Craig and Kayla first stepped in front of my camera at a cabin in the mountains on the way to Big Bear and I had an absolute blast taking their engagement photos. I worked up a sweat trying to clear debris off of a large tree that had fallen across a stream, only to fall off of it myself in the process (one of the many hazards of being a photographer). Craig and I instantly hit it off with our shared love of super hero movies and Kayla was very patient with our nerdiness. The sun was setting perfectly behind the trees for our shoot and I took some of my favorite engagement shots ever that day.
I had never shot a wedding yet at their chosen venue, The Highland Springs Resort, as of the time they booked me. I had attended the Lavender Festival on the same grounds and was excited to shoot photos on the gorgeous fields that it had to offer. Having an opportunity to shoot at this amazing outdoor venue at sunset for a wedding was something I was looking forward to for months, so I couldn't wait for their big day to arrive. Craig and I even bumped into each other at Chipotle while we were both grabbing lunch one day, and he was just as pumped up for the wedding pics (if not more) than I was.
It was 92 degrees outside when I showed up at the groom's room at the Highland Springs Resort at 3:30pm on the Fourth of July. The guys had a full size billiards table in their room and were busy getting into their suits (sans jackets, probably because of the heat) when I walked in. Craig was shirtless and I couldn't resist getting him to pose laying across the pool table for an improvised "dude-doir" shoot to show Kayla later. He is a great sport and always goes with my goofy ideas (I even had him lift a large log and pose with it on his shoulder next to Kayla during the engagement shoot).
The Highland Springs Resort has lots of tall trees and shade everywhere, so luckily we were able to keep everyone from melting during our pre-ceremony bridesmaid and groomsmen pictures. The junior groomsmen were a big help in lifting vintage couches to and from the various locations we were taking photos at, even in the extreme heat, so kudos to them. The ceremony site was in front of the world's second largest Oak tree (1,100 years old), which I'm sure is home to all sorts of fairies, elves, and other mystical woodland creatures. The sky was pure blue with only a few clouds by the horizon as Kayla's father escorted her down the aisle. You could see the emotion on his face as he handed her off to Craig, who was patiently waiting under the leaves of the massive old Oak. It was a short and sweet ceremony, and Kayla's step-father did a great job presiding over the event as tears were shed, personal vows were shared, and scriptures were read. After Craig and Kayla sealed the moment with a kiss, they were showered with lavender seeds from the crowd as the made their way back down the aisle as husband and wife.
After family pictures I grabbed the bridal party to head into the lavender fields for some shots in its rolling sea of purple as the sun began to set. Meanwhile, the guest were enjoying cocktail hour in the trees nestled only a few feet from the fields. Under the large canopy of olive trees, guests were able to play oversized versions of Jenga and Chess along with bean-bag toss, and there was a photobooth with props printing out their silly photos on the spot. There was also lots of old vintage furniture to take pictures on, and the whole setup was lit by strung up lights and candles. It really looked and felt like a step back in time.
One of the highlights of the evening was when Craig sang to Kayla as her father danced with her, which even though he is an admittedly horrible singer still left every eye in the place wet (including mine). Kayla threw her bouquet into a string of lights, and one of the girls still snagged it without letting it hit the ground. I was able to steal Craig and Kayla away before they could touch their dinner in order to take the golden light pictures that you will see below. The location and lighting was more than I could've hoped for, and I definitely took advantage of as much time as I could with their romantic photos without putting the evening's schedule behind too much. Kayla's flower girl, her great-grandmother, also came out to the dance floor during Sir-Mix-A-Lot's "I like big butts," which got all the bridesmaids cheering.
It wouldn't be a true Fourth of July without fireworks, and we were treated to a couple of shows off in the distance during the reception. Craig and Kayla also had a giant sendoff between two rows of sparklers held up by all of their loved ones. It was an amazing day and I took some of my favorite wedding photos to date. I wish the best to Kayla and Craig in their life together and I better get the phone call to shoot their future newborn children wearing super hero outfits!