Real Couples // A Highway Elopement: Yujie + Wade

Yujie and Wade previously lived in China before moving to the United States. Wade is from the US and Yujie is Chinese, and while they were already engaged and planning a more traditional wedding in Tahoe, they found themselves needing to move up their official wedding date due to an expiring visa.

They wanted the day to be meaningful so they found a nice hillside off Highway 1 in Santa Cruz and planned the ceremony for a significant date and time based on the Chinese calendar. Yujie wore white and brought lavender from their garden as a gift for me. Wade wore a blue polo shirt and shorts. They both wore flip flops.

The officiant was a friend who had registered as a minister through the Universal Life Church (a popular service for quickly becoming an ordained minister). He happens to work at my favorite bar in town, too. Their ceremony lasted about 5 minutes with views of the ocean expanding below them. In addition to being their photographer, I was also their witness.

I see Yujie and Wade's story as one that is becoming more common. Technology allows us to more easily fall in love over greater and greater distances but there will always be that additional challenge for those trying to spend their lives with someone from another country. The non-traditional wedding happens for many reasons and I see international love as a increasingly prevalent one.

Words and Photography by Sarah Rittenour



Sarah is a home-brewing, adventure-chasing, coffee-chugging photographer who has never really liked gender stereotypes. She's completely obsessed with documentary photography, and it's been a dream getting to photograph awesome parties, events and, of course, people.  She aims to specialize in smaller weddings and themed weddings.