Rancho Camulos Wedding ~ Cheryl and Sara

Rancho Camulos is a wedding photographer’s dream.

There are so many amazing spaces and details to work with and the staff allows you to really embrace everything the venue has to offer.  Cheryl and Sara’s wedding was filled with romantic details that complimented the rustic ranch perfectly.

Rancho Camulos Wedding PhotographyRancho Camulos Wedding Photography

I could not get enough of Cheryl and Sara’s bouquets!  They matched each other’s personalities.  The wooden blocks have their parents’ wedding pictures on them.Rancho Camulos Wedding PhotographyRancho Camulos Wedding Photography

Each bride put on her dress separately with the help of family and friends.Rancho Camulos Wedding PhotographyRancho Camulos Wedding PhotographyRancho Camulos Wedding PhotographyRancho Camulos Wedding PhotographyRancho Camulos Wedding PhotographyRancho Camulos Wedding Photography

Once Sara was ready, she went outside to see her dad.Rancho Camulos Wedding Photographer

Then it was time for the brides to see each other in their dresses for the first time!Rancho Camulos Wedding Photography

My second photographer, Jessica and I couldn’t help but giggle with happiness during Cheryl and Sara’s First Look.  They kept complimenting each other and their excitement was contagious.

“You look so pretty!”

“I love your hair!”

“I love your dress!”

I love YOUR dress!”

I seriously could have just spent the rest of the day in that moment.

Rancho Camulos Wedding PhotographyRancho Camulos Wedding Photography

Rancho Camulos Wedding Photography

As Cheryl and I were walking downstairs we turned around and saw Sara looking out a window.

We both gasped at her beauty.

Then of course we needed to take pictures by the window!

Rancho Camulos Wedding Photography

Cheryl’s parents had arrived so we set up a moment for Cheryl’s dad to see her in her wedding dress.Rancho Camulos Wedding Photography

After a little water break, it was time for the gorgeous wedding ceremony underneath a large tree filled with golden fall leaves.Ventura Same Sex WeddingVentura Same Sex WeddingVentura Same Sex WeddingVentura Same Sex WeddingVentura Same Sex WeddingVentura Same Sex WeddingVentura Same Sex Wedding

Rancho Camulos has an old winery on it’s property.

It’s normally fenced in for protection, but during weddings the security guard opens the gate for you to take pictures!Ventura Same Sex Wedding

Sara had a model moment with some vintage farming equipment as a tribute to her grandpa.Ranch Wedding in Ventura

Photographing Cheryl in the orange groves was the highlight of my 2014 wedding season.

I was basically jumping up and down out of excitement and Cheryl laughed and went along with it.  Seriously, how often do you get to photograph an incredible bride twirling around in a wedding dress at sunset in an orange grove?

It was perfection.Ranch Wedding in VenturaRanch Wedding in Ventura

After all that excitement, we still had their wedding reception to get to!Ranch Wedding in VenturaRanch Wedding in VenturaRanch Wedding in VenturaRanch Wedding in VenturaRanch Wedding in VenturaRanch Wedding in VenturaCheryl and Sara, I adore the two of you.  Congratulations on your beautiful wedding, marriage and new life together!

Venue: Rancho Camulos
Wedding Photography: Kimberly April Photography
Hair & Makeup: Janelle Lewis
Catering: Stonefire Grill
Cake: Hannah Edwards
Flowers: Wendy Meade & Melissa Ison

Lighting: Wendee’s Occasions
Music: DJ JA-O
Rentals: I See Party Rentals
Bartender: The Traveling Bartender

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Alternative Options for Taking Pictures Before the Ceremony

There are plenty of ways to have a First Look without actually seeing each other.

What is a First Look?  A First Look when the bride and groom see each other before the wedding ceremony and have that moment photographed.  For all the reasons why I think it’s a great idea, read Part 1 of this series here.  If you know you want to stick with tradition, but still want to have a special moment similar to a First Look, here are 3 options to consider.

Alternative Options to a First Look1.  Write notes to each other to be delivered before your ceremony.

I love when couples take the time to write notes to each other.  As you read your note it gives you a chance to tune out all the organized chaos around you and concentrate on the love you share with your fiancé.  If you do decide to share notes with each other, make sure you let your photographer know so they’re ready to photograph the moment of each of you reading it.

Alternative Options to a First Look2.  Talk to each other around a corner.

When all you really want to do is hear your fiancé’s voice and a phone call won’t do, set up a moment to talk to each other with a barrier in between you.  Don’t be surprised if the temptation to reach out around the corner is too much to resist.

Alternative Options to a First Look3.  Do a First Look with your dad.

For all the Daddy’s Girls out there, why not do a First Look with your dad?  Sometimes the moment your dad sees you for the first time in your wedding dress is even more emotional than when your fiancé sees you for the first time.  I’ve seen many tough dads be brought to tears at the sight of their daughters as a bride.

Don’t forget to read Part 1 of this series which explains the history behind hiding the bride from the groom and why you might not want to stick with tradition.

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Should you see each other before the wedding ceremony?

Whether or not to see each other before the wedding ceremony can be a tough decision for couples.

There are a few thoughts that usually come to mind.  Will it be bad luck to see each other before the wedding ceremony?  We don’t want to break tradition. Will it take away from the moment of the groom seeing the bride when she walks down the aisle?

To help you decide the best option for you and your future spouse, lets go over a little history, some pros to seeing each other before the ceremony and some alternative ideas that will still keep the bride hidden from the groom.

Wedding First LookHistory of Keeping the Bride hidden from the Groom.

