Very (Un)Superstitious: Melissa & Matthew

Melissa stood in front of the mirror, bracing herself on the vanity, glancing every so often at her reflection and then looking back down, taking a breath or two in between.

 “Are you gonna be ok?” I asked her.

“I’ll be fine,” Melissa said. “Where’s Matt? Downstairs?”

She left the bridal ready room (which, we’re sure, was furnished by Laura Ashley) while Chrissy (her sister), set up the make-up by the mirror, Eryc (Melissa’s man of honor) ran around fine tuning all the details of the day, and I tried to tidy up, taking pictures when I could, hoping that sometime soon, the rain would stop. After a few moments, Melissa came back into the room, but before she closed the door, Matt, standing by the doorway, gave her a quick reassuring kiss and then was off.

Soon we were back in front of that vanity, re-inforcing Mel’s bun with a dozen or so more bobby pins, spraying her ‘do as Eryc protected her face with his hands.  Chrissy’s turn with her make-up took just a few more minutes and the next thing left to do was put on her dress…but not before Mel stole a few moments to transcribe her vows from her Palm Pre to a piece of paper that she could carry down the aisle.

I don’t know how I got the privilege to help Mel put on her gown, but after I teased her for stepping into her dress instead of having the dress placed over her head like it’s usually done, she laughed, I zipped and Chrissy, Eryc and her older sister, Sandy, and I just kind of stood there and looked at her for a few seconds. Melissa looked so beautiful!

Yes, the day was rainy and the ceremony had to be done inside at the chapel instead of outside where they had planned. Yes, the bride and the groom saw each other before the ceremony. In the end, they were but minute circumstances against that which was most important – Melissa and Matthew, married.

Nazareth Hall is about a 30-minute drive from where Melissa grew up in Maumee, OH. The surrounding area, grassy and tree-filled, remind me of Dead Poets’ Society. As a Southern Californian, there was no mistaking I was far from home here in the Midwest. It’s nice to be away from home sometimes though, and this was no exception.

Fresh flowers, white furniture, floral upholstery – is this Laura Ashley or what?

Melissa is one of the most lovable people I know. Nerves or not, she was all smiles.

Compliments of the Nazareth Hall staff…

One of the most unique wedding band pairings I’ve ever seen. Matt’s ring is made of this Damascus stainless steel used to make swords!

Mel’s shoes were cute Badgley Mischkas. I love when brides wear color on their feet. By the end of the night, however, Melissa said her feet were killing her. It’s okay, dear cousin, because they looked great! =)

Mel’s dress wasn’t covered with a lot of frills, and it didn’t need it. I love that criss-cross band around the waist and that lace bolero? Chrissy made that!

Sandy’s daughter, my niece Mia’s hand…All together now…aaaaaww….

Could I LOOK any smaller?! 

Setting up family pictures is always such a harrowing feat, but the photographers got everyone to smile at the same time. The challenge is having everyone’s eyes opened. I hope they got a few those.

Welcome to our family, Matt. I see you’re just as hammy in front of the camera as the rest of us =)

One of my favorite parts of attending this wedding was getting to see family that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. Mel’s parents (of course)…

Mel’s man of honor was their childhood friend, Eryc, who isn’t related to us but might as well be. Even though this was only the second time I’d seen him, it was like we’d hung out all these years. Never a dull moment with this guy!

Ate Sandy and Chrissy – where would Mel be without her big sisters?

My cousin Chrissy is such a fun person to be around. She’s only a year older than I am, but I really look up to her (if she’s reading this, she’ll either be really flattered or start rolling her eyes. haha!). Actually, she is who my mom (and even Chrissy herself) thinks my sister is going to be exactly like when she gets older and I don’t disagree. Chrissy and her boyfriend, Tom, are such a great pair. I’m glad, after all these years, we finally met him.  

I flew to Ohio with my sister and cousins. Aimee’s wedding is next year (can’t wait!) and PJ – boy did this guy used to pester me when he was little!

Sandy and her husband, Butch, have 5 great kids, my nieces and nephews – Bianca, Roman, Sabrina, Gabriel and Mia. I wish I could’ve spent more time with all of them, but I’m hoping a visit to Loveland, OH won’t be too far off (Thanks for the invite, Ate Sandy!).

Chrissy was the graphic mastermind behind all the paper products for this wedding – save-the-dates, invitations, programs, placecards, menu cards, table numbers. So talented and so creative!

The ballroom looked amazing! So much light, even despite the cloudy day, streaked in, and the all the white details, from the linens to the chairs to the  flowers, provided all the gleam in that room.

Can’t forget the personalized napkins…

Mel’s parents, my uncle and aunt aren’t the most talkative in a crowd but they are two of the nicest people and boy can they dance!

Melissa and Matthew Birdsall!!!

A toast! My little sister is still about 10 months from 21, but under the supervision of responsible cousins, she was allowed a drink or two (don’t pop a vein, Mom and Dad, Tin was totally fine).

Uncle Pete, Auntie Tessie, Aunt Diane and Uncle Tito – attendees from Lansing, MI. We really do need to pay a visit to that side of the country soon, but I’m so happy we got to see them here.

First dance as husband and wife…

Mel did a great job keeping up with her dad. =) What a happy dance that was…

Mother-Son dance…

Groom-flower girls dance…haha!

CONGRATULATIONS, MELISSA AND MATT!!! That was a beautiful wedding and I’m glad so many of us got to celebrate with you two! Wishing you a happy marriage!

