St.Thomas Destination Wedding

Deep blue ocean waves, palm trees swaying in the wind, rum punch drinks for days. Saint Thomas destination weddings are a world of their own! One that Chelsea and David decided to run away to and get married in. Their love for quality time with their family and friends plus fun ocean memories was a no brainer to why they chose to do a destination wedding.

St. Thomas is in the US Virgin Islands. You don’t need a passport and they use US currency. It makes it really easy to travel there from the States and enjoy some quiet beach time. St. Thomas offers some of the most beautiful beaches with clear blue waters and good food!! Chelsea and David chose to invite only their closest family and friends to attend their wedding. People are important to them so they wanted as much time as possible with everyone. Days leading up everyone hung out and explored the little island together. Their wedding day was magical.

Maternity Session // Maui, Hawaii

I met these two lovely humans on a boat trip to watch the whales. They were visiting Hawaii from California with their friends, a little friends trip before the baby came! We were chatting and I asked them if they wanted maternity photos while they were here since I was trying to grow more of my work in Hawaii. And they said YES immediately after canceling on another shoot with a photographer a day before.

We woke up for sunrise and met them at this beautiful location down by the water. It was all things magical and beautiful. I was so happy I could photograph the love between the two before their family turns into three. I’m always so honored when I get to document significant changes in peoples lives.

Mcfall Family in Hawaii

OH my heart explodes when I’m with this family. They have been a constant in my life for over 8 years. I am always blown away by their hospitality when I get to see them from Tacoma to Hawaii. These little ones have grown up in front of my camera for years. I cannot believe how they are turning into these amazing and brilliant humans! And can we talk about Pat and Tarah for a hot second?! COME ON the friendship, laughter, and romance you can even pick up from just the photos of them!? Now imagine them in person?? It’s a hoot to be around.

Hawaii 2019

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

Edward Abbey

That quote basically wraps up Hawaii for me. I am drawn to the water the way some are drawn to the mountains or the desert. I am a water baby through and through. I swam before I could walk. I know God through the water and I know myself better after a good swim. It’s the space where I don’t have to think and I think about everything all at the same time. When I swim it’s my time to process, grieve, be. This trip to Hawaii was much needed after a break up with a best friend. I was able to dream again about life and to remember who I am why I’m here. 

Hawaii has it’s way of drawing me back. The last 4 years I’ve lived in Hawaii for an extended time every 2 years. The first time I went for a few weeks with friends I was captured by the magnificent beauty of Hawaii. The steep green lush mountains, the deep blue ocean waters, and the Hawaii culture pulled me in and spoke profoundly to my heart. It spoke about family, that this life may be more about each other than just productivity. It spoke about the water we all come from and to not forget. The second time I went I lived there for 2 months on a farm and visiting sweet friends. It was full and life giving. I learned about myself and the world around me. I learned how to live off the land and live off little. I learned how I was made for warm tropical climates. 

This trip… I learned to be. I learned this life we all live…it really can be that good. Shitty things happen but it doesn’t take away from the sweetness and goodness that life can be. So many of us don’t let it happen. We think- well one thing good happened so nothing else can ever go good for me. Oh but I have tasted a different way of living. I tasted one where you can wake up for the sunrise, get work done, go play in the ocean, have long meals around the table with new and old friends. I learned you can actually satisfy the pleasures of your heart and not feel bad about it. You can soak up all that sunshine and beautiful waters all day everyday. 

I spent the first 3 weeks in Kailua living with a friend who I shot her elopement. She is wild, amazing, and my soul sister. We played, danced, ate, swam, and talked A LOT. We also swam with monk seals out in the wild one morning. It was an experience I will never forget the rest of my life. I photographed for Nalu – a heal bar, a jewelry company- Bones & Bouquets, families, and couples. It was SO FULL. Everyday I feel like I photographed and it was freaking fun. 

