Getting married internationally!

Why we chose France and some tips from a fellow wedding vendor

Sean and I got married September 2018 in Provence, France and it was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! We honestly couldn’t have planned a better week and everything worked out so well. I feel like most people are happy to be finished with planning when their wedding is over, but I would 100% plan and do the whole thing again!

There were many reasons why we decided to get married in France, even when we live in the beautiful wedding destination of California!

  • We first decided on a destination wedding because I wanted to be able to spend more than 1-2 days with our family and friends. As a wedding photographer I see how quick the day flies by and I feel like if we are spending all this money for a wedding, I wanted to leave time for everyone to meet and form friendships. It’s also an excuse to keep the celebration going and to make a long weekend/ week out of it :)

  • We love to travel!! We are super fortunate to be able to travel internationally at least once a year. Traveling is something we enjoy and make it a priority, so that’s where we would like to spend our money. Having a destination wedding was a pretty no-brainer.

  • France was the first country Sean and I traveled to together so it holds special meaning to our relationship. Sean is a Francophile (sounds so negative, but it really means, “a person who is fond of or greatly admires France or the French”) and spent time after high school and in college visiting, so he knows conversational French. This was super helpful in our planning! It would have been way more difficult/ maybe impossible for us to connect with all our vendors. The French wedding industry doesn’t seem to be as crazy as here in the States (or at least can be), so many of the wedding vendors didn’t have great websites or even a website. I found our florist via Facebook!!

  • We wanted to give our guests an experience. Many of them had not been to France and for some, it was their first international trip. We were so full of gratitude when looking around and realizing 29 people traveled by plane, train and then car to celebrate us. We wanted to show off how amazing France is and give the experience of the French way. Croissants, wine, cheese and beautiful Provence countryside.

Now a few tips:

It’s so important to decide what is really important to you and your partner. Since I work in the wedding industry and probably follow more wedding accounts than the non-wedding vendor, it was easy to get swayed by looking at others weddings and thinking I needed to do certain things and if I didn’t have things as a part of our wedding, it wouldn’t be great. This is so wrong!! Every wedding is different and if you don’t have things or you have ALL the things for your wedding day, it doesn’t change how important your wedding day is. Remember, your wedding is about celebrating your love and you two, so do what makes you happy! There is no right or wrong way to get married :)

  • For example: the need for many details, including table design, presentation of food and drinks, programs, invitations, etc.

    • Honestly, you could have no details and tablecloths on the dinner tables and you would have an amazing wedding dinner. Remember it’s about the people and celebrating your love. Case and point: we had our rehearsal dinner in the same space we were having our wedding dinner and didn’t have anything on the tables (no candles, flowers, tablecloths) and it didn’t affect our dinner. Honestly, our guests probably didn’t notice the things we DID have on the table on the wedding day, haha.

    • We didn’t send invitations because we did Save the Dates/ tentative RSVPs all-in-one because we needed to know our guest count much further in advance, so didn’t feel like invitations were necessary. We sent these around 11 months before our wedding date. I did ask Stephanie of Bowerbird Atelier to design one invitation for photos though, haha. Kinda silly, but the photographer in me did want one invitation photo!

      • We did send out “A Pocket Guide to Provencal Success” that Sean created! It was pocket sized so everyone could travel with it and the guide wouldn’t take up too much space. We included our week schedule, directions to the venue, food+drinks to try, road sign examples and what they mean, FAQs and custom wedding playlists for anyone to download. We wanted to give all the info we thought our guests would need in print so they wouldn’t have to depend on phones because you never know if you’ll have wifi access or if your phone will work. I DID want to send something to our guests, so we mailed the pocket guide and our custom made BON VOYAGE luggage tags.

  • Hire a videographer! Best thing we splurged on. Sean said it was the best thing I convinced him of that we needed. It’s amazing to have video from the day because it captures the movement of the day and us interacting. It also included clips from our ceremony, speeches, and sounds of the French countryside. The video really brings our day to life and makes me tear up every time I watch it (and of course hire an amazing photographer!! Hint hint ;)).

