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Posts from the ‘Tucson Wedding Gems’ 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 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! 

Tucson Wedding Gem: MC Weddings & Events

As a Life-Cycle Celebrant® who co-creates custom ceremonies, I get to work with mature couples who are madly in love. Sounds crazy fun, right? Yes! It is a joy. Add that joy into working along side creative event professionals who love to exceed couples’ expectations and voila: double the joy.

Yikes. I’m sounding a bit like a certain candy bar commercial here, aren’t I? But, I can’t help myself! A central part of my work while creating ceremonies for unions of all kinds is working with talented professionals who are totally committed to their crafts. People who do this work to create a meaningful and fun experience, (not just a boring product or insipid outcome). Meagan Crain is one of those ‘committed to her craft’ kind of people. Through her business ‘MC Events’ she plans and coordinates a range of life milestone events for couples, families and even organizations. I’m so happy to highlight her, specifically her wedding services, on my blog today. I thoroughly enjoy working with Meagan and think you might too. Here’s a chat we had recently:

One of many happy couples who worked with Meagan!

~ One of many happy couples who worked with Meagan~

KB: As an experienced event planner and coordinator, what is your creative specialty?

MC: My creative specialty is making sure a wedding or event represents the client.  When guests walk into a ceremony or reception I want them to be able to immediately see little details that are special or unique to the couple.  The goal is to make sure the couple’s personalities and styles shine through the whole day!

On the creative level I also work with my clients on expanding their vision.  Typically, a bride has an overall idea of how she wants the day to look (e.g. colors), but she doesn’t know how to bring it all together or how to make it original so that’s what’s we work on together.  I feel that planning a wedding should be a collaboration between bride and groom with the planner tying it all together.  The main goal is to stay true to who the couple is so through inspiration boards, lots of communication and experimenting, we discover exactly how the day is going to look and feel.  Weddings should be an experience from start to finish!

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

MC: That’s a tough one!  My ideal wedding client is truly in love!  They’re fun, original and not afraid to try new things.  They’re up for experimenting with new ideas, colors, textures, foods, and so on, to create an experience not just an event.  It’s also nice if they’re a little flexible. It makes the process easier on everyone!

KB: Do you have any tips for couples or families to consider before they choose a wedding planner and/or coordinator?

MC: I definitely recommend hiring a wedding and event planner because they can be true life savers during the planning process by saving you time, money and a few stress headaches!  BUT, my number one tip for choosing a planner or any other vendor for that matter, is to make sure that they actually like who they hire.  Of course, it’s essential that their planner be organized, experienced, honest and so on, but I truly believe that the client and the vendor should “click.”  If during an initial consultation the planner has completely different ideas than the client or if they just seem to have very little to talk about I don’t think it’s a good fit.  Same goes for hiring a DJ or photographer – if they rub you the wrong way don’t hire them!  A bride and groom will literally spend all day with some of their vendors on the day of, so they should like and enjoy them.  If personalities clash or if everyone is not on the same page it will show through in the wedding.  A wedding is the most important day of couple’s life so they should surround themselves with people the love and enjoy – vendors included!

Meagan Crain of MC Events ~ doing what she does best behind the scenes!

Meagan Crain of MC Events ~ doing what she does best behind the scenes!

KB: Anything else you’d like to add?

MC: I’m blessed to be planning events in Tucson and I’m a firm believer in using as many amazing, local vendors, businesses and resources as possible.  Being chosen as someone’s wedding or event planner is truly an honor and I do my very best to create a fun, stress free, memorable experience for all involved!

Meagan Crain logo color with oval border final

KB: Thanks for your insights, Meagan. You’ve touched upon a lot of helpful points. When a couple makes choices about who they work with in the planning leading up to and then the experience of the whole wedding celebration itself, these are important decisions that influence how much they enjoy a very important day in their lives. It is an honor and a joy to be chosen as part of their creative team. So true!

If you want to learn more about Meagan’s services at MC Weddings & Events,  visit her site here or give her a call! I’m sure she will enjoy hearing from you.

