Desert Botanical Garden Wedding in Arizona | Emily + Russell

Emily + Russell’s Desert Botanical Garden Wedding was just the first stop on their wedding tour. Since the couple has friends and family all over the country, they set up multiple celebrations across different cities. I was lucky enough to be a part of their legal ceremony which took place in Phoenix, Arizona with 30 loved ones present.

Their Story

They met through what seemed like an endless amount of mutual friends after they had both moved to New York. Russell had studied abroad with quite a few of Emily’s friends from college, and his best friend from high school was one of her best friends in college, too! They worked on several plays together and really started to fall in love while working on an adaptation of “Anna Karenina” written by their friend. Emily directed it and Russell played Anna… and the rest is history! They started dating shortly thereafter and pretty much immediately knew that this was it. They’ve moved all over the country to pursue their passions and careers and have been there for each other each step of the way.

Getting Ready, First Look + Portraits

Emily got ready for their day at her parents’ house in Scottsdale. Some close friends joined before Russell arrived for their first look in the backyard. Most couples prefer this to be private, but these two wanted everyone present to witness! After some photos with their sweet pup Zuzu, we went to the Desert Botanical Gardens for portraits. My jaw hit the floor when we arrived– the gardens were a true oasis. I was deeply terrified of tripping into a cactus, but luckily we avoided any missteps while we took photos.

Desert Botanical Garden Wedding

The ceremony took place in a part of the gardens that was reserved specifically for Emily + Russell. However it truly felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. The couple’s good friend Avery officiated the wedding and led us through their epic love story. After some readings from friends, Emily + Russell shared their vows… which brought EVERYONE to tears. I personally tend to tear up often at weddings, but I was full-on weeping with the rest of their guests. Since the couple both do theater and are amazing writers, no one was surprised at how good their vows were.

Once the ceremony concluded, everyone grabbed a cocktail and mingled while we did some family photos. Dinner followed soon after as guests found their seats under the string lights. Emily + Russell shared a first dance to “Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)” by Talking Heads and sung by some close friends. Each set of parents gave a heartfelt speech before everyone got dinner. The rest of the evening was spent laughing with friends as they sat underneath the cloudless Arizona sky.

Venue: Desert Botanical Garden / Coordinator: Weddings By Heather Renee / Hair: Something Beautiful / Makeup: Beauty By Emily AZ / Florals: Milner Flower Co. / Music: Sweetwater Strings / Catering: Fresh From The Kitchen

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