Rock climbing weddings are some of my absolute FAVORITES! As a rock climbing photographer, I absolutely love seeing couples break so called “traditions” & do something that’s just freaking fun for their wedding day like rock climbing. If you want to have a climbing wedding or elopement, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Locations to Go to for a Climbing Wedding or Elopement
If you’re a climber, you might already have some elopement destinations in mind for rock climbing during your wedding or elopement day! Maybe you’ve always had your eye on climbing in some place like Moab, Yosemite, Bend, or Joshua Tree. You could go to one of those “classic” locations, but there are so many other options out there as well!
Some of my favorite scenic climbing destinations that you may not have thought of include Ouray, Colorado, the Tetons near Jackson, Wyoming, Mount Lemmon near Tucson, Arizona, Leavenworth, Washington, & even Port Angeles in Washington. Some areas are classics for a reason, but in some of these less popular climbing areas, you’ll find fewer climbers around & there’s still absolutely amazing scenery in all of these areas.
If I had to pick my top favorite areas that I’ve climbed, I would definitely have to say the areas of Ouray, Colorado & Moab, Utah. Ouray is called the “Switzerland of America” for good reason. The mountains here are just so epic! This quaint little town is ever so slowly becoming more & more discovered. I think everyone needs to experience what is my favorite town in Colorado. This place even has climbing year round with ice climbing in the winter! The climbing isn’t just right around Ouray, there is climbing all along the Million Dollar Highway & in other parts throughout western Colorado in areas such as Grand Junction, Montrose, Telluride, Silverton, Ridgway, & Nucla. Seriously check out western Colorado for some great climbs. It’s not known as a “go-to climbing spot”, but there are so many great routes to climb here!
Moab, Utah is what I would consider one of the classic climbing areas. Some of the more popular places to climb here can get quite busy but there are so many routes here, if you’re willing to drive just a little bit further, you can find more solitude. Moab has a large mix of trad & sport routes, along with a decent amount of canyoneering. Keep in mind that getting to some routes may require some off-roading or hiking. Also, if you’re less experienced or just want someone familiar with the area, there are a ton of guiding companies in Moab that could help you out with a climbing wedding.
How to Dress for a Rock Climbing Wedding or Elopement
When you are going to climb for your wedding or elopement day, you really need to think about what you’re going to wear & if you’re going to hike in wedding attire. I absolutely love when couples climb in their wedding attire! If you’re wearing something like a shirt & pants or a suit, be sure to choose pants that are not too tight, if you can, buy some pants that have some give & that are even a bit stretchy. You can find some athletic suits nowadays or even pants like golf pants can be dressy but lightweight with some stretch.
If you are wearing a dress, you really don’t want anything that is going to be restrictive below your waist. Your dress could be bigger & flowy or more lightweight, but your dress should definitely be looser at & below the hips. If you’re wearing a dress, you’ll also want to wear leggings or shorts underneath the dress. You could wear white shorts (or whatever color your dress is) or if you’re wearing leggings, I usually recommend leggings that match the color of your skin tone. If you don’t want to wear a dress, you could still dress in more of a bridal look with a white jumpsuit & veil to allow for more freedom of movement without a dress getting in the way.
The Rest of the Logistics for Climbing, Photography, & Your Wedding Day
When it comes to choosing a climbing route for your wedding or elopement day, you are going to want to choose something that is easier than what you usually climb. It really depends on the area & the specific route, but I usually feel that routes rated anywhere from 5.7 to 5.9 are good. But again, it totally depends on what you are comfortable with & the exact location. Sometimes it’s nice to do an easy route, especially when you’re all dressed up in wedding attire or in a new area. And sometimes you might choose a route for the views or for how well it photographs.
When it comes to photography, I don’t always necessarily have to climb a route alongside or next to you. Again, this is highly dependent on the exact location. Many times with the assortment of lenses that I have, I can photograph you from various viewpoints & from the ground quite well. But if the area allows for it & the logistics make sense, I am more than happy to climb above or beside you both for certain photos!
When it comes to choosing a location, be sure to take into account other photos you might want besides climbing photos. You also want to think about other things you want to do, if you want to have good places to eat out at, other activities to do, where you want to stay, & whether you’ll drive or fly into your location. Be sure to check out this blog & checklist on how to plan your elopement!
Should You Hire a Climbing Guide?
You might want to hire a climbing guide if you are very unfamiliar with the area & want some guidance during your rock climbing wedding, or if you’re a bit newer to climbing but still want to incorporate it into your day. It is up to you to know the area, know your abilities, & be familiar with your climbing equipment. Even if you are a bit more experienced with one type of rock such as granite, you may be unfamiliar with the sandstone of Moab. I want you to have fun but also be safe!
Why choose a canyoneering elopement over a climbing elopement? Canyoneering can be a bit easier for beginners depending on the route. Canyoneering weddings & elopements can also be less work, usually, just some relatively easy hiking & some rappels, not going up on a rope can also mean that it is easier to maneuver around in your wedding attire.
Other Things to Do After Climbing for Your Wedding or Elopement Day
Yes, if you’re planning a climbing wedding or elopement day, I totally get that climbing is going to be a big part of your day. My guess is after some activity like climbing, you’re going to be hungry! Plan a dinner, have a cake, eat some snacks, or do something that is you. In the photo below you can see that the couple below took a portable camp stove & cooked up some delicious tacos together. I’d suggest making time for sunset or star portraits & while I’m there to capture the adventures & the story of your day, you’ll want at least a few good portraits as well. Want some more ideas for your elopement? Read more about some of the best ideas to make your elopement special! You can also plan a reception with guests after your elopement day.