“Atmospheric river” and “my wedding” are two terms that you never want to have to mix into the same sentence, but Mallory and Matthew had no choice in the matter. Just a few days before their wedding, the weather report went from a chance of rain to flat out ugly. A system of storms was closing in on Yosemite and would pummel the area with rain for over a week straight. Just two days before their wedding the report showed a 100% chance of rain with two feet of snow in the high country. We even contemplated postponing the wedding by a day, but by then Yosemite Valley would be closed and the guests evacuated.
Embracing the hand that was dealt to them, Mallory and Matthew wanted to go ahead with their original wedding date. I admired their zeal and sense of adventure. Not everyone is willing to vote on the day that has a 100% chance of rain for their wedding when the very next was forecast for a 0% chance. At this point I was excited to see what we might find, but was equally concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get them the photographs that I wanted to if we were covered in bone drenching rain.
Just before I met Mallory and Matthew at the
Majestic Ahwahnee, I glanced at the official weather report which showed “100% Chance of Heavy Rain”. Thankfully, just outside the doors of the hotel, nature didn’t get the memo. The brunt of the storm had missed and given us the perfect window to explore Yosemite and a beautiful winter day. We didn’t have too much time together, but everyplace we went the world around us seemed to pose with Mallory and Matthew.
Just before the sun went down, we made it to the Yosemite Valley Chapel where their family was toasty and waiting inside to watch Mallory and Matthew promise their love together. It was a simple and intimate ceremony in a historic building, surrounded by their family that they were married.
As I said goodbye to them, it felt too soon, at least photographically speaking. Mallory kept saying how as we were traveling around Yosemite Valley, how it surprised her that I knew exactly how long we could stay in each location before having to move on, so that ninety minuets after meeting them for the first time I could deliver them perfectly on time to their wedding ceremony. For them, it was a sign of efficiency; for me it was a reminder of photographs never taken, creative juices left for later.
You see, Yosemite Valley is simply stunning in the winter and for whatever reason not enough people seem to take advantage of it. Sure you’re probably familiar with the perplexing vertical big walls of the valley and thundering waterfalls, but winter puts a new spin on an already magical place. The way that snow dusts the rim while light and clouds are intertwined in an endless dance make me feel like I’m living in a fairy tale. No matter where you look, you’re seeing it for the first time. And I know that days like this are far less common than I’d like them to be.
If you haven’t had the chance to see it with your own eyes, make it a priority. Grab the ones you love and come out here together to share in the magic. Walk along through the snow together, go ice skating beneath Half Dome, hold someone you love by a campfire and make memories. And if you feel like it, drop me a line and we can create art together.