We can’t think of any other words to describe Danae and Wes’ Yosemite wedding except for completely stunning. With a gorgeous backdrop of mountains and trees high enough to touch the sky, there isn’t a lot that you need to do to gussy up the venue. Danae knew she wanted to leave it up to the natural beauty of the venue to let it speak for itself. We know you’re going to fall in love with this one!
Photography by Anna Delores.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? To truly enjoy the day and take every moment in because everything goes by so quickly and you’ll wake up the next day and regret not letting go of the little things. It was SO true!
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Do it your way and don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t worry about your families’ opinions and do what you both really want. However, at the same time, give them the respect of at least listening to their input. You never know who’s idea may be the little touch you really needed.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? No, I couldn’t have had a more beautiful and exhilarating day.
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? I wore my grandmother’s pearl and diamond earrings with the matching ring, my grandfather’s handkerchief, and my mother’s garter from when she married my father.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can do it all yourself and save a ton of money. That will only lead to you being overworked and burnt out by the big day. Plan on spending where it really counts and find a few things here or there you can DIY.
“I’ve always known since I was little that I wasn’t going to have the traditional church wedding. Coming from an adventurous family who loves the outdoors, I’d envisioned an organic ceremony that would utilize natural beauty as the backdrop for my dream venue. One of my favorite places has always been the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. Both the history of the hotel and the breathtaking surroundings of Yosemite itself make it a truly magical place. Luckily, I found a southern boy who loved it as much as I do and when Wes proposed under Yosemite Falls we both knew we wanted to exchange our vows in the valley. Our wedding was a destination event for both sides of our family, his being from North Carolina and mine primarily from Los Angeles.”
How did you go about planning your ceremony? Our ceremony was a team effort and we would weigh in on many opinions to make some decisions. But when it came down to the little details and more personal touches we gave more input. I really relied on my parents and wedding planner to keep everything moving forward and give inspiration when needed. It was important that our ceremony really reflect the two of us and they all helped bring it to life.
Your ceremony in three words. Romantic, rustic, and unique.
What was your ceremony music? “Horizons” by Genesis was played for the parents and bridal party processional. This was also the song for my mother and father’s first dance. “Canon D” by Johann Pachelbel was played when my father walked me down the aisle. “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers was played for the recessional.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? One of my father’s dearest friends from kindergarten, who is also my sister’s godfather. When we started discussing wedding details I knew Derrick was the perfect person to marry us because he has always been a loving and strong figure in my life. Wes agreed and we had the most special moment when I asked him with my dad present.
What were your vows like? We chose not to write our own vows and asked that Derrick write whatever he wanted for the ceremony from his heart. He wrote down numerous questions about us both and asked us to respond. He took it from there but did include one quote I’ve always loved by E. E. Cummings from, “I Carry Your Heart.”
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Our ceremony was stunning and so intimate. My favorite moments are when my dad fought back tears when he heard my parent’s wedding song play as my mom was escorted down the aisle. Then a moment later looking into my soon-to-be husband’s eyes full of tears as he saw me. It was truly an overwhelmingly beautiful few minutes. Seeing my husband cry as I came across the lawn and down the aisle was so beautiful and brought up so many wonderful emotions—it absolutely has to be my favorite moment. There of course were so many more, but that one in particular was really intimate even though everyone was watching the two of us.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? I wish we could go back a live it all over again!
“Our reception was stunning and everything we wanted and didn’t know we wanted. When you’re planning your wedding, you always have a vision in mind; whether it be something you’ve always wanted or something that starts to come alive as you go. What you can’t prepare for is how amazing it is to see it all come together. It was the perfect time of the evening where the sun was just setting and the grey linens with flowers in shades of blushes, greens and pops of purple really created the perfect atmosphere that blended perfectly with the venue.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Our vision was a rustic yet elegant evening that intertwined natural elements with the antiquity of the hotel itself. Our inspiration really came not only from our personal preferences but from our families creative input as well. I found it really special throughout the day that we had little details I knew that others had thought of and we loved.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? Our wedding planner made all of our signage, table numbers and escort cards. She did the calligraphy on everything and it all came out perfect. It took her a lot of time to do but it made everything that much more personal.
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. We had recently lost family members that were extremely close to us all so we thought it was important that they be represented in a special way. When guests came to sign the guest book we had their pictures in frames for all to see.
What was your wedding menu? Our guests had the choice of: Roast Prime Rib of Beef Au Jus, Creamed Horseradish, and Garlic Mashed Potatoes // Mary’s Roasted French Cut Chicken Breast, Piccata, and Herb Risotto // Tagliatelle Pasta, Spinach, Tarragon, Tomato, and Lemon Brown Butter. All meals were served with Fresh Seasonal Vegetables and Ahwahnee Breads.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had a three tier semi-naked cake made by the Ahwahnee. The top tier was classic sponge cake with vanilla custard filling. The middle tier was classic sponge cake with lemon custard filling. The bottom tier was classic sponge cake with fresh strawberry & cream filling.
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance?
First dance: “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele
Father/daughter dance: “Father and Daughter” by Paul Simon
Mother/son dance: “What a Wonderful World” by Louie Armstrong