From our first meeting, Oliver and I felt something special. We made each other feel a warm belonging, like coming home. I first met him on a typical blistering Texas July summer day.

I walked to the front of my apartment complex to meet him, after he had insisted in picking me up for our first date, to find a cute blonde man leaning on his little green Kia Soul, grinning from ear to ear.

He had even brought me a muffin he’d baked earlier that day. Something lit up in my brain, and I knew there was something interesting in him that I wanted to get to know more.

Neither of us wanted our first date to end, and so we hopped from restaurant to book store to coffee shop, never feeling awkwardness or lulls in the conversation. As we sat in that coffee shop and talked—really talked—I felt like I was reconnecting with someone I had known for years and years.

We’ve talked about this moment since, and he assures me he felt it, too. We felt this immediate sense that our meeting was something special, something different. We felt a warm belonging and comfort in each other that we’d never felt with anyone else.

Neither of us needs more than one hand to count the number of dates we went on before we knew—this is the one I want to be with forever. This is the person I will marry.

Two and a half years after that first date, the certainty became a reality. On October 7th, 2018, Oliver and I married each other high in the Rocky Mountains among our closest friends and family.

The wedding was a celebration and reaffirmation of what we already knew— we are each other’s complements. Apart, we are two complete and well-rounded individuals. We are a whole and neither of us is the better half of the other.

But together, we balance each other out and make each other better in the best of ways. We are a team, a unit, an unstoppable force. Our relationship is rich not only because we’re so deeply in love, but also because we respect one another for exactly who we are.

Oliver is my biggest cheerleader, and I’m his strongest supporter, but it’s our mutual choice to be together and work side-by-side at this relationship that makes us feel so empowered.

We originally chose Justyna to do our engagement photos after looking at a list of Colorado photographers. Oliver’s mom, Karen, picked her out of that list. Funnily enough, Justyna is not the only person Karen has picked out of a list.

Oliver and I met online. After we’d been dating a few months, he slightly embarrassedly admitted to me that after some urging from his mom, he’d reluctantly let her scroll through his matches and pick a few she thought would be best for him.

I was her first choice. So, yeah. My mother-in-law knows how to pick ‘em.

When Justyna took us up to Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park for our engagement photos, we knew immediately we had connected with a photographer that has the utmost passion and respect for capturing beauty and love.

We were so excited to have her share and capture the most beautiful and intense moments of our wedding day. Justyna is careful and passionate, warm and precise. She uses her camera to collect the most intimate moments between a couple.

My heart wells up with joy knowing that Oliver and I will always have those photographs to look through and treasure for years to come. I don’t think they’ll ever stop taking our breath away.

No one can know for certain what the future holds. All anyone can do is be sure of what they know in the present. Oliver and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that what we want is to share the rest of our lives together.

Our bond weaves our lives together like the strongest rope, one to be check daily and cared for carefully, to be mended quickly if it should fray. We look forward to using this bond to blend our two families, and eventually use it to start a new one of our own.

We couldn’t be more grateful to have Justyna’s works of art to share with each other and everyone we love so much.

Venue: The Stanley Hotel

Second Shooter: Chelsea Leigh Stockton



Family and friends;

Welcome. Please be seated.

Today we have gathered together among the high mountains and beneath the endless blue sky to celebrate the loving marriage of Alyssa and Oliver.

On behalf of these two—Thank you for making the long journey from your homes far away to come and share in this special day with them. Alyssa and Oliver feel most alive and in love when they are in the presence of Nature, and neither of them has yet to encounter a natural beauty more mighty or wondrous than what we have around us now; save, of course, that beauty which they see in each other. It is their hope that you, too, are as moved by the living, breathing, and turning of the world as they are, as it is so uniquely felt in a place like this.

Before we begin, let us take a moment to appreciate the soaring magnificence of the mountains; their snow-capped spires and pine gardens, their running rivers and emerald lakes, and all the living creatures that call them home.

“You ask me why I dwell in the green mountain;

I smile and make no reply for my heart is free of care.

As the peach-blossom flows down stream and is gone into the unknown,

I have a world apart that is not among men.”

Definition of Commitment

Anyone who knows Alyssa and Oliver knows their relationship is one of complements, of give and take.

Alyssa is a woman mined from the veins of history’s greatest explorers; she breathes adventure and burns with curiosity. She’s always ready to tie on her boots for the next big trek. Where there is no obvious path, blazes her own, plowing gamely into the undergrowth, wielding determination like a machete. She doesn’t need to know where she’s going when she sets off, because she’s certain she’ll know when she gets there.

