Chateau Winter Wedding

Chateau Winter Wedding | Incline Village, NV | Lisa + Jeff

Any couple who has It’s Its instead of cake is cool in my book, literally and figuratively.

I know Lisa and Jeff because of Lisa’s sister in law, who has been a good friend and client of mine for many years. I’ve watched Lisa’s nephew, Jack, grow up over the years. I think I was supposed to be taking photos of Lisa and Jeff’s wedding but what I was really doing was taking photos of Jack.  His cuteness is irrefutable.

Lisa and Jeff, I’ll always be the fifth wheel on dinner dates with you and the fam.  I know y’all are going to have a lifetime of happiness together purely based on the simplicity, genuineness and care put into your wedding day.  Weddings that are about spending time with the ones closest to you, and not about burlap, have a special loving place in my heart and I’m so honored to have been part of yours.

May your lives be filled with whiskey, wine and laughter.

Venue: The Chateau at Incline Village | Coordinator: Cloud 9 Event Company | Florist: High Sierra Gardens | Hair and Makeup: Michelle at L’Atelier | Bride’s Attire: David’s Bridal | Groom’s Attire: Jos A Bank | DJ: Lake Tahoe DJ | Bakery: It’s-It

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Central Texas Wedding Photography

On Death, Love and Photography

Last week, some of my good friends traveled to Utah to celebrate their cousin’s wedding.  Their week was filled with celebrations of life, love and their enthusiasm for the mountains and winter.  The wedding was held at the top of a resort and everyone who was able skied down together afterwards.

The groom’s mother, Aunt to my friends, who had been suffering some significant health problems, watched her son get wed to his love, danced the first dance with him, and then passed away in the pre-dawn hours of the next morning.

Mother and Bride

I photograph weddings because I believe that the images that capture the relationship between you and your loved ones, on one of the most special and memorable days of your life, often become the only written and permanent history of your family and friends.   This weekend, I photographed my third wedding of 2017, fresh off the inspiration of Fearless Conference Europe, but introspective over my friends and their family.  I can’t imagine the roller coaster of emotions that must come from the high of a wedding day and the low of a death in such a short timespan.   I hope that their cousin hired an amazing photographer, because those images of the groom’s mother will be the last photos they have.  I think about my friend Nicky, whose wedding I will photograph in September, whose mother passed away from cancer on New Year’s Day a few years ago.  She will not have images of her mother on her wedding day.  I think about one of my oldest and dearest friends, whose mother was diagnosed with ALS and is rapidly declining.   The photos I took of his mother on his wedding day are the last professional photos they will have of her.  In them, she looks proud, happy and beautiful.

I photograph weddings because when an elderly grandmother leans in snarkily to me every summer with a wag of her finger and whispers in my ear with a laugh, “I know you’re taking so many photos of me because I’m going to die soon,” we both know that all things funny have an element of truth to them.

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At the wedding I photographed this past weekend, the mother of the bride hated being photographed.  She wore sunglasses the entire day and spent most of her evening avoiding my lens and abruptly turning around backwards with a scowl every time I tried to get an image of her.  She didn’t care for me much, but frankly, I decided I didn’t care whether she liked me or not.  Normally, I see it as part of my job to win over the extended family members of the bride and groom, but in this case, I wasn’t going to give in.  I took it upon myself, in light of how I was feeling about death and love and family, to rise to the challenge.  I was absolutely going to get a good photo of her so that her family members would have some images of her to cherish.

Later that night, while chatting with some family members on the dance floor, the bride’s cousin told me that most of the photos they have of the mother of the bride involve her holding her hands or a napkin up over her face.  When I showed her an image that I captured of the two of them together in the back of my camera, she cried.

Virginia City Wedding

At Fearless Europe this year, Emma Case talked a lot about her why.  She strives to make images that are personal to her clients, while photographing both the extraordinary and the ordinary.  She talked about how our images link the past, present and the future together and that by photographing weddings, that we are photographing something bigger than us.  While it certainly resonated with me at the time, the incredible importance didn’t really sink in until my friend’s Aunt passed away.  So while my heart is heavy for my friends and loved ones, I am inspired to keep doing what I do in the best way I know possible: trusting myself to continue to grow while capturing the moments that will tell your story for generations to come.   To be frank, I think it’s a hell of a lot more important for me to be photographing you facetiming with your grandmother in her nursing home than off photographing your shoes on a damn tree trunk.

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This week was a reminder that I am photographing not just for you, but for decades of your family members to come after you, as well as, for the friends near and dear that hold a space for you in your heart.  As photographers, even as wedding photographers, we are responsible for cataloging our culture, our traditions, and our relationships for all of time.  We are the record keepers and as Emma reminded me, even the mundane is important.

I love that my clients become my friends.  I love that I have a hard time untangling how I feel about them and what I see in a photo from the technical specifications of it.   That I can’t judge the compositional merits of my own images, because I’m too blinded by how happy my clients make me feel.  I love that when I look at a photo of someone’s wedding day that I took, it summons up how I felt about the day with a high speed retelling of the events and feelings and speeches and funny touching moments that I remember.  They whoosh by in my head with an explosion.  I can only hope that the images I hand over to my clients make them feel exactly the same way and that one day, a new generation of your family will cherish the images as well, albeit for completely different reasons.

