Landing Resort Wedding | Lake Tahoe, CA | Jaymee + Jacob

When you grow up in New Orleans, no wedding is complete without a second line.  New Orleans is my favorite city in the world, and in fact, I am spending most of October there.  A second line is basically a parade – the main line, or the first half, is the brass line.  Those who follow the band are the second line.  You parade for any celebration in New Orleans: a funeral, a wedding, for mardi gras, for festival season, for no reason whatsoever.  Umbrellas and handkerchiefs (napkins will do) are essential, so when I showed up to photograph details in the tent for Jaymee and Jacob’s Landing Resort wedding and discovered feathered umbrellas on the back of their chairs, well, I knew that we were going to have a second line and I got VERY excited.  

Not only was there a second line, but Jaymee and Jacob’s diverse group of friends brought a dance party like no other to their celebration.  I have been blessed with a number of epic dance parties this year, but theirs is definitely in the top three.  I had such a blast

Venue and Catering: The Landing Resort and Spa | Florist: EcoFlower | Bakery: Tahoe Cakes by Grace | DJ: High Sierra Sounds | Bride’s Attire: The Ultimate Bride | Bridesmaid Attire: Jenny Yoo | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Warehouse | Second Photographer: Finger lickin’ good Nicky Lockman

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Resources for black brides

Top Wedding Planning Resources for African American Brides

So, the love of your life just popped the question.  His proposal took you down memory lane through all the important locations in your relationship. You stopped at the soul food restaurant where you shared your first meal (and date) together, he led you to the jazz club where the resident saxophonist knocked your socks off and he first told you he loved you then took you on a walk where he had a friend waiting to play your favorite Marvin Gaye song as he dropped to his knees for the proposal.  You said yes, of course, and within two minutes the excitement of wedding planning burrowed its way into your thoughts.  You can’t wait to get started.

Resources for black brides

The next day, you head out to grab every bridal magazine on the shelves and while looking for makeup ideas come to a screeching halt.  Where are all the black brides??? Where are the makeup looks for women with brown skin?  Of course, you already knew this was an issue in regular magazines but it never bothered you until now.  Where will you find a DJ who knows the difference between regular rap and “trap” music?  Will you find a bartender who plans to keep more dark liquor than beer on deck at your wedding? Who will understand that you need a dress that will flatter your curves without having to make alterations that cost hundreds more?  Do resources for African American brides even exist?  

Resources for black brides Resources for black brides

The wedding industry is overwhelmingly, frustratingly white.  There’s a lot of things that irritate me about the industry that my profession is part of, and this is one of them.  As a black bride, it’s hard to ignore the lack of resources available to you that showcase the wedding traditions and looks that are important to your family.  To help alleviate some of the stress of finding them on your own, we have compiled a list of resources that have proven helpful for black brides all around the country.

Black Bride

Black Bride is a site specifically dedicated to African American brides. This site posts articles on topics that affect women of color as they plan their weddings and the events leading up to and following their special day.  According to the site, they “are committed to being a resource to women of color as they embark on one of the most important days of their lives, and beyond.” Black Bride not only offers online resources, but they also put out a magazine, host black bride events, and post helpful and uplifting articles on life after marriage.  The site features a list of vendors categorized by type of business and location, wedding planning tips and a photo gallery full of ideas that would rival Pinterest boards. They have an Instagram account that you should definitely follow for quick ideas. This site is pretty much a one stop shop for black brides looking for inspiration and planning guidance.

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Black Bridal Bliss

Black Bridal Bliss is like your college roommate’s best friend who knew everybody on campus, including those who threw the best parties and where to buy the best outfits for said parties.  The owner of the site, Bridgette Bartlett Royall, was probably that girl.  The site is user-friendly and appeals to all types of black brides.  The ‘About’ page states that the “site showcases content for Black brides and their nuptials – from big to basic; budget to ballin’ and everything in between.” The site is approachable and unique in the fact that it not only offers helpful advice on planning your honeymoon but also list things like recommendations of solid financial advisors. Every Tuesday, the site features a segment called, “Tie the Knot Tuesdays,” which highlights real weddings and often posts Q&A sessions with industry professionals.  One of the best aspects ofBlack Bridal Bliss is its style section.  This section offers style ideas on everything from guest party favors to -of course the much-asked question- what to do with your hair on your wedding day?  Go ahead, kick your shoes off and gather knowledge from this site over a cup of tea.  You won’t regret it.

