James Sisson and Ashley Schmieder have become the first couple to ever get married at the base camp of Mount Everest in a tuxedo and wedding dress – and though they say that it was a long and arduous journey, the photos are proof that the event was worth it.
Schmieder contacted the photographer one year in advance and started hashing out plans for the trip. The duo hired a crew that would escort them up the mountain, and to prepare, they went to the gym obsessively to get in shape for the hike.
Then, in March, the troupe flew from Seattle to Dubai, then to Kathmandu in Nepal. With their lightweight wedding outfits and gear strapped to their backs, they began the weeklong hike up the mountain.
“We were like family. Ashley is a tough girl who crushed it on the mountain trail and maintained a great pace. James is a great man who took care of Ashley, always looking after her needs,” says Churchill. “Plus he’s a comedian who made us laugh often. It can be difficult after a few days on a long mountain trek with all the pressure and lack of resources to maintain a smile, but we did well.”
It was not all fun and games, however – there were some serious challenges along the way. Churchill came down with food poisoning, which prevented him from sleeping well. Sisson had come down with the “Khumbu cough” halfway through the journey,.
“Saying this was an epic and amazing trip is true, but I would be remiss if I didn’t share (that) it came with some suffering, doubt, fear, anxiety, and physical pain,” wrote Churchill. “Often times when striving for something great, there’s usually a cost. There’s no glory without suffering.”
But after eight days of difficult hiking, they finally donned their wedding outfits and said ‘I do’.
Though they both were wearing wool long johns under their fancy getups, they still had to endure -5 to 5 degree Fahrenheit (-20º C) weather at 17,600 feet.
According to their Sherpa guides, the mountain had dumped more snow on them during their journey alone than the rest of the winter combined.
It was still all worth it.
“It was beautiful, short, and we captured a few photos before packing and getting ready to leave,” says Churchill. “I had many image ideas to massage with them, but because of the circumstances, we only had so much time to capture them in the freezing cold. However, even with the small amount of time we had to capture James and Ashley and their wedding, I think we nailed it.”
“Since they were eloping far away from home, we had no minister, but they exchanged vows, exchanged rings, and shared from the heart how much they were going to pursue and love each other. It was truly a moment of awesomeness, knowing where we were at that time, and how hard we worked to get there, this moment was finally happening. They were getting married surrounded by an orchestra of mountains … Truly unreal.”
To view more of Churchill’s breathtaking wedding photos, you can check out his travel blog on the journey here.