Tag Archives: handmade

J + TJ’s Rustic Handmade Colorado Ranch Wedding (With Rainbows and a Rodeo Arena Reception)!

08 | 03 | 2011

Now, finally on to Jess and TJ’s actual wedding day!  By the morning of the wedding, it really did feel—as Jess and TJ had so hoped and schemed—like everyone there was one big family.   We woke before dawn to take in the “jingle” with some of TJ’s cousins.  Then, everybody else began readying themselves for the day.  I’m not sure what I could really say to do this wedding justice, so I’m keeping my notes uncharacteristically brief.

Jess and TJ saw each other for the first time in a wide open field, a couple of hours before the ceremony was scheduled to start.  We had planned to make a bunch of portraits during that time … but it started to rain just as they finished with that first quiet moment, so we retreated to stay dry.  Wedding party and immediate family portraits were made in the little sliver of shelter under the eaves of the barn.

Jess’s grandfather was quite the photographer in his day, and he even used to make carbro prints (the vintage photographic process on which I have the second biggest crush).  So when he asked me to make a portrait of him (with his bow tie!), I obliged using one of my favorite vintage cameras.

Jess and TJ’s wedding ceremony was perhaps my favorite part of the whole weekend.  It took place atop a cliff overlooking an incredible valley.  We loved how they made the ceremony so, so personal … and got everybody involved!  One friend officiated, others did readings, or sang songs.  Their dog, Midas, was the ring bearer (bearing the real rings). And Jess and TJ’s guests had sent them pieces of fabric with their reply cards to make a quilt that was incorporated into the ceremony.  Here’s what Jess says:

“I wrote the ceremony (which I would also recommend since it made it sooo personal for us) and as part of that, we did a “community blessing” where everyone in the audience held hands and connected all the way to us—as we were wrapped in the quilt with pieces of them all around us. It was one of my favorite moments of the ceremony, and maybe one of my favorite pics from the entire wedding (maybe also because this was when it started to pour rain!). We then used the quilt as a backdrop for our photo booth which was fun because people got to go up and pick out where their piece was on the quilt. TJ and I now have the quilt on our bed and it’s an awesome reminder of that amazing moment.”

I did my best to hide under an umbrella while the rain pour downed and keep my cameras (more or less) dryish while I was shooting (although I was more conspicuous than I would have wanted to be for sure).  But I love the photos from the recessional, with light reflecting through raindrops on my lens glass.  By then, I think I’d dashed out from under the umbrella!

Guests moved to the indoor rodeo arena for dinner, dancing, and bull-riding.  Despite the enormity of the space or the fact that it was really (really!) just a barn, Jess and TJ made it feel cozy, welcoming and even (kind of, but not too) fancy.  The warm happy color palette seemed especially appropriate after a day that had gone from clear and beautiful, to dark and stormy, to rainbows …

Below: Jess and TJ’s first dance and the beginnings of a long, happy night of dancing.

The photo booth was so fun!  You might recognize the quilt, re-purposed …

Maybe the best thing, though, was the mechanical bull!  I loved seeing everybody’s best wild west moves!  Jess made the operator buck her off (although she really, really didn’t want to buck the bride).  It was so funny!

The wedding is featured {here} today on 100 Layer Cake (hooray!).  Be sure to stop back tomorrow and Friday for photographs from Jess’s bridal session and Jess and TJ’s post-wedding love shoot, plus a peek at some of their paper goods …

photographs: Gia Canali

wedding planning: Stacy McCain; wedding design, Duet Events (the bride and her friend’s design company); florals, Sweet Pea Flowers, Denver; lighting & other magic tricks, Pink Monkey Solutions; dj: DJ Smiles Davis; dessert buffet, Tee and Cakes; venue and catering: C Lazy U Ranch

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J+TJ Rehearsal Dinner Party

08 | 02 | 2011

After Jess and TJ’s guests thoroughly wore themselves out in the field day tournament, everyone dressed up for a tented rehearsal dinner party.  It was the weekend’s most formal event.  Guests dined in a tent that opened up on a little pond and it was embellished with dressy-up, woodsy decor and lots of sweet, handmade touches.  We especially loved all the wooden table numbers, the tree-bark wrapped “vases,” and the escort card heart made of stones with each guest’s name.

