With less than two weeks to go before their wedding, Kelli and I worked quickly to coordinate photography into her and Matthew’s celebration at Tohono Chul Park. She had already organized most of the important details of the day. The venue had been chosen, flowers were ordered, invitations were mailed…, but then she realized she wanted someone there to capture all the great memories of the day, too. She had looked at a few photographers when she started the planning process, but none of them jumped out at her. One afternoon, she happened to stumble upon my Instagram and said she immediately connected to my style! She reached out and I just so happened to be available for her date. It was meant to be!
Kelli and Matthew met each other at work; Matthew is an architect and Kelli works as a finance manager. They started out as just friends, but that friendship eventually turned into something more. Kelli said that she loves that their relationship started out that way: “It’s great because now we get to spend the rest of our lives with our best friend.” I have to say, I’m on board with Kelli. I love it when couples build that strong, no-strings-attached foundation first! Matthew describes Kelli as being beautiful inside and out with an amazing heart. Kelli admires Matthew’s strength, knowing that he is always someone she can depend on.
Before Kelli had to go get ready the afternoon of their wedding, Matthew’s mother and grandmother had arrived early and were chatting with Kelli. They were asking her about the decorations, if she needed any help, etc. And before I whisked Kelli away to gather up her bridal details, Matthew’s mom told her how happy she was that her son had found Kelli. So sweet!
When I asked them about their proposal story, Matthew admitted he went off-plan because he got too excited and, well, impatient. He had already spoken to Kelli’s parents and and bought the engagement ring. His original intention was to go find a beautiful scenic spot to pop the question. However, due to the COVID pandemic, they hadn’t really been going anywhere on the weekends. Instead, they had been spending a lot of time at home together and rediscovering their love for their backyard. ” So I went and grabbed the ring and asked Kelli to come outside for a sec. As we were walking out, I got down on one knee. When she turned around to see what I was doing behind her, I asked her to marry me.” Kelli said it was a total surprise and she was thrilled!
Kelli had been running around all morning prepping things for the ceremony and reception. As I took her things outside for photos, she said to me, “Oh, I guess I’ll be putting my dress on soon, huh?” I just laughed. “Yep, it’s about that time! So try and relax now and just soak up the fact that it’s your wedding day!” Once she had to go into hiding (so she and Matthew wouldn’t accidentally run into each other), I think the excitement finally started to sink in.
I always like to know what the inspiration is behind my couple’s wedding day vision. Kelli told me that her and Matthew’s aesthetic was winter-inspired with tons of red and burgundy. These gorgeous heels are a reminder to any of you planning a wedding or event with a theme: your shoes can help bring in more of that special color you chose, too! Neutral isn’t always necessary.
Matthew was such a champ when it came time for his portraits. He was talking with the Tohono Chul staff when I first saw him, trying to workout a solution to some event-related hiccups (there’s always something, right?). And even though I knew he was a tiny bit stressed and had a dozen thoughts going through his mind, he had the biggest, most cheerful smile to greet me with.
Kelli had told me that they were just planning a small ceremony with a few friends and family. The Streamside Gardens location within Tohono Chul Park was the perfect spot for their intimate celebration. This cozy little nook is nestled within the garden’s trails. It features a classic adobe backdrop with inlaid painted tiles, all having a southern Arizona theme. Kelli’s son Colin escorted her down the aisle.
Even though their wedding took place in the middle of winter, the ivy surrounding the ceremony space was still full of life!
As we finished up some family photos, the wind really started to pick up. The storm clouds were growing darker and Kelli was getting colder by the second. I couldn’t blame her though; it got chilly fast! The three of us started to make our way back to the reception area– stopping at some beautiful spots along the way for portraits of them together.
Lucie, an event coordinator at Tohono Chul, told me that this area of the garden with the navy blue brick was one of Kelli’s favorite spots. So I made sure we featured it during portrait time!
And then I HAD to stop outside the Meditation Garden exhibit at the very end. I mean, that pink wall just coordinated too well with their red and burgundy theme.
Kelli and Matthew are staying close to home on their honeymoon. They’ll be relaxing at the Loew’s Ventana Canyon Resort where they’ve also invited their guests to vacation alongside them. I’m sure a short hike to the beautiful waterfall is on the itinerary between all of the yummy food and pool time! Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Meza and thank you for letting me be a part of this intimate celebration!
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Tucson, Arizona.
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