PHOENIX - Far from the sandy beaches of Maui as planned, a valley couple tied the knot with the Papago Buttes in Phoenix as a backdrop.
"At the time we were pretty sure we weren't going to do the full wedding as we had planned, but we didn't immediately think elopement," said Alex Parks.
Enter elopement specialst, Alyssa Campbell. She's a photographer who is carving a new niche in the age of COVID-19.
"You don't have to go to the courthouse. You don't have to go to Las Vegas. Arizona has such beautiful places. Let's find a place that speaks to you. You can have just the two of you. You can have 10 of your friends," Campbell said.
Anna, a doctor and Alex, an attorney, opted for a small wedding at the Papago Buttes. Campbell helped coordinate the timeline, permits and took the photos on Saturday, May 30.
"We knew it was going to be warmer. We knew it was going to be hot," Park said.
"I don't love shooting especially in 110 plus. That said and I will do it with a lot of caution to them. They need to understand the risk of doing it in Phoenix, which is heat stroke," Campbell said.
Thankfully, there was no heat stroke, but there was plenty happening on that hot May evening across the sky.
As Anna and Alex said their vows, protesters were gathering in downtown Phoenix. The Ocotillo Fire was forcing evacuations in Cave Creek. And a weather warning for the Phoenix valley kicked out late in the afternoon.
"We had a little dust storm come through," Campbell said.
But at the end of the day, love won out.
Despite a chaotic world around them, in a small intimate ceremony, Anna and Alex became husband and wife.
"For us, elopement felt like the right choice and I was really happy with what we got," Anna Kushnir said.
"You know, this is still your wedding, it's still a special day. How can you make this not just about pictures? It's not just pretty pictures, it's still special to you," Campbell said.