Wow! Is it August already? Time does fly when you are having fun. Looking back on my summer, I’ve been keeping busy photographing weddings and spending the remaining free moments mountain biking around the mountains of Bozeman, Montana. Life is good. I feel lucky to have found such happiness and fulfillment in documenting the love of others with my camera. It’s a continual reaffirmation that fills me with gratitude daily. The only thing better than documenting the big day of my new wedding clients are those times when an opportunity to document a good friend’s wedding comes around. A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of watching my buddy Levi marry the love of his life Christina in a beautiful and intimate ceremony on a family friend’s property outside of Manhattan, Montana. Levi and his family have been dear friends of mine for many years running. Having grown up in Bozeman, Levi was the guy who introduced me to great people and many places to explore when I first moved to Bozeman and I didn’t know a soul. It was a kindness extended at the time to the new guy in town that I will always be grateful for. I had been looking forward to them tying the knot for some time now. These two love birds met at a kundalini yoga retreat and quickly fostered a strong bond with each other. When it came time to planning their wedding, they decided to have a small ceremony with close friends and relatives contributing food in a potluck fashion. It worked out great. Their wedding day was simple but elegant collaboration. It’s was a great feeling to watch my friend be filled with such joy at having found a wonderful woman and partner in Christina. Here are some favorites from their wedding day. I wish them a lifetime of happiness! -M

 To see all of their wedding photos and to buy prints, go here.

 To see their Photobooth photos, go here.

A couple weekends ago I traveled down to the small Idaho town of Rigby near Idaho Falls to photograph the country garden wedding of Hope and Jeffery. I met the two last summer when I was photographing her sister Ashley’s wedding day in the Montana Bitterroot Valley. It was so great to celebrate another wedding with their family again. Hope and Jeffery had their wedding at her grandparents country garden home, a beautiful property covered with flowers, produce, horse pastures and cottonwood stands which left all onlookers to admire the artistic touch of two master gardeners. Her grandparents said they collected over 30 gallons of raspberries alone last year. I love seeing wedding couples take the idea of a wedding and make it all their own. These two were no exception. Hope and Jeffery were able to blend a country wedding with Jeffery’s Japanese roots. His relatives folded 1000 paper cranes and then hung them intermixed with lights all in a large cottonwood tree which made for a beautiful ambience. The food had a wonderful homemade touch. They had many mouths to feed since about 360 guests were invited. The riddle was solved by having a caterer make pulled pork BBQ. Rather then create an exorbitant wedding cake, they opted for a smaller wedding cake from a fancy bakery then the family cooks united and made dozens of homemade pies, a delicious personal touch to a wedding day food menu. Once bellies were full the night entertainment began. Drinks were poured and the moment the DJ cued the music, the dance floor got busy. Yard games, a photo booth and an epic candy bar assisted in keeping spirits and sugar levels high into the late evening. Smiles were seen all around. In all, it was a beautiful day and I was thrilled to be apart of it. I wish Hope and Jeffery all the best! -Mike

To see all of their wedding day photos, you can view them here.

The Wedding Team:

Cherz & Co. Salon – Hair and makeup by Kellie & Kristie Stolworthy – Idaho falls, Idaho

North Hi-Way Cafe – BBQ catering – Idaho Falls, Idaho

Master DJ – music man Tony Schmitz – Omaha, Nebraska

Montana! I love it! Especially when it means I get to make a road trip through the state to photograph a wedding up near Glacier National Park. A couple weeks ago, I headed north towards Bigfork, Montana where I photographed Cierra & Brian’s wedding day festivities at the Cougar Trail Ranch. These newlyweds have been making a life together working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but decided they wanted to marry closer to home, their friends and their family and opted for a Montana wedding. The place they found, the Cougar Trail Ranch, was in a classic northwest Montana setting complete with dense, surrounding lodge pole pine forests that opened into golden grass pastures bordering the property line. The big fancy house offered tons of space for the wedding party staging and it’s huge big windows offered this photographer great light to work with. Cierra, an old college rugby friend of mine, contacted me about a year in advance to book my wedding photography services and it was great to finally watch her walk down the isle to marry the boy of her dreams. It never gets old photographing the weddings of old buddies. The day went off without a hitch. As the festivities turned to dancing, I struggled to hold in my laughter at the sight of seeing some of the wedding guests cut loose and begin tossing kids into the air as they danced, celebrated and sang the words to every DJ song. It was one big, awesome Montana party! Such wonderful energy throughout. I had a blast documenting these guys. I wish them all the best for many years to come. -M

