Missions, missions, missions!
I first met these two awesome people at The Mission Inn located in downtown Riverside for their engagement session. They were relaxing and having a drink at the Presidential lounge when I walked in, and I joined them for a few minutes to let them know what to expect from the day. For the next hour we walked around the Mission Inn and shot at several of my favorite spots that I have learned after shooting over 25 weddings there. We actually got kicked out right at the end of our shoot because you're supposed to have special permission to take pictures on the grounds, so luckily we had already gotten our shots for the day. They were so easy going and fun, I knew that we were going to have a great time together on their wedding day.
Fast forward many months and the big day finally arrived. The Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano is a gorgeous church with lots of light and an enormous domed ceiling. When I arrived, Kyle was patiently sitting in a pew by himself hidden away from the guests with a large smile on his face. He wasn't nervous in the least, and had all the confidence of somebody who knew that this is exactly where he was supposed to be.
The music began, and after the bridal party walked down the aisle the bride was escorted in by her father. It was my first time seeing her that day, and she looked absolutely radiant. It was a nice hour long ceremony with lots of love and a very welcoming vibe. Kyle and Colleen shared many sweet moments together as they sat, knelt, and stood next to each other through the various songs, readings, rituals, and sermons. When they finally walked down the aisle together it was with huge smiles and laughs, as if this was merely a formality in a life filled with love that they were already living.
We walked next door to the old Mission grounds and spent the next hour and a half taking bridal party and family portraits. It was a photographers dream playground. Gardens, courtyards, fountains, brick archways, hidden alcoves, and spanish architecture filled my eyes at every turn. It was literally one of those locations that you walk twenty feet then stop to take a picture and repeat. The bridal party was awesome and I had them climbing all over the place to capture epic pictures. I even told them to act like lions and tigers and they did! People will do whatever you want when you have a professional camera in your hand!
The reception venue was at the San Juan Hills Golf Club only a mile away from the Mission Basilica. Kyle and Colleen had rented a vintage Ford Mustang convertible in the most amazing blue to drive for the day, and upon seeing it I knew that we were going to have to find some awesome way to get unique shots with it. The coordinator at the Golf Club gave me special permission to drive it up onto the green by the 18th hole, and the shots I took were everything and more than I had imagined in my head. Kyle and Colleen had a soft grand entrance, meaning they basically just walked in to the outdoor reception unannounced and started mingling with their guests. There was a bean bag toss and other games, wine tasting bar, and lots of finger foods to snack on while guests continued to arrive. Everyone was momentarily called inside to the dance floor for Kyle and Colleen's first dance together, which they had secretly been working on and had choreographed just for this moment. It had all the guests laughing and cheering!
The rest of the evening was nothing short of amazing. The weather was perfect and the choice of having all of the tables and chairs set up outside on the patio with the golf course in the background was what every photographer hopes for. There are times in weddings where the speeches are long and uncomfortable...but this wasn't one of those times. The best man shared many stories that gave insight into the character of Kyle and Colleen, and Colleen's Dad had everyone in tears by the end of his toast. The father/daughter dance and mother/son dance also had everyone reaching for a tissue or handkerchief.
After shooting this wedding, I knew I would have to edit a bunch of pics the next day to share. Here they are! Thanks again to Kyle and Colleen for including me in their big day and making it so enjoyable.