The beautiful ocean institute has a desert-y vibe with cacti and rocks surrounding the building, however it’s also just a few steps from the beach! Cristina and Joel incorporated so many fun, funky details! A Mariachi band? Yes, please! Bright flowers and mixed succulents! Chocolate filled churros? YESSS. Not to mention they had their first dance beneath an enormous whale skeleton!! Enjoy.
Coordinator: Seven Stems
Dessert Bar: A Sweeter Piece
Videographer: Films By Noir
Venue: The Ocean Institute in Dana Point
Mariachi: Mariachi Nuevo Capistrano
Brides! (And families!) I have discovered such an amazing stationery company while ordering my own family Christmas cards and I HAD to share. Basic Invite’s wedding invitation suites and save-the-dates are beyond beautiful! But the best part (and what I feel has been lacking with other stationery companies I’ve ordered with in the past) is the extent of the customization! And while a lot of popular companies claim to be customizable what that usually means is you can add your own photo and change your last name, am I right? Not with Basic Invite! Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows us almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options. So while making my holiday cards, I could change the color of the leaves, the berries (!) the frame around the photo, EVERYTHING. This is everything to a bride who has a specific vision and color palette and wants her invitations and save-the-dates to reflect her vision!
They also have 40+ envelope colors to choose from and they’re all peel and stick baby! No licking envelopes for hours — score!
For those of you newly engaged or planning Fall weddings next year, I just peeped their fall themed save-the-dates and fell in love with this one:
They have over NINE HUNDRED wedding invitation suites you guys! You can find everything from save the dates to wedding invitations and enclosure cards, wedding menus, wedding programs and even matching thank you cards. Not to mention FREE wedding websites!! So while I wish so badly I could be planning my wedding again, I’ll have to be satisfied making my holiday cards every year AAAAAND photographing your gorgeous invitation suites :-)
Anna and Richard have to be two of the most laid back people I've met! I took their engagement photos the month before their wedding and she still wasn't certain what her bridal party would be wearing. They each chose to have only a Maid of Honor and a Best Man and this lent to the already intimate vibe of their wedding. They also had a brunch instead of a dinner, so this meant their first look was at 9:00 am. It was a perfectly foggy morning, and the clouds parted during their beautiful ceremony. Coyote Hills Golf Course definitely made it into my top list of gorgeous venues. Scroll on to see what I mean!
I first met Hannah when I found her on Instagram a few years ago and fell in love with her photography! She took our family portraits that year and the following year when I had the opportunity to swap portrait sessions with her I was all about it. I love when parents don't mind embracing that kids will be kids! Hannah didn't mind in the slightest that Parker and Adelaide had sticks clutched in their fists for most of our shoot and it allowed me to capture moments instead of just posed portraits. If you don't already follow her on instagram, do yourself a favor and find her now @hannahcmann Her feed is filled with so much more than pretty pictures! She shares beautifully honest, raw words on parenthood that almost always make me teary eyed.
Julissa and Jeff were married at the gorgeous San Diego Mission which I had never had the opportunity to shoot at prior! Absolutely beautiful grounds! The mission has a lush garden and courtyard and I could have stayed there all day taking portraits. Immediately following the ceremony they hopped on a vintage wedding trolley that took them to Balboa Park for their reception. It was a beautiful day from start to finish! Julissa's bouquet was made completely out of succulents and probably weighed several pounds - no joke!
When my best friend told me that she wanted to hang out in her pajamas and cook breakfast for her maternity pictures, I told her no, haha, but I did promise we could do that for her newborn photos. We spent the whole morning documenting the new normal in their house. Pjs, sleepy smiles, changing diapers, nursing, re-heating coffee, more nursing. (I also got strawberry waffles for breakfast, score! ) Sweet Graham at only 5 days old already has the sweetest disposition and I don't think I could love a little baby more.
