Emily & Ed

Today’s wedding graduate post is all in the APW family, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Emily of Emily Takes Photos has been reading APW since the very very beginning. She was starting her photography business just as I was starting a blog, and somehow we stumbled upon each other. Emily’s been an APW sponsor for about as long as I’ve had sponsors, and has shot… 20 or 25 (depending on how you’re counting) Team Practical weddings. Plus, she shot our engagement pictures, and hosts APW books clubs, and everything. ANYWAY! A year and a half ago I got a really excited email from Emily that she and Ed had gotten engaged, and I knew it was going to be the most APW-esq wedding of all time (because **none** of us has gone to as many Team Practical weddings as Emily). And sure enough, the woman is wise, her wedding was hopping, and the joy exploding off the page. Oh. And I LOVE that she paid it forward by hiring a brand new central coast wedding photographer. Love. So, with out further ado, I bring you Emily:

I’m a wedding photographer, so naturally, I go to lots of weddings.  There comes a point every time during the reception, usually after the cake has been cut and the party starts to wind down, that I think to myself, “That’s it.  All those months of preparation and planning, and now it’s over.”  Don’t get me wrong, those parties never disappoint, but those moments during each wedding helped me keep perspective when it came to planning my own.  No matter how much time and effort I was going to put into this event, it would eventually end.  That single thought is what ultimately kept me grounded throughout the planning process.

I took on most of the work myself, though my husband did have a hand in planning.  I had worked as an event coordinator a few years back, and I had an arsenal of wedding inspiration from working in the industry, so it just made sense.  For a minute, and not much longer, I was worried that we fell into that category of bride-who-decides-everything and groom-who-nods-quietly, but I realized that was dumb, and the way were doing things made absolute sense for us and even mirrored our life together: he speaks up when he feels particular about something, the rest he leaves to me, knowing I’ll do what I think is best for both of us, making it pretty while I do it, because damn it, I care about the aesthetics!

By the time we got engaged, we had been living together for nearly four years, so I wasn’t expecting a huge transformation or enlightenment during our engagement or even after our wedding.  What surprised me is that during our engagement and planning, I learned more about my relationships with other people in my life than I did about Ed’s and my relationship.

I learned that my family (even the more prim and proper side) didn’t have as many opinions as I thought they would have. Would they think having a dinosaur-shaped piñata was odd?  Nope. Would they appreciate my smart-ass invitations?  Well, they kind of saw that one coming.  Would my Catholic-priest uncle think the wedding was an abomination if there was no mention of God during the ceremony?  Not even a little bit.  I learned that some friends, while they mean the best, really just won’t come through when you need them to, which can be kind of heart-breaking.  I also learned that other friends, who you don’t think you can count on, so you don’t even bother asking, will surprise you with support (or manual labor) when you least expect it. I wasn’t really there for the setup of the wedding, but I left it in capable hands (my parents and a good friend).  I was delightfully surprised to learn later that so many of our friends came by early to help with all the setup (giving my mum time to run home and change)!

The hardest thing I had to struggle with was letting myself fully enjoy the planning process.  I was so conscious of being labeled a “silly little bride” that I found myself shrugging off just about everything I did, or feeling the need to defend why the process was so easy for me.  Whenever I did anything crafty (which I LOVE doing, I’m an artsy person, and as I’ve said, I care about aesthetics), I felt the need to add on “oh I had a couple hours to kill, so I made napkins, no big deal, blah blah blah.”  I had this self-imposed pressure to act nonchalant about everything, while secretly I was enjoying the hell out of it.  Looking back, I realize how ridiculous that was and wish I had allowed myself to be more outwardly excited.  I wish I had been saying, “hell yeah I’m excited; I’m getting married to an awesome guy, and we’re throwing one kick-ass party to celebrate!”  Oh well, I’m saying it now!

One thing I thought would matter, but in the end didn’t, was the aesthetics of the day.  Twist!  I had a picture in my mind of how I wanted things to look, and if we had hired an event designer to go nuts with details, that picture would have become a reality.  But in real life, I didn’t care that much.  I put in as much love and effort as I felt like putting in, and I’m pleased with the result.  Sure, my wedding won’t grace the cover of Martha Stewart Weddings, but I thought it was pretty, and I was proud of my work.

At the end of the day, the only things that really mattered to me were A) that Ed and I ended up married to each other (very important detail), B) we didn’t have a bunch of strangers at our wedding (thank you small venue capacity) and C) that we hired a new-but-talented photographer Samantha Kelly Photo; someone gave me my first wedding, and I wanted to be able to pay that forward.

