Ever since Anthony and I got engaged I have been asked the question ‘Who is going to photograph YOUR wedding??‘ As a wedding photographer the decision of hiring another photographer to capture the most important day of your life is not an easy feat; I have dreamed of having my very own magical wedding since I was 5 years old. Literally, ever since I watched Cinderella for the first time I have imagined meeting my prince charming/soulmate/true-love, wearing the stunning white gown (and glass slippers) and riding off into the sunset (on horseback sans carriage). For over two decades I dreamed of finding my own ‘Happily Ever After….’ and now it’s FINALLY coming true!!!

When Anthony and I met in Mammoth Mountain the winter of 2011, my life was forever changed; on December 22, 2014 he made me the happiest women alive by asking me to spend the rest of my life with him; and on October 1, 2016 we will vow our lives, hearts and souls to one another forever in front of our closest family and friends in Big Sur, California.

With SO many talented photographers out there, I thought the decision of choosing a photographer (who would be up to the daunting task of capturing this quasi-bridezilla/dreamer’s wedding) would be impossible, however fate would make the decision easy for us!

Anthony and I connected with the incredibly talented Josh Elliott, via instagram (I had been following his beautiful work for a few years as he had photographed several of my friend’s weddings!) Josh put out a message on instagram stating that he was looking for a couple to model for a workshop he was teaching. As luck would have it, Anthony and I were selected to be his models!! I was ecstatic for the shoot as Anthony and I had never had professional photos done before. The workshop was located at Shady Canyon and happened to land just before our 3 year anniversary (in case you missed these ah-mazing photos you can click here to view our ‘pre-engagement’ photos by Josh Elliott)

We got SO many amazing images from this session with Josh; They are printed and hanging on the walls of our apartment–I even made an album from the shoot! (let’s be real, photos shouldn’t just live on-line!!)  We will treasure these photos forever.

After Anthony and I got engaged it was a no-brainer to talk with Josh about capturing our day! We met at his studio and talked for several hours about the plans for our dream wedding. Josh seemed to be just as excited as we were and Anthony and I loved that Josh wanted to play such a big part in our love story and adventure! We signed the contract the next day; the decision of hiring Josh to be our wedding photographer was SO incredibly easy! We couldn’t be happier!!!


We took our engagement photos out in Joshua Tree National Park located in Joshua Tree, California. My vision for the shoot was something truly epic; endless desert, wind blown hair, barefoot feet and lost in love.

I knew that I wanted to wear all white dresses ranging from casual to fancy. The last outfit of the shoot (the long sequinned dress) has been hanging in my closet for several years (June 2012 to be exact–yes, you can say that I was expecting a proposal much sooner than Anthony did); I was saving this uber beautiful sparkly gown for our engagement party or engagement photoshoot or something engagement related–(unbeknownst to Anthony), I even referenced it to family and friends as the ‘engagement dress’ so you can say that I was super excited to finally get a chance to wear it!

Our epic engagement shoot was a full production; My sister, Chelsie Riley is a hair stylist and drove in from Las Vegas to do my hair, my makeup artist and friend Lauren Reid came in from Arizona to do my makeup, we had 2 videographers (Rich Miro + Dustin Laemmlen) and 1 photographer (Josh Elliott). We did hair and makeup at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs and then caravanned to Joshua Tree National park in the afternoon for the shoot!

Location #1 Arch Rock
Flowy Dress: Freepeople ‘Belle of the Ball’
Barefoot Sandals: Child of Wild
Anthony’s outfit: Pants/Shirt (Billabong) Shoes: Uggs Leighton Boot

This first location was my favorite–we drove 45 minutes into the park to reach Arch Rock; I scampered up the rocks like a little monkey with my barefoot sandals–the wind effortlessly blew my dress and hair in a magical way; we kissed and held hands and giggled while jumping from rock to rock. The lighting was so great and the rock formations so ah-inspiring and we were so lost in love that we lost track of time….