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We stole Jess and TJ away for a few minutes, just before sunset for photographs along the dirt road out to the horse pasture (and spa!) at C Lazy U.   Taking a few minutes here and there out of a busy wedding weekend schedule—particularly in moments with perfect light—to make some beautiful portraits always has a huge impact on the overall coverage of your wedding. We’ll hurry you back to your guests, promise …

I think getting great wedding photographs is one part trained eyeballs (by which I mean vision) and two parts time-management, both on the part of the photographers and on the part of the couple. One little great time-management helper with multi-day weddings is to space out the group photographs across the events.  Not every family photograph needs to be on the wedding day.  We photographed Jess and TJ’s extended families separately at the rehearsal and then TJ requested this lodge-style combined family photograph, which I just love.

Jess and TJ’s friends and families also made almost all their toasts at the rehearsal dinner.  Except for a quick welcome toast from the bride’s father at the wedding reception, this freed them up on the wedding day for an uninterrupted party (!) … a fantastic bonus since it always goes by too too quickly, even when you have four days of celebrating.   This was a sweet way for everyone to get to know each other, too.

~♥~

The event is also featured {here} on 100 Layer Cake!  Come back tomorrow for more from Jess and TJ’s wedding day!

photographs: Gia Canali

event design: Duet Events (the bride’s design company); planning, Stacy McCain Events; venue and catering, C Lazy U Ranch; florals: Lisa Anderson, Sweet Pea Flowers; dessert (aka tower of awesomeness), Shamane’s Bake Shoppe, Boulder CO.

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J+TJ Hoedown!

08 | 01 | 2011

Those of you who have been reading the blog a long time know that it’s pretty rare for me to feature a whole wedding (that’s not what my blog is about!), but this wedding is going to be an exception, multiple times over to go with the myriad events that made up Jess and TJ’s celebration.  When Jess first called me about photographing her wedding at a guest ranch in Granby, Colorado, I was excited to return to the landscape of my youth.  My parents had a tiny horse ranch in the mountains nearby when I was a little girl, and I’ve always thought Colorado possesses some kind of real magic.  I thought the events of the weekend, even the ones I wasn’t slated to photograph, sounded so fun—a hoedown, a poker tournament, field day, a tented dinner party, a wedding reception in a rodeo arena—but I had no idea how exhilarating it would be to show up to an event where I would end up shooting in my mom’s old cowgirl boots and it actually made sense (really, was practically required). Nor did I realize the kind of camaraderie Jess and TJ would be cultivating amongst their friends and family before the wedding.  So often two families can’t really get to know each other before a wedding and, at least when you think of a wedding as a big send off into married life—a show of support from a couple’s community—there’s no better way to get everybody really “in” on the send off than to get folks together for days of fun together.

The hoedown was the welcome party.  And it was a real hoedown, complete with bluegrass music, bbq, lots of dancin’, a big bonfire, and cowboys “branding” guests’ boots and belts with the C Lazy U brand.   I have to think that this is one of the best weddings to be a guest at that I’ve ever been a part of.   100 Layer Cake is featuring the wedding all this week, too, and their post for the hoedown can be found {here}.

photographs: Gia Canali

event coordination / production: Stacy McCain Events, SF; event design: Duet Events (Jess’s wedding design company!); location: C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, CO; florals: Lisa Anderson, Sweet Pea Flowers, Denver; delish silverware sleeves, Miss Pickles Press.

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Brandon & Serra’s One-of-a-Kind Los Angeles Wedding with Pretty Vintage Touches

08 | 03 | 2010

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I love the sweetness of Brandon & Serra’s wedding.  Everything, everything was fashioned to be personal, to be romantic, to be sweet and meaningful.  And the results were just about perfect.  Plus, this was one of the thriftiest and most resourceful wedding planning crews I’ve encountered.  Brandon and his twin brother, Brian, are the photographers behind Twin Lens Life.  And Serra is a maven of vintage fashion, and all-things-vintage, come to think of it.  Everything from fashion to decor was handmade or scored from vintage stores and thrift shops around Los Angeles.

Below: a few photographs of Serra & Brandon getting ready. I took just a moment right before the ceremony to get a couple photographs on my 4×5 camera.

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Below: some of the ceremony details. Click any image to enlarge. Brandon & Brian made the wooden signs (that fancy W and the plumage!).  I love the lace draped tree. And the just-gathered feelings of the bouquets and arrangements.   Florals by Amanda Claverie, Rosebud Floral Design.

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Above: one of the zillion polaroids from Brandon & Serra’s wedding. Below: This ceremony was just about perfect (and complete with a rooster strolling through, if you look closely!).

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After the ceremony, while we took group photos and photos of Brandon & Serra, the guests entertained themselves with games and tea. This is handy tip to steal: have something fun for your guests to do while you do your formal photographs.  This is especially important if you plan not to see each other (and therefore not do any of the group photos before your ceremony).

