Some couples opt for a casual wedding with no frills and little stress. Some couples don't. James and Ashley decided that instead of your average nuptials, they'd do something a little more adventurous. They were married at a Mt. Everest base camp and became the first couple to exchange vows in an actual wedding dress and tuxedo on the mountain.
"We trained for the year and planned to be on the mountain for two to three weeks in order to acclimatize our way up to base camp so James and Ashley can get married and get a few photos," said Charleton Churchill, the adventure photographer who shot the breathtaking photos. "I had attempted base camp with another in 2015, but the devastating earthquake of Nepal including the massive avalanche that swept EBC turned everyone around off the mountain. I wasn't sure if I would find another couple to get married on Everest anytime soon," he added.
James and Ashley, however, were ready to try it. The couple reached out to Churchill and were prepared to do what it took to hike to the base camp and say their "I dos" against the backdrop of the tallest mountain in the world. If there's any way to test the strength of a relationship, we'd bet it's by forging upward through snow and ice, facing high altitudes, physical stress, and unpredictable weather — together.
"There's no glory without suffering."
"Now saying this was an epic and amazing trip is true, but I would be remiss if I didn't share it came with some suffering, doubt, fear, anxiety, and physical pain. Often times when striving for something great, there's usually a cost. There's no glory without suffering. We worked hard for these images with much less time to photograph a short wedding than we planned. It started snowing hard a few days into the journey. According to our Sherpa guide, it dumped more snow on us than it had all winter. The temperatures ranged from -8 degrees to 10 degrees Fahrenheit from 14,000 ft. camp and above," Churchill said on his site. James also had a scare when he woke up having trouble breathing and had to sleep with an oxygen mask on the rest of the night. They ended up carrying the oxygen with them to the site of the photo shoot. "When we arrived to base camp, we were told we have 1 hour and 30 minutes to eat, get married, pack up, and get on a helicopter. So, we ate, drank, and got married in an hour. James and Ashley exchanged vows at Mt. Everest Base camp right in front of the famous Khumbu ice-fall where people use ladders to maneuver over crevasses, and with the beautifully carved Nuptse Face in the backdrop. Their epic wedding was surrounded by all these famous mountains."
The couple said their vows to each other and exchanged rings at around 17,000 feet. "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," said Churchill. "They were getting married surrounded by an orchestra of mountains. The Khumbu ice-fall right behind them, the starting point in climbing to the summit of Mt. Everest. Truly unreal."