Sunday, August 10, 2008

Michelle and Jourdan Chauss

For many couples, the “big wedding” isn’t something they start out with. They make the conscious decision to forego the formal ceremony and reception and decide to do something on a much smaller scale. Other times, the actual act of getting married is a spontaneous event. Some of these couples later decide to go ahead and have the big event with a formal renewal of their vows.

Such was the case for Michelle and Jourdan. These two surprised their friends during a trip to Lake Tahoe, and slipped away to one of the convenient wedding chapels in the area. Neither had really wanted to have the full-blown ceremony and reception. They later changed their minds and opted to do it all over again; this time, with family and friends in attendance.

They found a small chapel that’s attached to the larger sanctuary or St. Bonaventure Catholic Church in Concord. This was just the perfect size for the 60-80 guests they expected. Behind the church has an incredible rose garden that we used for the bridal portraits and most of the family pictures. The skylights and high windows of the chapel offered a very soft, natural light environment. The tight booking schedule for the chapel imposed some time constraints, but we were able to gets a number of great shots in the gardens. (Wedding Album Design Link)

We shot the bridal party and pre-ceremony shots of the family in the gardens before the ceremony. Another one of those times when wished I had brought walkie-talkies to coordinate moving the bride/bridesmaids and groom/groomsmen around without the bride and groom seeing each other. Logistics aside, this was a fantastic location to shoot in.

The reception location was in a small park in Danville. A part of the facilities is a ranch-style house that is available to rent. Behind the house is a large open area, ringed by trees. The shade from those trees turned a 95-degree day into a nice 80-degree setting that was warm, but very comfortable. A gazebo standing in the middle of a grassy field was one of two portrait locations we used. The other was an iron and wood bridge that spanned the creek bed that flowed behind the open yard. The bright, midday, open sun around the gazebo was particularly challenging to work with, but the near-sunset lighting for the second location was fantastic. The complete album pre-design is located here.

Jourdan, a former chef, prepared the food for the wedding banquet. Without exaggeration, I have to admit that was the best wedding dinner I’ve had in my 30+ years of covering weddings. We came away with more than a couple recipes.

With all this, you wouldn’t think of this as anything but a wedding and reception. This had all the nervousness, excitement, emotions, and tears you would expect. The families, some from as far away as Florida, had a wonderful time together, and celebrated the day like it was the first day of Michelle and Jourdan’s married life. In some ways, it was.

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