May 22nd, 2016. Yosemite National Park.

.Bride & Groom in Yosemite

The 2nd time around for Teri and Steve, and they wanted to tie the knot.. just they two.. in Teri’s beloved Yosemite National Park for their elopement. She hikes there often, and really wanted to share this magical place with her new husband on their wedding day. He’d been once, but via Hwy 120 entrance and back out. So he had not yet seen the famed Tunnel View. We were very happy to hear this, as it was on their custom photo tour list!

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 2

Teri is a Planner; putting even me to shame..lol. She had all kinds of questions about what location to choose, what to wear, what to bring…. We had a great time planning her Yosemite Elopement. She went¬†shopping for a dress that made her feel like a million bucks, and couldn’t decide between three veils; so she brought all of them. So much fun to play with ūüôā

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 3

One of our favorite officiants, Rev. Autrey Nassar of Yosemite Weddings¬†was an easy recommendation. Aside from that, Teri made her own bouquet and Steve’s boutonniere, and a beautiful heartfelt scrapbook of her vows to Steve. Neither we, nor Rev. Autrey had ever seen anything like it. So sweet.

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 4

We had a lovely afternoon with them. We picked the couple up at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel (aka The Ahwahnee), took them to their chosen meadow location where they could see Half Dome in the background, and met up with Rev. Autrey. I found a big Monarch butterfly feeding just next to the site, and took it as a good luck omen. After a short, very sweet and emotional ceremony, they opened the champers and we all shared lunch.

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 5

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 6

Teri & Steve¬†also followed another one of my favorite tips: for a Yosemite Elopement, bring a pretty picnic basket filled with lunch from the hotel, your favorite snacks & fruit, and a bottle of champagne. Great photo ops in the¬†shade of beautiful Black Oak and Jeffrey Pine trees, and, well… lunch!

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 7

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 8

Fortified for our Yosemite Elopement photo tour, we headed out to where the light took us… ending with Teri’s request for a “castle photo” back at the hotel before they went in to an intimate wedding night dinner for two.

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 9

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 10

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 11

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 12

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 13

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 2

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 14

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 15

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 16

Teri & Steve Yosemite Elopement 17

Monica and Ben were so much fun!¬†The couple¬†married on May 21st, 2016.¬† Monica and her bridesmaids prepared for the day at a private family home in Palo Alto, CA, then off to¬†a lovely ceremony at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Los Altos, CA, a few quick couple’s portraits in beautiful Gamble Gardens, followed by an¬†evening reception¬†back at the house.

Bride & groom in a quiet moment on their wedding day.

We had a scant hour to follow them from the church to Gamble Gardens, capture a few couple portraits, and race to Ben’s family¬†home in Palo Alto for the reception. Phew! Here, Ken has set up last a moody shot for them… in the bright sun of the parking lot.

Invitations

Simple, sweet invitations by Cricket Printing that the bride found on Etsy. I liked the rustic recycled kraft card stock that swiveled on a grommet.

Naturally, we all woke up with rain on the forecast. Ugh.. in mid May, really? But Monica was her bubbly self when we arrived in the morning, chatting with her girls, and sitting as still as she could for hair & make-up. I took her dress outside for a quick photo, but it started raining right then!

Naturally, we all woke up with rain on the forecast. Ugh.. in mid May, really? But Monica was her bubbly self when we arrived in the morning, chatting with her girls, and sitting as still as she could for hair & make-up. I took her dress outside for a quick photo, but it started raining right then!

 

Bridal Details.

So I brought her pretty Allure Bridals gown back into the house. Shoes by Badgley Mischka. 

Monica opened a letter from Ben that made her cry, and Ben's uncle opened a bottle of Dom for the girls. Very sweet. The flowers arrived: pretty arrangements by Seasonal Celebrations.

Monica opened a letter from Ben that made her cry, and Ben’s uncle opened a bottle of Dom for the girls. Very sweet. The flowers arrived: pretty arrangements by Seasonal Celebrations.

Ok, this was hysterical! As the girls sipped their champagne and Monica finished the letter from Ben, it ended with the presentation of a gift.. something she had always wanted: a miniature pig! "He got me a PIG?!" She was so excited..lol. Ben's uncle had brought in a box from the backyard, and gently set it down at her feet. It was large & had holes in it. She nearly cried again, and gingerly opened the box, listening for little pig sounds. This is what was actually in the box. Oh, Ben...lol.

