This intimate desert wedding was meant to be. Six months into their relationship, Dan brought Taylor to Moab for the first time, and thus began an ardent, shared connection to the desert! Taylor credits Dan with cultivating her adventurous side. He encouraged her love of the outdoors which has since become an integral part of their relationship. The couple’s photographer, Angela Hays, shares, “Knowing their history and love for the desert, I really wanted the shoot to reflect the joy that they feel… and also their free-spirited personalities… I wanted to use my area knowledge to create organic images that showcase both the landscape and the love between them.”
Taylor and Dan exchanged vows in the presence of their nearest and dearest, even managing to include their sweet dog in the ceremony! The couple then embarked upon their first adventure as husband and wife, hiking to Corona Arch and wandering through the desert hand in hand. Still dressed in a suit and gown, the newlyweds deftly ascended Moki steps, climbed ladders, and scaled formidable inclines using cables. “…the sun began to set and the world lit up. No need for candles, fireworks, or decorations when the light plays off the rocks in golds, oranges, and golds,” their photographer recalls. The couple describes the day as perfect, sharing that it was everything they dreamed their wedding could be.
“If I could share one thing with brides that I’ve learned photographing almost 100 intimate desert weddings and elopements,” Angela says, “[it] is this: don’t worry about a little dirt on your dress or sand on your feet. Don’t worry when the wind blows your perfectly done hair or when the elements threaten to steal away the perfect bluebird sky from your photos – just embrace it. Embrace every single piece of it, because it’s the real moments that you’ll remember the most. Those real moments and that real love.”
Photography by Angela Hays Photography
CHOOSING AN INTIMATE WEDDING:
“…as I started the planning process, I was inundated with all the wedding ‘must-haves’. The wedding industry is so huge and overwhelming, and I found myself getting caught up in all these little – not to mention pricey – details. I had to stop and take a step back and ask myself what we really wanted as a couple – what represented [us] the best? The answer to that was simplicity, along with love, laughter, being outdoors, and our closest loved ones. Once that was decided, things started to fall into place. It felt very genuine and authentic to who we are as individuals and as a couple.”
“[Taylor] fully embraced the red rock and desert by getting ready for her wedding right there with boulders as the walls of her dressing room and slick rock as the cool floor under her bare feet. Their intimate ceremony by the Colorado River was serene and beautiful… The light, the clouds, the red rock desert was the perfect cathedral, and they were ideal clients. They had a vision, but they allowed me artistic license and trusted me to fulfill their vision.”
[Angela Hays, Photographer]
CHOOSING A LOCATION:
“Dan brought me to Moab for the first time six months into our relationship. I fell deeply in love with the desert landscape and the rich colors of the rock contrasting with the blue sky. It quickly became our special place, and we visited any chance we got… On one visit, while hiking high on a cliff overlooking the Colorado River and Moab Valley below, Dan got down on one knee [and] proposed. Getting married in Moab just seemed like the only option, the only [place] that truly represented our love and our relationship… It comes back to that feeling of authenticity and being true to what we love most and represents us best.”
“I have hiked to [the] arches many times before, but when I’m there with two people in love in their first moments as committed partners for life, it seems almost poetic. Arches are rare geologic formations, created through erosion and time. They seem to defy gravity and logic, much like love. Love is rare, it can weather the storms of life and becomes more beautiful as it does. Finding that one person seems to defy logic and is nothing short of a miracle. Standing below these arches with Taylor and Dan after they had committed to stand by each other and share their love for life, was the most appropriate way to complete the day.”
PLANNING AN INTIMATE WEDDING:
“Because I tend to get these big ideas, I constantly had to bring myself back down to earth to stay true to our vision. I had to keep overcoming the ‘I should have that for my wedding’ syndrome. It also happened in spurts, because I’d get overwhelmed and have to stop… I had a lot of help with DIY things like making wine bottles into lights and vases, using a friend’s wedding arch, shopping for and preparing our own food… I made my own bouquet from lavender and random desert flora that friends had picked for me. I would say the absolute most stressful part was just making sure we had somewhere to stay down there, because Moab gets really busy that time of year.”
“Just as we turned around to leave our reverie and head back to the party happening at the river, the light broke through the clouds and set the rocks on fire. It was one of those moments of magic that has you running around snapping non-stop because it is just that beautiful. The most meticulously planned wedding, with a fortune spent on details, a wedding arch, candles and decor cannot compete with the splendor of a desert sunset.”
“A wedding is about you and your partner. Do what feels right and good to you… if you don’t fall into the trap of feeling like it needs to be any way other than how you want it, it will be perfect no matter what. Family and friends might be upset, but they will understand. Again, it is about you, your partner, and the love you share.”
Thank you to Angela Hays for sharing this session, and congratulations to Taylor + Dan!