The bride, groom, officiant (sister of the bride) and the officiant's husband perform a small elopement ceremony at sunrise on Donner Summit.
Lindy and Jon live in Boston, but they were engaged at sunrise in California. Jon dreamed of getting married near Lake Tahoe in the winter, so they put the two together and planned a sunrise winter elopement on Valentine's Day. Although it can snow several feet at a time in Lake Tahoe, February was a very dry month. So, there wasn't any snow on the ground at the lake level. Fortunately, they were not attached to any specific location for the elopement ceremony.
Before they came to California, I suggested several different locations that were not far from the cabin where they would be staying. They wanted to be close to the snow, so we settled on Donner Summit which is at a higher elevation.
Lindy and Jon traveled to Donner Summit in separate cars and we met in the dark before sunrise. The ambient temperature was below freezing, and a stiff breeze made it feel even colder. Operating a camera in these conditions is not easy, and takes some planning. Lindy wore a wedding dress without a jacket or gloves! Warm winter boots helped her climb the snowfield to the ceremony site where Jon and Lindy's sister Ashleigh (the officiant) waited. Ashleigh's husband, Ben, joined the ceremony as well.
The groom and the bride's sister (officiant) waiting at Donner Summit at sunrise for the bride to arrive. This mountain location has views of Donner Lake and the small mountain town of Truckee. The road leading up is the same route used by wagon trains when settlers first started heading west, including the famous Donner Party. Donner Peak is visible in this photo.
The bride heading up a frozen snowfield to meet the groom and officiant. Donner Summit Bridge, also known as Rainbow Bridge, is in the background.
The bride laughing during the ceremony with a snowy, granite peak in the background.
The bride and groom holding hands during the elopement ceremony.
The bride reads her vows as the sun comes up on Donner Summit.
The bride and groom receive hugs as the ceremony comes to a close. By this time everyone was feeling cold and ready to warm up.
Portrait of the bride and groom as the sun comes up in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Portrait of the bride and groom on Donner Summit. Donner Lake is in the background and the Carson Mountain range is on the horizon.