  • Searching Instagram hashtags was how I found a lot of our vendors. Like I said above, many French wedding vendors didn’t have great websites or even one at all so it was hard to google search and find vendors I wanted to work with. I was able to find recent weddings in the area we were getting married and find the profiles of the vendors they used. I even ended up messaging a bride who got married at our venue to ask her a few questions, which was so helpful! I found her because she had the venue tagged in her photos.

  • Know that email/ communication response times will take longer - they’re on France (or wherever you’re getting married) time! The time difference made it interesting and not as convenient, as we had a few Skype calls at 11pm or 7am… but TOTALLY worth it :)

Have questions about planning a destination wedding or getting married at Clos d’Hullias? I would be happy to answer any questions!! We highly recommend a destination wedding if it works for you :)

Getting married in Provence? I would LOVE to recommend our vendors!!

venue: Domaine du Clos d'Hullias // planner: Jai 2 Amours // makeup: Belle Comme le Jour // rentals: Couverts Location // dj: Crystal Beats Disco // florist: Ver'Ttige // wine: Famille Perrin (we didn’t use a traditional caterer, so we supplied the wine for the wedding dinner and during the week! So inexpensive :)) // videographer: I am Paul Van (hire him!! He’s UK based, so hire him for any European wedding) // photography: Lindsey Denman Photography (hire both of us for your wedding! She’s one of my close industry friends here in SF <3)

Tahoe Sugar Bowl Wedding // Sally + John

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Summer wedding at one of Tahoe’s iconic ski resorts, Sugar Bowl


Sally and John’s wedding last summer was so full of smiles and love, like seriously so many smiles from all! I personally LOVE Tahoe and was so excited to spend the weekend with them and their guests in my favorite summer spot.

We started the celebration with their welcome dinner the evening before at Lake Mary (just down the road from Sugar Bowl), where I got to meet their closest friends and family. There were many heartfelt speeches with no dry eyes to be had and so much excitement for the wedding day!!

Their wedding day was pretty perfect! We did their first look, wedding party photos and their portraits before the ceremony, which allowed them to join their cocktail hour post ceremony+family formals. The pops of red and bright colors in Sally’s bouquet was the perfect addition to her form fitting dress that was PERFECT on her. So stunning Sally!! I also loved her bridesmaids dresses. The light blue color was so flattering on all the women. John, you and your groomsmen were looking handsome as well :)

Once dancing got started we sneaked away for a few sunset (more like blue light, post-sunset) photos at the Donner Pass overlook. My second photographer Lora showed us where the secret swing along the overlook was and took a few photos there as well. It’s always nice to sneak away from your guests for a small breather and really take in that you’re married (!!), before re-joining and dancing your heart out!

The day was so wonderful and I felt so thankful to be included in their day. Thank you Sally and John! <3

VENDOR LOVE: photographer: Chelsea Dier Photography // planner: Tahoe Inspired Events // videographers: Reel to Real Video // venue+catering: Sugar Bowl // florals: Holly Fleur // dress: BHLDN // suit: The Groomsmen Suit // band: The Lucky Devils Band // HMAU: La Di Da Beauty // second photographer: Lora Wagener

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bonus image: I photographed Jessie+Shane’s wedding in Brooklyn in 2017, which is where Sally+John saw me in action and wanted to hire me. LOVE getting to photograph my couple’s friends weddings <3

Amphitheater of the Redwoods Wedding // Erica + Riley

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Going through their gallery again to make this blog post just made me so happy! I had such a hard time narrowing down their images because I know you don’t want to see 1,000 photos in a blog post, but all their photos are so fun and they had so much going on during their wedding day. They rented out Pema Osel Ling Retreat Center in the Santa Cruz mountains for the weekend and had a weekend long competition with everyone on teams. There was bartering happening, bets being made, and competitions happening for beads... and laughs. Erica and Riley’s main goal for the weekend was for everyone to have fun and to truly enjoy themselves. I think this comes through all the photos, so you know it was a memorable wedding weekend!! E+R’s friends are pros at silly group photos and Erica herself even photobombed one photo. Now that’s the type of bride I want to work with!! :)

It may be a bit much to go from the sweet photo of them above to the games below to her dress, but I think it really paints the picture (wink) of their wedding. Really really sweet, emotional moments, but also being goofy with each other and their wedding SQUAD and really being themselves. They even had custom gold temporary tattoos for all their guests! You betchya I got one.