Boutique Bridal Fair at Hacienda del Sol

Are you planning a wedding or any celebration of love in the near future? If so, please visit this special event hosted by Tucson Bride & Groom Magazine and the friendly staff at Hacienda del Sol on Sunday September 22nd – yes THIS Sunday! Come tell us about about your wedding visions in a relaxed setting, take a tour of the Hacienda’s event spaces, nosh on delectable goodies, drink cool beverages, hear fun music and enjoy yourself:

What: Hacienda del Sol and Tucson Bride & Groom’s 2nd annual Boutique Wedding Fair

Where: Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch & Resort

When: 11:00AM – 2:00PM

Who: Fabulously talented and professional Tucson wedding vendors like Miray and Josh of Duo Vibrato; Meagan Crain of M.C. Events; Lyn Sims of Lyn Sims Photography; Andy DePew of Satyr Entertainment; Jaynie Rossi of Ambrosia of Tucson, and more!

Why: Because if you want to create a meaningful, memorable and unique wedding experience you and your guests will rave about, these are amongst the most creative people you’ll find in Tucson to create your collaboratively powerful wedding professional team!


Three reasons to visit the ‘I do in Tucson’ Bridal Fair

It is that time again! Our super talented network of I do in Tucson wedding vendors will gather this Sunday, April 21st from 2:00-5:00pm at Saguaro Buttes out in east Tucson. (Located at 5825 S. Old Spanish Trail.) Come and visit us if you are planning a wedding or any event where you may need professionals to assist you with photography, invitations, music/entertainment, catering, planning, cakes and/or videography. I’ll be there and of course I always love to talk ceremony visions with you!

Here are my three reasons why you’ll dig it:

Sweetgrass Ceremonies table ~ find me and let's talk!

Sweetgrass Ceremonies table ~ find me and let’s talk!

1) Small scale: Totally not intimidating at all. We are not a Bridezilla kind of mondo-huge-fair with 500 booths. In fact, you can hear yourself think when you have conversations. Amazing, right? I am in this group because I enjoy the mellowness and relatively small scale of the fairs. I appreciate the relationships I’ve built with other vendors and ways we work together to exceed our customers’ expectations.

2) Friendly people: Yes. Truly. People who are interested in you and making your visions for your event come true.

3) A wealth of information: All in one room! You can meet people like Nancy and Bobby of Soltero Productions, or Kim McFate of Simply Elegant Events, or Nora Jean Miller of Hotel Congress and Maynard’s Market & Kitchen, or Kristin Gray of Ivory Orchid Photography.

And YES, the list goes on!

So stop by and enjoy part of your afternoon with us . . . I look forward to seeing you.

I Do in Tucson Bridal Fair

Our ever creative I Do in Tucson group will be producing yet another fantastic fair next weekend:

My table for Sweetgrass Ceremonies last winter.

My table for Sweetgrass Ceremonies last winter.

Where: Marriott University Park

When: Sunday January 27, 2013

from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Why: Because you’ll meet all sorts of talented wedding professionals, have some delicious snacks for noshing, maybe taste some cake and hopefully come visit me!

Gather together your BFF or your fiance or your familia and join us for a mellow-scaled bridal fair with some of Tucson’s highest quality wedding professionals.

Stop by my table so we can talk about your ceremony plans for 2013 and set up a free consultation to begin co-creating your custom wedding ceremony.

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 I look forward to seeing you soon!

Reception in the Baldwin Education Building with beautiful balcony views.

Tucson Wedding Gem: DJ Corbin Dooley

Is music an important part of your wedding or upcoming celebration of any kind? If so, you must meet Corbin Dooley. If you don’t already know of him (and I’d be surprised), then check him out here. He is a rare gem in Southern Arizona; an uber-talented DJ with total polish and professionalism, while being completely approachable and genuine.  He cares about reflecting who is clients are and what music they want to hear and then exceeds their expectations. I’ve witnessed it! When he works with a couple to develop music choices for their ceremony and has the sound controls day-of, I feel relaxed and confident all will go splendidly. I haven’t stuck around for a reception yet to see the dance floor . . . though I’m sure he makes the party happen!

Here’s a little conversation I recently shared with Corbin:

Kristine: What is your creative specialty?

Corbin: My ability to play the right song, at the right time. I’m so lucky to celebrate special moments in a couple’s life through music.

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

Corbin: Couples who love music, and love to dance. My ability to make them feel comfortable, stress-free, and happy on their big day through my knowledge of music, my personality, and my organizational skills.

Kristine: Do you have any tips for couples or families to consider before they hire a DJ for their event?

Corbin: Yes! Read “Sixteen Smart Questions to Ask Your Wedding DJ”.

