Dan + Kiley – A Yosemite Valley Wedding

Several years ago, Shawna and I went through the Wilderness Basics Course offered by the local Sierra Club chapter here in San Diego.  Through that course we met many awesome people, one of which was Dan, who was our hike leader on an overnight hike we did on the Pacific Crest Trail.  Both for Shawna and I, we felt like we had known Dan for a long time – he’s one of those guys that you instantly feel comfortable around.  Afterwards, Shawna would meet up with him and a few of his friends while surfing in Del Mar.  One of those friends was an awesome guy that Dan had dated in the past and who he continued to be close with.  Shawna tells the story that while walking to breakfast after a surf session that Dan silently said to her, “Isn’t Kiley awesome?”  Sometime later, Kiley pulled Shawna aside and quietly asked “Isn’t Dan the most amazing person?”  She wondered why these two had split up, and why they weren’t together.  Well they must have wondered the same thing because not long after, we heard they were dating again.

It’s clear when you are around these two that they are meant for each other.  They are just such a natural couple and you can tell how happy they are to have found each other.  They got engaged at Glacier Point and we learned they were planning on getting married in Yosemite.  We hoped they would ask us to shoot their wedding, which they did (we may have nudged them a little, I can’t remember).  We met them for wine at our favorite place, 3rd Corner Wine Bar in Ocean Beach and over several delicious bottles of wine we talked about their wedding (which was going to be at the beautiful Ahwahnee Hotel).  This was like a year and a half before the big day and because they love the woods, and traveling so much I couldn’t wait to spend time with them and shoot their wedding.

We flew up with my two older kids and Emma and made a little family vacation out of it.  The weather for their October 2016 wedding couldn’t be better.  Unseasonably warm and because Yosemite had received a big storm the week before, all the waterfalls were going off.  The day before the wedding they had booked a private tour of the Ahwahnee for their family and friends and we learned some really amazing things about Yosemite and the National Park Service (a former employer of mine) that I had not known.  The morning of the wedding we did a pre-wedding casual shoot with Dan and Kiley.  They were the easiest couple I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.  All I had to do was think about composition and lighting as they provided all of the natural energy and love that I work to bring out of couples.  Dan couldn’t be happier (Kiley too, but Dan is a high energy person as it is and he was just so happy that their wedding day had arrived).  The wedding on the lawn of the Ahwahnee was amazing.  Deer were cruising around throughout the ceremony and family photos.  It was breathtaking.  I feel I need to revisit this blog and write more about how incredible this experience was for us.  Having a 15-month old we don’t shoot weddings all that much anymore but weddings like this are precisely why we can’t stay away from being wedding photographers.