A few years ago, I wrote a post, with death heavy on my mind, about why I feel honored to capture weddings.  It’s about why my wedding day images aren’t detail heavy.  About why you’ll never find me wasting 20 minutes hanging your dress in a damn tree because a wedding blog thinks that is important (it’s not).  About why I think that the connections between you and the people you surround yourself with are far more important than your rings on a pine cone, a task that removes me from the moments of the day.

I photograph weddings, and ultimately, people, because I like them. I find people fascinating. I find them quirky, and weird, and strange, and perfectly wonderfully different than me. I think people are taken best with the grandest and greatest of intentions and assumptions. I like watching them interact, or, in many cases, refuse to. I like watching them dance around each other, both literally and figuratively. I like that my job is to literally observe – even without my camera, I can do it for hours. I like making sure that I create a team where each of us is doing something different throughout the important moments of the day, so that instead of 1000 images of your face, you have 900 images of the people you love most in the world and 100 photos of your face. I like that I have honed my skills of observance over the last decade into a finely tuned machine, one that can probably tell you where you set down your keys even though I didn’t really register it at the time, yet am also perfectly poised to capture your friend doing the worm TERRIBLY on the dance floor at your Tahoe South of North Brewing wedding reception (exhibit A).

Basecamp Hotel Wedding

Never has death weighed heavier on my heart and my mind than this year, a year in which two of my best friends have buried their mothers. In one case, my friend’s mother was able to watch her daughter get married, yet, upon the news of her death I immediately began to regret not taking MORE images of Patty on that day. In the other case, the mother in question has spent a good portion of my life filling the void left by the lack of connection I routinely have with my own mother. Momma Laura has shared meals with me, holidays and festivals, vacations and beach houses, her own parents and sisters with me, life lessons, friends, and ultimately pearls of wisdom and nuggets of jaded sharp wit. I immediately regretted not forcing the family portrait session that I knew the family needed before her death.

Laura’s death prompted me to miss the very first wedding that I’ve ever had to miss in a decade of business. We have plans in place for situations like this (the wedding went great, despite my absence), but the guilt I felt about not being present for my clients was immeasurable. What other job in the world does someone have where you question whether or not to be at a family member’s funeral celebration or work? I think that this speaks to the incredibly intimate nature of my work, combined with the relationships and, in some cases, ultimately friendships that I often forge with my clients.

But this is supposed to be a post about the joy of a wedding, you say.  Is it coming?

Matt and Patrice have been together for all of their adult lives. They never originally intended to marry, feeling outside of convention and societal norms. Patrice’s late mother, however, wanted nothing more than to see them commit their lives together in the bond of marriage and when she was diagnosed with an aggressive terminal illness, Matt and Patrice planned a wedding. Patrice’s mother never saw her marry – she passed on the day of their original elopement during the year of Covid lockdowns. They made a pledge that they would celebrate surrounded by the people they love and one year later, Matt and Patrice renewed their vows in the best way they knew how – with a grand party in Lake Tahoe with a Tahoe South of North Brewing Wedding, absolutely surrounded by all their friends and family.  It was a blustery day while Matt and Patrice stood up on the stage reciting their original vows to each other and Patrice’s mom certainly made an appearance, with a force gale wind that knocked down all of her photos on the memorial table.  Matt and Patrice would later joke that it was her displeasure at the informalness of the event, which was more their style and less of their mother’s.

Grief is the price we pay for love. Time doesn’t pause just because we need to prepare ourselves for something. It is a heartache that will never heal, but the love you have for others leaves you with memories that are worth the pain. It never fails to escape me when I’m doing my job that I am responsible for creating memories: the images I capture eventually shape the way people remember their day.  What an incredible responsibility I have.

Matt and Patrice’s Tahoe South of North Brewing Wedding was exactly the wedding they hoped for (though a little bit windier and cloudier than we all expected).  It was delightfully informal and adventurous, it was beautiful under the cloudy skies. It was an EPIC raging dance party, which seems to happen every time I’m at this location. It had popcorn. And beer. And I personally like to think that Patrice’s mother was there in spirit feeling overwhelmed with joy that her daughter got exactly the event she dreamed of, even if it was a little less formal than Mom would have liked.

Venue: South of North Brewing Co at the Basecamp Hotel | Florist: Enchanted Florist | Hair and Makeup: Luna Belle Beauty | Sensational Second Shooting Supplied by Nicky Byrnes

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Lake Tahoe Tourism Resources

  • The Lake Tahoe Visitor’s Authority is a wonderful resource for anyone traveling to Lake Tahoe for vacation. From snow sports to cycling, from water sports to mountain and trail adventures, we are a year round outdoor playground that I feel so incredibly lucky to call home.