 

To see Cierra & Brian’s entire wedding click here.

Whew! I’ve finally started to decompress from my fun, but busy 2011 wedding season. In my new found free time, I’ve been able to go back through my back log of vacation images and a few wedding assistant gigs that I have been meaning to process. Despite my busy wedding schedule this past summer in Sacramento,  I did actually get to attend one wedding as a guest. In between my Montana wedding and trip to Colorado for a Geekfest photojournalism summit back in early September, I hopped a flight to Chicago O’Hare Airport to return to my old stomping ground of Crystal Lake, Illinois for the wedding of my good ol’ high school buddy Karisa. I’m at that age now where more and more of my close friends are tying the knot especially all of my friends from high school living in the Midwest. It’s one thing to witness and photograph the wedding of my clients and another to witness the union of someone you’ve known since adolescence. Karisa is one of the few people I’ve managed to stay in touch with since graduating from high school. When I sought out the outdoor recreation bliss in the Rocky Mountains of Montana for college, she headed east to attend Dartmouth College to pursue her love of acting on stage. As the years have progressed, I’ve watched with excitement and pride as she has climbed that ladder of success in her craft. She is a Renaissance woman whose acting pursuits have branched into small movie roles, commercial shoots, on stage plays and comedy improv troops in the Chicago scene. So it’s only natural that the man she would fall in love with would be from that creative environment. Karisa met Scott when they were cast together four years ago on an Chicago improv group together called Counterproductive Lover. “We make each other laugh, so that’s absolutely a cornerstone in our relationship,” said Karisa. The group continues to regularly rehearse and perform long-form improv together and I even managed to catch a show of theirs a few years back. These days the two stay pretty busy working full time as actors. Scott is coming of his recent success with a show he was in at the famous Second City comedy club and Karisa recently finished up a commercial shoot for US Bank. From what I can tell, acting is not an easy road to venture so it give me a lot of joy to see these two making waves.

I was looking forward to their wedding day. It would be a good opportunity to visit with past friends and also because it would be the first time in a while that I could actually celebrate a wedding properly without having the obligations of producing wedding photos for a client. Karisa wanted to make sure I would enjoy the party properly and not be working it. Alas, you can’t take the photographer out of the boy. I couldn’t resist bringing along a camera and lens just in case I came across a scene worth documenting. And I found many scenes. In between socializing, dancing and drinking in celebration, I made a few wedding photographs that stood out to me during my editing session. I used the occasion to experiment a little but mostly I used it as more of a snapshot approach. Some things worked others not so much. But that was okay. I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

Karisa and Scott decided to have their ceremony and reception in the beautiful backyard of her parents home in Cary, Illinois. When planning their big day, the emphasis was to have it feel very personable and reflect their style. Much of it was put together with the help of family and friends. Karisa designed the wedding invites and all other paper stuff which were then assembled and printed at home. The bouquets were made by family members. Instead of a DJ, they opted for the do it yourself iTunes playlist where they picked their favorite songs. This worked for a while until their computer crashed. (Something to think about for your own wedding entertainment). Luckily, there were no shortages of personel iPods around and her friends took turns spending the rest of the evening choosing songs to play and dance to. For other items at their wedding, they went for the professional approach. They had their wedding photography shot by Chicago based photographer and fellow WPJA member Allison Williams and their photo booth set up by their friend Rob Strong. Karisa and her bridesmaids had her hair and make up done by Jennifer at Jen J Style. The wedding was catered by a great Mediterranean buffet-styled grill called Roti. They also had the great idea for having a local food truck which allowed guests to make after dinner smoothies, wild game sausages, and coffee drinks. You could not have asked for a nicer day. I am so glad I was able to see it. Here are a couple photos that I made from their wedding day. I wish these two all the best! -M

