Springtime Wedding Flowers

It seems that at this time of year, every day I step outside there are new flowers hitting their peak. I’ve been especially aware of flowers lately because I’ve been working non-stop to turn my blank, barren yard into a vibrant garden full of vegetables, plants and flowers. I have dreams of sitting out there in an adirondack chair, sipping coffee and watching the sunlight bathe the lavenders in light. It’s a lot of work, but is super rewarding as well. Weddings are always on my mind too, so I’ve been taking note of which California flowers might work well in your springtime wedding bouquets or table arrangements. From rustic to formal, California springtime gardens have lots of possibility. 

Ranunculus is one of my absolute favorite flowers, so of course I planted a billion in my garden and am eagerly awaiting them. They come in all sorts of colors, from pale pinks to bright reds, yellows and white. They look their best when not entirely unfurled, so that you get that layered petal effect and round shape. They’re kind of like peonies, but usually much more affordable.

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Irises are popping up everywhere right now and come in so many varieties. There are these classic purple and yellow ones, all white ones, and many more hybrids. You can also get dwarf sizes, which work well in a wedding table arrangement so your guests can see each other across the table while still enjoying these colorful beauties.

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The Los Angeles Flower Market is a great resource for scoping out flower options. It’s a huge warehouse that contains displays of all the freshest blooms for reasonable prices. You could take notes of what you’d like a florist to include in your bouquet or if you’re a DIY type you could go there and put together an amazing bouquet yourself. I have no idea what those yellow puffs are (pictured below) but I photographed a wedding that paired them with eucalyptus leaves and it was perfect.

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Poppies are symbolic of the Golden State and grow pretty much everywhere. These Icelandic poppies are my favorite variety, mostly because of their papery, elegant petals and long stems. I’m not sure how long they last when cut, but if you’re having a rustic wedding they’d look wonderful in decorative pots on the tables, then the guests could take them home at the end of the night to plant in their own gardens.

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Cherry blossoms are really only in bloom in February and March, but when they are, they erupt in so much ethereal bloom. I saw them at the flower market sold as branches with tufts of flowers on them, which would be great as a dramatic wedding display.

Lavender has such a nice smell and its muted purple and green color is quintessentially rustic. Consider having it in pots as an aisle runner.

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Anemones are new to me. I had never heard of them until this year when I ordered bulbs for the garden. They’re like poppies but have even more dramatic looking centers and a nice leaf pattern. I picked up some at the flower market and paired them with blue thistles for an unexpected bouquet.

Tulips are coming into their own in springtime too. They have an elegant structured look to them and, when you put a collection of matching ones together in a bouquet, they work well to play up a clean, modern wedding.

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Orchids are another extremely elegant flower that come in all sorts of varieties to match your wedding color scheme. I just took a behind-the-scenes tour of the orchid house at Huntington Gardens and saw more orchids than I’ve ever seen in one place. Some of them have very interesting origin stories (tales of new species being discovered in far-flung places) and would look lovely mixed into your wedding flower arrangement.

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And I’ve saved the simplest one for last. Sweet Peas! If you are having a rustic or garden wedding, one way to make it extra special could be to plant some sweet peas in your yard in the autumn; they’ll trellis up just about anything. Here mine are growing in the garden along a chainlink fence. By spring, you’ll have these beautiful sweet pea blooms, which range from deep jewel colors to soft and white. They’re highly fragrant and work well mixed into a wildflower wedding bouquet or in mason jars on your guest tables.

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With all the choices out there, the hardest decision will be how to narrow it down to only a few!

Photographing Scotland, Part 2

My husband and I recently returned from our annual UK trip to Scotland and England to see his side of the family. I love going there at different times of the year, as each season brings its own distinct magic. Last year, we were there at Christmas. This time, it was autumn, when the days were just starting to get shorter, filling Edinburgh with a golden light. The leaves on the trees and the Virginia Creeper vining its way up the old stone buildings were ablaze with yellows and reds. I had my camera with me most days, to capture the season. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was most inspired by the plants and flowers of autumnal Scotland (and a great day at Kew Gardens in London) because I’m just about to embark on planting my very first garden at home. I came home feeling very inspired, both for gardening and photography.

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Joy & Jeremy’s Millwick Downtown LA Wedding

Joy is a city writer and kickass fitness instructor. Jeremy is a professional chef. Both of them love Los Angeles, urban murals and the video game Street Fighter II.

I remember once Joy described herself as a “bridechilla” instead of a bridezilla, which turned out to be totally true. I loved getting to know these two throughout the wedding planning, from the first meeting to the venue visit to the wedding day. They are the only couple I’ve ever seen enjoy a ceremonial shot of whiskey as part of their vows.

Beyond having their wedding at the artistically converted warehouse Millwick in Downtown LA’s Arts District, it was great seeing Joy’s personal style work itself into all the details of the day, from gold-painted pineapples to her tropical bouquet of Hawaiian Protea flowers. The day was filled with good cheer and their relaxed sense of joy was contagious.

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Hockey and Love: Engagement in Orange County

Even though they’re fans of rival hockey teams, Kelly and Mike make a great team of two. We met up for a stroll in the park near their home in Lake Forest, California for their engagement session, where I got to fulfill my dream of photographing a couple on a footbridge. It’s always reminded me of Anne of Green Gables and is about the most romantic thing I can think of, especially when the light filters through the trees and wraps everything in a warm glow.

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Jenna & Connor’s Placerita Canyon Engagement

One of the things I love most about wedding photography is that I’m always meeting nice new people, and Jenna and Connor are two of the nicest. At first, I met up with only Jenna because Connor was deployed in the Navy at the time. He has been stationed on a ship near Japan. There was a tiny window to schedule our engagement photography session because Connor’s ship was coming to California for only one week then heading back to Japan until December. I was so happy that we were able to meet up at the Placerita Nature Center in Santa Clarita to take engagement photos. It was unfortunately one of the hottest days of summer, topping out at 106 degrees Fahrenheit, but these two were such troopers. They didn’t let the heat get to them and were all smiles, happy to be together.

