Rikki Rivera | Photographer » Wedding & Portrait Photography

Sweet Vivian has just turned three and is the most engaging toddler I’ve met! Upon first arriving, she was laughing and acting almost bashful, it was adorable. We quickly became friends as she showed me her room, her pretty bed, and her stuffed rabbit aptly named, Rabbit. Then she got to wear the most beautiful little gown her mama got for her. We had quite a bit of fun playing and getting to know one another in her space. She loves her dresses, so we tried on quite a few and settled on a lovely lavender one before heading to the park. Her excitement for the park on such a beautiful late summer morning was just precious. We walked, talked, and enjoyed the warm sunshine. Before our time was done, she was ready to put on her costume from last year to show me the cutest ensemble I’m quite sure I have ever laid eyes on. Raggedy Anne!

It was the relationship between Vivian and her mom, however, as well as the tenderness between her and her dad, that caught my attention. The most precious family of three wrapped up under their roof, it was a delight to spend the morning with them.

Thank you Vivian for being such a great little model for me, and Lucy for having me out to document this most precious phase for Vivian. Happy summer!

As we gathered in the very spot where their relationship first began, their friend and wedding officiant, Katie began, “On their first date, Amy and Jens hiked Mount Pilchuck and shared their first kiss at the summit. Jens described the moment of remembering her next to him and thinking they were a perfect fit. And it’s not hard to see that all these years later, gathered in that same spot where it began.”

Below are not only a handful of photos that depict the story of how this incredible day began, but snippets of their vows and words to one another. Enjoy.

Amy, “It’s hard to put into words how I feel about Jens. It’s in many ways, indescribable, so I don’t focus on verbalizing it. Most of the time I just feel grateful.” 

Jens, “Amy is complicated, but dedicated. When she opened up to me, it felt amazing. She is my best friend and lover.”

Jens, “I could not have asked for a better partner in our travels through life. As I speak of life, life is about living your dreams; feeling alive, and understanding that every moment we sit here, every breath, you will be by my side, rolling on the floor laughing, knowing I will be the man that will support you through it all. Knowing I will be the supportive father of your child, knowing I will be your lover and best friend, not ever giving up on family.”

Amy, “You have shown me how beautiful life can be. My life now screams with color – everything from Booker’s laugh to this early morning light. Thank you for showing me how to live in the moment and appreciate the smallest details… It is my privilege to be your family; to be your wife.”

Katie, “May your lives be ever intertwined, your love keeping you together. May you build a home together that is compassionate to all, full of respect and honor for others and each other, and may it forever be filled with peace, happiness, and love.”

Jens,“My favorite part about the hike, besides standing across from the most beautiful girl in the world, was witnessing Amy in her pre-wedding bliss, at 3:00am in the morning with her huge backpack on. She had two bouquets of flowers in each water bottle pocket on her backpack, her dress dangling off, and headlamp to illuminate her way up the steep rocky trail. She was ready, and nothing, no obstacle was going to get in her way!”

Amy, “Our wedding was magical. Many things didn’t go as originally planned, but somehow, in all that beauty, they only added to the experience. There were moments that brought tears to my eyes and more laughter than may generally be appropriate. But in those moments, looking at Jens, listening to our love story, surrounded by the mountains and the morning silence, I felt pure, unadulterated joy.”

It’s taken me awhile to pick this handful of photos to feature, because as you can imagine, they’re all really amazing. There are also few words to rightfully explain how the experience that was hiking up a mountain in the dark with my husband + my favorite person, waking at first light, and capturing an intimate elopement at the summit. It was, hands down, an experience I will never forget.

I met Amy a few years ago for head shots for her work. I adore her personality and energy. My husband actually went to high school with Amy and her sister, so it was fun to bring them back together. Fast forward to present day and I get this amazing phone call that says, “Hey, I know you like to do this kind of thing. Are you interested?” Literally at a loss for words for about a millisecond before, “YES!” came rushing out. Yes, yes, absolutely yes! For weeks I imagined what Amy and Jens’ wedding would be like. The real thing was much better, let me tell you. Planning and preparing was done well in advance, because seriously the excitement was boiling over. Admittedly, I was slightly afraid of hiking at night. I’m just not a fan of the woods and pitch black all around you. Thankfully, my best friend came along to keep me company and second shoot. It ended up being one of the best experiences in hiking I’ve ever done. By the time we stepped out of the forest and into the open the rest of the way up, the stars and far off city lights were upon us. I could barely keep my eyes off the stars, they were so brilliant!

When the lookout finally came in sight, we were elated, and so tired. With less than five hours before the sun came up and the bride and groom would arrive, we quickly found a spot to cowboy camp and laid out under the stars with rough cool winds, and zipped up to sleep off and on until sunrise. We woke to the wedding party coming up the mountainside and the sky just barely showing any light. As we all slowly gathered together, people were gracious enough to give us the space needed to get ready. With only an hour of sleep for them, everyone dressed, and we set out. Just as the sunrise was turning into it’s own beautiful golden light, Amy and Jens exchanged vows, laughter, and a kiss to seal the deal. It was amazing. Breathtaking. An experience I would do again and again, but I know this was once in a lifetime.

