wedding

Lance + Abi's Intimate Wedding | Long Beach Elopement Photographer | Los Angeles Elopement Photographer

Okay before we get started here, I gotta let y’all know in advance this might be a long blog post! I had so much trouble deciding on favorite images to post + little snippets to tell, so see if you can bare with me here!

On January 18th I had the infinite pleasure of documenting the wedding of Lance + Abi and ohmygosh it was so freaking sweet. About a year ago, I shot them up at Leo Carillo with their WOLFDOG and absolute sweetheart, Luna. Straight off the bat, the four of us (well, five of us - my husband, Krisz, came too!) got along so well. I loved capturing them during that insanely gorgeous golden hour, with the rolling hills behind them and their beautiful pup by their side.

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Then in December, I had organized a styled shoot but every model couple I’d set up seemed to fall through! So I asked Lance + Abi to step in for me and they were amazing. They’d gotten engaged just a few days prior, and on the way there my uber driver jokingly said “maybe they’ll enjoy this so much they’ll decide to get married even sooner!” I laughed + went on to my shoot, only for a few days to pass and Abi text me saying over the holidays they’d decided to move to Texas and that they’d be getting married in January! She said they’d love for me to photograph it for them and of course, I was totally up for it!

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Before their ceremony, we explored fun vignettes around City Hall (rooftop decks are a personal fave!) to get some variety in their couple portraits! I loved the motion of Abi’s dress, so I made sure to get shots of her playing with it and that breeze sweeping it up. It was uncharacteristically chilly that morning, so I told Lance to come in and warm up his bride with a few squeezes!

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I loved the urban feel of this shot! Putting it in black + white gave it a very nostalgic feel, and I thought the perspective between the walls was an interesting + unique view.

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I feel like I’ve done a disservice to this sweet Luna, Lance + Abi’s wolfdog/husky rescue by not showing her more here! She was a five-star bridesmaid and major comfort to the couple all day. She barely let them leave her sight! Documenting the prep/behind-the-scenes is something I love to do. These little moments, full of anticipation and emotions are so sweet and often overlooked. Showcasing these is just as important as the couple portraits for me!

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The city clerk brought the family to a small ceremony room in the back, where Lance + Abi exchanged rings and OFFICIALLY became a married couple!

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After their city hall ceremony, Lance + Abi brought their family back to L’Opera Ristorante in Long Beach, one of their favorite date night spots. As they were leaving for Texas just a few days after the ceremony, it was a great excuse to eat their favorite pasta one last time before their big move!

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We snuck away from our killer pasta and the reception brunch for a few moments to take some portraits of them enjoying the small-town Long Beach feel one last time. I loved how even though these have more of an urban backdrop, they still feel intimate + so emotional. Wishing many many trips around the sun together for these two and I can’t wait to go visit them (and sweet Luna) in Texas sometime!

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planning a Joshua Tree elopement | Joshua Tree elopement photographer

Joshua Tree is all the rage in recent years. Couples - including us - flock to this unique desert from all over the world to elope! There’s something incredible about the landscape: somehow between breaks in the barren desert beautiful things find their way through. And we’ve always been fans of a good underdog story.

Having eloped ourselves, we figured we might have a unique perspective for those planning an elopement of their own - in Joshua Tree or anywhere else! In this post we’ll incorporate some shots of our own elopement process + some from a recent intimate wedding in Joshua Tree!

@ Vic Bonvicini Photography

@ Vic Bonvicini Photography

at the LAX courthouse, doin the official thang! (phone photo!)

at the LAX courthouse, doin the official thang! (phone photo!)

1. Finding an officiant: this step is one of the less glamorous parts of planning a elopement but technically the most important! If your paperwork doesn’t get filed, you didn’t elope - you just went on vacation and gave each other jewelry. In an officiant, you need someone that is highly organized, personable, available, and able to travel to your elopement spot. because we planned things pretty short notice, we weren’t able to find someone that met all of those requirements within our budget. if you can’t find one that suits your budget, style, or availability you can do what we did: go to the county courthouse! We did this in LA the day before we went to Joshua Tree, because it fit our availability, was super affordable + we were sure the paperwork would get filed correctly.

If you’re planning with a bit more time, here are some local to Joshua Tree that have a great way with words and wonderful reviews:

Let’s Get Married by Marie : I love that she proudly claims her title as an #antiboringweddings officiant! LA based, Marie offers elopement packages specifically for Joshua Tree and the Pacific Northwest. From her reviews + blogs, it’s clear that she does her due diligence when it comes to preparing for her couples!

LA Wedding Woman : LA Wedding Woman offers a variety of packages to suit couples’ needs, perfect for an elopement!

Wedding in the Desert  : As a Joshua Tree local, Celine offers a unique perspective. She also is a certified American Sign Language interpreter, which she says has given her insight on how to “speak for” people without injecting a personal agenda.

captured by @Vic Bonvicini

captured by @Vic Bonvicini

2. Simple but significant. Eloping in a beautiful place (hi, JT) means you can really minimize costs that would have been spent on a venue (besides a park permit), decor, etc.

We stayed at AirBnb’s instead of renting a hotel + wouldn’t have it any other way. cactus mountain & joshua tree house.