I have one piece of advice for couples planning their weddings, especially if they’re doing a lot of the work themselves:  If you can, take an extra day or two off from work to focus on the wedding and visit with everyone as they arrive early.  We got married in my hometown (about three hours south from our place), and we had friends coming in from the East Coast and family coming up from Australia.  I had planned to go down the Wednesday before our Sunday wedding, but fortunately was able to go down that Monday instead.  It gave me plenty of time to visit with everyone, prep the flowers, help bake cakes, run last minute errands, and still feel relaxed.  Everyone kept mentioning how they were surprised by my calmness, and I really do believe those extra days were key to keeping me sane.  Of course, not everyone has the luxury to take time off to dedicate to their sanity, so in that case, I say make a list of what you need to do, and delegate whatever you can so you can focus on enjoying yourselves.

The wedding day itself was amazing.  It was a great party with wonderful people who love and support us… and hey, we got to Lindy.

During my dance with my dad, he asked me about the wedding “So kid, what do you think?”  I took a look around and said “it’s exactly what I pictured it to be, and I’m really pleased.”

Later in the afternoon I played a song onstage with the band.  While I warmed up on the guitar, I looked down at everyone dancing and enjoying themselves, and I thought, “This is it.  All those months of preparation and planning and the party is almost over.  And what a damn fine party is was.”

Photos are mostly by Samantha Kelly Photo (though a few are by family and friends)

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  • I learned that some friends, while they mean the best, really just won’t come through when you need them to, which can be kind of heart-breaking. I also learned that other friends, who you don’t think you can count on, so you don’t even bother asking, will surprise you with support (or manual labor) when you least expect it.

    THIS. We were overwhelmed with the love and support of MOST of our circle of family, friends, and loved ones; but, I was bitterly disappointed by the lack of support and, well, CARING that I expected from a choice few.

    • The other part is important too- the people who come out of the woodwork and surprise you by going far above and beyond your expectations. Two years later I remember their contributions more than I remember any disappointments.

    • Exact same story. And I don’t think many people mention this, but I think it happens a lot (as evidenced by the comments anyway). Weddings are super powerful events and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t help but have a few expectations and yes, in a couple cases, I was disappointed. But for every friend who didn’t quite live up, there were half a dozen more volunteering to do everything from setting up chairs, to blowing up balloons, to singing during the ceremony, to putting on my freakin’ shoes for me when I couldn’t see them through layers of tulle. It was pretty mind-blowing and I try to focus on those who were there for me.

      • I think that the experience of planning a wedding also illuminates the different ways that friends and family are *able* to give support. It’s not always so black and white (i.e. one friend supports you and another doesn’t) – you sort of get to see that, say, your old college pal can effectively calm you down while you’re freaking out, but she’s also disorganized and late to everything. Or maybe your sister-in-law is wonderful when you need to Get Shit Done, but she becomes visibly uncomfortable if you start crying and kind of inches towards the door. You start to learn who you can go to for particular kinds of support. Not sure if that makes sense, but yeah. It’s fascinating to look back on.

        • I have been surprised too by how much I’ve learned about my relationships with family & friends. A few family members absolutely shocked me by how little they care to celebrate our wedding. Other family & friends have touched my heart by how much they care to celebrate our wedding. We’re still about one month from the wedding & while the disappointments sting, those who reached out to us shine through all the rest.

          • I am learning gobs about my relationships with my family and friends in the engagement process. It’s interesting to see how they react — some super supportive, some not so much. It’s taught me a lot about who I can rely on and how far I can push certain people (in both good and bad ways).

          • Kaitlyn

            So very this. I’m only barely beginning wedding planning, but I’ve already had multiple surprises on all fronts. From my highly opinionated, fashion conscious sister assuring me that she will love whatever dress I love, to my future BIL actively trying to forge a good relationship with me, to my future MIL dismissing the entire wedding and saying no one from her side can be bothered to attend. It’s been crazy.

        • Jess H.

          I totally agree. When I read this paragraph, I started thinking about when my mom passed away (but not in a sad, totally off-topic way)…. but some friends who I really expected to be there for me were not, while others were I never counted on in the past were incredibly supportive. In the years since, I’ve found that the ones that pulled away during that time were able to offer support in other, unexpected ways, and under different circumstances. I think that like death, weddings can be uncomfortable to deal with for some people… and most often for unspoken personal reasons. Some people pull through in times of Joy, others in times of grief, and each in their own style. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I see what Emily means, and I wonder if it will happen on my own wedding day, but that I want to keep an open mind about my expectations of the people in my life. Even if that’s really hard sometimes.