Location #2 Lost Horse Valley
Mini-Dress: Freepeople Vika Dress
Boots: Freepeople Carrera Heel Boot
Anthony’s Outfit: Shirt (Billabong) Pants ( Element ) Shoes (vans)

Getting to our second location was a race against the clock–after leaving Arch Rock we needed to get to a clearing high in the valley in order to catch the sunset–as we turned every corner the sun would dip below the mountains falling faster than we could drive. I was almost in tears because we hadn’t shot the 2nd look yet let alone the 3rd look and we were running out of time. When we arrived at The Lost Horse Valley the sun was still above the mountain line and Anthony and I quickly changed; we held hands and ran through the desert surrounded by the iconic Joshua Trees, kissing just as the sun disappeared (these are some of my favorite shots!!)

I gathered some wildflowers to hold in my hands while Anthony found some cardboard and wrote out ‘BIG SUR’ in capital letters on it.. We walked along the open road carrying our sign and laughing as cars drove past us and honked their horns–we wondered if anyone would actually stop!!

The whole idea behind the sign was to give the impression that we were hitch hiking to our wedding in Big Sur. ‘Come on an adventure with us’ is what we were hoping to convey! Everyone attending our wedding will actually have to road trip to Big Sur (or fly, rent a car and then road trip); the road trip ‘BIG SUR’ sign helped us to tie in the concept of our desert engagement with out Big Sur destination wedding!

Location #3 Hidden Valley
Sequined Gown: JS Collection
Heals: Alice + Olivia
Anthony’s Outfit: Suit (Ralph Lauren) Shoes: (Bull Boxer)

Our third location was adjacent to our second location; there was little to no light left so driving was out of the question! Anthony and I had the most fun in this outfit-we pranced around in our fancy dress clothes! Anthony practically had to carry me around from spot to spot as 4 inch heals are NOT meant for the desert landscapes (my heals were irrigating the sand with every step). We had about 10 minutes of frolicking in the desert before it became too dark to shoot….  Although we didn’t get to spend nearly as much time in this look as I had hoped–Josh was able to capture AMAZING images in the short amount of time..  In the end the whole concept of ‘desert wanderer’s lost in love’ truly came together making my engagement dreams come true!


Was our shoot perfect? Nope. Can you tell that my eyes were brimming with tears as the sun was setting. Nope. Will anyone notice that I only spent 10 minutes in my ‘engagement dress’ that I’ve had for 4 years? Nope. Will anyone think less of me that I didn’t do the hair/makeup/jewelry changes as I had planned? Nope. Will everyone see how truly happy and in love Anthony and I are?? YES YES YES.

What did I learn from our engagement shoot??!

1. There will never be enough daylight to accomplish everything you want to do–so don’t plan on hair changes, drastic makeup changes, far location changes.
2. The shoot will never turn out exactly how you picture it in your mind, and that’s okay; it might turn out even better than you imagined.
3. Being a perfectionist with super high-editorial-vogue magazine expectations will only lead to disappointment as we are real people (in love) and NOT models (pretending to be in love)
4. Being engaged is one of the MOST special times in your relationship; there is so much fun, excitement and expectation around every corner, revel in it.
5. Hire professionals to do your hair and makeup. Spend the money, just do it. It is TOTALLY WORTH IT. You will feel so incredibly beautiful and Your fiance will look at you with even more love in his eyes!
6. Waiting to see your final engagement photos is as painful as waiting to open your presents on Christmas morning…. but remember that it will be worth the wait.
7. Your photos will be MORE amazing than you can possibly imagine them to be because they capture YOUR  LOVE, your engagement, and this AMAZING chapter in your life towards marriage.
8. Do an engagement video; there is NOTHING like MOTION to capture your love story.

Thank you to the entire team who made our photoshoot look effortless and chic! A big Thank you to Josh Elliott who captured our love story in photos that I will show my children and my children’s children, and to Rich Miro for creating our beautiful ‘Save the Date’ engagement video–I’ve watched it about 100 times already; if you haven’t seen it check it out!!!

#wearethedelauras #kendalandanthony2016 #foreverinbigsur #theweddingofourlives




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[…] always and honor and fun to shoot other photographer’s engagement sessions and weddings and Kendal is no exception. This was my first time shooting in Joshua Tree National Park and I loved it! […]
[…] a wedding photographer chooses someone to photograph their own wedding?? Well so did photographer Kendal, questioning “who would be up to the daunting task of capturing this […]