Nature Lovers, Take Note! You Can Totally Host Your Wedding in a National Park

Roana and Ian made it official with a ceremony and reception in the heart of Yosemite National Park.

Updated 03/01/17

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

After nature lovers Roana Tirado and Ian Creelman got engaged in June 2013 at their favorite backpacking spot in Yosemite National Park, choosing to return to their outdoors for their September 19, 2015, wedding was an easy decision. “Yosemite is a very special to both of us,” Roana says. “Having had many adventures there and one memorable summer working in the valley, we knew we wanted to get married there.” But finding the perfect spot for a large wedding (the twosome knew they needed a venue that could accommodate at least 200 guests!) that offered entirely outdoor spaces was a challenge.

“We looked at several of the resorts in Yosemite, but none of those venues really felt like us,” the bride says. That is, until they found the Evergreen Lodge, a woodsy property tucked away in the national forest bordering on Yosemite. “It gave us that intimate feel we were looking for, away from the crowds of the valley, but close by so that our guests could still have access to the park’s wonders.” Roana and Ian knew they wanted their entire day—from the start of the ceremony through to the end of the reception—to take place outdoors, where guests could enjoy the beauty and ambiance of the park. With help from Marisa of So Eventful and Marisa of Michael Daigian Design (dubbed “the Marisas” by the couple!), this bride and groom introduced their loved ones to the very best of Yosemite, and Jasmine Lee Photography captured every detail of their refined, outdoorsy day.

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

This creative pair designed their entire invitation suite, drawing inspiration from a park map, then personalized the design with a hand-sketched bear motif penned by the bride. “We also included photo inserts of Yosemite Valley taken by Ian,” Roana says.

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Jasmine Lee Photography

The bride’s main priority for her wedding dress was that it be comfortable, and she found just what she was looking for in her satin Jinza Bridal gown. “I also wanted a classic look like my mother wore on her wedding day, but with a modern low back,” she says. “That was my favorite part of the dress.” With lace straps and a soft, scalloped neckline, Roana’s gown was equal parts youthful and elegant.

Her bouquet was in keeping with the natural, rustic-meets-elegant vibe the couple was going for. Protea, ranunculus, garden roses, brunia berries, dusty miller, succulents, and billy balls came together in a light white and green mix with pops of yellow.

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Roana knew she didn’t want her eight bridesmaids in matching dresses, so she chose a range of hues and let each woman, including her three sisters (one of whom is the bride’s twin!), and five friends select their own attire. Their dresses, in varying shades of gray and yellow, popped against the woody backdrop and paired perfectly with bouquets that were a miniature replica of the bride’s own arrangement.

While Ian wore a full suit from J.Crew, he asked his groomsmen to skip jackets in favor of vests for a more casual look. Each guy accessorized with a boutonniere made from succulents, billy balls, and seeded eucalyptus.

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

The couple's adorable flower girls rocked knee-length white dresses, stealing the show on their way down the aisle.

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Guests walked 10 minutes from the lodge to the couple’s secluded ceremony space, where they were greeted with a welcome sign that feature the bride’s bear illustration and details about the proceedings.

“Our ceremony took place in a grove of towering pine trees just a short walk from the main lodge,” Roana says of the intimate space. “There were simple ferns and succulents at the head of aisle on tree stumps and a natural arch decorated with green plants that accentuated the natural beauty of the tall pines.”

Everyone was seated in time for Roana and Ian’s 4 p.m. ceremony, which was officiated by a close friend of Ian’s family. “Our 2-year-old flower girl, Kya, took an extra long time to come down the aisle,” the bride laughs. “She forgot to drop the petals as she walked so instead she poured them all out at the end of the aisle. It was adorable.”

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Just as the bride began her walk down the aisle, Roana’s younger sister, Erica, sang “Ave Maria.” Although they decided against a religious ceremony, the couple personalized it with vows they’d written themselves, a Japanese sake ceremony, and a Mexican lasso tradition.

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

The party moved back to the main lodge for the couple’s cocktail hour and reception in the courtyard. Long wooden tables were arranged beneath strings of globe lights, and cross-back chairs were the perfect way to marry the Roana and Ian’s elegant and rustic aesthetic. “It felt like an outdoor dining room,” the bride says.

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Friends and family were led to their seats with compass escort cards. To drive home the vibe of their lodge-style reception, patterned dinnerware was paired with natural clusters of succulent and moss and floral arrangements of roses, ferns, eucalyptus, and ranunculus. “We decided on mismatched centerpieces that were made up of the same flowers but treated differently at each table,” says Roana. “That ensured every table looked a little unique.”

Talk about mother-in-law of the year! Ian’s mom led her extended family in the folding of 1,001 paper cranes, a Japanese wedding traditional that promises longevity and eternal luck, to be hung above the bride and groom’s head table. “Some relatives were folding the cranes from so far away,” the bride says. “My mother-in-law mailed the paper out to everyone and they all showed up with a bunch of cranes for the wedding. They installed them the day before the wedding.”

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

The newlyweds shared their first dance to “Waiting on an Angel” by Ben Harper, then settled in for speeches and a surprise from Roana’s sister and Ian’s dad. “My little sister has a beautiful voice, she sounds so professional, so I always wanted her to sing at my wedding,” the bride remembers. “My husband’s family all know how to play the ukulele, and Ian’s dad is so good that he teaches lessons. My sister wanted to learn to play for the performance, so she asked my father-in-law.” But instead of simply imparting his wisdom, the two decided to tag-team on the song and treat the bride and groom to a truly special performance. “It was amazing!”

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

Since neither the bride nor the groom is particularly fond of cake, they decided to skip the traditional dessert and serve something they love instead: pie! Guests enjoyed slices of peach, berry, apple, and rhubarb pie from a local farm.

Photo by Jasmine Lee Photography

The bride and groom, who honeymooned in Brazil, have some sage advice for other couple’s in the thick of wedding planning: “Go out on dates with your fiancé leading up to the wedding where wedding planning talk is not allowed,” Roana says. “This gave us time to relax and just enjoy each other.”

Venue & Catering: Evergreen Lodge || Wedding Planner: So Eventful || Bride's Wedding Dress: Jinza Bridal || Groom's Attire: J.Crew || Floral Design: Michael Daigian Design || Rentals: Classic Party Rentals || Music: Lucky Devils Band || Videographer: IQ Videography || Photographer: Jasmine Lee Photography

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