Oliver is…different. Compared to Alyssa, his thirst for adventure is more easily slaked. For example: you’d find yourself hard-pressed to convince him that a mountain isn’t just as impressive-looking from the bottom as it would be from the top. To him, it’s more lovely to paddle a still river than a roaring one, and he remains baffled that anyone would want to do something like jump out of a plane on purpose. In his mind, you shouldn’t leave the house without knowing where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and where the nearest hospital will be when you arrive—because, you know, just in case.

Together, Alyssa and Oliver venture into the world tempered and balanced by each other. Alyssa points to the horizon and says, “Let’s make for it!” while Oliver scans the skies for trouble and shrewdly sets their course. Alyssa provides Oliver the gift of her adventuresome spirit; Oliver strings together their adventures with the safest roads home.

If Alyssa is the roaring current and the billowing sail, then Oliver is the rudder and the ballast. Together the leap from wave to wave, but always find their way back to shore.

Alyssa and Oliver do not believe in fate. It is their view that their meeting was a product of joyous happenstance. For the random tangle of events that brought them together in the right place, and at the right time in their lives, they could not be more grateful.

Oliver and Alyssa also do not believe that their love lives on its own, that it’s a thing that’s either there, or not there. Love is not something that happened to them. They see love as a choice, as a matter of effort and attention, not wildfire that burns untamed, but a hearth that smolders, constant and reassuring. To them, love is a glowing warmth to be fed, tended, turned. It requires both of them to say yes, each and every day, to each other—yes, I choose you, in all that you are and all that you were and will ever be. Yes, I choose to tend this hearth with you, sit by it with you, build a life around it with you, and to invite our family and friends to bask in its light.

They do not take on the mantle of marriage lightly, but with solemn joy and resolved hearts. They approach it with the balance that only two entirely whole people can offer each other. They do not “complete” each other, neither is “the better half” to the other. They are not puzzle pieces trying to fit together. Alyssa and Oliver are each a vivid and complete portrait of themselves, ready to hang side by side.

They commit themselves now in marriage not to redefine the love that they have for one another, but to reaffirm it here before you and the world.


Alyssa and Oliver: A wedding is a is a joyous occasion. It is connected in our thoughts with the charm of love, the glitter of celebration, and the warmth that comes with sharing with those closest to us one of the most important events of our lives. A wedding, however, is fleeting. In the same way a shooting star is a mere announcement of the cosmos beyond, your wedding only announces the enormity of your commitment to one another.

As we gathered few bear witness, Alyssa and Oliver, please read to one another the vows you’ve prepared. Let them be heard as distillations of your enduring commitment to each other; a commitment that you pledge to maintain as long as you live.

Alyssa, you may go first.

[Alyssa’s vows]

Thank you. Now, Oliver, please read your vows.

[Oliver’s vows]

Thank you.

Now, if you are ready to assume the obligations and duties as I have defined them, please take each other’s hands and repeat after me:

You cannot possess me for I belong to myself.

But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give.

You cannot command me, for I am a free person.

But I shall serve you in those ways you require,

And hope the honeycomb tastes sweeter coming from my hand.

I pledge that yours are the arms into which I’ll fall every night,

And that yours are the eyes into which I’ll smile come each morning.

I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first drink from my cup.

I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care.

I shall be a shield for your back and you for mine.

I shall not slander you, nor you me.

I shall honor you above all others, and when we quarrel we shall do so in private

and air to no stranger our grievances.

This is my wedding vow to you

This is a marriage of equals.

Alyssa, by the life that courses within your blood and the love that resides within your heart;

do you take George Oliver Sean Gerken by hand, by heart, and by spirit to be your chosen one;

to desire him and be desired by him,

to love him wholly and completely without restraint,

to care for him in times of illness and to work to preserve him in good health,

to find plenty in him should your coffers run dry,

to bring your grievances to him when they are fresh so as to never let them fester in resentment

to embrace his family as you do your own,

to respect him in mind, body, and manner

as you so respect yourself

as long as you both shall live?

[I do]

Oliver, by the life that courses within your blood and the love that resides within your heart;

do you take Lauren Alyssa Garza by hand, by heart, and by spirit to be your chosen one;

to desire her and be desired by her,

to love her wholly and completely without restraint,

to care for her in times of illness and work to preserve her in good health,

to find plenty in her should your coffers run dry,

to bring your grievances to her when they are fresh so as to never let them fester in resentment,

to embrace her family as you do your own,

to respect her in mind, body, and manner

as you so respect yourself

as long as you both shall live?

[I do]

Affirmation of the Community

Beloved family and cherished friends; we have been brought together today by Alyssa and Oliver because they feel that each of us is reflected in their union. No couple exists in isolation. The two young people we see before us are living amalgamations of our ongoing care and friendship. They are radiant kaleidoscopes of our unconditional love and shared experiences. They would not be who they are for want of us, nor we for want of them. From our midst, a new family has been created, and our circle of love expanded.

