By Jack Williams
This happy couple started married life on top of the world, having exchanged their vows on MOUNT EVEREST.
Dressed in a full suit and wedding dress, James Sissom and Ashley Schmieder spent days scaling the mountain range in order to be photographed in front of such a breathtaking backdrop.
Their big day was captured at Everest Base Camp, around 17,000 feet in the air, having battled the likes of freezing temperatures, snow and altitude sickness along the way.
The American couple were accompanied by wedding photographer Charleton Churchill, who had only a small window to shoot the occasion, as temperatures stood at between -20 and -15 Celcius and James required oxygen to tackle his sickness on the mountain.
In order to prepare for such treacherous conditions, the couple spent more than a year planning for the trip, which lasted three weeks.
Ashley, from Fair Oaks, California, USA, said: “After much deliberation, we decided a traditional wedding was not the right fit for us.
“As much as we would have loved to share our special day with our family and friends, we were both drawn to the idea of eloping during an incredible vacation.
“We both are avid lovers of the outdoors and had experience at altitude up to 14,000 feet, but we knew the three week Everest Base Camp trek would be far more physically and mentally demanding than anything we’ve experienced.”
Charleton, who is based in Northern California, said: “I wanted to document a real couple getting married, the journey along the way, the pain, the happiness, the tiredness, the struggles, as well as the romantic chemistry of the couple.
“More than that, I wanted to portray the contrast that exists between the intimidatingly majestic mountains and the small, fragile love between two humans.”
The idea for the project had been mulled over by adventure wedding photographer Charleton for a number of years.
Aware of the photographer’s previous work, Ashley had reached out to Charleton and stated that she would like an adventure-based wedding but was not sure where to shoot it.
After Charleton suggested his Everest plan – which, he said, made James and Ashley the first couple to exchange vows in wedding attire at Everest Base Camp – James, 35, and Ashley, 32, began their training.
Their wedding took place on March 16, 2017, and the images Charleton was able to capture received rave reviews from family and friends because of their stunning uniqueness.
With no family members in attendance, the James and Ashley used social media to keep their relatives in the loop, with Charleton live streaming their trek and sending regular updates back home.
Ashley said: “So many people we care about were anxiously awaiting the next post, only to send us incredible messages of support and encouragement.
“Eloping half way across the world can make the experience feel isolating because all the people you care about are not with you to share this wonderful occasion.
“We experienced no such feeling.
“We are fortunate that not only did we receive breathtaking wedding photos, but also documented our entire journey.
“How many people have the opportunity to embark on an adventure such as this and have it entirely documented professionally?”