Two weeks ago I had a the pleasure of photographing the wedding of Akila and Jeremy in Pasadena, Calif. This was my first time photographing a traditional Indian Hindu ceremony, and I had a great time documenting all the rituals and customs. Lasting nearly one-and-a-half hours, the ceremony had many similarities to a traditional Western wedding – such as walking down the aisle, the giving away of the bride and the exchange of rings. But it also has several other rituals that were new to me, including the Malasamarpana (exchanging of the garlands), the Kanyadaan (giving away of the bride), during which the mother of the bride pours a mixture of water and milk into the hands of the bride’s father, the bride and the groom, and the Saptapadi (the Seven Steps), where the couple make seven trips around the ceremony to mark the beginning of their lives together. Needless to say, there was plenty to shoot!
Although everyone was hoping for sunshine, there was more than enough color to make up for the relentless cloud cover to make this a splendid occasion. The bridesmaids were all in colorful saris, while the men wore kurta-pyjamas with colorful scarves. The bride and groom also had a change of wardrobe for the reception, with Akila changing into a gorgeous, custom-made dress and Jeremy going for a sharp tuxedo. Add to that several floral bouquets and a brightly-tiled wall and fountain at the Westin courtyard and you have a visual delight.
For the reception, the party relocated to the grand Atrium Ballroom at the nearby Sheraton Hotel. The evening was full of toasts, delicious food and plenty of mirth. Following the cake cutting, the night came to an end with a packed dance floor.
October started with a great week in Florida, beginning with the grand, French-themed wedding of my friends Cameron Thomas and KC Bosserman at the Orlando Country Club and followed by a few days of relaxing with the folks in Sarasota. There we celebrated my 32nd birthday and spent as much time as possible by the water, whether on sailboat or kayak, pool- or beachside, and of course, I took a lot of photos. Not much in the mood for writing at the moment, so I’ll let them speak for themselves. Enjoy!
On one of the more perfect days in recent memory, last Sunday I was fortunate to join my new friends Alan Pottasch and Veronika Vrbacka, and about a dozen of their closest friends, for an impromptu wedding on the San Onofre Bluffs followed by a reception party at nearby Surf Beach. The location is special to the couple, as they regularly spend several days a week surfing there, driving down and sleeping in their kick-ass VW van. The ceremony was held along trail 6 on a tabletop cliff overlooking the ocean. Just before the ceremony began, a group of dolphins was seen swimming among surfers far below. The site was marked by a rug covered in rose petals. As many days do along the coast, this one started out overcast. But just like clockwork, the cloud cover started to burn off around the 10 o’clock hour when the wedding was to begin. This created a picture perfect environment of mixed light, giving the scene a combination of warm skin tones and a seafoam blue background. For fifteen minutes, the group of friends gathered there as the couple said their vows and exchanged rings. During the ceremony several surfers stopped along the path to witness the event. Included in that group was actor Mad Men actor John Slattery, who was being followed by a lone photographer, likely paparazzi, who stopped for a moment to focus his lens on the wedding. Following the ceremony we did some quick group photos before piling into our cars and heading to Surf Beach. The couple had reserved a shelter known as the Dogpatch. We spent the rest of the day there eating great food, surfing and generally enjoying ourselves. This also marked Erinn’s first day of surfing, which is very exciting as she can now join me rather than watch from the beach. I wish I’d taken pictures, but we were out there at the same time. As the day wound down we joined another group that was there around a campfire and sat around talking and laughing until the park closed. The next day we reconvened for a late-morning surf session before heading back to the real world. A really great couple of days!
The primary reason for my trip to Michigan last month was to attend and photograph the wedding of Erinn’s sister Heidi and now-brother-in-law Seth. Seth’s family has deep roots in Hart, Mich., which is halfway up the state near the shores of Lake Michigan. In fact, the 80-acre property where the reception was held has been in the family for some 150 years. The wedding was in a very cute country church, made of stone and exceptionally dark wood. Both settings made for a very photogenic wedding. For the week prior, Erinn and family had been vacationing and preparing for the wedding in a lovely rental home on nearby Pentwater Lake, while Seth’s family prepared the property and readied enough food for 200 guests from his parents’ home, which sits on the above mentioned property. Meanwhile, I was traveling to Lake Orion and northern Ohio to visit my sisters and their families.
Michigan during the summer is pretty damn beautiful and is one of the most lush, green places you’ll ever see. However, to keep it that green requires plenty of rain, which the weather forecast had been predicting unwaveringly in the form of thunderstorms, from 10 days out all the way to the night before the wedding. The wedding itself would have gone off without a hitch, but bad weather would have been trouble for a reception protected only by three wall-free tents. Fingers crossed, everyone kept their heads up and proceeded as planned. What else can you do? I was actually pretty confident that there would be no rain, since it was AccuWeather making the prediction. They’re pretty consistently wrong in my experience ,and had they been predicting sunshine, I would have been worried.
On the morning of the wedding, we awoke relieved to the pleasant surprise of clear skies in all directions. The girls headed out early to have their hair done and, upon returning, everyone started hustling to get ready. At which point I started clicking. Long story short, it was a great wedding and went off without a hitch. The setting was beautiful, everyone was in good spirits. It was also great to see how much family participation went into making the day special. Seth’s mother and sister spent countless hours in the preceding week preparing enormous amounts of food for both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. The main entree was fresh pork, which Seth and his brothers prepared themselves from a locally bought pig. And by prepared, I mean bought, killed and dressed before cooking on a giant barrel grill. The slideshow omits those photos, but I may post some later. His brother Cody also did the flower arrangements while his father, Heidi’s father and Seth spent an entire afternoon in the sweltering heat building the dance floor. They even put in extra effort by screwing the boards together so the floor could be recycled for later use in refurbishing a garage. Though Erinn says that, judging by the way Seth’s parents danced, she wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t just keep it as a dance floor. It was great to see that all of their hard work paid off.
Everyone danced into the night with things wrapping up around 2 a.m. Not a cloud formed all day. The next morning I awoke at 6:30 a.m. to thunder and the sound of rain on the window, causing me to smile before falling back into slumber. Whatever force that had held off the rain for the day had finally let go, and the clouds had rolled in. I don’t care what they say about rain being good luck on your wedding. The amount that fell that Sunday would surely have ruined the reception. That afternoon, as Erinn and I drove south to Muskegon, the rain fell so hard that we almost had to pull over for lack of sight. I’m sure it made the following day’s cleanup a pain, but in terms of the wedding I’d say we all lucked out.
Last weekend I had a great time photographing the wedding of Sandy Choi and Brad Beacom at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden in Arcadia. The couple looked fantastic and the setting couldn’t have been much more photogenic. The couple, their families and wedding parties started off the day preparing at the Sheraton hotel in Pasadena, before heading to the gardens for the ceremony and reception. The ceremony was held in an area known as Meadowbrook, an open field with a waterfall at one end and a view of the mountains at the other. Following the ceremony everyone moved over to the Sunset Garden for cocktails and a lovely reception, complete with several peacocks who call the grounds their home. Here are a few of my favorites from the day. I’ve included more images in an online gallery on my wedding photography site. Many more photos after the jump!