What do I say about Kat and David and their wedding at Glasco House in Woodstock New York?
Imagine Thanksgiving weekend, where every single part and member of your family is somehow able to make it to a rented venue for the entire time, everyone has a room in the house to sleep, and all weekend it’s one big love fest. The younger of two sisters of a family of four sisters, Kat and her younger sister were practically raised by her two older sisters while their parents had to stay behind in Korea in order to provide for them. It is the quintessential story of first generation immigrants doing whatever they had to in order to secure a future for their children. And the kids knew that. When it came time for Kat to get dressed, it was important for me to have all them to be in the room when her Appa (that’s Dad in Korean) came in. On top of that David had a sister that he was so close with, he included her in his groomsmen side of things, a sibling bond so strong that it’s both friend and family.
I love weddings like this because it’s the closest family and friends, and theres no point in hiding your emotions. And everyone knew each other, which means that the entire wedding guest list was just an open book of candid conversation and real hugs, instead of kicking around the bushes with small talk and formalities. Kids were quite literally littering the lawn running around, blowing bubbles, jumping off rocks and beds, and just loving on the couple.
When I say that this was the most emotion filled wedding I’ve ever been to, I mean it. I’ve never seen so many laughs and smiles, despite a rain changing situation.
This wedding was a clear reminder that everything has to be there in the first place. As photographers we can fake it for you, but is that what you really want? Do you want photos of fake smiles and fake getting ready moments just so you can have a “perfect” photo? Or would you rather be able to just enjoy yourself. And enjoy yourself because you were so intentional about only inviting the closest family and friends that you don’t have to worry about hiding anything, that you can wear your heart on your sleeve without abandon. We live in a world where social media and a selfie generation has trained us that we only have one good angle of ourselves, and that’s the only angle that should be photographed. But how can you have an authentic moment, if you’re constantly worried about being caught at the perfect angle, and you stifle your smile and your laugh…..just for the photo.
Wouldn’t you rather actually enjoy your wedding and just go full out belly laugh and smiles?
What’s the point of these photos if you don’t actually enjoy your own wedding?
This wedding was a good reminder to let it all go, buy the dress you want even if it doesn’t look like the princess wedding dress that society and tradition tell you to get, and if you’re like this bride who is a photo director for brands in NYC, you can still have a wedding with bomb ass dress and style and good food and keep it an intimate setting.
There are weddings, and then there are events that change your life.
This wedding changed my life.
Ash and I together have done over 500 weddings at this point, and if we ever do a vow renewal, we are doing it like this. That should tell you something.
Venue: Glasco House in Woodstock, New York
Florals: Foraged from the surrounding woods
This couple came to AZ with their family and friends, rented out an AirBnB and held a small private wedding. All day the house had all their closest people just hanging out, swimming in the pool, running around finding socks and missing ties. It’s the type of chaos that I love, where inside jokes and helping kids get ready or making lunches together in the kitchen can be found. The couple helped each other get ready, and we headed out for some portraits, just the two of them. When we came back, they held a simple ceremony as the sun was setting and the moon was rising, the desert air just starting to cool off for the night.
Planning, Design, Floral: Fiona Luoise Design
“You’re an artist. You’ll know what to create. It’s in you”
Sallie hired me to be an artist.
No expectations. No shot list. Not even a timeline.
She said, I want you to come to my apartment in LA, and just photography my wedding dinner with my family and I. So I showed up, and literally, there was a private chef cooking dinner in their apartment overlooking downtown LA, and Sallie getting her makeup done, and Justin just hanging out with their dog in their apartment.
Sallie is born, raised, and still living in Los Angeles. No. I’m not just talking about the shiny movie star and influencer LA people know now. I’m talking the OG 90’s grunge K-Town Rooftop Koreans type of LA, where you better have some street smarts type of LA. She’s literally seen the transformation of the city over the past decades.
So when she told me that, I thought, we gotta go back to the roots.
I found a rooftop garage right next to their apartment, and we literally just walked around the parking garage and surrounding block for their photos. She let me do whatever I wanted. I got to play with light, shadows, movement, scenic, you name it. I love shooting in cities when there is the sun because it’s like one giant photographic playground of interesting stuff.
Think about it like this, I can do as much as I can with a small amount of clay. I can make you a small bowl, or maybe a mug. But when you give me a mountain of clay to play with, I can make you a vase, or multiple vases, and as intricate as can be. And that’s how I felt. I literally felt as if I had a mountain of clay to work with.
We ended the night back at their apartment with their family, and as the lights came on in the city that we could see outside their window, I thought, “Yea. This is the way to do it.”
And so at the end of the night as we were hanging out on her patio overlooking the LA skyline, she lit up her cigarette and gave me a benediction before I headed off:
“Your art is your art. Don’t compromise”
Randi from Carteblanche Design is a dear and very good friend of mine. I remember when we met, it was at the very beginning of our careers and we were hired for a branding shoot for someone else. As soon as I saw her flower design I thought, “Damn. This is the kind of stuff that needs to be in the weddings here.”
We both ended up working the same jobs, and built a friendship over time. She hired me to do her branding shoot and I told her I would shoot it under one condition: That she doesn’t hold back. That she only designs the shoot how she truly wants to be seen.
And so she chose the couple, she chose the dress, she chose every single aspect of this shoot. We shot in Sedona at Lauberge, and it was the most Randi flowers I’ve ever seen Randi make. This shoot was a perfect example that artists know best. Its an example of what happens when you let the people you hire do their thing. We live with our art. We die by our art. There are some people who just go through the motions as a vendor. But every now and then, you’ll find the gems that really want to push themselves whether or not it’s for a wedding.
Carte Blanche Design is one of those people who studies art and design and fashion outside of weddings and brings that into their work. There are vendors, and there are artists. And this florist is an artist.
Venue: Lauberge Sedona
Concept, Style, Floral Design: Carteblanche Design
Couple: Julia and Tyler
When Josie and Nathan first contacted me for their wedding at Lauberge Sedona, they just wanted as little stress as possible. They wanted it just to be about the two of them. The timeline was simple, I’ll show up. Josie will get dressed. Nathan will get dressed. And we’ll have the ceremony and a brunch after.
Instead of keeping separate, they decided to stay together the whole time. Josie helped Nathan into his suit, making sure he was all squared away, and Nathan helped her into the dress. Those little moments were some of my favorites from the entire day.
Intimate weddings are becoming some of my favorites. It’s just a different energy. Because there are less moving parts, people are able to just breathe, and if things run late, its no big deal. The production of a wedding is still definitely there, but the pressure is off the bride and groom, and the easiness of it changes the entire energy.
Afterwards, we did an impromptu drive outside the property to a park overlooking the Sedona red rocks. And together we watched the sunset, and I drove them back blasting music in the car and dropped them off to start their marriage together.
Josie and Nathan, thank you for one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had.
Venue: Lauberge Sedona
Dress: Needle and Thread