          • remaining anonymous…

            long time lurker here (looooong engagement;-)…@Jess H I was just thinking the same thing, though from a slightly different perspective. I’m that person that has not been there for a friend for their wedding…and sad to say, I’m a multiple offender…from ridiculously late gifts because I’ve traumatized myself with anxiety over finding the perfect one, to not being able to go through with being a maid of honor at one of my oldest friend’s wedding…Sometimes it’s depression, sometimes it’s a weird perfectionism, and it’s always about some kind of performance anxiety. I feel so guilty about my own wedding transgressions, it has affected my outlook on planning my own wedding (or really non-planning), feeling that I don’t want to put burdens on people or expect things of them that I might not have been able to do myself. Yet, when a friend is feeling despondent, or needs some help through a rough patch, or needs their cat watched for a couple of weeks (starting tonight) because of an emergency…I’m there. So…if some of your friends or family don’t live up to your expectations, be sad, be mad, you have every right…but also maybe consider that there’s something else going on, and that you are loved, and that they do care, but maybe weddings just don’t bring out their best selves, and maybe for reasons not even clear to them. Hopefully they will prove themselves in other ways later on down the road.

  • Oh man I love this post. Thanks for sharing, Emily.

    This in particular struck me:
    “I learned that my family (even the more prim and proper side) didn’t have as many opinions as I thought they would have… I learned that some friends, while they mean the best, really just won’t come through when you need them to, which can be kind of heart-breaking. I also learned that other friends, who you don’t think you can count on, so you don’t even bother asking, will surprise you with support (or manual labor) when you least expect it.”

    This was my experience too: I was amazed by how many people came forward in support, whether it was emotional support, manual labor (like one friend who just appeared a week before the wedding to coordinate the whole damn thing), or just showing up and being present to our big gay wedding. I don’t know if there’s much more to say than what you said – thanks for saying it.

  • this made me cry:

    “During my dance with my dad, he asked me about the wedding “So kid, what do you think?” I took a look around and said “it’s exactly what I pictured it to be, and I’m really pleased.””

    Lovely wedding, beautiful photos and a good reminder that, no matter how much planning goes into the day, the party will come to an end and all you’ll be left with are memories (and pictures).

    • Rachael

      During my dance with my dad, he asked me about the wedding “So kid, what do you think?” I took a look around and said “it’s exactly what I pictured it to be, and I’m really pleased.”

      Having been to her wedding, and meeting her Pops, I can totally see this happen. Also, I know for a fact how simply-not-over-the-top but still managing to be a quintessential-Hallmark-tearjerking moment it was. I would be a water works. Emily responded with her trademark grace.
      The fact that her Dad read this, and commented speaks volumes of the awesome-ness of their family. Her Dad was also the base of the three man piggyback ride shall we call it? Spending just five minutes with this family is worth $1,000 or more to me. Getting to be a part of their wedding was absolutely priceless.

  • Liz

    WOW photos. never would have guessed they were the “first wedding.”

    and YES to feeling like a “silly bride.” i was always afraid to let things… matter… because then maybe that meant i was being silly or superficial or dramatic.

    • Alyssa

      EXACTLY! My attention to detail for a friend’s birthday or a PowerPoint presentation is me being thoughtful and conscientious, but during my wedding it labeled me as shallow and flighty.

      Eff that.

      Also, I don’t know who that adorable blond boy is, but I need him at every party I throw from now on. “RAWR!!!! DIE, PINATA!!!”

      • YES! I think Ariel wrote something to that effect in OBB: everyone applauded her kick-ass can-do attitude when it came to everything else, but apply that to her wedding and she was just another bridezilla (paraphrasing). That was the passage that hit closest to home with me, and I’ve had that weighing on my heart ever since.

        • Shotgun Shirley

          I really needed to hear this. I’m going to start taking joy in those little things, and not letting the bridezilla stigma stop me. Anyone who thinks I’m a bride-zilla clearly does not know me.

          • Man, people are so excited to use that word! As a lady who never thought much about weddings beyond “that is definitely a thing that people do sometimes” until a few months before I got engaged, everyone was champing at the bit to warn me off bridezilla-ing.

            “I think we’d maybe like to have it in the fall – ”


          • JT

            I just had to say that I was super excited to see “Shotgun Shirley” in the comments!

        • ka

          Ohh yea, I remember the “damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t” thing from OBB. It’s been weighing on me too, and I’ve definitely been tamping down most of my excitement, cause uh… I’d rather be lazy than a bridezilla? I dunno…
          But this helps:
          “Anyone who thinks I’m a bride-zilla clearly does not know me.”
          Cause it’s so effing true! I think my friends have been quite frankly confused as to why I’m so “meh” about the whole thing when I’m usually an aesthetically driven type A over-planner!

