Save a Dance for Us! A gorgeous engagement session that celebrates true love, true courage, and the wedding vendors who love our military!!

We celebrate true courage and real heroes on May 1, Silver Star Banner Day the official day to honor wounded, ill, and injured Veterans by Congressional ruling. Thanks to Leah Marie for this gorgeous engagement session and heartwarming story of true courage, true love, and dancing through life no matter what! Chris is a war veteran who served his country proudly and gave more than most will ever have to.  In an accident involving an IED, Chris lost both of his legs and was left a paraplegic. Chris was awarded to be the receipt of an all expenses paid wedding through Los Willows Wedding Estate [thank you Los Willows!!]. Photographer Leah Marie along with quite a few other vendors will be donating their services to them on their special day. See Chris' full story on Jockey: http://www.jockey.com/showem-chris

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How we met by Samantha: "I was living in Illinois and Chris was living in San Diego. He always came back to Illinois because it's where his family lives. I was working at a local gym at a personal trainer at the time and Chris came in to work out while he was visiting. I remember seeing him from across the gym doing pull-ups, I couldn't see his prosthetics, but I knew there was something different about him. I asked my friend who was working the front desk who he was and after she told me I said "that's going to be my boyfriend one day." We both saw each other the next couple days but didn't say anything to each other. We then became friends on Facebook and the rest is history!"

How Chris Proposed: "At the beginning of June we decided to go back to Illinois to visit both our families. My birthday and Chris's "alive day" (the day he got injured) is June 13th and we were going to be in Hawaii with his family. So Chris and my mom threw me a birthday party to celebrate my birthday early. With both families and close friends there I started opening presents. My sister in law got me the same gift I got her when she got engaged, she got me a wooden hanger with my future last name on it. After I opened that present, Chris looked at me and said "I guess we would need to be engaged to have that work huh?" And that's when he got down on one knee and had a whole beautiful speech planned." <3!

Other Location:Old Town Temecula//Photographer: Leah Marie Photography//

Charming Engagement Shoot Shows off a Fun and Vibrant True Love Under the pier

Thanks Paul Douda Photography for sending us this dynamic and charming engagement shoot at Scripps Pier in La Jolla. Jillian & Dax have an undeniable chemistry and we just love this couple (and this oh so San Diego shoot) that is so playful and genuinely full of vibrancy and love. 

Says photographer Paul, "Working with them for their Valentine's Day mini session at Scripps Pier in La Jolla was so much fun. For two people who are generally uncomfortable in front of the camera, they had a blast laughing and playing at the beach."

Jillian & Dax got off to a slow start when they met at a San Diego nightclub, Atomic, where Jillian was a bartender. According to the both of them, they couldn't stop staring at each other for months of going there every Tuesday but were also too shy to make the first move. Finally in December of 2016, Jill decided to make the first move and ask out Dax out on a date. From then on, their romance has blossomed and was on the fast track to their engagement on New Years Eve 2017! Congratulations Jillian and Dax! 

Shooting Your Engagement Photos in a Park: Featuring Joshua Tree and Paul Douda

We just LOVE seeing engagement photos from fun and adventurous places! Only certain photographers will 'shoot outside the box' and go the extra mile [literally] to create something extra special for you  like these gorgeous photos from Joshua Tree National Park by expert San Diego area wedding photographer Paul Douda.  We asked Paul for his tips [and even his secret spots!] for shooting at Joshua Tree and then Scott Moey from Live Once Live Wild offers us some great visitors info on Joshua Tree National Park.  All images by Paul Douda.... Enjoy! 

Expert engagement, wedding and creative photographer Paul Douda shares his tips [secret spots!!] for getting everything you want out of a Joshua Tree engagement shoot:

Q: What things should one watch for to make this trek safe and fun?
A: Two things when it comes to Joshua Tree. First and foremost, the weather there should be planned for because certain times of year are extreme! (i.e. snow capped boulders are beautiful but the conditions can be cold and harsh. On the flip side it can be stunning when its warm but the sun can be blaring around 100+ degrees). However, planning for the right time of year can make for a much better experience. The best time of year, in my opinion, is late winter, mid-fall. Secondly, don't underestimate how much time could be spent to take advantage of the location. Its a long drive for most Southern Californians and the shifting light of the high desert can offers many different looks through the day. Get there early and take advantage of the time!  

Q: What are the best times of year for your Joshua Tree engagement photo shoot?
A: Late winter or mid-fall. October was perfect and late February and March is good too - the days are perfect but the evenings can get very very cold!

Q: What should one bring along?
A: For the shoot pack anything that brings in your personality. Whether it is multiple wardrobe changes (that include multiple layers) or maybe even a telescope for star sightseeing!  Oh and enough gas and water, hey you should always be prepared. 

