Where to even begin with this story is beyond me. So much love here.
October of 2018, my fellow libra soul-sister, Michelle, paying-client-turned-friend texted me with a Happy Birthday text, talk consisting of mad-love to Libra’s and all the good astrology shiz. We gabbed over the fact that she was still waiting for her recently photographed in-home session photos to be finished (she tries to be patient with me,) and also the fact she and Kenny just got engaged!
Immediately following, she sent me photos of beach resorts all throughout Hawaii. It was as if she had plotted this out from the beginning as she casually says, “you’re coming with us.”
“What. The. F*ck.” Yes, I’m 100% sure this was my response.
I think she called me and ended up swearing along side with me. She knew she wanted me to document this day for her and she showed no hesitation. Never was I put in a position like this to feel THAT WANTED. I mean, in my career. (Okay– so maybe in my love life, too…) Ha ha…
But seriously, on a logical note, there are a million and one AMAZING and incredibly talented photographers (far more than I) and I actually know a few that live on Hawaii to being some of the greatest of our time.
To be held to this honor and this privelalge was the a huge moment in my career. I’ve been manifesting travel with photography, growth in directions I’ve not yet taken and what do you know… it’s all happening.
Anyway, so within the following 6 months, she planned her small intimate Hawaii beach elopement for Kauai Beach Resort. She would constantly keep me in the loop with anything and everything. I absolutely loved it, and so did she. I was always presenting questions or suggestions and it helped BOTH of us, to keep us on the same page from beginning to end. I never thought this day was actually going to come. I’d never been to Hawaii so this was a super plus, as I got to explore one of the most beautiful locations in the world. I felt like the luckiest girl. (Seriously though, take me with you. Wherever you go. And if you do, it will be worth it.)
This resort was beautiful. The staff were so friendly and always helpful. Had such a great experience here, which is always nice when traveling to a foreign island.
One HUGE thing I love about elopements is that there’s no time factor. I always tell my couples, “taaaaake youuuuurrrr tiiiiiiime.” Seriously, though. Enjoy your day. If you feel even a remote amount of pressure, it truly takes away from the love of the day if you’re stressing and let’s be honest, your wedding isn’t gonna start without you. Just remember that. And if anyone forgets, I’ll be there to remind them. 🙂 This actually applies to weddings as well. Either way, I’m the mediator that keeps you sane and your people in check.
Michelle gave the sweetest gift to Kenny. Because his parents were no longer with them to spend on their wedding day, she made something special for him, to give the sweet memento of having them with him. His reaction put me to tears. Oh, you, too?!
Michelle was prepared and had her vows all written down but like anyone, the anticipation of reading them aloud was a bit nerve-racking so she practiced reading them with her daughter, Madi. She barely even cried. 😉
Within the hour prior to ceremony, already having the time pushed back, I sensed there was a little bit of apprehension with Michelle, as she didn’t seem to be too happy with the way she looked. It was showing in the images and I had to break it down to her:
“This is your day. Whatever we need to do to get your smiling self back, we will do.” We sat on a bench where we were planning to do the first look with Kenny and we had an affirming talk. Moments like this, sometimes we just need a moment to ourselves, a moment to be heard, a moment to feel. Whatever it is.
I asked her if I could help her in any way. She expressed that her hair didn’t look like “her.” WHICH IS TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE! No offense to anyone, but I feel all brides deserve to feel 100% their beautiful selves on their wedding day. And again, the wedding can’t start without you.
Having friends in the hair industry my entire adult life has taught me a lot. Also, the fact I’ve worked over 200 weddings in my career, and a few of those weddings had a no-show hair stylist, cue me stepping in and doing what I know how. I’ve even done a brides’ and an entire bridal party’s make-up before. (I’m telling you, being a creative gives you more skills than you can realize until your under an unforseeable amount of pressure.)
I pulled out about 50 bobby pins and quickly put together a relaxed side braid, which I felt was a little more “beachy” anyway. I snapped a few photos to show her, and immediately a subtle smile reached her face which unloaded all of the burdens she was feeling, so I could then breathe again. This beauty of a bride was a happy camper again.
I cued Kenny to come to her, instead of her go to him. I felt it would change the dynamic a bit. You could feel her desire to see her future husband, you could feel the yearning for a good loving hug. Emotions were high and I felt it all. And it was nothing short of beautiful, intimate and real.
You could feel the weight and nerves unload the minute they found each others embrace. It was so sweet, such an honest and true moment.
Michelle put me in charge to pick the ceremony spot, so I led the pack to a more remote part of the beach with more backdrop behind them. Can I just say quickly… hiking in sand (especially with camera gear) is NO freaking joke. It was a workout in itself, even for those without things to carry… just a little tip when planning a beach wedding.
Two families united, so you can just feel the love in these hugs. I mean, yeah, I was kind of a mess.
Michelle and Kenny were really able to enjoy themselves, and eachother as they played in and out of the warm ocean waves. It was romantic, funny and so much sexy. Grateful for their adventerous spirits.
Remember how I said I’d make it worth it if you took me along to a beautiful location? Well, I hold to my promises.
I had Michelle and Kenny put on their get-up for next day bridals in another setting on Kauai. We tried to find a waterfall but because of a huge storm right before, all the water was super muddy and brown. We decided to go near another coast instead.
On our way, this random abandoned hotel stuck out to me, so we stopped and did some exploring. It was actually pretty cool and we ended up learning that this hotel was wiped out from a hurricane that happened several years ago and that the island never restored it.
Pretty friggin’ cool, right? Aside from the stash of drugs we found in a spot underneath, this was a primal shooting spot. (Lol)
All in all, I just feel so fortunate to be doing what I love, with people I love and who love me back. This has become such a huge part of my life, which is why I take my career so personally. There’s a lot of give and take, on both ends. Photography isn’t just a job, it’s an art, a passion. To evoke emotion, you must have it, give it, receive it. It’s really the only way to make it work.
If you give a shit about your wedding day, pick someone who gives a shit right back.