Joshua Tree House - source: Airbnb

Joshua Tree House - source: Airbnb

Megan + Jade, shot by Morgan with Eden Strader

Megan + Jade, shot by Morgan with Eden Strader

Cactus Mountain - source: Airbnb

Cactus Mountain - source: Airbnb

Megan + Jade, shot by Morgan with Eden Strader

Megan + Jade, shot by Morgan with Eden Strader

Megan + Jade, shot by Morgan with Eden Strader

Megan + Jade, shot by Morgan with Eden Strader

3. Injecting your personality. Eloping is a fun way to magnify elements of your relationship that are unlike any other! We for instance are total coffee nerds. Moments after saying “I do”, we were saying “I brew” with a French press. We picked up local coffee from Joshua Tree Coffee Company the day before for our sunrise vow exchange + joked it would be our form of a unity candle. We packed a blanket we picked up during our cross-country move the day we went to the Grand Canyon and packed it all into our little Mini Cooper (RIP) to sit on as we sipped. Another thing we like nerding out on is gardening! Hopefully we’ll have a little farm of sorts down the road, but in the meantime we love visiting plant nurseries + watching gardening shows (yes, if you’re wondering, we are actually 60 years old inside). That’s why we decided to make the bouquet an adventure too - we went to the iconic flower market downtown early Saturday morning and picked our very favorite flowers. That night, we carefully crafted a gorgeous and MASSIVE bouquet and tied it up with bakers’ twine.

If you’re not down to make your own bouquet, there are several super talented florists in Joshua Tree! We loooove the bouquets from The Blooming Gypsy. Check out the hanging flower wall in this post and the wildflower-vibes here.

Vic Bonvicini Photography

Vic Bonvicini Photography

Vic Bonvicini Photography

Vic Bonvicini Photography

One of our favorite photos of the whole day. This is a truly candid moment, fixing each other up one last time before heading on a short hike to the spot where we exchanged vows. We love that it incorporates some of the most memorable parts of the day - our Mini Cooper, the homemade bouquet, and the camping pack where we’d tucked away all our coffee goods.

One of our favorite photos of the whole day. This is a truly candid moment, fixing each other up one last time before heading on a short hike to the spot where we exchanged vows. We love that it incorporates some of the most memorable parts of the day - our Mini Cooper, the homemade bouquet, and the camping pack where we’d tucked away all our coffee goods.

Phone photo - In-N-Out after our courthouse ceremony!

Phone photo - In-N-Out after our courthouse ceremony!

Phone photo - In-N-Out after our courthouse ceremony!

Phone photo - In-N-Out after our courthouse ceremony!

4. Good food = good times. After leaving the courthouse from our short little ceremony, we stopped at In-N-Out, of course! And then Donut Friend in Highland Park because what wedding is complete without a little dessert? We brought fresh food & champagne down to JT and cooked in our AirBnb the night before because we love to do that together - homemade shrimp tacos + fresh guac! The next day after our ceremony, we grabbed lunch at Crossroads cafe - we had the most amazing portobello mushroom burger + we attempt to recreate it at least once every other week! Getting some of your favorite food - whether that’s Chick-Fil-A or a fancy steak dinner - will make the day feel so personalized. Maybe this is where you want to splurge, and that’s totally ok! But don’t feel pressured to. Our advice is to make sure it’s something you FEEL is worth a billion bucks, even if it doesn’t cost much.

Phone photo - realizing we’re stuck in a ditch.

Phone photo - realizing we’re stuck in a ditch.

Phone photo - realizing we can’t get out.

Phone photo - realizing we can’t get out.

5. Understand that things may go wrong. Elopements aren’t immune to unpredictable moments any more than traditional weddings! We grabbed some phone photos to document this moment because we knew as ridiculous as it felt, we’d be laughing about it soon. We had wrapped up our portraits + headed back to our airbnb, and we got STUCK in the desert. Literally stuck. In the sand. Like, had to be towed out by AAA kind of stuck. The joke that day was “well it can only go up from here!” Sometimes as a photographer you walk into an intimate wedding and ten minutes later you’re sewing a grooms’ pants seam, or helping dig your couples’ car out of the sand (thanks, Vic!).

We hope you enjoyed these tips for planning an intimate ceremony! Tell us in the comments if you’d like more posts like these + what tips you found useful!


Megan + Hans

It's hard to believe it's been SIX months since this intimate Malibu ceremony. Megan + Hans were the perfect example of significance in the simplicity. It was such a privilege to shoot this with Marlies Hartmann of M. Hart Photo! 

 

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One of the most incredible things about this wedding was the way it unfolded in the grand scheme of things. The couple's intimate Airbnb gathering started off in the planning stages as quite the opposite, but somewhere along the way they ditched the big venue and endless guest list so that Hans could have a heart surgery he'd literally been waiting a lifetime for. 

an energetic niece opted to watch the ceremony from several angles in the surrounding yard

an energetic niece opted to watch the ceremony from several angles in the surrounding yard

I loved the unique additions the couple integrated into the ceremony that made it truly a reflection of their relationship: a close friend officiated the ceremony, with a memorable introduction quoting Tolkien about the adventure they were about to embark upon; a notebook containing both the bride and groom's vows, that they took turns reading out of; and an unmatched level of comfort and relaxation as they raised glasses of wine with their closest friends and family. 

After the ceremony, the group made their way to the nearby Nobu restaurant, where we snuck off to the beach below before dinner. It's such a thrill to capture two people so genuinely in love. Six months in to forever!