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Andrea and Mike’s Joshua Tree elopement

Mike and Andrea came to me with a definitive plan for their Joshua Tree elopement. They’d been before on vacation and vividly remembered the fields of Joshua trees and purple skies. Oh, and could I also officiate for them?

Heck yes.

We first met on FaceTime to chat about their elopement plans, and I got to see one of the cats photobomb our session. It wasn’t the cat Andrea has tattooed on her arm, unfortunately, but he was still a beautiful boy. The plan was made – I’d marry them with a view of the Park and then we’d head down to the field of Joshua trees for some sunset photos. Mike and Andrea also gave me the go-ahead to shoot some of it on film as well.

Do I need a permit to elope in Joshua Tree?

Yes! Yes you do! Not only do you need a permit for the ceremony, your photographer/videographer will need a special use permit. Both can be obtained by the incredibly helpful and responsive Jeannie at the National Park Service. For details on location options, permits and what is allowed, click here: https://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/permitsandreservations.htm

I harp on about permits because it is so important to keep our National Parks beautiful.

Elopement day

After a quick stop to see the Cabazon dinosaurs I arrived at the Sands Hotel in Palm Springs. It’s famous for being, well, for being pink! It’s quite kitsch, little palm trees on the door knockers and the spa looks like a disco.

Mike was busy sewing a button on his shirt, and Andrea made her bouquet and his boutonniere. Andrea is one crafty woman! She’s also a baker, and has the loveliest baking related tattoos. One even is a recipe for chocolate chip cookies (I used the recipe to bake some last week and they were gorgeous).

We arranged for them to have a first look at the hotel before heading to the park. The other option was driving separately and that just didn’t feel right. You can see from the photos how it went!!! I do love a first look, whether it is before the wedding or as the bride walks down the aisle for the first time. The facial expressions are priceless. 

The Joshua Tree elopement

As the temperature hit 104f we ventured into the park to the ceremony location. I’ve been to Joshua Tree many times, but still like to spend time on google earth researching the best spots. I performed the ceremony, and as they exchanged heartfelt vows and rings I was able to take a step back and take photos. A little harder with the film camera as it takes a while to set up, but still managed to fire a couple off. As I asked them to repeat after me, I think the whole park heard Mike shout I DO!!!!!

My favourite part of officiating is saying these words:

“I now pronounce you married”.

At that moment Mike picked Andrea up and swung her round, and the hikers who had sat behind us to watch started cheering. Such a fantastic moment for the newlyweds. We took some photos, I signed their license and we headed down to a field of Joshua trees I knew they would love.

As the sun set pink and purple (phew!), they started to sway as if dancing. I asked if they had ‘their’ song. Yes they did, and it is Kiss From A Rose by Seal. Unfortunately for them I know all the words, and hummed a couple of verses. This turned into a full-blown ‘let’s all sing kiss from a rose’ which was just hilarious. Mike and Andrea were such good sports, and we spent a lot of the photo session in fits of giggles.

Once it was too dark to take any more photos I waved them off as they went to enjoy their wedding dinner. Please join me in wishing Mike and Andrea all the happiness in the world. 

Leave No Trace

As always in our National Parks, please follow the Leave no Trace principles:

Plan ahead and prepare | Travel and camp on durable surfaces | Dispose of waste properly | Leave what you find | Minimize campfire impacts |Respect wildlife | Be considerate of other visitors.

Or, to put it simply:

Take only photos, leave only footsteps.

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