ENCHANTED ENGAGEMENT - WHITE SANDS, NEW MEXICO
To say this bride and groom-to-be are adventurers, is a definite understatement. Julianne, affectionately and officially known as Julz (with the ‘z’ because, why not?) is easily one of the most energetic, effervescent, magnetically fun humans I’ve ever known. So when she and her handsome counterpart, Paul got engaged, our wheels immediately began spinning on how to capture the frolicsome pair in a way they would cherish for life. Caveat: “frolicsome” is not a word that frequents my vocabulary, but spend eight minutes with these two and you’ll be at a loss of traditional words to describe their playful love.
Talks of engagement photos promptly led us to exploring our collective bucket lists and honing in on one particular oasis—the White Sands Desert in southern New Mexico. A sprawling basin of pearl-colored dunes is obvious catnip for photographers like ourselves, but to find a couple who’s down for the journey is much more rare. As it turned out, Paul happened to be planning his own pre-wedding walkabout across the South. A masculine, cross-country road trip—just a man and his dog, exploring uncharted roads and stopping at nearly every National Park between the east and west coasts (see what we mean by “frolicsome”?). Paul gladly scheduled this New Mexico stop into his road trip, lured by promises of gypsum fields and geographic anomalies, yet conveniently unaware that the three of us girls were secretly running rampant with plans for bustling floral bouquets, onyx-colored gowns and a small parade of live animals. Super casual.
But it was our off-season, our creative energy was at a high and we knew we couldn’t step foot into the White Sands unless we came correct. So what started as innocent inspiration from a gloriously chic, Moroccan wedding blanket from Restoration Hardware, quickly snowballed into Gina and I donning our designer hats to style an embellished, yet simplistic setting there in the desert. With the blanket as a base, we garnished the space with ivory taper candles, a brass candelabra and hunter green goblets from Hearth & Hand. For florals, we tried our hand at styling the bouquet we saw in our vision for the shoot—dark, desaturated leaves, mixed with lamb’s ear, meadow sage, thistles and nude feathers.
Our friends at El Paso Trail Rides met us in the White Sands with our cast of supporting stars, the four beauties better known as Gucci, Buddy, Tulsa and Tay Tay. Unfortunately, they too were unable to escape our adorning. We draped all four horses in champagne and alabaster ribbon wreaths that they inevitably managed to eat throughout the afternoon.
In classic Manhattan fashion, Julianne and Paul wore matte black as a sharp, elegant contrast to the sparkling dunes. Not to be outdone by his fiancé’s cascading dress, Paul brought more to the table than just those long, wind-blown locks. Sporting leather-trim suspenders and a brow-wrinkle to rival Clint Eastwood himself, let’s just say these two were utterly flawless.
As tempting as it may be to try explaining the majesty of the White Sands themselves, I know I’m better off letting the photos and video take the lead. But yes, it glistens, and changes colors in the New Mexican sunset and damn-near sings you a lullaby as the park rangers kick you out at the end of the night. Mystical, marvelous, absolutely magical. What a way to create something memorable for these two people we love so much.