Intimate Elopement Wedding at El Yunque Rainforest

A month before their elopement at El Yunque Rainforest, Valerie contacted me to learn more about my micro wedding photography services. She and Kolton were having a "non-traditional" wedding and had trouble finding photographers to accommodate them.

I immediately jumped in when she told me they were getting married at El Yunque Rainforest, having only their siblings as witnesses! I had 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 significantly impacts and influences the day-of decisions.

Planning an Intimate Wedding at El Yunque National Rainforest

Pros of planning a rainforest elopement

  • Unique. Having your intimate elopement at El Yunque National Rainforest will be an unparalleled experience. Lush greenery, impressive 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.

Cons of having your elopement in the Rainforest

  • Hot & humid. Especially in summer.
  • It is a high-traffic tourist destination. To beat the crowds, we must be there early in the morning.
  • Hiking doesn't bode well for hair and makeup. Self-explanatory.
  • No cell phone reception.
  • No place for a wedding cake. This may be a dealbreaker for some.

Considering these things, we opted for a sunrise hike to La Mina Waterfalls at about 7:30 am. We'd have about 1.5 hours before most tourists walked in. We were walking very slowly and did not wear wedding attire on the hike. 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 smelly boots for the rest of the day.
  • There was 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 stood out of sight, just witnessing the beautiful moment.
  • The photographer was so delighted by all the beauty that she forgot to look at the floor and fell on her face.

Valerie & Kolton's wedding was gorgeous, 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 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.


2024 El Yunque Rainforest Update for Visitors

Ever since I blogged about this wedding, just one month before Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico and our national Rainforest, the rules of entry and trail access have changed enormously. 

La Mina Trailhead is still being rebuilt, although many other beautiful trails are still accessible. 

The National Park now has opening hours starting at 8am, and that's the ideal time to start any portrait sessions in the Rainforest since the mornings are less likely to rain and safer regarding flash floods. 

As an outdoor photographer, I only photograph rainforest and waterfall adventures during the Puerto Rico dry season, from January through May.