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Posts from the ‘Eloping Tucson Style’ Category

Destination Weddings at Rincon Creek Ranch

Here’s a gem in the Sonoran Desert that I am excited to share with you: a special place in Tucson called Rincon Creek Ranch, located by the Rincon Mountains and Saguaro National Park East. Not only is it a tranquil and scenic natural setting for intimate destination weddings, elopements or vow renewals, it is owned by a gracious couple who make you feel right at home. Turns out I’ve learned Bill and Gretchen Shirley and I enjoy serving similar kinds of clients: discerning folks seeking relaxed and smaller scale events where the emphasis is upon being with close friends and family, plus enjoying time in the desert. I got the chance to talk with Bill and Gretchen recently. Here’s a bit of our conversation:

Kristine: What qualities separate Rincon Creek Ranch from other destination event venues or locations in Southern Arizona?

Bill & Gretchen: The sheer stunning beauty of our natural setting combined with the luxury of the upscale accommodations. We have 95 acres and share a half mile long border with Saguaro National Park giving us unspoiled views that simply don’t exist anywhere else in Tucson. Also, the “boutique” quality of our Ranch. We have the “just right” Goldilocks fit.

Bill & Gretchen on the front porch

Kristine: As owners and hosts to your guests, what are your creative specialties?

Bill & Gretchen: Gretchen and I have independent talents, and we anticipate different needs of our guests. Mine are more practical and functional while Gretchen’s are more pampering and aesthetic. What we share is the desire to do the best job possible. It’s not a job. It’s a passion. Together we try to make sure that our casitas are truly “Little Homes”. We do our best to make sure that every detail, necessity, and amenity has been provided to give our guests a luxurious, relaxing get away. If a guest requests something that we didn’t think to provide, you can be sure there will be one in every casita as soon as we can get it.

For events at the Ranch, it is Gretchen’s aesthetic design talent that shapes how the location or project will look and feel. My construction and engineering skills bring her ideas to fruition. And, sometimes its a feature I want to provide, but she shapes it with her input, and the collaborative end product is always better than our initial individual idea.

Kristine: Who are your ideal clients or guests? What do you enjoy about working with them?

Bill & Gretchen: For guests, it is those who are truly on a vacation retreat. We have hosted numerous guests that are here visiting relatives, attending an event, or on a working retreat, but the ones that are really here to enjoy themselves are always the most rewarding. For those booking the Ranch for an event, the smaller intimate groups always seem to have the most rewarding time. We’ve found “destination” wedding parties to be absolutely wonderful. Generally its groups of about ten couples that arrive from out of state and stay for about five days. They have the entire Ranch to themselves. They are on vacation, but also have a wedding ceremony and intimate reception. We are now getting those couples back to celebrate their anniversaries. Reunions are also a lot of fun.

Kristine: Do you have any tips to share for couples or families before they choose a location for their wedding or special event?

Bill & Gretchen: Don’t try and “make it work”. Be realistic about your budget and the attributes of your event. We’ve had many cases where a host has fallen in love with the Ranch, but the sheer size of their event exceeds the capacity of what we can offer. Its like falling in love with that spectacular pair of shoes or stunning outfit, but its not available in your size. If you try to force it, it ends up being a very uncomfortable experience and defeating to your initial vision.

Kristine: Anything else you’d like to share?

Bill & Gretchen: Universally, our guests have all said “two days is too short”. Maybe that sounds like a marketing ploy, but its the truth. Check out what our guests have said on TripAdvisor.com. For wedding couples, remember it is about your relationship. You are forming a union, and you are celebrating that partnership. Its not about the party or the trappings.

Kristine: I agree, Bill and Gretchen! Forming a union through marriage is a major milestone, one to be celebrated in a way that reflects a couples’ own unique shared stories, beliefs and values. Thanks for sharing your insights and thank you for making an incredibly thoughtful place available for guests to celebrate meaningful celebrations throughout life! 

Ten Reasons to Elope in Tucson

Desert landscape with saguaro cactii (Carnegie...

Desert landscape with saguaro cactii (Carnegiea gigantea) in Agua Fria National Monument, Arizona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Autumn in the Sonoran Desert is beautiful. Windy sometimes, though beautiful even in the cool breezes.

Winter? G O R G E O U S. Seriously. If you are planning an elopement and coming from colder climes where the gray skies, bone chilling winds and short daylight hours all add up to less than welcoming outdoor fun, consider eloping in Tucson.

This is the simplest of reasons why eloping to Tucson for a fabulous winter wedding is a good idea: the weather. Here are ten more:

1. Our natural landcapes and vistas are stellar. The open desert surrounding Tucson calls to birders, hikers, bikers and lazy picnickers alike. From the trails on Mt. Lemmon to the canyons in the Santa Rita Mountains, there are countless places for enjoyment and simple outdoor ceremonies.