          And thank you, Emily, for sharing your perspective from the other side, and the fun and beautiful pics–I checked out Samantha Kelly’s site (she’s got a great eye…just like all you Bay area elves…in fact, I’m dying to find an NYC area photog with a Bay area aesthetic…) and saw more! Omg, screw event designers, you HAD gorge details anyway.

          • Drum roll, please…Ladies…I’m going to get excited. It’s official. You reminded me it’s okay. So from here on out, even though the venue, the food, the photographer is booked, the dress, hanging in my closet, I’m going to dance a little jig on whatever street corner or hallway I happen to be at, when I think about or make another decision about our big day. Cause damn it! I’m marrying the Dali Lama, and that makes me beyond giddy!

            Emily, the pictures of your wedding are brilliant, and reflect the magic that must have been. I may have to order up my own pinata just so my soon-to-be-hubs and I can stand with it and I can man a baseball bat for a photo. Pics of the gentleman making a train on each other’s backs and your dad…oh! your dad. Martha’s weddings don’t come with dad’s like that. :)

      • Oh PS: the little blond boy is about to get even cuter; his name is Axel, he’s from Finland, and has the cutest little accent (so does his sister), and he can name every kind of shark that exists, has existed, and probably has yet to exist.

        • Alyssa

          Axel? Finnish accent?? SHARKS??
          You have made me fall more in love with him.
          You tell him if he ever wants to come to Texas, there is a crazy lady in Dallas who will feed him cookies and love him forever.

        • Aine

          I kind of want to name one of my future kids “Axel” now, cause that’s awesome (I love kids’ areas of expertise- I went through a “shark phase” which lasted until…um…not really sure it ended, to tell you the truth. Oops.)

    • I’m so guilty of this. I will freely talk about the wedding with anyone else who is engaged, but I don’t dare speak of it with other folks. Heaven forbid my facebook page say anything about the engagement and wedding planning other than my relationship status.

      I’m not so worried I’ll be labeled bridezilla, but that I’ll be considered shallow. Hell, sometimes I see distance acquaintances on facebook who got married and I start to get a little judgmental of them. I know it’s horrible of me.

      Maybe it’s something about the fact that so many people in my age group are getting married right now and I don’t want to be labeled just another bride.

      • I hear you! While I don’t typically let self-consciousness run away with me, and I am a very extroverted excitable person, I feel almost guilty for gushing about my wedding planning, especially if I am talking about it to friends that aren’t in engaged or desperately want to be in relationships.

        I also run the risk of being labelled a Bridezilla because I am a bit of a control freak and major planner; we were engaged in June, invitations complete, venues and photog and officiant booked in July, dress ordered in Aug…it’s now November and all I have left to plan are attendant gifts, ceremony writing and readings, and find the right shoes! But to me, early planning prevents stress- plus as much as I plan, I am trying my best to keep things simple and affordable.

        • kireina

          @Athena, I am in awe. Way to go, you!

          • Thanks Kireina! Most people just laugh at my over-zealousness and tell me not to get stressed out because the wedding is 8 1/2 months away! But I am not stressed! I LOVE planning our wedding and making and doing and dreaming up things with my fiance!

        • IppyHooray

          Yay! I’m so glad I’m not the only one -” But to me, early planning prevents stress” EXACTLY! I have practically said that verbatim to my mother.

          I love this idea of owning your type-A personality – this IS how I am in every aspect of my life, why would our wedding be any different?

      • For me, another reason for not talking about it as much as I maybe would have liked was that I have a lot of friends who aren’t engaged, aren’t married but really really want to be. I worried I was pushing their single-ness in their face by ever mentioning it in front of them, which in hindsight was silly. It’s good to be sensistive to other’s feelings but there’s a good balance to be found and I don’t think I always found it.

  • Carreg

    Can I be the first one with properly shallow remarks?
    1) Blue dress!
    2) Accordion!
    3) Some of those photos are hilarious
    4) I love the picture of the small child trying not to get folded up inside her parasol…

    I’m glad your professional experience allowed you to not be as stressed over it as many of the rest of us. I just struggle to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing some of the time, to be honest.

    • That blue dress is perfection.

    • Sarah

      The small child w/ parasol KILLS ME with the adorable. ::nods::

    • Margaret

      I can go you one better — Emily where did you find that blue dress?? It’s adorable!

      It definitely looks like it was “damn fine party”!

