Natalie & Michael | a Japanese-Jewish Wedding

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A bride in full Japanese wedding regalia; a Jewish groom with brass knuckles spelling out his name. A celebration complete with glass-stomping, the hora, and a chorus of mazel tovs. 3D-printed shoes, a reception dress made out of SCUBA material, and succulents everywhere. This was one of the most unique weddings I’d ever seen, and it helped that Michael and Natalie are both design-centric and crafty people — their wedding was bursting with geocentric creativity, from the custom theme they’d envisioned down to the geometric flower vases.

It was such a pleasure to photograph this wedding! Here are some of my favorite photos from Natalie and Michael’s day :)

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Credits: Temple Israel Long Beach; Tolain Bridal (kimono); United Nude (3D shoes); Taste of Pace; Sweet & Saucy Shop; Primary Petals; Hollienea (harpist)

An Easy Way to Make Your Reception Photos Prettier

A simple item (that is probably wadded up in a box in your garage) could make your wedding reception photos look fantastic.

A string of twinkle lights. Well, the more, the better.

Palm Door event space // Elissa R Photography

Your wedding venue (be it a backyard, or a rustic barn, or a warehouse, or a hotel) could always use some mood enhancement. And while hiring a bonafide lighting pro is a great idea, if you’re more interested in DIY-ing it yourself, adding strings of Christmas lights or globe lights can really make your reception photos look prettier. They add a warm light, they are so versatile to use as background in photos, and (bonus) if your wedding is in a really dark space it can help your guests see where they’re dancing!

I like to shoot with a pretty shallow depth-of-field most of the day. This means that the plane of focus on your reception photos is going to be thin — that’s why stuff is blurred out in the background. Notice how you can see the pointy tips of the Christmas lights close to David and Nola, but they turn into fuzzy blobs in the distance? It’s called bokeh and I love the effect.

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Another example. The centerpiece arrangement here is offset nicely by these pretty lights in the back:

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And these cupcakes look amazing, but they look even better with a little bit of texture behind them (rather than just the blurry roof of the venue).

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I like using the strings of lights as compositional elements. Such as in this mother-son dance — the string of light cutting diagonally across the image separates the negative space and makes it more pleasing to the eye:

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And I framed Hollye and Carter with lights in this shot:

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But mostly, it’s a nice way to make your wedding a little brighter, a little happier. This canopy of lights over Michelle and Rocky’s first dance is so lovely.

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Globe lights (installed by Intelligent Lighting Design) illuminate the cigar-smoking guests in this shot…

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Out in a field of wildflowers, this tent looks like something out of a magical world with its edges lined in tiny lights…

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And used in the foreground and background of photos, twinkle lights wrapped around trees can make for some more unique and pretty photos.

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I hope that this inspires some of you out there to include some twinkle lights in your wedding!

xoelissa

Hollye & Carter | A Heartfelt Backyard Wedding

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A tear rolled down Carter’s cheek. And another. And as I took my eye away from the viewfinder for a moment during their ceremony, I saw that everyone in the backyard was openly dabbing at their faces with balled-up tissues. The guitarist strummed on, his voice filling the warm air. Hollye and Carter looked at each other, smiling shyly at their intertwined hands.

I don’t usually play favorites with the weddings that I shoot, but I am always extra excited about backyard weddings. Hollye and Carter’s marriage started in the yard of her childhood home; they both got ready in her old bedroom; no fanfare, no fuss about seeing each other before the big moment. A child of the theatre, the house was filled with mementos of young Hollye through the ages. When Hollye contacted me about her wedding, she only asked that we keep the posing to a minimum: “Carter and I are both actors,” she said, “so we value the candid shots a lot more.”

This wedding was beautiful: warm and full of joy. It’s such a pleasure to share Hollye and Carter’s day with you…

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