Oh and one of the best parts was Erica’s dancing shoes! She 100% inspired me to also get lightup shoes for my wedding, which I proceeded to surprise Sean with. Check my insta for a few photos of the reveal. It was ahhhhmazing.

Okay, enjoy looking through the most fun wedding that was set among the Santa Cruz redwoods. Absolutely stunning! Erica and Riley, thank you so dang much for having me photograph your day!! Hugs hugs hugs.

photographer: Chelsea Dier Photography // venue + catering + coordination: Amphitheater of the Redwoods // florals: Still Flowers // hmau: Styling by Amber // rings: Pave

Gig Harbor Private Residence Wedding // Dana + Colin

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Dana and Colin’s Gig Harbor wedding was super special to me for a few reasons!

  1. They got married in my home state of Washington! Dana is also from Washington and her parents live on Gig Harbor. In typical WA weather, it was cloudy all day with a high chance of rain, but the rain held off until their reception which they planned for and had a tent to cover the area!

  2. Their wedding was the weekend before I left for my wedding in France!! Maybe a little crazy on my part, but when I first talked to Dana I knew I wanted to make it work — and it totally did and was 100% worth it!

  3. Lindsey is one of Dana’s besties and one of the bridesmaids, along with being our wedding photographer! It was so fun to see her as a guest at their wedding, knowing I would be seeing her in a week in France. World travelers we are ;)

Their wedding was full of Dana’s contagious smile and Colin’s undeniable love for his new wife!! These two were surrounded by family and friends in their wedding party who gave us no shortage of laughs. It was a really good, genuine, no fuss wedding day. They even sneaked in a drink at the local bar before heading to their reception! I also got to work with some amazing vendors!! Their video team was so easy to work with and my second photographer was so helpful. We had such a blast working with each other, we stayed after we were finished and share a few dance moves with Dana+Colin and guests. How freaking fun!

VENDOR LOVE: planner: Laura Gram // videographers: Gently Crafted Films // catering: Act3 Catering // florals: Susan Hoskinson // cake: Maribel Cobey // Dress: Calla Bridal // dj: Events Tacoma // HMAU: Jax Salon + Dolce Salon // second photographer: Carley Jane Photography

Oahu Beach Wedding // Jaime + Darren

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This wedding is extra special to me because it is my Aunt and her husbands wedding!! They live in Oahu (lucky!!) and were originally going to get married on the SE side of the island, but decided on Honolulu instead because it’d be easier with family visiting. The Royal Hawaiian is where they had their first date and Darren has been a patron for many years, so it held a special place for them… and they could get away with having the wedding on the beach ;) For their ceremony, we all met at the hotel bar for a welcome mai tai, #obvi, and then walked out and created a circle of sorts around them. They are a mellow couple so it was absolutely perfect for them to be surrounded by friends and family, but in a non-traditional set-up. After the ceremony, it was time for more mai tais, pina coladas and food!

Hawaii has a special magic to it and every time I visit, I never want to leave. But when I do, I come back feeling so refreshed and relaxed, ahhh. Oh and the water is warm enough to swim in! I wouldn’t mind another Hawaii wedding or two this year ;)

Oakland Hills Backyard Wedding // Sheilan + Levirt

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Sheilan and Levirt had a thoughtful, mellow backyard brunch wedding to celebrate their love. Her brother graciously opened his home for their wedding and it couldn’t have been more perfect for them. I could probably say that about all my couples… but it’s so true! When planning your wedding, do what represents YOU as a couple and what feels right to you and your partner is so freaking important.

Their wedding was truly a collaboration of friends. Sheilan is an amazing artist and did all the lettering, designs and prints for their decorations. Three of their talented musician friends sang and preformed for their ceremony. Two friends co-officiated their wedding. Brunch was cooked by the moms and Sheilan, including many different types of quiches, hand pies and the yummiest spread. Decor was set up in a group effort with florals and greenery crown done by a friend. It really takes a village to make even a backyard wedding come together. But knowing all the love that was put into their day makes it even more personal and special.

