There are few things greater than having the honor of photographing the best day of someone's life thus far, regardless of who it is, or where it is located. However, when being a destination wedding photographer coincides with the opportunity to photograph someone's wedding who you feel is like a second brother to you, it's even more emotional, and even higher of an honor, if even possible. And, when Danny asked me to photograph his wedding to Mayra in Ecuador, it was one of the biggest honors I've had as a destination wedding photographer.
Danny and I met on my first trip to Quito, Ecuador in 2005, as he lived with my friends and mentors, Jon & Karen Lambert. When I went to Ecuador, I never imagined developing the close relationships that I now cherish with many who call Ecuador home, but I am eternally grateful to have them in my life. As I continued to travel to Quito and stay with the Lamberts, Danny and I stayed in touch, and I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the years. He helped me with my extremely broken Spanish, and I tried to help him with his English (which he now speaks better than I do, honestly!). And, when he messaged me to tell me of his and Mayra's engagement, I was so excited for him. When he asked me if I would travel to Cuenca to be their wedding photographer, I was beyond thrilled.
Only having met Mayra through Skype, I was excited to meet the woman who had stolen Danny's heart. It was so wonderful to get to know her a bit, meet her wonderful, warm, loving family, and see Danny through her eyes. You can feel the true connection they have when she begins to talk about him, or when she gives him a quick glance when no one is looking. They are two halves of a whole, and they make one another better. To see them together, they just make sense -- and it was truly a joy to get to document such a beautiful union.
Arriving in Quito a few days before the wedding, I was able to capture their civil union before their ceremony in Cuenca. It was fun to see how Ecuador works, and watch that process unfold. Then, once they were civilly married, we all flew to Cuenca, where Mayra is from, to celebrate with a full wedding ceremony. Choosing to having their wedding at Estancia San José, their backdrop was gorgeous, complete (to my childish excitement) with alpacas and an epic fireworks display. Their ceremony was beautiful and wonderfully poignant, with each of their mothers coming up to pray with them during the ceremony. With Jon officiating the wedding ceremony, it truly was a full family affair, and the beauty of their families coming together to celebrate was something I'll never forget.
But Danny and Mayra weren't done with just the ceremony. When Danny asked me to come down, he said he was game for a day-after session as well, and oh, how they exceeded all expectations! When I suggested driving to the top of El Cajas National Park, a gorgeous landscape outside Cuenca, Danny and Mayra didn't even bat an eye. They said yes, packed their wedding clothes, their families, and we all hopped on a bus to go to Cajas the morning after the wedding...and these two are FEARLESS. We're talking climbing trees, hiking mini mountains, and finally ending up in the lake. These two are truly game for anything, and it was an absolute blast to photograph their wedding in Ecuador.
Danny + Mayra, I can't thank you enough for entrusting me with your wedding day. It was truly an honor to be able to capture your day for you, and I am so thrilled you've found one another. Muchos bendiciones y abrazos a ti, and Dios les bendiga y sus familias!