While many people are currently holding elopements in place of COVID canceled ceremonies, Tessa and RJ had a true elopement. They did not announce their engagement publicly, so to most of their friends and family, the news of their nuptials would be a complete surprise. Even their parents were last-minute invitees! Tessa and RJ eloped in the small town of Elk, California just outside of Mendocino. Tessa loves the ocean and RJ loves the redwoods; Elk has the perfect mix of both.
Tessa and RJ spent their wedding weekend at Elk Cove Inn & Spa. Nestled along California’s Highway One, Elk Cove Inn is a unique gem. The craftsman-style mansion was built in 1833 on a bluff overlooking the dramatic Mendocino coastline. While the property and views are breathtaking on their own, the inn’s service and hospitality propel it to another level. Their restaurant serves delicious 4-5 course meals and has a sommelier on staff to recommend perfect pairings and local pours. Fresh baked cookies and port await the inn’s guests in each of the rooms upon arrival. Tessa and RJ are such warm and welcoming people and that was reflected in their choice to host their elopement at Elk Cove Inn & Spa.
On their wedding day, Tessa and RJ did a first look among the thriving gardens on the inn’s property. Tessa’s lace bodice sheath gown looked stunning amongst the tall flowers and greenery. RJ’s parents snuck a fun little first look of the bride and groom as well! After their first look at the inn, we took a short drive to the redwood forests. We captured some beautiful shots against the dramatic backdrop of the trees. Any wedding day jitters this couple may have had were completely laughed off. Tessa and RJ’s silly nature shines through in so many of the moments we captured.
Tessa and RJ returned to the inn and headed down to the beach to exchange their vows. They both kicked off their shoes once they made it to the sandy shore and walked to the ceremony spot side by side with their parents close behind. Once they arrived at the site, Tessa’s father handed her a lush bouquet of white blooms and the officiant began. Tessa and RJ shared personal vows which made it such a heartfelt moment. They then exchanged rings and sealed their union with a kiss!
While still down on the beach, Tessa and RJ took portraits with their parents. After family shots, the new Mr. & Mrs. remained alone on the beach to capture some more photos of the two of them. This hilarious and adventuresome duo kept wanting to get into the freezing water! We got so many more gorgeous pictures of Tessa and RJ along the shore. It’s hard to say which dramatic backdrop, the redwoods or the ocean, I preferred to shoot in but I’m fairly certain Tessa and RJ could look beautiful and have fun anywhere.
With all the photos taken, all that was left to do was enjoy a delicious meal back at Elk Cove Inn with family and raise a glass to Tessa and RJ. I can’t say enough good things about the kindness and warmth of this couple. People like Tessa and RJ fill my job with so much joy. The whole experience was incredible. I am so grateful they asked me to photograph this special day and enjoy the charm of the area and the amazing hospitality of Elk Cove Inn & Spa for the weekend. If I could go back and do this session every day, I would!
If you loved this, chances are you’re engaged and planning a wedding or elopement of your own! I think you’ll LOVE my engagement session guide jam packed with EIGHT helpful tips all about preparing for your engagement photos! The best part? It’s FREE!
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