and Mike were looking for and the perfect place for their wedding. Here they exchanged vows and promised their unending love to each other. When the short ceremony was over, I joined them as they explored the local groves, colorful meadows, and even a hike to the top of a granite dome. As we stood there on top of the world, they told me how this wedding was so perfectly them; they found their own unique place full of natural beauty. Awesome.
In the end, I’m incredibly thankful that everything work out so well for Aeriana and Mike. With their plans thrown to the wind at the last minute, they pressed on. And instead of a wedding ceremony at Glacier Point, they ended up at someplace just as beautiful and more special for them. Even Dr. Emily Susann, a local of the area who had never been here before remarked that it’s all the same mountain, why wouldn’t it be as beautiful as Yosemite? For me, it was a blessing to be able to share a place like this with a couple on their wedding day. In fact, recently I’ve been sharing a lot of my favorite places with couples, and now many of them have new favorite places too. I’m excited for the future, will more couples want to me to share more of my favorite places with them? There are still so many places I’d love to share.Patrick Pike Studios Officiant: Dr. Emily Sussan