When was the last time you met one of those people that you click with right away and they just stick with you? They have reserved a special part of your heart. Dana has been one of those people. She exudes kindness, gentleness and joy. Meeting her brings an immediate comfort and welcomed sense of belonging. Our first meeting was for a family portrait session to celebrate her stepmother’s birthday where I had the opportunity to meet the whole family. It was a wonderful poolside afternoon where family time was clearly the highest priority for all of them.
So, when Dana called me months later about her wedding, I was over the moon excited for her! I had no doubt that her fiancé would be just as great as Dana is. He would have to be to deserve her and Paul most definitely does!
The wedding was a destination wedding with family and closest friends only. They rented a few rooms at the Triada Boutique Hotel in downtown Palm Springs. It was perfect both in style and walking distance to Copley’s on Palm Canyon restaurant for the ceremony and dinner. As with the previous family session, the day was relaxed and focused on spending quality time with those most important in their lives.
Their wedding was intimate, but so dearly special. It wasn’t about the flowers and centerpieces, though it was visually stunning. It wasn’t about Dana’s dress, though she radiated poise and glamour all day long. It was special because their love and commitment was palpable. Their expressions of joy and reverent understanding of their vows were unlike any other ceremony I have seen. Watching them made my heart melt and left tears and check-hurting-smiles on every face witnesses this incredible moment.
One thing that was very obvious from the moment I met Dana was how close she was to her father and how much she dearly loved him. When I first met them at the family session, he was doing really well even though they were aware of present health issues. When Dana’s wedding day had come, it was a treasured moment for both of them to have her dad still able to walk her down the aisle. He stood up as tall as he could and joined her down that aisle with such pride and pure love for his baby girl! A smile never left his face for a moment throughout the entire day.
I remember the pastor summarizing parts of Romans during their vows. He spoke wisdom and hearts of service over them and their marriage while Dana and Paul stood close, wide-eyed with eager excitement to fulfill the purpose given to them. This heart of serving each other and those around them was not new, nor would it be a leap to achieve it. They already embodied love and service. “Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. We must not just please ourselves. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. When people are in need, be ready to help them do what is right and build them up in the Lord. Always be eager to practice hospitality. May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other,” (Summaries of Romans 12 & 15)
The pre-ceremony and post-ceremony were both a beautiful time of greetings and socializing in the front courtyard at Copley’s Palm Springs. With delightful drinks in hand, a mountain backdrop and a pleasant fireplace, family and friends all blended together into one large chosen family. Some family traveled across the globe to meet others for the first time, some see each other every day. None of that really mattered, they all caught up on time past, delighted in the union they were gathered for and shared bursts of laughter over memories and shenanigans. Soon after sunset, dinner was served on the patio under a starlit sky and the glow of surrounding candles.
It’s been 1 year since Dana and Paul’s wedding. I received an email from Dana about a week ago. “Your work is precious to the families you work with. We buried my father after a long illness this week, and the beautiful pictures you took of us at my stepmom’s birthday two years ago and at my wedding last year are now family treasures. The collection of pictures we have of him from both events has made us smile time and again over the last week. And, of course, we are so grateful that he was at our wedding that you captured so beautifully.” My heart sunk and broke for her and the family. I don’t recall him saying much at either event. But we can often know a person, by the people and relationships they surround themselves with and by legacy they leave behind. There is 100% evidence to know that this was a truly good man. He raised one impressive woman!
It is a good reminder to treasure those we love, tell them, invest in them and photograph every moment we can.
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Copley’s on Palm Canyon
Accommodations and Pre-Ceremony: Triada Boutique Hotel
Floral Arrangements: David Rohr Floral Studio
Wedding Cake: Exquisite Desserts
Catering: Copley’s on Palm Canyon