Vail Mountaintop Elopement – Eric + Elena

Mountain hiking, salsa dancing, picnics, camping, whiskey toasts, popped champagne, and a lot of love. All the ingredients needed for an incredibly beautiful elopement for an adventure-seeking couple.

When I think of what my ideal clients are like, I think of Eric and Elena. These two are so down to Earth, so go with the flow, and radiate love with a positive and open outlook on life. These two are travelers and adventurers, and when 2020 hit and forced them to push back their original plans of an east coast wedding with all of their friends and family, they pushed back with a day that encompassed so many beautiful things that meant something to them as a couple. Vail has held a special place in their hearts for some time and they had been renting a place up there while quarantine was underway. Who could blame them? It’s absolutely gorgeous up there.

My good friend and second shooter, Sabrina (of Mak Polny Photography) and I followed them up the bumpy yet beautiful drive to Piney Lake. We stopped along the way for some roadside photos of the view.

Getting the rest of the way up the trail, we reached the parking lot where we loaded up on picnic and camping gear, and headed up the path. Elena hauled it all the way up in her now not-so-white wedding shoes and Eric had a whole pack on the duration of the hike. These two didn’t even break a sweat, and their sweet fur baby, Noble, led the way to the perfect spot, with his GoPro in tow!

*Pro tip, if you’d like to have access to photographing here, you have to sign a waiver and pay a photo fee, but it’s totally worth it, because they give you access to shooting on the dock as well*

They had written their own vows since Noble was playing both ring bearer and officiant (as well as videographer), and they both laughed and cried and embraced each other sweetly as they ushered themselves into becoming newlyweds.

We walked down to the dock to have it double as a stage for their first dance – a salsa number they’d been practicing. Because these two are too cool to not do salsa for their wedding!

We packed up and made our way deeper into the trail to find the perfect spot to set up camp! We popped some champagne and set out all of the goodies for their sweetheart’s picnic (which they so graciously shared with us woo!)

Don’t forget the bug spray up here!

One of my favorite things about this whole shoot is that every detail seemed to have a purpose or connection to their personal story. When these two first got together, they traveled the world and both had ties to France. Elena made a homemade chocolate mousse made with imported chocolate from France (Notice there’s 4 so they could share? How freakin lucky were we to partake??) and it was absolutely to die for! They were just so thoughtful, even down to taking note that my girl, Sabrina is a veggie girl, and made a little vegetarian sandwich for her to eat. What gems <3

They had made a beautiful charcuterie board with all of their favorite cheeses too. Elena is a freak for cheese – holla! And they told us about a time during their travels when they found they were in the same town as their favorite cheese maker, so they hit him up asking if they could take a tour of the facility. The cheese maker, not really having requests like that before, took them in, open-armed, and ended up taking them on a tour of all of his warehouses that he stored all the cheese in, and even inviting them over to his home for a family dinner with his wife.

Long story short, this couple truly takes life for the ride that it is and they take part in all of the side missions it throws your way. Life is at its richest when you can find joy and connection with your favorite cheese maker – can I get an amen??

They were gifted a bottle of Veuve from some friends and as they were making the thank you video on the GoPro, the pressure from the altitude made the cork pop early and both of their faces were absolutely priceless!

After the champagne was popped and Noble had his chance to sign the marriage license, we took some sweet photos of Elena & Eric relishing in their new marriage in a beautiful spot.

Eric is a big whiskey enthusiast and they wanted to head back into town to wind down with some stories and drinks and the opportunity to take in the day together.

A story that really stuck with me about these two that really encompasses their attitude and outlook on life is one from their travels. The had gone to a very high end, near impossible to get a reservation restaurant somewhere, and didn’t know their chances of getting a table was near impossible. They said they went up to the maitre d’ and asked about the wait for a table. He told them the reservations were set about a year out but that getting a table in the bar wasn’t always impossible. He told them “Just try.” While gesturing to the bar area where high and low tops were. They decided to go for it and after a neighboring table moved and gave them their seat, they realized they were in the best seat in the house.

Just try. When life hands you 2020 and you have to make the best of a less than ideal situation…just try. When you’re told you can’t have the wedding you want right now, just try for one that would make you happy. When you’re offered an experience you wouldn’t normally take the chance on, just try. When things seem impossible, just try.

Eric and Elena, thank you so much for this incredible experience. You both have set the bar so high for the caliber of couples I want to work with. Cheers to you both and to your love and thanks for the whiskey and good times!

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