Often it's the things you don't plan for or expect that deliver the most memorable moments on your wedding day. For my husband and I, it was a ray of sunshine that poked through the clouds as I walked down the aisle and landed on my shoulder. Our guests still talk about that moment... and the sudden rainstorm that began as we shared our first kiss! For Keyshla and Victor, that memorable moment was a moose surprising us on our hike to their wedding lake and forcing us to hide behind pine trees down trail.
In planning their elopement from Florida, Keyshla and Victor did tons of research before choosing Lake Isabelle and contacting me to photograph and film their special day. The promise of chilly temperatures and the likelihood of snow didn't deter them from their dream of a September elopement at this special spot. We began to put together the pieces of their sunrise hiking elopement in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Where would they say their vows? How would they celebrate? Who would make their bouquet and boutonniere? How would we get the wedding gown to the lake? Who would bring the bluetooth speaker? Where would they go to dinner that night?
After months of planning we finally had every detail finalized. I drove to their Airbnb in the dark that morning so that they could follow my car up into the mountains. Considering the winding foggy roads at 4am, it was a good thing they were following me! I even saw a mountain lion crossing the road at that early hour.
At the trailhead we pulled on our coats and headlamps and walked towards the snowy path. Pine trees towered overhead and there were no sounds but our conversation and our footsteps. By 6:10am we had completed most of the two mile trail and were cresting the final hill before the lake - perfectly on schedule for a sunrise first look. But, the moose had other plans for us! A massive bull moose was parked in the middle of the trail enjoying his breakfast. We quietly backtracked and agreed there was no way to safely circumvent the moose, so we hiked down a ways and started to change on opposite sides of a big boulder. I helped Keyshla with the corset back of her gown as Victor removed his hiking boots. It was at that moment that he turned around and was nearly face to face with the moose. He hadn't heard it approach and was forced to move off the trail into the bushes to avoid a confrontation. 'Moose can be incredibly dangerous' was certainly a thought in the forefront of Victor's mind as he stood in the snow in his socks, praying he wouldn't get frostbite before he could go back to the area where his shoes were waiting.
Eventually, we were all dressed and able to safely make it around the moose. We hiked the last quarter mile to lake Isabelle and prepared for their first look and vows. From there, everything went smoothly. The warm, bright sun was beating down on us as they finally exchanged vows and rings, cuddled in their custom blanket, and took their first portraits as a married couple. As we hiked down we snacked on energy bars and sandwiches. Before we entered the cover of the pine trees, we pulled out their bluetooth speaker for a first dance on the lower trail.
Back at the car, they signed their marriage license and we parted ways. Me, to download and review their photos and video! Them, to nap before a celebratory dinner at Frasca in Boulder.