A Baby at His Best: Maximo’s Baptism

Amma Lissa – that’s what my friend, Adriana, thought my name was when I met her…27 years ago in kindergarten. She also thought I was Japanese and that eating with a spoon and fork was the weirdest thing she’d ever seen. I think it’s safe to say I was the first Filipino friend she’d ever had, and being that I came to the United States shortly before I started school, I can safely say she was the first Mexican friend I’d ever had. Actually, she was one of my first friends EVER.

We attended the same elementary school for 9 years, kept in touch throughout high school (and this was before the internet was anything at all), and after that, we have the occasional dinner or coffee date. It’s funny how no matter how much time apart has passed or passes between us, we seem to be the same two people we were when we met,  just a little older.

Now she’s a mom, married to such a wonderful guy and has one of the most well-behaved babies I’ve ever encountered. Maximo is such a sweet and happy little boy. His smile is a staple for every minute he’s awake and oh, how he is loved. There is a certain look that parents have when they look at their child. I’ve seen it in the faces of all my friends who have been blessed with kids. And Adriana and Gonzalo, they look at Maximo and I can see, not just how proud they are to have such a good baby, but how fortunate they feel that they get to be his parents.

His baptism day was a happy one – a private ceremony at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church in L.A. and a lunch reception at Barragan’s on Sunset.

Thank you, Adriana, for all these years of friendship and for trusting me to capture this special day!

Summer on the Grove: Amanda & Anthony

The last two weeks had been a stressful one; a turnaround trip from here to San Francisco for a conference, meetings filling her Outlook Calendar, calls to make, a to-do list for the next week and a half without her to leave behind and, oh yeah, a wedding to plan. Such was the case for my co-worker, Amanda, who is truly one of the sweetest and funnest people I’ve ever worked with.

Shortly after she joined our department a year ago, Amanda got engaged, and though a potential date was 11 months away, she knew that her wedding planning days were numbered. Each week, we’d have an impromptu discussion of her progress, from printing invitations on a new computer that she hadn’t quite mastered, to the search for candy-covered walnuts. A few times, when the workday had us spent, we’d take a break and gawk at wedding photographer blogs (Jasmine Star’s was a favorite). But even in the craziness of planning her wedding, working and, oh yeah, she also bought a new house, Amanda was hardly ever without a smile on her face. Maybe she just knew how to hide the stress and frustration well. Maybe she was never really worried about any of it. Or maybe, she found comfort in knowing that she had Anthony.

Amanda and Anthony celebrated their wedding ceremony and reception at Walnut Grove in Tierra Rejada Ranch. Having only known Amanda for about a year, this day was the perfect reflection of her – simple elegance. 

Lined on either side of a brick aisle were white folding chairs atop the greenest grass that summer could provide. .. 

On a tree hung picture frames which spelled LOVE, and in it were wedding photos of the bride and groom’s grandparents…

A 5:30 pm ceremony on that August Saturday provided the perfect weather for an outdoor ceremony – sunny and breezy.

As the guests were seated, and the entourage walked up the aisle, two guitarists strummed love songs, creating an even more relaxing, and poignant atmosphere.

Amanda’s mom, who could seriously be mistaken for her sister, said a most touching speech later that evening. She thanked Anthony’s parents, his family, and everyone in his lineage who came before him, for making him the man that he is today; a man worthy of her daughter. I listened to her and before I knew it, my eyes were welling up. What beautiful sentiments she shared.

Amanda and Anthony were as gorgeous a bride and groom as you can get. And with the officiant muddling through (barely) their history, they couldn’t help themselves, laughing for a good part of the ceremony at all the misinformation the priest was providing their guests. I’d only known Anthony through Amanda’s stories, and the only bit of concrete information I had was that he was a huge Laker fan so you know how highly I thought of him already =) But other than that, it wasn’t difficult to see how happy he and Amanda were and would be.

Quick disclaimer – I decided that, for once, I’d be a guest at a wedding and nothing more, so I left my DSLR at home and opted for a point-and-shoot that could fit in my small purse. I know it seems silly, but even when I have no active part in a wedding, when I carry that big camera, I feel compelled to take more pictures than should be necessary for any guest. But when I saw all the wonderful details of this day, how I wanted to smack myself for settling. Lesson learned, however, because despite the absence of the better camera, I still managed to eke out some fun images of my favorite parts of weddings – the details.

In place of cocktail-high tables, the reception area was surrounded by barrels and small vases of flowers…

Here we are, parts of the Advertising Dept, glad for once to be gathered for something other than a staff meeting.

On tree branches hung a clothesline, and on it were pinned from end to end with place cards…

How cute is that?!

Round tables of 10 were adorned with white table cloths, low centerpieces, surrounded by white chairs and above hung strings of light that hung across the entire reception area.

Rather than a multi-tiered cake, Amanda and Anthony opted for a bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes, decorated with flowers.

Rather than cutting up a big cake to share with their guests, we were treated to an array of cupcakes from Missy’s Cupcake Creations. All I can say is YUM YUM YUM!

Doesn’t this scene scream Snow White?! So beautiful!

The newlyweds just got back from their honeymoon in Maui and, despite the 200 emails in her inbox, Amanda is, as always, all smiles. And who wouldn’t be after a wedding as beautiful as theirs?

CONGRATULATIONS, MR. & MRS!! Best wishes for a happy married life!