Most love stories in books and movies are based on the first meeting, the initial spark, that first magical date, and the lust you feel for someone when meeting them for the first time. But I feel that's not really love. It’s an attraction. It’s a moment of lust. It’s how all love stories begin.
There are not many love stories based on what happens after. After they are married or after that first date. We are just supposed to assume they live happily ever after. But relationships and love are so much more than that!
Love is about commitment, respect, and open communication. Marriages that last 20 or more years are full of surprises, tragedies, and heartache. Together a couple will go through and see their fair share of heartache. They learn, adventure and grow with each other.
As a couple, you have to keep going back to that initial spark. Remember why you had that initial spark in the first place. For me, with my husband, I feel it was the ability to be able to talk about anything with him. I felt so comfortable telling him the things others thought were odd and he respected my views.
Til this day we still communicate like this. Even when we are afraid because we are mad or scared of judgment. Eventually, we always remember to talk to each other. Even though we have changed over the years we still love staying up late and talking.
Our favorite time to talk is in the car on road trips. Whatever pops into our heads we speak our minds. Sometimes it’s funny, other times it’s weird, most of the time it’s just about our lives together.
We certainly don’t agree on everything when we talk, but we respect each other during the conversation. Never calling each other names, using foul language or saying that we think the other person is stupid.
Too many times have I seen those three things happen in a conversation between couples. Too many times have those conversations ended badly and never get resolved. A recipe for relationship disaster!
Love is work! Just like your kids are a lot of work you still love them without hesitation. You’d do anything for them. This same level of commitment applies to love with your spouse. If you think it’s always going to be chemistry and lustful feelings than you have your head in the wrong space.
Love is about helping others grow. It’s support. If you’re hindering another person from achieving their peak you’re not loving them. It’s like the saying “if you love them let them go.” Let your partner go and let them be them and do what they need to feel freedom. Don’t hinder them with unrealistic expectations.
However, love is also setting boundaries. Boundaries that are respectful of the other person’s wishes. These boundaries have to be communicated openly. Are you going to be unfaithful? Are you going to leave when times are poor? Are you going to be there when they are sick? What kind of person are you going to be to support them?
And last, but certainly not least, love is a choice as least for our society anyway. You have the choice of how much you want to love someone and for how long. So choose love every time you fight, every time your spouse annoys you. Choose the love life you want and make it known because no one is a mind reader.
You’re so lucky to have the person you have. I always think about how hard it was to date. It was such a process and time-consuming. I know that I really don’t want to do it over again, even when I am not happy about something. I am lucky to have someone I can talk to you and will love me as much as I choose to love them.
So go out there and choose love! Choose to communicate openly and be truthful about who you are. Love the way you want to be loved and it will be reciprocated!
Have you ever met someone who is just genuinely a nice person? Well if not then you should meet Tiffany. Tiffany and I met for a consultation at a coffee shop. She had never met me before and bought me a treat to take home with me. She made every effort to be easy to work with even when it was not necessary to do so.
When I finally met Mitchell the day of the wedding I saw why these two were together. Both of them were super nice and respectful. You could tell their relationship was built on respect. Mitchell always made sure Tiffany had everything she wanted and was having a good time! The wedding day was eight years in the making and two kids a long the way, so they have had some practice with respect, I'm sure.
What was even more incredible after 8 years was Mitchell's reaction to Tiffany at their first look. He turned around to see her and it was like he had seen her for the first time ever! He sobbed and gave her a giant Hollywood movie kiss. It was an inspiring moment for me as a reminder to always love what you have and treat your partner with respect because I believe that is a good foundation for a lasting marriage!
Unfortunately, Tiffany forgot one thing on her wedding day, her bouquet! Her bridesmaids ran out to a local grocery story and found this beautiful Christmas like arrangement. It was around Christmas that they got married and her colors were red and white. So it was perfect!