I photograph weddings because I like people.  I think they are weird and quirky, entertaining and amusing, funny and touching.  I like watching them interact with each other, or not.  I like meeting them and dancing with them and sharing with them and in the end, I like cataloguing their day for them.  While the importance of my job certainly has never been lost on me, it’s nice to be inspired and reminded of just exactly why every once in awhile.

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Ehrman Mansion Wedding

Sugar Pine Point Wedding | Lake Tahoe, CA | Stefani + Sean

Stefani and Sean found me in a bit of a panic: their wedding photographer had cancelled on them mere months out from the big day.  It’s the stuff your wedding planning nightmares are made of.  I was happy to photograph this true Tahoe couple’s big day, especially since Sean is from Texas and Stef is from Tahoe and they met through mutual friends over a love of skiing!  They promised me an epic dance party (check), fun people (check), cookies (check), a raging afterparty (check), and a downright awesome time (check).  I was thankful to have one of my best friends, Nicky, of Nemus Photography, along to second shoot that day.  Their Sugar Pine Point wedding was the perfect gorgeous lakeside Tahoe beach affair.

Ceremony Venue: Sugar Pine Point State Park | Reception Venue: Tahoe Beach Retreat | Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas | Officiant: David Caputo | Coordinator: Tricia Boyle | Florist: The Petal Pusher | DJ: Big Sound DJ and Audio | Bride’s Attire: Casablanca Bridal | Bridesmaid Attire: Lulus | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Rentals: Event Masters | Videographer: Katie McNally | Second Photographer: Nemus Photography

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Zephyr Cove Resort Wedding

Zephyr Cove Resort Wedding | Lake Tahoe, NV | Ana + Andrew

Ana and Andrew had me at pizza.

When we first spoke in 2015 about their wedding, over a year out, Ana was most excited about the pizza.  As a photojournalist, there are few details that I worry about on a wedding day.  I am, frankly, unconcerned with the pomp and circumstance and whether or not you’re going to have any traditions.  By all means, cut that cake and I will photograph it, but I’m not going to orchestrate your day or suggest that you do things you don’t want to for photos sake.  What I will get behind though: pizza.

The pizza was fantastic.

But the rest of their day, that was fantastic also.  From the tear inducing speeches to the cake in Andrew’s brother’s face, from the coordinated and choreographed first dances (Ana and her father danced to Time Warp!), everything about their daytime Zephyr Cove Resort wedding with a pizza buffet was right up my alley.

Venue: Zephyr Cove Resort | Coordinator : Stephanie Stugart | Officiant: Sharon Rusk | Invitations: Mighty Industries | Florist: Rose Petals Florist | Bakery: Tahoe Cakes by Grace | DJ: Southworth Entertainment | Bride’s Attire: David’s Bridal | Groom’s Attire: Men’s Warehouse | Hair and Make-Up: Tahoe Salon Be | Videographer: HeavenSide Studios | Second Shooter: Annie Robillard

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Chateau at Incline Village

Chateau Wedding | Incline Village, NV | Caitlin and Brad

Can all weddings have flower girls that clean up their flowers during the ceremony please?  For real.  Have you ever seen anything more adorable?

Caitlin and Brad met while attending the University of Arizona and now are loving living in Reno.  Mountains, athletics and four seasons are important to them and their friends definately did not let any of this, or their antics during college, escape their speeches at the wedding!  Brad’s brother actually kicked off the entertainment: he delivered, without a doubt, the most hysterical and amazing best man speech I’ve ever heard in the history of all weddings.  I could hardly take photos through the laughter induced tears.

Their Chateau wedding in Incline Village was graced with beautiful light, a kick ass dance party and plenty of laughter.  It was a beautiful day for a beautiful couple!

Venue: The Chateau at Incline Village | Officiant: Erica Jones | Invitations: Compass Rose Studio | Florist: A Floral Affair | Bakery: Dee’s Bakery | DJ: Epik Entertainment | Bride’s Attire: Bridal & Veil | Bridesmaid Attire: Jenny Yoo | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Joseph Abboud from Men’s Warehouse | Hair and Make-Up: Tahoe Salon Be

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Tannenbaum Wedding

Tannenbaum Wedding | Reno, NV | Madalyn + Eric

Maddy and Eric are both classically trained musicians and when they told me they wanted to have a first duet instead of a first dance I swooned and fell out of my chair.Thanks to a friend, they had a beautiful Steinway piano on loan for the evening.  Eric composed a medley of songs that were significant and symbolic of their relationship.

In addition to teaching music to grade schoolers, Maddy is quite an amazing artist and she hand drew all the table centerpieces for their DIY Tannenbaum wedding.  The tables were filled with succulents, games to play, and fall touches like pumpkins and fall colors.