S+L started their wedding morning by just the two of them exchanging personal vows in the redwoods. They wanted this to be private, so once I started my coverage we went up the hill and did about 10 minutes of portraits so they could have at least a few photos amongst the redwoods. We may have had to dodge a few mountain bikers, but no one was ran over! ;)

Thank you so much for including me in your lovely celebration. It was such a meaningful day to capture <3

Holman Ranch Wedding // Karishma + Danny // Carmel Valley, CA

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This blog post is way overdue! Karishma and Danny got married at the end of November, and now it's February. Where did time go?! Holy guacamole!

Karishma and Danny rounded out my 2017 wedding year with their colorful, super fun, love filled wedding "weekend"! I put weekend in quotes because they celebrated Wednesday-Friday, so a faux-weekend ;) We started their celebration with their Sangeet that involved friends and family performing choreographed skits and dances. These two have some talented friends and it was the perfect way to start their wedding weekend. Then on Friday, it was the wedding day at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley! I feel like I have now made it to the big leagues in the Bay Area photography world because I got to photograph a wedding at Holman Ranch! It's a very well known and beautiful venue that definitely lives up to its hype.

These two love unicorns, so you'll see a few unicorn appearances throughout their blog. And of course, I totally loved that part too! They even have their rings engraved with a unicorn.

Karishma and Danny's day was a mix of Indian wedding traditions and North American wedding traditions. They started their day with a Barat, which involved Danny approaching the property on a white horse and many of their guests dancing alongside him. So fun! They then had an Indian ceremony along with their friend marrying them. Best of both worlds, I'd say! Before dinner, there was an outfit change to another beautiful Indian dress and tux for Danny. All the better for dancing, which was many hours long!! And these two did not leave the dance floor. (wedding advice: if you stay on the dance floor, your guests will as well! And it allows us photogs to take fun dancing pictures. It's hard to do that if no one is on the dance floor ;)) 

The best part of their wedding though? On my wedding day questionnaire that I send to my couples before their day, which includes listing all your vendors, Karishma wrote, "A note about vendors. We consciously hired women owned & operated businesses. Who runs the world? Girls!!!" 

Karishma and Danny, thank you so much for including me in your celebration and it was so wonderful to spend many hours with you two! Hugs!!! 

(^^ thanks for convincing me to join the photo Katie! She connected me to K+D and I'm so thankful for all her friends getting married ;))

Photographer: Chelsea Dier Photography
Wedding Planner: E. Events Co
Venue: Holman Ranch 
Caterer: Jalsa Catering and Events 
Florist: Floral Creations By Nasreen
Dessert: Gizdich Ranch
DJ: Heart of Gold DJs
HMAU: Vinnia Tjhin, Timsi Malhotra 
Dress: Rita Kumar 
Danny's Ceremony suit: Manyavar
Wedding bands: D&H Jewelers
Videographer: Meraki Media
Second photographer: Jess Rankin
Rentals: Chic Event Rentals

 

UC Berkeley Redwoods Amphitheater Day Wedding & Outdoor Reception // Jenny + Rezene

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I have never photographed a day wedding before Jenny and Rezene and it was so fun! I started my day around 9:30 and was done at 6pm. It's like a normal persons schedule, just on a Saturday ;)

J + R's wedding was my second wedding this season at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden and Redwoods Amphitheater! I cannot get over how beautiful this space is and I want to continue photographing weddings here! The diversity of portrait locations makes my heart sing and the contrast of the redwoods and botanical garden is just so cool. Include the loveliest couple that couldn't take their eyes off each other and it's just magic!!

