Joanna Mendoza and Brandon Nolde began their love story in the bustling city of Chicago. While Joanna was finishing her senior year in undergrad, Brandon had recently moved from New York City to start a new job downtown.
“Our first date was on New Year’s Day and set up on a whim as we were both separately ringing in the New Year,” Joanna recalls. “We had connected through a dating app just a few days prior and decided to see what luck 2015 would bring in. We met at Bernard’s, a bar in the historic Waldorf Astoria hotel, the perfect setting for a first date with dim lighting, plush velvet upholstered lounges, and tasty cocktails. Sparks flew!”
THE BRIDE AND GROOM KNEW THEIR WEDDING DESTINATION HAD TO BE ELEGANT, MAGICAL, AND SURROUNDED BY NATURE.
For the next two years, the couple spent almost every day together, bonding over their jobs in finance, a mutual love for travel, and quality time at the dog park with Joanna’s Wheaten Terrier, Corduroy.
“Now, when we first connected, I was the one to boldly ask Brandon out,” Joanna shares, “and coincidentally, I was also the first to wear my heart on my sleeve and tell him I loved him. But Brandon truly pulled out all the stops the day he proposed.
He planned an entire day of recreating the best dates we’d had and purchased a polaroid camera for us to capture the day together. It was a day of bliss, the apex being when Brandon proposed along the Lakeshore path with the entire Chicago city skyline behind us. We enjoyed celebratory drinks back at Bernard’s, where we first met and ended the night with a 12 course dinner, and lots of champagne.”
The wedding planning process began with several ideas in mind, but the bride and groom-to-be knew their wedding destination had to be elegant, magical, and surrounded by nature. With so many family and friends having to travel to attend the big day, they also wanted to choose a venue that would make everyone feel like they were on a true vacation. A scenic wedding at Enchantment Resort in Sedona turned out to be the perfect fit, with its idyllic Boynton Canyon location providing a private and cozy retreat in the mountains.
With a string quartet performing Shostakovich’s “Romance from The Gadly,” the wedding ceremony took place on Enchantment Resort’s outdoor terrace. Pristine October weather made the views of Sedona’s red rocks even more spectacular, and the bride and groom exchanged personal vows. Joanna’s Filipino heritage was also incorporated with a lasso, veil, and candle ceremony to promote unity and good health.
“While our guests enjoyed cocktail hour with appetizers and our signature drinks (Prickly Pear Margarita for the bride and a Manhattan for the groom), we were swept off for stunning mountaintop photos and a couple of peaceful moments,” Joanna shares. “We returned for a plated dinner and tear-jerking toasts. After a quick outfit change to highlight my father-daughter six-song dance mashup medley, we continued our night with more dancing and desserts; we splurged with a dessert bar of key lime mousse, flourless chocolate cake, and Mexican hot chocolate and churros… not to mention, five wedding cakes with a fondant sculpture of our dog Corduroy.
All our guests got to dance off those dessert calories and lighten their pockets after a money dance thanks to the amazing live music from our band, The Lucky Devils. A light sprinkling of rain started just as our night came to an end – a definite sign of good luck!”
Ashleigh Roux and Chaz O'Connell first met in the 10th grade. Though they attended different high schools and never heard of each other before, Ashleigh’s best friend happened to be dating one of Chaz’s friends. One night, their mutual group of buddies decided to meet at the movie theater, where the two teens crossed paths.
Location: Enchantment Resort, Sedona, AZ