Jackie and Ian’s 2 day Dolomites hiking elopement was one of my FAVORITES of 2022. These two busy parents originally planned for a traditional wedding back in their home base of Seattle, but eventually decided they needed LESS stress, not more.
It was hard for them to spend so much time away from their toddler, but in the end, they realized how much they needed this break to reconnect. Originally, they were on the fence about booking another entire day, but the opportunity to see and do so much more ultimately won.
Browse this session to see what a full day exploring the Tre Cime National Park and Tre Coci/Lago di Sorapis trails looks like!
NOTE: this blog is FULL of high res photos and gifs, so some may take time to load
J&I’s 2 day Dolomites hiking elopement started at a tranquil lake a few miles below the Tre Cime toll road and parking area. They had arrived the night before and stayed right at the lakeside hotel across the street. We kept a keen eye on the weather the night before, and as our alarms went off at 5am, I peeped outside, noted an inky sky full of stars, and said we’re good for a sunrise first look at the water’s edge!
They took their time getting ready as we waited for the sun to rise. Our anxiety peaked as a dense layer of fog rolled over the lake, obscuring the view.
As we and a handful of other photographers with tripods waited, the sun rose higher. After 30 minutes, the other photographers had packed up their tripods and abandoned the popular shooting location. We hung around just a few minutes longer, before making the call to head up the toll road and take advantage of the clear skies higher up.
But just as everyone was gathering their things, the wind shifted and the sky cleared. We were the only ones along the lake, still as a mirror, staring up at the back of the imposing tre cime ridge.
I hurried Ian into position along the water, and waved up at Jackie to come down from the hotel room. Change of plans!! Right there, these two had a serene, still and perfectly private first look.
That’s the thing to remember about adventure and hiking elopements: you have to be ready to pivot. You have to take everything in stride. The more chill you are, the more everything just works out.
One of the most amazing trails of the Tre Cime national park is also the most accessible: the Tre Cime loop trail from the parking lot. While the toll road is expensive ($30-$45 per car) it’s well worth it. Once parked, you walk right out into, honestly, some of the world’s most beautiful views.
In 4-6 hours, you can explore a handful of the park’s most incredible, world famous viewpoints. You will never get bored here. Everywhere you look is another interesting overlap of expansive peaks; it’s a museum of dramatic, rocky beauty.
From here, you can access the Auronzo, Lavaredo and Tre Cime huts, as well as the insta-famous Cadini di Misurina viewpoint. The area is so expansive, there is almost always plenty of room to spread out and find a quiet corner.
It’s really easy to walk around in your wedding attire in this location – just be aware that the Germans will stare and the Italians will stop you for hugs and photos. Just accept how fabulous you are and carry on 🙂
We hiked along the trail and made the full loop around the famous Tre Cime peaks, stopping to enjoy from different angles. We made a coffee and snack break halfway through, watching the crows and clouds float around us.
All in all, the loop trail with time to enjoy things and stop for spontaneous photos takes about 3-4 hours. It’s the perfect half day location.
After a long lunch break to recharge from the early morning, we congregated in the parking lot with a couple beers before heading out to the opposing Misurina viewpoint trail.
The trail starts right from the parking lot, but goes off in the opposite direction of the Tre Cime trail. It’s super short with only one steep section and three great spots to stop for views, including the overlook itself.
It’s a short 45 minute hike that can be done in all types of weather as long as you’re prepared and know where the trail goes.
After these two read their vows, they popped some champagne with their friends and cheered an insanely successful day!
The Lago di Sorapis hike which begins at the Tre Coci trail head is a popular out and back hike to a unbelievably turquoise blue lake. The popularity of the trail can make it crowded, but if you go “the back way,” you not only see no one else, but the views are INSANE. Since you have to climb up and over the ridge, you get views you won’t see taking the easier trail. You get expansive views of multiple valleys, as well as a pretty challenging scramble.
While this method of completing the hike is the most beautiful and adventurous, it’s not for everyone. But, if you’re passionate hikers and the weather is good, I highly recommend it! Otherwise, take the in and out trail through the valley.
