It’s been a little over six months since I spent the day with Dane and Sam on Mt. Lemmon for their engagement session. And now I got to kick off my crazy fall wedding season with their beautiful emerald and burgundy wedding at the Stillwell House in downtown Tucson. They were just as fun and laid-back as I remembered them, so excited to become husband and wife.
There are a lot of choices that go into planning out your wedding day. One of the first things that most couples think about is the fun stuff like colors and decorations. Dane wanted to do something different for his suit, rather than all of the guys wearing the same color. He picked out a deep emerald green color for himself and light grey for the groomsmen. Then Sam started thinking about what color she wanted to pair with emerald. “Well, cabernet is one of my favorite wines! And I really liked how the cabernet/burgundy paired with the green.”
I began the day by photographing a few of their wedding day details. This part of the day is when I get a glimpse of the bride and groom’s style, setting the tone for the rest of the day.
Sam and Dane got ready at two different locations around Tucson. Both houses were full of laughs and excited commotion. Once they were both completely ready, we all drove to the venue, taking extra special care to not let them see each other in the process.
The courtyard is where Dane and Sam wanted to share their First Look together. The courtyard itself is situated directly between the two buildings of the Stillwell House. Due to this layout, it’s a very common entry and pass through point for guests. After I closed the gates and convinced some very curious family members to give them a few minutes of privacy, it was time for them to finally see each other.
I mean, look at those big smiles!
Of course, Dane had to do a full 360 degree walkaround to get the full effect of his soon-to-be-wife in her wedding dress.
I asked Sam why she chose her dress: “Well… it was one of those dresses that I pulled off the rack and was like, ‘There’s a bit too much sparkle in this one… so I probably wont like it, but let’s try it.’ It was classy with a little glam, but not too over the top. I felt beautiful and so confident in it.” Once she put on a long cathedral veil, she was sold. Total bride vibes! She chose to save the veil for when she walked down the aisle– something I always recommend to my brides that have a First Look. This really adds a surprise “wow factor” when you and your groom see each other again at the ceremony!
Now that the butterflies were gone, it was time to bring out the bridal party!
One of my favorite parts of the wedding day to photograph is the ceremony. Hearing sweet memories shared and seeing the couple’s closest family and friends all gathered together in one place. Love it! But I have to admit, I had a little extra excitement for Dane and Sam’s wedding ceremony in the courtyard.
Sam and I had a couple of secret phone calls to prior to the wedding day. Dane loves dinosaurs, but… well… How are you supposed to subtly incorporate dinosaurs into a wedding day? Dane did wear a pair of dinosaur socks along with all of his groomsmen. But Sam wanted to plan a bigger dinosaur surprise for him, while still maintaining the simple, classic vibe of the day. Her idea was brilliant: dinosaur tails!
As their nieces and nephews made their way down the aisle, I started to hear the gasps and quiet laughs from guests seeing the kids pass by. All of the boys had light grey tails with emerald green spots. The girls had solid white tails with a faint scale pattern dotted with pearls. I mean, how adorable were these dinosaur tails?! They fit into the wedding color palette perfectly! A successful dinosaur surprise for Dane.
There was one more unique ceremony surprise. Sam and Dane couldn’t decide who should read their wedding vows first. So what do they do? A civilized and honest coin toss, of course! Look at Dane and the officiant’s faces after the flip. Such anticipation! Sam won the coin toss and chose to read her vows first.
Now presenting Mr. and Mrs. Wertz!
As they exited through the wooden gates, Dane and Sam slipped each other a quick high five. Ceremony complete!
After tons of family photos and some abrupt cloud cover, we were losing light quickly. To make the most out of our time, we stayed near the venue for sunset portraits.
Have I said how much I love long, cathedral wedding veils? A veil can really add in an extra layer of softness and romance to your wedding day portraits!
Sam and Dane are drawn to a classic and simple deign style. They incorporated golden geometric shapes within their centerpieces, adding in flowers, greenery, and small pops of color from their gem-like color palette. The Stillwell House was the first wedding venue they saw and were instantly drawn to its elegant courtyard and the classic clean look of the main house and 1901 bar room. They looked at other places in downtown Tucson, but none of them gave them that same feeling.
I’m a huge fan of uplighting at receptions! The red lights shining against the stone behind the bride and groom’s sweetheart table adds dimension, color, and that wow factor to an otherwise dark space.
Cocktail Hour was over and the sun had gone down. Dane and Sam kicked off the reception by sharing their first dance together as well as dancing with their parents.
After dinner and a few quick toasts, everyone went inside the 1901 Room to watch the cake cutting.
The dessert table was full of various different treats and the younger guests were finding it difficult to stay away. Can you blame them? Sam and Dane aren’t really “cake people,” but they love brownies. So they went with a ‘brownie cake’ instead! They knew doughnuts have been a popular hit at weddings lately and cupcakes are a classic. Dane and Sam are both Polish and wanted to incorporate their Polish heritage into their wedding, too. So, they added in some polish cookies they love to round up the dessert options. I’ll take one of each, please!
Fueled by Mexican food, lots of sugar, and an open bar, the guests hit the dance floor.
Right now, Dane and Sam are celebrating their marriage with a mini honeymoon in Cabo. Next summer, they’re planning on taking a longer vacation in Italy. They’ve been sharing photos of them hanging out by a private pool, soaking up gorgeous views, and relaxing with cocktails. Congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Wertz and thank you so much for sharing your day with me!
Wedding Venue | The Stillwell House
Photographer | Christy Hunter Photography
Dress Shop | Brilliant Bridal
Invitations | The Knot
Florist | Old Pueblo Petal Pushers
Hair and Makeup Artist | Jackie with Blush Studios
DJ | Master Mixx DJ’s, Michael Lopez
Cake Shop | Ambrosia Cakes
Officiant | Linnzy Foster
Groom’s Suit | Nick’s Menswear
Groomsmen Attire | The Suit Shop
Bridesmaids’ Dresses | JJ’s House
Caterer | The Stillwell House
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Seattle, Washington.
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