Amy and Jens, I am so grateful, humbled, and honored to have been apart of this with you. You’re a more beautiful couple than I ever knew before and getting to know you from this experience was an honor. I can’t wait to see what adventures you get into next. Cheers to you newlyweds!

I’ve come to discover that of all the sessions I do, proposals are the one that I feel require not just photos, but written word to bring the story together. There is so much leading up to this exact moment, and not just the technical planning, but from the heart. Things that the other person does to pull them in and ultimately decide they want to dedicate a lifetime together. Of all the things I love to learn about people, it’s the little things that are intimate to them, that are the sweetest and most authentic. That’s exactly what I have from Devin and Allison…

Devin, “A defining characteristic of our relationship is a thirst for adventure. Living in Illinois, we resorted to road trips, rollercoasters and skydiving. It wasn’t until we took a trip to Colorado that we realized that out west, in the mountains, is where we wanted to be. Exploring nature, hiking trails, white water rafting,  kayaking deep canyons, and just taking in all the beauty surrounding us is what quenched that thirst. We took a couple more trips out to Colorado, which only helped to solidify our feelings. We wanted to spend the rest of our lives together going on adventures. We decided that we were going to move out west and start a new adventure together as soon as she finished vet school. I’ve been dodging the “when are you guys getting married” question for years, even from Allison. My answer every time, “after she graduates.””

Allison, “The first time I met Devin was back in the summer of 2007 when we were both lifeguards at the local waterpark. We bonded instantly over how much we hated it. We went to different high schools and different undergraduate colleges, but we always made the time to see each other on the weekends. Luckily for us we somehow committed to colleges that were only 45 minutes away from each other. As we progressed through college, our relationship started to take shape and we were realizing how much we truly meant to each other. The coolest thing about our college relationship was that we grew both individually and together all at the same time.”

Devin, “I started doing some research online in search of breathtaking overlook points near Seattle, and stumbled upon an AllTrails hiking page for Minotaur Lake, which is a beautiful mountain top lake with crystal clear waters and breathtaking cliffs and overlook points. The AllTrails page had some photos, a description of the ‘extremely difficult’ trail that lead to the lake, and reviews from people that have made the hike. They all said the same thing, “The hike is brutal, but so worth it.” This was the place. It checked all my boxes. It was perfect. So I did a little more research, which led me to some shots Rikki had taken there. They were incredible to say the least. So I called her up last minute more or less saying that this is what I wanted to do, and I’ll do whatever I can to have you capture the moment. Without hesitation she said yes! We went back and forth going over the details and logistics in the days leading up to the proposal, and Rikki assured me that I didn’t need to worry about a thing; I just needed to follow the trail that she marked for me, and do my thing, and it would all go off without a hitch. I trusted her.”

Devin, “Fast forward to day of the hike. It was a beautiful, 90 degree day with not a cloud in the sky. It was perfect.”

Allison, “Every time I tell the story of our proposal, I laugh because I tell people that after the proposal took place we were like newlyweds on the way down that same treacherous mountain that had us bickering like an old married couple on the way up.”

Having never met these two before, flying in from Illinois for a week of vacation, Devin has been waiting over a year to pop the question. With nothing more than profile pictures to get acquainted, I encourage that “you really just have to trust me” card, because there aren’t really any other options. And he did. Once they arrived at the designated spot, a few moments of walking around and taking in the sights, removing the final marking tape to hide it from Allison, and having no idea where I actually am, Devin quickly drops to one knee and asks Allison to be his wife forever. I could tell he was anxious and oh-so-ready, because I was taken aback by the abruptness of it and moved with a lightning quick reaction when I realized THIS IS IT! She was so surprised! His excitement is something I’ll always remember.

While the planning happened pretty quick, I couldn’t have been more impressed by the forethought Devin put into this very moment. I encouraged him to bring a change of clothes for her (just in case she really wanted/needed it after such an arduous hike and before a photo shoot). He not only picked out and brought a dress for her, but makeup, and a picnic too! Serious points for that extra mile, I was incredibly impressed.

It’s something so different, so unique, and so incredibly challenging, that I can’t turn away from the chance to be apart of this amazing intimate moment between a couple. After a moment for the two of them to take in the excitement of saying, “YES!” and now being engaged, I quickly emerge from the trees and say, “Finally. Hi! I’m Rikki!” I’m grinning ear to ear, because hey, I just witnessed that! I am so humbled to be the one person to share in that moment. To meet two people in a once in a lifetime opportunity that was by pure chance. I’ve been fortunate enough now to do it twice. Gratitude doesn’t cover how incredible this makes me feel and how inspired I am to continue encouraging people to follow their hearts like this.

Cheers to a beautiful and adventurous lifetime together, Devin and Allison. I’m honored to be a small part of your story.

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