      • Thanks! I got the dress from ShopRuche.com

        • Shotgun Shirley

          And may I ask where you got your white(ish) dress? It is beautiful!

          • Thanks! It’s the Cancun dress from Watters, in ivory.

        • I was going to ask too, but was too shy at the last second.

          • No need to be shy! If you have any questions about where I got anything else, I’ll be glad to divulge.

    • My first thoughts were: 1. Blue party dress!!
      2. Happy bride! Handsome groom! Handsome couple!
      3. What great pictures, capturing great joy!

      And then I read the words, which were just as exciting, beautiful, and profound. Well done, Emily & Ed!

  • katie

    “I learned more about my relationships with other people in my life than I did about Ed’s and my relationship.”

    I can’t agree enough with this – as so many before have said, people come out of the woodwork to help! (And others astound you with how inconsiderate they can be.)

    I always wondered about wedding photographers getting married – Emily’s ceremony was captured beautifully and it’s wonderful to hear they entrusted the day to someone new!

    • I think it’s incredibly brave and bold of her to go with a new photographer. I’m marrying a photographer, and you better believe photos are his number one priority (even when we talk about the aesthetics, it’s how they will look in the pictures, not in real life).

  • M

    the pinata is so fun! And I love the three men on eachother’s backs. Definitely a lot of joy and very beautiful!

  • shorty j

    eeeeee it makes me inordinately happy every time I see lindy hoppers at a wedding. It is one of the things I’m looking forward to the most about mine–getting to do crazy stuff with my appropriately crazy dancer friends. (aaaand not being stuck with the frumpy same 4 songs that get played at every NYC swing dance :P)

  • Leona

    I could exactly this entire post with the exception that my parents would not let me have a pinata and refused to allow my now-husband to wear anything but a full suit, going so far as to take him shopping on the morning of the wedding to change his outfit. I think the strength of opinions voiced by family and friends sometimes depends on age and how much they are (realistically or fantastically) contributing. I’m pretty young for a bride and my parents fronted nearly all the money for the wedding so I battled periodically to be heard.

    “I learned that some friends, while they mean the best, really just won’t come through when you need them to, which can be kind of heart-breaking.”
    I had this experience as well and really, I wouldn’t wish this kind of knowledge on any bride on her wedding day. There are so many other redemptive and uplifting things about the day but after everything is finished and settled, that ache can persist so stubbornly that it’s hard to get over. I think everyone has their rock stars of the day, though, that overpower all the duds. That’s the upside. :)

    • SarahAustralia

      “Rock stars of the day” – Awesome! New life aim to be descirbed as that one day!

    • “that ache can persist so stubbornly”
      Yes. And I feel guilty for it still hurting that some people left before the dancing even started, that some chose other events over my wedding, because the overall feeling on the day(s) was one of huge joy. But the hurt is real too. For me, the one didn’t cancle out the other.

  • Elizabeth

    Thanks so much for sharing such a beautiful story from such a fantastic person! And, wow, you found one talented new photographer!

    The part about wishing you had allowed yourself to be more outwardly excited really resonated with me. There is a wonderful quote by Maryanne Williamson that Nelson Mandela used in his inauguration speech that addresses this point beautifully:
    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?…And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    The lessons in your post and that quote are ones I would like to remind myself of and hold myself to more regularly. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Jess H.

      Funny – I’ve loved this quote for a long time, and always thought it was Nelson Mandela. But I just went to his website and it turns out that the quote is always misattributed to him, and was actually never used in his Inauguration speech.

      I find it slightly ironic that a relatively unknown female author wrote this powerful and beautiful quote, but that it has only really received wide-spread attention because Mr. Mandela’s name gives it the appearance of heightened historical significance or legitimacy…

      At any rate, it was a pleasure to read those words this morning, no matter who wrote them.

    • Goodness, that is an amazing and powerful quote. Thank you for sharing!

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  • I love these photos and your words. And I wish I had been at the party.

    I remember Meg saying in my wedding grad post that my wedding was beautiful and thinking “huh, we didn’t really decorate.”

    And then remembering that the beauty of a wedding is built upon the smiling on the faces, the joy in the dancing, and the love of the couple. And a little bit of pinata does not ever hurt.

  • Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. And wise, as promised. Thank you for sharing!

  • I loved this post. This post is everything we found and everything we felt. And you know what? I loved loved loved planning our wedding. It was a lot of fun. I worried a lot about putting “so much work” into a single day, and a few people made snide comments about my putting “so much work” into one day, but truthfully, I loved the journey. The journey itself was fun. So eff the haters and nobody should feel silly about something they enjoy. Everytime I felt silly, I reminded myself how many people I knew loved video games. Wedding planning isn’t any sillier.

