While most brides walk down a church aisle to greet their groom, one bride strapped on her white wedding gown and climbed atop the 3,000 feet high Lost Arrow Spire in Yosemite National Park.
The bride was not there to say “I do” but to shoot an advertisement for an extreme wedding company that was created to allow couples to start their happily ever after in the most unusual of circumstances, from the top of mountains to the bottom of the sea.
“He was trying to start a company where you could go anywhere with him, and he was an ordained wedding officiator,” said the photographer behind the shots Ben Horton, of his friend and the company’s founder, Gil Weiss.
Weiss died last fall in a climbing accident, so his dream of seeing his company get off the ground was never realized, but the photos for what was to be one of his company’s first advertisements have now gone viral, even though they were shot nearly two years ago.
To find his model bride, Weiss walked around a Yosemite campsite with a wedding dress he’d bought at a thrift store and looked for a female climber who could fit into it, Horton recalled.
Weiss eventually found two women — Vicki Su and Jade Benjamin Chung — who fit the bill and were willing to climb and pose. They, along with the model groom, Brad Wilson, one of Weiss’ friends, made an eight-mile hike onto the top of the spire for the shoot.
“The models didn’t wear their dresses on the hike but had leggings on underneath the dress during the shoot,” Horton, 30, said. “I set up all my own ropes, and Ben and Gil climbed the spire and set up the traverse across and then the three of us hooked up the models and sent them across.”
“We actually shot it over the course of two days, one evening and then the next morning,” he said.
Horton, who grew up in Bermuda and calls outdoor photography his “passion,” recalled that despite the shoot’s extreme circumstances, the group’s experience helped to keep the situation under control.
“They were all experienced, so getting to the top was easy,” he said. “Hanging out with these people, the kind of people who would dedicate their lives to being outdoors, was always funny.”
Horton, a professional photographer by trade, said the photos stayed dormant after Weiss’ death and only surfaced now.
“They’ve been out for a while, but I think they were just discovered,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to get to a place that not many people have ever been to before and see that perspective that not many people see.”