Hey everybody! Warning: lots of photos ahead! I recommend loading the page and coming back in a few minutes :p
You remember my great friends Raf and Kelly, right?! They had this rad engagement session at the Hollywood Bowl. These two are now officially MARRIED and I had the honor of documenting the weekend. Long story short: I’ve known these two since before I met Ganer (meeting almost a DECADE ago, omg). Raf was one of my best friends and mentors while I was competing for WKU forensics (speech and debate). We bonded over a shared love of southern California and music (I still have some of his CD’s, which is awesome because my car will only play CD’s and sometimes I need to hear some MJ or En Vogue). I have Raf to credit for a lot of growth I did in undergrad. To say moving to KY from socal can induce a little bit of “culture shock” is an understatement. Having already been through the process when he attended ISU, he was someone I could relate to and seek out when I needed to communicate how much I missed in-n-out and warm weather. It was when Kelly started visiting that I realized how and why Raf was so well-adjusted to the change in scenery: he was in love. I gotta tell you, being in love and finding yourself in the strong support circle that is forensics certainly does make the cold weather a little more tolerable :]
So imagine my excitement when Raf asked me to photograph his wedding in Los Angeles last year. He and Kelly had settled down in North Hollywood after Raf graduated from WKU with his Master’s. Selfishly, I was eager to take on any opportunity to soak up some west coast sunshine. More than that however, I was so thrilled at the opportunity to see two people I care about so much get married. To have the honor of documenting it all was even more of a bonus.
I could tell early on that this wedding was going to be pretty special. Kelly works for David’s bridal (be sure to count all three wedding dresses, folks) so I knew she’d have a modern and classy aesthetic to the event. The venue they chose overlooked the LA skyline which is important to them as they have very much claim LA as home. Beyond the beautiful location, I knew Raf and Kelly would surround themselves with people with a LOT of personality. Raf himself is a classic entertainer and a jack-of-all-trades creative (be sure to follow his fantastic work over at 1st Slice, Early Late Night with Raf Esparza, and Verbal Tap Podcast… to name just a few projects). Let me tell you, this wedding party kept me on my toes (especially on the dance floor!).
OH, speaking of wedding parties, this wedding is a great reminder of how AWESOME mixed-gender wedding parties are. If your friends are anything like mine, you are friends with BOTH genders. Don’t assign a friend to one side or the other because of archaic norms or concerns about “symmetry.” Your people want to help and support you so build yourself an awesome team :]
Some amazing things about this wedding weekend: um, REHEARSAL DINNER WITH BOWLING, PIZZA, AND TEMPORARY TATTOOS. Getting to swim in a pool the day before. Jimmy johns for lunch. Custom Jiu-Jitsu kimonos. Beer as room service. Best friend officiants. Emotional processionals. Golf carts so we can take portraits all over the place. West coast sunsets. The most adorable cake toppers I’ve ever shot. Pie because they got married on PI DAY. Hilarious toasts. Dance offs. Several dances to Michael Jackson. Split pants. Frank Sinatra serenades. Ending our coverage dancing to “California Love” by 2pac and Dre. Being fed like a guests. Seeing our great friends so happy.
Did I mention Raf is good with words? I got a note from them in the middle of the craziest part of 2015. I was shooting 12 weddings in a row and planning our own. In the middle of all the crazy I checked my mail and was delighted to open up 2 cards designed with photos I had made from this wedding. I won’t go into all the details, but it was long, handwritten note from the heart. I got a little teary eyed and stuck it to my motivation board. It was the kind of validation I needed as an artist but also the encouragement I needed to pull my shoulders up and get excited about wedding planning again. It’s amazing how much a sincere note can really change your day.
I seriously had such a blast this wedding. Raf and Kelly, I can’t tell you enough how much it means to me that you trusted me to document this incredible weekend. Cheers again to you both!