Arizona Wedding-Boudoir-High School Senior-Photographer » I'm Stacy Kokes, and I photograph love...

I was SO excited when fellow AZ photo Liz asked me photograph her and Andy’s wedding. The plan was to keep it super simple. Get married at the court house followed by some romance shots and an intimate lunch reception.

You know what I love most about this couple? Their go with the flow, fly by the seat of their pants mentality. On their way to the 2012 WPPI conference in Vegas they thought “why don’t we get married while we’re there??!‘ And that they did!

So their ‘wedding day’ turned into more of a marriage celebration.

No ceremony. No first dance. Just all the stuff I LOVE…lots and lots of romance shots! It was so laid back and SO much fun :).

Here’s a peek at the day.

Girl got a Tiffany’s ring! Way to go Andy :)

Their reception details were ADORBS

Liz’s cutie daughter Morgan. Isn’t she sweetness?

Mmmm, I love me some romance shots :)

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I’m a midwest girl at heart. I love green grass, beautiful flowers and LOTS of color. In a nutshell, NOT desert  ;). That doesn’t add up too well for this now AZ girl!

Back story time!

Joe put an offer on our current house without ever having seen it. Yup, that’s right! He sent me out with the realtor and trusted that I knew what he would like. One of the main things he wanted was a low maintenance yard which in AZ means rocks, gravel and cacti. When I looked at this house, I knew it was ‘it’.

It had a cute pool and a nice desert landscaped backyard. Even this midwest chick was down with it. I felt like I could officially call myself an Arizona girl; I had a rock backyard!

For 2 years, we enjoyed our low maintenance, rock pile of a yard and things were great UNTIL we got our dogs. Then it was HIGH MAINTENANCE ALERT!!!

Let me count the ways:

1. They started jumping in the pool 3, 4, 5 times a day, causing me to go through a bizillion towels a day. Please don’t make me do laundry any more than I have to!

The fix: We got a pool fence. Great!

2. They decided they liked to dig. Did I mention it’s straight dirt under those rocks?? Ehhhh.

The fix: We got a dog door on the side of our house and put up a fence creating a dog run area that kept that out of the majority of the yard.

3. They started digging up their dog run area. The dirt….OHHHH THE DIRT!!! Did I mention the newly exposed dirt was their FAVORITE spot to lay? Let’s not even discuss the amount of dirt that would get in the house!

The fix: Our temporary fix was SO ghetto. Like truly. Joe used huge rocks and tiles that were sitting outside from the previous owner to cover up the major dirt holes. It’s laughable. Let’s just say this didn’t really work.

4. The pool fence impeded their typical ‘catch’ route, so they would run as close to the fence as possible causing HUGE ruts in the dirt.  Every time they ran, they would kick up SO much dirt, much of which got in their coats which got into the house; on the floors, on the rug, EVERYWHERE


And that’s exactly what we did this fall/winter. I am finally getting around to posting about it :). Here is our backyard transformation (so far).

This is what our side yard area used to look like. Little red rocks, LOTS of dirt and several pokey, accident-waiting-to-happen type plants.

Sweet Lord, please forgive them if they harbor ill thoughts after seeing this ghetto dog run area ;). I warned you. It was straight up NASTY! But don’t neglect the creativity aspect. I mean, tiles in the dirt holes? That’s pretty genius ;).

Remember those ruts I was telling you about? Yea, I wasn’t joking!

Okay let’s go in order, shall we? First we tackled the dog run area. This is where ‘the girls’ spend most of their time and where they were picking up the most dirt.

We had one goal. Make it near IMPOSSIBLE for my pups to dig. So my engineer hubby came up with a plan.

First, we started by removing all of the existing rock, tile and nastiness and dug down about 6 inches. Oh my lanta! Do you know how hard it is to dig Arizona dirt? Whewww! We had our work cut out for us.

Next we laid weed barrier over the dirt followed by chicken wire.

Then we got 3-6 inch river rock to place atop this contraption. This type of rock is much heavier and harder to move then what was there before. Good luck now, puppy!!! (for those of you who are wondering, we have been 3+ months without any digging over here! woo hoo!)

*note that the main goal over here was get rid of the dirt and not so much the overall look. Anything other than random tiles was an upgrade if you ask me ;)

Oh, and the chain-link fence is a recent addition. You can read about why we switched to that HERE. 

Next we tackled the main side yard area. I FINALLY convinced Joe that we should get grass. I had been asking for grass for SO long and I finally wore him down ;)

Remember it looked like this:

After a little of this:

It now looks like THIS (notice my crazy pups wrestling each other in the corner. They LOVE their grass):

Our next plan of action was to GET RID OF THE RUTTING! We figured they can’t get through pavers, thus a wrap-around pool patio was born :).

Until it looked a little something like THIS:

We were loving the grass area SO much that we thought, why not do the rest of the yard as well??! So more prep work…

…lead to something pretty sweet! (yup, there are my crazy pups again!)

Sooooo, what do you think??!

  • April 2, 2012 - 7:05 pm

    Ann Lee - Wow Stacy! That’s an amazing change! It looks totally different. I’m also amazed at how seamless the grass looks. It’s beautiful!!!

  • April 2, 2012 - 7:11 pm

    Amy - It.Looks.Amazing. Nice work, you two!

  • April 2, 2012 - 8:16 pm

    Jen - Loooove the green! Glad those deadly cacti are gone – imagine those with a little one one day?! Looks like a ton of hard work – hope it serves you well this summer!

