I had a wonderful time getting to create some beautiful photos with Hope and Caleb in the desert! Arizona really can be a gorgeous place and these two wonderful people make it even better :) Hope is Greek and Caleb is from Venezuela, which I think will make their wedding at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church next summer even more unique and interesting! Here are some of my favorites from their session.
Even before Teddy proposed to me…we knew we wanted a “different” wedding and beginning to our marriage. This is my 6th year in the business of photographing weddings and I absolutely love them…but I’ve also been to so many that I knew I really wanted to do something unique that I hadn’t experienced before and when I talked to my love about it, he totally agreed and was on board! Here is part one of our unique wedding story:
When we talked about what we wanted out of a marriage celebration, we were torn a bit because we really wanted a fun party/celebration with our friends and family (a.k.a. dance party since we love dancing so much) but the idea of eloping appealed to us on so many levels. We really wanted a super intimate ceremony outside of Arizona and knew we wanted to get married in early September because it worked best for my Fall wedding season. He also requested we get married near a really big tree and my biggest wish was that water would be nearby if possible. Half of my family is from Portland, Oregon and it’s like a second home to me, so narrowing down the area of the country was simple…I knew we could find a spot with both big trees and water there on Monday, September 8th (the date we picked, we both wanted it on a weekday to 1. give it a more casual, laid-back, unique feel and 2. help us avoid crowds during the perfect weather month out in nature.) The challenge came when we knew how much our families and the very closest people to us in the world wanted to come too but the expense of flying everyone up there was too much. Our loved ones wanted to share in this special celebration and witness our huge life event but they wouldn’t be able to if we did it in Portland. We didn’t want to give up our dream ceremony in the woods (more details on this in part two of our wedding story) so it was time to compromise!
We decided to keep our Portland ceremony special and intimate and just have the two of us, two of our closest friends to witness, and our photographer. We were planning on signing our marriage license in Arizona before we left anyway so we wouldn’t have to deal with it in Oregon, which is where our idea for an additional little family ceremony came in! We talked to our loved ones and our pastor and decided to have a little marriage license signing ceremony out in Seven Springs, one of our favorite off-roading date places. It was the perfect plan because the people who got us to where we are in life, our family, could witness us legally become husband and wife before God with a bit more traditional vows and we could still have our relaxing dream ceremony in Portland where we make the vows we wrote for each other. We also decided to have a backyard BBQ reception later in the Fall so we could still celebrate with our friends and that dance party.
When planning our little family ceremony, we really didn’t plan much at all…it kind of came together on it’s own and happened in real time. Teddy’s brother had to move across the country on Sept 1st, so our date pretty much picked itself as August 31st, his last night at home. We thought it wasn’t going to be very emotional and was going to be more of a “going through the motions” thing…but gosh we were wrong and we were so glad. It ended up being such a special, emotional, incredible little sunset ceremony in the desert. I’m pretty sure not a single one of our 14 guests had dry eyes, I know I was bawling. It was so sweet and perfect. We didn’t have a photographer for the day (we hired one for our Oregon ceremony) so I set my camera up to take some timed ceremony shots and hired a videographer because it was important to us to have our family on video (a downside was that I forgot to get even one picture with just the two of us because I was so focused on our family.) My little sister did my hair. I made my own bouquet from some Trader Joe’s flowers. I wore a cream sundress that I already had with my favorite cowboy boots and had Mac do my make up. We really didn’t expect it to be anything special really…we were saving the special for Oregon…but what a blessing that it unfolded differently than we anticipated.
We picked a little spot for the ceremony about 5 minutes before the wedding started and everyone kind of circled up around us in a little clump and it was so relaxed and stress-free and perfect. We had our pastor and good friend, John Lynch, officiate for us.
My dad held my hand and walked me down our little make-shift aisle right after this first photo was taken.
The sisters all happened to wear black dresses with boots and coincidentally looked like a bridal party!
His two brothers sure love him…or they’re just characters. ;)
The night ended with us all having dinner at one of our favorite dancing spots in Cave Creek, the Buffalo Chip where we ate BBQ, got surprised with an open dance floor for a first dance to Angel Eyes by Love and Theft and really just had the most fun night of our whole lives. More of our unique wedding story will be coming later in part two and part three!
