Hayley reached out to me earlier this month asking about a destination engagement session in Tucson with her fiancé Aaron. They’re from Utah and that’s where they’ll be getting married this November. I love celebrating other couples’ marriages– even when I may not be their wedding photographer. That’s why I always make room for a limited number of engagement shoots each season even though I have a super packed wedding schedule! The location that Hayley and Aaron chose really showcases the beauty of Tucson’s desert.
When Aaron told me his and Hayley’s backstory, I was so shocked at how it all fell into place! They are both from Utah and actually grew up living 15 mins apart from each other. But despite living in such close proximity for their whole lives, they never met. Flash forward to them both moving to Tucson, two years apart, to attend grad school at the U of A. After settling in to their new city, they connected while attending church. They finally found each other!
Hayley just passed the Bar exam and Aaron is working on his PhD in Applied Mathematics. Hayley has 2 more years left of grad school and Aaron has just under 4 years to go. I asked Hayley if she thought they would move back to Utah after they finished. She said, “I’d stay here forever if I could!” She really loves the warmer climate here in Arizona. She then said that she and Aaron would probably move back to chilly, windy Utah so that they can be close to family.
During their summer break from school, Hayley and Aaron went back to Utah to visit their families. They had already set a date, coordinating their wedding in Utah with their anniversary: Thanksgiving! They had also gone ring shopping together. Aaron confessed that looking at rings made the reality of their future together sink in and he got really excited. How sweet! Aaron really wanted to make sure that his proposal to Hayley was a surprise. He planned out multiple dates for them that screamed “romantic proposal” so that Hayley couldn’t figure out when the actual proposal was going to happen. For their final date, Aaron and Hayley had a picnic at Draper Temple.
While they were eating, Aaron’s brother secretly set up photos and flowers on a bench underneath a tree. Hayley and Aaron started heading back to the car. “We walked through it and I totally thought we were crashing somebody else’s proposal,” Hayley admitted, “until I realized the pictures were of us!” Aaron got down on one knee and popped the question. Draper Temple is not only where Aaron proposed, but it’s also where they’ll be getting married. So many memories in one place!
Although Hayley and Aaron are getting married in Utah, they wanted to commemorate the city where they met and fell in love for their engagement photos. For whatever reason (I think just to stress me out), the rain is really lingering this season. Usually, the chance of rain significantly decreases by early September. But here we are, almost into October, and still having crazy pop-up storms! With their hectic school schedules, rescheduling wasn’t an option for Hayley and Aaron; so, we braved the weather. Although it did end up getting dark way earlier than usual thanks to the clouds, they had an incredible sunset to end the evening with!
The clouds started to settle in around us, but you can still see the sunshine beaming through.
After Aaron and Hayley changed into their second outfit, I started with some individual portraits. Look how Aaron was grinning at his fiancé just beside me!
Aaron said one of his favorite things about Hayley is her smile. So, I made sure to she was smiling ear-to-ear in her individual portraits! When I told Hayley that she seems to always be smiling, she looked up at Aaron and said, “He just makes me so happy.”
And to get even more smiles, I had Hayley show off her dress with some twirling. I think she had fun, don’t you?
We talked a little bit about their wedding plans. After their sealing at the temple, they’ll be having a reception with friends and family. I asked Hayley if she was going to wear a different dress at the reception and she said, “Yes! Well, actually, I have 3 dresses!” That’s right– THREE! She has a modest one for the temple, another for the reception, and a fun one for their “going away” at the end of the night. They’ll be taking a little mini honeymoon right away and then plan something more elaborate once they have a break from school.
The sun was setting quickly and trying so hard to push through the clouds. Look how intense those colors are!
Aaron and Hayley, I’m so happy that you two found each other. Thank you so much for choosing me to photograph your destination engagement session in Tucson! I have no doubt that your fall wedding in Utah is going to be absolutely beautiful!
Did you know that I also travel for destination weddings outside of Tucson? I love to explore new places! Check out this gorgeous destination wedding in Sedona I photographed this summer!
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Seattle, Washington.
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