I'm a commercial photo stylist, and I love conceptualizing creative shoots! So when Cody and I got engaged, I decided we needed to go all in for an awesome, original engagement shoot. Needless to say we love Dirty Dancing. We're both huge Patrick Swayze fans; Cody particularly loves his work in Point Break, and of course I prefer him as Johnny Castle.
Years before we decided to tie the knot, I fantasized of a Dirty Dancing-themed wedding. I wanted us to find a campground resort as our venue and make all our guests dress in that special 1960s style with an 80s twist just like in the film. There would be flash mobs and choreographed dances galore. But alas, we planned our wedding in three months, and with that timeframe I'm impressed that we did engagement photos at all!
When I suggested a Dirty Dancing theme for our engagement photos, Cody was all in! He's an incredibly loyal and supportive partner for a project-obsessed dreamer like me! And dancing together is our favorite.
Photographer Matt Villanueva and I work together in a photo studio, and he was happy to help with the project. We scheduled a shoot day, and I brought in the wardrobe and built the set. My close friend and makeup artist, Adrienne Gray, did our hair and makeup. My friend and fellow stylist Jesse Meyer helped with styling and posing. We all had so much fun; we laughed (and blushed) a lot!
We shot the second part of our Dirty Dancing shoot on a beautiful day at Discovery Park. The gorgeous Seattle park is conveniently located in our neighborhood, and it's also where we held our wedding reception in August. It was wonderful collaborating with photographer Mandee Rae and makeup artist Nikki Smith to bring to life the outdoor portion of the shoot. I love the soft intimacy of these photos, and that rare Seattle sunlight made it all so magical.
We're all incredibly proud of how the photos turned out. The shoot captured Cody and I as a couple so well; we're playful, romantic, fun, sexy, and over the top!
Words by Blanca Martinez
Photos by Matt Villanueva
Photos by Mandee Rae
Mandee Rae is a self-taught and published photographer living in Seattle. Her career started as a self-portrait photographer on Flickr, and soon she was published in magazines in several other countries. She is constantly striving to capture movement and candid work in her photography.
Matt Villanueva is an editorial and commercial photographer specializing in portraiture and still life photography. His images possess unique expression, character and color, which bring them to life. Based in Seattle, Washington, Matt believes working closely with a client and team is an essential to creative output.