Thank you for sharing your insights, Corbin. I’m already looking forward to our next event!

Wedding Gem in Tubac

Southern Arizona offers some of the most scenic wedding locations in the Southwest. As I experience leading ceremonies, a few places of rare beauty stand out more than others. This is a rare gem in particular: Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, located near the Santa Cruz River and Santa Rita Mountains, in the small town of Tubac. The venue is spirited with rustic elegance and easy charm. The staff is exceptional.

Here is a peek into this fabulous place, via my conversation with uber talented Melissa Knight, TG&R’s Weddings & Events Specialist.

Kristine:What qualities separate Tubac Golf Resort and Spa from other Southern Arizona event venues?

Melissa: Our majestic 27 hole golf course along the Santa Cruz River creates an outdoor backdrop not common to Southern Arizona. Long manicured lawns, majestic cottonwood trees and the Santa Rita’s towering in the background make for a dramatic and wonderful setting. In addition to a picturesque outdoors we showcase our 1700’s Mission Chapel Replica, known for its Massive Mesquite Doors and Romantic/Intimate indoors featuring all modern amenities and accommodating up to 225 guests.

The rustically elegant and inviting Chapel. (Ivory Orchid Photography)

Kristine: As the Wedding and Event Manager at TG&R, what is your creative specialty?

Melissa: I really enjoy helping create an event as unique as the couple. A representation of their two lives and families coming together while incorporating fun, fantastic food and great atmosphere!

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

Melissa: Variety! All couples bring something new to the table. My most successful events are with couples who are ready to have wonderful relaxing weekend with family and friends.  They take the time to choose key vendors and trust in the capabilities of their site coordinator who is there to guide them throughout the entire planning process. While working together they will enjoy the luxury of having one contact to help with any and all questions anytime! We really do our utmost to say YES more often than not and help guide our clientele to wedding success!

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

Melissa: Prioritize! Look at your guest list and make sure that most of your anticipated needs can be met. Priorities include outdoor and indoor spaces, time of year, budget, guest room accommodations, food and drink and most importantly the overall experience. Your venue will provide the options needed to suit any and all of the above.  Once you know what the venue offers, identify your priorities. That way you can be sure that your priorities are met and provide flexibility on things that are not a priority to you.  Weddings today have gone beyond the typical affair and you need not be classified wealthy to have an event that will leave a lovely impression on all attending.

Gorgeous skies and views at Tubac Golf Resort & Spa. (Sara Strom Photography)

Kristine: Anything else you’d like to add?

Melissa: Yes, Brides- Your ‘Day of’ time goes by quickly, to avoid stress and complication you can either hire additional help via a planner or, if this is not in the budget, be very organized (this includes photo examples, label everything and where it goes), include the people who would like to help you. Make sure your Wedding Venue Professional is aware of all plans and how they are to be executed. Brides sometimes feel that they are burdening friends and family so make sure that you have a realistic conversation with those capable of helping on the day.   However it’s wise to not include the  Bridesmaids as they will be assisting you on the day of, and more often than not, do not have time for décor. So in short- organize, have photo examples, label everything, share all information and don’t have bridesmaids setup. Last but not least enjoy the moments between! Between the big moments are lots of little ones so enjoy them all by setting yourself up for success!

Kristine: Such excellent advice, Melissa! Thank you. I can’t wait until the next time I lead a ceremony at TG&R. (As of now, this happens to be next Saturday. Lucky me!)

Tucson Wedding Gem: Amanda Rockafellow

You know the feeling when a photo pulls you into a scene? When the light and the emotions within the image just feel completely natural and you want to be there? Well, I’m guessing the photos featured here do exactly this. I’m so pleased to highlight Amanda Rockafellow Photography in this guest Q&A. She is an incredibly talented photographer with whom I love to work during weddings.

Here is our conversation:

Kristine: What is your creative specialty? What part of life do you most enjoy capturing in your photographs?

Amanda: I consider myself a specialist in light. My ability to maximize natural light in any condition, whether indoors, outdoors, morning, midday or sunset, sets me apart from other photographers. I love using the light that I have available to me to capture the exact mood of that moment. In certain environments, I enjoy the creative freedom that strobe lights and flashes provide to create unique and memorable images.