The Tannenbaum Alpine Events Center is a fantastic location for a wedding and it was my first time photographing there.  The backdrop is beautiful and it’s located far enough up Mt. Rose Hwy that you can drive over to Mt. Rose Ski Resort to poach their aspens for beautiful portraits.  Overall, Maddy and Eric had a wedding that was exactly what they were hoping for: a laid back DIY affair that featured all their favorite people playing games and spending time with the ones they loved.

Venue: Tannenbaum Alpine Events Center | Officiant: Tim Hosfeldt | Bakery: Nothing Bundt Cake | Catering: Cherry Bomb Catering | Bride’s Attire: Deja Vu Bridal | Groom’s Attire: Menguin | Hair: Kelly Marsh at Salon 606 | Rentals: Celadon Events | Second Photographer: Annie Robillard of Annie X Photographie

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Valhalla Wedding

Valhalla Winter Wedding | South Lake Tahoe, CA | Mary + Scotty

Mary and Scotty are pretty much the raddest kids around with the best hair.  Until Scotty shaved his hair off on his wedding night.  True story.

Mary ascertained that he needed “marraige hair” instead of “bachelor hair.”  What I think probably started as an inside joke grew to actuality as the dance party went on into the night and the whiskey flowed.

Other reasons they are rad: they wanted a Viking themed photo booth because they were getting married at Valhalla.  Their Hope Valley engagement session featured golden light, stylish threads and dogs.  Their grandma facetimed them while they were getting ready.

Venue: Valhalla Estate | Wedding Planner: Tahoe Dream Events | Florist: Enchanted Florist | Bakery: Cakes by Grace | Catering: Blue Angel Cafe | Bride’s Attire: Nicole Miller from The Wedding Party | Groom’s Attire: J Crew | Second photographer: Nicky Lockman of Nemus Photography

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Landing Resort Wedding

Landing Resort Wedding | Lake Tahoe, CA | Lex + Michael

Lex and Michael’s image from their Hora may be one of my most favorite images ever.  The combination of surprise, concern and hands everywhere makes me incredibly happy.  I also couldn’t help but put a ton of their portraits in this post, which is unusual for me, but they are so ridiculously good looking and adorable that I couldn’t help myself.  This young couple has been together SINCE JUNIOR HIGH (yes, seriously) and their parents and families are already best friends.  What I expected to be a quiet, subdued Sunday brunch Landing Resort Wedding was the exact opposite: from a poignant ceremony, to tear filled speeches, to a pumped up dance party, this wedding delivered like no other brunch wedding ever has.

Venue: The Landing Resort and Spa | Officiant: Sharon Rusk | Florist: Thran’s | DJ: Ascent DJ Productions | Bakery: Tahoe Cakes by Grace | Bride’s Attire: Free People | Groom’s Attire: Men’s Warehouse

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Gather Estate Wedding

Gather Estate Wedding | Phoenix, AZ | Jerri + Nick

Jerri and Nick had originally planned to wed at a brand new venue in downtown Phoenix, AZ, but when construction didn’t seem to be coming along as quickly as it should, they scrapped their plans and discovered The Gather Estate.  You wouldn’t have any idea that this simple unassuming house on a major thoroughfare in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, Arizona is an incredible wedding venue!  The ranch style house is long and sprawling, offering great spaces for getting ready, indoor and outdoor receptions and dining al fresco under the stars.

Jerri and Nick are incredibly competitive and decided that to really set the stage for their reception that only an epic surprise lip sync battle would do.  It paved the way for an awesome dance party, an evening of celebration with their large close-knit families in attendance, and overall, an incredible fall Gather Estate wedding.

Venue: The Gather Estate | Bakery: AJ’s Fine Foods | Caterer: Pork on a Fork BBQ | DJ: Desert Music Entertainment | Bride’s Attire: Brilliant Bridal | Veil: David’s Bridal | Bridesmaids’ Attire: David’s Bridal | Groom’s Attire: Nick’s Menswear | Hair: Ynez Martinez at Plush Salon | Second Photographer: Brian Dunham

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Tahoe Private Estate Wedding

Tahoe Backyard Wedding | Meyers, CA | Clint + Sierra

Backyards.  Tacos.  Mismatched cups.  Koozies.  Kegs and coolers.  Golden late summer sunshine.

These are the things my wedding job dreams are made of.

Clint and Sierra delivered all this and more, despite some venue hiccups.  When their private estate rental cancelled on them for their wedding service, they did what any woodworking self-reliant couple planning a DIY wedding would do: scramble to turn their own backyard into a wedding oasis fit for the party of the century.

They filled their yard with lanterns and candles, wildflowers and string lights.  The dogs ran underfoot, the children serenaded us, the laughter spilled over the fenceline into the dark of night and the photographer had to make a late night beer run for the partiers (yes, this is a service I provide).

I loved every bit of this Tahoe backyard wedding from start to finish and I am so thrilled to have these two as friends now!

Venue: Private Estate, Lake Tahoe, CA | Bakery: Witt’s Cakes | Catering: La Promesa | DJ: Ascent DJ | Bride’s Attire: Janene’s Bridal Boutique and Forever 21 | Hair: Britney Mitchell | Make-Up: Maxine Reyna | Rentals: Tahoe Entertainer

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