It is no small task to get to the top of Schnebly Hill in Sedona, Arizona. We had to rent a jeep and hold onto hope that we would make it to the top before the sun set. It was definitely the ride of our lives. We drove three to four miles up a very, very broken dirt road going 30 miles per hour. Meanwhile, I’m holding tightly to Leslea’s wedding dress. If we hadn’t had a seat belt, we would have flown out of the back of the jeep.
Once we made it to the top, we had about 20 minutes to shoot in the most perfect, golden light, and then it was black as night. We drove back down the road in pitch blackness, shivering and laughing so hard. It was so wonderful.
I wish I would have had about an hour more at the top of that mountain to do more and take my time. But I didn’t, and I’m very happy with how these came out, as fast as it all happened.
I’m thankful that I have such amazing clients who would do crazy things for me (and for themselves). <3
Enjoy. And yes, this looks like either Lord of the Rings or The Garden of Eden.
If you haven’t seen Leslea and Nathan’s desert wedding two days before this click here
I don’t know how to even write about this wedding. It was out of this world, unreal, beautiful, breathtaking. There were moments that I felt like I was just staring at a photograph or trying to pinch myself to wake up from this dream. Our whole experience in Arizona (both times we have gone) has been some of our favorite moments of my and Brandon’s marriage. Going on another adventure together all the way across the country and shooting a wedding like this would be a photographer’s dream.
After years of following us (our wedding story, music, photography, and our personal blogs..etc.,) Leslea had a reason to finally contact us two years ago when her sister got engaged. To make a long story short, Brandon and I ventured out to Arizona last spring to shoot Leslea’s sister’s ammmmazing wedding. It was our first time really seeing the beauty of Arizona. We fell in love. We fell in love with Leslea’s family and friends. We fell in love with Sedona, Arizona. We fell in love with the desert and the cacti. It was such a beautiful time in our hearts. We also got to see the Grand Canyon for the first time.
Leslea came to visit our family last Christmas time for almost a week. She had no man and was sure that this year she was going to meet him and marry him. Lo and behold, Jesus loves Leslea so much that Nathan came into her life the next month. We didn’t hear from her for a while until one afternoon, I sent her a text and was like “are you alive?” and she sent me back the longest text saying something like “I found my husband, I know I’m going to marry him.” etc. etc. (and if you know Leslea, this is very paraphrased.) By July, Nathan and Leslea were engaged and planning the most magical desert wedding. I think they thought they were crazy and their family and friends thought they were crazy, but I was freaking out (in a good way.) She picked us to photograph her day!
This wedding took place in the middle of the desert at the bottom of the superstition mountains. The five-mile, dirt-road drive out to this “camp” was stunning. Our first drive out there left me breathless by the time I got to the end. Nathan, Leslea, and their family and friends spent weeks and weeks getting this old site fixed up for their day, weed whacking, sweeping, picking up trash, clearing paths, etc.
When I Skyped them the week before the wedding, and Leslea gave me the rundown and left me with no words. It went something like this…”My theme for this wedding is: An epic soundtrack. There are thirty-two in the bridal party, they will come from all directions of the desert worshiping to live music. Our friend, Josh, is repelling down a huge rock. Nathan is coming in on an 18-hand white horse. (like 9 ft tallish.) There will be vows, communion, live worship, and Nathan and I will leave on the horse. We will then have the reception overlooking the desert as the sun sets, and we will have salsa lessons at the reception. We are bring generators and power.” And there you have it, that’s exactly how it went.
As a photographer, I was thrilled and overwhelmed with excitement to do this. But I did find myself freaking a little bit the day before. Everywhere you looked was beautiful! How do you focus in on one thing? I had to remind myself of something my friend, Shelley Paulson, used to remind me of all the time: This day is about Nathan and Leslea. It’s not about the mountains, not about the horse, not about the bridal party, or the pretty sunset. This is about the emotion and the moments of two people swearing to God that they will love each other forever. Nathan and Leslea can always go back and see this site. They can take a drive down that five-mile road and take in that stunning purple mountain. But the one thing they can not get back is the tears in their eyes when they prayed together and hugged each other. They can’t get back the way Leslea’s mom sat and cried on the third row. They can’t relive the way their bridal party stood up and yelled at the top of their lungs when they were officially married. They can’t feel the way they felt while worshiping together on their wedding day. This was what I had to keep my eyes on…not the beauty around me, but the beauty of the pure, pure love between these two. They can relive it if I capture it right.
Thankfully, Brandon shot and filled in all my surroundings with his wonderful eye.
I’m so very grateful that we got to shoot this wedding. It meant more to us than most photographers probably feel about shooting someone’s wedding. It was very personal for us, and there were times that I had to throw my arms up during worship and stop what I was doing to just drink in the goodness of Jesus.
So there a lot of photos here. And I understand if it’s too much to go through, but I had a hard time narrowing down ten hours and around 1,000 edited images into a blog post.
Also, two days after this wedding, we took Nathan and Leslea to a beautiful, magical place in Sedona, Arizona and shot a handful of stunning photos at sunset overlooking all of Sedona. I’ll post those images soon. (If you scroll to the very bottom, there is a link to the Sedona shoot.)
So here we go…
Nathan and Leslea, all we can do is say, “Thank you!” Thank you for believing in our gift and in our friendship. We so love you both!
We might have picked the coldest night of fall to shoot, but it was also peak fall weekend, and the leaves were wondrous. Matthew and Emily are getting married at the Filmore in the Music Factory this fall, and I’m so thrilled to be their photographer.
Enjoy these two, they were so wonderful to work with.