A stunning, yet simple Yellowstone National Park elopement for Michelle and Robert. Don't miss their story below. Photography by Montana Bride Vendor David Clumpner; the image shown below is the winner of a Fearless Award!
"We met in undergrad while Robert was already dating someone else. Yikes! That relationship obviously didn't work out, and we only began exclusively dating one month before graduation – a curious decision since I had already committed to a Teach for America term in Las Vegas. Not wanting the whirlwind romance to end, Robert agreed to move with me to Las Vegas, shocking our parents a bit. After two incredibly fun years in Las Vegas, we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area – this time for Robert's arborist job. Four years in the Bay Area left us eager for some place less expensive and with more opportunities for growth. So in the summer of 2021, after buying a nearly 200-year-old house sight unseen, we moved to Michigan. Thankfully it turned out to be a wonderful house but definitely in need of a refresh! With no experience in home remodeling, we immediately gutted the kitchen, including tearing down a wall. The kitchen, bathroom, and adjoining hallway have since been completely remodeled 100 percent by us on a shockingly low budget that took a shockingly long time. This is just our latest project: one thing we love about being partners is the courage we provide each other to try new things, have new adventures, and grow in new ways.
Robert proposed in 2019, in our yard at home in his underwear. I was completely surprised! After two years of being engaged, we had made no progress on wedding planning. Despite wanting to share our joy with family and friends, we just couldn't get excited about planning a party – or spending that money! Eloping seemed obvious, but we didn't want our loved ones to feel as though they missed out. Then, in April 2021, we stumbled upon the photos of David Clumpner on the internet and felt that his documentary-style captured the emotions of weddings and other life events so beautifully! We contacted him for availability and built our wedding around having him as our photographer. So, we decided that on our road trip to move from the Bay Area to Michigan, we would make a stopover in Yellowstone National Park to get married! The majestic setting seemed perfect for the low-key, fun wedding that fit us. We kept this a secret from our families until after we got married! A few of my girlfriends knew (I let the surprise slip at a friend's bachelorette party, but I claim it was entrapment), but other than that, it was a total surprise! Robert was a steel trap, through and through!
Getting to the "aisle" was quite the struggle in our very finicky moving truck (actually a Freightliner flat-bed, dumping truck!) that could never go over 55mph and rarely go over 40mph. We had to drive all night long a few days before to get to our marriage license appointment in Jackson Hole on time! Due to a crazy road-trip schedule, we spent less than an hour and a half in our hotel room showering, ironing Robert's suit, doing make-up, etc. before driving two hours to Lamar Valley. We stumbled upon two horse trailers that provided a bit of privacy as we changed from our casual clothes into our wedding duds. There were several unforeseen wardrobe malfunctions we had to adapt to: Robert couldn't find his original white button-up shirt; the strap on my $80 dress snapped in the car; and the wind was blowing somethin' fierce rendering the veil comb quite useless. These unplanned, messy parts of the wedding contributed to making it magical!
We were able to share the news with our loved ones by sending over the gorgeous photos that David captured – they were stunned and thrilled!" –Michelle, the bride