Back in the day of arranged marriages weddings were business deals, not a romantic expression of love and commitment between two people.  Brides and grooms typically did not see each other at all before the wedding.  It lowered the chance of them looking at each other and changing their minds which would bring shame to their families.  A veil was also used to hide the bride until the last possible second (in addition to protecting her from evil spirits and maintaing her purity).

My guess is you’ve probably already seen your fiancé.  You might even live together.  Technically, you’ve already broken tradition, but that’s ok!  It’s still perfectly fine if you want to wait to see each other before you walk down the aisle.  As I always tell my couples, it’s your wedding.  You decide what works best for you.

Seeing each other before the ceremonyPros of Seeing each other before the Wedding Ceremony

Calm Your Nerves

My number one reason for suggesting couples see each other before the ceremony is to calm their nerves.  On the day of the wedding one or both of you is bound to be nervous. Being able to have a reassuring moment with the one you love does wonders for calming the butterflies in your stomach.  At my wedding, I was incredibly nervous.  Seeing my future husband was the only thing that really helped me relax and enjoy the moment.

Letting him see you before the ceremony.Crying and Makeup

You may not be a very emotional person, but something about weddings brings out the crier in all of us.  Having a quiet moment to yourselves to see each other and let the tears flow without judgement can be a huge relief.  You can let your guard down and fully react to the excitement that you’re about to marry this amazing person in front of you.  After you have had time to talk to each other and embrace the moment, you’ll have time to touch up your makeup before all of your guests see you walk down the aisle.

What is a first look?More Time for Pictures

Considering the fact that I’m a wedding photographer, I’m sure you knew this one was coming.  Having an hour for pictures before the ceremony makes a huge difference if you really want those gorgeous wedding pictures you saw on Pinterest.  After the ceremony, the last thing you’re going to want to do as a newly married couple is spend your entire cocktail hour doing family pictures, bridal party pictures and then with whatever time is left, portraits of you and and your new partner in life.  By seeing each other before the ceremony and allowing more time for pictures, you can have more time to relax after the ceremony with just the two of you before joining the party!

Make sure to come back to the blog tomorrow for Part 2, where we’ll discuss alternative options if you definitely want to wait to see each other until you walk down the aisle.

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[…] and have that moment photographed.  For all the reasons why I think it’s a great idea, read Part 1 of this series here.  If you know you want to stick with tradition, but still want to have a special moment similar to […]

Dana Point Wedding ~ Erika & Rigo

A beautiful ocean view wedding in Dana Point, California filled with personal details.

I loved Erika from the moment I met her to talk about her wedding plans.  She was so organized and had the perfect balance of being excited about her wedding and being excited about marrying her best friend.

Her wedding day started at her mom’s house in Orange County with her bridesmaids.

Dana Point Wedding PhotographerDana Point Wedding Photographer

As many of you know, I absolutely adore dogs so when Erika’s mom’s dog jumped on the bed and became the watchdog for the wedding dress, I was beyond excited to photograph it!Dana Point Wedding PhotographerDana Point Wedding PhotographerDana Point Wedding PhotographerDana Point Wedding PhotographerDana Point Wedding PhotographerDana Point Wedding PhotographerDana Point Wedding PhotographerDana Point Wedding PhotographerDana Point Wedding Photographer

Most people nowadays have blended families.  It can be hard to figure out how to honor the important people in your life at your wedding when traditional roles are not a perfect fit.  I loved Erika’s decision to have her stepfather walk her halfway down the aisle, and her father walk her the rest of the way.Lantern Bay Park Wedding PicturesLantern Bay Park Wedding PicturesLantern Bay Park Wedding PicturesLantern Bay Park Wedding PicturesLantern Bay Park Wedding PicturesLantern Bay Park Wedding PicturesLantern Bay Park Wedding PicturesLantern Bay Park Wedding PicturesLantern Bay Park Wedding PicturesLantern Bay Park Wedding Pictures

Walking along the tall pine trees at Lantern Bay Park make the arriving at the cliff overlooking the ocean even more dramatic.Lantern Bay Park Wedding PicturesLantern Bay Park Wedding Pictures

Erika reminds me of Cinderella leaving the ball as she turns towards the Laguna Cliffs Marriott.Lantern Bay Park Wedding PicturesRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, California

The wedding reception was held at the OC Sailing and Events Center just down the hill from Lantern Bay Park.Rustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, California

For couples who prefer to share the spotlight, it’s always fun when the DJ invites all of the parents and children to the dance floor for the Father-Daughter Dance and Mother-Son Dance.Rustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, California

My favorite part of photographing weddings at Dana Point Harbor is the breathtaking views just steps away from the reception.Rustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, CaliforniaRustic Wedding Reception in Dana Point, California

Congratulations Erika and Rigo!  Your joy and love for each other was so much fun to photograph.

Ceremony Location: Lantern Bay Park
Reception Venue: OC Sailing and Events Center
Wedding Photography: Kimberly April Photography
Catering: Summit Events Catering
Makeup: Monique Danforth
Hair: Laurel Poppin
Cupcakes: Sprinkles
Florals: Blooms by the Box

13th Birthday Photo Shoot ~ Danielle

Today is Danielle’s 13th birthday!

To celebrate such an exciting moment in her life, we did a fun photo shoot on a beautiful day at San Clemente Pier.

13th Birthday Photo ShootSan Clemente Pier PortraitsOrange County Teen PortraitsBeach Portraits13th Birthday PicturesPhoto Shoot for teensAdorable Teen Portraits

The last time I saw Danielle she was a junior bride in her mom’s wedding.  It was so much fun chatting with her and seeing the beautiful young lady she’s become.

Danielle, I hope you have a wonderful birthday that is just as lovely as you are!