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Backpacker Magazine – December 2002

Wild Weddings

Want a ceremony that reflects your passion for the outdoors? Here's everything you need to know to pull off a wilderness wedding.

by: Dennis Lewon

Now we were at the Logan Pass trailhead on a blue-sky summer morning. The wedding dress was packed, the guests assembled, the last bottle of champagne squeezed into the maid of honor's overloaded Kelty. The time had come to jettison our checklist and start hiking.

Sprays of late-summer wildflowers clung to the hillside like bouquets. Marmots and mountain goats materialized in the thick mountain grass. Sunshine glinted off distant glaciers. We felt like we were already walking down the aisle. Only this aisle was nearly 8 miles long, following one of the most spectacular trails in North America.

The next day started with an icy swim to wash off the trail dust. After that, everything else went just like any other wedding. Rain threatened. Mothers worried. The best man arrived late (with a heavy pack). The sun came out. The pepper spray didn't. And our mountaintop marriage unfolded like any good wedding: better than an anxious couple could hope for.

Camping Clergy
Need a rabbi or minister with trail experience?

"People would come to me and say they wanted to do a backcountry ceremony, but I couldn't because I had a congregation to lead," says Rabbi Jamie Korngold, explaining what prompted her to leave her synagogue job last year and hang out a shingle as the country's first Adventure Rabbi. "People who come to me are those whose spirituality is awakened in the outdoors," says Korngold, a former wilderness guide. Some folks need help with logistics. "Others," she says, "are experienced mountaineers who just need an officiant who can keep up." Korngold performs Jewish and non-Jewish weddings. Contact: (303) 443-2642;

Pastor Steve Hughes, of Yosemite's CrossWay Church, is happy to perform backpacker weddings. "I did one ceremony on top of Half Dome," Hughes recalls. "I had to leave the trailhead at 4 a.m. to make it. I just hiked in shorts and put on my robe when I got there." Hughes offers a few tips. "If you're in the mountains, morning is better than afternoon because the weather tends to be better," he said. "Do everything you'd do on a normal backpacking trip. Then go behind a tree and change into your wedding clothes." Contact: Steve Hughes, Yosemite's CrossWay Church, (209) 379-2428. For general help with Yosemite-area weddings, contact Yosemite Weddings, (209) 966-3231;

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