Canyonlands National Park Elopement Moab Utah

Adventurous Wedding in the Desert

I love capturing how a landscape has taken hold of someone. When a person gets lost within the canyons and undulating curves of a river carving sandstone, their eyes glinting at first light over the cliffs. Shannon and Todd fell in love here. They’ve been on loads of adventures here, spent many cold mornings here sipping coffee and waiting for sunrise to flare up just below Mesa Arch. They’ve hiked through the backcountry, jammed their hands into sandstone cracks that split from the bottom of a wall to the very top, they’ve rappelled down into narrow slots and through arches. They belong in Moab. They’ve lived, breathed, grown inside these red rock walls.

We started the morning with an overcast sunrise in Canyonlands National Park. Shannon slipped her dress on in the doorway of their truck before strapping on her boots and hiking out to a cliff to meet Todd where he’d been making coffee. They squeezed each other close in the chilly morning light while the updraft through the canyon whipped through the silk ribbons in her bouquet. The sun peeked through the clouds occasionally, showing fantastic colors and warming the air. We hiked around the slick rock formations and marveled at the significance of everything they’d been planning and dreaming finally coming to fruition in a place as stunning as Canyonlands.

Their ceremony was emotional, warm, and dotted brightly with poignant letters from their best friends who stood by them. Grandparents and older family watched with caution as I’m sure they felt Shannon & Todd were a little too close to the edge for comfort. But for the couple, that kind of exposure is just their average weekend activity. After their first kiss, we snapped a few photos on the cliff, then quested our way down a switchbacked dirt road in their truck, stopping for photos at a spot appropriately named “Thelma & Louise Point”.

In so many ways, a wedding celebration honors all that has helped a couple get to where they are. So for Shannon and Todd, to dance among the rust-colored sand, to cling to each other on the cliff tops of Canyonlands National Park, to shed tears while exchanging vows on an infamous overlook in a place that holds all the memories that have defined their story together—it only seems like the most reasonable way for Shannon and Todd to celebrate their wedding. We all basked in the warm spring sun, witnessing the landscape changing with the shifting light, while a significant and spectacularly beautiful paradigm happened before our eyes.

Shannon and Todd — married in the desert. The vast red rocks inviting us in, sprawling outward and upward. The cliffs and cactus and sand, all paying witness to a commitment to a lifetime of adventure together.

Cedar & Pines is an adventurous wedding and elopement photographer duo made up of Nate and Megan Kantor, a married couple living in their vintage Airstream and traveling the American West. They believe in honest wedding photography, capturing the small candid moments to the epic landscape views. They travel to photograph adventure elopements and destination weddings in Colorado, California, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Washington, Patagonia and the ends of the earth.