A few weeks ago, we flew from our new home in Nashville to the familiar warmth of the west to photograph one of the most special weddings of our career in Temecula, California at Mount Palomar Winery for one of our dear team members and closest friends, Melissa, and her now husband ––that’s so much fun to say! –– Ryan.
We met Melissa and Ryan for the first time (as a couple) four years ago, under the bistro lights of one of our favorite restaurants in the place we called home for most of our life, Scottsdale, Arizona. It was the final step of her interview process to become a full-time member of our team. She has so many responsibilities, but her primary focus is helping us love and serve photographers in a customer care and support role that she carries out daily with care, compassion, empathy and excellence. If you’re one of our students, you’ve likely been well loved and served by Melissa at some point in your journey with us. We couldn’t do what we do without her.
Based on Melissa’s previous interviews, we walked into her final dinner 99.9% sure she was our girl. Then we met Ryan… and were positive she was. In short, his good nature and good character spoke volumes about her good judgement. We hired her and never looked back.
Over the past four years, almost every weekday, Melissa has worked from our home, in the same corner, of the same couch. She’s known both of our babies from the time they were in Amy’s belly and watched them grow up close. They love her like an aunt, and she loves them like they’re her own. When we share a meal, Becks is always asking to sit right next to his “Mcat” and it isn’t uncommon for Becks to request that she snuggle up with him and read his nap time stories right in the middle of the work day. Mel is so much more than a team member. She truly feels like family.
Melissa and Ryan are a fixture at so many Demos BBQs, game nights and holidays that our kids are confused when they’re not there — which is why, when we told Melissa and Ryan we were thinking about moving to Tennessee, we were relieved when, almost without blinking or any hesitation, they quickly responded, “We’re in!” They officially moved to Nashville last week (less than a week after their wedding). They were the final pieces of the puzzle, the last team members to arrive. Seven months after first whispering the words “We’re thinking about moving to Nashville, Tennessee…” We’re all finally here together.
There were so many things that made Melissa and Ryan’s wedding so special for us: For starters, we’ve been expectant for this day since we first had dinner with them under the string lights four years ago. Also, we got to photograph it AND Beckett and Emily were a ring bearer and flower girl for the first time! He practiced pulling her in that wagon for MONTHS leading up to the big day. Another thing that made this wedding feel extra special was one of our superstar students, Kayla Denae, helped us shoot it. It was our first time meeting her in real life and she absolutely KILLED it, and we were so thankful to be able to put our cameras down at the end of the night and dance. One of our favorite wedding planners in Arizona Kayla at Some Like it Classic also happened to be a bridesmaid in this wedding, and getting to work with her and her team is always so great. If all that wasn’t enough, Jordan’s parents (Beckett and Emily’s “Gamma and Papou”) drove out from Arizona to see us, spend the weekend with us and help with the kids on the wedding day, which was the first time we’d seen them together since we moved.
But, for us, the two most special moments were ones we neither expected nor planned.
The first happened a few minutes before the ceremony… when Melissa and Ryan asked us to pray for them. We were so honored to be able to pray for their marriage, for their future family and for the start of their new life together. So, the four of us wrapped our arms around each other… and Jordan prayed. When we all looked up, there wasn’t a dry eye in our circle. We didn’t know it, but one of our friends, Noelle, grabbed our camera and snapped a shot from a distance and it’s our personal favorite memory of the day.
The second moment happened at the end of the night. We’d finally set our cameras down for the day and our entire team was together on the dance floor. It had been months since we’d all been together at the same time, in the same place; and we all knew it would be less than a week before we were (finally) all living in the same place, at the same time… again. Sweaty and salty, tired and hoarse, we raised our glasses and shouted at the top of our lungs, “To Nashville!”
In more ways than we could ever explain, those two moments symbolize the end of one beautiful season of our life, one that we loved so much and will be forever grateful for; and also the start of the next chapter, which we couldn’t be more ready to begin or more excited about the people we’re going with.
During their vows, which they both kept secret until the ceremony, Melissa and Ryan both incorporated their new life dream: growing old (and gray), rocking on their front porch, while holding hands, and watching their grandkids run on their land. Neither one of them knew the other one had incorporated that vision for their life into their vows until they were up at the altar speaking the words out loud to each other for the first time, and it made so many of us teary.
M-Cat 😉 and Ryan, that’s a dream we can get behind, because it’s our dream, too. So, now that you’re here, let us be the first to welcome you to your new life, to welcome you to the first day of your dream, to welcome you to marriage… and to welcome you to the South. We love you more than you’ll ever know and we couldn’t be more excited, or feel more blessed, to be on this adventure with you. Let’s keep dreaming big dreams. See you on the front porch 😉
the creative team
bride’s gown: martina liana • bridesmaids’ dresses: azazie • cake: the kilted cake • dj: jason jass with visions entertainment • furniture rentals: bright event rentals • groom & groomsmens’ tuxedos: men’s wearhouse • hair & makeup: knight & veil • invitations: twenty four creatives • linen: la tavola fine linen • photography: amy & jordan • videography: amari productions • bridesmaids’ robes: yadi mercier • bride’s jewelry: kendra scott