The trail starts at a dirt parking area just off the main road through the park. I recommend getting there early for a spot, like we did. Once on the trail up the “back way,” you’ll have immediate alpine glow views if the sky is clear. A steep trail leads to an even steeper rocky scramble over the pass, then it’s downhill to the lake from there.
Once at the lake, we paused for a lunch break before J&I changed into their wedding attire for more portraits. J’s black dress was her “something borrowed” from a close friend, and the contrast of the black looked incredible against the whites, blues and yellows of the rocky peaks.
She also packed her wedding dress – proof that you really should do whatever you want!!
PRO TIP: in the summer, you can stay overnight at Rifugio Vandelli, located right on the lake. It’s an excellent choice for early sunrise photos, or star photography! Consider hiking up and staying over night to make the most of the location with far fewer people.
It’s important to remember that your elopement day is NOT a glorified photoshoot. You should allow yourself some time to settle in to the experience, and not be rushed. It takes time to hike, it takes time to explore, and it takes time to feel present. To get an idea of what a 2 day timeline looks like, here is Jackie and Ian’s actual 2 day Dolomites hiking elopement timeline:
OCT 10, DAY ONE:
GETTING READY 05:30-06:45
SUNRISE FIRST LOOK 07:00-08:00
DRIVE TO TRE CIME PARKING 08:30
WALK TO TRE CIME VIEW POINT 08:30-09:15
TRAIL AROUND TRE CIME 9:45-13:30
BREAK FOR LUNCH AT PARKING 13:30 -15:30
MISURINA TRAIL & VOWS 15:30
PHOTOS AT VIEW POINT 16:30-17:00
VOWS BEGIN LATEST AT 17:30 – 18:30
COVERAGE ENDS AT 19:00
OCT 11, DAY TWO:
MEET AT 06:30
HIKE OUT 2-3 hours
LAGO DI SORAPIS BREAK AND PHOTOS 2 HOURS
HIKE BACK 2-3 HOURS
“We stumbled upon Mariah by what I believe to be destiny, I had been searching achingly for weeks to find someone whose style was in tune with my own vision for our elopement. I took a gamble and set up the interview, and from that point on, I was smitten.
I gained not only a photographer, but a wedding planner, an advisor, trip planner, florist, therapist, cheerleader, personal trainer…the list goes on and on. Above all, a friend I will cherish for the rest of my days. She helped me organize what is going to be one of the most beautiful moments of my life. Her hard work created a flawless experience for all of us.
She and I spent months talking back and forth. Given the time zones, I would wake up excited to see an email from her, that is just the level of care and planning that went into our two-day elopement. Mariah had planned everything out for us, from where to stay, how to set us up for the types of photos we wanted, which trails to take for the most spectacular views, when to stop for trail coffee, what to pack, everything.
For goodness’s sake she made my bouquet, and no florist anywhere on earth could have achieved what she did for me. It was stunning.
We had the most incredible time, we hiked, we cried, we got to dance, Mariah planned surprises for both my husband and I. Everything was perfect. She even handled my poor mood with grace and kindness. You’ve got big feelings on your special day, sometimes those can be sour. Even during the planning phase and my anxiety over the weather, she reassured me that we had a backup plan, and I trusted her wholeheartedly.
Mariah is not only organized and professional, but she made it fun, we felt relaxed and at home with her and Johannes. Their professionalism and cheerful demeanors allowed us to hike as though we were among old friends, and the gallery it produced is nothing short of remarkable. The days were documented and every time I find a second to look back on the photos, they seem more and more beautiful. She left nothing out, and as we had to leave our little one behind, she was sure to plan how we could incorporate our daughter into our photos.
Mariah captured these precious memories with such ease, she set the stage for my husband and I to share our vows to one another. Even though she was there clicking away with her camera, it was as though she were invisible during our moment.
We are so grateful.
I miss my dear friend and our daily emails but regardless of the time that may go by now that we are back to reality, the photos hanging on the wall and the bill paid, I’m honored to have been a client of Mariah.”
— Jacki & Ian
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