She chose red as a reminder of her father and her Vietnamese heritage. Unfortunately, she lost her father many years ago, but Mitchell's family has welcomed Tiffany with open arms, plus they absolutely love being grandparents. Mitchell's dad danced with Tiffany's daughter the entire night. During slow dances they hugged and twirled like a king dancing with his princess at a ball!
The night ended with lots of shenanigans on the dance floor! Their DJ was amazing and had a great playlist to get everyone moving. Everyone including the kids had a wonderful time! Kids were dancing with parents and parents were hugging and laughing all the while. It was truly a tight knit group who enjoyed each others company!
I am so thankful for them allowing me to document such an important day! If you are look for a great DJ consider hiring Isiah Pina. He's super nice and knows his music! Special thanks to The Citizen Hotel for giving Mitchell and Tiffany a suite for the night that gave us some great photo opportunities.
You'll never meet a more brave, beautiful woman than Sarah. Honestly, she's is an inspiration and a beauty to boot!
I met her through my friend Elise. When we sat down for the first time to talk about her wedding we connected on one thing not a lot of people can connect on. We both are battling ulcerative colitis. However, her story is way more harrowing than mine. If you don't know what ulcerative colitis is take the time to Google it or start here for more information.
Sarah has had multiple extensive surgeries. She also has had multiple emergency room visits and a colostomy bag.
They call inflammatory bowl disease and many other autoimmune diseases the invisible disease. You can not tell, just by looking at that person, that they are struggling with their body.
Sarah is much better now and practically symptom free. She said she feels like herself again and was happy she was there to celebrate her special day. And her special day was just as magical as she is!
Sarah and Erik had their wedding at the Swedish community Sveadal. I believe Erik's grandparents was one of the original founders of the community. The community is set in the Santa Cruz mountains in a towering grove of redwood trees. On site it has beautiful cabins, a clubhouse, activities like a pool and an awesome outdoor dance floor and seating area. The ceremony took place next to a creek in a clearing surrounded by coastal redwoods.
The amazing patio dance floor was surround in white lights and towering redwoods! It's the perfect floor for the first dance. Sarah was a dancer and led her husband in a waltz that turned into a Hollywood kiss. After everyone else joined in!
The last shot of the night, before I had to depart, was the garter belt toss. Most of the time couples are pretty shy when it comes to this part of the night, but not Erik and Sarah. They had a lot of fun with it and put on a show for their friends. There was a bit of a strip-tease, then under the dress for the belt in his teeth!
With that I wish Sarah and Erik the best and happiest of marriages! Can't wait to see what they do for their 1 year anniversary!
I was so excited when Nancy got in touch with me for her wedding. She had told me that she had spoken to a few photographers and none of them sounded as nice as me. I started to wonder why. Was it because of Nancy and Dale's age? Were those photographers not wanting to do a wedding that wasn't with smooth skinned, picture perfect young people? Why had these photographers been rude to her? Honestly, I don't know why they had treated her like that. I felt really bad for her and I felt angry that these photographers are representing the rest of us this way. None the less I had to just get over it and tell their story just like everyone else's and honestly their story is better because of all the years of experience they have had.
Nancy and Dale met in a bar while Nancy was out with another guy, no joke. She had said when Dale walked in that she was going to marry him. They had both been through tough times in their life. Nancy was married for 42 years that ended in a nasty divorce and Dale had lost his wife some time back. However, both of them still wanted love and to find someone they could spend the rest of their lives with. Thankfully they found each other. Their love and respect for each other is clearly evident in their words and how much they are willing to do for one another.
After thinking about it for awhile their story gives me hope. One of my biggest fears in life is loosing my husband. So it's great to think that you can find love later in life, that you can get past all the negativity and you can celebrate love at any age.
Both Nancy and Dale were so excited to have a big wedding. Dale especially because he only eloped with his first wife and never had the experience of a wedding. It definitely was a party to remember with 120 of their closest friends and family. Nancy and Dale worked extremely hard to have the perfect setting. Nancy's sister owns this beautiful farm property with a pond where they built a dance floor and designed all the tables for the reception. It was surrounded by towering oak trees and flowing willows.