Q: Okay spill, where are your secret spots for shooting?  [you know someone loves what they do when they share their secret spots!!] 
A: You want to know our secret spots!? Just kidding! Keys View (highest point for the best panoramic view) - the road to Keys View has multiple turn offs that have very majestic views that you can pull over to the side of the road for equally spectacular views. Everyone tends to head to the Jumbo Rocks but there is a spot before you get there that is about a half mile east on Park Blvd from the intersection of Park Blvd and Joshua Tree National Park Blvd. There is an oval lot there to park and I love that spot.  [what a guy!!]

Q: Where is the best place to park? 
A: Depends on the spot you're heading to. There are many turnouts and lots to park in for some of the popular spots in the park. However, parking is generally not an issue and it's common and acceptable to pull over on the side of the road and get out of your car for your shots. 

Q: How should one work with the light  / is there a best time of day for shooting?
A: Each season has its own best time of day and consideration should be taken differently for sunsets. Despite the season, great light can really happy at the right time of day in any month. We all get there early and work with the light as we are shooting. An engagement session or shoot should be a big deal! We always plan to be together with our couples for an afternoon and evening so we tend to start around 1 or 2 and last into the evening. Time of day totally depends on the couple and the photographer because Joshua Tree is a little more elaborate than a typical park engagement session. We tell our couples to please let us know if they want deep, dark, rich, moody shots that we capture at nighttime, or if their personalities are better suited to the bright daylight of desert, sun, sand, and lots of natural light.....we are always open to whatever the couple is going for in their session. 

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the nation´s largest desert areas that is officially protected by the U.S. government. Spanning an area that is larger than the state of Rhode Island, this desert paradise offers a whole range of outdoors activities, from desert hiking to star gazing.

In his awesome [and very complete] guide to the Joshua Tree National Park, he shares all the information you need to plan a one of a kind trip to one of our nation´s most unique ecosystems. Scott's guide is really a good read before visiting this beautiful and protected area. 

Fun facts and tidbit's from Scott's comprehensive guide to Joshua Tree:

  • The park has over 790,000 acres, making it larger than the state of Rhode Island

  • Over half of the Joshua Tree National Park is a designated wilderness area waiting to be explored by desert lovers

  • The famous band “U2” has an album named after the national park´s namesake: The Joshua Tree

  • The name “Joshua Tree” was given by early Mormon settlers who thought that the tree looked like the biblical character of Joshua who raised his hands to the heavens

  • In Spanish, the tree is called “izote del desierto”, roughly translated as desert dagger

  • Joshua trees are an indicator species that designate an area as a desert

  • The Joshua Tree National Park is unique in that it encompasses two distinct desert ecosystems: the Colorado Desert which is a lowland desert and the higher Mojave Desert which is over 3,000 feet in elevation

  • Over 2.5 million people visited the park in 2016

  • Despite officially being a desert ecosystem, the Little Bernandino Mountains run through a part of the park and can occasionally receive snow fall during the winter months

  • Geologists estimate that the rock formations in the park are well over 100 million years old

  • There are also several oases located throughout the parks where lush green vegetation contrasts sharply with the dryness of the surrounding landscape

The quintessential San Diego engagement shoot celebrate bikes, bays and beaches!

The quintessential San Diego engagement shoot celebrate bikes, bays and beaches! Happy First Day of Summer!

San Diego wedding photographer Paul Douda spent a perfect San Diego day (with a very San Diego couple) capturing the quintessential San Diego engagement shoot, starting at The Coronado Ferry Landing. Melissa & Adam decided to do their engagement session on Coronado Island because it reminded them of all the times they spent there when they were first dating.

Since Adam lived in Downtown San Diego, on the weekends they would take their bikes on the ferry over to Coronado to do some exploring, which ended up leading to a beautiful relationship- these easy going and local engagement shoot locales were the perfect fit! 

It's Marry Me Monday with a Surprise Beach Proposal [spoiler: She Said Yes!!]

Marry Me Monday starts with a surprise beachside proposal at Bird Rock La Jolla. 

Marry Me Monday!

@Bird Rock, La Jolla

Ryan had planned his proposal to Leslie for a long time. Everyone around them knew it was happening but no one knew when. Wedding photographer Johanna Kitzman of Studio Frejya (who happens to Ryan's sister-in-law) had shown up earlier to this beach, a spot that holds special meaning to the couple and to Leslie's family, to put some writing in the sand. Of course a written proposal in the sand ended up being a big attraction for everyone who arrived at the beach and everyone wanted a snap of the message!! 

