Alaska Destination Wedding


A rustic wedding in Hatcher Pass, Alaska

Being a wedding photographer in Alaska, I am afforded the opportunity to work with the most amazing couples such as Leila and Andrew. I am a firm believer that the universe always connects me with the most wonderful people. Their authentic love and happiness was catching and I found myself smiling and laughing all day long.

Bride and groom in a petal toss walking in Hatcher Pass

Leila & Andrew: A Love Story

This Alaska destination wedding took place out of Wasilla and in Hatcher Pass- it was a truly a dream come true! Leila and Andrew exchanged vows on a mountain top in Hatcher Pass surrounded by their closest friends and family who traveled with them from Texas just for the occasion. We frolicked across mountain tops and through Alaskan tundra, popped champagne along the rocks of a mountain stream, ran down dirt roads and canoed in crystal clear waters.

Planning a destination wedding in Alaska doesn’t have to be difficult!

Leila and I coordinated for months to ensure the day was seamless and fun, exactly what these love birds from Houston Texas wanted. Leila’s background in event planning and styling ensured that everything went perfectly smooth!

I had so much fun with these two and their crew and I can’t wait to see them again when we shoot their maternity photos! I love being an Alaska wedding photographer because my clients always become my dear friends and I get to stay in touch and keep up with their wonderful lives. I’m forever thankful for this wonderful career I get to call mine!

More photos below!

Bride and groom jump over puddles on a remote mountain road

Here’s a Little bit more to the story:

Tell me your proposal story!

I hid her ring literally inside of my guitar! We had a birthday party for her and in the middle of the part I grabbed my guitar under the ruse of playing her a birthday song. Of course when I picked up the guitar, the ring rattled around inside it. I said “what’s that rattling noise???” as I turned it over and shook. The ring fell to the rug beneath me where I bent down to pick it up and fell to my knee. The rest is history!

Why did you choose Alaska for your wedding?

Very simple… Leila and I are very adventurous and we absolutely love the outdoors and she had never been to Alaska before. I had been twice already and wanted her to experience the ultimate!

What was the biggest challenge you faced planning a destination wedding?

I would say Leila coordinating everything remotely. She planned, coordinated, and orchestrated every detail of not only our ceremony and reception, but also our entire 20-day stay in Alaska! It was absolutely EPIC!

What was your favorite moment from your wedding day?

Don’t get me wrong, the actual wedding was the stuff of fairytales. But by far my favorite moment was a couple hours after the wedding when Leila, Chelsa (our amazing photographer), and I were driving around the surrounding countryside getting amazing post-ceremony pictures. There was a moment where we had to stop for gas and Leila went into this little mom-and-pop gas station store to pay for the gas all dolled up in her wedding gown and hiking boots. The store owners had never seen something like that before and we all got a huge kick out of it. Classic memory!

What was your favorite thing about Alaska?

It’s very easy here for me to say “everything”… and I wouldn’t be lying either. But something so miraculous happened on this trip that trumps anything and everything I would’ve ever expected! About 2 days or so after the wedding, Leila, me, and a gaggle of friends and family drove up to Fairbanks in hopes of seeing the northern lights. Leila and a few friends had previously went to Iceland for that reason and failed to see anything. Our first night in Fairbanks we saw the tiniest hint of the northern lights, but nothing impressive at all. The second night, we drive all the way up to Chena Hot Springs for a second stab. Apparently, according to our friend who had some kind of aurora app on her phone, we only had a ~3% chance of seeing the northern lights that night. A little deflated, we went outside anyway and were greeted with about 3 hours of the most phenomenally spectacular display of the aurora borealis that had even locals in awe (apparently seeing bursts of purple and red are rare)! It was the best wedding present anyone could ever ask for!

A Review:

Right from our very first interaction with Chelsa, we knew not only was she the real deal (I mean her photos speak for themselves), but we also knew that we were going to a have a stress-free, great time! She had the best recommendations and was very responsive and timely (which goes a long way with my wife who is deep in the event industry). The planning for the photography was smooth and I remember that it all just flowed. It was a major relief to not have to worry about photography nor the locations—as Chelsa coordinated the ceremony location (Hatcher Pass) and all of the subsequent post-ceremony photo locations as well! As for the day of the wedding itself, again, everything just flowed! You kind of never even knew Chelsa was there until she swooped in to organize a particular photo she had in mind. And these micro-interactions were always pleasant and gracious… never one of those “you stand there and you over there” types. We never felt rushed nor pressured to do some different kind of shot or angle or anything like that. Like I said… flow.

And then of course after the ceremony, the ensuing photo session was an absolute blast! We literally hiked around Hatcher Pass and then went to several spots in the surrounding area and it was like this mini adventure where we really got to unwind and be even more ourselves. It was on this little voyage where we really got to talk with and get to know Chelsa more and it was one of those instant-click kind of things. On top of everything, she is a really great and fun person!

Once again, for the reception, she kind of blended into the landscape only dropping in for a few coordinated photos and being fun when doing so. And of course the end product speaks for itself. I myself am a filmmaker/videographer of ~20 years, so I know a thing or two about good photography and I was blown away with Chelsa’s work. I could go on and on here about the particulars here, but I invite anyone reading this to simply see her work for yourself! Bottom-line, if you’re looking for the best. Chelsa is it!

Chelsa Jay: Alaska Wedding Photographer

Chelsa Jay is a wedding and elopement photographer based in Palmer, Alaska. Servicing the local areas of Anchorage, Palmer and the surrounding areas from North of the Matanuska Valley to Seward, Homer and everywhere in-between. Often providing services for weddings across the U.S. and worldwide. Chelsa Jay Specializes in capturing artistic and editorial portraits paired with a photojournalistic approach to produce beautiful, emotional wedding photography. 

with love,
Chelsa Paulk

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