After this many years, you’d think I know that not all weddings go perfectly to plan. That’s why I tend to think of wedding plans as suggestions; it’d be great if all that happened, but if we need to we can improvise and make things better. That idea (and trusting my experience) has led me to creating some amazing art and memories for countless couples over the years. This time it led me to kick Lauren and David out of my car in the middle of Yosemite Valley on their wedding day.
But hours before we get to that point, let me catch you up on the story. I met up with Lauren and David at the Chateau du Sureau, a world class hotel just outside of Yosemite National Park. Lauren was finishing with her hair and makeup as David had just returned from his first (of many more to come) trip to the spa. He sat outside sipping a mimosa, eagerly counting down the moments until he could see his bride. And after checking in with her family via a quick FaceTime session, that moment came when just outside of their room they held each other for the first time that day. Both were instantly full of smiles and joy.
Before too long, they stood with hands out stretched to exchange vows and rings. A few more moments and they were pronounced husband and wife. More moments yet and they shared what has to be on the best first dances I’ve seen. Just the two of them holding onto each other while being serenaded by an incredibly talented musician. They had the look of wonder in their eyes and even to me it started to seem like a dream.
As we left the Chateau, we had the entire day in front of us. Their dinner was set for almost eight hours away which gave us plenty of time to explore the park on what is so far, their only day in Yosemite. The details of where we would go were up to me and I became part tour guide and part photographer. We packed away some drinks and their lunch in my car’s refrigerator and took off.
On our way into the park we made decent time and I decided to trek out to Glacier Point because I wanted them to have the experience of standing on the edge of the valley peering straight down. Not to mention, the sight of Half Dome looking you directly in the eye across a gapping canyon is known to produce feelings of giddiness. Lauren and David held it each and took it all in with amazement – tourists were equally mesmerized by the beautiful couple strolling around hand in hand.
I know exactly how bad traffic in Yosemite can be, but this was their one and only day in Yosemite. I had to get them into Yosemite Valley to experience that. To be able the hear the waterfalls and see the light dancing on the cliffs was more important than the possibility of traffic. And this was only a Tuesday anyway, traffic shouldn’t be bad.
Except that it was. I’m originally from Los Angeles, so I’m qualified to speak of traffic and this was horrible. For up to ten minutes at a time, cars simply were not moving and I knew we had at least three more miles of this. Remember their dinner time that seemed so far away? Now they might miss their wedding night dinner because of the traffic. I knew I had a major problem. So I kicked Lauren and David out of the car.
Well actually I asked them if they would want to go explore the park while I sit in traffic, but either way I supplied them with a few tasty beverages to enjoy their time with. Given that the roads in Yosemite Valley make a simple loop, they would just have to walk over a short footbridge (those of you that recognize this bridge can tell just how much water is in the valley right now) and cross over to the other side of the Valley where I could pick them back up. And so it was that I left a couple on their wedding day all alone, in the middle of Yosemite Valley. I can’t tell you everything that they saw. I can’t tell you exactly where they went, what they did or what they talked about. But I can tell you that by the time I found them on the other side of the Valley, their smiles were somehow even bigger.
PS. They made it to their dinner.