Says Johanna, "Luckily, Ryan texted me as he arrived at the location and I was able to ask everyone to step away and we instantly had the beach for ourselves. Under the pretense of helping me with a family session, Ryan led Leslie down to the cliffs. Nervous as he was, he barely made it to the spot before he got down on one knee, and with shaky hands pulled out a stunning diamond ring."

It took Leslie a few moments before she realized what was going on and when he pointed at the text in the sand her hands flew up to cover her mouth as she screamed out in joy. A resounding YES and a few tears later they celebrated with some champagne at a spot that will always hold a dear place in their heart.

Congratulations Ryan and Leslie!!&nbsp;

Congratulations Ryan and Leslie!! 

This Joshua Tree Engagement Session is Just What We Needed Today!

This stunning Joshua Tree engagement photography session with San Diego wedding and engagement photographer Paul Douda is just what we needed today! This shoot clearly went the extra mile [literally since Joshua Tree National Park is over 150 miles from San Diego!] resulting in breathtaking engagement photos, with lots of breathing room and nature's gifts of amazing light and views for miles... well done Paul! 

Photographer:  Paul Douda Photography//Dress Designer:Abyss by Abby//Tuxedo and Mens Attire:Hugo Boss//Other Location:Joshua Tree National Park//

One of our favorite Wedding photographer's favorite photographs from 2016

Tim Otto is one of our favorite San Diego wedding photographers and it is easy to see why!

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Tim Otto [one of the nicest people you will ever meet!] is the kind of guy who at the end of the year can't wait to sit back and review all the weddings and engagements he photographed to reminisce about all the love, fun and memories he made with his couples. Here are Tim Otto's favorite wedding photos from 2016: they clearly show the heart and soul he puts into the weddings he photographs.  

When you look at his work you can see that Tim likes to blend a variety of styles when he photographs people in love and weddings:  Tim works with everything from a photo-journalistic editorial approach, to a contemporary fashion edge, to classic romantic style.  Says Tim "I always enjoy photographing people and capturing their individual spirits; I think this is what drew me to weddings. I love weddings! I love telling the story of the entire day by capturing the many personalities and emotions on display as the events unfold.  I want to capture not only what people look like, but show what they feel like.  I want to give the bride and groom real, dynamic and beautiful photographs that they will treasure for a lifetime! I want to create an amazing and fun experience by making my couples feel comfortable in front of the camera without interfering with the flow of the day. A wedding is a celebration of love with family and friends; truly an amazing event.  I am honored and privileged be part of your day."  Yes Tim, we can tell! Please enjoy Tim Otto's favorite photos from 2016!

Puppy Love: Engagement Photography Sessions Featuring Man's Best Friend

Everyone knows the saying that dogs are man's best friend, and we couldn't agree more! So, today we want to focus on the newer trend of featuring your best friend in your engagement and/or wedding photoshoots! The idea couldn't be any more perfect: it's a photoshoot that already features two people so in love, that they chose to spend the rest of their lives together.  So, why not include the non-humans that have been there for you throughout all of your ups and downs?  The ones who have sat beside your bedside when you weren't feeling well. The ones who are always so excited when you walk in the door from work. The ones who are just as excited for your wedding day as you are. We are saps for a good love story here at SanDiegoWedding.com, and adding dogs to the mix just makes us melt. Check out our list of top San Diego wedding and engagement photographers who would be tail waggingly happy to do your engagement session with your best furry pals! 

Photographer: MKL IMAGES

Attention engaged couples one of San Diego's fave engagement shoot locales is now open!

One of SanDiego's most popular engagement session photography locations is open for the season! The famous Carlsbad Flower Fields welcomes hundreds of engaged couples each year looking to capture their love amongst the beautiful endless fields of flowers.

Amateur photography is free but professional photography requires an advance application, a photography fee and proof of insurance so be sure to read and follow their rules for photos in advance.

Colorful Ranunculus are a beautiful pop of color

Colorful Ranunculus are a beautiful pop of color

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MCAS Miramar Engagement Shoot Summed up in Two Words: Elegantly Honorable

San Diego, California is proud to be home to many of our armed forces and those that serve. So today we give our military couples an idea on how to incorporate this large part of their lives into an engagement session.  Engagement sessions are where couples are able to show their true colors through photography and Luke and Regen Ward's true colors just happen to include red, white, and blue! In order to properly show the world what is important to them as a couple, the Wards wanted to have their first location during the engagement session to be where Luke works, MCAS Miramar and we are in awe over how their photos turned out.

Local wedding photographer Brit Jaye Photography  managed to perfectly capture not only the Ward's rugged and patriotic side, but also their soft and romantic side. We salute this gorgeous engagement session and as always say 'thank you for your service!' to all our armed forces and their spouses and spouses-to-be! 

