How long have you been together, and how did you meet?
We have been together since May 2019, and we met doing an AmeriCorps term in July 2015. We both joined AmeriCorps after college as a gap year to decide whether or not we wanted to start our careers or return to graduate school. Our unit had ~75 people and was split into seven teams. Amazingly, we were placed on the same team and spent the next ten months developing a strong friendship that would inevitably become something more.
Tell us about the proposal.
We planned a weekend to one of our favorite places, Idyllwild, CA, and both surprised each other with a proposal. As a music therapist, Melissa wrote a song for Caity and performed it in the woods during a picnic. Caity had an activity planned and popped the question the next day. Caity made a video to shower Melissa with love and support from all of her friends and family. While we knew we would be getting engaged over the weekend, the weekend events were a surprise and so special and unforgettable.
What led you to the venue? Had you been there before?
We knew we wanted to choose a venue to house many of our loved ones under one roof, so we searched for large houses out West. When we found Zion Red Rock Oasis, we knew it was the perfect place for us to bring all our friends and family to for such a special occasion. We had never been to Zion but had always wanted to go, so we figured it would be amazing to be able to share this first with so many of the people that we love.
What was the inspiration behind the theme of your wedding?
We live in San Diego now and have spent a lot of time in the desert over the past couple of years and love that vibe and scenery. We like neutrals and earthy tones, so we wanted to base many of our wedding colors around that. More importantly, the main message and theme of the wedding was to celebrate not only the love between each other but to celebrate the love for all of the people making the trip out there. We would not be here and be together if it weren’t for the love and support of the people in our lives. This was the theme that drove a lot of our decisions in the wedding planning process.
Did you undertake any DIY projects for the big day? If yes, what were they?
We DIY’d our whole wedding for the most part. We bought our dried flowers in bulk from Hidden Botanics, which we brought all the way to Zion, and set up our bouquets in the hotel lobby a few days before. We put these in vases and rented flameless candles and some decor from a local spot on Facebook marketplace. We created welcome bags and welcome packets giving the guests all the important information that they would need for the long weekend and created a detailed itinerary for each guest.
Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.
Melissa was able to find her dress at BHLDN. Caity had to search for the perfect suit, which many of you know can be extremely difficult for women. Caity knew she wanted a velvet suit for the wedding and spent several months looking for the right color. Caity finally found the perfect suit at J.Crew and had it tailored and altered to fit her perfectly.
Talk to us about the big day!
We had all our friends and family stay on the property at Zion Red Rock Oasis for four days. We were able to spend quality time with everyone before and after our wedding. Our venue and ceremony were so extraordinary. We had a very close friend marry us, and we utilized the Labyrinth on the Zion Red Rock property. Melissa and Caity walked around the Labyrinth separately, signifying the separate journies we took to get together. We then met in the middle and had the remainder of the ceremony in the center of the Labyrinth with our loved ones surrounding us in a semi-circle around the Labyrinth. We then walked back out of the Labyrinth together after we were married to signify this next chapter together. We could not be more proud and grateful to have put together such a special, unique, and intimate ceremony. The ceremony would absolutely not have been what it was without our AMAZING officiant, Shahad Alzaidan. We then spent the whole night and the next day celebrating with all our favorite people.
What are your favorite moments?
The ceremony was our absolute favorite moment. Sharing our love for each other in such a special place and unique way will forever be an experience we will cherish. Also, having so many friends willing and eager to help throughout the weekend made us feel so much gratitude and love. We got to share our love for the outdoors and hike and play sports with all of our friends and family for a long weekend.
What does marriage mean to you?
To us, marriage means choosing each other even when things are tough. Marriage symbolizes our pride in this precious relationship that we do not take for granted. This is an excerpt from our ceremony (written by our officiant, Shahad) that embodies how we feel about stepping into marriage. “Falling in love is one of those human things that somehow brings out in us our divine nature. It is in this state of being that we are wholly ourselves and holy together. But falling is only the first part- love is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners receive from God and the Universe. This soul love that Caity and Melissa have found within each other allows them space to be seen and heard, to be held and free. This love is rare, and it is precious, and it has taken great bravery to pursue. My wish for you is that you always remember how divine it is, and to give each other more grace as you take on the rest of your lives together.”
Advice for other couples planning a wedding?
We heard a lot that the wedding day isn’t actually for us; it is more for parents, family, and friends. We had to have several conversations and set many boundaries with loved ones to ensure we were having the day we truly wanted. We both tend to be people pleasers, so this was tough for us, but having our priorities and values written down and letting those guide our decisions was incredibly helpful. And we always spoke to our loved ones with love and compassion while being assertive, which was also very helpful in navigating any potentially uncomfortable conversations.
Anything you are glad you did? Or wish you didn’t do?
We were so glad that we made a long weekend out of the occasion and that we could have most of the guests under the same roof because we could spend a lot of quality time with our people. We were grateful that our ceremony was so special, thoughtful, and created by us and one of our best friends who knew and understood what we envisioned. We sometimes wish we had a videographer to capture the ceremony, but we are also grateful that that moment will always be a special thing that we share between each other and those special people with us. It was a tough call, and while we are happy with it, every now and then, we wish we could relive it by watching it on film.
What were your aisle, recessional, and first dance songs?
The song that Caity walked up to was Our Song by Judah and the Lion, and the song that Melissa walked up to was Gratitude by Benjamin Francis Leftwich. As we slowly and separately made our way through the Labyrinth, the song was Glaciers by Lights and Motion. The song playing when we walked out of the Labyrinth together as a married couple was Army of One by Coldplay and our first dance song was If There Was No You by Brandi Carlile.
Dancing With Her Partner
Photography by Adriana Maya Photography