Almost exactly a month before their elopement, Valerie contacted me to know more about my photography services. She and Kolton were having a “non-traditional” wedding and were having trouble finding photographers who would accommodate them. When she told me they were getting married at El Yunque Rainforest, having only their siblings as witnesses, I jumped in right away! I’ve been waiting for precisely that moment ever since I started doing weddings nine years ago!
We quickly set a timeline, logistics, pros, and cons. And all that nerdy stuff I love about planning a destination wedding, especially in elopements, where photography has a bigger impact on the decisions.
Planning an Intimate Wedding at El Yunque National Rainforest
- Unique. Having your intimate elopement at El Yunque National Rainforest will be an unparalleled experience. Lush greenery, amazing waterfalls, and untouched mountains will be the best backdrop for your wedding photos.
- Flexible. Too crowded? Too dark? Just pick a different spot in the forest.
- The photographer will be way too excited to shoot your wedding.
- Hot & humid. Especially in summer.
- Tourist destination. We have to be there early in the morning, or late in the afternoon to beat the crowds.
- Hiking is not a BFF of hair and makeup. Self-explanatory.
- No mobile signal; we did not consider this during our planning, and we almost missed each other on the wedding day. Everything worked out OK, though!
- No wedding cake. This may be a dealbreaker for some.
With these things in mind, we opted for:
- Doing a sunrise hike down to La Mina Waterfalls, at about 7:30 am. We’d have about 1.5 hours before most tourists walked in.
- Walking remedially slow, and *not* in the wedding attire so that no one would break a sweat. Everyone changed into wedding clothes once we got to the falls.
Things that weren’t on the plan:
- The groom stepping on dog poo. Gladly, it was only his hiking shoes and not the wedding ones. Big shoutout to my bestie/assistant Harold Camilo for carrying the shoes the rest of the day.
- Having an audience of over 20 people during the ceremony. Everyone who got there during that time, didn’t get in the waterfall right away. Instead, they just stood out of sight, just witnessing the beautiful moment.
- The photographer being so delighted of all the beauty that she actually forgot to look at the floor and fell on her face.
Can you tell I love bulleted lists?
Anyways, Valerie & Kolton’s wedding was amazingly beautiful, organic, and basically pure magic. At some point during our hike/portrait session after the ceremony, we talked about the differences between their day and a more traditional, big white wedding. Kolton said, “Why make it easy if you can make it messy like this?” But for me it was completely smooth and perfect. The day they planned out as the first day of the rest of their lives included one of their passions for the outdoors, with the people who love them the most. And I was just so glad to be there.