When I received a phone call from Jess’ Mum a couple of days before their Clifftop Elopement was set to happen, I was certainly a little surprised but so excited to potentially be a part of it!
Jess and Michael planned to tie the knot on a mountaintop overlooking Patonga. Di explained that Jess and Michael hadn’t wanted to book a wedding photographer as they wanted to avoid anything forced or staged. It was important to them to feel completely relaxed and present in the moment with their friends and family. If they were going to have a photographer, they needed to be of a similar chilled vibe to them, and they were drawn towards a documentary film photography aesthetic.
My approach is to capture your day in a non-intrusive way and to make you feel as comfortable as possible. The biggest compliment that I get from my couples is that having me around is like having another friend with them on the day.
After speaking with Di and learning more about what Jess and Michael were planning, I knew I would love to be involved. Not only did I love the idea of them wanting to do it their way, walking to an epic view and hanging out with a chilled group of people, but I also love it when I can simply be free to document a day authentically!
Elephant Rock sits just above Patonga Beach on the southern tip of the NSW Central Coast, and just across the bay from Palm Beach, Sydney. When I arrived, I took a moment to take in the view while I waited for everyone to arrive. It is truly something else, with stunning views down the Hawkesbury River as a backdrop for their ceremony.
When my couples book me, and I find out about their location or venue – I generally don’t like to visit prior to the day. The reason for this is that my creative process works best when I go to a place with no preconceived ideas or expectations. I let the couple, emotions, light and scenery guide me on the best places to shoot.
Their group of friends and family gathered on the Rock as we waited for Jess to enter with her Dad. The whole vibe felt wholesome and intimate. There was no unnecessary styling, just a bunch of friends gathered to be a part of their story, and everyone commented that it felt ‘So them!’
Their celebrant was a friend of theirs, Adele from Honey and Hitch. She wrote a personalised ceremony that was relaxed, heartfelt, authentic and full of love – with a dash of humour!
A Mediterranean Long Lunch
After they signed their marriage certificate on each others’ back and some celebratory drinks, I stayed on the rock for maybe 20 minutes to grab some photos with just the couple whilst everyone headed back to Wallara Cottage that Jess and Michael had rented in Pearl Beach for a casual home-cooked long lunch courtesy of their culinary-talented friends!
The afternoon was such a happy occasion. Everyone sat outside under the sun, casually sharing food, drinks and conversation. A Mediterranean-style feast was served featuring pasta, olives, cheese and focaccia, to name a few, with Jess playing the perfect host.
If you are looking for an intimate way to celebrate your elopement, a long lunch with your friends and family is definitely a special way to do it.
A big thanks to Di for calling me at the last minute before their elopement, to Jess and Michael for serving up the most relaxed and fun-loving vibes and for one of the most wholesome celebrations I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of.
“Michael and I wanted to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making us feel so comfortable and taking photos that are better than we could have ever imagined. We played a slideshow of these photos last night at the house with our families, and everyone was blown away by how well you captured us and the location.“
Jess & Michael
Relaxed Documentary Elopement Photography
If you are searching for a Mountaintop Elopement Photographer, or even need ideas and guidance about how to create the intimate wedding of your dreams, then look no further. You can check out more of my photography portfolio here, and visit our Elopement Experience planning website, My Dear Kathleen, for all the help you might need.