Into the Sunset
Christina and Christen capture Arizona’s warmth and promise with their fall evening nuptials


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Christina Ausick and Christen Rope planned their October 2010 wedding ceremony in Scottsdale, Ariz. at the Desert Mountain Club—all while living elsewhere. The couple had been together for more than four years before getting engaged. “We met in January 2005 on a blind date through a mutual friend and dated for a few months before deciding to part ways,” Christina says. “A year later, in March, we met again and realized that this time our relationship was the ‘real deal.’”

The wedding went off without a hitch. Their simple sunset ceremony was followed by dinner and dancing with 115 of their closest family and friends. But planning the wedding wasn’t all smooth sailing. After Christen graduated from the University of Arizona in 2008, the couple moved to Madison, Wis., so Christina could complete her master’s degree in speech-language pathology. So they actually chose their Scottsdale venue while living in the Midwest. The women say if you’re planning your wedding out of town or somewhere you’re not familiar with, take the time to go visit the area.

“We were lucky enough to know the area and have returned to Arizona four months before our wedding so we had time to sort some details out,” Christen says. “Christina contacted vendors and reserved our wedding date as soon as possible, but we still went out in August 2009 and January 2010 to do some wedding planning before our permanent move.”

Of course, planning the wedding from across the country was the “fun” part, but ultimately it was the attention to detail at the actual event that we think will inspire you.

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The Setting
Choosing the right setting, theme or color palette is a simple way to reflect your personality or style—and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Christina and Christen’s outdoor location alone made the women’s wedding unforgettable, and timing it as the sun was setting only added to the ambiance. Plum, eggplant, burnt orange, yellow and ivory accent colors were used throughout to play off the Arizona sunset, which ultimately became the theme of the wedding.

To make their ceremony more intimate, Christina and Christen exchanged vows “in the round” surrounded by their guests and bridal party—something nearly any bride or groom can re-create in the right spot. They also included a sand ceremony—similar to a unity candle except using sand—and two readings, the most special being “Forever Soon,” a poem Christen wrote for Christina after the two began dating again in 2006. “The reading was my favorite part,” Christen says. “Watching two good friends read something special I wrote for Christina carried a lot of meaning for both of us.”

Location: Desert Mountain Club

Caterer: Desert Mountain Club

Cake: Desert Mountain Club

Photography: Megan Robbins Photography

DJ: Scott Keough

Mandolin Player: Walt Pitts

Florist: Carmen at Desert Rose Florist in Carefree, Ariz.

Invitations: Sarah B. Fine Stationary in Madison, Wis.

Hair and makeup: Latitude 33, (makeup by Jayme; hair by Tommy and Christy)

Rings: Rony Tennenbaum

The couple opted for purple and orange rose petals spread on the tables. “We didn’t have any centerpieces at our tables because the setting was already so beautiful,” Christina says. They did, however, have gorgeous flowers for the ceremony. Both women carried bouquets of cream roses, purple dendrobium orchids, and ivory and purple Picasso calla lilies. The female attendants carried bouquets of orange sunset roses, orange pin cushion Proteas, and purple dendrobium orchids, while the male attendants wore orange roses.

Christen and Christina personalized their wedding menu by reflecting Christina’s Italian heritage in their three-course sit-down dinner. The reception began with a cocktail hour featuring passed hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, including dusted shrimp with coconut curry sauce; osso bucco empanadas; smoked salmon roulade on with dill cream cheese and cucumber relish on crostini; and peppered beef Carpaccio with arugula pesto, pine nuts and crisp Parmesan on crostini. The Italian dinner included an amuse of butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sage sauce; a salad of mixed greens with pears, walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese with maple-pear vinaigrette; and Chianti-braised short ribs and halibut with shallots and lemon saffron sauce, white truffle risotto and baby carrots.

The lovebirds entertained their guests with a DJ who played a set list Christen, an avid music fan. They started their cocktail hour with “You & Me” by Dave Matthews Band, the same song played on a mandolin for the recessional.

A simple-and-sweet Italian white wedding cake—a two-layer cake with pecans and coconut with maraschino cherry juice and a sweet cream frosting—served only about 50 people, because they also had an Italian sweets table laden with individual tiramisus, chocolate decadence squares, lemon brûlée tartes and amaretto cheesecakes. “The flavor of the wedding cake was actually nothing that we had ever had before. Both of us have different tastes,” Christina says. “I like chocolate, Christen doesn’t. I like things with fruit; Christen doesn’t, etc. So, I was looking up wedding cake flavors and found this and it sounded good and the pastry chef was able to make it. We tasted it and thought it was perfect!”

And so was the entire wedding. “We are lucky that our family and friends are so loving and an important part of our lives—not that I didn’t already know that, but it was so evident on our wedding day,” Christina says. “My feelings all day were so surreal—I couldn’t believe that the day had finally come, and that we actually got married!”

Photos/Megan Robbins Photography