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Desert Harbor Retreat Elopement in Sandia Park, NM | Larisa & Dave

This desert elopement was brought to life by photographer Paul McPherson and Raymond Linam, owner of Desert Harbor Retreat.

Although their love story began in Hawaii, Larisa and Dave are a California-based couple who chose New Mexico as their location for an intimate wedding experience. “Larisa and Dave wanted to escape the city-life [of] San Francisco and get lost in a deep desert oasis…” Paul recounts. “Desert Harbor Retreat is truly one of the hidden gems of the desert… Meticulous planning goes into creating an experience that feels like a blank canvas, open [to] endless opportunities. Couples can truly get lost in the experience of their union.”

As a wedding professional, Raymond feels it is his responsibility to provide the guidance his Desert Harbor couples need to feel, “…comfortable in a wild and untamed desert setting with minimal embellishments.” His objective is to highlight the depth of each couple’s affection for one another, in a way that he feels “out-of this world backdrops [and] swanky staging” never can. Larisa and Dave appreciated how effortlessly the day came together, thanks to Paul and Raymond. They “…truly created a space of celebration while still allowing us to focus on our love for each other and [the] significance of the day,” she says. Keep reading for more insight on elopement planning from the bride!

Photography by Shutterfreek


“We are both from California but met in Hawaii. Dave was working in Honolulu during his summer break from teaching and [I] was vacationing. We met through mutual friends at a grimy bar called the Sandbox in Honolulu. I felt an instant connection to Dave, and it wasn’t just the Sandbox cocktails and Aloha spirit! We stayed in touch after returning to California and began dating long distance until moving in to together and deciding to marry.”



“We chose [an] elopement because it was intimate… We kept it a surprise and called friends and family after the ceremony. Everyone was happy and supportive. The planning process was very easy once we found the location. Raymond and Desert Harbor took care of everything…”



“We found Desert Harbor via a Google search on wedding elopements in New Mexico. My family is from New Mexico, and we’ve traveled there together. We always appreciated the spirituality of New Mexico and thought it was a beautiful place to celebrate our love. We would return to Desert Harbor for vacation, and after our elopement, we have recommended [it] to friends as a great place to stay to reflect and reconnect.”



“First, I can’t say enough good things about Paul at Shutterfreek. He has such [a] positive, enthusiastic energy. We couldn’t help [but] have a great time hiking around the beautiful Desert Harbor property while Paul ran around us, up and down hillsides, [to capture] the wonderful shots he took. It’s amazing because oftentimes photos miss the beauty of the moment and the scenery and Paul’s photos captured both.”


Location & Coordinating | Desert Harbor Retreat
Florals | Albuquerque Florist
Hair & Makeup | Genica Lee
Cake | Carol Kosak

Thank you to Wandering Weddings member Paul McPherson of Shutterfreek for sharing this session, and congratulations to Larisa + Dave!

Member Spotlight Page | Shutterfreek

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