Yosemite National Park is a dream destination and a place everyone should visit at least once in their lives. We were in awe of the striking landscape all around us, no place compares. Olivia wasn’t set on any specific location for her bridal session, but with a dream of a mountain wedding, a planned trip west and the luck of her wedding dress arriving early from Kathleen’s Bridal – it was perfect.
In the week her dress arrived early, it was easy to suggest to Olivia to bring her dress along for the adventure, so we could make something unforgettable happen! Thankfully (and not a surprise) Yosemite didn’t disappoint. We did get some time to explore the park; hiking to waterfalls and soaking in all the beautiful views from up above the valley on the clifftops. While the scenery was gorgeous, nothing truly is as radiant as Olivia in her dress with exquisite beadwork and a perfectly designed silhouette. I’m thankful my friend trusted me, and I am certain she will agree that it’s a memory she will never forget.
Ideal time to take portraits at Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a magical place and even with thousands of people it can still feel like you have the place to yourself. Like many locations, summer is the busiest time, May and September tend to be a little less crowded.
You will find beautiful light at various times throughout the park. Yosemite is known for the sunset views, but keep in mind that tends to make the evening time more crowded. The valley runs west to east, so the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome have a warm glow at sunset. Sunrise is the perfect time for photos the morning sun tends to highlight anything from east to west, giving you those perfect cotton candy skies.
Best spots to take portraits
Let’s be honest, Yosemite is so gorgeous that every spot is perfect for bridal photos.
Half Dome is iconic, but the scenic view comes with a long hike, about 14 to 16 miles long. Recommend making a stop at Glacier Point during sunrise to capture it’s full glory!
This is one of the most popular spots, and rightfully so. This spot is ideal for sunrise sessions because it gives a dreamy light and the sun comes up from behind Half Dome. No hiking is required to get to this spot, and it gives some remarkable views of the valley.
Meadows and waterfalls, pretty much anywhere is perfect for a photo. Because all of Yosemite Valley is open year round, it is a great spot for winter photos.
Easily my favorite place to take portraits in Yosemite during the golden hour before sunset! A quick 1.1 mile hike will take you to a breathtaking vista. On the bluff there are several perfectly craved perches to stand on to take images with golden light and valley behind you!
One more important thing I should add – I recommend carrying a flash light (or a fully charged phone) if you plan to stay until the sun sets. Nearly in tears, Olivia and I hiked back to the car in complete darkness! LOL.
National Parks require permits
If you are planning a bridal session or engagement photos at Yosemite National Park, then be sure to visit their website for the latest on permit regulations. A ‘wedding’ permit is required, so you’ll need to plan ahead to apply for a permit and pay the fees. Location fees are based on information provided in your application for use of the park lands.
Applications are on a first-come, first-serve basis, but they will work with you if someone has already requested the area you want on the same day.
1: Visit website for latest updates on regulations.
2: Download and complete application.
3: Mail application and fees to the park office.
Permits cannot be processed until the original application has been received and any payments. However, after 7-10 business days email the park office a scanned copy of your application, noting in the subject that you are inquiring about your permit along with your last name.
*Note due to Covid-19, some services are limited at Yosemite and reservations are required. It is important to check their website for updates.
Planning for a Bridal Session at Yosemite National Park
Depending on the exact spot you choose, you’ll be doing some hiking. Wear comfortable hiking boots and make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for your adventure. Yosemite National Park is home to hundreds of American black bears, visit their website to learn more on food storage.
Shooting may require hiking in the dark, so be prepared:
- Bear spray/ Pepper spray is NOT allowed in Yosemite. Black bears tend to avoid people and can be scared off. If you do encounter a bear, act immediately: yelling aggressively and loudly as possible. Try to scare it away. Keep your distance. Report it to a ranger.
- Dress for the hike. Dress in comfortable hiking shoes and bring your change of clothes with you. Some hikes are long, and it’s important to be comfortable.
- Water and food. You will want plenty of water and snacks to stay nourished. Half Dome is a 14-16 mile hike, I would allow for plenty of hours if you plan to shoot in this location.
- The land. Be respectful of the vegetation. Don’t damage or pick plants.
- Trust your photographer. Picking a photographer to document the important moments in life is exciting and important. It’s an opportunity to bond.
There you have it, a simple guide along with some of my favorite spots when planning for your bridal session at Yosemite National Park. Enjoy the experience, the gorgeous scenery, breathe the fresh air, and take it all in!
Thinking of working with me for your bridal session or wedding day? Reach out to Tina on the contact page!