Katie and Ethan’s wedding day plans changed quite a bit since their downtown Tucson engagement session. Due to a surprise scheduling conflict from the pandemic, they had to find a new venue to host their celebration. Katie’s parents had offered up their backyard in Oro Valley to host their daughter’s wedding when she got engaged, but she didn’t want to put that obligation on them. Rather than search for another venue just a few months before the wedding, Katie decided to take them up on their offer.
When I walked in, Katie and her sisters were all gathered around the kitchen table, chatting and laughing together. During my drive up to Oro Valley, I got a few texts from Katie letting me know about some last-minute changes. So I pulled out my clipboard (yep, I bring one with me– gotta stay organized!) and we went through the timeline and family photo list together. I made some notes, added a reminder or two, and assured her everything was under control.
As Katie was getting glammed up, Dusty with Element Design and Events arrived with their florals. I could see that the boxes she was carrying were exploding with color. “When I first spoke with Dusty I told her I just wanted neutral flowers and some greenery,” Katie explained. Dusty said she could absolutely handle that, but wanted to give Katie some other unique options, too. Katie said she was speechless when the final look of her centerpieces came together. They were perfect!
With so many of their wedding plans being altered, the florals were one of the few things that didn’t have to change. I made sure to spend some extra time photographing and featuring them for their gallery.
Everyone that Katie and Ethan wanted in their family photos met us at Catalina State Park. It was a little chaotic trying to coordinate with people in 7 different vehicles, but eventually we all ended up in the same parking lot. While Katie and Ethan handed out corsages and pinned boutonnieres, I went off to scout for a location. Rather than ask everyone to drive to a different parking area, I looked for somewhere nearby that would accommodate the large group. I also knew that I didn’t want to ask grandparents to walk too far either. After checking out a few trails, I decided that the picnic area would suit the needs of the group best. Plus, it had a pretty great view, too!
Once family photos were finished, it was time to grab some portraits of Katie and Ethan. We had taken a lot of pictures with family and by this time, Katie’s feet were killing her. I had dreams of big views and towering cacti for their wedding day portraits. “I’m sorry to ruin your plans,” Katie said. Ruin my plans?! No way! Yes, as a photographer I’m always thinking about how to make your photos epic. It’s part of my job! But I’m also with you throughout your whole wedding planning journey AND the day of to make sure you two are happy and have an amazing day that focuses on what is important to YOU, not me.
I told her I would keep them in one spot and not ask them to move much. You really can achieve a lot of variety in photos without even moving your feet! After a few minutes, however, Ethan had a question. I LOVE it when the guys have ideas. It means they’re having fun and are willing to try new things. “Can we move into the sun?” he asked. And I knew exactly what he was after. Ethan wanted the GLOW! I don’t blame him. Those romantic, backlit, glowy portraits are what I live for.
So I found that glow for Ethan in a spot that was only about 20 ft from the car for Katie and her aching feet. That’s right, these photos were in the parking lot! And ya know what? They absolutely LOVED it!
As the sun began to set, we piled back into the car and headed back to Katie’s parents’ home. I checked with the bride and groom one last time, just to confirm they weren’t doing any sort of entrance with music into the reception. “Nope, just keeping it casual” they said. Well as soon as they walked through the gate into the backyard, they were welcomed with loud cheering and applause. Music or not, they definitely got a greeting when their guests saw that they had arrived to the party.
Katie and Ethan began saying hello to everyone while I went to check out my favorite reception detail: the sweets! The bride and groom cactus cake topper was pretty freaking adorable. Annie with Ambrosia Cakes did an amazing job. Everything smelled so good!
Before I left for the night, it was time to have Katie and Ethan cut the cake!
A little over two years of being engaged and one month after trying the knot over Zoom, Katie and Ethan finally got to have the party they had been waiting for. They plan on having their honeymoon in the same city where Ethan popped the question: Santa Fe!
There were a lot of changes thrown at this Vendor Team, but we all came together to create a beautiful backyard celebration for these two!
Planner | Tara Bourne with Events by Tara
Photographer | Christy Hunter Photography
Rentals | Red Diamond Party Rentals
Florist | Dusty Reed with Element Design and Events
Cake Artist | Annie Matlick with Ambrosia Cakes
Hair and Makeup Artist | Allie Parson with Desert Beauty
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Seattle, Washington.
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