14 Photographers Share How Their Most Epic Wedding Photos Came to Life
Every wedding is epic in its own right. It's easily one of the biggest moments in a person's life—and, as far as we're concerned, that's enough to be considered monumental. Some couples, however, plan weddings that take the definition of "epic" to new heights—literally. We're talking about the dynamic duos (more like dare devils!) that get hitched on high-up mountain tops and other exotic, can't-believe-they're-real places. These major destinations often result in next-level wedding photos. But only if the photographer is as bold and adventurous as the couple they're shooting.
Luckily, we found a few big-day photographers who are up for just about anything. The following photos, taken in the most picturesque of places, prove it. They also evidence the fact that finding a photographer whose vision and comfort level matches your own is paramount. How else are you going to be able to get that mid-run snapshot of you and your now-husband snowboarding down your favorite slope? You'll need to find a photographer who's just as willing to strap into a board with you. And we're not just speculating. That's a real example—just one of the many thrilling, sometimes-bewildering moments you're about to discover ahead.
These artists might as well be athletes. They braved sub-zero temperatures at Mt. Everest Base Camp, skirted the chilly waters of an Iceland beach, ran through overgrown Colorado wilderflower fields, and climbed the perilous cliffs near the Grand Canyon all to get that perfect shot. And their photos make it all worth it. In addition to showing off their stunning work, these photographers revealed exactly what it took to captures these moments on camera. While most of them will tell you that their couples make the shot, their expertise and penchant for adventure certainly help. Click through to be amazed.
"Ireland is such a beautiful and romantic country," photographer Elizabeth Messina says of this garden-maze snapshot, which was taken at a stunning Irish estate. She captured the bride and her young flower girls from a window in the adjacent building, which overlooked the courtyard.
A Quick Dip
Following an ocean-side portrait session on the Caribbean island of Mustique, this free-spirited duo thought a quick dip would be appropriate. "The couple just decided it'd be amazing to run into the ocean—we were all up for it!" says photographer Tec Petaja.
"Moab is the land of giant sandstone towers, red dirt, blue skies, and winding rivers," says Gabi and Brandon Fox, owners of the Foxes Photography, of this couple's Utah elopement destination. "On the morning of their wedding, they didn't go to a spa or drink mimosas—they went mountain biking. For sunset, we traveled out to a remote spot and enjoyed an epic sunset over a massive canyon all to ourselves."
Top of the Rock
In search of the quintessential New York City shot, photographer Jen Huang and her up-for-anything duo ventured to the top of the Empire State Building—dubbed "Top of the Rock"—to capture an aerial shot of the city. "I went up to the highest level on the viewing platform and shot down to capture my couple and beautiful Central Park," she explains. "I love how New York it is!"
Getting to this couple's Kyaaamii Poiint ceremony spot involved quite the climb—for both the duo and their photographer. "I think we were all trying not to go over the edge," Randi Kreckman says of the ascent. Despite the danger involved, he was determined to (carefully!) capture the "in-between, authentically adventurous moments." The bride and groom, on the other hand? They barely noticed the harrowing heights. "This one turned out to be my absolute favorite because these two are just so nonchalant about the cliffs!" Kreckman continues. "They're just focused on each other and the epic views down the canyon. It was so unreal."
Jennifer Dziuvenis, owner of Jen Dz, was getting ready to wrap up this twosome's Iceland wedding portraits when the group made a last-minute decision to drive out to the ice beach at Jokulsarlon for a nightcap. "It was a two-hour drive, and we had just over two hours of daylight left. The race was on!" she recalls. "When we got there, it was pouring rain. I never expected them to even get out of the car in that weather! Not only did they nearly leap out of the car—the bride asked if she could get in the water. We went down to the shoreline and took photos in the waning light with waves crashing up on my couple and chunks of ice floating by. It was a moment I will never forget!"
