It’s no secret how much I love timeless weddings with a splash of modern flair.
Colleen and Mike’s was exquisite. From Colleen’s classic Jimmy Choo pumps and utterly feminine Liancarlo gown to the bridesmaids’ fluttery Jenny Yoo dresses and the the groomsmen’s gray suits paired with spiffy brown shoes, their wardrobes hit all the right notes. From the gorgeous music to the sweet glances Colleen and Mike exchanged at the communion table, their ceremony was a beautiful celebration of so much promise and anticipation. And from the breathtaking cake to the softly rustic decor to the waffles station — where guests had their choice of syrup, berries and cream, or chicken and sage dressing — their brunch reception kicked off their marriage exactly as they wanted to begin it: Surrounded by the laughter of their family and friends.
The morning began overcast and foggy, but it couldn’t have been more beautiful.
Colleen, you looked truly amazing.
Sitting inside their hotel rooms, Colleen and Mike read cards from each other, just an hour or so before they would become husband and wife. Let’s just say that the tears began well before the ceremony.
Mike and the groomsmen arrived at the church in the rain, but you know what they say about rain on a wedding day. Colleen and Mike are going to have a lot of good luck.
Some brides cry as they walk down the aisle. Colleen positively beamed!
The first few moments of a marriage are absolutely, surreally beautiful.
The setup at Dubsdread was also just beautiful. We’ve shot a lot of different looks inside this ballroom, and Colleen and Mike’s is one of our favorites!
I cannot gush enough about how much I loved this cake, created by Colleen’s aunt.
Feasting tables may just be my favorite setup, since it a.) looks fantastic and photographs beautifully, and b.) lets the bride and groom eat with not only their bridal party, but their bridal party’s significant other’s. Win-win for everyone! Just like the delicious brunch fare.
And yes, this was an incredible reception right from the start!
After the special dances and the meal, we ducked outside with Colleen and Mike and their bridal party. The clouds still hung low in the sky, but the rain had passed and it couldn’t have been more perfect for their portraits! Because this is quite honestly one of my favorite bridal party shots ever. (And see what I mean about the incredible wardrobe?!)
This also happens to be one of my favorite groom and groomsmen shots ever. I love this moment.
Then came the time for pictures with just Colleen and Mike. After their engagement session in Virginia last June, we knew these two are perfect together. It shows in the way they interact, the way they look at each other. And it makes them a breeze to photograph.
The party continued once we got back inside! As the longest-married couple Mike’s grandparents won the anniversary dance, the families and guests danced a tarantella (for Mike’s family) and an Irish jig (for Colleen’s), and Colleen and her girls got down to some teenybopper pop, belting out Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys on the dance floor.
The afternoon wrapped up with one of the funniest grand exits ever: They handed out Florida Gators colored noise makers and pom poms to their guests . . . but Colleen and Mike kept the oversized blue and orange glasses for themselves as they were whisked off to their honeymoon in Whistler!
Colleen and Mike, we were so grateful to be a part of such a happy, beautiful wedding day, and we wish you a marriage that only gets better and better!
~ Laura + Danny
Hotel: Embassy Suites Orlando North
Church: Annunciation Catholic Church
Reception Venue: Historic Dubsdread Ballroom
Bride’s Gown: Liancarlo
Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Bride’s Headpiece: Sara Gabriel
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Jenny Yoo, purchased at Calvet Couture Bridal
Groom and Groomsmen’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse
Groom and Groomsmen’s Shoes: Florsheim
Flowers: Lee Forrest Design
Cake: Made by the bride’s aunt
Catering: Dubsdread Catering
Videography: Brian Bazala from SugarPop Films
Photography: Laura Yang Photography
Two weeks ago today, Danny and I were on the road to Virginia. The night before, as Danny and I were snuggled into the couch watching the Olympics, his sister called him. That alone told Danny something was wrong — his sister is an avid texter, but she never calls. Ever. Except that night. She called with the long-expected but nonetheless wrenching news that their grandmother had passed away.
The next morning, Danny and I headed out to join the family. We helped prepare for the funeral, editing and enlarging two portraits of his grandmother. We helped prepare food for family and guests. We spent time reminiscing, poring through old snapshots — photos of Danny and his parents with his grandmother when he was young, photos of his grandmother when she was a young woman going to medical school in Korea in the 1940s. And we sent a few emails to clients we were in the process of working with, letting them know that business had to be put on hold for a bit. As important as weddings are to us, this had to be our priority.
Over the next several days, we attended the memorial services, gathered for meals with relatives, and took a day trip with Danny’s parents, grandfather, and aunt. As busy as we were, it was a different kind of busy than we’ve been accustomed to. It was busy not with the daily juxtaposition of adventure and drudgery that comes with running a business, but it was busy with the business of family. With being present to enjoy our time together, to learn new pieces of family history and to add to that history then and there.
And as busy as we were, it was a kind of busy that presented us with opportunities to reevaluate and assess — our business, our lives, and the way they intersect.