    • I love the comparison to video games. Love.

  • I would like to eat this post with a spoon. Like ice cream.

  • Sarah

    Emily, can I come live with you and listen to your positive wisdom all the time??

    Your bit about people coming through/not coming through made me realize that I’ve never properly thanked my two best friends for everything they did for me the morning of our wedding. They proved that not only can I count on them, but they are much MUCH more amazing than even *I’d* realized. ::gets on writing letters to them::

    Also … one last little bit … ANY wedding where the bride gets up with the band is a winner in my book. I’m so thrilled for you that your entire day was exactly what you wanted it to be. =)

  • ddayporter

    “I had this self-imposed pressure to act nonchalant about everything, while secretly I was enjoying the hell out of it.” –that was me too! and the bit about people surprising you, in good and bad ways, also was true for me. these photos are amazing, I can’t believe this was a first wedding holy cow. beautiful wedding – and both dresses!! gorgeous!

  • I don’t even know Emily in real life but I saw the title of this post and got really excited! Probably because I’ve seen her name on here for so long that she feels kinda like a close cousin or something.

    This wedding looks like a really relaxed and happy affair, which delights me… That part about her exchange with her dad sounds like something that would’ve happened between my dad and me, had I had a father-daughter dance (but we didn’t because I suck at dancing, even swaying) so that gave me a grin too.

  • Wow, the whole day looks like pure joy. Love your face in the cake photo. Everything just looks amazing.

    • Haha I could not take the cake cutting seriously. I always call it the Congratulations-you-can-use-utensils portion of the day. We only did it because my mum requested it (she made the cake, after all).

      • Sarah

        We were struggling to keep straight (albeit smiling) faces during ours, too … especially when something that SHOULD have been easy (I can use a knife! YAY!) wasn’t. (The cut piece of cake wouldn’t be removed from the rest. It was ridiculous. We finally just took forks to the large cake itself.)

        We made great fun of everyone who desperately needed to have a picture of us eating cake. Goofy faces and all, we had a blast with something that we really couldn’t take seriously.

        Except the cake itself. I ALWAYS take cake seriously. With goofy faces. =)

      • I had to ask my (recently married) friend how the whole cake cutting thing worked… we were about to cut two regular-sized slices and try to cram them into each other’s mouths. And the picture taken at that point is probably the most unflattering picture I’ve ever seen of myself– apparently I really love cake. As is clearly shown by my extremely wide-open mouth… ha.

        • Michelle

          Some of my favorite wedding photos are of us eating our cheesecake. Because it’s clear that I really really love cheesecake in those photos. I was SO happy and it shows.

      • meg

        That’s just because you were not at OUR wedding Emily, where we used a giant family saber. It was sort of a highlight of the day, if you ask me. I’d been looking forward to it since I was a wee girl looking at my parents pictures of them cutting their cake with a saber.

      • Ha! I love it. The faces I made during our cake cutting mirror your sentiments exactly. It’s a giant WTF written in wrinkles on my forehead.

      • We initially weren’t going to have a cake because we thought it was kind of pointless, but then the socialized bride in me wanted one (though we are going completely untraditional with three different flavoured bundt cakes covered with rose petals)…anyways, it certainly does seem silly and I’ve warned my fiance that if he wants to stay married I’d best not be getting any cake in the face! Haha

  • This is the first wedding-graduate post I’ve ever seen that actually made me miss the wedding planning part of my life. I’m grinning my face off.

  • I have nothing to add, except that you are wise and fabulous! (And I love your dresses – and your flowers!!!)

  • Yay Emily! Beautiful wedding and beautiful pictures! And, you sound like a dream client ;)


  • kyley

    Yayay Emily!

    Emily shot the photos for my very best friend’s wedding (we found her on APW!), and seriously she and Ed are the most delightful people you could imagine. I’m thrilled to read about their lovely, lovely day!

    I’m sending warm fuzzies through the internet.

    • Hey Kyley!!!! Sending warm fuzzies right back at you!!!

  • Oh my gosh, Emily, this was such a sweet recollection of your wedding (which looked like an absolute BLAST) – thank you for sharing! I definitely felt very similarly about a lot of parts of planning my wedding and the ENTIRE fourth paragraph happened to me, more or less exactly (ok, so replace Catholic-priest uncle with Methodist-minister uncle and we’re spot on). Anyway, thanks for rekindling some of my own fond memories and sharing your happy photos – definitely made my morning a little brighter!

