Kris & Karin’s Pasadena Secret Garden Wedding

Kris and Karin’s wedding took place at Happy Trails in Pasadena. Looking from the street you would see only an unassuming storefront, but pass through the wooden gates and you enter a verdant garden ceremony space with a majestic oak tree in the center. Kris and Karin have great style and a love of minimalism and architecture, the combination of which made for a unique and stylish wedding. The red brick, very definitive of Old Town Pasadena, blended nicely with the succulent center pieces to create a wedding that was both classic and modern, urban and natural. Kris and Karin have been a couple for seven years now and it was clear from our portrait session and the toasts from friends and family that these two complete and compliment one another.

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The Great Snake Escape

When someone thinks about wedding photography as a profession, one might think of a job surrounded by beautiful flowers, flowing glasses of celebratory champagne, and romantic wedding venues. I’m not going to lie – those things are all pretty great. Often though, there are also challenges that a photographer has to navigate to make sure the clients get the best photographs possible.

When you’re a wedding photographer, couples are entrusting you with one of the most important days of their lives. That means being there for your couples, 100% present and working your butt off, no matter if you’re sick, tired, in a bad mood, whatever.

Sometimes there are even dangers on the job. At a recent wedding out in a nature area, I was posing the bride’s garter for a detail shot on a wood fence post when I heard a guest say, “I don’t want to freak you out but there’s a rattlesnake right next to you.” The snake had blended in to the brush and I had not seen it until it was too late.

Now, when I hear the words rattlesnake and next to you in a sentence, my heart is definitely going to start racing and my overactive fight-or-flight response kicks in. In a moment of sheer terror and perhaps great stupidity, I ended up ballet leaping over the rattlesnake, camera in hand. My shoes flew off, but luckily I landed far enough away to escape getting bitten. Also in my favor was the fact that the reptile had just eaten a rodent or something, was very sluggish and not particularly interested in striking me. The ranger shooed the snake away and five minutes later, still pumped up with adrenaline, I gathered my shoes and went on to photograph the wedding ceremony.

I imagine if I actually got bitten by a poisonous snake while on the job, that would be one of the very few occasions where it’s OK to leave a wedding early. The whole situation was a good reminder to pay extra attention to my surroundings when photographing in nature, but even after all that, I got to watch two people start their lives as a married couple. Those photographs will live on long after the memory of my snake escape fades.

snake at wedding

Rachel & Kevin’s Rustic Orange County Wedding

It was a beautiful spring day at Bommer Canyon in Irvine, California when Rachel and Kevin tied the knot. Their celebration had many elements that I adore as a wedding photographer – their love of nature came through in many rustic aspects of their wedding, from the gorgeous wildflower bridal bouquet and the baby’s breath groomsmen’s boutonnieres to their adorable bear cake toppers. How cute are those bears?! Rachel told me that her ring is one-of-a-kind; handcrafted using sea glass that the couple collected on the beach together.

There was also a handkerchief stitched with the letter M, for their new joint last name Mattson. Kevin wore a bird pin on his lapel that was a gift from Rachel’s grandmother. It was exciting capturing their wonderful day as they were married surrounded by the golden hills, the California oak trees, and all of their friends and family.

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Vendors:

The Lime Truck

Jenna & Connor’s Orange Grove Wedding

Jenna and Connor’s wedding took place on Easter weekend, with the rose garden at Rancho Camulos Museum in bloom. From the palm trees jutting above the historic buildings to the orange groves to the magnificent oak tree under which the ceremony took place, the entire event was quintessentially Californian with perfect, rustic wedding details. The bride and groom are two of the sweetest, most genuine people and I had so much fun photographing their wedding day. Their love for their friends and family, and for each other, was a joy to witness. Right after the wedding, Jenna moved to Japan to be with Connor on the US naval base and to start their married life full of adventures.

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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.

Wedding Bouquet Rununculus

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.

Wedding bouquet Irises

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.

Wedding flowers

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.

Wedding bouquet anenomes

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.

Wedding flowers orchids

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.

Wedding bouquets sweet peas

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