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  • Writer's picturerachel leintz

Melissa & Ryan

Tonight, the blog is graced with the love story of Melissa and Ryan! But it doesn’t actually start with those two. Melissa’s dad, Graham, is the one who first contacted me. He found me on WeddingWire and told me he was actually in New Zealand (!) but that since he was a photographer in his own right, he had been tasked with finding the wedding photographer for his daughter’s big day. We chatted over email a bit, he sent my work off to the couple, and POOF! it was a magical, digital match!

a stunning black and white bridal photograph in window light

a groom grins at the camera during his portrait session

Melissa and Ryan live in Aspen, so their Scottsdale wedding was to be a fun, destination get-away for their friends and family. One of the benefits, they later told me, was that Arizona has wonderful fall/winter weather…which ended up being a punch line later in the evening, but I’ll get to that in a moment : )

Melissa and Ryan met at church three years before they started dating. Mel told me that her favorite things in life are drinking in the sun, wine and outdoor sculpture gardens, so it was fitting that Ryan decided to pop the question on a sunny stroll, in a sculpture garden, while drinking wine, at a resort where they were staying. While she new it was in the plans, he took her completely by surprise, popping the question in that magical setting, and on HIS birthday no less!

When Mel and I started to chat about the big day, she told me that they had booked the Desert Foothills for their venue (which I absolutely adore) but that she wanted something a bit different for their first look. They had their hearts set on the Botanical Gardens, but sadly, another event was booked for that day, so it was out of the running. With their love of cacti and sculpture gardens in mind, I called up Greg Wirth at the Phoenician and asked, very sweetly, if we could use a cactus path near the main entrance for the first look sequence. Because Greg is such a doll and the Phoenician is beyond accommodating for its vendors, we were in!

a bride walks towards her groom during their first look

Mel and Ryan had a bit of a different vision for their first look. Rather than having just a quiet intimate moment, they wanted that, mixed with the joy and excitement of having their families there to witness all that love. So I put the entire bridal party up on a balcony, overlooking the two lovebirds as they embraced, surrounded by saguaro and prickly pear cacti.

a groom's grinning face as he sees his bride for the first time

a couple smiles at each other during their first look

a loving bride looks at her groom to be

the bridal party watches on at the first look

bride and groom smiling as their family cheers them on

a groom, beaming at his bride to be

a sweet embrace during a wedding day first look

That was when we first felt the little drops of rain : ) It turns out that a desert monsoon was getting ready to blow through the ceremony site. But it wasn’t a problem! The crew at Desert Foothills whisked the set-up indoors and Mel and Ryan said their “I Do’s” surrounded by fairy lights and the smiles and laughter of their dearest friends and family.

desert foothills elegant barn, filled with fairy lights

a bride smiles as she reads her vows on her wedding day

The unexpected perk of having a monsoon crash your wedding day is the amazing sky it leaves, after the waterworks have gone! The intense blue storm sky we captured during these portraits was otherworldly!

a bride and groom share a kiss in the desert

groomsmen lift the bride and laugh

a groom kisses his bride over a beer burro

Throughout the entire day, Melissa and Ryan were so laid back and jubilant, it was hard to snap a shot of them NOT smiling! In the end, they brought to life their “party in the desert, in fancy clothes” perfectly. I couldn’t be happier for them and I hope the joy and love they felt that day if felt throughout their lives, and for many, many years to come. Congrats, you two!

a groom smiles during his getting ready shots

a newly wed couple kisses under a spotlight on their wedding day

the bridal party hides in the mens outhouse before the ceremony

father of the bride warns the groom that he should remember who loved her first

a bride smiles at her groom during their first dance

a groom dips his bride on the dance floor

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