A Destination Elopement in the Las Vegas Desert

This past June, Brent and I took a trip to the Southwest and spent a few days in Las Vegas. A couple of weeks before I went, I got in touch with Monique through a local Facebook group about doing a photoshoot while I was there. She and her fiancé, Austin’s schedules ended up working out perfectly to make some photos together.  And good gracious am I ever glad it did.

 

We met at my hotel and drove out to a random dry lake bed just off the highway outside of Las Vegas. There was unexpected traffic, so when we got there the sun had already started to set and we were losing light fast. We ran out of the car and spent the next 20 minutes running around in the vast, flat desert as cars drove by, kicking up dust on the road. We shot well into dusk – and by the time we started back toward the city it had gotten dark and windy and the lights of the nearby buildings had winked on.

 

There’s just something about the desert. It’s so very different from the green and forests of New England but it has always felt a little bit like home to me. Maybe it’s all the memories of childhood trips to visit my family in Western Australia – of the heat and red sand and scrubby trees and open horizons. The sun in the desert is harsh and sets slowly and then all at once – turning everything blue and red and hazy. You can see in every direction. It’s stiflingly hot and dry and utterly, unforgivingly beautiful.

 

Monique and Austin are also wonderful. They didn’t blink when we were late and had to run to start shooting. They braved the sand and the temperatures and the cloud of annoying little flies that inexplicably turned up about halfway through the shoot. And through the whole thing they laughed together and Monique melted into Austin when he held her in the most beautiful way. They got married about a month after the shoot and moved and I am so thankful we got to meet before they left the city.

 

Take my efforts high above red hills
Bones of ribbon don’t stop me now
Whites went blue, then went yellow
Feet don’t stop me now
They found me there in the sands
Bones of ribbons in my hands
Whites went blue, then went yellow
Pull off the cloak, time off the wall

London Grammar – Bones of Ribbon

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Thank you to City Blossoms for the straight-up amazing bouquet and for Makeup by Cassidy LV for the prettiest makeup for Monique. And if any of you are planning a destination wedding or elopement in the desert, hit me up. Because I am ready to go back.

18 notes + Add comment
  • Jackie McGinnis

    on September 13, 2017  3:24 am

    My friend, this just blows me away. They are STUNNING. The couple, the photos, and YOU. Absolutely love this desert elopement. You're amazing!

    • hgunnellphotography@gmail.com

      on September 13, 2017  4:04 am

      Thank you Jackie!!!

  • Akia Ng

    on September 13, 2017  9:49 am

    Hannah! This is absolutely gorgeous. It's romantic, intimate, and the perfect little glimpse into their unique love story. So beautiful!

    • hgunnellphotography@gmail.com

      on September 13, 2017  1:54 pm

      Thank you Akia! How about for our next meeting, you, me, Jackie, and Kate all go to the desert with our SOs and just run around in it and make portraits?

  • Steven

    on September 14, 2017  7:08 pm

    Love this shoot so much!!

    • hgunnellphotography@gmail.com

      on September 16, 2017  12:56 am

      Thanks, Steven! I need to get back to the Southwest ASAP

  • Laurie

    on September 16, 2017  2:16 am

    What amazing photos. Even though you had to rush because of the light, these destination photos are beautiful. I am sure you see some great places as a destination wedding photographer.

  • Hilary

    on September 16, 2017  2:23 am

    What a beautiful elopement! I'm loving that brides hair! Great job on your images.

  • Kira

    on September 16, 2017  2:29 am

    Really cool elopement photos from the Nevada desert. You did an awesome job with these portraits.

  • Alyssa Bouma

    on September 16, 2017  2:39 am

    this elopement is just beautiful! great work. I love how intimate these photos are.

  • Jess

    on September 16, 2017  2:56 am

    Umm, gorgeous!! You nailed this photoshoot! The colors and expressions are everything. That bouquet is unreal! Beautiful photography!

  • sarah

    on September 16, 2017  12:17 pm

    ohhhhh wow! These are incredible. Sometimes I feel like elopement portraits can miss the mark, but not these you nailed it.... they are gorgeous, I love the film feel

  • Emely Taveras

    on September 16, 2017  1:54 pm

    Holy cow, you don't see things like this in my state, I'm so jealous! This was such a beautiful caputered eleopement. Great job!

  • Ashleigh

    on September 16, 2017  3:16 pm

    These destination elopement photos are stunning!!! I just love that double exposure one!!

  • Valerie

    on September 17, 2017  2:23 am

    Oh my goodness these are beyond stunning! You did such an amazing job! I love all of your elopements!

  • Valerie

    on September 17, 2017  2:24 am

    These are seriously gorgeous! I am in love with your work!

  • Deb

    on September 17, 2017  7:44 am

    These photos should be in a magazine. Stunning! I love how you shared everything that happened leading to these moments. It's like I was right there too :)

  • Molly Ho

    on September 17, 2017  10:03 pm

    Oh my goodness. These destination wedding photos look absolutely stunning, especially in the Vegas desert of all places. You did a really amazing job!!