“But Without Love, I Have Nothing” || A Catholic Wedding in Indian Wells, Ca.

Weddings are about people.  Ok, maybe that’s obvious.  But this central and most-important aspect is far too often overshadowed.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s an intimate elopement with a dozen people or a grand occasion 50 times larger; the details can sometimes cause even the most well-intentioned couples to lose sight of the real reason for the celebration.

Our latest wedding was like a royal wedding of its own.  Despite its size, the event showed how focus on people can be preserved even in the midst of hundreds of other details.

It was quickly apparent that Elise and Chris had been making wedding decisions consciously with each of their guests in mind.  These two provided one of the best examples we’ve ever seen of a couple using their wedding to express their love for the people in their lives.  Elise and Chris are that kind of couple who treat everyone around them with such warmth and attention that they make even their photographers feel like lifelong friends.  It’s no wonder they have such a vibrant collection of loved ones!

They did make a few decisions that eventually helped them protect their primary focus.  They found great vendors they could trust with their vision, and used their ability to connect with people to communicate that vision.  The Renaissance Indian Wells always provides an elegant backdrop and excellent service.  Their wedding planner, Rachel from Plan It San Diego, was amazing! She was always kind, organized, and an absolute pleasure to work with.  The decor provided by Luna at Arrangements Floral and Party Design were exquisite, and the live band, Rembrandt, absolutely rocked the reception.  We were humbled to be added to that list.  Because of choices like these, they were able to let go of the details on the wedding day and enjoy the people they were most excited to spend time with.

But before sharing a vision, you’ve got to think through how wedding details can highlight your unique identity as a couple and enhance the experience of your guests.  What ceremony traditions do you find personally meaningful?  How do the details reflect your personality together?  How will the events you highlight during the reception express love for your guests?  Use your personal values like a filter for wedding decisions.  By thinking about event details in this way, you will not only realize a unique and fully-developed wedding, but at the same time, you will maintain the focus where it should be—on your relationship and the other significant relationships in your lives.

Whether or not they intentionally took all of these things into account, Elise and Chris perfectly exemplified one of our core values and made their wedding a celebration of people and relationships.  After the flowers have wilted and the music has died down, what remains will be their bond together, and the relationships that have helped make them who they are and will continue to support them for years to come.

With so much to think about, it would be easy to lose sight of that.  But Elise and Chris never did.  All day long, they beamed with gratitude and grace, and their compassionate demeanor only multiplied as they fed off of each other, and the smiles of friends and family.  We couldn’t have been more impressed by that, or more thrilled to have been even a small part of their big day.

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Wedding Vendors:

Wedding Planner: Plan It San Diego

Rehearsal Dinner: Indian Wells Country Club

Ceremony Venue: Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Reception Venue: Renaissance Indian Wells

Floral and Event Design: Arrangements Floral and Party Design

Band: Rembrandt

Rentals:  Classic Party Rentals & Arrangements Floral and Party Design

Transportation: Cardiff Transportation  &  TRYPPS – Limobus  949.903.2133

Cake: Renaissance Indian Wells

Videographer: Taylor Films

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Sneak Peek: Chris and Elise’s Catholic Wedding in Indian Wells, Ca.

WOW! What a weekend with an endearing bride and funny and charming groom and their inspirational – supportive – make everyone want to be adopted – family and friends. There was no shortage of jovial speeches and remarks toward Chris and Elise. And they were most certainly well deserving.

Elise is a picture perfect bride not just in beauty, but in character and grace. In every moment throughout the planning process and wedding day, she has been full of joy with a permanent smile, always offering kind words, patient, and humble. Chris too has been nothing but kind, patient and humble with an adventurous spirit and deeply rooted in his faith and family.

Here’s a sneak peek at their rehearsal dinner at Indian Wells Country Club, getting ready at Renaissance Indian Wells Resort and catholic ceremony at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

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There are so many more where this came from. Check back soon for more photos and stories about this classic wedding.

