Backpacking Elopement Adventure in Utah

Taking it right back to the bare essentials, Donia and Tom took a week’s holiday, getting married right in the middle of it, among the red rocks of Looking Glass Rock in Moab, Utah. They wanted to celebrate their passion of hiking, camping and exploring, without all the frills of a traditional wedding day.

Donia explained, “When we decided to get married we knew we did not want a wedding. We’d both been married before and it just didn’t interest us. I came across a link to an elopement photographer’s website and just cried – everything about the idea seemed so perfect! No chaos. No rules. So much nature. The person I love. Intention.”

“We love hiking, camping, backpacking, paddling, and just generally exploring and it just seemed fitting that we’d spend a day doing what we love and come back married! We didn’t plan much of anything for the day. We had photographers, a rough sketch of the day, and we just explored. We didn’t even have guests! We got ready in a campervan and changed into our wedding clothes outside on top of a rock!” 

As unique as the couple, an elopement can be exactly what you want. Donia and Tom chose to drive to a remote arch in Moab and hike up into Looking Glass Arch for their ceremony. Donia explained, “We’d planned for a sunrise wedding, but gloomy weather and noisy winds meant no lovely lighting and no hearing of vows, we moved to Plan B and agreed to catch sunset later. We headed to our final location to catch a few moments of sunset light – and it snowed! A white out – in the desert! Climbing up a rock formation in a long dress is NOT graceful but it was fun. We took advantage of some stunning photo opportunities before scrambling down the opposite side of the arch to find a nice, sunny location to share our vows.”

“One of our photographers served as our officiant and wrote the loveliest ceremony that read as if it came directly from our own hearts. She surprised us with advice from our loved ones and videos from family at home. We shared vows we wrote ourselves. Tom’s were the most deeply touching vows I’d ever heard – such a surprise from the jokester. When our ceremony was complete, our photographers left us for a bit of time to ourselves to just soak up the moment. It’s one of my favourite moments of the day.”

Elopements are perfect for couples wanting a small, pressure-free wedding, but capturing those moments to share with loved ones at home is a gorgeous way to include friends and family, without them being there! Donia agrees, “It was important to me to choose a photographer that really aligned with our values. We wanted to find someone that was genuinely adventurous and as enamoured with the outdoor world as we are. We felt strongly about limiting the impact of our wedding plans by following Leave No Trace principles. We found all of that and more in The Outlovers.”

The couple told us about the pressure they’re still seeing the wedding industry place on engaged couples, and how important it was to them to do things their way. Tom explained, “It’s a scam! The wedding industry is rampant with ideas about what every single couple should include. It’s nuts! Every couple is incredibly unique and their choices about celebrating and honouring their love should be too! Pinterest and Instagram shouldn’t set the standard for weddings. It’s okay to get married your way, on your budget, with everything you like (and ONLY what you like!)”

Donia added, “Forget the rules, forget social media, try to imagine what wedding day moments are going to be the most memorable to you and spend your big energy there. And normalise pre-marital counselling. Even the most solid couple can benefit from a little coaching and strengthening. Invest in yourselves and your future marriage by letting a professional help you spot the weak spots and equip you with skills and strategies for strengthening them.”

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