Katie and Ethan — Crescent Moon Ranch, Sedona

What if that carefree, joyous apprenticeship of adulthood known as freshman year in college could last a lifetime?

In many ways, that spirit imbued the lovely family ceremony Katie and Ethan held on the lush lawn of Crescent Moon Ranch, the dreamy property on Forest Service land near Red Rock Crossing. With the imperious Cathedral Rock aptly serving as backdrop, it is here that the college sweethearts formalized their long romance with a simple yet graceful Sedona ceremony to envy.

The spark had ignited the previous decade while the two occupied the same dorm at Arizona State. The tall stoic groom belied his surely giddily anxious insides, the only sign of his potential joyous unease being that he cast aside his suit coat by the time he arrived in this desert oasis along Oak Creek. So sure was the petite bride of her splendor on this unforgettable occasion that she exclaimed “I look hot!” as she neared her assembled family and future in-laws.

Those same energies – the groom’s stoic figure and the bride’s giddy excitement – remained as the wedding party found its positions with the photographer’s help. In order to bring both back into the moment and focus on our task, I told them I had attended graduate school at ASU Cronkite before we shared a deep, grounding breath. The short-lived banter and moment of meditation helped ease us into the ceremony, which included a lovely Irish wedding blessing chosen by the bride that happily surprised her family.

Though I was not there, I imagine the unbridled giddiness Katie let flow once she was wed to her beloved was rivaled only by that which she expressed those many years ago when she met the tall Ethan for the first time. Those unforgettable moments in time were now eternally linked as they were. It also reminded me why I love this job and why it is a privilege to play such a critical role in these blessed moments of unadulterated human connection.

Credit: U.S. Forest Service/Coconino National Forest