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Indian – American Destination Wedding pt ii || Fullerton & Palm Springs

All of the festive anticipation we witnessed on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday paled in comparison to Veena and Alex’s actual wedding day.  On October 7th, we arrived at the Renaissance Esmeralda resort hotel in Rancho Mirage, CA, eager to tackle the many vibrant challenges of capturing an Indian wedding day.

Even with an early arrival, we found the resort already bustling with the first stages of wedding day prep.  Alex and his groomsmen enjoyed time relaxing in his suite while in another suite on the other side of the resort, Veena and the ladies primped frantically.  It seems that some things never change, regardless of what traditions are celebrated.  Nevertheless, tradition was bound to be a bright theme all day long, and it began with the attire.  Alex was a picture of regal joy, wrapped in burgundy and gold with a fantastic headdress and a huge smile.  But no one would deny that Veena stole the show from moment one.  She was absolutely gorgeous in her coral and gold sari.  The beautiful fabric and embellishments made for a truly amazing dress, but even the dress paled in comparison to Veena herself.

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When they were both perfectly resplendent and ready, it was time for the much-anticipated first look.  And If we thought that Alex’s smile couldn’t get any bigger, we soon discovered otherwise.  When he turned to see his beautiful bride, he was obviously the happiest man on earth.  After they had a few minutes to enjoy seeing each other for the first time, the two of them shared a meaningful private moment, exchanging their own vows.  The public ceremony they were to experience later would feature many meaningful rituals, but this was a special moment just for the two of them to promise their lives to each other.  We were so honored to preserve the memory for them.  We were also happy to give them a few more private moments together while we took couples’ portraits before the commotion of the day really set in.

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Historically, an Indian groom and his entourage would all parade with great pomp and circumstance from his village to meet his bride in hers.  The modern Baraat tradition has preserved the spirit of this procession.  Unfortunately, Alex didn’t have many in his entourage, but this being a family affair, all of Veena’s family, friends, and guests were more than happy to help out!  Alex mounted a white horse and rode into the venue, preceded by a multitude of dancing and cheering attendants.  Then he hopped down and joined in on the dancing himself.  Finally, when they had all reached the ceremony site, Alex and his mom and brother exchanged greetings and floral necklaces with Veena’s parents in a symbolic ritual of acceptance called the Milni.

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Once everyone had paraded to the ceremony site, the guests all took their seats and the wedding party lined up in anticipation of the big moment.  Similar to Western tradition, the wedding party filed in, followed by Veena and her parents, but unlike most Western weddings, the bridal party took their seats while the parents joined the bride and groom on the covered and decorated stage, known as a mandap.  In our own wedding, we also chose to have our parents stand with us, believing strongly that parents should be highlighted and thanked in the midst of such a transitional life moment.  So it was especially meaningful to us to see how involved the parents were in the Indian ceremony and all of its many rituals.

Those rituals were guided by an Indian holy man known as a Pundit.  With great detail and a little bit of humor, he led those involved in the ceremony through everything step-by-step, explaining the significance of the practices as they went.  The entire ceremony took place on the lavishly-decorated mandap around a holy flame called the Vivaah Havan.  They hung flower garlands known as varmala around each other’s necks and together took the seven steps, or Saptapadi, in which they encircle the fire seven times, each lap signifying a different deepening aspect of their bond.  They literally ‘tied the knot’ as they were wrapped by a cord called the Mangalsutra and tied together.  The Mangalsutra would be the Indian equivalent of the Western ring exchange, but in Alex and Veena’s case, they also chose to give each other rings.  They were blessed by their parents with rose water, and Alex painted bright vermillion Sindoor powder on Veena’s forehead, which basically means he has dibs.

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These were just a few of the most noteworthy customs they included.  Some may be called by different names, but most Indian ceremonies feature these rich traditions in some form.  Though he was new to it all, Alex grinned from ear to ear the entire time.  After the ceremony, one of the most fun customs he discovered was the Jutti Chupai.  A young bridesmaid had stolen his shoes, and he was going to have to pay for them if he wanted them back!  After some heated bartering, he finally got his shoes back at a steep price.  But that didn’t diminish his smile.  It had been plastered on his face since we began the day, and Veena had an un-concealable glow as well.  Joy like theirs always makes for great family portraits.

