Sure, Valerie and Scott spent most of their dating relationship in their hometown of Sacramento. Though when it came time to tie the knot, they prepared a surf and turf wedding that started in the Scotts Valley redwoods and progressed to the sands of Seacliff State Beach. Talk about your love letter to wedding photographers!
My wife Erica and I always seem to make friends with our couples by the time we make it to the end of the wedding day. Though this time around, we had the privilege of becoming friends before the wedding day started.
We met first met Valerie as a bridesmaid at another wedding we’d captured and saw that she was a hoot, making the wedding day a blast for everyone. So of course we were pleased when she reached out to let us know that she was next in line to board the marriage train with a fellow named Scott. Though she reached out first to see if they might do our pre-marital coaching with the two of them in addition to hiring us as photographers. You betcha.
In the weeks that followed, we saw just how much heart these two offered each other. Valerie is a joyful, thoughtful, and lively soul who makes life more colorful for anyone nearby. Scott is a new Navy officer who brings a blend of humor, adventure, and intentionality to the mix. Put ’em together and you get a boatload of rip-roaring road trips, faithfulness to God, unexpectedly long hiking trips and no shortage of love and laughter.
So when it came time for our own journey to the Northern California coast to photograph the wedding, we couldn’t wait to see these new friends have the time of their life…
There we were at Valerie and Scott’s forest of choice in the Scotts Valley redwoods.
A hero arose. Scott, specifically, in his Navy whites.
See, he does have eyes!
And here’s one of them up close!
Meanwhile, our heroine Valerie readied herself in a bridal tent, smack dab in the middle of the redwood grove.
She got by with a little help from her friend.
Little sister got misty at the sight of Valerie.
Valerie snuck a peek at the gathering crowd outside the tent. Smiling eyes.
Meanwhile, the flower girl took a sneak peek at the bride inside the tent.
Before the ceremony, before the first look, our heroes came together to pray.
Yep, this stone confirmed we had come to just the right spot in the woods.
The ceremony began with an invitation to join in communion…
…And Valerie and Scott asked that I offer communion to the guests. For the record, I don’t always carry my camera during communion.
Wouldn’t you know it, they prayed along with me. Most of ’em.
Why so serious, buddy?
There stood Scott, ready to get the show on the road.
And then she came along.
One of life’s most bittersweet walks: joyful for her, partly sad for dad.
The first look.
Little sister’s first look.
“Her mother and I do.”
There in the Scotts Valley redwoods, Scott agreed to take Valerie as his bride…
…And to protect her with his life. And sword.
Uncle delivered the goods when it came to officiating the ceremony.
After the ceremony ended, it was too difficult for them to wait on us to line up the family formal shots. So kiss kiss.
Bring on the family!
Valerie’s family: most likely to wear blue.
Scott’s family: Most likely to look like Scott.
The squad cleans up rather nicely, don’t they?
Valerie and Scott couldn’t get no privacy.
Visor hat and bouquet. I’ll let you guess which is which.
You’d smile too if you’d married Scott. But you can’t. He’s taken.
Deeper now, into the Scotts Valley redwoods.
Putting that veil to use!
Scott even carried the bouquet when it got too heavy.
Admit it; Scott looked good with that bouquet.
But wait, what’s that on top of Scott’s hat?
That’s when an argument broke out over whose accessory was best.
And things just crumbled when Valerie challenged Scott to a duel with her bouquet.
But when Godzilla showed up (off camera), the two reconciled and banded together to fight their common foe.
“Hey babe, that roundhouse kick really did a number on Godzilla.”
After a jaunty drive from the woods to the seashore, Scott and Valerie ventured to their reception at Seacliff State Beach.
The warm welcome.
Bringing the party to the beach.
Not to mention the pizza!
Those details included all the letters that Scott and Valerie exchanged while he was away at Officer Candidate School.
Then it was time for the first married dance…
…And this little lady had a front row seat, I mean, post.
They were made for this, weren’t they?
The photo is far moodier than the dance.
And then one of my past couples and friends burst in on the dance.
Meanwhile, Scott’s mom put the finishing touches on the cake.
Voted most likely to eat the first bite of cake by their peers.
Their peers were spot on.
What their peers hadn’t predicted was the significant “blue tongue” side effect.
After cake, Valerie decided she was done with that heavy, beautiful bouquet. So she tossed it.
So she found that bouquet a great new home.
Valerie’s garter was feeling burdensome as well so Scott stepped in to help.
The garter didn’t actually land right on his friend’s thigh, despite what the photo implies.
The flower girl stood off on the sidelines waiting for her day in the sun.
Valerie and Scott showed off bundles of those long-distance relationship letters.
As the sun sank low, it was time to sneak away for some photos at Seacliff State Beach.
She told him to walk the pier. Not really.
Dramatic atmosphere brought to you by NorCal’s dreamy ocean haze.
If only walking along the ocean always looked this stunning.
The image that you use in scratch-and-sniff magazine ads for French perfume.
Sunsets are best enjoyed together.
They love short walks on the beach.
Wait. How did the bouquet get back in the shot?
Did I mention that the bridal party and some friends were playing out in the ocean all the while?
So Valerie ran off toward the water in hopes of getting a little wet herself.
She got more than a little wet.
So she decided to just make the most of it. She didn’t plan to wear the gown again any time soon.
How often do you get to wear your wedding gown in the ocean, after all?
Finally, Valerie and Scott decided to ditch the wedding finery and hop in the waves themselves.
A wedding day that started in the woods ended in the waves. Note that the bridal veil made it into the ocean as well.
Valerie and Scott, we’re so thankful to have joined in on your wedding day as photographers and friends. We look forward to seeing who you become as you build life, faith, and family together in the years ahead. If the foundation you’ve laid down is any indication, we’ve got the highest of hopes for what your marriage will become.