I have a little secret, I have a big soft spot for adult family gatherings. I grew up in a family that used to gather every Sunday at my Grandmother’s house in Trion, GA. She made a feast that was so large, it could have fed 50 people, instead of the 10 people who attended. We did that up until I was 14, and then my mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed within a year. When mom was sick, she didn’t have the energy to make the 20-mile road trip to Granny’s house, so we stopped the tradition. I suppose it was grief and the fact that my brother and sister had married and moved on after mom had passed, but we never had those family gatherings again. During those years after, I missed my uncles, aunts, and cousins, but I suppose, life went on. I went to college and then moved to Arizona after I graduated. I didn’t even know what I was truly missing out on until I was much older.
When I started to regularly photography family gatherings, it hit me like a brick wall. These relationships, these moments, you never get them back. At every shoot, I’d soak in the laughter and giggles, and even sometimes the tears as I reminisced on moments of my own family’s memories lost. I love these shoots and it’s so nice to capture these moments for families. I know they’ll cherish these moments in 40 years, even more than they do now.
I love spending the morning with the Berthelsen Family in Oak Creek. This little piece of paradise has always been a reminder of home, with the cool streams and beautiful riparian environment. Plus, this family was just so happy to be together, to smile and laugh and reminisce. Thank you for having me as part of your family history 🙂 ~ Melissa
It’s been over a month since I’ve posted any of my work to my website. The first quarter of 2017 was the busiest I’ve ever been in ten years and I’m so grateful to all my clients with trusting me with their memories. And then there came new equipment to learn and new computers to install, a new employee to train and priorities were just redirected. Being a full-time photographer for the past ten years in Flagstaff has been a blessing. But, I’m always amazed at how much time I spend doing other things than actually photographing. When I had college photography interns, that was their greatest disappointment, they were not using their camera. I crunched the numbers one afternoon and found out that I only click my camera shutter about 12% of my working time. While it wasn’t a surprise to me, seeing that small number stare back at me was an eye-opener to how I spend my time. However, I’m getting into a rhythm now and I wanted to kick off my return to posting with one of my most cherished clients, the Byers Family.
Amee has been my hairstylist for the past ten years and owns Shanti Salon here in Flagstaff. When I’m in her chair, I feel loved and with a friend. Her husband, Thomas, owns Thomas Byers Guitar Studios and teaches music to students and adults in Flagstaff. I’ve been with this couple every step of the way from their wedding to their first baby, Cohen and their rescue dog Maple. Amee and her family are now expecting their new little boy any day now and I can’t wait to meet this little angel! I love that they are going to wait to name him until they get to meet him face to face. What a lucky soul to have chosen these kind and loving people to be its parents. Congrats! I can’t wait to see him! ~Melissa
Amee chose the gorgeous Oak Creek Canyon as her backdrop and it was so fun watching Cohen play in the creek while we did her photos. If you’ve never been to Oak Creek, I highly recommend you go, but on a weekday. The secret is out about this enchanting slice of Arizona and the weekends are crowded and chaotic. Amee’s rose colored maternity gown was gorgeous and her gold headband enchanting. Amee has always been very stylish! Amee was even brave enough to step into the creek for a few photos despite the creek being freezing! (Snow melt is very cold, lol). Thanks for being so adventurous Amee!
Congrats to the Byers Family! I can’t wait to see him! ~Melissa
Sometimes it’s sureal living so close to Sedona. In 21 short miles from downtown Flagstaff, we can be looking at scenery that every time, blows me away. If you’ve ever had the chance to visit there, you know what I’m talking about. And if not, get it on your bucket list.
One of the cool things about Sedona is Oak Creek. In Flagstaff, we don’t have a lot of water, so it’s a real treat to have a running creek so close to home. It’s nice to escape there during our warmer months, and be able to stick our toes into the clear, pristine water or fly fish the native trout. As Sedona Wedding Photographers, Red Rock Crossing is one of our favorite places to shoot. The grounds are diverse, with trees, tall grasses, and of course the creek. Depending on the season, the water could be high or low making for unique photos every time. But, one of the most amazing things, in my opinion, is the breathtaking overlook on the way to Red Rock Crossing. It’s one that many people drive by all the time with out stopping, and definitely off the beaten path. If you ever find your way in Sedona, plan on a sunset stop here.
