The bride, Kaitlyn, had always dreamed of a big church wedding as her faith is an important part of her life and her relationship with her now-husband. But, when the fall weather in Arizona is, shall we say, heavenly, how could they not have an outdoor wedding? Little did she know, but her amazing wedding planner, J. Starr Wedding Company, was about to give them the best of both worlds–a church in the wild. The walls were the stunning natural horizon and the ceiling, heaven itself.
They knew they found "the one" when they found Sanctuary Resort–venues don't get much more scenic than this. J. Starr Wedding Company worked with Gigi & Jack Co to create this incredible outdoor chapel just for their big day. The Flower Studio decorated the sturdy wood beams with delicate florals in shades of cream, orange, and burgundy. Rachel Solomon Photography was there to capture each special moment and every last detail, including amazing distance shots of the incredible chapel setup. Keep reading to hear more from the bride herself about how their dream wedding came together and make sure to check out the full gallery for even more of these stunning photos!
Alex and I met through the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel. We connected over our love of sports, music, and most importantly our shared Christian faith. We met for dinner a week after Alex’s first message and had six dates in the next seven days. Alex popped the question at my family’s home in Atlanta while we were visiting for Christmas. I knew it was coming and he wanted to maintain an element of surprise, so he went for an early morning proposal in pajamas! We met, fell in love, and live in Phoenix so we knew that Arizona was the perfect place to celebrate our wedding. I always envisioned a church ceremony but knew our November date was ideal for an outdoor wedding. We found our perfect venue at Sanctuary Resort Camelback Mountain. The views and property grounds are breathtaking, and I loved the idea of getting married at a place called “Sanctuary” if the ceremony wasn’t going to be in a church. At the time, I didn’t realize that our amazing vendor team would execute the most perfect open-air chapel on the Sanctuary wedding lawn!
Our wedding planner, Jennifer Starr of J. Starr Wedding Company, and I worked together on the design of the day, and Jennifer really captured how important our faith was in our wedding design and details. The lawn became a chapel thanks to cathedral arch rentals from Gigi & Jack Co and incredible floral design from The Flower Studio. Guests signed and highlighted their favorite verse in our hand-painted bible guestbook, an heirloom that we will treasure for many generations. We chose 1 John 4:17 as our wedding verse and incorporated it into the welcome sign, ceremony programs, and guest favors. Our pastor served as our officiant and at his suggestion, we wrote our own vows.
Guests entered the reception through the foyer which featured a tribute to our parents and grandparents. We displayed each couple’s wedding photo along with the date. This display was special for our many family members in attendance, and also for us to acknowledge the inspiring legacy of great marriages that enriched our lives. The reception theme was “classic elegance” featuring navy, burgundy, and gold tones. La Tavola Linens adorned the sweetheart and head tables, while the flowers from the ceremony arches were repurposed for head table florals. A beautiful arch sat behind the Sweetheart table along with a mix of high and low arrangements at guest tables. Our cake featured a gold ombré design with a personalized topper. One of our favorite moments of our day was the reception “reveal” where Jennifer brought us into the ballroom before any guests entered. Rachel Solomon Photography captured the joy on our faces so wonderfully at that moment and many, many more throughout the day. The wedding music at both the ceremony and reception was extremely important to us. Sweetwater Strings played wedding classics to fit the traditional and religious atmosphere of our ceremony before shifting to popular songs during cocktail hour. DJ Alex of Desert House Productions curated amazing playlists for both dinner and the dance floor, that kept our guests dancing until the night’s end!
1. Remember your relationship is the reason for your wedding in the first place. When planning stress gets to you, remember that at the end of the day you would marry this person anytime, anywhere!
2. Go with your gut! Wedding planning is full of decision fatigue, and your instinct is usually the right one. This applies to everything from the venue, to the guest list and the decor.
3. If you find something that’s a perfect fit for your day, secure it early! We loved the idea of a Bible guestbook so I ordered a personalized hand-painted Bible in March for our November wedding. The Etsy shop ended up halting orders for a brief time in early fall so we may have missed out if we waited!