Photographing My Own Wedding

I've always been an adventurous person, but this turned into a journey I never expected, or honestly wanted, to take on.

It was a cold day in November and my fiance's flight was about to land. We'd been waiting for this for a long time. Months prior, we'd filed mountains of paperwork in order for him to be able to come to America to marry me. It was a long, tedious, and expensive process, but now we were getting closer to the finish line. Due to the nature of our situation, wedding planning was less than conventional, to say the least. Unable to nail down specific dates because of pending paperwork, the entire planning was based on a series of "ifs" and "whens".

We decided on a smaller wedding months ago with close relatives in a place that was near and dear to our hearts: June Lake just outside of Yosemite National Park. This was the place that we first took a trip together when we began dating and now we were going back to be married.

The majority of our would be wedding budget was spent on immigration expenses for my fiance, leaving me to DIY much of the wedding: The decor, the flowers, the cake, the food, and yes - the photography. I was disappointed, more like crushed, to say the least when I realized we just didn't have the budget left for a photographer.

Our family really pulled through for us. My grandmother made our cake and I decorated it with leftover blooms after I made my bouquet. My bouquet was made from flowers from my own yard and mixed bouquets from Costco.

Months prior, I'd been collecting old wooden chairs, which my family helped carry into the forest to set up a quaint and simple ceremony space. We said our vows beneath the trees that we loved so much, surrounded by 12 of our closest loved ones, and couldn't have been happier. Of course, my husky Grayson was in attendance as well.

After the ceremony, my family packed everything up and went back to the cabin that we had rented to prepare dinner. My now husband, James, and I remained in the forest to take photographs. I might add, it was 35 degrees outside and setting up a tripod in my dress was no easy feat! I knew that taking these photos myself was going to be a challenge, but I was even less prepared than I thought.

My husband was a great help to me, wrapping me in a jacket while he moved the tripod to where I wanted it. Just before the shots, I'd cast aside his coat and snap the picture as quickly as possible. Then, he'd help me bundle up again. In nearly two hours time, we'd taken just over twenty shots. We were exhausted, freezing, and hungry, so we packed it in. I wanted more photographs than what we were able to capture, but I was pleased with our results.

We returned back to the cabin and were greeted by all kinds of delicious aromas. I'd set up and decorated the table the night before, so it was all ready to go for dinner time. My family had prepared an assortment of meats and side dishes. Everything was homemade and tasted fantastic. We sat around the dinner table for quite some time, enjoying each other's company and the warmth of the fireplace that lit the whole room.

The next morning, our family headed home, leaving my husband and I to adventure and explore this gorgeous place. Our wedding wasn't traditional and I don't have 500 photos to show, but I wouldn't change a single thing about it. I loved pouring my soul into every piece of it I could, from the decor, to the flowers, to the photography. We were blessed to have family so willing to help us with the entire thing from start to finish. Most importantly, all of the immigration paperwork went through without issue and the distance that separated us for so long was no more. To those considering taking on a wedding that falls outside the norm I say, embark.