JUNE LAKE, CALIFORNIA - The perfect wedding. The unicorn that varies from visionary to visionary. The wedding that is set in the perfect setting. To some, this unicorn is set on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii. Some envision it in the icy ranges of Iceland, while others see it amid the historic streets of Italy or Spain, among others. To us, any beautiful forest on the west coast.
And we got it. But it wouldn't come without its challenges.
BEFORE THE CEREMONY
My wife and co-photographer and I woke up to a beautiful view of June Lake reflecting the mountainous range across the lake. I opened the door to let the fresh air in. God, this is what life should be. With coffee in my hand, I felt like I was in one of those antidepressant commercials. But I didn't care. It was a good way to start the day. But we weren't there for the views. We had a job to do. I closed the door behind me and got ourselves ready, our equipment loaded, and we traveled the windy road toward The Eagle Lake Resort. Even the drive was refreshing. This was going to be great. We didn't even care that we might encounter a hurricane the next day.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, this wedding was a day before Hurricane Hilary was supposed to hit California.
I couldn't think of that problem now. I had a wedding to capture and wedding portraits to plan.
Maria and I took off earlier to scout the grounds outside the location before we met the bride, the Double Eagle Resort. We passed the cabins where the resort was. I had already stopped a couple of times to look at some of the locations before getting to the resort and deemed them worthy of portraits. This was going to be easy. But I needed more. I wanted to take advantage of this wedding location. The more locations I had, the more photos I could publish on social media and attract more mountain lovers who want to wed in beautiful mountain scenery like June Lake.
We arrived at Silver Lake not far from the Double Eagle Lake Resort. It was perfect for more portraits. I concluded that without even getting out of the car. But, I had to make sure. There is no room for screw-ups. We both got out and were greeted by a cool breeze. The rains are coming. Jeez, not now! I thought to myself. We walked faster to see the location. It was perfect. My mind began to imagine the magical portraits I was going to create.
"There are mosquitoes here," I turned to Maria with a sense of confusion towards her statement. How can that be? It's cold. It's not mosquito weather. I always assumed mosquitoes only come out in hot weather. "Yeah, there are mosquitoes here," she repeated herself as she swatted one of her arms. I looked at my left arm, and yeah, there was one. Trying to suck blood through my shirt. "Stupid mosquitoes," I replied. "Let's go back towards the trail before we passed on the way here." I was hoping that they were going to stick around the lake. But they were everywhere. Fortunately for me, Maria is always prepared and took out the bug spray, and we sprayed each other. That location wouldn't work. So we headed back to the car and began driving towards the resort. But I remember seeing a crystal-clear river on the way to Silver Lake. So I slowed down and began looking for it. Once we found it, we pulled over and fell in love with the spot. This would be perfect. WE ARE SET!
We arrived at the Double Eagle Resort and Spa and were directed to the beauty shop that the resort had. There we were greeted by Haley as she was getting prepped by the beauty specialist. She was so happy as she should be. It's her wedding day. We had a small conversation regarding the plans for the wedding day. Haley and I clicked because we both have a fascination for. Wait for it. Dinosaurs. She loved Jurassic Park, as much as I did. Ultra rare to have a dino nerd meet another dino nerd. But here we were. After our conversation, I excused myself and headed out towards Cristian's cabin to photograph his side of the wedding story.
I arrived at the cabin where the boys were getting ready. He was pretty relaxed for the time being, as well as the rest of the groomsmen. They were no shortage of laughs and storytelling from this group of friends who grew up in the little town of Bishop. One of the groomsmen was one of my previous lovebirds who we photographed years before, Brett, who married Samantha who was known as Sam as well. It was great to see him. But enough chit-chat.
After capturing the moments of Haley and Cristian getting ready, Maria and I regrouped to go over the game plan to capture the ceremony moments. Like every wedding, the bride has the masses waiting. The groom was nervous, the officiant was ready and unfazed by the task at hand. It began to sprinkle a little but none of us cared. We wanted to see the brid...
A sound of the trombone slowly filled the silent surroundings. Then the flutes began to sound. What was going on?! Is that... Is that John Williams's 'Theme of Jurassic Park'? OH MY GOD! IT WAS! The song was actually so perfect for the bride's entrance! I wanted to turn towards Cristian and repeat the words from Ian Malcolm, that's Jeff Goldblum's Character (Google it, people!), when they saw the huge Brachiosaurus "You crazy son of a b@#! you did it." But I don't curse people! This wedding was getting better despite the sprinkling happening.
Now to execute what I had imagined. The wedding portraits. We did some shots around the resort grounds because it was just amazing in there. After that, I had them jump in my car, and we headed out towards the location of my cabin to stop at the places where I had chosen. Everything was running smoothly until the second stop. I had this spot chosen but there was a huge problem. I had stepped on solid ground at this location and assumed the area was solid ground. But when I went to direct them where to stand for the shot. I realized it was a soggy meadow. I had to change my plans. I decided to go to the solid ground area I had tested before and moved the pose there. I wasn't going to get the mountainous background I wanted but something is better than nothing. And this nothing isn't just nothing. It was still gorgeous. Unfortunately, we hit another snag. Cristian kept getting calls and we kept getting interrupted. I just needed 10 more minutes to get to the final location. But the family and the bridal party wanted the newlyweds to go back to the resort so they can take pictures. I didn't want to stress them out so I didn't fight it. I hoped that I would one day get to shoot here again. So we headed back to the resort.
This is the time Maria and I become flies on the wall and just let the party roll. To say that this reception was extremely entertaining is the least. They had a dinosaur for crying out loud. Booze, pastries, and dinosaurs. Do I need to say more? I'll let the pictures talk. We want to congratulate Haley and Cristian on their marriage, and we hope nothing but success in their union. Just remember when you fall on hard times. Life... uh, finds a way.
P.S. The next day, we drove straight against the Hurricane with my family on board. We survived the ordeal. Obviously.