Jenny and Rezene were married among the redwoods and then had their reception at a local Oakland hall. The Hall was the perfect space to have a relaxed reception with lots of space for games, relaxing, dancing, and a pinata for the kids! Rezene is from Ethiopia so guests were treated with Ethiopian food for lunch (so good!) and each seat included a hand etched wood place card with their name written in Ethiopian as well. To complete the amazing day, they also announced their pregnancy and it was all cheers and happy tears in the room. I knew they were announcing the surprise and I was so excited for them. Their little one will be joining their family in April, which I think it a great month for a birthday! April may be my birth month ;) 

Thank you so much Jenny and Rezene for having me photograph your day and only wish you all the best!! And hopefully I will see you for family photos <3 

Photographer: Chelsea Dier Photography / Caterer: Red Sea Restaurant / Dessert: Wooden Table Baking Co. / Dress: BHLDN / Suit: Macy's / DJ: DJ Claude / HMAU: Lea Beuhler, BGorgeous / Day of Coordinator: Melanie Tunison / Second Shooter: Rachel Downey / Venues: UC Berkeley Botanical Garden & Humanist Hall 

Rengstorff House Outdoor Wedding // Enissa + Blake // Mountain View, CA

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Oh Enissa and Blake! From day one, Enissa made ME feel like a friend and not just her photographer. She has the biggest heart and on their wedding day, she was making sure everyone was taken care of, including serving the cake to their guests! Their laid-back, outdoor wedding focused on what was important to these two. Dancing (including a dress change so dancing was easier!), tacos, loving each other and getting MARRIED! :)

The Rengstorff House is a gem in Mountain View and the property was perfect for all the natural light photos. I am absolutely loving their golden hour first dance photos, which are so swoon worthy! Enissa and Blake, thank you so much for having me be apart of your day! It was an absolute joy :)

Caterer: Madd Mex // Florist: Flower Divas // Enissa's Dress: BHLDN // Blake's Suit: Indochino //DJ: PJ Entertainment // HMUA: Kristen Marie // Invitations: Printable Press // Jeweler: Lang Antiques // Photographer: Chelsea Dier Photography

Redwoods and Botanical Garden Wedding // Noah + Hannah // Berkeley, CA

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Where to start with Noah and Hannah?! First, they got ready together with their closest friends and siblings at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley and it was the calmest hours before a wedding I have experienced. There is something special about getting ready together.

We then headed to their venue which I have been dyyyying to shoot at, so I was SO excited when they told me they're getting married at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden and Redwood Amphitheater. It's a dream to have such a variety in the location for portraits! We made time to shoot in both the redwoods and botanical gardens because why not. I'll let the pictures do the talking for how amazing this location is!!

Along with the natural beauty, the work Tumbleweed Floral Truck did to the Julia Morgan Hall to transform it into a cozy, inviting, family style early Fall vibes dinner was amazing... that's why there are so many photos, ha! Fun fact, Kaylia also used to work with Hannah. Oh and Hannah's mom MADE all the bread cutting boards.  Hannah knows some very talented folks :)

Also, fun story! I first met N+H when I was working at the coffee shop and one day they came in and I saw the new ring on Hannah's finger and got so excited for them! A few minutes later I handed them my card and said something along the lines of, "I want to be your wedding photographer!" and basically told them they should hire me :) And I am so happy they did! These two have been a dream to work with and I'm so happy I went with my gut and made sure to give them my card! All the hugs to you two! And Noah, keep kissing Hannah's nose forever! :)

Photography: Chelsea Dier Photography // Florals: Tumbleweed Floral Truck // Ice Cream Sandwiches: Tara's Organic Ice Cream // Caterer: S&S Catering // Hannah's Dress: Emerald City Gowns // Noah's Suit: KnotStandard // Band: Kickin' The Mule // Hair: Nicole, Phoenix Salon // Venues: UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

Fairfax Ranch Wedding // George + Allison

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George and Allison's wedding was the perfect mix of a traditional wedding and representing themselves. Every free moment and weekend that G + A had this past year was spent on transforming the family ranch into their wedding reception venue. The ranch has been in George's family for six generations and they knew this was where they wanted to celebrate with their friends and family! We did their engagement photos in April around the ranch, and the amount of work they did is beyond amazing. They truly put their love, sweat, and tears into transforming the property. These two deserve all the cheers to their hard work! And the ranch created the best soft, glowing light throughout the night. It was heaven for me! ;)

For the ceremony, Allison wore the dress her grandma and mom had worn for their own weddings with a few alterations, like the updated back cut. And then some parts stayed the same, like having to wear a petticoat with the dress. Watching Allison's bridesmaids help with her dress was the true epitome of being their for her and helping with one of the most important parts of her day.