If we had been grading ourselves, very few of our evaluations and assessments would have resulted in good scores.
Far too often and far too sloppily, our photography business spills into our personal life and our personal time. Also far too often and far too frequently my personal time sandwiches itself between tasks that I know I have to complete to keep our business running — delivering photos to clients; drafting wedding day timelines; taking literally hours to agonize over every comma and detail in my correspondence with clients to make sure everything is perfect instead of sending the email as soon as I give it a quick proof-read; filing those ridiculous monthly taxes — and squeezes out the new projects that I need to tackle if I want the business to move forward.
And what does it leave us with? We love the feeling of a job well done, and we love it when we hear from our couples that they’re in awe that their wedding could be captured so emotionally. But, really. My fellow photographers and anyone who is struggling with finding balance or purpose in your life, I want you to think about this with me — think long and hard.
What do all the late nights and stress-filled days where we realize we have accomplished nothing of any lasting importance truly leave us with?
There is no question that I love the purpose of our job. More than just being honored, I am humbled that couples choose to let us be so intimately involved in the day they get married. I cherish being able to create family memories that will be even more cherished for a lifetime. What I don’t love is the haphazard process I have long followed to get there.
This business needs to be more like the time that we spent with family in Virginia last week: It needs to fill our time because what we are doing is important. It doesn’t need to just fill our time. What we do for our clients needs to be more like the time that we spent with family in Virginia last week: It needs to bring them closer because we in some way help them become closer. It doesn’t just need to bring them physically close so we can tell them to smile and press the shutter.
What will all of this mean for our photography business? Only good things — but there will definitely be changes. The first, and most dramatically liberating change for me is that I have decided I am tired of having a set blogging schedule. Blogging daily works for some photographers. I wanted it to work for me. Mostly though, it has been such a heavy, time-and-joy-sucking burden that despotically squashed my lifelong urge to write. This burden has been self-imposed — and I don’t need it anymore. So still look for blog posts regularly, but expect them to come from a desire to post gorgeous shoots or personal musings instead of from a sense of obligation to blog daily.
Expect many more changes to come, because I feel like we’re in an incredible stage of evolution right now. I feel like I am embarking on an incredible stage of personal growth, and I believe this business can’t help but grow along with it. I am hopeful and excited, and, truthfully, a little bit anxious. But I’m eager. Eager for this business and our lives to be lived intentionally and purposefully so they are glorifying to the God we serve, and so that we never have to give a disappointing answer to that question.
What will our lives leave us with?
The day began with the hotel suite absolutely abuzz with excitement, and two kids playing cars and keep the mood light. Just the way it should be on every wedding day.
Sarah and Matt put together a celebration filled with their favorite things (football, anyone?) and their favorite people. Emotional toasts, a boisterous reception, a wonderful bridal party, a heartstrings-tugging ceremony, and of course an incredibly-in-love couple – this was a wedding that had all the ingredients of a perfect wedding.
Matt gifted Sarah with a beautiful jewelry box.
Sarah — you were stunning.
For one of the sweetest somethings blue ever, she sewed a heart made from her late father’s uniform inside her gown.
Sarah dressed her niece . . . and then her mother and bridesmaids dressed her.
Nearby, Matt was
goofing off getting ready with his groomsmen.
Sarah’s wedding gift to Matt: A compass, because “I am never lost with you by my side.” (Feel free to get all sentimental — I did!)
Then came the beautiful, tear-filled wedding ceremony at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church.
After a long morning prepping for a wedding and then a full mass ceremony, it was great for Sarah and Matt to get a few minutes of downtime with their bridal party outside at Dubsdread during the cocktail hour.
I love this shot with the bridal party! (And that gorgeous shade of cornflower blue that Sarah chose for her bridesmaids.)
We couldn’t have asked for a more dreamy, romantic, fiery sunset.
Inside the ballroom, it was just as beautiful. Silver Chiavari chairs, crisp white and blue linens, a classic cake — and tables the football-obsessed couple named after NFL teams.
We’re a huge fan of food stations at weddings — not only because they’re delicious, like this pasta station, but because it’s always entertaining to watch someone cook your food!
First dances are some of the best dances.
Except maybe for brother-sister dances. . . .
Or aunt-nephew dances!
And then this party got started!
Darrin from Fun Factory Entertainment — hands-down one of our favorite DJs, and one of our favorite people we’ve met in the wedding industry — kept everyone on the dance floor for the rest of the night.
Remember what I said about how much they love football?
And then they were off on a Caribbean honeymoon!
Sarah and Matt, we can’t thank you enough for trusting us to capture your memories of this incredible wedding day. You, your families and bridal party and your guests were such a pleasure to spend the day with, and we are so excited for you two as you begin your marriage!
