The ship sailed through the western Caribbean and on to the next port. It was the formal night, and they were dressed to the nines. They had some time before dinner, so he asked her to step out on to the balcony to enjoy the view and watch the sea float by.  He handed her a small, pretty package. It was 5 days before Christmas, too early to exchange, but he explained it away. He had 3 gifts to give her and said he couldn’t wait.

She carefully un-wrapped the box, and pulled out a beautiful wallet. It was much appreciated, he knew she had been needing one. He then gave her a handwritten letter, and in it he professed his eternal love. You know I feel the same way, she told him. He placed the 3rd item in her hand. It was a note, with only 3 words. “My Last Name.” Confused, she looked up to ask him what this meant. But she didn’t have to look up to look in his eyes, because he was kneeling on the floor before her. And in his hands was the ultimate gift.  One that his mother and grandmother had both worn.  A stunning wedding ring, a family heirloom.  And there, on the sea, somewhere between Mexico and Belize, Laura and James began planning the rest of their lives together.

We met at the beautiful Riparian Preserve in Gilbert for their engagement session. It was a pleasantly overcast day, the kind that we Arizonans cherish. It made for a very nice afternoon in the park. And the Preserve is one of those places that make you forget you’re in the desert.

We started by strolling down the path, and taking a few “walking” shots to get into the photo groove. I often like to start this way, as it gets everyone relaxed. I don’t often start with a photo of my couples looking straight at the camera, but Laura and James were so cute together, I just couldn’t resist.

And even better, they played and laughed together. Which is perfect, because I absolutely love when my couples have fun during their session.

And even better, they played and laughed together. Which is perfect, because I absolutely love when my couples have fun during their session.

And even better, they played and laughed together. Which is perfect, because I absolutely love when my couples have fun during their session.

They even picked up on my hybrid cues that often come out as some sort of amalgamation of multiple words. Let’s just call them “Mindy-isms”. I’m fairly certain that this was when James became a “snozzling” pro. What is snozzling you ask? Well, you’ll just have to ask my Brides & Grooms!

Why yes, this is a serious Blue Steel. Guys, you get it.

We strolled along on the more secluded paths, and we came to the creek, one of my favorite spots of the park.

As they had a quick wardrobe change, I had to take a shot of Laura’s gorgeous engagement ring. Talk about an amazing family heirloom!

Side note…. it’s not easy to change clothes in a semi-public location,  in a hurry because you’re trying to save daylight and get more photos before sunset. 😉 So, how do you manage this? Why, you find the most secluded little path, and you duck behind some massive bushes while your fiance and photographer play lookout! Of course!!  Thanks to the people walking their dog who turned around so we could make this desert-style Superman thing happen!! 😉

These two, seriously! Between the romantic holds, the sweet kisses, and some playful lifts…. so awesome! I could have photographed them all day!!

As dusk began to fall, we stopped in the big ramada for a sit and some more snozzling….

And as the clouds rolled in and daylight faded, we ended our session near the lake under a streetlamp. And this particular shot in this location, it just took my breath away! Love under the light by the lake… so much YES!!

Congratulations Laura and James! You guys are so amazing and I had a fabulous time with you! I know your life together will be filled with laughter and joy and love!