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of new found friends Krysta and Nathan in Chico, California. The two are making a life together down in Irvine, California – Krysta works in the insurance industry and Nathan works as a software company programmer that services the broadcasting industry. After two years of dating, they got engaged and decided to marry at Nathan’s parent’s home in Chico. It always amazes me hearing the different stories of how my clients find each other. The two are southern California natives and I was surprised to learn that these two had both gone to the same high school down in Orange County near Los Angeles but never knew each other. It was only after finding each other on the online dating site match.com years later that they finally connected. Funny how two lives can run so close and parallel to each other but not cross paths until much later in life. When it came time to plan out their wedding, they opted for the homemade, do-it-yourself approach which was assisted by the whole family. They bought organic flowers from California Organic Flowers and made their own cute bouquets, boutonnières and table settings set in old mason jars. Her sisters Rachel & Alyssa along with close friends Robyn, Macy, Mike, Trevor and Mansur scattered the yard and swimming pool with mini electric candles and rubber duckies for the ambiance and helped set up the tables, chairs, linens and plates that were rented from A & J Party Center for the reception. Aunt Arlene made their wedding cake which was decorated with the leftover flowers, Nathan’s father cooked the dinner and the rest of their family and friends helped with the finishing touches like bubbles blowing vials for their married walk back down the isle. Their wedding ceremony and reception took place in the backyard of Nathan’s parents home. In all, everything came together and they pulled off a small, yet lovely wedding day that had the stamp of Krysta and Nathan’s own unique personalities throughout. It turned out great.

Certain things for their wedding day they did leave up to wedding professionals. The girls had their hair spruced up by the talented Costa Mesa hair stylist Ona Zimmerman, of Gods & Heros Hair Stylists, and their makeup done by Sacramento wedding and bridal makeup artist Jill Briggs, of BeautyBox Makeup Artists. We all spent the morning laughing and chatting as Ona and Jill did their styling magic on the girls while they sipped pink cosmopolitans and did the last minute prepping for the wedding ceremony. The other professional task concerned their wedding photography. For this task they reached out to Greener Visuals Wedding Photography to capture and document their big day celebration. The two located me through the power of Google and found a previous wedding I had photographed in Bidwell Park near downtown Chico. I can’t think of a better excuse to visit Chico than to photograph a wedding. I have always had so much fun visiting Chico and their wedding didn’t disappoint. The weather was picture perfect. After the wedding party was all dressed, we headed to the beautiful wooded scenery of Bidwell Park to make some family and bridal party portraits before returning for the ceremony. I had such a great time getting to know their friends and family. With everyone helping out to make this wedding special, it was apparent just how much love Krysta and Nathan have surrounding them. I wish them all the very best. Congratulations you guys! -M

To see all of the wedding images of Krysta and Nathan’s wedding day please click here.

The first weekend in May I had the pleasure of photographing Gillian and Jeff’s wedding day at the beautiful Firehouse Restaurant in Old Town Sacramento. You could not have asked for a nicer day. The comfortable mid day California sunshine warmed down on their outdoor wedding where big oak trees gave a lovely cool shade over the festivities. I met Gillian and Jeff back in February through a wonderful wedding planner I’ve been working with named Catrina Arcularius of Catrina Maria Designs. Right from the get go of our first meeting in Sacramento, we hit it off. We talked for a solid hour and I learned all about their story. Gillian through the encouragement of her good friend Bianca (who would eventually be her maid of honor) and Jeff upon the suggestion of some friends met through the online dating site called JDate, a jewish community online for dating jewish singles. Neither of them had ever used the online dating service before yet on their first date back on July 9th, 2009, they found an instant attraction to each other and have been dating ever since. The two have made a life together in the San Francisco Bay Area Gillian as a lawyer and Jeff as an entrepreneur while sharing a love for each other and dogs. They were quick to tell me all about the antics of their two border collie/chow mix dogs Lila and Maggie. The way these two talked, joked and looked at one another during our meet up it was apparent that they are just crazy for each other. I had no doubts that they would be a great fun couple to photograph on their wedding day.

