Denise and Travis are both particularly skilled and dedicated when it comes to their careers in the Air Force. As a military spouse myself, I immediately thought about how hard it must be for them to both have such demanding jobs that undoubtedly require them to spend lots of time apart under stressful situations. What really stood out to me during our session together is how they both truly love and appreciate each other’s company. The triple digit temperatures didn’t seem to phase them at all. They were just happy to be there together, taking the time to commemorate a milestone in their relationship. We had the whole place to ourselves for their photos at Sanctuary Cove.
Travis and Denise met back in 2019 while at an Air Force training course in Alabama. They connected with each other pretty quickly and, once the 6-week course was over, continued to date long-distance. About a year later, while Travis was visiting Denise in California, he crafted a plan to pop the question.
The morning of Denise’s birthday, Travis woke her up really early to take a surprise trip. “That was a big deal for me,” Travis admitted, “I am not a morning person.” (I feel ya on that, Travis, because neither am I! haha) Before they started the drive, Travis placed a blindfold on Denise so that she wouldn’t know where they were going.
A short drive later, they arrived at Lover’s Point Park. While watching the sunrise together, Travis gave Denise a birthday card for her to open. Inside the card was a poem that Travis had written. “Each line had a bolded letter that spelled out ‘Will you marry me?’…, but she figured it out on line 2! I got down on one knee as the sun was rising and asked her to marry me.”
Unfortunately, the ring that Travis had custom-ordered for Denise failed its final quality assurance inspection. But that wasn’t going to stop him from proposing. So, Travis improvised with a shiny red ring pop! The answer was obviously a yes. A few months later, Travis concocted another surprise for Denise over the New Years holiday. He proposed a second time with the real ring followed by, of course, another resounding “yes.”
I visited Sanctuary Cove a couple of years ago the morning of a wedding day. There is a really cute guest house on the property; it’s perfect for couples that are either getting married at Sanctuary Cove or at Stardance that’s literally right across the street. Denise and Travis really wanted to feature the desert in their photos, so I made sure to include Sanctuary Cove in a list of location suggestions for them. The quaint chapel, the iconic shape of Sombrero Peak (also called Safford Peak), and the fun rock labyrinth all play a part in creating such a beautiful and unique backdrop option.
Denise and I messaged back and forth quite a bit to finalize her and Travis’ casual outfit. I love how they both chose to embrace the desert, southwest vibe of Tucson by wearing cowboy boots!
There are words above each side of the chapel archway. It just so happened that one of them was “love!”
As the sun started to go down (and the temperature along with it), Denise and Travis changed into their dressy outfits. Travis was “volun-told” to go first for their individual portraits so he made sure to really ham it up for Denise.
Denise’s outfit was so fun! A beaded crop top paired with a black skirt with a fun ruffle and tulle bottom. And, of course, some killer black heels!
Travis and Denise had a small courthouse wedding back in 2021. However, the knew right away that they wanted to host a bigger celebration alongside their friends and family. They are planning a beautiful vow renewal celebration at the Stillwell House next year and I’m so excited for them!
Haven’t been to the Stillwell House before and want to see what their venue looks like? Check out some of my favorite Stillwell House weddings on the blog!
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Tucson, Arizona.
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