The forest fires were steamy and so was their love. Okay, that’s it I’m over it I thought it would be like a fun play on words but now I regret it.
I don’t even know where to begin with Courtney and Matt.
These two sweet souls brought me with them to Colorado, made me cry in the best way all day, and force fed me THEIR wedding cake while we watched the sunset atop Lost Gulch Overlook.
People like Courtney & Matt remind me why I shoot mostly elopements. It’s not that I don’t love a big party – but there is some serious magic in being able to spend an entire wedding day experience with just the couple, and what can be captured in the fleeting moments when it’s just you 3.
In the beginning of the summer I got a text from my girl Courtney that read:
“Hey sugar! Hope you’re holding up in this crazy world! As you can imagine we’re getting to the “contingency planning” stage, aka we’re thinking through the alternatives that we’re happy with if the wedding can’t happen as originally planned. The things we know for sure: 1) we are getting married, damn it! 2) we want you to capture it!”
In the following weeks we went back and forth about moving their big wedding to more of a micro wedding here in NC, looking at new venues, adjusting the guest list, etc…
In the beginning of August I got another text….”We’ve been thinking through what a small wedding would look like and even started talking about eloping somewhere epic… ***cue my happy dance*** but we’ll need to have conversations with parents before making that decision.”
“BE COOL, LEANDRA” I thought, meanwhile I was so jazzed to help make their new wedding plans even better than they originally planned. I of course picked up the phone to give her a ring right away and we chatted through their options. A few days later they had sat down to have “the talk” (the modern day COVID wedding edition that you have with your parents rather than them having with you LOL) with their parents and being the kind hearted souls they are, their parents we’re elated for them when they heard the relief in their voices about not having a big wedding.
Shortly after Courtney & Matt decided to elope in Colorado, I noticed a shift. No longer where they caught up in the guest list, decor or paying for plates of people they hadn’t seen in years. We began brainstorming and researching. I wanted to do everything I could to make their new wedding experience perfect.
The love birds went to pick up their marriage license the morning of their elopement. Meanwhile I was chugging a chai and headed up Flagstaff Mountain to scout the ceremony and creative photo locations for later.
When they got back, Matt and I went to the bakery to pick up their delicious maple vanilla bean cake (TO DIE FOR) while Courtney was getting her hair and makeup done.
When we got back to their hotel I got my detail shots and prepped my gear for the rest of the day. Since making the exciting decision to elope, they couldn’t be with their family on the big day which Courtney knew was important to Matt. She had put together a video of his best man, his brother and mom talking about what they would have said at the wedding. I watched it several times since she sent it to me and cried each time. I showed Matt the video while Courtney was still out getting glammed up to capture his reaction. These two are so loved. It was such an honor to witness.
As Matt and I were chatting he mentioned “when she gets back from her makeup appointment she’s going to be so giddy, we call this winding the clock” naturally, I needed more because I’m intrigued and these are the pieces of couples relationships that are so personal and special. He explained that they call getting ready to do something super exciting is what they call ‘winding the clock.’ Like packing for a big trip or getting your makeup done before you’re about to marry your best friend and love of your life in one of the most incredible spots in the world… When Court got back we set up for the first look. I helped her try on her snazzy DIY-ed denim jacket with beautiful pearls and “Mrs. Lesley” ironed on the back one last time. She laid it on the bed, held my hand, looked at me and said “it’s time!” She’s such a boss. They laughed and cried, and so did I.
We left shortly after their first look for Artist Point where we had their ceremony. Courtney walked down the “aisle” to I Saw Her for the First Time by Dr. Dog playing on my mini bluetooth speaker. They read their vows to each other and looked to me to say “you may now kiss your person” and just like that they started their forever. I always get a little teary eyed during the vows but I don’t think I’ve ever full on shed tears like I did at Courtney & Matt’s ceremony. You can tell their hearts are so full of love and admiration for one another and to be the only witness during this life changing moment for these two gives me chills just to write about.
After creative portraits, they had their first dance on the mountain top to their favorite song, La Vie en Rose. We cheers-ed mini bottles of Matt’s favorite, Woodford Reserve Whiskey, then we headed on over a few miles up Flagstaff Mountain to Lost Gulch Overlook to have their cake and watch the sunset.
I continued snapping away because I mean, how could you not. It all felt so surreal, their love, the joy on both of their faces “we’re SO glad we did this instead of a big wedding” they kept saying. It felt like we had just stopped time and the tragic fires that had been blazing and smoking up the mountains all day had somehow seemed to clear and revealed the most magnificent sunset. “HOW IS THIS EVEN REAL” they giggled. Within seconds Matt goes “if you don’t sit down with us and eat some of this damn cake girl I’m gonna make you chug a mini whisky!” Obviously, I ate the cake. Don’t have to ask me twice. It was exceptional. I am so happy for these two beyond incredible humans & I feel so grateful to have been a part of their celebration. To witness this kind of love is something I’ll never take for granted.
These two know how to really enjoy the sweet little moments, they’re total adventurers, infatuated with each other, in love with good food & oldies music and I love them so much.
Thinking of eloping? Eloping in Colorado? Inquire right here and we’ll be on our way to planning your dream day.
Florals- Rowdy Poppy @rowdypoppy
Wedding Dress Boutique- Anomalie @anomalie
Bride’s Shoes- Timberland @timberland
Bride’s Ring- Donald Haack Diamonds @dhaackdiamonds
Hair Stylist- Mimi Newman at Copper Salon @mimidoeshair_boulderco
Makeup Artist- Lynnae at Alchemy Face Bar @imbeauty.denver
Groom Attire- Joseph A. Bank @josabank
Denim Jacket- Handmade by bride (Courtney Lesley)
Cake- Lucky’s, @luckysbakehouse
Leandra Creative Co Photography is based in New York City and traveling worldwide to capture the legacies of couples in love. Love empathy & a good sense of humor are are the core of this company. Leandra Creative Co. is proudly LGBTQIA+ friendly. I believe timeless and extraordinary photographs look and FEEL different when they are created by someone that takes the time to become more than just your photographer.
Leandra Creative Co Photography is based in North Carolina and traveling worldwide to capture the legacies of couples in love. We believe that y’all means ALL and proudly LGBTQ+ friendly. Timeless and extraordinary photographs look and FEEL different when they are created by someone that truly takes the time to connect with you & your unique story.