I always say that the ideal time frame for a newborn session is the first 1-2 weeks after baby is born. They are generally sleepier and more likely to curl up in snuggly poses for their solo shots. HOWEVER, one of the joys of a newborn lifestyle shoot (as opposed to a studio session) is that the emphasis is not on posed photos. We don't have to ensure that baby is in such a deep sleep that we can pose them however we'd like, because guess what? Baby will be in your arms most of the time. I want to capture parents and siblings interacting with baby, and "tell a story" so-to-speak, of baby's first days at home. There are actually some perks to waiting until your infant is a little older. A few of these being that we can capture more expression, including little smiles, and that baby will be a little more interactive and a little less cross-eyed, haha. Little Ashton was 4 weeks old for his session which meant that his eyes were open for most of the shoot and we were able to capture some of those expressions.
In the hustle and bustle of wedding season, it was so much fun to take portraits for this sweet little family of three. Their beautiful, curly-haired 13 month old stole the show! Her mama initially scheduled this milestone session to document her daughter turning one. My own daughter is 4 now, and while I'm loving this age, I do miss the days of pudgy arms and heavy cheeks. My own daughter's first year of life was simultaneously the longest and shortest year I've ever experienced. Nothing makes me happier than when clients make it a priority to document this fleeting time. Because let me tell you, those arms will grow long and lean, and those baby cheeks will thin. I hope that for this mama, these photos will always take her right back to this moment in time.
I try so hard to stress to my couples that an engagement session is always a good idea :-) For one, it allows me to get to know you guys better and gives me the opportunity to show you how comfortable you can actually feel in front of the lens. It's almost like practice for the big day! My wedding couples who do an engagement shoot almost always feel more relaxed going into their portraits because they know already what I'm going to ask of them. It also allows you to preserve such a precious time in your life! And you'll receive your beautiful images and will hopefully go into your wedding day fully confident in our team. Anna and Richard decided they wanted a beach session but I also snuck in some portraits in the greenery (because it's my absolute favorite and I would always prefer to photograph among trees) before we headed down to Montage Beach in Laguna Beach. We are so excited for Anna + Richard's wedding next month at Coyote Hills Golf Course!
What can I say about this wedding?! Clients like Sami + Jackson are truly a dream for a photographer. They gladly listened to any and all advice we had regarding the timeline and we ended up with ample time for detail photos and couple's portraits. It was probably one of the smoothest wedding days we've had the pleasure of capturing! Thanks in huge part to their coordinator Taylor from Love and Laughter Events. It was also so special to be back at Temecula Creek Inn (where my husband and I got married almost 7 years ago). They didn't get married at the Stone House, but just being at the property was so fun. And Sami got ready in the same suite that Brandon and I stayed in!
"I'll promise to always be the air guitar to your air drums." -Sami
Sami + Jackson couldn't have been anymore joyful and giddy to marry one another, and I was smiling through their entire ceremony and the whole time I was editing their gallery. Her smile is infectious and her entire face lights up when she looks at her new husband. This is one of the longest blog posts I've ever put together and if you don't want to look through the entire thing, do yourself a favor and at least check out their couples portraits. Such a beautiful couple!
A few words from the bride:
Like a true 2016 love story, Jackson and I met when we both swiped right on Bumble. Romantic, I know. He likes to make fun of my clever pickup line of "Hi," and I like to look down at the ring on my left hand and say, "well I guess it worked."
We texted and FaceTimed for a few weeks after matching on Bumble (and Jackson blowing off our first official date) before deciding we really needed to meet. By that time, Jackson was already back at school in Arizona while I was busy at school in Southern California. With limited options and a few months before Jackson would be back home for summer break, I decided to book a flight to Phoenix to see if we would hit it off in person. Yes my parents were worried, and yes, we've heard of the show Catfish. There are a lot of words to describe me, but clearly "safe" isn't one of them. The trip to Phoenix went well, and I called my parents on my way home to tell them, "I think I'm gonna marry this guy."
