california Documentary Elopement PHOTOGRAPHer


Hi! I’m an unconventional wedding photographer in Northern California.

My name is Melissa. I photograph weddings and elopements for rad, adventurous couples!

I love to give folks a MEANINGFUL and FUN experience that is centered around real moments and emotion. I specialize in working with people who aren't super comfortable being photographed.

Let's ditch the awkward posing and create something worth remembering.


elope meaningfully in the great outdoors

So, you're skipping the traditional big wedding in favor of an intimate ceremony? Awesome! I'm here to help you plan a meaningful adventure somewhere inspiring. I will be your guide and photographer through the process!


Imagine taking a hike through towering redwoods or across a rugged coastline. Perhaps you want to plan a day exploring a beautiful place, complete with a helicopter ride. Or maybe you want to keep it simple and elope somewhere beautiful and easily accessible. Wherever we go, I am here to help you spend your elopement day exactly the way you want to and document the process with meaningful photos.

how it works

Your experience of the day matters more than anything else. So I will not only document your day, but I will help you plan your locations, timeline and vendors so you have the best day possible. You'll get expert, hands-on guidance from day one until the elopement day. You will also receive an exclusive 115 page elopement planning guide with tons of ideas, tips and recommendations so you can make the most of your trip!


On your elopement day, I take a step back and use a photojournalistic approach to document your adventure the way it unfolds. That way, your elopement day is about your adventure and not about having a long photoshoot.



how i define elopements

I consider an elopement or tiny wedding to be a decidedly small gathering (usually around 0-15 guests) for a non-traditional day of marriage and celebrating. What sets my elopement collections apart is the expert help with planning so you can have the best adventure possible.



flip through my elopement portfolio with the arrows below

client love

“In one word, our experience with Melissa was incredible. Book her without hesitation – she is the absolute best choice you can make for your wedding photography! I could not be more thrilled with our actual elopement day, and the insanely STUNNING photos that were delivered to us after. Melissa made eloping to Santa Cruz exciting and easy--she expertly and patiently gave us recommendations for hotels, flowers and beach locations. On the day of, she was so kind, knowledgeable and prepared – she even brought umbrellas and towels for the beach! Melissa is warm and supportive; she instantly feels like a friend. My husband and I were so comfortable around her, and it shows in our photos. She captured genuine moments bursting with love and happiness; nothing was ever posed or forced. The photos are MAGNIFICENT. The lighting, the backgrounds, the editing – Melissa’s photos are truly art. I am so glad we eloped, and so thankful Melissa was there with us. It was an unbelievably wonderful day, and Melissa added so much to the experience. She made sure we had the most beautiful time, and has given us the most gorgeous photos to cherish for years to come; I give her my very highest recommendation!”


- Katie, 2019 client


Location & Travel

I have extensive experience with the Santa Cruz and Big Sur regions. I have also recently expanded to serve the North Coast's Redwood National and State Parks area. All collections include travel to anywhere in California. No location is too far.


Check out my Big Sur Elopement Guide and my Santa Cruz Elopement Guide to get started!



outdoor experience

As a seasoned backcountry adventurer and certified Wilderness First Responder, I have experience and some medical training to prevent and manage emergencies in wild places and where help is delayed.


I am proud to be a Leave No Trace Aware Photographer. Leave No Trace ethics are important to me personally and professionally. We will work together to make sure we are respecting the beautiful environment around us whether we are in the frontcountry or the backcountry. Learn about Leave No Trace principles here .




Pricing for wedding and elopement photography begins in the 5K range.


Want to know more? Send me a message today to receive my complete elopement collection pricing guide.

Check out these blog posts below for inspiration!


Elopements Page

As Seen In...

Santa Cruz Wedding Photographer / Big Sur Elopement Photographer / Big Sur Wedding Photographer / Carmel Wedding Photographer / California Intimate Wedding Photographer / Santa Cruz Wedding Photography