I document weddings for a living and have seen countless iterations of what love is. Regardless of what it looks like, love is most commonly presented as honest and true and impeccable and resilient. Every couple who has stood in front of my lens and shared their wedding day with me has loved differently, yet they are all so remarkably the same. My couples know that love isn’t just a fairy tale, though it will – and should – feel like that (and often!). They know that it takes effort and that it will likely resemble a fist fight at least once in their marriage, and often times, through the conversations we have together, they realize that they’ve chosen their partners for their boxing ability.
I’ve been married 11 years, and collectively it’s been wonderful. I hesitate to call it work as I haven’t ever needed a vacation day from my marriage, but there have been times when it’s been hard. When my husband and I have each had to dig deep and fight. We’ve thrown punches – not literally at each other – but figuratively at our marriage. At the world. At circumstance and hardship and heartache and sorrow. But we’ve also done laps around the ring, belt held high, sweat dripping from our brow and taken in the sweet taste of victory. Of overcoming the odds. Of rising above.
What does any of this have to do with Steve and Alicia and their wedding day? Everything. The fist fight isn’t unique to a few of us, but rather encompasses all of us and our relationships. Alicia and Steve will both tell you that they married up. That they found in the other someone who is, by their own accounts, a better person than them. For Steve, Alicia is caring and compassionate and beautiful enough to leave him breathless. Often. For Alicia Steve is dedicated and driven and loyal. Together they have a love that is honest and open. It isn’t founded upon lofty fairytale ideals or set precariously upon unrealistic expectations. They love each other wholly for who they are. Who they desire to be. And the future they have envisioned together.
They are ready for the fight and I was honored to be with them – along with my talented second shooter Kelsea – as they stepped into the ring. Here is the story of their wedding day:
Love is a fight. Sometimes it’s easy while other times it’s the opposite. But it’s is always, always, worth it.
Cheers to those brave enough to never leave the ring.
I met Jennifer a few years ago through my friend (and talented wedding planner extraordinaire) Nadia. Jennifer is a florist, a floral designer, rather, and we’ve worked together on a few projects in the past. Most notably, Jennifer did the florals for my surprise vow renewal. Her impeccable eye for design, top-notch styling, and all-around-amazing attitude never cease to amaze me. When she emailed me to let me know that she was getting married (Eeeek!!!) and asked if I was available to document it for her (double eeeek!) I nearly fell out of my chair. I couldn’t imagine not being with her on her wedding day.
Jennifer + Shiraz were married in a tiny little ceremony in front of their closest friends + surrounded by Jen’s amazing florals. Here are a few of my favorite images from their wedding day:
When I was a little girl I loved fairy tales. Spare me the princesses and knights in shining armor, though, I was in it for the far-away-places. For stories about triumph-through-adversity and true love. The kind of love that can break an evil spell or transform a kingdom or change a beast into a man. I believed wholeheartedly in the idea of a love so strong, so pure and unbridled, that it had the power to make magic, and I buried myself in those stories as often and as long as I could while the innocence of childhood quietly slid out of my grip and the stark reality of growing up settled in. I dreamt fiercely in those early years until life planted my feet firmly on the ground and tethered me there. Rooted.
Eventually I outgrew the confines of the garden adulthood wanted to plant me in and learned, instead, that certain childhood notions are worth holding onto. I still believe in the transformative power of kindness. I believe in far-away places and triumph-over-adversity. And I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, with all that I am and all that I ever was, that love can – and does – make magic.
I say it often, and to every single one of my couples, that marriage isn’t a fairy-tale. It’s a fist fight. It’s going to have a lot of not-so-pretty moments but that, years from now, when we look back on the collective scope of our lives and the love we grew in it, it will take on the soft-glow of story. Of absolute bliss. Of romance and laughter and living and love. Of love so deep our hearts look like caverns of all that is and was good and pure and wonderful. That is it’s magic.
Not that it can conquer all but that in the end, it does.
Chingi + Lynn have triumphed over adversity and they absolutely have what it takes to survive the fist fight that is marriage. It’s going to be tough some days, sure, but on this day, their wedding day, it was bliss. Pure and paramount. This is a piece of their highlight reel, and I am grateful to have been with them and their closest family and friends as they wed one another in the California desert. To have had the honor of making images for another (incredible and talented) photographer and a love worth fighting for is a gift I’ll never repay.
Here are some of my favorites from their beautiful Palm Springs wedding day:
Thank you to Jen Woodruff for stealing my camera and making an image of me dancing.
To Chingi + Lynn and your beautiful friends and family – THANK YOU. For choosing me. For welcoming me into your tribe with open arms and full hearts. For being exactly, perfectly, beautifully you. It was an honor to spend a few fleeting hours dancing and laughing and celebrating with you.