Grace and I went to Kauai for a long weekend so I could photograph for Captain Andy’s- a Napali coast boat tour. IT WAS AN UNBELIEVABLE DAY. Hours on a boat, ridiculous views, snorkeling, singing at the top of our lungs while the sun set. 

Then ventured over to Big Island to meet college friends and stay at the YWAM base. It was glorious. We laughed SO hard that week…as I do with my college friends. Boat tour, hikes, worship nights, working out, and good meals. I won’t forget those days together. 

I finally ended in Maui with a dear study aboard friend, Alexis. She is a florist in Santa Barbara so we rightly so did a few shoots. Family, maternity, couples, boat tour, etc. Met up with Flagstaff friends visiting, ate amazing meals, went to nude beaches, drove to waterfalls, swam till my toes were pruney. I left my heart in Maui. I one day will move there and love the Hawaiian life with my babies…until than I will dream of Hawaii for years to come. 

Melissa + Shea // Sayulita,Mexico

SHEA + MELISSA

Sayulita, Mexico // Nov 3rd 2017

 

Imagine this: a hot salt breeze whips through your hair as you walk cobble streets lined with taco stands and giant dream catchers hung for sale. The colors are bright, vivid, and bold. Your friends run up to you with a cold beer in one hand and their swim suit in another. Life seems slower here. Your closest family and friends are all staying in multiple houses close by with only your two feet or a rented golf cart to get you into town. The jungle sways with sweaty leaves and the ocean roars as it crashes against the rocks ushering in a sunset from afar. The food, the smells, the sounds, and the people are all tell you to slow down, laugh, and drink a margarita or… four.

That may be the very reason Shea and Melissa decided to take have a destination wedding in the small hip surf town of Sayulita, Mexico. I mean who wouldn’t want all their favorite people in one place, eating delicious mexican food, and swimming in the Pacific Ocean??

Melissa is very very creative, spunky, generous, and wild.

Shea is very very funny, inviting, genuine, and intentional.

They met years and year ago while going to school in San Deigo, California. They met one night going out with friends and the rest is well…history! From grad school all over the country to their new home in Phoenix, Arizona, these two have a friendship and partnership that has been tested and tried. Each time they come up even stronger then before.

From the gem colored florals, to the geometric details, and the bridesmaids polka dotted dresses this wedding was not lacking in the creative elements. The venue…WOW…Don Dedros Palapa had all the right feels. Cliff ocean views, lush green lawn, and a palapa for dinner! This space set the scene for an ideal experience in Mexico. Every detail was done with excellence thanks to the amazing wedding coordinator, Somer. Each vendor at this wedding I need to add, was amazing. They help to create a beautiful atmosphere for a good freaking party!! I can’t even talk about the food or I might go jump on a plane back down and not come back (i’m not kidding). I think it takes a certain type of couple to have a destination wedding. They must be ok with a lack of control, chill about the end goal, and be mostly excited for friends and family to come from afar. Shea and Melissa made this wedding about their people. The people who have supported them, carried them, loved on them. Let’t just say they have an amazing support system around their new marriage.

Their wedding weekend was also a over a Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos. The whole town came out to celebrate with flags of color, candles, and pictures of loved ones day came before. Melissa, having Mexican roots, was able to celebrate this holiday along side of her wedding day. They even had a whole table honoring the deceased at the wedding with photos and candles. It was a beautiful additive to the wedding celebration. 

I cannot express to you HOW FREAKING amazing and beautiful this wedding was. I could try…but I think the photographs help tell the story better. So go ahead look for yourself and imagine yourself there with the breeze whipping your hair and a margarita in your hand.

Vendors:

Wedding Dress: Shareen // Florals: Flor Mimo // Venue: Don Pedros // Wedding Planner: Somer Studholme with Vida Bonita Events //DJ: Sayulita Musica – DJ Jess // Videography: 3rmemories // Invitations: Made by the Bride herself. Second Shooter who helped me photograph this beautiful wedding: Karlie Colleen Photography.