Now that we have heard Alyssa and Oliver recite their vows to one another, we ask ourselves: do we, as the most fulsome witnesses to their love, promise to encourage them and love them, to provide them the guidance hewn from our successes and the wisdom wrought from our failings, to support them in being steadfast in the promises they have made to one another, and to embrace each other as one family from this day forth?

If so, say, “We do.”

[We do!]

Exchanging of the Rings

Alyssa and Oliver: You have each chosen to wear a ring as a symbol of the lifelong commitment and abiding love which you have promised to one another. You will now exchange those rings, in plain and honest view of all these people who love and care for you most.

Victor, may we have the rings? [Victor presents the rings]

Alyssa, please place the ring on Oliver’s finger, and repeat after me:

With this ring, I give you my heart

At the rising of the moon and stars

and the setting of the sun.

To love and to honor

Through all that may come.

Throughout our life together

May we be reborn

That we may meet and know

And love again,

And remember one another

Until we return to the Earth.

Oliver, please place the ring on Alyssa’s finger and repeat after me:

With this ring, I give you my heart

At the rising of the moon and stars

and the setting of the sun.

To love and to honor

Through all that may come.

Throughout our life together

May we be reborn

That we may meet and know

And love again,

And remember one another

Until we return to the Earth.

Final Reading

Thank you. In closing, I’d like to read a brief passage to you all:

“Our little planet floats like a mote of dust in the morning sky. All that you see, all that we can see, exploded out of a star billions of years ago, and the particles slowly arranged themselves into living things, including all of us. We are made of star stuff. We are the mechanism by which the universe can comprehend itself. The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth. We should remain grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides. The sum of all our evolution, our thinking and our accomplishments is love.”

These are the words of the late Carl Sagan.

Alyssa’s and Oliver’s love is an accomplishment. They have taken a feeling that came to them easily and nurtured it. They learned to do this from the example of their parents, their sisters and brothers, and all the friends and extended family that care so deeply for them. In turn, all the love they’ve received has been passed down to them since the beginnings of time, and now they embark on a new journey—one in which they will take the love they’ve inherited and shape it to their own lives, and in turn, pass it down to others.

There are few things more beautiful.

Pronouncement and Presentation

Alyssa and Oliver, having witnessed your vows for marriage before all who are assembled here, by the authority vested in me, I now pronounce you wedded to one another. You may kiss!



Everyone, it is my pleasure to introduce to you for the first time… Oliver and Alyssa Garza-Gerken and their destination wedding in Estes Park, Colorado.


Share this story

  1. All those photos are so beautiful and romanatic and the destination is perfect! 🙂 Your vows are lovely too, looks like it was a magical day 🙂 Thank you for sharing it with us :3

  2. My cousin just recently had a destination wedding. It was beautiful. It was definitely a fun and unique thing to experience.

  3. Absolutely stunning images! This is straight out of a Hollywood movie. The colors and composition are just dreamy. You really seem to know how to tell a couple’s story and let the location shine.

  4. Your photos are so beautiful and they show how much the couple loves each other. Also, their story is so heartwarming. Such a special themed wedding!

  5. Beautiful photos! I love the place where the marriage organized. The climate is also awesome. Wonderful Job!

  6. Wow, such a very stunning photos. You are such a very talented photographer and I love everything about your work.

  7. weddings sure are beautiful and capture them so well. I am so impressed with love overflowing my screen

  8. After seeing this, who wouldn’t insist on a professional photographer for their wedding (or any special occasion). What absolute stunning images created for a really lovely couple. So beautiful the way these were done in terms of lighting, location, mood etc – that they will be able to cherish forever.

  9. Oh wow this was so fun to read and follow along. I love how you captured each memorable moment. Thanks for sharing!

  10. What a beautiful destination adventure wedding! Wonderful job capturing this couple’s joy!

  11. Amazing photos here. The US sure has alot of naturaly beautiful looking places with natures greenry and the seasons weather to blossom. And this is a perfrct look.

  12. This is so beautiful and this wedding is so magical. I would love to have this kind of wedding. Kudos with your photography, it’s amazing.

  13. ok !! I’m so in love with your pictures! Can you come to France and do mine please ? ahah Beautiful !!!! And loved the story too !

  14. What a beautiful and touching love story. These photos are stunning. (Love your boots!)

  15. Wow your pictures are always so beautiful! I wish I had a photographer like you for my wedding 🙂

  16. Ohhh my gosh, what a perfect destination wedding! I love when couples are so adventurous, love those hiking boots, the little red riding hood, everything! 🙂