lets first start with the fact that aubrey and derek decided to hold their elopement on friday the 13th, friends. no shits given about superstitions.
a girl after my own heart, aubrey wanted a desert elopement outside of Vegas. if you know me, you know i LOVE the desert, especially outside of Vegas – where you get to see parts of the Mojave. red rock canyon was the first desert area allen and i ever hiked in, back before this all began years ago. and it was the first time i explored somewhere and felt a connection deeper than all what traveling to all different cities did for me. so when she said vegas desert, i knew magic was going to happen here.
knowing their back story, its no surprise that planning an elopement last minute (3-4 weeks out) is right up their ally. aubrey and derek love to go to vegas together, and when they learned family was bringing her dear grandmother there for a fun trip, it was a no brainer aubrey wanted to seal the deal on her and derek’s 3 year engagement, in your no-so-typical vegas way. although grandma couldnt make it to the desert, they lived out their vision.
a little bit about these two awesome people; they both are from and met in the OC area (derek is a marine, thank you sir) and met when they were both getting tattoos moons ago. they said they made googly eyes and the rest is history. whats beyond cool? they both have a permanent mark on them from when they first met. talk about a conversation starter. after awhile they both knew they wanted to get married, picked out rings together but aubrey didnt know when derek was going to ask. he choose a rad time – as theyre riding ghost rider (a popular roller coaster at knotts berry farm) pulls out the ring right before the big drop and camera catching. RISKY, CLEVER and FUN. another win for these guys!
the fun didnt stop. the thing i love about these two so much is their spontaneous, and overall no shits given attitude. one day, out of the blue, they randomly decided to leave OC and move to Salt Lake City. No plan, just boom. did it.. no shits given, didnt take anything but what could fit in their car, tetris packed it up and hit the road. theres something that comes from unexplainable and spontaneous decisions guys. allen and i have done this twice; once to denver and then now cali. stuff like this its sparked from the heart. and seeing this spark alive in other people is what i yearn for. and after all these years, you know what theyre favorite memory together is? their time on the road when leaving california, exploring and living freely for a week before starting a new life in SLC.
Common theme for our couples: doing what you want to do because it feels best, without worry or stress of others opinions impacting your desires. it’s a v e r y rewarding feeling and when we meet people that embrace it, man it brings us alive and connects us to documenting your celebration on such a deeper level.
aubrey and derek held their ceremony with a few family members at a chapel along the strip in Vegas, but i had the honor to met up with them in the desert to privately share their vows with one another. this time of year is normally not one i’d recommend for hiking or eloping in the the desert; it is HOT in the summer, over 100 degrees and any hiking just makes you miserable, day or night. so we planned something short and quick at red rock canyon right off a highway. mother nature had our backs and decided out of ALL days of the year, it was time for the desert to see some rain. we didnt get a down pour, but we got so lucky with some amazing cloud coverage to block the sun and keep us cool. the moody desert sky was a photographers dream.
aubrey & dereks's red rock canyon elopement gallery
I’ve seen a lot of details brides have for their wedding day, but something Aubrey bought really got my attention. Outside of their vow books, I saw a leather-bound book with unique parchment and a skull engraved on the front. I asked her what that was- she said it’s her keepsake notebook for her and derek. they got it at knotts berry farm, where he proposed. inside holds precious pieces of her and dereks time together; flowers he’s got her… notes with writing from a special pen for the parchment…the picture that was taken when he proposed on ghost rider….see below for the roller coaster picture of him popping the ring out! i die at sentimental tokens of love. but this was something else. but to be honest, this night started off rocky. aubrey was feeling under the weather with stomach issues, seeing family at their ceremony didnt go as planned, then Derek got attacked by a jumping Chollo plant (viscious desert plant with balls of prickly cactus that have “j” hook pricks. if you’re familar, you know those are no joke! lots of pain, agony, blood and swelling)… and well, after that, I thought I was going to have to throw up the white flag. but…they pushed through. and something happened when we migrated to say their vows.
Seeing these two fill and pour out their emotions…sharing their most intimate thoughts and feelings with another another… aubrey busting out in dance because sublime unexpectedly popped up on the playlist during their vows (artist they bonded over when they first met)… time just stopped for them for a few minutes. Derek’s breaking point during Aubrey’s vows… and i knew it was coming, doesnt matter, that one tear did me in. its a moment i’ll never forget seeing, it was almost slow motion. After this Aubrey was able to push through her stomach bug, to a point she was running in the middle of the highway with her family heirloom suitcase.
their chemistry is undeniable…it’s clear to see these two share something strong…something unbreakable. its an honor to work with such deep, free-spirited souls. its couples like aubrey and derek that make being an elopement photographer, so incredibly more than just a job.
cheers & happy forever anniversary of friday the 13th aubrey & derek 😉