Each of our couples is unique–we can barely compare their relationships. From outdoorsmen to pilots to hopeless romantics, each and every one of the couples we work with hold special places in our hearts. It makes it all the more special when we get to work both their engagement shoot and their wedding!
Sure, we’ve done some destination weddings. We’re sure, though, that a lot of people aren’t aware that Arizona does indeed have trees and nice weather, even in summer! It just takes a little time–in this case, around three hours, north of Phoenix. When Chelsea and Tim picked The Greenhouse on Woodlands in Pinetop, we definitely had to stop ourselves from physically shrieking with excitement. Not only is it an amazing venue on its own, but the weather in Pinetop is fantastic in September! Let’s put it this way: the high up there this month was 78 degrees.
If you’re lucky to be reading this outside of Phoenix, here’s some context–the weather here is routinely around 100 degrees. Plus. Ouch.
After Chelsea and Tim settled on their venue, we couldn’t stop talking about shooting their Northern Arizona wedding. It was probably at least once a week that we brought it up! Between the gorgeous venue, stellar weather, and Chelsea’s spectacular homemade (by her, family, and friends!) wedding decorations, it truly was the coziest wedding, a cross between rustic woodlands and HGTV-style DIY. We couldn’t wait to see it.
We drove up Friday, taking the trip up to the mountains to settle down in our cabin-like suite, enjoying the fresh air and trees as the perfect start to what was sure to be a great weekend. That next morning, on Saturday, we were so excited to get down to business that we showed up early to the venue alongside the bridal party! We knew we just had to get a jumpstart on the day, to spend more time with our fabulous friends and explore the beauty that is The Greenhouse. Chelsea’s wedding party was small: just her sister. The cottage she got ready in, though? Full of close friends, all enjoying a beautiful spread of brunch food and drinks. There was even a little bit of bubbly there to start the festivities early!
When it was time for Chelsea to get ready, though? The room was clear and peaceful, with only her mother and sister there to help her. Don’t worry, it was far from lonely–it was intimate, a small, serene celebration of family and sisterhood before the ceremony proper. We were honored to be able to capture it.
Chelsea’s mom helped her into the delicate dress, placing the tiny piece of jewelry just so on Chelsea’s neck. Her sister and best friend and maid of honor, her sister Alyssa, helped her put on her shoes. Chelsea thanked Alyssa for the cute “Cinderella moment”, but Chelsea was much more dazzling than any Disney princess.
Guests finally started arriving, and the first thing they were greeted with? The guestbook. Clean black pages, set next to a Polaroid camera to snap photos, copper pens to jot down words of advice and love and hope, all ready for Chelsea’s and Tim’s loved ones to celebrate this moment with them. The venue itself couldn’t have been more perfect, either. Making your way through the garden, you could see a koi pond amidst the towering trees that shielded guests from the sun yet were sparse enough to let light shimmer through, filtering beams down through the boughs, casting an otherworldly glow over the wedding. Dark wooden chairs placed atop the lush green grass as if in a ceremony all their own faced the custom octagonal altar, trimmed with green foliage and glowing candles. Of course, we mentioned this had pieces of truly exceptional DIY handiwork, including a handcrafted beer tap made by Tim’s dad. It matched the geometric patterns scattered throughout the wedding, a truly special touch for a couple of avid beer connoisseurs.
The decorations were second to the guests of honor, though! Once everyone had taken their seats, Tim made his way to the altar to wait for his beautiful blushing bride. Beside him was Lauren, a close friend to them both, who was to join the two in marriage. Finally, when Tim had had just enough time to take a deep breath and steady himself, Chelsea made her appearance, making her way down the aisle in her light, flowing wedding gown. The dress itself was truly perfect for the garden wedding: Chelsea was ethereal. Her mom Michele grasped her tightly as she led her daughter to the man that would join his life with hers, and it was apparent she was nearly bursting with pride that her daughter had decided to share this moment.
Our couple had decided on eschewing that tradition of staying away from one another; instead, they had shared a first look at each other. Honestly, we think it was a nice idea! They didn’t have the jitters or show any hint of anxiety–hell, they never even took their eyes off each other. Each gazing at the other, with Lauren in the background helping them to recite their vows… well, we definitely cried.
Especially when Lauren started quoting one of Chelsea’s idols, Audrey Hepburn. “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”
Everyone was crying. It didn’t help when Chelsea and Tim exchanged rings, because they wouldn’t let go of the other. It was perfect.
No wedding would be complete without a reception, though! Under a big white tent, beneath the Northern Arizona stars, everyone partied. The menu? Good ol’ BBQ! It was fantastic for an end-of-summer wedding, and our favorite part of it was the fire pit, equipped with all the fixings for gooey, sweet s’mores. Even as the guests filtered out, they were presented with personal s’mores kits to take home, to enjoy, and to commemorate the night. It was a truly unique touch, one that we will remember for quite a long time.
Shortly after dinner itself, a few of the couples’ closest friends and family members made heartfelt speeches about how perfect Chelsea and Tim are for each other, about how they complement each other in a way that not many people get to experience. We couldn’t agree more: even in the short time we’ve known them, we’ve been able to see the spark between the two of them that’s every bit as magical as their wedding day itself. These two will go far.
With the sunset and the stars emerging, with the party going on into the night, came an entirely new vibe. The homemade decorations all changed, lanterns glowing around the garden, the altar now a perfect background for photos and the trees suddenly an enchanted forest, fit for a royal couple. The cake fit, too, an elegant three-tier cake with a watercolor effect down the middle, almost fountain-like, creating a simple yet striking design to a tasty culinary treat. Beneath it was another custom piece, a copper stand that added the final touch to this perfectly-planned wedding.
The dancing, too, was great. There were the standbys, but then there were special planned dances, group jigs to songs like “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” from Disney’s Mulan. Considering how big of Disney fans we are here at Wander Back, we have to say that it was a highlight of the night. We’re not ashamed to admit we sang along!
As most things do, the wedding itself came to an end. It’s been two weeks since Chelsea and Tim had their ceremony, and we’re confident that the two of them, together, will form a unit that will stand the test of time. The spark they share is special.
We’re glad we got to be a part of their moment.
Thank you, Chelsea and Tim.
Congratulations–we know you’ll be perfect.