I am so honored to be a part of this intimate elopement in Southern Arizona. We took elopement photos at Saguaro National Park and the Dragoon Mountains in the Tombstone/Sierra Vista area. Right after my wildlife volunteering in Zion National Park, I rushed through to meet Carole and Josh for their secret desert mountain elopement.
I met Josh and Carole at an amazing get together of friends in Southern Arizona a couple of years ago. I liked them immediately and wished I lived closer to Tucson in order to have more adventures. We all went climbing in Cochise Stronghold and it was very fitting that they ended up eloping there, right by the Sweet Rock climbing area.
Planning an Elopement in Southern Arizona
When Carole messaged me about wanting to plan an elopement in the desert, I was so excited for them both. I immediately started researching the options and looking into permitting. We bounced around a bunch of different ideas. I wanted to take getting ready photos and celebration photos and wanted them to know that their elopement would be an important event.
There were lots of details to consider, just because they were eloping did not mean that their wedding would be rushed, shortened or less than any other wedding. We talked about going to a shooting range and shooting historic guns, climbing, champagne, campfires and all of the things that would make this wedding memorable and that would resonate with them and who they are and how they wanted to do it.
Josh actually had the ring, an heirloom, for a long time but the timing wasn’t right, Carole didn’t really care about getting married and they would be together forever regardless. One night they were talking about it and Carole seemed ready to. Josh went to the ring was. He took out a film canister from a small drawstring bag. The canister was covered in tape and he began to peel it back. Carole stood by amused and curious. The last of the tape peek back revealed a film canister. He popped the lid. They were engaged, laughing and silly, in this way that was unplanned but unique and genuine, just like the two of them..
Carole retold this story, better than I wrote it, the night before her wedding. They cooked me dinner and I enjoyed meeting Grandma who was the only guest invited to their Southern Arizona elopement. While we were sitting there at dinner, we worried about the weather for the wedding the next day. It was set to rain all day. I offered up some flexibility and the date thereafter but it wouldn’t work as Grandma was set to take off for the Pacific Northwest and specifically Washington the very next day. We would make it work.
Originally we planned to climb or shoot guns and to mess around in Tombstone after the wedding but the weather had just rethink the plans. We decided to take some photos at Saguaro National Park at sunrise before moving on to the Dragoon mountains for the elopement ceremony.
The Elopement Day
We were getting up and ready when I finally met Belinda, or B. Though she was an integral part of this adventure team, and a collection of friends that we both shared. I had never met her before and was really excited to connect the dots. We rode together to Saguaro.
When Carole and I talked about everything in advance, she didn’t seem to care about flowers or getting ready photos and was fuss-free and relaxed about the whole affair but being a creative person, whipped up some amazing bouquets, a boutineer and flower corsages for both me an B. The details were coming together and I photographed her putting on her skirt and handing off flowers right outside the truck in the parking lot at Saguaro National Park.
All of our fears about the weather dissipated once we arrived. The sky was dark but full of atmosphere. It was more challenging to shoot and at times the sun would start to break through and I would hurry to change my camera settings, just to have it change back a moment later.
When we made our way to the Dragoon Mountains, the light changed even more and the big clouds rolled through the sky, making for a dramatic elopement. It was cold B and Grandma decided to wear their puffy coats during the ceremony. It was beautiful, organic and genuine. After we took portraits with guns to incorporate one of the things that Josh and Carole love to do together and shared champagne over the campfire in celebration.
Congratulations again and again!