Jillian and Shay booked me for their 2020 wedding waayy back in the Before of 2019, and had an intimate wedding planned in the Sacramento area. But then…. pan-you-know-what happened. They decided to postpone their wedding a full year to May 2021, but toward the end of 2020 they reached out and said they’d decided to scrap their plans. Instead, they were planning on a Big Sur elopement, and did I want to tag along? Um, obviously.
Jill and Shay are some of the best people out there: they are so laid back (more on that in a sec) and completely trusted me to source the quintessentially epic Big Sur backdrops they wanted for their photos. As I like to tell my couples, I’m a 21st century Nancy Drew with my digital location scouting skills. And those skills did not disappoint! I walked their first look and ceremony locations in person the day before their elopement and was SCREAMING over how absolutely perfect the spots I’d found were. While I grew up visiting Carmel, I’d never explored Big Sur before, and these locations were definitely both quintessential and epic. 👌🏻
Let me circle back here (yes, I’m deliberately being tongue-in-cheek 😂) to my previous point about these two being out-of-this-universe laid back. As you’ll see from the photos, this particular day was not ideal weather. Cloud cover was incredibly low and dense. Not only that, but it was so heavy it was raining mist on us. Not only that, but the winds were blowing 20+ mph the whole day. Not only that, but poison oak was EVERYWHERE out there, bordering every single trail as asshole ankle-biters. These two took ALL of that completely in stride.
And if you’re thinking, “wow, what bummer luck!” allow me to introduce you to their engagement session we did in June 2019 with the exact same weather. I was keeping tabs on the wind and cloud forecasts the night before, and I told them that at that point we should just take the weather as a good omen since it clearly loves them. And yes, we were joking about that streak all day. If you can’t laugh about the hand Life deals you, what do you have? Honestly.
We started the day at their hotel, Glen Oaks Big Sur. Jill and Shay were joined by their bestie Kristen who was ordained and officiating their ceremony! After their hair and makeup was finished, we hopped in the car (with a very convenient barrier I made out of the blanket I’d packed for them, so that Shay didn’t see Jill before their first look) and headed to their ceremony.
After their first look, we opted to move to a less-poison-oaky spot for their ceremony. Jill and Shay exchanged personal handwritten vows, and Kristen recited a beautiful poem she’d written for the occasion (not that I heard it over the roaring winds). They celebrated with a big champagne pop (note to Meg, ALWAYS TAKE WIND DIRECTION INTO ACCOUNT), most of which ended up on me and Jill. 😂 Please enjoy the photo below of her with champagne literally dripping off of her face. Massive grin and all (seriously, nothing phases these ladies).
I had originally planned for their ceremony to be at the hilltop above us, but given the winds we opted to stay as close to sea level as possible. But I told them the view was worth trekking up for five minutes and a couple photos. Once we took those, we jumped back in the car and spent 10 minutes thawing out! We made a pit stop at the Bixby Bridge for a few photos (seriously, did you go to Big Sur if you didn’t come home with a photo in front of that bridge?) before stopping back at their hotel for a MUCH needed freshen up and glass of champagne.
We ended the day at a local restaurant they’d picked out, called Nepenthe. It’s been there forever; I mentioned it to my parents and they were like, “Oh yeah, I went there a couple decades ago!” It sits on the site of a building that was built in the 1920s (and later burned I think) so it’s an OG for sure. The best thing about Nepenthe is the breathtaking views. Not only that, it’s 800 feet above sea level so we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by actual sunlight above the insane fog bank! One of the awesome locations I found in my scouting was a narrow tree-lined lane behind the restaurant that you would never know was there. We took some more portraits there, as well as doing their first dance and bouquet toss! After we finished those, we headed over for a bevvie on the deck and watched the sun go down on the day of their perfect Big Sur elopement.
Jill and Shay left me the most magical review and I couldn’t help not share it. Truly, reading words like these from my couples is the most humbling thing ever!
“Meg made us feel so relaxed and laid back during our time together. We aren’t ones to love being photographed but Meg did a great job at making things light and fun throughout. She found THE most beautiful spot for the ceremony which was a great surprise and it also took the pressure off of us to have to find a place. Our favorite part about the photos is how she captured the beauty all around us while also capturing the joy and love between us. For anyone who is looking for a fun, reliable, and talented photographer, Meg’s got it all! Not only is she incredibly talented but from day one she was so reliable, punctual, and always made us feel like we were taken care of. Thanks so much making this a day that we will never forget!”