Dayna and Brandt’s Joshua Tree wedding at Le Haute Desert Aerie was the first wedding I photographed with a somewhat normal guest count since the pandemic began. That made it pretty special… but what made it even more special is that I’ve known Dayna since 2016 when I had started doing event photography for RAW Artist Showcases in San Francisco. She was the production manager and we worked closely together to make sure we got portraits of all the artists and general event coverage. We hit it off almost immediately. Over the following years we became really good friends and I always looked forward to the events just to get to hang out and occasionally go to the Tonga Room, or hit up Brenda’s Soul Food before she left town.
Fast forward a few years, and while neither of us still do work for RAW Artists we kept in touch and reconnected whenever I visited LA or if she visited SF. Before the world suffered the collective trauma that was Covid-19, she had booked me for her wedding for May of 2020… it was postponed until September of 2020… and then once more to May of 2021. When the event finally arrived, there was an air of cautious optimism… everyone present was vaccinated, full of hope, and ready to party.
The venue was absolutely stunning. Le Haute Desert Aerie sits just outside of Joshua Tree National Park in the historic Pioneertown, California. It’s an expansive property with the main house, where Dayna got ready, atop a hill–where the reception and dancing took place. The ceremony spot was in the valley below. Dayna took full advantage of her production manager skills and coordinated friends and family to help with the decor, florals, and the construction of the temporary alter under which they said “I do.”
Not being much for public speaking, Dayna and Brandt shared personal vows privately after their first look. Their good friend Natalie officiated bringing a personal touch to the ceremony filled with humor and warmth. After the ceremony, we had a little time for portraits just outside of the property where we were able to take advantage of the vast landscape and gorgeous light. After a few toasts during dinner, the dance floor opened up, the sun sank and everyone celebrated together… for the first time in over a year.
It’s pretty safe to say that Dayna and Brandt’s Joshua Tree wedding will always hold a special place in my heart!