And they did not disappoint. It was the first time I had ever photographed a Jewish wedding ceremony. It was great to see how other faiths celebrate the union of two individuals. The wedding was beautiful. Between my assistant Brad Zweerink and I we ended up talking over 6300 photographs from the wedding. With so many smiling faces, great finger foods, friendly guests and plenty of dancing that kept everyone entertained throughout the afternoon, it was hard to stop photographing all the great moments in front of me. Catrina along with Shannon and The Firehouse Restaurant staff created a beautiful outdoor atmosphere and layout across the brick patio while flower arrangements from florist Cheryl Sage of Accents by Sage added just the right amount of spring colors to the mix. Subtle yet elegant. To see more photos from their Sacramento wedding you can seeing their wedding story here and their entire photo take here.

Yet another fun day celebrating with and photographing some new friends. I wish Gillian and Jeff all the best. -M

Yay for weddings! Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel back to sweet home Chicago for an old friend’s wedding. Adam and his new bride April called me a couple months ago and asked if I would help document their wedding day. I always feel very lucky to be apart of the wedding day of old friends. This one was no exception. From the moment I arrived, it was literally a blast from the past and quickly turned into a high school reunion. After so many years away, living out in Montana and now California, I don’t get as many chances to make it back to home to visit. Adam and I played football together at Prairie Ridge High School and April attended school with my younger brother Eric. Despite a threatening Midwest thunderstorm, the wedding went off without a hitch. It was so great to see so many familiar faces all grown up. I had an absolute great time documenting these guys. Crazy, summer humidity and all.

Here are some of my favorite images from the day. I’m anxious to hear what you all think. This is a mere small sampling of the 4000 images I made that day. I suppose that is to be expected when you have so many old friends around dancing the night away. There are too many good people to take photos of. To see all of the photos from their wedding day go here. I wish these guys all the best. -M

Last weekend I had the pleasure of photographing an old friend and colleague’s wedding in Chico, California. I worked with Lauren when I was a staff photographer at the Record Searchlight newspaper in Redding, California. At the time, she was a reporter and for over a year, we would accompany each other to assignments around the town. You really get to know your colleagues well at a newspaper because you are all working together to put out the newspaper everyday. Often times while waiting for an assignment to begin, conversations turn to personal stories and day-to-day ramblings in your life. For me it was always about my latest fishing trip. For Lauren it was her boyfriend in Chico. For as long as I’ve known Lauren, she was living in Chico and then would commute up to Redding for work. An hour drive on a good day. I could never understand why anyone would willingly put themselves through that kind of inconvenience. And during our assignments together, I would constantly let her know I thought she was crazy. Looking back on it, I don’t think I was seeing the big picture. Her reasoning was always the same. She kept talking about her wonderful boyfriend turned fiancée now husband Richard and the life they were living together in Chico. When Lauren called me up a couple months ago asking me to shoot their wedding, I just had to smile. It was a long time coming. Last weekend I finally got to meet Richard and from the very moment I saw them together, it was clear that they were head over heals for each other. I realize now that her driving commute was small sacrifice compared to the overall happiness that these two shared together as a couple. To Lauren it was well worth it. Ah, the things you do for love. It’s good to see.

The wedding was a lot of fun to shoot. A beautiful outdoor ceremony in Bidwell Park then the wedding party walked through downtown to the reception. You couldn’t ask for a nicer day. I love watching friends get married through my lens. Here is a sampling of photographs from the wedding. To view more wedding photos you can find them here.