Tess and Dylan are such an amazing couple who I had the honor of meeting through Chris and Seth’s Bozeman Montana wedding in 2019! The day of Chris and Seth’s wedding just so happened to be the day before Tess and Dylan moved from Montana to Boise, Idaho. We were connected immediately through Chris and Seth who insisted we meet. It turns out, they bought a house only blocks away from mine and also had a love for dogs, good food, and the mountains. We met up for the first time over fancy cocktails and dessert at one of my favorite restaurants on the Boise Bench in Boise and they hired me for their Boise wedding.
However, within 6 months of hiring me and planning their downtown Boise wedding, Tess and Dylan faced the challenging decision of how to plan a wedding during a global pandemic. As Boise entered a total lockdown, they decided to cancel their venue completely and wait it out. I let them know I’d be there to take photos if they still decided to get married no matter what. Only 3 weeks before their original date, Tess and Dylan found an AMAZING group of cabins on the river outside Stanley Idaho in the Sawtooths. They invited just their immediate families to join them and were able to assign cabins by household to their families visiting. Each family stayed in a separate cabin and spent multiple days together for their hiking wedding in the mountains.
I arrived on the morning of Tess and Dylan’s hiking wedding and had a quiet lunch on Stanley Lake getting ready for the day. I noticed the weather was PERFECT and showed that we’d have a sunrise the next day and made note of it to bring up to Tess and Dylan later. Once I got to their cabins, everyone was in a different state of getting ready. People were jumping into the showers, eating snacks, drinking mimosas and beers, or playing lawn games – it was just a fun atmosphere immediately and so laid back. Tess got into her GORGEOUS Made With Love dress she got in Bozeman Montana and her mom and sister helped her put her final look together. She brought her favorite denim jacket, Frye boots, and kept her makeup and hair simple for the perfect mountain boho vibes.
Once everyone was ready, we hopped into our Subarus, on mountain bikes, and even the back of a raft on a trailer and headed up the mountain. Tess and Dylan have a favorite camp spot on BLM land, and, a week before their wedding, they set up their tent and camped so that their private oasis would be available for a sweet little wedding ceremony. We got to the top of the mountain on the rocky bumpy with only one flat tire and the energy immediately shifted from laughs to weepy eyes.
My favorite memory of the day was absolutely the moment they shared their intimate vows. Dylan and Tess have moved across the country together, lived in so many new cities as Dylan has followed his path to be a doctor through med school and residencies, and jumped around the country following one another. The moment they both shed tears reflecting on six years of always being there for one another even when the future was sometimes unclear or uncertain and their ability to make a home wherever they were together was so beautiful. It was so fitting to share their vows in their new home of Idaho in such a wild place.
After their ceremony, Dylan and Tess held a happy hour on top of the mountain. Their friends and family toasted them, shared hugs, ate cake and champagne, and relaxed. It felt like we weren’t on any timeline and it was so relaxing. I don’t think I’ve ever been more relaxed on a wedding day in my career. It gave me the chance to have wonderful conversations with all the guests and really feel included in their circle of humans. After toasts, we headed back to the cabins for dinner that Tess’ dad prepared and finished the night dancing. Around this time, I mentioned that there was going to be an epic sunrise in the forecast in the morning and since Tess and Dylan’s campsite was 5 minutes from Stanley Lake, I offered to pick them up at 5 am and take sunrise photos. They both had a few drinks at this point and to my surprise said ABSOLUTELY! I said goodnight and left to get a few hours of sleep myself.
The next morning… wow. There are so few words to sum up the experience of extending their wedding experience with a morning sunrise adventure session. True to my word, I knocked on their tent at 5 am. Dylan was still in his suit and Tess ducked inside her mom’s cabin where her mom helped her get into her dress before everyone was awake. We drove to Stanley Lake and slowly woke up with the birds and critters by the lake. Again, there was no pressure or sense of urgency, just a calm moment of being present and reflecting on the weekend and epic adventures they’d shared. Finally, as the sun illuminated the mountains and turned the Sawtooths an alpine glow, we took photos with their pup, Archie, playing in the lake behind them. It was one of the best sunrises I’ve ever seen in Stanley, with bright oranges and pinks glowing. Once we had been at the lake for over an hour, we all just stood at the lake, cameras put away, soaking it in and finally made our way back to camp where their friends and family were waking up for breakfast. It was so magical and such an amazing weekend – I was SO honored to be a part of your hiking wedding!
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For more Sawtooth wedding ideas, check out these 15 tips for planning a Sawtooth elopement!