When it came to planning their wedding day, Chelsea & Dakota knew right from the moment he popped the question that it would end up looking a bit different than most people would expect. They wrote down all the things that were important to them, how they wanted the day to feel, and some of their favorite things to do together in order to craft their intentional wedding day.

The result was a small destination wedding standing on the red rocks in Southern Utah at Snow Canyon State Park. For them, a big room filled with hundreds of guests wasn't on the list—instead, they had an intimate wedding ceremony with their parents, siblings, and a few close friends who made up their bridal party followed by a dinner reception at The Ledges of St. George. One of Dakota's uncles also flew in from Hawaii to officiate the ceremony.

This pair loves to travel, in fact, they got engaged while on an impromptu winter trip to Oslo, Norway and Reykjavik, Iceland. So an adventure wedding trip quickly rose to the top of the list, the only tricky part of selecting where to go. Dakota loves the desert, so they originally booked a date for a wedding ceremony at Zion National Park. However, after locating a vacation rental home where they could host all their guests—complete with a balcony hot tub—they switched up the location when they discovered Snow Canyon State Park was just a short 15-minute drive away, which allowed them to create the low-stress wedding day of their dreams.

Pre-Wedding Portraits with a View

We had the pleasure of giving Chelsea & Dakota their first in-person look at the stunning location they had selected for their desert destination wedding. Just before their make-your-own-taco bar rehearsal dinner back at the vacation home they were sharing with their guests for the weekend, we whisked them over to Snow Canyon State Park for a mini pre-wedding portrait session and a few minutes to themselves before the big day.

The Adventure Begins...

The bride and many of her bridesmaids started the day off with mimosas and hair appointments at The Desert Lounge Salon before venturing back to the house to finish getting ready along with some tasty snacks. In the meantime, the groom along with the rest of the wedding crew enjoyed some of the arcade games at the house. We just love a relaxed paced wedding morning—after all, the day should be fun!

As mid-afternoon rolled around, Chelsea & Dakota were the first of their wedding day crew to head over to Snow Canyon State Park for their first look. One of the many reasons we love a first look moment is how it gives each couple some time to themselves on their wedding day. It also enables us to shift more photography moments earlier in the day so you can focus on celebrating after your ceremony.

Creating a Wedding Aisle from a Red Rock Trail

The beauty of an outdoor destination wedding in a National or State Park is how there is no shortage of unique formations and locations to say your vows. It is good to keep in mind that each park has its own rules regarding weddings, so check their website while you are planning. In the case of Snow Canyon State Park, our couple was able to select from a few trails for their ceremony, and from there, we were able to select the exact location along that designated trailhead area. When planning or attending an adventure wedding or elopement, always remember to be respectful of the space, follow the park guidelines, and take anything you brought with you back out again—take only pictures, leave only footprints.

One of the helpful perks of this specific state park for small weddings is that several of the trails have a small parking lot, making wedding day logistics a non-issue for couples. Soon after the ceremony, we all walked the short distance back up to the rental cars to make the 15 minute drive over to The Ledges of St. George to celebrate with a reception dinner, drinks, relaxing on the patio, and yard games. With front row seats to views of the sunset over Snow Canyon, this location kept the red rock style alive—just with slightly cooler temperatures. 

A Note From the Couple

Chelsea & Dakota

“I have been working with Laura & Kristy for years and could not have dreamed of having anyone else help tell the story of our wedding adventure. Their energy together is simply amazing and they fit right in with everyone during the trip. It felt like they had the whole park mapped out by the wedding day, which made it easy for us to just go with the flow. They even captured a few impromptu portrait sessions so our small group of guests would have something to remember the trip by too.”

Wedding Details & Vendors

Ceremony Location: Petrified Dunes Trail at Snow Canyon State Park

Dinner & Reception Location: The Ledges of St. George 

Photography: Laura Leigh Images

Videography: Reggie Ann Film + Photo

Bride's Dress: Linyage

Groom's Suit: Indochino

Hair: Ashley, Jordan, & Andrea at The Desert Lounge Salon

Makeup: Bride & bridesmaid DIY

Flowers: DIY arrangements, flowers sourced from Bloomers Flowers & Decor

Bridesmaid Dress: Unstitched

Bride's Rings: Alexis Russell Jewelry

Groom's Rings: Shane Co.

Bride's Shoes: Rothy's