National parks are a wonder and this couple was lucky enough to host their romantic summer wedding at the Ahwahnee Hotel in the heart of the Yosemite Village. The Ahwahnee is about as luxury as you can get at the floor of the Yosemite Village. The hotel is a premier example of National Park Service architecture and opened its doors to guests in 1927. The Ahwahnee Hotel has hosted four US Presidents, Queen Elizabeth II and countless celebrities and entertainers over the years.
If you are a fan of horror films, walking into the Ahwahnee may feel a little too familiar since Stanley Kubrick modeled his version of ‘The Shining’ after it. The chandeliers, the elevators, the carpet, the hallways, everything feels like you are on the set of the 1980 classic.
Update for 2023/2024 – I did a recent trip to the Yosemite Valley and actually stayed at the Ahwahnee hotel. While I was there I was able to gather some information about weddings which are back in Spring of 2024! Closures and detailed information, including contact resources, can be found on the NPS website here.
Some things to keep in mind about having a wedding ceremony at one of the hotels in Yosemite:
- All events get a booking time of either 11am-3pm or 5pm-9pm. All events must end by 9pm in the valley
- They take reservations up to 14 months in advance, reserved at a first-come, first-served basis
- Hotels where you can have a wedding ceremony and reception: The Ahwahnee, the Yosemite Valley Lodge, the Wawona Hotel and Curry Village
- Rentals start as low as $1500 with a $3000-$4000 minimum food and beverage, they go upwards to $5,500-$8,000 room rental with $12,000-$18,000 at the Ahwahnee
- Accommodations can be made for up to 200 people but most comfortably occupy 100 people
- All ceremonies in the park need a permit, regardless if you book at a designated hotel space or not
Yosemite National Park has an impressive array and variety of nature landscapes for wedding photos. In my recent visit I took some time to get more acquainted with the best places to see and when to experience them. The park is busy almost always from May to September but you can avoid crowds by opting for a midweek or Friday Wedding. I also recommend taking advantage of early morning hours for high traffic spots like Glacier Point or Taft Point. Sunset time can also be great as many visitors are settling in for the night or traveling back home. If you are up for hiking and a little more adventure on your Wedding or Elopement it is good to prepare for it with appropriate shoes, snacks and lighting gear in case you have to hike in the dark.
Happy to share a lookback on this wedding day from couple and their Ahwahnee Wedding in early summer.
In my first call with Danielle and Anthony they describe themselves as pretty artsy, theater people who share a great passion for the outdoors. The two love the history of national parks and knew getting married at one would be a dream come true. The Ahwahnee was the perfect location, a short drive for most of their family and friends, to share a weekend in one of the very best national parks California has to offer.
The couple and most of their guests got to stay onsite at the hotel and at surrounding hotels, some even camped! The bride’s getting ready room had an incredible balcony with Yosemite Falls views. The two personalized many of their looks and details to make the day uniquely their own. I particularly loved Danielle’s black leather, Victorian boots.
The couple opted to do a blindfolded first look just outside of the Ahwahnee Dining Room [which will be reopen in Spring/Summer 2024] before some wedding party photos on the grounds. The ceremony was out in the woods, just a short walk from the hotel. Guests got to enjoy the sounds and views of the valley as they waited for the ceremony to begin. I had a few moments to feed a deer that was passing through which was a first for me! There were kilts, emotional vows and cheers all around during the wedding ceremony.
I took the couple for a short sunset stroll through the forest, enjoying dramatic views of Half Dome as twilight started to settle into the valley. Dinner and the dancing reception was held in the Solarium and Winter Club Lounge. The spot was ideal for enjoying the superb meal and toasts still while enjoying the views of the valley all around.
This location was enchanting in every sense of the word. I’m so happy to share a few cherished memories from their beautiful wedding day.
Coordination: Ybarra Events
Photography: Teri B Photography
I happily capture weddings and elopements in Yosemite National Park. Would love to be in touch to learn more about you and your plans.
This wedding was from 2016 when I was a pretty young photographer. Feel free to check out some recent work on the blog here.