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Munaluchi Bridal

Last, but certainly not least, Munaluchi Bride makes the cut on our list as one of the best resources out there for Black brides.   My favorite destination wedding planner, Tamara Jones of Tamara J Events, recommends Munaluchi over all others because “it was one of the first publications to actively seek a place in the creative space for brides of color.” In addition, when surveying recent Black brides, this resource came up as one that they used the most. First of all, I tried not to get stuck on the insanely beautiful meaning of the site name.  From their ‘About’ page: (Munaluchi) is the combination of two African names, which when fused together mean, “Beautiful Work of God.”  Y’all, that alone gave me hope that this site knows its Black wedding planning stuff.  It starts by acknowledging the fact that Black brides are often made to feel less than beautiful when approaching vendors and jumping into the wedding planning process.  As mentioned above, being left out of all the magazines can certainly do a number on your psyche. This site immediately begins to heal that hurt and make you feel welcome, but I digress…

Munaluchi is slightly different than the other sites mentioned above because it not only serves the Black bride, but it focuses on all multi-cultural brides.  The ‘About’ page states: “We cater to the growing multi-cultural wedding and events industry throughout the world with a vertical online marketplace connecting engaged couples to event professionals.” That line alone explains the best feature of the site: the vendors list.  The vendor list is extensive.  You can search for what you need based on specialty and location. To make the vendors list even more beneficial, Munaluchi Bride weeds out all those not really interested in serving the multi-cultural bride by having vendors fill out an application form and charging a membership fee for those who want to advertise on the site. Munaluchi also hosts wedding events in different cities so you have a chance to meet a few of them yourself.  For all of the multicultural brides out there looking for vendors who won’t automatically assume that you are an “Angry Black Woman” just because you say ‘no’ to a suggestion, this is the place for you.  

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Big thanks to my writer, the amazing Tashara Mitchell of Austin, TX, who has been working hard to help me craft posts that are inclusive and diverse.  It’s important to me to make sure that everyone is represented in my work and she’s the badass who is helping.  If you need marketing and ghost writing services, I can’t recommend her enough.

Tahoe wedding Photography

Turtle Rock Park Wedding | Markleeville, CA | Adam + Terin

My friend Terin is one crafty lady, and I don’t mean like a fox.  She’s so crafty that she and some of her best girlfriends host weekly craft nights.  They make, build and design things I wouldn’t even start to dream of.  Like quilts.  I’m pretty sure that’s a thing they’ve done that I don’t do.  I don’t even bother with a crafting club.  I straight up just go to Girls’ Drinking Club.  In fact, I’ve previously vowed to drink more wine just so that I have more corks to give to Jenna Palacio to craft me a wine cork wreath.  Moral of this story: Terin is a master crafter and she killed it at the DIY wedding.  Terin: 1.  Lauren: 0.  

When Terin started planning her wedding to another one of my good friends, Adam, she had the help of her family and friends to transform what is normally a bland looking cafeteria room at a local state park into the place of her dreams.  I was blown away by how they managed to turn Turtle Rock Park into a lush, intimate oasis.  It was nothing short of incredible.

Almost everything at Adam and Terin’s gorgeous Turtle Rock Park wedding was DIY: her sister made hundreds of tiny cheesecake cupcakes, she wore a reconstructed version of her mother’s wedding dress, they invented, built or designed all the table decor and screens for the ceiling, her mom made their bouquets, they created all the table runners and centerpieces themselves.  Seriously.

Adam and Terin were wed at an hilarity filled ceremony, peppered with tears and sentimentality, at a private estate at the edge of the Sierra Nevadas, overlooking the Nevada valley.  On our way there, they wanted to highlight all the scenery our backyard offers us, so the wedding party stopped in Hope Valley for photos.  The party got wild and went late into the night thanks to the boys at Liquid Craft mobile bartending and Dylan with Lake Tahoe DJ.  Adam is apparently also creative: he wrote Terin a song.  And then he sung it.  In front of everyone.  Meanwhile, everyone cried and laughed and then cried and laughed and then realized that Adam ruined weddings forever for all of their future because no one can top that.  Adam: 1.  Everyone else: 0.

Venue: Private Estate and Turtle Rock Park | Day of Coordinator: Shana Conway Schmidt | Mobile Bar: Liquid Craft | DJ: Lake Tahoe DJ | Bakery: Corie King (sister of the bride) | Catering: Stephen Moise | Bridesmaid Attire: Azazie | Groom’s Apparel: Amazon | Hair and Makeup: Katie White at Tahoe Salon Be | Rentals: Camelot Rentals | Second Photographer: Red, White and Brian Walker 

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Top Wedding Hashtags

Edgewood Wedding | Stateline, NV | Carolyn + Robert

In a strange turn of events, Carolyn and Robert ended up moving their Edgewood wedding to a completely different weekend after they booked me, which meant that I had not one but two back to back amazing Edgewood weddings on the same weekend.  I couldn’t believe my luck to end up with such fun awesome people for an entire weekend.  