Ok, this was hysterical! As the girls sipped their champagne and Monica finished the letter from Ben, it ended with the presentation of a gift.. something she had always wanted: a miniature pig! “He got me a PIG?!” She was so excited..lol. Ben’s uncle had brought in a box from the backyard, and gently set it down at her feet. It was large & had holes in it. She nearly cried again, and gingerly opened the box, listening for little pig sounds. This is what was actually in the box. Oh, Ben…lol.

Time for our beautiful bride to get dressed!

Time for our beautiful bride to get dressed! Elisa Bunnell Hair & Ruth Baker Makeup. I love the gift of a family heirloom on a bride’s wedding day. This beautiful cameo was worn pinned to the underside of her gown.

Ken found this lovely small room with an antique bar to give us a bit of reflection for one last portrait before we all sped off to the church.

Ken found this lovely small room with an antique bar to give us a bit of reflection for one last portrait before we all sped off to church.

 

We met up with Ben and his groomsmen just as guests were arriving.

We met up with Ben and his groomsmen just as guests were arriving. All of the men in this family are REALLY tall! 

Wedding ceremony at St. Nicholas Church, Palo AltoWedding ceremonyWedding CeremonyWedding ceremony.End of wedding at St. Nicholas Church, Palo Alto.

Ben brought his beloved vintage Mustang droptop. Best getaway car evah! I was hanging out the window of our van, trying to grab a shot or two... full on paparazzi.

Ben brought his beloved vintage Mustang droptop. Best getaway car evah! I was hanging out the window of our van, trying to grab a shot or two… full on paparazzi.

We all raced to the lovely Gamble Gardens, now that the rain had cleared, for a few quick couple portraits.

We all raced to the lovely Gamble Gardens, now that the rain had cleared, for a few quick couple portraits.

Bride and groom at Gamble Gardens.

Cocktail hour was in full swing by the time we got back to the house for the reception! Fun crowd.

Cocktail hour was in full swing by the time we got back to the house for the reception! Fun crowd.

Wedding receptionWedding receptionWedding cakeWedding toasts.First Dance.

How awesome is this bride?

How awesome is this bride? When Monica¬†slipped on the uneven dance floor and took a tumble during the Father-Daughter dance, she just let herself go SPLAT, and belly-laughed. They took a bow when she got to her feet. That’s how awesome!

Wedding reception.

Monica’s custom swarovski converse dancing shoes. I think those went on right after the parent dances were done… smart girl.

Wedding reception.

DJ Cody from Sutherland Entertainment. Great spinning & cool mixes for the dance floor. This kid was mesmerized.

The cake had been patiently waiting in the pretty gazebo in the garden. Did they do a cake smash? Why yes, yes they did. Nothing better than smooshed cake kisses.

The cake had been patiently waiting in the pretty gazebo in the garden. Did they do a cake smash? Why yes, yes they did. Nothing better than smooshed cake kisses.

 

 

 

 

In August of last year, DuendePhoto captured Shira & Anup’s civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall. They loved their images so much, that they decided to fly us to Shira’s hometown of Chennai, India to photograph their small Tamil Brahmin wedding in the resort town of Mahabalipuram in December. It was to be on the beach at sunrise. “Small”, in Indian Wedding standards, is 300-500 people. 80 people were able to make it, and this South Indian wedding very nearly didn’t happen at all.

Neither of us had ever been to India before. We prepped as best we could, got all of our vaccines and malaria pills, bought a truckload of antibacterial lotion & mosquito repellant, ate vegetarian for two weeks, and ruthlessly pared down our equipment for foreign travel. What follows is the story of our experience¬†going¬†(separately) 1/2 way around the world to capture a South Indian wedding… during the worst cyclone to hit the¬†East Indian Coast in the last 150 years. Ken put a video/photo fusion slideshow together to¬†show you:

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Brady takes off from SFO at noon on November 29th, 2015. Ken has a wedding in San Francisco on Wednesday December 2nd, so it’s decided that Brady will cover the wedding prep and Mehndi alone. He will fly in on Friday December 4th, get a few hours sleep, and join the reception party on Saturday. That was the plan, anyway.

