A Convict Lake Wedding // Suzanne and Christopher

convict lake wedding

When you tell friends and family you're getting married at Convict Lake, it may not immediately conjure up romantic images of a high Sierra wedding, but Suzanne and Christopher's eastern Sierra wedding could not have been more stunning. Set high in the Sierra's at nearly 8000 feet above sea level, the pristine glacial lake with its turquoise waters and towering twisted granite peaks provided a surreal backdrop to the couples' summer mountain wedding. The lake got its name when an escaped band of gold-rush-era criminals met up with a local posse in 1871 leading to a shootout and subsequent deaths of both the local sheriff and native American deputy (for whom the two towering peaks to the west were named in dedication).

Suzanne and Christopher's wedding ceremony itself was identified to us by the couple using global coordinates, 37°35'20.8"N 118°51'17.4"W (although they could've just told us Shale Beach) which reveals a lot about their personalities; Suzanne is a freshwater ecologist who focuses on Pacific salmon ecology and evolution and Christopher is a mechanical engineer who works on electric vehicle technology. They're thorough and absolutely love the outdoors. Although this by most every definition would be classified as a mountain destination wedding, it didn't seem like one for these two. Living a few hours to the north of the area, they love spending any free time together with their Subaru exploring the mountains, hiking and camping and exploring the outdoors together. The lakefront site was a short walk or shuttle ride from the convict lake resort where the rest of the day's events took place. Due to its remote location, the entire wedding party stayed at the resort which made it such a fun day because everyone got to spend time with each other in a beautiful setting and enjoy the weekend together and that's a big deal when you're a family-focused couple. We learned this about Suzanne because we had already met her several years ago when we photographed her brother's Robert Young Winery Estate wedding in Sonoma County. Their families closeness seems tough to match...that is, until you meet Christopher's family. These are some of our best days but why listen to me ramble, here's a bit more about Christopher and Suzanne - and their story - in their own words and really, it's hard not to love these two.

 About the couple

How we met

We met at Dartmouth College in NH. We were friends for years before we dated. Suzanne made the first move at a party when she and Christopher climbed onto the roof of the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, a lodge in rural New Hampshire, for their first kiss in 2011. We have been dating ever since.

How have you been spending your time since meeting each other

We spend a lot of time together outside, hiking, skiing, drinking beer, planning life dreams...

Describe the proposal

Suzanne, Christopher, and Julia (Suzanne's twin sister) were camping in Lassen National Park for the weekend. We hiked Mt. Lassen, and then hiked across the crater at the top to escape the crowds. Christopher popped the question at the top of the crater! Julia was sniping photos from across the crater. We then proceeded to camp at "Bench Lake" aka "Bench Pond," which was an unromantic, knee-deep body of water. We had a blast and will never forget the weekend.

Is there anything unique happening?

We are planning to paddle away from the ceremony to the reception in a canoe. This will happen after walking down the aisle, giving hugs, and sharing champagne with the wedding party and close family while guests are shuttled over to the reception tent. We are also planning to have our guests partake in the "Salty Dog Rag," a Dartmouth communal step dance.

Why did you choose your venue? What do you love about it?

We love the mountains. The eastern Sierras are particularly beautiful, and a place that we haven't spent too much time in, and are looking forward to spending more time there.
We are excited about the natural beauty of the place and also the idea of having many of our guests stay on the property at Convict Lake.


Describe any DIY projects

We handmade our wedding rings working with a jeweler in San Francisco, Nick Engler. Suzanne and her mom sewed the table runners. Jane Kelson (Suzanne's mom) is also leading the effort to make apricot jam for party favors. Suzanne's uncle Tony is making a wooden tree guest board for guests to sign. Jane and Keith Kelson (mom and dad) scavenged thrift stores so that each guest will have their own unique glass for the reception.

Describe the wedding planning process. What has been the hardest part / best part? Do you have any advice for future couples who are in the planning stage still?


The hardest part was making the guest list. We wanted to include everyone we cared about but also wanted to keep it small enough to interact with all of our guests on the day-of. The best part was choosing the venue. We are super excited about Convict Lake!

What are you most nervous about, if any?

 Suzanne is most nervous about expressing love and commitment, usually a private emotion/relationship with Christopher, in front of a large crowd.
Christopher is most concerned about the ceremony and being the center of attention.

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