I decided I couldn’t split Chaitra+Ryan’s wedding story in two parts—The Story and The Portraits. I had to put them together. Because I want you to feel this whole day, it’s full impact, all in one sitting that makes you go back and revisit again and again, so you don’t miss a thing.
You see, I grew up in a very special family. One that is passionate, not just for life, but for each other, our friends, and our faith. And we all love fiercely. Dad loves by cooking for people, feeding their hearts as well as their stomachs. Mom loves by her relentless generosity, as she gets no greater joy out of giving someone a gift they couldn’t get themselves. My brother, sister, and I love with our passions. We share it with as many people as we can. My brother shares his music, my sister shares her connections and her intense loyalty, and I share my photography… And as our family has grown, so has our ability to love and the amount we love. As each one of us have fallen in love, gotten married, and now, grandchildren have arrived… The love just keeps on expanding.
When my brother married Kristin, we all knew what a special girl she is… And then, her sister Chaitra moved to Seattle to be closer and my mom immediately hired her as her personal assistant. Instantly, Chaitra became like another sister and my parents loved her fiercely, the only way they know how. And then of course, there’s Ryan… He’s been one of my brother’s best friends since elementary school. I remember walking into my brother’s bedroom to find them sketching incredible characters for a comic book they were writing (in between levels of video games, of course). So when they graduated high school and went onto become roommates in art college, needless to say, I was never surprised.
And so Chaitra+Ryan were bound to meet (a plot Kristin always planned) and so it was—they were together and inseparable. And they are our family and we love them fiercely and passionately. And we pulled together to make a wedding in a magical place. And it was such a real life fairy tale.
You see, I’m writing more than I usually do because Chaitra+Ryan’s wedding wasn’t like any other I’ve photographed. It took place at my parents’ home, the place where I grew up. At first, I thought photographing a wedding at my parents’ house would be easy, especially since I know it so well. But then I realized, NO. This was going to be hard. Because how could I see the things around my parents’ home, which in a lot of ways still feels like my home, with new eyes? Well, I couldn’t. And neither could George. So I invited my really good friend Chantal to assist me that day, and thank the Lord she was there! Many of her images are strewn throughout this post, including a lot of the details, some portraits, and a few beautiful moments of the ceremony. I needed her there to see things I’d naturally miss because for me, I was at home.
This day wasn’t just a highlight of my season, it was a highlight of my life. Seeing a boy I’ve known since he was nine years old marry the girl of his dreams, a girl I call a sister, was such an amazing privilege. We don’t all get to experience days like that and I count myself very blessed and very thankful.
We don’t get to choose the family we’re born into and not everyone is so lucky as I am to have my parents for parents and my siblings for siblings. And the fact that our family just keeps getting bigger with more amazing people, more people I love dearly… I just don’t know how I got it so good.
By the way, we had a TON of help in making Chaitra+Ryan’s day so magical.
My dear friend, Geneva, designed the bouquets, florals and table settings.
My favorite makeup and hair artist, Shyn, made Chaitra shine even more than she already does naturally.
Chaitra’s mom made the incredible hair pieces that Chaitra, Kristin, and Jamie wore (they looked like they came straight out of BHLDN!).
My friend and former bride, Lisa, provided her gorgeous vintage plates and mismatched crockery.
Diana Tripiano, a friend of the family, made all the food, including the desserts and the amazing cake.
Chaitra, Kristin, and her mom, Esther, also put hours and hours (and HOURS) into all the DIY decor.
Ryan used his graphic design skills for the invitations and all the signage. (Also, it should be mentioned that Ryan designed Chaitra’s gorgeous ring himself, had it made by Green Lake Jewelry Works, and it even won a Facebook contest for Best Ring! )
And meanwhile, my parents, Ryan’s parents, and the bridal parties spent the first half of the day setting up chairs, tables, blankets, and pillows in the blazing heat, all with big smiles on their faces.
Basically, the wedding was a labor of love and all we felt the whole day was love, love, love. Because that’s what our family does… We love. Fiercely.
Congratulations, Chaitra+Ryan! I love you both so very much and I am so happy to officially call you “family”.
And one more shout out to my girl, Chantal! I could not have done it with you, darling. Thank you so much for being there.