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

Amanda: I’ve been fortunate to work with the most amazing clients. My ideal clients truly value the importance of exceptional wedding photographs. They give me the creative freedom to produce stunning images and memories of their wedding day. My clients often tell me they have complete trust in my abilities. They know that I am reputable and they take comfort in this.

My photojournalistic approach means I try to be everywhere but never too intrusive. Everyone wants to have fun on their wedding day. I want my clients to be completely comfortable in front of the camera. This makes for more natural and beautiful images.

Kristine: Do you have any tips for couples or families to consider before they hire a photographer?

Amanda: Find a photographer that you feel you can truly work well with.  Couples spend a lot of time with their photographer on the day of their wedding. Find someone who you like and trust and who you feel understands your personality. The better the relationship and communication between you and your photographer, the better your photographs will reflect the true character of your wedding day and your new marriage.

Kristine: Anything else you’d like to add?

Amanda: Your wedding is the greatest day in your life. Find a photographer with a style you like and a personality you trust to capture the joy and emotions of your special day.

Kristine: Thank you for sharing your talents and your work, Amanda! I cannot wait to work with you again.

Amanda: Thanks for this opportunity.

Spring Wedding at Stillwell House

Sometimes a wedding floods my heart with so much joy, I wish the whole world could feel it. This was one of those times. I do think everyone present had a fabulous time and surely did ‘feel the JOY!

Jen and Tyler held their wedding at the Stillwell House in downtown Tucson, last April. I was fortunate to be a part of their celebration and lead their ceremony. As you can see, they are quite a radiant couple. And their beauty goes much further than skin deep. When I work with young couples in love, often they are quite mature and have faced some hardships together. They appreciate their families beyond words. They savor life together. They frequently share a pretty wicked sense of humor, too. And naturally, they want me to impart their gratitude and love of laughter to their guests. With Jen and Tyler, I had the opportunity to do all of this. And man, did we ever have fun!

All Photos Generously from Amanda Rockafellow

Before we even walked into the ceremonial space, I had spent 20+ hours working with Jen and Tyler to create their wedding. So when I say we had fun, I am referencing our experience throughout the whole co-creative process. The ceremony itself is a big exclamation point, culminating our creative time together. After they completed their responses to my Sweetgrass Couple Reflections, the theme of their ceremony became clear: two hearts | one love. I opened their Love Story like this:

You may know this timeless saying from the I-Ching: “When two people are one in their innermost hearts, they shatter even the strength of iron or bronze.” And for this couple, they live with two hearts, one love. They are one in their deepest of hearts.

Jen & Tyler speak their hearts during their vows

After a good deal of laughter and some tears about their story, I concluded by saying, “May you surprise each other and grow together. And may you always be one in your innermost hearts, able to shatter any challenge that comes your way!”

Next, during their vows, we three stood closer for these most intimate of words to be spoken. As you can see, Jen has a bigger-than-life smile on her face, and Tyler has full-on adoration-beaming from his. For their last pledge they answered “We will” to my question, “Will you live together as one?”

After speaking their vows, they symbolized their joining with a Handfasting Ritual. With my guidance, Jen even made a beautiful handfasting-braid by way of her own creativity!

To introduce this portion of the ceremony I said, “To quote our groom, “Marriage is entering into a life with the one that has touched my soul. The one that I see myself with for the rest of my life.” Before I wrapped their hands and offered a blessing, I went on to say:

As this is a very transformational moment in your lives, Jennifer and Tyler, we will express your joining through a Unity Ritual, too. Together, you will bind your hands in a handfasting ritual. This is an ancient practice beginning in Celtic times and spans belief systems across many centuries. The cords you have made here are symbolic of how something within you, yet something greater than yourselves has joined you together.

Handfasting Ritual

After the Handfasting, the Ring Exchange was the final symbolic act of two hearts becoming one love. Next a closing blessing, a pronouncement as husband and wife – then HOORAY! – the moment everyone awaited: the Kiss. During the joyous celebration that is a recessional, everyone stood and cheered as “It’s a Beautiful Day” by U2 streamed into the air. Excellent choice on the music, Jen and Tyler. Because wow, was it ever!

Congratulations to a very Happy Couple!

P.S. My heartfelt thanks goes to Amanda Rockafellow, for contributing her gorgeous photos. I’ll soon be highlighting her here as a Tucson Wedding Gem. And my thanks also goes to Marc Summersett, Owner of CE Entertainment, who expertly managed the sound and music for this celebration.