It was hard to get Brandon’s twin brother, Brian, to hold still for a photo during cocktail hour. Since the boys are also wedding photographers, Brian made the rounds during cocktail hour getting a Polaroid—er, Fuji instant print—of each and every guest for the escort cards / guest book. They blogged {here} and {here} over on their blog, Twin Lens Life, about this project, which I think would be fantastic at any small wedding. Not exactly diy if you’re not a pro, but definitely handmade and one of a kind.  I’m looking forward to seeing—and doing!—more of these unique one of a kind projects at weddings, which seem to be gaining in popularity.

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Everything about this wedding was so romantically-styled, down to the tiniest detail. There were piles of old books, and gatherings of baby’s breath, an old typewriter, candles, vases of a few blooms, tiny ceramic birds. The table was like a tableau. But my favorite little details, besides the “tree” with the Polaroids that Serra and Brandon had taken together over the course of their relationship (pictured below), were their love birds, Frankie and Allie.

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A few more quiet moments before the end of the day:

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We had so much fun rotating through our (and Brandon & Brian’s!) collection of vintage film cameras, toy cameras, instant film cameras, et cetera.  I loved getting to share in the absolute joy of shooting along side other lovers-of-photography (their crafty guests were snapping as many photos as I was, it seemed!).  Congratulations, Brandon & Serra! Thanks for sharing! May your years ahead be happy and filled with lots of Polaroids! This wedding is also being featured {here} over on Snippet & Ink today!

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photographs: Gia Canali, venue: Heritage Square Museum, LA; florals: Amanda Claverie, Rosebud Floral Design; super 8mm wedding film: Tim Neilsen, Flicker Films, shown {here}; hair, Louis Santelices; pretty much everything else: handmade, thrift store or vintage shop finds.

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Things I Like: Paper (in general &) New Cards by Tiny Pine Press

06 | 15 | 2010

I’m pretty much smitten with these new business cards made just for me by Jennifer Parsons of Tiny Pine Press.  If you see me soon, you just might get one …

{but in the meantime, click any image to enlarge!}

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… which reminds me: although it’s always fun to see my photographs in print, this is maybe my favorite “press” ever—front page of the Smyth County (VA) and neighboring county newspapers, with a larger-than-life full color print made from a bleached out Fuji 100c negative.  This image of Jennifer looks somehow just right on newsprint paper.

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photographs: Gia Canali

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Jillian & Dax’s Romantic Handmade Everything California Mountain Elopement

05 | 27 | 2010

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Seeing two of your beloved friends marry is its own particular joy, and although I might be (therefore) biased in saying so, Jillian & Dax’s super-secret informal mountain wedding celebration was just about perfect: romantic, personal, and really laid-back.  Everything was handmade. Everything. And everyone who came pitched in to make the wedding happen.  One friend made the cake, another painted the wooden cake-toppers.  One friend did Jillian’s makeup (actually, the same friend who painted the cake toppers); another did Jillian’s hair.  Of course, I took the photographs.  My husband Matt was making fruit salad until just before he started taking pictures himself. Their friend, Kelly, who married them also barbequed the meat for dinner.  Lots of folks pitched in to make dinner … and the tissue paper pom poms you can just barely see in the few reception photos.  I was “off-duty” at the reception; we just set up a photo booth and let people snap pictures of themselves which are too, too hilarious to share on this blog.

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Jillian made her own wedding gown, including the pattern for it.  She deconstructed a vintage dress to make the pattern for the bodice, sewed it, and then began to work on the doilies.  It took three weeks and over two miles of crochet yarn to complete the effect.  I am still marveling at all the detail.  Nobody I know can envision a wildly ambitious project and then pull it off like Jillian can.

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If you look closely at those little cake-toppers, you’ll see that they’re “dressed” just as Jillian, Dax, and their daughter Phi were, right down to the tiniest details (even Dax’s ascot—Jillian made the real life version from the lining of her dress!).  After the cake-cutting, Jillian changed into a custom-made safari suit to match Dax’s. How cute is that?

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photographs: Gia Canali; hair, Angelina Yuge, 562.686.6200 (she is actually a makeup artist!); makeup, Nicole Burg, 818.970.9582; cake topper forms, Goose Grease Undone (she also makes custom-painted ones, here); Dax and Jillian’s custom safari suits, safarisuits.biz; flowers, LA Flower Mart, arranged by the bride.  We’re thrilled and honored that Jillian & Dax’s wedding is being featured over on {100 Layer Cake} today!

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