 

Brady lands in Chennai, India just before¬†midnight on Monday, November 30th. Once outside the airport, the air is hot¬†& muggy, and the small mosquitos are relentless.¬†It’s already raining on the way to Shira’s mother’s house. Greeted with shy hugs, she is put to bed on the floor of¬†an empty flat above the one that Shira’s mom Shobha shares with Shira’s sister, Hamsa. The young women¬†sadly lost their father two years ago.

 

In the morning, there is a small puddle on the floor under the windows. It must have rained all night long. Brady joins the family downstairs for breakfast, and is introduced to the aunties, uncle, and cousins who have gathered thus far for the wedding. Lunch is ordered, but takes a long time to be delivered. Apparently, the rains have caused some delays across the city. When the stacked tins finally arrive, she is¬†introduced to eating exotic mixtures of rice, sambar, and fried potatoes from a large banana leaf. Auntie Kala, who will sort of adopt Brady over the course of the week, shows her how to mix the soupy offerings with the rice into a loose ball that you pop into your mouth. This turns out to be harder than you’d think, but the food is exotic & delicious.

 

It’s Tuesday, December 1st. Brady heads back up to her room for a nap to try & shake the jet lag. It’s hot & stuffy in the room, so she opens the windows… always a dilemma: mosquitos or air flow? It’s really raining now, sometimes in¬†hard showers, and getting storm-dark outside. She puts the 85mm 1.4 on her D3s, and shoots a few images of the street below. The stream of water¬†on the side of the road in front of Shobha’s apartment building is widening across the median. Motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians now have to go through, rather than around it. Shira comes up in the afternoon to say that the cots & furnishings on order for this flat will not be delivered today, as the storm has made a few roads impassable. Shira doesn’t want her to sleep on the floor again, so moves her to a spare bedroom offered in a neighbor’s flat… with air conditioning!!! Brady moves gear & bags downstairs, and reads for a bit to try & sleep. Around 4:00 that day, the power goes out. And with it, the air con.

 

A collage of photos of the first & second days of South Indian wedding preparation for Shira and Anup during the Chennai floods of 2015.

 

Shira comes over to report the news: The storm has escalated to Cyclone status.¬†A highly unusual event, a large storm over Indonesia split, the lower 1/2 circling South as usual, the upper 1/2 slamming directly into the Indian coast at Chennai. She asks Brady if she’d like to go get some tea in the apartment building’s reception area, downstairs.¬†When they get to the exit to the parking level, Brady can now see why Shira borrowed a pair of plastic sandals for her: the parking garage, walkway to front of building, and grounds are under 8-12″ of water. Giant rain drops are coming down in warm¬†gusts. They slog through the water, both drenched by the time they make it to¬†the front of the building, sharing a tiny umbrella that does nothing. When the manager brings two steel¬†cups of hot, super sweet milk tea, the rains are now belting the windows in furious, sideways sheets. Brady has never seen rain like this in her life, and Shira is now very worried about Anup, whose family lives across town. With no power, the family lights candles, talks & eats lightly, and goes to bed.

 

Wednesday, December 2nd: Shira has been on the phone all morning with wedding vendors, and she’s visibly stressed. The power is still out, no deliveries are being made, the roads are flooded, and she can’t get through to her wedding planner. She & Shobha invite Brady to go get some lunch. The big¬†hotel down the street has power, and there is a break in the rain. On¬†the restaurant TV, the local news station has a new hashtag: #chennairains! They learn that the city is now in a state of emergency. The dam was released when the main river threatened to overflow its banks, closing nearly all roads. The airport is closed to all incoming flights. And many people have died from electrocution by downed power lines.

 

That afternoon back at the compound, the power comes back on. Briefly. Hamsa & her cousins come to tell Brady that they are going upstairs to the empty flat to practice a dance routine for Shira & Anup’s wedding reception. Would she like to come? Excited to finally have something to shoot that won’t stress Shira more than she already is, Brady goes with them. They look up bollywood & hip hop routines on YouTube. Adorable. It’s a small room, so she sets¬†her iPhone¬†on the tripod to video them practicing, and shoots a few stills with her 24-120. They laugh & trip up, goggle about it, and do it over again. After an hour, they want to see the video. More laughter. The power goes out again, and they learn at dinner that the government has turned the power back off in the evenings as a result of more deaths reported. The girls go back upstairs that night to practice by the light of a single candle.