My heart went out to Ruth when she inquired with me about her summer Sierra Vista church wedding. Dakota is stationed overseas in Germany and planned the wedding with Ruth while they’re living apart. I know how I was when Mike was deployed and I couldn’t imagine adding wedding planning to all those emotions and stress! As she and I figured out wedding day details together, Dakota worked on getting his leave approved to come home. Anyone who’s had a taste of the military life knows that nothing ever happens quickly. And with the craziness of the waning pandemic mixed in there, the anticipation was a bit nuts! In the end, Ruth and Dakota had a beautiful celebration full of family, friends, and inside jokes.
Ruth has such an optimistic, happy spirit. I just love it! And she is completely smitten with her man. When I asked her how she thought she’d feel seeing him for the first time on their wedding day, she said, “I’m probably going to cry… a lot! And he has the most perfect smile I have EVER seen. I’m excited to look down the aisle on that day, the first day of our forever, and see him standing there with that perfect smile.”
Dakota has been living in Germany since January of this year. I’m sure that being away from Ruth and his family for the past 6 months was hard on him. When he pulled up to the church with his groomsmen, none of that seemed to weigh on him. He was full of smiles, cracking jokes with his best friends.
About one month before the wedding, I received a sweet but panicky email from Ruth. Monsoon season was hitting us hard here in Sierra Vista. She knew the weather would be out of her control, but wanted to know everything that she could do to prepare for a rainy wedding day. I gave her some of my favorite tips and told her to try and stay optimistic.
The forecast changed repeatedly over the next few weeks. When I woke up Saturday morning, the predication was a 30-50% chance of rain and storms. The clouds moved in and out as I stood in the parking lot unloading all of my gear. Not a single rain drop fell the entire afternoon that I was with Ruth and Dakota and I walked away with a massive sunburn to show for it lol! But I’m so glad that they had the sunny wedding day they were hoping for.
The church in which Ruth and Dakota said their vows to each other has an incredible significance. Ruth was baptized, confirmed, and received her first communion at St. Andrews, so that in itself is special. Tragically, Ruth’s mom has passed away. She is buried in the columbarium of the church. Since she can’t be there with them physically, Ruth wanted to have her mom close by on her wedding day– so she brought the wedding to her. I have no doubt that she was there with them both.
Ruth’s Maid of Honor Amanda was beyond happy for her best friend. She was wiping away tears the whole wedding day!
When it was time for bridal portraits, Ruth said to me, “I feel like a princess in this dress.” I told her that’s exactly how she should feel on her wedding day!
After the church ceremony, I asked for Ruth and Dakota to come stand in front of the church doors that Ruth loves so much. When I asked for them to kiss she said, “I could do this all day!” I know she held Dakota a little tighter knowing that he’d be flying back to Germany just a few days later.
Ruth and Dakota, I am so happy for you both! I hope the time between now and when you’re reunited again in Germany flies by. You’ve got lots of excited changes headed your way!
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Tucson, Arizona.
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