Lavender Fields and Lots of Love Fill this Joyful Southern California Engagement Session

Beautiful lavender fields and dappled sunlight through oak and pine tree branches at the Highland Springs Ranch and Inn (famous for its lavender festival) make this joyful engagement session with photographer Rosanna Hanson a treat. Rosie & Israel wanted to incorporate lavender in their wedding and take advantage of these beautiful California lavender fields at the end of the season with this romantic day of love.

And our most popular Pinterest pin of 2016 was......our favorite too!

And here it is our most popular Pinterest pin from 2016....with 28,711 people loving this photo of "the doggie paw engagement shoot" by Derek Chad Photography ... see the full engagement photo session here.... we get about 38,000 viewers on our San Diego Wedding Pinterest boards each and every month so be sure to follow us here. Thanks Derek Chad it looks like tens of thousands of people love your work as much as we do! 

Adorable engagement shoot with barn cats and horses down on the farm

If you follow us you know we love dogs in engagement photos! But we are finally able to give some equal attention to cats in this charming engagement shoot captured on a beautiful farm replete with barn and yup even a horse. 

Thank you to oden + janelle wedding photography for this love and fur filled day!  

Says the photographer "We had a sweet engagement session with Jennifer and Anton at Black Star Farms - a winery and Inn where Jennifer's sister is the wedding coordinator. The little barn cat followed us around throughout the session which gave us the shot of a lifetime!" We have to agree as that cat stole the show by photobombing the couple at just the right moment.

Modern La Jolla Engagement

The modern architecture that surrounded Scripps Seaside Forum in La Jolla, was the perfect background for some bold and romantic engagement photos. Of course the couple took advantage of the stunning beach and pier within walking distance as Scripps Pier is a really great location on it’s own for photos, so what a bonus! The variety and color {love that red!} that wedding and engagement photographer Brit Jaye was able to get from these two locations in such a short amount of time, was a stylized dream. No doubt about it, lovely La Jolla is the perfect modern engagement shoot location in San Diego!

Photos By:&nbsp; Brit Jaye Photography

Vendor Credits:

Photographer: Brit Jaye Photography

Venue: Scripps Seaside Forum

Makeup Services: KC Witkamp

When you wish upon a star... you'll love this Disneyland Engagement Photography Shoot!

When Stephanie and Nicholas told wedding photographer Justin Hulse that they wanted to shoot their engagement photography session at Disneyland he didn't hesitate to say "I'm going to Disneyland!!" 

Stephanie and Nicholas were both were head over heels for each other when they first visited the park together, making Disneyland a truly special and magical place. Disney was always such a big part of their lives growing up so it was only natural that they choose to share the fun and festivities of the magical kingdom together. Nicholas made sure it was something they would always cherish too when he planned a surprise vacation and purposed to Stephanie in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. 

Stephanie says, "Disneyland has always been our special place, the place we run away to when life becomes too much or when we just need to remember to have fun - or even just because we can! It's where we are a Prince and Princess, and where our dreams have come true. We wanted to share that with our friends and family - we wanted to show them the love we have for each other in our favorite place and our true Home."  

We say anyone who can kiss properly on a whirling tea cup is a rock star!! 

San Diego's Most Adorable Doggie Ring Bearer Revealed....Congratulations Rocco!

On July 31 The San Diego Wedding Party EXPO held a 'Most Adorable Doggie Ringbearer Contest' and we are excited to announce the winner "Rocco" and his proud pup parents Brenda and Martin, photographed by dog, human and love capturing experts Shadowcatcher Imagery.  It was obvious at the July wedding show that Rocco is a real star and this photo shoot proves it!

Winner Rocco with Brenda and Martin at Coronado Landing by Shadowcatcher Imagery

Reflecting YOU with Your San Diego Engagement Photography Shoot Location

Engagement photos have come a long way from the in-studio, perfectly posed shots of previous generations. Photographers and couples are pushing the envelope and creatively capturing a relationship in one image.

One of the components that creates a unique photo is the location of the shot. The perfect setting is one you feel comfortable in, has meaning to you and photographs well. For engaged couples, it’s about finding a relevant place that reflects your relationship.

What about that coffee shop you frequent every Sunday morning, or that beach you first kissed on, or where your families met in Balboa Park, or the roof-top view where he got down on one knee, or that vineyard where you first met while wine tasting? Every couple has some special place that’s unique to them. Here are some images that will inspire you two to have as much fun remembering those locations as you will have picking out your wardrobe! Thanks to wedding photographer Aaron Huniu for the amazing photos! See more photographers in our wedding resource directory.