As all the guests began transitioning to cocktail hour and then into the beautifully-decorated grand ballroom, Veena and Alex hid away for a quick wardrobe change.  Their parents and bridal party kicked off an exciting grand entrance, and then the newlyweds reappeared to thunderous applause.  Alex donned a classy tuxedo, and Veena wrapped herself in a new burgundy and gold sari, just as dazzling as the first.  They took to the dance floor for a romantic first dance, which then developed into a full choreographed routine!  Everyone whooped and cheered as another Bollywood performance unfolded, and the two stars finished it off the right way with a lift like the famous one from Dirty Dancing.

Still a little breathless, Veena and Alex slid into a luxurious couch center stage—surrounded by beautiful floral arrangements—and sat back to soak in the scene.  They had already experienced the day of their lives, but it wasn’t over yet!  Their guests filled the giant room and all the love and joy was focused on the stage.  A few very special people had opportunities to put that love and joy into words.  Veena’s parents, Alex’s mom and brother, and their best men and maids of honor toasted the newlyweds, reliving many happy memories, sharing many funny quirks, and wishing many years of joy.

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After some heartfelt toasts, touching father-daughter and mother-son dances, and a colorful cake-cutting, all 250 guests got busy dancing.  They didn’t leave the dance floor empty all night.  We managed to pull Veena and Alex away for one last romantic portrait under the stars and surrounded by the colors of the resort.  When all was said and done, we were so excited and honored to have had a chance to photograph such a beautiful event.  Yet for all of the vibrant culture we witnessed, what we will remember most are the bright smiles and caring hearts of these two amazing people.

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Indian – American Destination Wedding Pt 1 || Fullerton & Palm Springs

When we first met Veena and Alex, we were beyond excited.  There’s no doubt that getting to know these two amazing people is cause for excitement.  But they were also inviting us to photograph their marriage, and what was to be our first Indian/hindu wedding!  It was a 4-day event filled with colorful parties, meaningful rituals, and lots of laughter and love.  It’s easy to see why Indian weddings are renowned for their lavish cultural display.  Isn’t the joining of two lives cause for a little extravagance?  We think so.

Jen photographed the first two traditional parties that took place on October 4th and 5th.  Both took place in Orange County, CA, not far from our own place.  First came the Mehndi at Veena’s sister’s house in Brea.  This traditional party is a relaxed time for family and friends to spend together while the bride has elaborate henna art painted on her hands and feet.  The beautiful decorative designs take several hours to complete, so you might as well hang out and have a good time while you’re at it!

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The next day came the Haldi, which Veena’s parents hosted in Fullerton.  The Haldi ceremony is a traditional gathering involving the application of turmeric paste to the face to signify future prosperity, ward off evil, and give the skin a little bit of a glow.  First the Pundit (the minister or officiant) walked those involved in the ceremony through the rites and rituals that will be performed on the wedding day.  Then the colorful, messy, celebratory fun began!

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On Friday, October 6th, Luke finally got to join in on the fun when everyone migrated to the Palm Springs Air Museum for the Sangeet.  This traditional pre-wedding ceremony brings everyone together—including the wedding guests—for a night of singing and dancing.  But first we had a few moments to spend with Veena and Alex, capturing some portraits of them looking dazzling and regal amid the historic planes in and around the hangar.

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Before long, the hangar was filled with loved ones and abuzz with excitement.  There was a henna station, a delicious buffet, and plenty of aviation history for the many kids to enjoy.  Even and Alex took their seats on a special decorative bench providing them the best view of the vibrant show that awaited them.  Perhaps the easiest way to describe the Sangeet is to say that it’s like a cultural talent show.  We felt like we were on the set of a Bollywood movie production!