~ Laura + Danny
Hotel: Sheraton Orlando North
Church: St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church
Reception Venue: Historic Dubsdread Ballroom
Bride’s Gown: David Tutera for Mon Cheri, purchased at Carolyn Allen’s Bridal and Tuxedo
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Alfred Angelo
Groom and Groomsmen’s Tuxedos: Carolyn Allen’s Bridal and Tuxedo
Catering: Dubsdread Catering
Cake: Cut the Cake
Popcorn Bar: Mrs. Bee’s
Flowers: The Flower Lady
DJ: Darrin from Fun Factory Entertainment
When I wrote about shooting wedding day family portraits nearly a year ago, I mentioned how we never went over the specific location for family portraits with our own wedding photographer. But there’s something else we didn’t do that was an even bigger issue: We didn’t have a list of the family groupings that we wanted photographed. (I take the blame on that one! I promised to make a list . . . then got crazy-busy with other wedding tasks, and never did.) As a result, we spent far, far too much time shuffling around the front of the sanctuary, taking portrait after portrait with just about every family grouping we could think up on the spot. And by the time we were ready for bridal party and bride and groom portraits, I had to force a smile onto my face because I was so exhausted.
That isn’t the way I want our couples to experience their family portraits. I want them to feel relaxed, stress-free, and happy. Cheery. Jubilant. Tickled, if you will.
About a month or so before a couple’s wedding, we send over our standard shots list — the list of family portrait groupings we always make sure to try to capture at a wedding. We ask the couple to revise the list to their liking, adding and removing groupings so they get just the groupings they want.
But here’s the thing: When it comes to wedding portraits, arranging family members — who are excited about the ceremony they’ve just witnesses, or who are reunited with each other for the first time in months or years, or who really just want to get to the bar to get a drink — can be astonishingly like trying to arrange a group of kindergarteners. They don’t always have their listening ears on. “Lining up” turns into “standing in a clump.” Inevitably, someone disappears to the restroom right when you need them to take their place in a picture. And so the portraits drag on for much longer than any couple would expect.
If a couple has a list of ten or more groupings they would like for portraits, it is not at all uncommon to need 20-30 minutes or more to complete family portraits. By which time, most of the relatives are getting tired — and cranky with the photographer for keeping them standing around so long.
So we’ve come up with some tips for our couples to help keep the portraits moving quickly and make sure everyone enjoys them.
Here are a few of our suggestions:
- Go over the suggested shots list carefully, if your photographer provides one. These groupings might be exactly what you want. If there are any shots you don’t care to have, please delete them as this will save both time and your relatives’ patience.
- Whenever you want to add a family grouping to your formal portraits, keep in mind that each grouping will probably take roughly three minutes of time, if all the people needed for the shot are ready to be posed quickly, so you will need to schedule your timeline accordingly.
- For each family grouping that you want to add to your shots list, consider this: Is this a portrait that you would frame on your wall or keep on your nightstand? Is this a portrait that you will want in your wedding album? If not, it’s probably best to leave it out and simply include those family members in a larger family photograph, or get pictures with them during the reception.
- Designate a relative from each side of the family to help organize people for the portraits and make sure everyone is ready when they are needed.
Our goal at each wedding is to make sure the couple receive the pictures they’re hoping for and have a wonderful time in the process. Family formals can be one of the most stressful parts of a wedding day, not only for the photographer but for the couple, too, so we do our very best to streamline it as much as possible.
Just remember this: Having an individual picture with each and every relative isn’t something you’re going to care about years down the road, so don’t tire yourself out trying to marathon your way through portrait after portrait that you’re never going to frame. After the family portraits, you still have your bridal party and bride and groom portraits to get through before you can head into the reception for food and dancing — so pace yourself! And make sure to discuss your expectations and priorities with your photographer so your photographer can help you figure out exactly what you want on your wedding day.
But most of all, try to soak in this short time with your family, even if you’re carefully scooting over a few inches here or moving up or down a step there. Your wedding day will fly by. Your portraits will last a lifetime. Try to make sure the memories of those portraits are as beautiful as the pictures themselves!
Jacy was so much fun to work with for her senior portraits last month!
If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you might recognize the beautiful location where we did Jacy’s pictures — because Jacy’s family hosted Danyelle and Kevin‘s fabulous wedding reception on their property one year ago. And if you’ve known me for many more years, you would know that I did a lot of babysitting as a teenager . . . and one night, ten years ago or so, I filled in for one of my best friends, who was the regular babysitter for Jacy and her sisters. So it was just a bit surreal shooting senior portraits with her now that she’s the same age I was back then!
Jacy is a girl who’s every bit as sweet as she looks — and yes, she looked absolutely fabulous for her portraits.
Favorite coming up!
We had to do a few pictures on the dock . . . which, in warmer months, Jacy said she and her family regularly jump off of for a swim in the river.
I absolutely loved Jacy’s look for this shoot — the hair, the makeup, the outfits. Everything worked together perfectly.
Jacy, thank you for the awesome shoot!
Hair and makeup by Tiffany Delaney.
If you would be interested in your own Daytona Beach senior portrait session, check out The Senior Experience. Sessions start at $350.