Carolyn and Robert are amazing: they are super laid back and classic.  They wanted their wedding day to be a simple, classy celebration of their love for each other and I think they excelled at their grand vision.  Rev. Dr Osburn has known Carolyn all of her life and his ceremony was both personal and touching.  Their dog, Khaleesi, stole the show as the ring bearer and was only upstaged by one of the more epic Tahoe sunsets I’ve ever seen in my 11 year history here.  The sky was every color of the crayon box in 360 degrees.  I clearly couldn’t choose just one sunset portrait to include on their post so obviously there’s just way too many photos in here.  

Venue and Catering: Edgewood Golf Course and Resort | Day of Coordinator: Lindsay Johnson with Blue Sky Events | Officiant: Rev. Dr. Chuck Osburn | Florist: Thran’s | Invitations: Minted | Bakery: Flour Girl | DJ: Lake Tahoe DJ | Strings: Blue Forest Duo | Bride’s Attire: Trudy’s | Veil: Alt Brides | Bridal Party Attire: Lulu’s | Groom’s Attire: Tailors Keep | Hair and Make-up: Tahoe Salon Be | Second Photographer: The Quicker Picker Upper Nicky Lockman of Nemus Photography.

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Edgewood Lake Tahoe Wedding | Julia + Mark

When Julia first hired me for her Edgewood Lake Tahoe Wedding, I wasn’t totally sure why.  She is the opposite of most of my couples: super type A, extremely hands on, incredibly attentive to minute details of everything.  I can only imagine what her wedding binder looked like.  She would write me essays of emails and I’d be incredibly confused.  As a super Type A person myself, it was baffling to get such lengthy discussions from someone because most people just (rightfully) assume I’m going to take care of business, because that’s what I do.  

And then I met her.  And then I fell in love with her.  I realized that’s just her innate personality.  When I met the two of them for their engagement session, I also discovered that her now-husband loves her for it because he jokingly and lovingly asked me how many lengthy emails she’d already sent me.  When I stayed late to hang out at their wedding party and finish out the night with them, simply because I wanted to, her dad asked me if he owed me anything extra and I said, “of course not.”  “But why?”  I answered with the first thing to come to mind, an echo of her sister’s toast earlier in the evening, “Because Julia.”  

“Julia demands excellence,” her sister had said during the toast.  It is incredibly true, but not entirely true.  For me, Julia inspires excellence through her demand.  I loved being part of her wedding day because I wanted SO badly to do an exceptional job for her.  Despite her lengthy emails and long questions, I was oddly convinced that she inherently trusted me completely, which is not would I would expect when you mix my personality with hers.  But that’s exactly what happened: Julia motivated me to produce the best I could for her that day.  

Mark and Julia are now my friends.  In fact, I’m writing this post from a coffee shop in Chicago, just down the street from where I am meeting her later tonight for wine.  I’m really happy with the work I did for them.  I’m thankful that not only did she hire me, but that she trusted me and emboldened me to produce work that I’m incredibly proud of.  A second big thanks goes out to Nicky Lockman who was my right hand lady that day and contributed excellent work to their wedding gallery as well, some of which is included in these highlight photos.

Mark and Julia, congratulations.  Thanks for demanding excellence and allowing me to arise to the occasion.  It was an honor to be part of your wedding day.

Venue and Catering: Edgewood Golf Course and Resort | Officiant: Rev. Ronald Sayed | Florist: Thran’s | Invitations: David’s Bridal | Bakery: Raley’s | DJ: Ascent DJ Productions | Harpist: Annie Roos | Bride’s Attire: Maggie Sottero gown from J’aime Bridal | Veil: Bel Aire | Bridal Party Attire: David’s Bridal | Groom’s Attire: Men’s Warehouse | Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Warehouse |Hair and Make-up: Tahoe Salon Be | Second Photographer: the incredible non-edible Nicky Lockman of Nemus Photography

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YMCA of the Rockies Wedding

YMCA of the Rockies Wedding | Estes Park, CO | Jamie + Kristen

I first met Jamie and Kristen because they were searching for a Tahoe based photographer on Thumbtack that would be willing to photograph an unconventional engagement session in which a yeti attacked them in the woods and their dog rescued them and thus, they all lived happily ever after.