  • Erika Murdock

    Emily – where was your wedding? I’m in SF, and want to have a small 50-75 person wedding and am struggling to find a place that is outside and cheap. I’ll take any and all other suggestions as well. Have been searching herecomestheguide.com and APW and style me pretty but haven’t found anything that fits. This is an APW, low budget, faboulous, initimate wedding and I need some help. Thanks all!!!

    • meg

      TILDEN PARK PICNIC SPOTS. That’s my advice, not where Emily had her wedding. I think they run $600 for a full day. We had our welcome picnic there, and it was stunning (spring/early summer is good, because it’s green not dry). I kept joking that we should have just had the wedding there.

      If you’re looking to spend more than that, I have a few more ideas, but that’s my best cheap outside idea. If you’re willing to do inside, rent a restaurant, done.

      • @meg – is a forum in the works here at APW? We could all share so much info with each other!

        • meg

          It will happen in 2011. WHEN in 2011 is up in the air. I need to find money and time to develop it, and volunteers to help run it :)

          • I’m officially volunteering!!

          • I’m volunteering too!

          • meg

            Thank you ladies. It’s time and money that are slightly more pressing at this point :) It will happen, I swear. Just… I need a tiny bit of time.

    • Another awesome place to look at is the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House. It’s cheap. No one knows about it yet. AND all the money goes towards their super awesome non-profit. We had our wedding there for 100 people and it was perfect! I’ll send you pics if you want :)

      • Also, Bunny Meadow in golden gate park is only $50 a day. We had the ceremony in Bunny Meadow, and then bussed to Potrero.

        But there are lots of places inside the park to rent for the reception portion (the hall of flowers for example). All pretty inexpensive options.

        • Erika Murdock

          Ooooh I love bunny meadow! So pretty (found a wedding online there, plus reception!). Plus we have been talking about September/October b/c of our awesome SF Fall. I know there is also Shakespear garden near the Academy of Sciences and thats $500 for two hours. Christina, we may need to talk offline about all of this, sounds like you’ve been through the ropes.

          Meg – thanks for the ideas about the park, I’ll look into it.

      • Erika Murdock

        Christina – I’d LOVE that! Sounds amazing!! Thanks guys! emurdock@gmail.com

    • Emily

      Our wedding was in San Luis Obispo at the Monday Club. For anyone looking for a beautiful and inexpensive site on the central coast, Monday Club is IT! Because we got married on a Sunday, the venue was $350 (though $850 for Saturday is still really cheap), and it included use of the garden as well as the hall, tables and chairs (we did setup and cleanup), and there’s also a huge kitchen that our caterer used.

      Here’s the website in case anyone wants to check it out http://www.california-west.com/mondayclub/

  • This is such a gorgeous wedding – thank you for sharing!


  • Real quick before I read all the comments:
    1) you’re LOVELY
    2) love your dresses
    3) I really, really appreciate the reminder to allow yourself to value and congratulate what you do. I read a while ago that a woman used planning her wedding as proof she was awesome and organized and despite the original pooh-pooh, it’s actually a big deal. You’re planning and orchestrating and designing and networking and many more things.

  • allison

    “he speaks up when he feels particular about something, the rest he leaves to me, knowing I’ll do what I think is best for both of us, making it pretty while I do it, because damn it, I care about the aesthetics!”

    Can I just say this really hit home for me. I am planning a wedding and love all the crafty artsy elements that I can incorporate. I keep feeling guilty because I think that I am not including my fiance and that it is frivolous to have fun with this part. Your post help me just be okay with the fact that I am the artsy take charge type while he is not. It is all good. Also, thanks for reassuring me that it is okay to enjoy the creative elements!!!

    Overall great post!!! PS. I really heart this blog.

  • This is a really great post Emily! Very positive. I wish my grad post in the works sounding anything like this. I can’t get mine to NOT sound like a long-winded rant. And that’s just not constructive! Your wedding is beautiful and amazing :)

    • Kinzie Kangaroo

      We like rants too. As long as they’re productive. :)

  • Kat

    Yay Emily!!! Can I just tell you a bajillion things about you that I love and secretly hope people think about me? 1. your awesome taste in clothes. WHERE DID YOU GET THAT BLUE DRESS I WANT IT! :) 2. Your giant expressive smiles that light up rooms (I’ve been caught too many times on camera with a wide-eyed-mouth-wide-open grin of excitement and been, WHOA I need to calm down, but on you it looks as though you ooze delight and every eye is drawn to you. I like that on you. 3. you’re a LINDY HOPPER JUST LIKE ME!!! I’m so excited about that!!!! So lindy lurrrve from Columbus, eh? Your wedding looked fantastic. And you are gosh darn beautiful. Love it.