And make sure to not miss their cake cutting below! It's too funny!!

Allison and George, thank you so much for including me in all the fun of your day and I feel truly honored to be able to capture your friends and family celebrating you two and enjoying your hard work on the ranch. 

Photographer: Chelsea Dier Photography // Planner + Lighting + Caterer: Mangia Nosh & Marin Event Lighting // Florist: Village Green Floral // Cake: Branching Out Cakes // Band: Mark Heaphy // HMAU: AP LUXE // Photobooth: DNE Events // Limo: Executive Charters // Venue: Private Residence

 

Rooftop Garden Welcome Dinner // Jessie + Shane // Brooklyn Grange

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And now for the first evening of Jessie and Shane's wedding weekend! Peek their wedding here :) They had their welcome dinner to kick off their wedding weekend at Brooklyn Grange, which is a working farm on the roof of an industrial building in the Navy Yard that produces much of the produce for the local restaurants and farmers markets, as well as being a place for education and stewardship. It was so cool!! Not to forget, it has basically 360 degree views of the NYC and Brooklyn skylines. When we were planning their photo timeline for the weekend, we decided to do a few portraits of them before their guests arrived here, since we didn't do an engagement session. They were naturals and since they had this "warm-up", it made their wedding day portraits that much easier! :) We were able to walk all around and in the garden beds, just being sure to not step on the plantings. 

The dinner they planned for their guests was served family style, with guests serving each other and helping out. Community and welcoming friends and family to their home has been an important part of their relationship, so it's only fitting for them to honor this and continue this welcoming. No joke, the moment I met Jessie I felt like we'd known each other for ever. These two have the biggest hearts and have built an amazing community around them. It was truly an honor to be included!! Cheers to continuing the adventure full of love, laughter, and Presidente! ;) (The Dominican Republic is a key location in their relationship, so of course they had to have it at their welcome dinner!)

Photographer: Chelsea Dier Photography / Venue: Brooklyn Grange / Dress: Alice & Olivia / Caterer: El Nuevo Cibao / Videographer: Tom Boyden / Planner: Dame Forbes Tyson

Jessie + Shane // Urban Brooklyn Wedding // Brooklyn, NY

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I honestly don't know where to start! I have just returned from an epic weekend in Brooklyn for their wedding and I couldn't think of a better wedding to kick off my new job title: full time photographer!! 

I met Jessie and Shane through a mutual friend (hi Katie!) and the moment I met Jessie, I felt like we were best friends. She has the warmest, welcoming heart and I could not wait for their weekend to arrive. They started their festivities with a welcome dinner at the Brooklyn Grange, which I'll give its own post! Let's just say there were amazing NYC skyline views, family style dinner, and chickens, all while surrounded by a working farm that produces many of the produce for local restaurants and markets. 

For their wedding, they had their ceremony at the Old Stone House in Park Slope. It was totally a city wedding! There were a few onlookers for their ceremony that were playing at the park/ ball field area and we also took a few of their couples portraits on the swings! Many thanks to the kids who let us borrow them for a few moments :) 

Post ceremony we had a short walk to the reception site and since there was a walk, Jessie and Shane decided to have their ceremony band join for the walk and create a second line. It was SO cool! Walking down the Brooklyn streets with brass instruments leading the way, it was the best way to kick off their party!! Some how J+S got just about all their guests on the dance floor for the evening and I'm sure the live band helped. They pumped up the energy and rocked it!! Oh and Jessie wore a JUMPSUIT+skirt for their ceremony, because she's the romper queen, and Shane had no idea!! See the unveiling below, mid-dancing! These two were full of surprises :)

It was such an honor to photograph their wedding weekend and I cannot believe I went to Brooklyn and photographed a wedding, ahhh!!! Thank you thank you thank you! HUGS!! Now cheers to the best honeymoon and taking a breather :) (Jessie also just graduated with her MBA a week before their wedding!)