There were many memorable performances, but perhaps the two most unforgettable were delivered by the bride and groom themselves.  With unabashed romantic flair and backed by a band of his friends, Alex picked up a guitar and serenaded his bride.  Surrounded by a room full of people, it was clear to all that he could see only her.  Finally, the two of them both took to the dance floor, and in a room full of people, everyone could see a couple in love.

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This was just the pre-wedding festivities! Can you imagine what the wedding day is going to be like? Neither could we! Come back for the rest of the stunning beauty, rich traditions and two families and two cultures blending into one at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort.

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A Lakeside Wedding || Auburn, Ca.

Early September weddings in Palm Desert can be unbearably hot.  So we couldn’t have been happier that Sandy and Eric decided to get married at a lakeside venue in Northern California with a special family connection!  On September 7th, we hopped in the car for a road trip up to Auburn, where Sandy Thor and Eric Salzmann were preparing for their September 9th wedding.

New venues always hold new opportunities and new challenges.  We made sure to arrive a day early to attend the rehearsal and get accustomed to the unfamiliar location.  Lake of the Pines Country Club in Auburn is an absolutely picturesque venue.  Mountain roads snaked their way through tree-lined hills which opened almost miraculously to a crystal alpine lake.  The lodge-style clubhouse was situated right on the lakeshore and surrounded on three sides by water and a rose garden at the entrance. Sandy and Eric are already a pretty laid-back couple who seemed to have little stress planning their destination wedding. Standing on the patio deck overlooking the lake, watching sail boats and water skiers pass by created a calming peace to set the mood for nothing but joy and celebration.  Family and the wedding party began to arrive after traveling from locations as far as England. Some met for the first time, while some, like their mothers, had become great friends over the several years Eric and Sandy had been dating.

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In addition to its natural beauty, Lake of the Pines held extra significance for Sandy and her family.  Sandy’s dad has since passed away from cancer, but he once played in a band that had frequent gigs in the Lake of the Pines clubhouse. So, having their wedding here was a way to remember and honor him and sense that he was there with his baby girl.

Sentimental value combined with impressive views made Sandy and Eric’s big day even more meaningful.  Even as they were prepping in their hotel rooms at the Auburn Holiday Inn, we could tell that the emotions of the day were beginning to set in.  Reading through his vows, Eric was visibly touched before he had even seen how beautiful his bride looked in her flowing a-line sweetheart gown.Lake of the Pines, Country Club wedding, lakeside wedding, destination wedding, auburn California, sacramento, maroon and navy, ceremony by water, wedding venue by water, wedding venue, mountain wedding, Jennifer Yount photography, wedding photography, palm springs photographer, palm springs wedding photographer, destination wedding photographer, hair and makeup, getting ready, getting dressed, pre-ceremony, bridesmaids robes,

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All the anticipation made for a very tender first look when we finally arrived at the clubhouse and Sandy found her groom in the rose garden. Sandy’s grin stretched from ear to ear while Eric couldn’t resist the tear of pure joy when he saw his bride.

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After several entertaining and moving toasts, Sandy and Eric enjoyed their romantic first dance together.  Followed by the mother-son dance, but perhaps the most touching moment of an already touching day came next.  Instead of a father-daughter dance, a slideshow was projected above the dance floor where he had once played with his band depicting scenes from Sandy’s life with her dad and a video of him giving his marriage blessings to Eric and Sandy 2 years prior to this day.  To let everyone recover from the flow of tears throughout the entire room, we pulled them out side for a couple stunning sunset portraits and followed up with cake! Cake and cookies solves everything- especially apple pie filled cookies. With the formal festivities concluded, everyone got busy dancing the night away!

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Wedding Vendors

Accommodations: Holiday Inn Auburn, Ca

Ceremony and Reception Venue: Lake of the Pines Country Club

Officiant: Friend, David Silva

Floral Decor: Bellevue Floral Co

Wedding Cake: Madonna Inn Bakery

Desserts & Treats Table: The Cookie Connection

Videographer: John Silva Video Production

DJ: Chad Stalzer Productions

Hair and Makeup Artist: Minx Salon and Spa

 

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