  • April 2, 2012 - 8:56 pm

    Candice - Your yard looks AMAZING and even better in person!!! You & Joe did an awesome job. I’m not going to lie though hearing your story about all that dirt scares me and the winter/summer grass,(which still cracks us up lol). I’m def a little hesitant if we have to move to AZ. I love our midwest yard!

  • April 2, 2012 - 9:00 pm

    Suzanne - Looks great! And good job taking before and after pictures. I always forget to take the before pictures:)

  • April 3, 2012 - 8:01 am

    Emily - So glad to finally see these photos! It looks soooo great!! Nice work guys:)

  • April 5, 2012 - 7:03 pm

    Connie Barr - Wow! Loved reading the blow by blow account and it looks wonderful! Such a lot of planning and then work…you need to send this Nate Berkus…

  • April 20, 2012 - 1:46 pm

    Jessie - Holy cow that’s impressive! Gorgeous! I’m definitely jealous… our backyard is still all dirt and we’ve lived here for 3 years

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What is it about March that brings out the “Busy Monster’? Good ole’ Mr. Busy Monster has been residing in the Kokes house for the past month+. His presence results in not knowing what day it is, finding yourself waking up at 6am and STILL not getting everything done that you intended to, and very little to no cuddle/conversation time with the hubs. Let me give myself permission in this moment to just take one huge deep breath. Ahhhhhhh that felt good! Now I can proceed :)

Joe + I rarely (ok, let’s just say NEVER) agree on what type of movie to watch. I’d be happy with any of the following: a musical, a romantic comedy, a drama or the occasional action (if it has a love story mixed in there)! Joe’s genres include: comedy (not of the romantic nature), action (the gory, guy kind) or horror (ewww). Last night while browsing through Netflix movies, we could not have been on more opposite spectrums. I wanted to watch Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never (don’t hate!) while Joe wanted to watch some weird horror/comedy Army of Darkness. Being the great wife that I am (hehe, I kid), I decided I could make an effort at one of his movies. The movie was SO weird. Like, I don’t even know what to say about it! I ended up falling asleep with 15 minutes left to go. Joe was so proud of me that I made it as long as I did. When I saw how much he appreciated my effort, it made it all worth it!

I just love a good deal, don’t you? I was SUPER stoked when I went to Michael’s and unexpectedly found the perfect pink rafia to match my branding on clearance. I loved it so much, that I bought three spools just in case it gets discontinued. However, it’s taken me about a year to get half-way through my current green spool, so three may have been overkill LOL.

I love when I put my Iphone on shuffle. One minute I’m deep in a worship song, the next I’m bring brought back to high school with N’sync. The other day I was driving home and was hitting the Iphone Shuffle jackpot! Every song was a winner and you better believe I was singing AND dancing (well, car dancing anyway).

One of my friends posted on FB the other day about the 10 second kiss challenge and encouraged us wives to commit to 10 days of it. The basic idea behind it is to kiss your spouse for 10-seconds straight once a day for 10 days (or longer if you want!) The catch is, you can only kiss (no funny business!) ;). Joe + I are on Day 3 and I’m loving getting a 10-second smooch everyday. Give it a try!

This weekend, our clients (and friends) Candice + Adam were visiting from Wisconsin so we met up for some lunch, cupcakes and coffee. Fun stuff! (you may remember them from their wedding HERE).

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Wow. wow. WOW! What an amazing few days this has been. I can’t wait to tell you ALL about it.

Back in January, I got one of the SA-weetest emails from Jody Gray saying a. that they would love to bring their IN CAMERA Workshops to Phoenix and b. wanted to know if I would be interested in hosting them. Ummm duh! Of course I would!

And so the planning began.

Three months later, it was finally here. This past Sunday and Monday, we opened up our home to 30 photographers and got our learn on!

It was such an honor to host Zach + Jody and all of our new friends. We’re grateful for the opportunity!

Thursday night we grabbed dinner with these two lovelies right before they spoke at the Phoenix PUG group.

It was a full house that night. And Z+J straight up ROCKED it! (please forgive the crappy Iphone quality)

Peeps were all ears for the lecture portion!

Practicing proper exposure and white balance on me

Out on Day 1 Shooting + Post practicing what we learned

Having some fun!

Check out the set up and the final product



The set up to the final product

Mmmmm…my hubby makes for a sexy model!

I got ‘kokes’ed’ into modeling as well ;)

Workshop complete! We love our sweet friends :). They spoiled us even more with Nashville Starbucks mugs. Sah-weetness!

  • March 20, 2012 - 9:52 am

    Emily - Soooo jealous! Looks like it was a great time and great learning experience!!

  • March 20, 2012 - 3:39 pm

    Zach n Jody - Love!! Thanks for having us at your Suh Weet home and thanks for bein all around amazing!!

  • March 20, 2012 - 8:56 pm

    sharon elizabeth - How awesome!!!! And I just LOVE the wall to your tv! AHH!

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Dave + Desirae pledged their love and commitment to one another under the gazebo in their backyard in front of their closest family and friends.

Romantic much?!

Desirae was RADIANT! Dave wasn’t looking too bad either ;)

Their love for one another oozed from them with every sweet glance, laugh and kiss.

Congrats Dave + Desirae! You have MUCH reason to celebrate. xo stacy

I loved how they helped each other get ready. Sweetness.

Girl knows how to WORK it!

Their backyard gazebo was the perfect backdrop for their reception.

Family love up in this HOUSE!

my WORD…you two will make gorgeous babies!

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