Hope and Buddy’s Saguaro Buttes wedding day was an absolute treat– and not just because it took place on Halloween (sorry, I had to go for the pun!). At their Gates Pass engagement session in late 2019, I heard all about their huge Italian and Greek families. “Be prepared,” they said, “there are a lot of us and we get loud!” Their 2020 wedding date had to be postponed. I had been keeping my fingers and toes crossed with every month that went by this year. The beginning part of the day, including the ceremony, stayed small and intimate. Once the sun went down, the rest of their guests arrived and filled Saguaro Buttes from wall to wall.
On Friday evening, I was in my office gathering up paperwork and packing equipment when I got an Instagram DM from Hope. She had just received her hair and makeup schedule and realized that there was no way she was going to be ready on time. In fact, she would probably be finished about 1.5 hours later than we had anticipated. It wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t the hair and makeup artists’ fault either. Since her wedding fell on a Sunday, the availability to access to venue was a little later than normal. And she wasn’t getting ready at a different location like her home, a salon, etc. She was panicking and I could tell she was close to tears.
She sent me all the info she had just received and I hopped onto my computer. I pulled up her wedding day timeline and assured her that everything would be ok. Honestly, the fact that we knew all of this two days before the wedding instead of figuring it out on the spot was freaking gold! We had time to come up with a new game plan. I reached out to the venue to see when the décor/room setups would be complete. I messaged the makeup artist to confirm we could make sure Hope went first. Then I moved around the timing of events throughout the morning, ensuring everything would still be photographed before the ceremony. “Ok,” Hope said, “I’m breathing now.”
I know I’m not a wedding planner. I’m with my couples to document their day, not coordinate with multiple vendors and run the show. But I’m also there to do everything I can to ensure my couples have an INCREDIBLE wedding day and that their stress is at a minimum. If that means handling some stressful situations for them then that’s what I’ll do.
After photographing dozens and dozens of weddings, I have to say that being able to get ready at your venue is a MAJOR perk not to overlook. One way to immediately take away stress from your wedding day is to not have to go to multiple locations. The more places that you go to throughout the day, the higher the likelihood is that something gets left behind. Or, another possibility: someONE gets left behind– AKA you’re waiting on a bridal party/family member to get to the next location and your photos are on hold until they get there. Eliminate those potential headaches upfront by choosing a venue that offers a getting ready space for you and your partner!
The getting ready space at Saguaro Buttes for the bride and her bridesmaids is huge and full of light. The venue also has a separate space for the groom and his entourage, too. Hope and Buddy each spent the morning with one good friend by their side. Their getting ready spaces were so quiet and calm! I’m used to the morning feeling like organized chaos, but I could really get used to starting off the day on a much more chill foot!
These shoes look like they were made for Hope’s dress, don’t they? Thank you, Amazon!
When I left Hope to go take Buddy out for portraits she had one request: “Please get him to smile. I love his smile.” Buddy usually has a poker face on at all times (even though he is the nicest most approachable guy ever!). But I made sure to grab a few photos with what I call his “smile smirk.” He was such a good sport for Hope.
Most of my couples this Fall have opted to share a First Look together. It makes me so happy! I mean, why wouldn’t you want to see your fiancé a few hours earlier, right? Plus, you both get to let that nervous energy out before you see all your guests. Hope and Buddy have always been as cool as cucumbers when I’ve met and chatted with them. I expected them to be a bit more frazzled on their wedding day, but they weren’t! They knew we had a schedule and were just ready to make the day happen.
I stopped by Buddy’s room and let him know that it was finally time to see Hope. While outside, I kept my eyes peeled for a shady spot for their First Look. I didn’t want either of them to have to walk too far from the venue, nor did I want them to get too hot outside before the ceremony. There was a great spot near the pond in the shade of some mesquite trees.
This is the moment I love during a First Look. Un-posed. Just so happy to be together on their wedding day!
We grabbed a few quick portraits of them together. Guests started arriving for the ceremony so I walked Hope back inside to hide away until it was time to walk down the aisle.
If there is one feature of the Saguaro Buttes wedding venue that stands out among all the others, it’s the ceremony space. The vast desert view overlooking Saguaro National Park East is breathtaking. If you’re looking to have a desert backdrop for your wedding ceremony, this one is hard to beat. The photos seriously don’t do it justice.
Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Galmarini-Horton!!!
The sun was setting very quickly so we went to an area that the venue calls Sunset Point. It’s just on the outskirts of the top parking lot right outside the front doors. I wanted to explore the wash area towards the bottom of the venue’s property, but after taking a quick trip down there I realized it would be dark too quickly. So to get more light we went to the highest point we could. We grabbed a few quick photos and then headed to the reception. Hope and Buddy were ready to meet up with all their guests and get the party goin’!
As Hope and Buddy signed their marriage certificate, I went inside to capture their reception setup. When I talked with them about their wedding day vision, Hope said, “I want autumn vibes but a little bit darker. But most of all just I want everyone to have fun.” From the table décor to the custom up-lighting, the reception space was full of that rich and vibrant autumn color.
After entering the reception space, Hope and Buddy headed straight to the dance floor for their first dance together as husband and wife!
Hope searched high and low for a baker and cake artist that could work with her dietary needs. Souley Sweet Bakehouse did an amazing job providing everyone at the reception with a huge selection of gluten free desserts and, of course, wedding cake!
Time to cut the cake! Let’s see if they played nice or not…
The rest of the evening was spent hanging out on the dance floor, celebrating with their families.
Such a sweet moment between Hope’s grandparents: the longest married couple in attendance!
I’m usually sad at the end of a wedding night, knowing that it’ll be the last time I see my couple. But not with Hope and Buddy! We’ve already got a wedding portrait session in the works! They’ll get back in their wedding attire, head to a beautiful quiet spot, and get some romantic wedding portraits together! Stay tuned 😉
Venue | Saguaro Buttes Weddings & Events
Venue Coordinator | Sarah Patten
Photographer | Christy Hunter Photography
Hair & Makeup | Renee Rodriguez with ‘Radiant with Renee J’
Florist | Shandler Raye with ‘Desert Raye’
Cake Artist | Souley Sweet Bakehouse
Dress Shop | J Bridal Boutique
Bridesmaid Dress | Azazie
DJ | Rashid with Harmony Entertainment
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Seattle, Washington.
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