Speaking of willow trees Nancy's mom planted the willow tree that you see in most of the portraits of Nancy and Dale and some family members. Nancy's mom was a bridesmaid for a wedding at the same place 40-50 years ago. Inside their bouquets were willow tree clippings. She took one of the clippings and put it in a pot. When it got big enough she planted it next to the pond. Now the willow tree is huge and it's branches hang over the pond almost touching the water. Willow trees are one of my favorites because they are so whimsical. They remind me of fairy tales, which is so fitting for their wedding.
Above is my favorite photo from their wedding. Maybe your making the eww face right now and thinking why would that be your favorite photo. I always choose photos that make me feel nostalgic in some way even if it's not about my family. Sitting on the swing set are all of Nancy's male grandchildren. I'd like to think there is a photo in their family albums that has them all sitting on this swing set as kids. It would be so cool to frame the old photo and this photo of them on a wall. It would be wonderful if my vision actually were true! I'll have to ask Nancy one of these days.
Chelsie and Ross what can I say about them? Well everything because they are one of the cutest and perfect couples I have ever met. I was actually surprised when they hired me because I had met with them at a Starbucks that literally closed 15 minutes after we got there. So I didn’t have much time to really talk with them, but I was hoping they would. They were outdoors people, like me, who love to backpack and hike and generally be outside. In fact they got engaged while hiking Horsetail Falls and their love story is magical as well.
I really loved hearing about their story because it was like something out of a movie. In this technological age it's not uncommon that they met on a dating website. Chelsie was apprehensive about meeting a guy for a date online, but decided to take the chance anyway because of what he said in his text messages. I think most of us that have tried the online dating route have had the same apprehension, sometimes the dates are great and sometimes not so much. It’s weird going out with someone you don’t already know, but obviously they hit it off.
I asked Chelsie about the best date they ever had and when she told it to me it reminded me of a Nicholas Sparks novel. They had made a day trip to Bodega Bay, which by itself is an amazing place to hang out. But literally all the cliché moments in romantic novels happened to them. She said they went to a beach where they flew a kite and played in the sand and at the same time a pod of dolphins swam past them. As the day started to wind down they sat on the beach with wine and cheese and watched the sunset. As it was setting a regal buck passed by them. When the sun disappeared the Milky Way lit up before their eyes. As they were watching the glimmer of the stars several shooting stars shot through the sky. They discovered that night was the height of a meteor shower. If that's not a Nicholas Sparks date I don't know what is.
I believe their wedding had the same romanticism that this date had. They had a small intimate wedding at Mulvaney’s B&L in downtown Sacramento. The setting was amazing! It was in courtyard between two restaurants. The space was so magical it didn’t need any decor. Brick walls lined the entire space. A full sized tree grew from one side of the space and canopied to the other side and it was wrapped in white holiday lights. The back wall had a beautiful metal sculpture of lily pads and again white lights weaved in and out of it. The perfect back drop for the perfect couple! The bar area had white lights and chili peppers hanging overhead and glowing stained glass windows. I thought it was the most beautiful backdrop for the most beautiful bride, see the first photo in the mosaic below.
The ceremony was very emotional with tears, laughter and of course lots of love, but in cute couple fashion Chelsie forgot the love letters they were supposed to read to each other. I think it might have been better that way as they can read them to each other in private. The letters will go in a wine box they had their names engraved on. They'll read the letters and share the bottle of wine on their first anniversary. Then write another letter, save it in the box and open it again on their second anniversary, so on and so forth. They plan on doing this for the rest of their lives. My heart melted when I heard this idea and I can only imagine what those letters will mean to them over time.
Their reception reminded me of a Martha Stewart magazine. They had long rectangular tables with candles, garland and fancy dinner settings. Did I mention it was perfect? They had a three course meal with lots of spirits to go around. The best man, woman and sister made some great speeches from comical to heartfelt. The love this family had for each other was undeniable and I know it will endure the test of time. The best part of the reception, I thought, was the first dance. It was truly magical underneath the canopy of the big tree while Chelsie’s brothers played “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen. Another reason I loved these two is there awesome taste in music! They were so snuggly and cute it made for the best first dance photos. A photographers dream!