On July 21st, I had the best surprise of my life. My amazing best friend asked me to marry him when I least expected it and now I get to experience for myself the process that all my brides have gone through over the years! So many friends, clients, loved ones have been asking for the story so I thought there wouldn’t be a better place to share than here!
A bit of a backstory: Teddy and I met in 2009 at college because he was friends with my roommates and would come over a lot. I knew from the beginning there was something very different about him…but I wouldn’t really give him the time of day. It wasn’t the right time in our lives for us to even be much of friends. Over the years following that, we’d run into each other every now and then because we had a lot of friends in common and two of our younger siblings graduated together at the same small Christian school. He was always such a nice guy and I always wished I could know him more but I still didn’t give him much attention at all. Flashforward to March 2013 when I was in a much happier, better season of life and had gotten back into the activities I loved, especially dancing. I ran into him at a friend’s birthday dinner and heard that he was an incredible dancer, I was intrigued so I mentioned dancing to him and he asked if I wanted to go right then, but I had to get up early the next day so I couldn’t and asked about the weekend. Turns out, he was moving partway across the country the next day and that was his last night in town. I was bummed, but moved on and never really thought about it again…until August when I saw him again unexpectedly at our friends the Walling’s house. That night I was really tired after doing staff at my church’s High School Ministry and I just wanted to go home and sleep but some other staff friends convinced me to go play cards with them and hang out, so I reluctantly did. Teddy was there and I was so surprised he was home and he told me he had decided to move back two weeks before. That night, we played the card game Spoons, hung out with a bunch of friends, and talked a lot. Something was really different. I noticed him in a way I had never seen him before and he felt the same way. I just knew I had to get to know him better and didn’t want to delay. Two days later we went out country swing dancing together, started our quick journey to being best friends, and never turned back.
The Proposal: On Monday night, we had plans to have a couple’s night with the Wallings and the Goods at the same house where it all began. I didn’t think twice about that though because we go there fairly often. Right before we went, all of these people kept calling us trying to crash the couples night and he was saying yes to them all and I didn’t understand why…well it turns out they were all part of this elaborate surprise. We were all watching a movie and someone asked to play a game and Spoons was the only one we could play with that many people. I commented that it was funny that was the game we played in that same spot when we first started dating but still didn’t put any pieces together. Round by round, people kept getting out until eventually it was just Teddy and I left to play against each other for the final spoon. All of our friends had gone into the kitchen to grab dessert so we were alone playing the Spoon Championship. Eventually, I won the round and he put his cards down on the carpet in defeat. I started to clean up all the cards and under the ones he had just put down was a diamond ring. You’d think I caught on at this point…but alas, I did not. I thought my friend had somehow dropped her wedding ring and was getting up to go give it to her when he grabbed my hands and I looked down to see him on one knee. Still…I didn’t think it was really happening and thought it was just a joke or something. I was SO in shock. He asked me to marry him and told me it had all been an elaborate scheme that all of our friends were in on to get me to the place where it all started a year ago. I turned around to see everyone standing out the windows taking pictures. I couldn’t even believe it! I think I may have had a deer in headlights look because I’m not that easy to surprise and this one really got me. I said yes and hugged him and our friends all came in to congratulate us and celebrate. It was the perfect proposal for us and I couldn’t have planned a better one if I had tried.
This was me picking up the ring and mentioning that our friend Lainey must have dropped it somehow…
I finally get to marry the man who is better than what I could have dreamed. I feel like we’ve known each other our whole lives. I can’t wait to learn how to be his wife, navigate the ups and downs of life with him, learn how to raise a family with him. He is the most incredible blessing to me. He laughs with me, cries with me, takes amazing care of me, leads me, dances with me, adventures with me, is serious with me and treasures me as I treasure him. He truly is my teammate. I can’t believe I get to keep him!! :) I feel like the luckiest girl in the whole world.
*All professional photos in this post except the ring shot are thanks to Lizzie Kimball last year and the rest are from iPhones!