Navigating an Elopement Day in Wildfire Season
Janelle & Eric trusted me with their day...
After nearly a year of planning from across the states, Janelle and Eric's day had finally arrived. These two traveled to Montana from Pennsylvania to have their elopement day, with their closest friends and family in tow. Their day started at their Airbnb in Whitefish, MT where they got ready and read letters to each other in private. We then drove to Glacier National Park, the couple had their ceremony at Ryan Beach in Apgar. This location is normally a great spot for a ceremony if you want those breathtaking views of the mountains beyond Lake Mcdonald. However, due to the fires in Canada, wildfire smoke filled Montana skies for several weeks in May and June. This created a thick haze, obstructing the normally mountainous view. Janelle and Eric were so flexible on their day and trusted my vision when I told them we were going up to the higher elevations of the park for their portraits that evening.
Ending the evening in the dark, we drove back to Whitefish and joined their friends and family at The Northern for bar food and drinks. They danced to the live music and laughter filled everyone's ears as bystanders loved seeing a bride & groom in their full wedding attire at the bar that night.
Tips for Navigating your Elopement day during Wildfire Season
Whether you're experiencing wildfire smoke from a fire burning in a location near your wedding or if it's traveling far in the atmosphere and impacting your local area, wildfire smoke can be a real bugger to deal with. Not only is it rough to work and play with the air quality being poor, but finding a way to capture beautiful photos against a smoke-filled sky can be a challenge. Here are some of my favorite tips that I use to navigate these smokey days in NW Montana:
- Bring yourself closer to the mountains. The farther you are from the object in the background the harder it will be to see during a smokey day. For instance, if you're trying to capture mountains in the background that are 10+ miles away, there is a lot of smoke particulate in the air between you and that object. So, moving closer to the object will provide a clearer image for you.
- Plan to utilize the best lighting hours of the day. During really thick smokey days, it almost acts as if it's cloud cover, meaning you'll lose your daylight faster in the evening. You can lose your "normal" sunlight, 30+ minutes faster than a day that has clear skies. Plan to end your time a little earlier than normal.
- Embrace the haze. Smokey skies can often create this filmy, warm, romantic vibe to images. While many may think that it isn't helpful, I love the romantic feel of the images.
- Keep safety in mind. For yourself, your clients, and potentially others involved. If you're planning on photographing near a live, active burning fire, be sure to check for road closures, warnings, etc for that area. You never want to jeopardize anyone's safety on an elopement day.
- Limit your time outdoors, and potentially pivot your plans to an indoor location. If you have individuals in your group who are compromised or sensitive to low air quality, you may have to find a backup plan for your elopement day. Regroup with your vendors, family, and partner to make the best decision for your elopement day.
If you're looking for an experienced photographer to capture your Glacier National Park elopement day, look no further!
Something I never take for granted is when a couple decides to choose me as their elopement day photographer. I like to be a source of light in planning for my couples, a resource of knowledge about the area and how to experience the best Montana elopement, and most importantly; a trusted individual that won't steer you wrong on your elopement day. Sometimes you can't plan everything out and that includes wildfires, having a photographer who knows how to navigate and pivot a plan during these types of scenarios will serve you best.
Let me, Jennifer Vernarsky, be the photographer you trust with your elopement day. Janelle said it herself in her Google review after her elopement day:
"Jenn was absolutely amazing!!! She photographed our wedding in Glacier national park in June 2023. She made our day so much fun and we loved hanging out with her and driving around and taking photos. She is super down-to-earth, fun, and easy to work with and I couldn't be any happier with how our wedding photos turned out. The pictures were truly stunning. It is very obvious that Jenn is passionate about her work and loves working with the couples and people that she gets to photograph. I would recommend Jenn to anyone looking for high quality, stunning photos and a fun time."
Reach out via my contact page and we can discuss my current availability and pricing. I can't wait to help you plan your elopement day in Glacier National Park, Montana!
See more from Janelle & Eric's Glacier National Park elopement below!