On our second date, Jackson asked me to be his girlfriend. On our third date I met his family, and by the fourth date we were already saying "I love you." To say it progressed quickly would be an understatement, but like my mama has always told me, "when you know, you know." After 8 months of long distance, life changes, and too many airport pick-ups and drop-offs to count, Jackson proposed at Disneyland with our families there to witness.
Venue: The Meadows at Temecula Creek Inn
Coordinator: Love and Laughter Events
Cake: Elegance on Display
Dress: Wtoo by Watters
Mini Bundt Cakes: Nothing Bundt Cakes
DJ: DeVaughn Daniels - Timmy D Productions
Florals: arranged by Rosebud & Co.
Singer: Hannah Stadnick
Photobooth: Justin Sherman - Kyro Weddings
I should have known how much I would love Gabe + Kristin when they first suggested meeting at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants for margaritas and tacos for our initial consultation. They live in Arizona and make their way out to Southern California from time to time and knew they wanted to be married along the coast in the La Jolla area. Once they saw how beautiful the Cuvier Wedding Bowl is, they knew they wanted to married right there on the cliffs overlooking the ocean.
You have never met people with bigger hearts, or who deserve one another more than Kristin and Gabe! Their overcast, stormy seaside wedding went off without a hitch, due partly to their easy going natures. Brandon and I left on the evening of their wedding chatting about how we hoped we kept in touch with them and would love to meet up for margaritas on their next trip to San Diego.
What can I say about Meagen + Nick?! We took anniversary portraits to commemorate their second year of marriage and they were just the cutest. They totally lied to me and told me they would be really awkward in front of the camera but they were anything but! We had so much fun together. And even though it was a completely overcast day (and even started sprinkling at the end) the location couldn't have been any prettier. Give me green trees and I can almost always hide the fact that it's a gray day outside! Cheers to many more years together!
Lindsay + Jason flew in to San Diego from Seattle for their engagement session. I was so relieved that the sun decided to come out that weekend since "May Gray" had been in full effect all month. We started at Scripps Pier and then made our way to Windansea beach. This couple took such little coaching/posing -- their chemistry was what any photographer dreams of. They were so affectionate and attentive with one another and "having a good time" seems to come naturally for them both. I am so looking forward to their Sonoma wedding next year!!
I met this beautiful family for the first time last year when they drove down from Orange County to have portraits taken with me for Christmas cards. I was so excited to have the opportunity to take Olivia's One Year Milestone portraits as well. I absolutely love how Kelly always has matching "Mommy & Me" flower crowns made. Little details like that really add that extra something to photos.
Sarah + Jonathan could not have been any more fun to spend the afternoon with! After having to change location plans a few times -- once due to a Renaissance fair that overtook the park we wanted to shoot at (we weren't too keen on drunk wenches as our backdrop haha ) -- Sarah suggested this beautiful little corner tucked away in a neighborhood. They brought their sweet puppy Ruby who they are head over heels for and we spent the rest of the afternoon laughing.
When Amanda told me her vision for their engagement photos I did a happy dance! I am loving all things cactus and "desert chic" right now. The chemistry between these two was a photographer's dream. Jon's dapper hair cut, Amanda's outfit choices and this dreamy lighting made for the perfect scene.
Lazy V Ranch might just be my favorite new venue! (Have I said that before?) It stole my heart with it's gorgeous pepper trees, tall cacti, white fences and the cutest little bridal suite. Not to mention the wooden dance floor beneath the largest tree adorned with hanging lanterns and twinkle lights. I love that Lisa and Gavin had a little blanket ladder set up so that their guests could cozy up near the fire pits in the evening. Definitely the kind of wedding you want to attend!!
Nicole & Jason could not have been any sweeter together! They were so fun and playful and I just know they will make the absolute best parents to their sweet baby girl. I was overjoyed to find Nicole in cutoff jean shorts, lace bralet and boho kimono. That paired with her tattoos and the moody weather lent to a vary 90's-esque "Guess jeans ad" vibe. This is one of my favorite maternity shoots to date.