Once In a Lifetime
"These two were married on property that belongs to a family friend, so this was one of those amazing locations that we will probably only get to shoot once," says Graham and Ashley Scobey of the Scobeys. With a venue so close to some of the most gorgeous, snow-laden peaks, it seemed only right to ask the couple to run towards them. The result? A keepsake that paid as much tribute to the landscape as it did the newlyweds.
This duo, along with their photographer Nina Larsen Reed of Larsen Photo Co., spent hours exploring Colorado's Rocky Mountains after their intimate forest ceremony. "After bushwhacking our way to a secret waterfall and wading through a freezing cold river, we finally ended the evening in a field of wildflowers as the sun was casting its last glow on the mountains," she says.
Love as Deep as the Grand Canyon
Kyle Sheppard, owner of Kyle Loves Tori, and his couple braved smoky conditions—a fire had erupted nearby—to shoot this Grand Canyon first look just before dusk. Determined to make the most of the evening's last bit of light, the bride did the hike out onto the cliffs in her heels and veil (talk about dedication!).
The Best Light
Getting this magnificent shot took a fair share of planning, for both Abbi and Callen Hearnes, owners of the Hearnes Adventure Photography, and their couple. The team was up at 4:45 am (the bride's hair and makeup started at 11 pm the night prior!) to jet out to Yosemite National Park and get the couple into position for a single moment—the light from the rising sun needed to hit a precise spot behind the couple, so that it appeared to be shining on them (instead of washing them out). "This is even more complicated than it seems, as the sun only comes up directly behind Half Dome like this a few days of the year," says Abbi. "The timing had to be perfect."
It was a 30-minute hike to this overlook—not including the time it took for the couple to change into their wedding clothes upon arrival. Just before sunset, Sheppard snapped these photos of his duo, snuggling for warmth in a fur blanket. "A snow-frosted Zion is a sight not many get to experience, but these two took in the view together, nuzzling noses and wrapped up in each other's arms to fend off the cold," says Sheppard.
For their first adventure as husband and wife, this pair hiked down to a nearby river and traversed the large rocks to wind up directly in front of this scenic waterfall. "We saw this rock and decided the risk was worth possibly getting a little wet for," says photographer Benj Haisch. "It started raining right as we made it to this spot, but it was worth it!"
Following their safari ceremony, this duo and their photographer, Megan Van Zyl, came upon an unexpected wedding guest while in their game vehicle. In that moment, it was all about the leopard, which is why Van Zyl chose to make bring the cat to the forefront. "I decided to make the leopard the focus point while still keeping the couple in the image," she explains. "A spotlight was used by the safari guide to help light the leopard which helped make him the focus."
Hitting the Slopes
Gabi and Brandon Fox knew that their newlyweds wanted to pay homage to their diehard passion for snowboarding, so they took them out onto the slopes for a post-ceremony "victory lap." The best part? The Foxes actually took this exuberant action shot on their own snowboards (yep!), mid-run.
To remain on eye level with this twosome, Van Zyl had to stand over 50 feet away on a separate rock. "The sun was setting behind me at the time and I wanted to use the orange light from the sun to contrast the deep shadows of the valley below," she explains. "As the sun was still bright, I had the couples look in opposite directions to prevent them from squinting."
Vows On the Rocks
This duo had to hike a few miles—and climb 1,300 vertical feet—to make it to the lookout point in Mount Rainier National Park, where they exchanged their vows. "We made sure to position them in a spot that was beautiful, intimate, and comfortable as the lookout is dramatically higher than its surroundings," explains Haisch.
This epic photograph sums up a just-as-epic elopement journey, which culminated in a Mt. Everest Base Camp ceremony. "It took us 10 days to get to Base Camp, suffering a little food poisoning, altitude sickness, and freezing weather, but we made it through with perseverance," says photographer Charleton Churchill. Upon arrival, this couple became the first to wear a wedding dress and tuxedo that high up (18,000 feet!). Both Churchill and these newlyweds endured below-freezing temperatures to snag this shot.