As their guests returned to their cars and headed back to the vacation rental to get things ready for the evening, silence enveloped us, though excited murmurs echoing through the space just moments before. Casey and Emily stood on the pathway to Double Arch, taking a moment to sit in the silence and reflect on their ceremony and newly established marriage as we stared at the incredible arches and centered ourselves in the moment. Their intimate wedding at Arches National Park wasn’t always the plan, but it definitely turned out to be the best plan and the best day.

The day started at their vacation rental in Moab, with Em’s sisters helping them get ready and pinning on their collar chain – an emerald detail that matched their incredible emerald velvet suit. Did I mention these two have the most amazing style?? Casey arrived in a leather kilt, white cable knit sweater and socks, and a purple fly plaid with gemstone brooch.

Casey arranged for Emily’s sisters to bring out a surprise wedding gift he got them — a jean jacket adorned with national parks passes he’d collected from parks they visited together over their relationship. After the pair were fully dressed and ready to go, there was still one final detail before we left. As the old poem goes, you should have “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in your shoe” on your wedding day. These two put their pence in their shoes before we headed to the park. It’s moments like these that perfectly sum up why I encourage my couples to consider including getting ready photos, even for intimate weddings and elopements! It’s such a great time to break the ice, capture meaningful pieces of the beginning of your wedding day, and tell the full story of your wedding day.

In the park, we began our adventure ahead of the guests, exploring Sand Dune arch, which is much easier to hike to in the snow than with piles and piles of sand to tromp through (ha!) The archway being covered in a dusting of snow made for such beautiful photos. After we took some portraits in the area, we made our way to the Windows section for their ceremony at Double Arch with their guests to witness and a good friend of theirs overseeing the event.

As their loved ones gathering in a half moon around them, their rings were passed from person to person in a ring warming ceremony – each person bestowing good wishes for their marriage into the rings. After an acknowledgement for the indigenous peoples who inhabited the lands we were on, Casey and Emily shared a handfasting to “tie the knot” before exchanging the blessed rings, and sealing the deal with a kiss.

After the ceremony we took group photos with the couple and their loved ones at the arch before our permit time was up. It’s important at a National Park that’s as popular as Arches to ensure you’re doing your best to Leave No Trace, including minimizing your impact on others’ enjoyment of the space. We all love the arches and we all deserve to enjoy our time with them.

Once the guests had gone home and Casey and Emily took a moment to center themselves in the present, we captured some portraits in the area before making our way back to the rental as well. The evening involved delicious barbecue for dinner, mini bundt cakes and cookies for dessert, a unity ceremony where everyone gathered to light candles and share a champagne toast, and my new favorite substitute for a bouquet toss: catch the Avatar. The couple tossed a stuffed Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender for those in attendance to catch. All of the rituals and ceremonies involved in the day perfectly captured these two as individuals and as a couple, and were a wonderful symbol of this next step in their journey together.

The group ended the night playing games and hanging out with good food and good company as I made my way back home. Take a peek at some of my favorite moments from Casey and Emily’s intimate wedding at Arches National Park:

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