Taylor and James’ Kartchner Caverns wedding was full of contrasting color and lush greenery. After having to postpone, these two were beyond ready to celebrate with the family and friends that were able to attend. As a wildlife biologist, incorporating nature on her wedding day was very important to Taylor. Kartchner Caverns State Park was the perfect venue for them, highlighting the beautiful desert unique to Sierra Vista.
I first met Taylor while at a Bridal Show in 2020 where she told me about her plans for a fall wedding. Not too long after that, the state of Arizona shutdown in response to the pandemic. When regulations began to lessen in early 2021, Taylor reached back out to me about her wedding plans. Her date had shifted slightly, but she was still able to have that fall wedding she had been dreaming of.
Taylor and James’ love story began about 11 years ago! They met each other while attending Cochise College here in Arizona. Despite James expressing his interest in Taylor, they didn’t pursue a relationship. Not too long after that, Taylor ended up moving to Montana to continue her education. The two of them kept in contact for a few years but eventually drifted apart. I’m sure most of us can relate!
In the Spring of 2017, Taylor and James reconnected after moving back to Sierra Vista. After spending some time together, Taylor said she could see how much James had grown and what an incredible man he had become. She didn’t want to run the risk of him not making a move this time, so she asked him out! Their relationship grew and they eventually moved in together.
As we all know, there are a few more challenges that you face as a couple when you decide to live together. Dividing up household chores… Balancing each other’s sleep schedules… Finding out how messy the other one is… Oh yeah, and the big one: finances! In an effort to be honest about spending money, but not wanting to spoil the surprise of the engagement ring, James came clean to Taylor about a big purchase he had made.
Obviously, they hadn’t talked about this as a couple. James knew he was going to take some heat for it, too, but he had to give Taylor some sort of cover story. As he expected, she began to get upset. Uh oh! Now what?! James quickly loaded Taylor into the car, driving them out to Bisbee. A calm car ride and a change of scenery should help. After the 45 minutes drive, they hiked up to Castle Rock. That’s when James popped the question.
Since the park doesn’t have any private indoor space, I first met Taylor at her mom’s house. Well, I actually met Taylor’s mom and bridesmaids there haha. Taylor was off at a local salon getting her hair, nails, and makeup done. While she was getting pampered, I got to work on photographing her bridal details. I absolutely love this part of the day because it really helps me get a feel for the vision the couple intended. After Taylor was ready, we headed to Kartchner Caverns where she would share a First Look with James.
While I was with Taylor, my second photographer was hanging out with James and his groomsmen while they were getting ready. I love the rings that James chose to wear with his kilt ensemble! They really added a unique touch.
The path that I chose provided shade from the bright afternoon sun and as much privacy as possible. The park was still open during our time there. To make sure their special moment wasn’t interrupted, I took a few of Taylor’s bridesmaids with me and posted them at both entrances to the path so that they could politely divert any park visitors for just a few minutes.
You aren’t going to believe this. Taylor’s bouquet (among so many other things) was made by her mom!!!
Even though I only live about 30 minutes from Kartchner Caverns, I hadn’t had the chance to visit there yet. I had done a little research on the park’s website, but I wasn’t exactly sure what the ceremony space was going to look like. The setup is simple and feels very natural to the surrounding landscape. The views are massive and open but still give you that feeling of having the park all to yourself.
The officiant for the ceremony is a friend of Taylor’s that she met while in college. He made sure he was able to fly in from Montana to get these two hitched!
Taylor and James added just a few details to the ceremony arch. I feel like the greenery gave it a little extra pop!
I love the mountain view backdrop available at Kartchner! It’s still so green from the summer monsoon rains.
Not only were the dried flowers environmentally-friendly, but afterwards this spot in the park smelled freaking amazing!!!
As our time at the park was ending, I grabbed a few more portraits of Taylor and James in that beautifully glowy light that always sets my heart aflutter.
This is my favorite portrait of Taylor and James from their wedding day. They are both pretty quiet and reserved. I feel like this image reflects that side of them while still being able to see how much they love each other.
As the sun started to go down, everyone left the park and made the short drive to the reception. The Old Door Shop is definitely a go-to spot for brides and grooms looking for a wedding venue near Hereford. It’s a venue with a mixture of both industrial and sophisticated rustic charm. You would never think that this event space was an old, unused warehouse just two years ago!
Ok… guess who made the wedding cake… Yep, Taylor’s mom again for the win! I told her she better watch out. These skills of hers won’t stay under wraps for long and she’s going to be sought after!
The live band performed a rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” for Taylor and James’ first dance together. James took the lead in a sweet and romantic slow dance.
The guests didn’t take long to join in on the dance floor either. The band even convinced a few of them to engage in a Monster Mash dance competition since Halloween is just around the corner.
Taylor and James’ guests made me feel like part of the family from the moment I met them. In addition to one other thing that was definitely a source of unplanned entertainment: All the men in James’ family are easily over 6ft and made me feel EXTRA short! I told him that there must be an unspoken height requirement. They didn’t tease me too much though haha. I am so glad that I was finally able to visit such a beautiful wedding venue close to home with these two.
Ceremony Venue | Kartchner Caverns State Park
Reception Venue | The Old Door Shop
Hair & Make Up | Barnett Salon Suites
Band | Whiz! Bang! Chick’n Plucker Skiffle Band
Bartender | Shanda at Splash of Spirits, LLC.
Bride’s Dress | homemade by mom
Bridesmaids Dresses | Azazie
Cake | homemade by mom
See another beautiful Sierra Vista elopement that I’ve captured HERE!
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Tucson, Arizona.
Inquire for more details