I’ve known the Brown family for a long time. During this session I was thinking back to my own wedding when Derrick stood at the alter with my husband as one of his groomsmen. So much as changed since then, and yet, so much has stayed the same. The Brown family will always be interwoven in our lives as some of our closest friends, and acutally, they really are more like family to Grant and I. We’ve watched them start a family and have been so lucky to witness these little angels grow up. We joke amoung our circle that Tamara and Derrick have somehow managed to create “mini-me’s” of each other, the kids resemble their parents so much! Each year I look forward to photographing this family, but, honestly, I always get really, really, nervous before photographing people that I care about so much. I always hope that I can somehow convey through my lens just how much we love them. I hope you enjoy these sweet photos of our even sweeter friends at the beautiful West Fork Trail in Oak Creek Canyon. We were there during the last of the fall colors and it was gorgeous. Thanks for being such great friends to us Tamara and Derrick! I look forward to the years to come! ~ Melissa
We met Katie last winter when she came into our Flagstaff studio to talk about her Memorial Day weekend wedding. And, at the end of the meeting, when she promptly said she wanted to hire us as her photographers, we were very excited! Katie is one of those ladies you meet where you become instantly friends, she’s that welcoming and has an infectious laughter that makes you feel part of her family. We anxiously looked forward to her wedding weekend, and loved getting to know both of their families and friends. Katie and Rob were married at the always gorgeous L’Auberge de Sedona. Katie and the ladies got pampered in the Creekhouse where the expansive doors open up to the beckoning sounds of Oak Creek. It truly is a magical place. Katie choose a beautiful Liancarlo Couture gown from Destiny’s Bride in Scottsdale, and it fit her to perfection. We think it was truly the perfect gown for her!
Katie had a wonderful and talented makeup and hair stylist team in Faith Hare and Michele Lee. All the ladies looked perfect and Katie was such a stunning bride! Going down to the creek is one of our many favorite things about photographing at L’Auberge. Katie’s bridal portraits under the trees were so beautiful! Katie has one of the most dramatic and gorgeous veils we’ve every seen and the way that the wind down by the creek moved her veil around ever so slightly made for a perfect photograph!
We loved the Monique L’huillier bridesmaid gowns! And, we loved how Katie’s sister, the Maid of Honor, had a special aubergine color gown. The platinum gowns looked amazing alongside!
Katie and Rob have a child, well, a four legged one named Spanky. We were delighted to find out that Spanky would be a part of the wedding party. We think it’s a perfect choice to include all the family members on such an important day! Spanky wore a gorgeous wedding day collar adorned with the colors of the wedding day of orange, purple and green. Rob’s boutonniere was made from his favorite flower, a Bird of Paradise. Petal Pushers made him a special variation of the flower that suited his artistic side.
The ceremony, on the Spiritsong Terrace, was a perfect mix of smiles and tears. Jake Hanson delivered a sweet and sentimental ceremony that had us all teary eyed. When it came time for the vows, there was not a dry eye in the house! Even little Spanky got caught in up the vows 🙂
L’Auberge‘s ballroom opens up to a beautiful grassy area perfect for the cocktail hour and looks just gorgeous during twilight. Petal Pushers adored the ballroom with artistic displays of flowers at every turn. It was spectacular!
Katie and Rob opted to see each other for the first time as Katie walked down the aisle. So after the ceremony, we walked down to the gorgeous creek to get some great photographs of the two of them together, for the first time, as husband and wife. We love these first moments together for the bride and groom, and they are definitely always our favorites of the day.
Congratulations Katie and Rob! We loved being there for you and wish you a lifetime of love and happiness! ~ Melissa and Kristen
Ceremony and Reception Site: L’Auberge de Sedona
Bridemaids Gowns: Monique Lhuillier
Floral Design: Petal Pushers
Hair Stylist: Faith Hare and Michele Lee
Makeup: Michele Lee
Entertainment and DJ: Desert House Productions
Invitations: Ali Ink Custom Designs
Kristen and I love Page Springs Cellars & Vineyard, for it’s wonderfully crafted wines and gorgeous scenery, but we loved this location even more for this enchanting Trash the Dress session with our beautiful model, Melissa. With the vines in full foliage, and Oak Creek invitingly flowing below, it was a perfect place to get some gorgeous bridal photos of this lovely lady. Melissa is showcasing two gowns, one double layered lace gown with a black sash, and another light and romantic gown with handmade flowers. Sedona weddings are always so romantic, Page Springs winery is a perfect venue for your intimate event!
~ Melissa, Sedona Wedding Photographer, Tangled Lilac Photography
Thank you for a lovely afternoon Melissa!