Shortly after finishing High School, I spent a year out in the high desert of California, working with a church there. It was a year of stretching and growing in ways that I had never experienced. I left a very tight knit group of friends to go to a place where I knew very few people and for me, not having a fully packed social calendar proved to be more difficult than expected. I am definitely not the type of person that needs alone time to recharge- I get recharged when I'm surrounded by the people I love (and the occasional new pair of shoes.) But that year, God seemed to have different plans for me. After 11 months, I moved back home and within a few weeks of returning back I had a Facebook message sitting in my inbox from a name I didn't recognize. I opened it up and began reading a message from a photographer than had attended the one wedding I did while I was in California. The bride and groom from that wedding were some of the few people I connected with while I was away and I knew anyone that was friends with them, had to be awesome.
Enter Daniel Cruz- he was a stylish guy with a great head of hair and a beautiful girlfriend, named Sarina. He emailed me just to introduce himself and say that he'd love the opportunity of working together up in Seattle. It was the first email of that kind that I had gotten. I was brand new on the wedding scene and had no idea what I was doing, but he seemed to think that it would be great to collaborate. I instantly started stalking Daniel's account to see what info I could dig up and to check out his work. I knew in just a few minutes that I wanted to meet this guy and wondered how I could have spent 11 months in this small town and had never come in contact with him. Determined to make something happen, I got him a wedding in Seattle for that following Spring. I vouched to a client of mine that he was an incredible photographer and that they'd be crazy not to book him...which might have been a stretch, seeing as our only communication was a few Facebook messages and texts (sorry Rosanne, thanks for trusting me.) But I was determined to get this guy out here and I did.
Daniel and Sarina were just as amazing as I expected. They were the kindest people and I immediately felt like I had known them forever. I couldn't believe we were practically neighbors that whole time and I missed out on being with them. But the wedding that Spring was awesome and having them there taking beautiful photos was really great. After they returned to California we kept in touch and every time I was in town we'd meet up and hit up every killer dessert spot we could find...Sarina has a sweet tooth as big as I do, so we instantly became best friends.
It's been a few years and both of our styles have definitely changed, but getting to do one of my first big weddings with them was so great. Here are a few throwback photos:
Fast forward to this past June- I had the pleasure of designing Daniel & Sarina's intimate Joshua Tree National Park wedding. D&S and about 20 of their closest friends and family, drove an hour and a half into the desert from Palm Springs for a stunning ceremony amongst towering rocks, a beautiful sunset...and about a million unwelcome desert bees! I drove 3 hours into the middle of nowhere LA to pick up some amazing Moroccan rugs for the ceremony. Their beautiful bright colors popped like crazy amongst the neutral tones of the desert and attracted swarms of wild bees, which was not only alarming, but a huge problem because Daniel is super allergic to bees. So with a race against the setting sun, we had to completely move our ceremony and forget about using the rugs or the floral I had set up.
The ceremony moved to a beautiful rock formation and went on without a hitch- rugs or no rugs! Daniel & Sarina exchanged vows just as the sun set and then took communion and photos with each of their guests. I love how the intimate number of guests allowed them to be so present and intentional with everyone there.
One of my favorite choices Daniel & Sarina made for their wedding was having Brandon and Kristen of Brandon Kidd Photo as their photographers. These guys are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. They put their heart and soul into their work and you can't help but have a great time working alongside of them. The photos they captured are truly stunning and I look forward to hopefully many more weddings with them.
Looking back on this day, I'm filled with incredible memories and gratitude to Daniel and Sarina for having me a part of their wedding. Their friendship means so much to me and I'm so thankful to have them in my life, even if we're separated by hundreds of miles. Their love for each other and for others is truly inspiring.
This past winter, Daniel was met with some shocking news, as he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The intensity of this news would to so many be a devastating reality, but both Daniel and Sarina have embraced it with tremendous faith and fortitude. He recently began chemotherapy, with a rather intense regiment of treatments over the next number of weeks. I had the pleasure of flying in late last month and got to go with him to a full day of doctor's visits and chemo. He sat in that chair from about 10am 'til 5pm and never once complained, but sat there cracking jokes with the nurses and keeping Sarina and I entertained the entire time. This guy's strength and ability to trust God amidst all that has come his way is incredible to me. The have truly embraced what they have been given, with an attitude that realizes that through prayer, positivity and faith, they will look back on this years from now, healthy, grateful, stronger in their faith and stronger in their love.
Daniel and Sarina, I love you both and am so grateful for your friendship. I believe in you both, so much and know that you guys will beat this thing. I look forward to all that you guys will do together, the weddings we will work on and the places we will all go.
Should you feel moved to donate to Daniel's process, you can make a huge difference, here: https://www.gofundme.com/danielvscancer
Photography: Brandon Kidd Photography
Hotel: Ace Hotel- Palm Springs
Dress: Willowby by Waters
MUH: 10.11 Makeup
Tuxedo: J Crew
Floral: Kaleb Norman James Design