I love intimate weddings! I feel like I say this all the time, but I really do. There's just something about small weddings that excite me. Maybe it's because I feel there's less fuss about them being perfect and more about the couple expressing their love. I'm not saying that big weddings aren't about love, but the bride and groom are just worrying about everyone else during big celebrations. I feel the bride and groom should be enjoying their guest's company and each other on their wedding day. That's why I was so stoked when Katie contacted me from Pennsylvania to do their intimate wedding in Tahoe.
A lot of intimate weddings I have had the privilege to photograph never do anything traditional. For Katie and Eryck's wedding I didn't do bride preparation photos or send off photos. They simply didn't want that. They just wanted something simple to document their day. Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet them before their wedding, but we talked over the phone and they filled out a questionnaire about themselves as a couple. Once I spoke to them and read their responses I knew they were my kind of people.
Katie and Eryck love the outdoors and they love to travel! Katie's Instagram stories are of beautiful places in Pennsylvania where they are from. She's usually hiking with her adorable lab/collie mix. Eryck proposed to Katie on a hike in Iceland. What a perfect place to get engaged for two people who love the outdoors.
My favorite part of their story is their first date. They went to a banjo night at the Elks Lodge in their hometown. I mean anyone who does first dates that are out of the ordinary has my heart already. A banjo night is something my husband and I would totally do.
These two have also been going on "dates" all over the world. One of their favorites was traveling to Munich, Germany to visit an old college roommate. As we all know traveling can be very stressful, but it's a great way to get to know someone in stressful situations. Katie said this wasn't the most perfect trip and that it tested their relationship. Obviously, they both passed the stressful situations test.
Their wedding is a reflection of this adventurous and intimate relationship. They love Tahoe because it represented all the things they love, the outdoors, hiking, views and good food. (Oh I forgot to mention they love good food and are avid cooks.) If you have never been to The Ridge Resorts in Tahoe you have to see it to believe it. The resort literally sits on a ridge. I feel if there ever was an earthquake it would just topple over down the other side of the mountain. The wedding site looks out over a valley that Minden and Gardnerville (small cities in Nevada) lie in. Even though it's not a view of the lake it's still breathtaking as you can see the entire valley with the Pine Nut Mountain range in the background. (Side note: did you know that Nevada is the most mountainous state?) Next to the resort is part of the Tahoe Rim Trail. One of the most beautiful hikes in California that goes around the entire lake.
Even though the wedding site it small it definitely is one of the most beautiful and it's great because you don't have to jazz up the space at all with decorations. The view and surroundings are their own decorations. Katie and Eryck know the true beauty of nature and like nature they kept their ceremony simple. The vows were short and sweet and everything was simple including her dress, the wedding party and the reception. The most memorable part of the ceremony, for me at least, is that she walked down the aisle to the Jurassic Park theme song. I'm pretty sure it was intentional (I forgot to ask), but if it wasn't it'll be a great story to tell everyone! (I'm pretty positive it was intentional.)
Lastly, I just want to say thank you to Katie and Eryck for allowing me to be a part of their special day. It's such an honor to be allowed into such a tight circle of family and friends. I wish both of you a life of love and happiness although I think you already have that.
I am so excited to be able to photograph the wedding of Chelsie and Ross this coming weekend. Their engagement session was so much fun! We hiked an easy trail in Coloma down to the American River. The trail is called Dave Moore Nature Trail. Since they are backpackers and lovers of the outdoors (just like me) I knew they would be down for a place like this. It’s one of my favorite trails because it’s short, but it has some amazing natural features like the beautiful tree seen below. I also love the wide variety of photo opportunities. It also has a couple of beautiful beach areas that are great for more intimate moments. This is the kind of place I love finding for couples. It’s something new, adventurous, intimate and all their own.
