Desert Weddings

Epic 4x4 Outdoor Adventure Wedding in Southern Utah Backcountry | Swell & Stone- Utah Elopement Photographer

Cameron & Rick say “I Do” in an Enchanting Ceremony in the Desert Southwest

Swell & Stone / Adventure Wedding & Elopement Photographer / Utah/Arizona and Beyond


I can honestly say that in terms of weather for Cam & Rick's adventure elopement in the backcountry of Southern Utah, or Northern Arizona (who even knows ;P) we got about as lucky as we possibly could have.
I drove in the day before and it literally rained the entire length of Arizona- I drove from Phoenix. It NEVER rains the ENTIRE length of Arizona! But the morning of their wedding day it was clear and beautiful. Cam was a flurry of calls and texts in the days leading up to the day, but ultimately she and Rick made the best call- to GO FOR IT!
Four 4x4 vehicles met me at the access road. We figured with enough wo(man) power and tow straps we would be fine even if the roads weren't passable. And hell, it'd make for a great wedding day story either way. And make for a great wedding day story it did! We all made the 1.5 hr drive safely, but we all had to navigate frozen puddles that covered entire sections of road! As soon as we arrived we went to hike around the area. We were able to see it in a completely unique way, reflecting pools of water dotted the whole desert, a rare sight!
Cam & Rick had known each other for a while before they started dating. They are both part of the canyoneering community, which happens to be fairly tight knit. Rick had a crush on Cam, and one of her friends asked if she liked him back. She responded, "I wish I liked Rick!" But as she spent more time with him and their mutual friend group she realized that she did, in fact, like Rick. Fast forward to their beautiful, love filled wedding day.
The day was spent hiking, marveling at nature, spending time with family and friends in on of their favorite places. Cam was walked down the aisle by her soon-to-be step son Gavin, and her good friend, Everett. Rick's daughter Hannah looked adorable in her lavender dress and Vans.
After the ceremony, and some group photos the group enjoyed some food and watched the sun get low on the horizon before heading out. Cam & Rick stayed back with me and venturing back out to a spot when the stars came out. There had been scattered clouds all day, but they cleared to the north just after sunset. Even in very cold temps Cam & Rick were stoked to help create the star photo you see above. A perfect ending to an absolutely perfect day with one some of the best people I've ever had the pleasure of spending time with.

Winter Elopements: The Definitive Guide to Getting Married Comfortably Outside in the Winter

Adventurous Couples Brave Winter Weather and Get Unique, Jaw-Dropping Photos as a Result

Swell & Stone / Adventure Elopement Photographer / United States and Beyond


When it comes to getting married in the winter the vast majority of people assume it will have to be indoors. But if you’re the adventurous type and plan on eloping with just your partner and maybe a friend or family member or two then you don’t have to worry about if grandpa is going to freeze standing outside. Winter landscapes provide an almost otherworldly backdrop, and talk about a memorable experience. So if you’re look for a wildly different wedding experience, consider getting married outside…in the WINTER! Here are a few important factors to keep in mind.



Keeping your feet warm is one of the keys to staying comfortable in frigid temps. Luckily most wedding dresses are long so women can easily wear wool socks and comfortable hiking boots with their dress. Choose something you will be able to walk around in for hours if need be. Depending on your chosen location for your ceremony you may need to hike in them for a little while. These boots are some of my favorites and they happen to look stylish under a wedding dress too. This is not one of those times to skimp on comfort. In fact, comfort is of the utmost importance here, because if you’re suffering, it will be difficult to want to continue. Danner makes a classic and beautiful boot that look great under dresses.

Long Underwear

Men can wear just about anything, thin, warm, and wooly underneath their suits, but classic long underwear is a good place to start. Women, on the other hand, need something warm but also not obvious, and for that I love nude fleece lined leggings. If the bride’s leg peaks out from under the dress while walking you can’t even tell she’s wearing leggings in the photos. Women can also opt for a long sleeve gown to make their top layer a bit warmer. However, I also recommend having a jacket you don’t mind being photographed in. Which brings me to my next point…


Stylish Jacket

It doesn’t hurt to have a nice jacket you don't mind being photographed in. You can take it on and off as needed, but you might as well be warm while walking around. For a lot of brides it's a white down jacket or some other kind of white jacket. For men, it's often a black down jacket. But it doesn’t have to fall in line with the standard wedding color scheme, the beauty of it all is you get to be yourself and wear whatever you like, not what other people expect you to wear. So break norms and traditions, after all you are eloping outside in the winter- if that’s not already breaking traditions I’m not sure what is.

Foot, Hand, & Body Warmers

These things are pretty much the best ever. They are thin, warm, and last for hours, and they just might be your key to getting married outside in the winter even if you thought that was something you could never do. They come in different types- foot, hand, and body, and yes, it makes sense to get all the types because the hand warmers do not fit in your shoes comfortably the way the foot warmers do. The body warmers are larger and cover more surface area, so if you are really worried about being cold, pick up some of these and you might be sweating before you can say “I do!”


If you have family or friends in attendance, offer them the above advice for sure, but also maybe have a couple extra blankets in the truck of your car if someone comes a little unprepared. They can be national park themed or just pretty blankets, but whatever you choose, make sure it’s warm and you don’t mind having them in your photos.

Hot Drinks

It does not hurt to have a thermos full of something hot to take along with you. Whether it’s hot chocolate, tea, coffee, or spiced rum- pick your favorite warm drink and carry it along in a backpack to help keep you hydrated and warm. Here’s a recipe for a delicious special occasion drink that will definitely keep you warm, even on the coldest of days.

Have a Car Nearby to Warm Up In

Finally, there is no shame in driving to a beautiful location and getting out for 10-15 minutes at a time. Most ceremonies only last about 15 minutes, so use all the above suggestions to stay warm during that time and then jump back in the car with the heat cranked up full blast! When shooting winter adventure weddings this is a common strategy, the couple gets to have the ceremony where they want, but also check out several other locations for photos. It’s easiest to do in the winter because there are usually fewer crowds. An important thing to work out with your photographer beforehand are any potential road closures. You don’t want to plan to drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, for instance, between December (or the first big snow) and mid-May.


I hope this info was helpful and gave you a different perspective on getting married outside in the winter. As an adventure elopement photographer, winter weddings have been some of my favorite to photograph. Crowds aren’t an issue and there is something so quiet and peaceful about being outside in the winter that translates to a wildly different wedding experience for couples. If you’re looking for a photographer for your wildly different wedding experience get in touch with me ASAP! You can do that HERE- or by hitting the button below.