Utah Engagement Photos
If you’re looking for a sign to go to the Bonneville Salt Flats for engagement photos, this is it! Sandra and Alan’s photo shoot here at the Salt Flats now wins the honored position as my favorite engagement session to-date! Sandra and Alan currently live in the Midwest but will be having their wedding Raleigh, NC (where I’m based) later this year. They already had some photos done locally for their save-the-dates, but as their wedding package included an engagement session, they decided they wanted to do something different this time around. That’s when Sandra asked me about traveling to Utah.
It was a quick yes for me!
Even though I am based in Raleigh, NC, I love to travel for photo shoots. My work has also taken me to Miami, Shenandoah, and more. If you’re interested in booking me for your own destination engagement photo shoot or wedding, fill out my inquiry form here. I’d love to chat!
Planning a Utah Engagement Shoot
When to Go
There are few places more beautiful in the world than Utah. The thing about Utah, though, is the weather tends to be extreme. Winters are bitterly cold. Summers are brutally hot. Sandra and Alan wanted to take the photos in the spring so that they had enough time to display them on their wedding website. The first thing we did was compare typical weather for the Bonneville Salt Flats throughout the spring. May was the first month of the year that had a low risk for freezing mornings. Generally late spring and early fall are good months for traveling to Utah. The crowds are a bit lower and the weather is nicer.
When you are choosing a day to go to the Bonneville Salt Flats for a photo shoot, make sure to check their event calendar. The Salt Flats host several racing events throughout the year, and you definitely don’t want to show up for your photos on the same day!
Where to Stay at the Bonneville Salt Flats
Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of options for lodging near the Bonneville Salt Flats. The closest town is Wendover, Utah/West Wendover, Nevada. (The town sits on the border of Utah and Nevada and is split between the two states.) The options in this town include a Best Western Plus, and an assortment of casinos. We personally opted for Best Western, and honestly, it was nicer than I expected! Many people who visit the Salt Flats choose to stay in Salt Lake City, which is an hour and a half to the east. While the hotel selection is certainly better in Salt Lake City, you might not want to deal with that drive before a sunrise photo shoot. So we chose to stay in Wendover instead, as it is only a ten minute drive.
Also, a word of warning: make sure to keep track of the time zones on your trip! Nevada runs on Pacific Time, while Utah runs on Mountain Time. That means if you are staying on the Nevada side, your clock will be running one hour behind the Salt Flats! Make sure you and your photographer are on the same page about time zone and photo shoot time. We almost tripped up on this ourselves!
Sandra & Alan’s Engagement Photos
The Risk of Bad Weather
As the day of the engagement shoot drew closer, the chance for rain at the Bonneville Salt Flats grew. We actually wanted some rain before the shoot, as we were hoping for some puddles to make reflections. We had seen many others share images of these reflections at the Salt Flats, but in my research, I could not figure out how much rain was actually needed to create these puddles. Even though some rain before the shoot would be nice, I was nervous. Too much rain, or rain during the shoot would not be ideal. My husband and I had been traveling throughout Utah for a few days, and we had seen wild hail storms every. single. day. I definitely did not want to take anybody out there in a hail storm.
We had two options for the photo shoot time: sunrise, as we had planned, and sunset as a backup, in case it was a washout. After that, we had no more options, as we all would be flying out the next morning. Unfortunately the forecast was calling for rain during the night and all day long after that. We decided that we would get up and give it a try no matter what. Who knows? Maybe there would be a break in the clouds.
The Ideal Timing for Reflections
The day before the shoot I arrived at the Bonneville Salt Flats to scope it out. It had been raining most of the day, but unfortunately there were no puddles, no reflections. How much rain did there need to be?
The next morning, I woke up at 5 am and heard rain hitting the window. That wasn’t a good sign. We all got ready anyway and met in the hotel lobby. Just before we walked out to the car, the rain stopped! We quickly drove over to the Salt Flats and found the most other-wordly scene. A break in clouds over the horizon created beautiful light, and reflective pools of water about a half inch deep covered the ground. It was stunning.
It turns out the weather timing had been perfect. We didn’t have a drop of rain the entire shoot, and the puddles were mostly dried up within two hours. It turns out you have to be at the Bonneville Salt Flats immediately after a heavy rain to get those pools, as the ground absorbs the water quickly.
An Engagement Shoot to Remember
Sandra and Alan killed it during the photo shoot! They looked absolutely amazing, and had a great time too. They are such a fun couple, and I loved their outfit choices. Their first was traditional Indian attire, a perfect nod to their shared culture. Half way through, they changed into a navy suit and formal red dress from Lulu’s, and it suddenly felt like we were in an editorial photo shoot.
It has been about six weeks, and I still can’t get over these photos! It will be hard to top this shoot, though I’m betting their wedding in the fall will blow me away too!
Looking For a Photographer Yourself?
If you’re a fun-loving couple looking for a photographer to capture your destination engagement or elopement photos, let’s chat! I’ve been to 31 national parks and photographed couples in numerous states! I’d love to get to know you and hear what adventure you’ve got planned.