Having been in my own international long distance relationship before getting married, I can definitely relate to making the most of your time together. It sounds like they had a fun-filled visit with homemade cakes (Jenna is a professional baker), lots of In & Out burgers, and the Antelope Valley Fair. I can’t wait for their March rustic wedding at Rancho Camulos Museum!

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Family Portraits at William S. Hart Park

Lesley, JJ and I had planned to do a couple’s photo shoot with just the two of them last year, but for various reasons weren’t able to schedule it until now. It was pretty good luck that we ended up waiting because it meant I got to photograph not just the two of them, but three! Baby Arthur was born in April and is a smiley, completely adorable 4 month old. We had a lovely morning in the Santa Clarita park, taking photographs amid the falling Sycamore leaves. Many happy wishes to this wonderful family!

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Pasadena Wedding Venue Photography

I was approached to participate in this photo shoot by Throop Church because they want to show off their beautiful building as a venue for weddings. And who wouldn’t – it’s gorgeous! It ended up being a wonderful session with our models and real life couple – Allyson and Patric. Even though this was not their wedding day, their love for each other could be felt everywhere. It made me feel lucky to be able to document this exciting time in their lives. I felt inspired by the soaring stained glass windows in the sanctuary and blooms in the garden.

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Family Portrait at Pasadena City Hall

I met up with the Wang and Go families on an overcast morning at Pasadena City Hall. The family portrait session was a Mother’s Day gift, which I thought was a great way to celebrate their mom. They suggested using City Hall as a location and I think it came out wonderfully, lending the beauty of the greenery and the elegant tan of the building and the sand. Everyone was so nice and it was lovely getting to chat with them as we came up with photo ideas together.

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The Pre-wedding Questionnaire and Why It’s So Great

Smooth, seamless weddings don’t happen by magic. They are the result of lots of planning and hard work by everyone involved. One of the first things I set up to help with the day-to-day admin tasks of running my photography business, and one of the most useful aspects of interacting with new clients, is the pre-wedding questionnaire.

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By the time I send you the questionnaire, we’ll have met up in person or talked on the phone, I’ve had a chance to hear more about you as a couple. I would typically send this out shortly after you book your wedding with me. It’s a chance for me to get to know the details of your day more specifically and find out your expectations for me as a photographer.

And I can find out what is important to you to get out of your wedding photography and help you come up with a timeline. We’ll meet up about a month before the wedding to finalize the photography timeline, but this early communication with my couples allows us both to start thinking about the details and ask questions.

It’s worked really well and allows me to remember specific wedding and photographic elements for each couple, months after our initial chat and booking.

Here are the questions I’m currently using.

  • Bride and Groom name
  • Date and time of wedding
  • Wedding location
  • Reception location
  • Location of getting ready the morning of wedding

These basic introductory questions help me find out the where’s and when’s of your wedding. It’s also good to know if everything’s happening in the same place or if the venues are in different locations so we can be sure to be plan enough time for driving between them.

  • How many people are in your bridal party?
  • Do you want family formal portraits?
  • Are there any family situations I should be sensitive to?
  • When during the day will the decor be set up at the venue (this will be helpful to know when we’re setting up our photography timeline as I’ll photograph the details before the guests are allowed in, but if you don’t know right now that’s totally fine)
  • Do you want to do ‘first look’ photos?
  • Are there any surprises (animals, confetti or sparkler exit, etc) or special traditions I should know about?
  • Are you planning on a big exit (example: some couples do things like sparkler exits or something they’d like photographed)?

These questions help us come up with a game plan for the “extras” that create the more complete photographic story of your wedding.  If you have a unique element to the wedding that you want captured, this gives us the ability to position ourselves for those.

  • Alternate contact person & phone number for the wedding day
  • Are you working with a wedding or event coordinator
  • Coordinator name

I cannot say how helpful it is to have an alternative person, whether it be a relative, a good friend, or a coordinator who is organized and can help out on the day of the wedding. They can help gather everyone for family portraits or answer vendor questions if the bride and groom are busy (which they will be!).

  • Other vendors you’ll be working with (bakery, event design, florals, hair and makeup, wedding dress, catering, etc?):

Finding out about the vendors is helpful because I like to know who I’m going to be working with. I can become more familiar with the other vendors who will be there so that I can make sure I capture all the beauty they bring to your big day. After the wedding, I like to send images to each vendor of their lovely hard work to use for their own promotion.

  • Are there any restrictions to photography at any of the locations?

Occasionally venues will have some rules about what can and can’t be used during the ceremony – such as the camera flash. We want to be as respectful as possible to the venues while also knowing what we aren’t allowed to do in the space so we can plan around it and still get amazing photos.

What is most important to you for your wedding day photography?

In the end, I want my couples to be super happy with their wedding collections. Not every bride and groom is the same. Knowing what’s most important to you will help me do the best job I can.

Katie & McKeever’s La Canada Backyard Wedding

When Katie & McKeever first contacted me and told me about their plans for their wedding day, I knew it would be a great experience. They spoke about Katie’s parents’ tradition of hosting Sunday night dinners with the whole family and how they wanted their wedding to feel like an intimate family dinner while also being a celebration of their 8 years together and a reflection of their shared values. The ceremony was held in her parents’ backyard in La Canada, California. The celebration managed to not only be a joyous family affair but also one bursting with color – there was the most beautiful tent draped with red and gold and lots of candlelight. The ceremony included lighting a unity candle and a handfasting ritual.

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