- A couple who bonded over a shared love of climbing got married on a mountain in West Virginia.
- Christian Lopez and Dawn LeBlond spent five hours climbing Seneca Rocks on their special day.
- The couple met at a gym and invited eight climbing friends to scale the mountain for the wedding.
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A couple passionate about climbing spent five hours scaling a West Virginian mountain in wedding attire to get married on the summit.
Seneca Rocks is special for Dawn LeBlond and Christian Lopez, who told Insider they also got engaged on the mountain in October 2020.
“We’d only been dating a few months,” LeBlond, 35, said of the moment Lopez, 44, proposed. LeBlond, who works for the Federal Aviation Administration, thought it was a regular climb but behind the scenes, Lopez said he was carefully orchestrating a proposal. He said he asked a climbing friend to put the ring inside the summit log, a box where climbers note their visits, before they made it up.
They made it to the top after a five-hour climb.
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“Every time we would go to the top we would sign the log and we had a little note about our love,” LeBlond said. This time, she opened it to find an engagement ring.
But actually getting married on the mountain wasn’t the couple’s first idea.
Initially, they said they planned to host a wedding in 2022 on land they’d bought in West Virginia. However, the costs of construction ended up delaying the project so they said Seneca Rocks was a perfect alternative.
“It made sense to walk up the aisle on the rocks,” LeBlond said.
LeBlond and Lopez wore harnesses over their wedding attire to scale the mountain.
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They said the date was set for late summer so it wouldn’t be too hot for the wedding party, consisting of friends from their climbing group, to ascend. They also chose to do a 300-foot climb, which took the bride and groom around five hours, to reach the top in time for a sunset ceremony.
“When we made it to the summit, you could just see the clouds clearing,” Lopez, who owns a glass company, said.
The couple climbed in traditional wedding outfits with a twist
Despite the unorthodox journey to the altar, neither missed out on traditional wedding attire.
Lopez said he opted for a pair of PrAna pants, a vest, and an athletic dress shirt with enough stretch for climbing.
LeBlond said her wedding dress required more planning. She worked with Washington, DC-based wedding-dress designer Kirah Jones of Mrs. Jones Bridal, who customized the gown.
“Things like high slits were necessary so you don’t step on the dress,” LeBlond said. “I couldn’t really do sleeves because otherwise they might rip.”
In an email to Insider, Jones said the gown was designed with lightweight, durable materials to withstand scrapes against rocks. LeBlond brought her harness into fittings so she could create extra-large buttonholes in the dress’ center for her supportive gear, Jones added.
“My ultimate goal was to make sure the dress would look beautiful both while climbing and when the harness came off,” Jones, whose videographer husband Jeremiah shot the wedding for their company Til Death Media, said.
The dress survived the climb virtually unscathed — LeBlond said she wore it the following weekend at a gathering set up at a local restaurant to celebrate the wedding with family.
“It actually got dirtier at the reception because I was dancing,” she added.
The ceremony at the summit.
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For LeBlond, who said she isn’t a naturally athletic person, the path to climbing and finding the love of her life began with a breakup she said left her “really out of shape” and in search of a new hobby.
That hobby became climbing, and through it, she met Lopez.
Lopez said he introduced himself to LeBlond at their climbing gym shortly before the world “went upside down” with the pandemic. Initially, he said LeBlond wanted to “friend zone” him because she was afraid of what would happen if they broke up and she couldn’t go to the gym.
“I told her don’t worry about it because once we start dating that’s it,” Lopez said. “But for your peace of mind you take Mondays and Wednesdays, I’ll do Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we can alternate Fridays.”