When Kelly first contacted me to photograph her epic 2 day wedding down in Carmel, I initially tried to refer her to two other photographer friends of mine who specialize exclusively in weddings, knowing that the scope of her extraordinary wedding celebration (which was actually a ten year renewal of vows) was outside the realm of my breadth of expertise. Even though I'm approaching 10 years of professional portrait/commercial photography and about to hit my 500th shoot mark, weddings are something I do very sparingly and usually only when there is a longstanding personal connection between myself and the couple. It's that intimacy and that personal connection which enables me to shoot the wedding in a truly meaningful way, allowing me to capture those real and authentic moments based on a deep personal knowledge of the couple and their story, their families and their friends.
Kelly, however, is one persistent and incredibly charming lady... So, after doing a "trial run" family session for her and completely falling in love with little Gracie and instantly clicking with Kelly (we spent HOURS going over the wedding details, scouting the locations together and chatting at the speed of light the entire time), I decided that Kelly was indeed looking for someone to capture her celebration exactly the way I capture these celebrations, ie: light on the highly posed standard images, heavy on the precious, spontaneous and emotional little moments that represent the true magic and love of this sort of celebration. Obviously, while sill capturing a hearty collection of gorgeous detail shots that represent all the glorious thought and effort that went into each and every aspect of both days! We were totally on the same page and she felt very strongly that I was the right photographer for her. She gave me full freedom to shoot from my heart and capture the two days of fun and celebration the way I saw them as I watched how Kelly & Wes interacted with each other and with their guests. As I watched Gracie glowing from the inside out, all dolled up and quite literally arm in arm with her little best friend Audrey the entire weekend, delighting in all the festivities. As I watched Kelly lovingly, tenderly and happily bounce from her deep admiration and affection for Wes, to her sweet and loving tenderness for her daughter to her always thoughtful and considerate words and gestures for all her guests. I marveled at how Wes took the time during toasts on Friday night to introduce each and every guest at their tables and share a funny anecdote or touching story as to how this guest was a significant and meaningful part of their lives. You could not find two more genuine people on this planet than Kelly & Wes. I cannot remember ever being thanked so much for being part of a wedding day.
I suppose it was a really good thing that posed pictures and the "standard shots" was not high on their list because both days we only had a handful of minutes to get any kind of 'getting ready', couple, family shots. Having said that, once things were underway I had some time to roam and observe and this allowed me the opportunity to follow the kids down to the beach on Friday and catch some wonderful images of Gracie and her friends running on the beach, with her big poofy, dress hiked up past her undies, leaping through tidepools and having the time of her life. Knowing that Kelly would much prefer these images over pictures of adults socializing and eating appetizers during Cocktail hour allowed me the freedom to trust my gut and abandon the guests in favor of the kids down on the beach.
Friday started off at the Camel Mission/Basilica for a lovely and touching ceremony with Pastor Andrew (a family friend) followed by a spectacular sunset dinner at the MPCC Beach House in Pebble Beach. The next day consisted of a Spanish Cowboy themed fiesta at the Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel Valley with cocktails, toasts and a Mariachi band at the Hacienda followed by a delicious dinner at a spectacularly decorated historic Barn on the preserve grounds. The night was capped off by some hilarious and rather entertaining stints by Kelly and Wes as Sonny and Cher and a rendition of "It's Business Time" by Kelly & Wes and some of Kelly's closest friends. Kelly had gorgeous custom made Vera Wang dresses and looked positively STUNNING both nights.
On my drive back down the hill from the preserve at the end of the second night, I saw a beautiful view lit only by the power of a full moon. I pulled over and manually focused a few shots at 1/6 second, hand held, wide open, hoping that one would turn out. Seeing as how everything else had gone so utterly perfectly that entire weekend, there truly seemed to be no other choice than for them to render beautifully...so, that's exactly how they turned out. Fitting ending to a wonderful weekend!
Kelly & Wes (and Grace!), thank you so much for allowing me the freedom to capture the emotions, moments, interactions and joys of your delightful and emotional two day wedding vow renewal celebration! Much love to all three of you!
VENDOR LIST: Kathleen Deery at Kathleen Deery Designs oversaw the installations and design and floral arrangements for both days and did a most spectacular job! You can view more of her mad skills HERE.
Thank you to Kathleen, Jen Anello (at the Preserve) and Khadija Coley Mason (at MPCC) for all their hard work!