These two are amazing together! You can tell they have so much love each other. They were engaged on a hike so it's only fitting that this is the kind of engagement session they should do. Like many couples these days they met on a dating website and I think it was love at first site. They love wine so we had a little while shooting. I mean who doesn't love to relax with a glass of wine by the water? I think the only thing that would have made this shoot more perfect are their dogs. I wish we could have incorporated them in some way.
What’s more fun than seeing photos of you thoroughly enjoying yourself with your significant other? Getting along with your photographer and making sure they are professional because that’s how you get amazing shots by trusting the person you hired. I have heard many times from friends and clients how awful their wedding photographer was (more stories on that later), but I am here to offer a solution. Book an engagement session. If you are a bride unsure of who to pick, hire them for an engagement session. It’s the perfect opportunity to see how the photographer operates and if you get along.
I know budgets can be tight and the photographer you hired offers one with your package already and that’s fine as long as you really like their style. But if you are unsure even after meeting them for a consultation just pay for an engagement session. It’s well worth the money knowing what you are getting before your big day. I photographed a second wedding recently and the father of the bride told me that at her first marriage he had hired what he thought was a wonderful photographer. But when the photographer came to the wedding he got drunk. When they received the photos weeks later most of them were of a guest at the wedding. A young woman who he had an infatuation with. The father never complained or asked for his money back because of the contract he had signed. If that were me I would have raised some hell! So for me it’s an easy choice, spend a little extra knowing what your getting instead of risking getting an unprofessional photographer.
With that in mind, photos are the one thing from your wedding day that last for the rest of your life. A big part of your budget should be spent researching, preserving that and knowing that the photographer is going to be professional and attentive to your needs. (I could write a whole other post of the value of a photographer over a florist and venue, etc). You should like their style and them as a person because if you can’t trust them your photos will be awkward and you'll have a horrible experience.
Here’s a little insight to how I like to do my engagement sessions. I always like to meet you first for coffee or drinks, whatever you want. We’ll talk about you, your love story and more. If you like me we book an engagement session. At the engagement session I like to bring your favorite drink (I prefer beer, but my last session, they liked wine). We start by talking and walking to the beautiful location I have picked out or we start with drinks to loosen up a bit. My style usually involves something outdoors like a hike or a day at the beach. I get you moving and keep it casual, no stiff posing, just you and your significant other having fun like you are on a date. Then I introduce more questions and intimate moments to help capture real emotions and natural body movements. I may even offer a drink in the middle and ask you to explore the landscape together. What I try to offer is less stuffy photographer and more director and friend, something more casual, adventurous and fun!
So if I haven’t convinced you already book an engagement session first before hiring a wedding photographer. See if you like them and would want to hangout with them. See if they make you feel relaxed and comfortable. The worst that will happen is you get some more photos of you and your loved one. Just remember you are never going to get a second chance at those wedding photos when the big day comes!
If you are from the Sacramento area you know of the Fab 40s. It's an area in downtown with the most amazing homes that exemplify the Tudor, Arts and Crafts and California Bungalow style homes. I'm so glad I met Kristen, who was throwing a ten year anniversary party for her and her husband Ben, at their home in the Fab 40s. They wanted to celebrate 10 years with all their family and friends because they didn't get to when they originally got married.
When they got married it was just the two of them. They flew to New York city with a sister in tow and got married in Central Park. Kristen had told me the wedding pictures were horrible because she was balling her eyes out and make-up was streaming down her face. But they loved every second of it and New York is their favorite place to be together. Then after 10 years they decided that they should share their joyous marriage with 75+ family and friends.
They celebrated in their backyard garden lit with beautiful string lights. Kristen is a pretty well-known jazz vocalist so she had a jazz quartet playing there. It was filled with music, food, laughs, dancing and lots of love! Honestly, I think this is the way to do it. Run off and get married together with a few close friends, then throw a big party later on. I totally want to throw a 10 year anniversary party now for myself! I'm half way there, but I'm not sure my husband would go for it. What do you think of an anniversary party? Is that something you want to do?