I was the perfect fit.  Duh.

After that, I was so enamored with these two that I couldn’t imagine not photographing their YMCA of the Rockies wedding in Estes Park, CO.  While we briefly flirted with the ideas of ziplining in wedding attire, climbing mountains and etc, in the end, we decided we didn’t have time and you know what, that was ok.  Their day was absolutely perfect just as it was: complete with rubber animal masks (not a first), berry cobbler instead of cake (be still my heart), a ring bearer dressed as Frodo, incredibly wonderful friends and family, and a relaxed atmosphere.  Kristen’s former advisor expertly relayed stories from when the two first met in her lab in college as she officiated a ceremony peppered with quirky hysterical readings.   The YMCA of the Rockies is an epically beautiful location that offers an exceptional place to hold a wedding on a DIY shoestring budget.  Your friends and family can all rent cabins or rooms for reasonable rates and very little decor is needed when you’re standing on a hilltop gazing at Rocky Mountain National Park.  At the end of the day, this wedding was exactly what I think a wedding should be: a day where you surround yourself with the people you love the most and you don’t worry about the rest.

I frequently get compliments on the days of weddings from guests who watch me work, or who have recently been to a wedding where the photographer was a nightmare not fun to work with, which lead to stories that are both fascinating and educational to hear.  Generally I am told things like, “You are working so hard!”  And, “You’re so great at family formals, that wasn’t terrible at all!”  At Jamie and Kristen’s wedding, one of their guests gave me both a new compliment and the best compliment I’ve ever received: “I can tell by how much you’ve been smiling and laughing today that you really love your job.”  

I do really love my job.  I really love my job because it means I get to hang out with wacky people who love their friends and family that aren’t afraid to buck tradition and be themselves.  With mixed wedding parties (because why should it be girl vs boys?), with friends who sing songs for their first dance, or run around in circles in animal masks during their portraits, or dance even when they are the only one dancing.  I love surrounding myself with awesome and Jamie and Kristen are definately in that category.  

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Venue and Catering: YMCA of the Rockies | Musicians: Ptarmigan String Quartet | Bride’s Attire: White Lace and Promises | Groom’s Attire: Jackson & Connor | Wedding Party Attire: Convertible Wrap Dress and Jackson & Connor

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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Lucie Sterns Wedding

Lucie Stern Center Wedding | Palo Alto, CA | Caitlin + Marcus

Caitlin met me when she was a bridesmaid in a Lake Tahoe Golf Course wedding that I photographed for two of my most favorite clients to date!  Caitlin, Marcus, Christina and Jose all share a similar friend group and based on Christina and Jose’s wedding, I knew that their Lucie Stern Center wedding was guaranteed to be a raucous wild dance party.    They did not disappoint!

Their wedding was filled with wonderful surprises: a farm-to-table caterer with fun small plate food stations, a crying flower girl (who doesn’t love that?), and instead of the standard religious or literary reading, a friend read the lyrics of a rap song during the ceremony, a nod to Caitlin and Marcus’ shared love of both rap and their sense of humor.  They had lawn games in the community center plaza, a photo booth (of course!) on the prints of which I managed to spell both a name wrong and get the date wrong (if you don’t know, it’s 2016, not 2017) (they forgave me), and overall, a wild booze-filled party of the best kind.  The dance floor was packed from the moment they kicked it off.

Venue: Lucie Stern Community Center | Invitations: Wood & Water Paper | Florist: White Oak Flower Shoppe | Catering: The Green Grocer | DJ: Terry Cole of The Spinheads | Bride’s Attire: Trudy’s Bridal | Hair and Makeup: The Blushing Bombshell | Bridesmaid Attire: Weddington Way | Groom’s Attire: Nordstrom | Rentals: The Green Grocer

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Miner's Foundry Wedding

Nevada City Wedding Photographer | Alysha + Jackson | Sneak Peek

Alysha said that she knew I was the photographer for her the minute she saw me on Skype with a huge glass of wine in my hand.  Alysha and Jackson were visibly relaxed during their wedding day at the Miner’s Foundry Cultural Center.  Surrounded by friends and family and the rustic weathered building that was originally a machine shop, they wed in a quiet ceremony and celebrated with a reception that offered some of the best mac’n’cheese I’ve had lately (and you know I love mac’n’cheese).

Here’s a few sneak peeks from my day as their Nevada City Wedding Photographer.  There’s more to come from this awesome couple!

