Dario and Maddie brought together their families and a few close friends for an intimate wedding ceremony on top of a mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Like many couples these days, they were forced to handle some last minute wedding plan changes. The day before their wedding, they had to find a plan B ceremony location when their first choice wasn’t an option any longer due to forest fires. But of course, they handled this so gracefully.

All of us met up at 3AM and hiked up the mountain together, using flashlights to set up. The ceremony started in a very blue hour, but every minute that passed, the ceremony light got a bit warmer — and really came out right as they were pronounced newlyweds. This was followed by lots of celebratory coffee and hugs all around.

After a beautiful hike back down, we witnessed a herd of hundreds of bison migrating through the valley. I like to think of it as their "receiving line" of sorts. After some afternoon naps, we took some bridal portraits at Sylvan Lake followed by a casual dinner with family and friends at the historic Kleeman House in downtown Custer, SD.

I have found more and more, and especially this year, that a small wedding really allows couples to show up in a place where their hearts are wide open — something that is sometimes hard to do when you have a big event with a lot of external pressures and hundreds of guests. Just think, a bit more alone time with the two of you on the day you’re actually celebrating just that: the relationship of the two of you. Makes sense, doesn't it :) Cheers to Dario and Maddie for pursuing a celebration so true to themselves and for inviting me in, trusting me, and treating me like family.

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