2. The historic architecture is inviting and colorful. If your more of an urban couple and like historic areas for exploration, go no further than downtown Tucson with the Museum of Art and places like Old Artisans. Photo opportunities and quiet nooks for ceremonies are around nearly every corner.

3. Much of the local food is unique in the world and the margaritas make you want more. Who wants to travel without interesting, provocative and delicious food and drinks right? You’ll find it here. From places like Proper or Cafe Poca Cosa in downtown to Mi Nidito’s on south Fourth Avenue, you’ll be savoring mouth watering morsels.

4. The live music alternatives are endless. Nearly every night of the week, you can find live music to sit back and enjoy or shake your booty to . . . all up to you. Places like Monterey Court Cafe and Galleries have nightly bills. And if you want ceremony musicians to make your elopement extra special, local talent like husband and wife combo Duo Vibrato plays unforgettable tunes.

5. Our warm and comfortable places to stay are beyond memorable. The list of unique places to stay or to have a simple ceremony on the grounds is literally too long for me to get into here. We have beautiful accommodations throughout Southern Arizona. From Hacienda del Sol to Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain or cozy bed and breakfasts tucked into historic neighborhoods or mountain towns alike, there is a warm inviting place with a fireplace and good views just waiting for you.

6. Your opportunity for co-creating a fun and meaningful custom ceremony awaits. I couldn’t skip myself at Sweetgrass Ceremonies, could I? I love working with mindful couples to co-create custom experiences for their desert elopement ceremony, not just the courthouse steps express.

7. Our desert skies and sunsets are often magical. This photo conveys more than I am able.

Purple Sonoran sunset

Purple Sonoran sunset (Photo credit: kevin dooley)

8. The people welcome you with friendliness and open arms. You’ll find folks here truly welcome visitors with a graciousness that might surprise you. Our summers are so hot and desolate, the buzz around town in winter is a welcome change of pace!

9. Myriad recreational activities can make you dizzy. No joke. This reason could comprise a whole blog post in of itself. From rock climbing to horseback riding, tennis to day hikes, migratory birding to mountain biking, pool lounging to day hiking . . . making a choice from all of the possibilities might make you tired.

10. Your bank account will still be happy after all is said and done. Tucson and other interesting towns in Southern Arizona like Tubac are affordable getaways. You can really step out for an elopement vacation you always remember and not break the bank. That’s worth noting.

Phew. That is a good long list, right? If this has you intrigued, give me a call. Let’s explore what is possible for your winter elopement in Tucson!

Engaged during the Holidays?

If so, I am sending my heartfelt congratulations out to you and your fiance. You must be thrilled!

The festive winter holiday season is so full of celebrations and special times with people we love, it is no wonder it is a popular time for engagements to occur. When you look ahead to a wedding in 2013 or beyond, you might find yourselves desiring a meaningful ceremony experience. Whether you envision an elopement in the balmy Sonoran Desert during the winter or a full-blown springtime celebration, a ceremony will definitely be part of your plans. But where do you begin?

Here is where I might enter your wedding planning fun: I’m a Life-Cycle Celebrant® who composes and leads custom ceremonies for couples based upon their stories, beliefs and values. And here is a quick peek at what I do and how I co-create uplifting wedding experiences with people throughout Southern Arizona and beyond:

I’d love to meet you for a complimentary consultation about your ceremony. Feel free to reach me using the contact form on my blog, call or email me at either: 520.609.8396 or kristine@sweetgrassceremonies.com

Thank you and I look forward to connecting with you soon!

P.S. Many thanks to Glen and Annyce Meiners at Beyond Video for their videography expertise.

Tucson Wedding Gem: The Desert Museum

Are you looking for a wedding venue where your sunset views are unparalleled? And the location is completely unique in the world? I recommend considering the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for your ceremony and reception. It is a magical setting where you truly feel immersed in the beauty of our Sonoran Desert. This special venue is more than a place with scenic views, though. The mission of the organization makes it worth every penny put toward facility fees. I love to lead custom ceremonies for couples and families at the Desert Museum and want more people to know about it. So I asked their fabulous Event Specialist, Drew Hurst, a few questions about this gem of a location:

Kristine: What qualities separate the Desert Museum from other Southern Arizona event venues?

A curious guest at a reception – surely a conversation starter!

Drew: The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is truly unique in that it is the one venue in Southern Arizona that truly captures the essence of the Sonoran Desert.  The museum was built within in the Tucson Mountains so that guests could truly experience the desert where the plants and animals would live.  Due to our location we offer unparalleled views of the Tucson Mountains from our event space.  We also offer our clients the option to bring in non-venemous animals to their event to educate guests and let them interact with the animals and docent staff – a truly one of kind event experience!