    • Hooray! Lindy Love! I got the blue dress at ShopRuche.com, and it dances like a dream (the white dress was a bit too heavy for swing outs).

      • Kat

        Holy Crap! That site is AWESOME. Thank you!

  • Emily!!! I just want to draw hearts all around this grad post. So much exactly to everything you said – from unexpected help to the pressure to plan nonchalantly to taking the time to be with your people. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Also, dedicating yourself to being a new photographer’s first wedding? If that’s not a mitzvah, I don’t know what is.

    • meg

      Mitzvah, awww. And it’s so important to start your marraige with some sort of mitzvah, I think. Though do you know that “celebrating with the bride and groom” is one of the biggest mitzvahs that there is? It’s right up there with “saving a life.”

      • I didn’t know it but I really like that! I imagine it would cancel out a lot of the “poor, put-upon guest” white noise that’s out there.

        • meg

          Are you kidding? It’s your religious obligation. You’re actually supposed to bring songs and stories and jokes to entertain them. And you can whisper your prayers to the bride, because she has the direct ear of God all day, and will ask God about them (I did).

          Maybe that’s a post.

          • Amber

            That is so beautiful.

  • Chris

    I hope it’s OK for a guy to jump in here. I got married by a judge in a courtroom and was none too happy with *all* the prep that took, but anything beat one of those deadly dull weddings that were the rage in my day. Em’s wedding was a revelation to me; colorful, relaxed, fun, did I mention colorful, great music. She did it with no muss, no fuss, no angst before during or after. I always knew she was a great planner, but to pull that off without making it look planned was brilliant.* A good time was had by all.

    * I’m her dad, so I may be a bit biased on that one.

    • meg

      Emily’s dad just left a comment y’all. Sniff. I’m not at all feeling verklempt.

  • Diane

    I tried to do a quick review of the comments to make sure I’m not repeating – but there are so many and it’s super late. My question is – how do you find a new photographer? These photos are amazing and I’m certainly willing to give someone a first wedding. I just don’t know how to find them.

    • meg

      Good question. Emily?

      • I met Samantha at a wedding photography workshop that she and I both attended in 2009. At the time, she had worked as a second shooter at a couple weddings, and I really liked her and her work, so I figured it was a good fit.

        If you’re looking to give someone their first wedding, ask around at your local college; maybe speak to a photo teacher to see if they know if any of their students are looking to break into the wedding business. You could also ask pro photogs if they know of anyone looking for that kind of work (maybe their own second shooter wants to start doing their own weddings). The best way is probably just word of mouth; I’m sure someone you know knows someone who is a budding photographer and might be interested in taking on your wedding. Good luck!

        • Diane

          Thanks! That’s a great idea. I’ll need to start asking around. Or snooping around at workshops…

  • “I had this self-imposed pressure to act nonchalant about everything, while secretly I was enjoying the hell out of it.”

    That! Yes! Exactly! It’s still the talk of my department that I made the flowers and the dress for my wedding. When that’s just what I do all the time. That’s how I live my life. And I love every minute of it. Some people just enjoy doing that.

    And your wedding is lovely!

  • No doubt this was one of the best days of my life, and I couldn’t imagine it (or any other days afterward) without Emily. Love ya!

    • K

      I like this :)

  • Alexandra

    Hooray, so much awesome!

  • lena

    Oh my gosh Emily you wedding is peeerrrffect! Fun, inclusive, just everything! I love the kids! Is this at the Lucie Stern Center, by chance? I just started looking into it and the much less glamorous Twin Pines in Belmont …If it is, did you rent the whole thing or just the ballroom, and was it a happy experience? Congratulations!!:)

    • Thanks Lena! The wedding was actually in San Luis Obispo, but I shot a wedding last year at Lucie Stern, and it was just gorgeous! If you want, I can put you in touch with the couple who held their wedding there. Just email me and I’ll hook you up: hello (at) emilytakesphotos (dot) com

  • Kathy

    Playing the guitar with the band? SO COOL! I am learning to play the ukulele (a gift from my fiance) and am contemplating playing and singing a song for him at our reception that is really wonderful and would tell the “story of us”… but I have NEVER done anything like that! I think it could either be incredibly lovely or a train wreck waiting to happen. The lessons are coming from one half of the duo that will play at our reception and they will be carrying the song, while I merely strum a bit. I know I’ll have a sense come July if its pure insanity, but did it make you nervous?Had you played a lot before and in front of people you knew?

    Way to rock your wedding and your reception! :)