The Land of Enchantment graced us all with beautiful rich tones and a few little surprises for these two adventure-seekers. Last year, I met a talented artist and storyteller while photographing UPenn’s graduation. Derek and I hit it off immediately and I was shocked and honored that he asked me to photograph his upcoming wedding just a few months later after covering a few events together. Yes, it is a huge compliment for anyone to ask you to photograph something for them, but Derek is an amazing photographer himself, so for him and his family to want to fly me out to New Mexico for their day made me extremely grateful to have this incredible job that just so happens to double as my passion. This was no ordinary wedding, it had all of my favorite things — a dog, a baby and a National Park (and of course Mara and Derek).
Naturally, the wedding didn’t quite go as planned, but what wedding does ever happen exactly the way it is planned? There were a few events that initially I considered setbacks, but in hindsight, probably ended up happening for the best. The government shutdown shifted the ceremony location from White Sands National Monument to their villa in Las Cruces, which was probably for the better considering it ended up snowing and being about 20 degrees! But who else can say they got married surrounded by snow-covered cacti and mountains in their backyard? They have such an incredibly unique story, and we were still able to photograph at White Sands for a little bit the following morning. Not to mention, the villa was FILLED to its max with their friends who came from all over the United States and even the world to support and celebrate this sweet, adventurous family.
It was made very evident at their welcome party that Marek (nickname endowed to Mara and Derek) have surrounded themselves with some incredibly talented, intelligent and artistic people. The talent show featured their friends and family presenting videos, dances, singing, guitar playing and poetry. The support I saw in that room quite frankly left me teary eyed and ultimately proud to be a part of such a great group of people. The support didn’t stop and start at their welcome party. Upon arriving on their wedding day, I walk in to see their wedding party already there moving furniture, arranging flowers and setting up their reception space. Their friends had been right along side these two, helping prepare for this day for quite some time. I was grateful to have able to witness this celebration and get to participate in the festivities myself.