Fall weather was in full force for Daniel and Amanda’s windy desert engagement session. There was a 20 degree temperature drop from the day before and a blanket of clouds covered the sky. Even though we were all battling the elements, we were able to feature something very near and dear to Amanda’s heart within a few of their photos.
Amanda and Daniel met each other in 2016 via a dating app. After experiencing several far-from-ideal matches and lots of untruthfulness, Daniel was about to give up. That’s when he and Amanda connected and he decided to try one more time. He picked out a nice French restaurant for them to have dinner at. While he was waiting for Amanda to get there, he was looking over the menu that heavily featured meat entrees; he jokingly thought to himself that he hoped his date wasn’t a vegetarian. Well, Amanda IS a vegetarian! Talk about a coincidence, right? But it all worked out! Amanda loved the restaurant and was surprised Daniel had picked it.
After an amazing first date, Daniel knew he had to see Amanda again. Amanda threw another curve ball at him though. Summer was about to start and it had some big experiences and changes in store for her. Amanda was leaving for the entire summer to camp and explore the 50 states along with a trip to Machu Picchu in Peru. Then, she would be moving from Missouri all the way to Arizona for graduate school.
The two of them kept in touch throughout the summer. Luckily, they only had to struggle through having a long-distance relationship for about a year. In 2017, once Daniel got his doctorate in physical therapy, he joined Amanda in Arizona.
Towards the end of January in 2022, Daniel and Amanda made the drive down from Tucson for a weekend trip to visit Bisbee and Tombstone. They also planned to explore parts of the Chiricahua Mountains, too. They headed towards the Chiricahua National Monument to begin their hike when they saw that the roads were closed; they were blocked by some downed trees from strong winds the night before. “It seemed my plans would fail,” Daniel said, “but I was patient and had to keep her calm while we waited for the road to open.” Three hours later, the roads were finally cleared, but they had to change their hiking plans a bit.
They set off on a shorter trail, leading to the Fire Lookout tower at the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain. It was a beautiful view and they had it all to themselves. Daniel knew this was the time to pop the question. “Daniel starts setting up his phone to take timed photos of us,” Amanda recounted. “We take a few, we walk around a bit… He wants to take another one. So I stand there for a solid 15 seconds, he joins me, and we stand there awkwardly for another 15-30 seconds.” Daniel claims that he just set this photo to be on a longer timer, but in reality he had his phone set to record video!
Amanda admits she was a bit frustrated and annoyed when she found out she had been standing there completely still while the video was running. But Daniel quickly changed the mood as he dropped down to one knee and proposed. “It was perfect, intimate, and lovely,” Amanda said. And now they have that moment captured on video to relive over and over again. Just a few minutes later, a few other hikers reached the summit. Daniel and Amanda hiked back down the trail and spent the night celebrating in Bisbee.
When Amanda reached out to me in April for their 2023 wedding, she said she immediately noticed my appreciation of nerdy things. She and I are both Lord of the Rings fans! I couldn’t help but ask her if she had seen the Rings of Power show on Amazon Prime. My husband and I were very skeptical at first and were not impressed with the trailer. But we quickly fell in love with the series and are impatiently waiting for its next season. Amanda and Daniel are just as eager as we are to see what happens next!
While Amanda and Daniel took a short break to put their jackets on and warm up, I grabbed a few photos of Amanda’s engagement ring. The color is beautiful! The center stone is a spinel gemstone; it has a grey hue with a slight blue shift to it.
Amanda is a Lunar geochemist/cosmochemist so, obviously, she loves the Moon! With all of the clouds rolling in, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to spot it rising over the mountains. Luckily, we had just a few minutes of semi-clear skies right where the Moon was in the sky. So we grabbed a few fun photos of them together with the Moon behind them!
Daniel and Amanda will be getting married this coming spring at Kingan Gardens downtown followed by a reception at Café a la C’Art, their favorite restaurant in Tucson. I can’t wait to celebrate with them!
Wind and clouds can really transform a location! Check out some of my other cloudy portrait sessions featured on the blog. Tell me, do you live for warm, sunny days? Or do you like the cool, cozy vibes that cloudy days give?
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Seattle, Washington.
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