I am very sensitive to the fact that for every wedding photographer you see at a wedding, there’s at least one or two good friends or family that didn’t get invited. Sure, some have the budget to go as big as they want, but most of my clients make a pretty big sacrifice to have me along on their special day. It was a privilege to be in Huntington Beach, California on this incredible Fall day to witness and record the beautiful union between these two awesome souls.
When I arrived at the location, I saw a photo of the groom and realized right away, that I knew him from years ago. In a galaxy far far away, I was once a concert promoter and Mark was the lead singer for our most popular local band here in the Antelope Valley. Mark and Lauren had since moved to the beach, but I was lucky enough to get this job in spite of the distance, thanks to a referral from a dear friend. I’ll travel anywhere to photograph a wedding if it feels right and this felt perfect. I got a chance to say hello to some old friends and it was awesome having some history with what I thought were total strangers.
The couple requested to take photographs at their hotel, the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa right on the Pacific Coast Highway, which was right down the street from their venue and reception. I was thrilled at the opportunity and very glad to shoot on such a beautiful property in such a gorgeous setting. I realized I had better be certain it was OK for us to shoot there considering they were not technically getting married on the property. After a quick call to the front desk and a transfer to security, I was given the OK and they were expecting me. When I arrived, I checked in at the desk and started scouting. I could have photographed the location for days. I highly recommend for you wedding shooters out there that you check with all parties involved when planning your shoots, I could’ve easily been shut down and asked to leave if I hadn’t called ahead and the couple would have been sorely disappointed. Sure, I could have improvised and made great images; we ARE in Southern California at the beach, but the images we made gave this wedding an upscale feel that invokes good taste and the good life.
This was my first opportunity to photograph a first-look, something I recommend for all couples out there planning their big day. When we left the Hyatt for the ceremony and reception venue, we already had some amazing images of the lovely couple and wedding party looking their best before wind and merriment could displace tuxes, dresses or hair. The wedding party piled into the limousine knowing full well we had great photographs to cherish the day before the ceremony had even started.
The Newland House and Barn were built by William and Mary Newland in 1898 for their 10 kids and served as a farm growing lima beans, sugar beets, celery and later chili peppers. Nestled amongst the rolling hills of Huntington Beach and a modern strip mall, this location offers some rustic charm as an antidote to the modern beach city that surrounds it. Stepping onto the grounds for Mark and Laurens nuptuals felt like traveling back in time and it certainly awoke the romantic in me. If the beautiful bride and handsome groom head over heels in love wasn’t enough to get me in the mood to make great photos, the location would’ve set me straight in an instant.
The night was just beautiful. Mark and Lauren’s ceremony was short and sweet; vows of love and the promise of the future gave way to revelry and fun. I love a good DIY wedding and this one was well executed. My wife, Heather and I put together our own wedding, so this DIY effort hit home. The bride even arranged and created her bouquet and all the flowers for the wedding party. Not only is this couple good-looking, but they’re talented and have great taste. Tacos for all, a help-yourself snack buffet and lovely cake made for a meal to remember. Coronas were flowing, too. Mark and Lauren told me that “Corona is our thing!,” so I was sure to include a shot that captured the atmosphere and their favorite drink.
All in all, it was a day I’d love to live again and I was at work. I can imagine that everyone involved will carry this along as a perfect memory for the rest of their lives. It’s hard to be a wedding photographer and not feel like you get a backstage pass to a family. I was given a chance to experience this day by Mark and Lauren and that’s an honor I do not take lightly. Writing this blog, I’m filed with the sense that I’ve chosen the right path for myself and that life can only get better if I can just keep exalting love and the simple pleasure that is a day well-spent celebrating it.
For the full resolution gallery, please click here.