Kristine: As the Event Specialist at the Desert Museum, what is your creative specialty?

Drew: I think my creative specialty is the ability to get to know each of my clients in order to create an event that reflects their personal style.  At the Desert Museum we have many venues and options from casual and earthy to upscale and elegant.  Depending on your style and budget I can help you create the perfect event!

Kristine: Who are your ideal clients? What do they enjoy about working with you?

Drew: My ideal clients are people who appreciate the beautiful desert that we live in and want to highlight it for their event.  I think that my clients enjoy working with me because I am very detail oriented and have a passion for event planning and truly love what I do and where I do it!

Ceremony in the Desert Garden

Kristine:  Do you have any tips for couples or families to consider before they choose a venue for their wedding or special event?

Drew: I think the first step is to make sure you have a detailed budget.  Once you have a budget you can be realistic about the venues that you can afford.  From there, I would suggest determining the “feel” you would like for your wedding.  Do you want something outdoors, indoors, formal, casual, etc?  Once you have a budget and “feel” for your wedding – pick a handful of venues and look at them in person.  Make sure to bring a list of questions!  From there you can compare the cost, facilities, catering, etc. at each venue to make your decision.  Another tip I think is helpful is never be afraid to ask for a discount.  Many venues (and vendors in general) offer discounts for off-season events, or for weddings that fall on a Sunday.

Kristine: Thank you so much for sharing this helpful information, Drew. If people need to contact you to arrange a visit, I’ll mention they may either call or email you at 520.883.3018 or dhurst@desertmuseum.org. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Reception in the Baldwin Education Building with beautiful balcony views.

Eloping in Tucson

Sabino Canyon, Tucson
Image by miheco via Flickr

Couples who elope to Tucson for saying their “I dos” have so many choices, it can be overwhelming! If you want something beyond the courthouse steps, being creative and seeking adventure helps. And that’s where I usually come in.

Just a few weeks ago, for example, I led a very easy-going, poignant and adventuresome wedding in Sabino Canyon. And when I say in the Canyon, I mean we literally stood barefoot in the creek, shaded by a huge old sycamore tree! It was so refreshing in the desert heat.

The experience felt pretty magical. The Bride and Groom couldn’t have been happier.

They were visiting from back east and knew just what they wanted for their ceremony: simple, stress-free, meaningful and scenic. A great elopement recipe that I can deliver as a relaxed Wedding Celebrant!

Two Weddings to Remember

Every once in awhile, I connect with a couple who immediately feels like we’ve already known each other for eons. That happened last year with Carolyn and John.

Their sense of ease with one another and complete adoration for each other melted me. I’ve told a bit of their story already this year. Here’s Part One:

We met in December 2010, when John called me early Christmas Eve morning to see if I could do their elopement ceremony after Christmas. (He was waiting for Carolyn to try on wedding dresses when he called!) They were in the desert visiting from chilly Iowa.

Part One: John & Carolyn’s winter Elopement in Tucson

Fortunately, I was in town and available. I think the Universe had grand plans for us, so everything worked absolutely perfect. We met on Sunday afternoon, they answered a few couple reflections for me, and ‘voila’! After a very early morning ceremony writing session, I sent their customized script to them for review by 9AM.

They cried big happy tears upon receiving it and said “This is so truly US. We are thrilled!” We had a blast during their ceremony, with two dear friends as witnesses being present to celebrate. It was a bit surreal how smoothly everything unfolded.

And Part Two:

As is often the case for couples, they elope with a satisfying sense of simplicity. And then there are circles of family and friends ‘back home’ who really want an excuse to celebrate their union, too! Carolyn and John saw their great opportunity in celebrating with their extended circle of loved ones back in Iowa. And they chose to repeat their ceremony, with me leading it.

Needless to say, I was completely moved. And eager to fulfill their wish!

Part Two: Celebration in Iowa

We added a few very meaningful flourishes the second time. First, Carolyn’s two sons participated as the bearer’s of the wedding rings. Second, I asked all the guests for their blessings and support upon John and Carolyn’s union. (Of course they enthusiastically responded with “WE DO!”)  And third, John wrote and performed a song just for his Bride. I’m not sure there were any dry eyes in the house!

They had this Icelandic saying engraved into each of their custom made rings:

“Gued, laeder oaker aast ae-lift.” / “God guide our love always.”

And I said this on behalf of everyone before the pronouncement – more happy tears!

Thank you, dearest Carolyn and John, for this opportunity to serve you and your family as your Wedding Celebrant. I cherish our connection. And I can’t wait to see you again this winter in the desert!

John singing to Carolyn to close their Ceremony