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Anytime Light

2015 Wedding Photography Workshops | California | Education

I am a huge proponent of continued education, no matter what your field of work is.  The most amazing part of my job is that the only person I’m in competition with is myself.  I know that I can always be better and one of my goals this year was to attend at least two photography workshops, one that was wedding focused and one that was not.  I’m excited that I’m certainly going to go above and beyond this goal by attending numerous 2015 wedding photography workshops.

Learning in Action at the Anytime Light Workshop in January. Photo by Josh Baker, AzulOx

This past January, I traveled to Austin, TX to attend the Anytime Light Workshop from Azul Ox Visuals.  Azul Ox’s team creates dramatically different images than I normally do: bold cinematic photography with exceptional use of OCF.  It’s extremely important to be able to modify light to your needs: I would never want to turn down a portrait session simply because their only available time slot was noon.  At this small, intensive, hands on workshop we learned how to photograph at high noon in the Texas Sun while mitigating strong overhead light with all the tools available at our disposal.  From there, we worked on interior head shot lighting, sunset lighting with speedlights for dramatic evening portraits and finally, portraits in the dark after nightfall.

Austin Portrait Photographer

Turning day into night with strobes: anytime light! Photo by Lauren Lindley.

I was so impressed by the entire experience, I’m bringing Anytime Light to Tahoe for an extended three day workshop.  This workshop will give hands on experience, provide portfolio building images, and extensive learning for the small batch of students in one of the most gorgeous locations California has to offer.

Anytime Light Lake Tahoe still has spots available.  I honestly cannot impress upon you how amazing this workshop was in reiterating, reinforcing, and reminding me of all the tools I have at my disposal during a wedding or portrait session.  If you attend Anytime Light Lake Tahoe, you’ll learn everything you need to know about OCF (off camera flash) including how your flash power and distance and camera decisions work together.  You’ll learn about all the light modifiers you have to choose from and why and when to use them.  You’ll learn what type of OCF to use.  Speedlight? Strobe?  During all of this, you’ll be able to build your portfolio using real models at styled shoots in one of the most gorgeous locations on the planet!  I can’t imaging a better way to experience an OCF Workshop this year.  In addition, model Jennifer Lynn Larson is going to do a session on communicating with models per my request because I actually found that communicating with professional models and my lack of knowledge on this topic hindered my ability to get the types of images I wanted at the workshop in January.

Whether you are new to wedding photography or an established professional, this 2015 OCF workshop will help reinforce the knowledge you need to have to create the best images possible for your clients, despite the light conditions you experience.

Sunset and Speedlights. Photo by Josh Baker, AzulOx

In February, I attended Imaging USA 2015 put on by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) in Nashville, TN.  I specifically needed to source out new vendors for my business at the massive photography expo offered at the event.  I was searching for a new high end fine art album maker and found exactly what I was looking for in Finao.  I struggled, however, with the rest of the conference, which I took very little away from.  Many teachers or speakers tried to cram the same amount of information that I learned in a hands on all day session at Anytime Light in Austin into a one hour presentation.  The massive lecture halls filled with hundreds walked away more confused than they entered.  I think huge conferences are great for certain things: networking and vendor sourcing specifically.  While I met some amazing photographers whom I still keep in touch with (shout out to Michael Faga and Jennifer Oates), I can’t say that I walked away with any specific educational knowledge at all, despite sitting in three days worth of one hour lectures.

This June, I’m looking forward to attending FOSTER 2015 led by Ben Sasso and Katch Silva.  FOSTER is a hands on workshop of education and discussion.  They will lead us in live shoots using natural light, posing, directing and then finally, leading discussions about the most important aspects of the wedding photography business including editing, workflow, social media, style and branding, client interaction and more.  It takes place in Joshua Tree and I’m ashamed to admit: I’ve never been there!

LGBT San Diego Wedding

Utilizing OCF for wedding photographers. Photo by Lauren Lindley, Lauren Lindley Photography.

What I’m most excited about this year, other than hosting my own wedding photography workshop here in Lake Tahoe, is that I was recently notified of my early acceptance into the prestigious and highly competitive Missouri Photo Workshop.  This year will be the 67th anniversary of the workshop, which moves to a different small town in Missouri every year documenting small town life.  For over six decades now, photographers from around the world have worked to visually tell the stories of the people and institutions that come together to make the community chosen for the year.  They are directed by David Rees and Jim Curley with the help of dozen talented faculty members and a team of University of Missouri students.  It will teach me the fundamentals of researching, shooting and editing while emphasizing ethical practices.  I am overwhelmed, honored and unbelievably ecstatic to be offered this experience!