Easter Special: Charlie & Alex’s 1st Birthday

5:30 am – That’s what time Iya slept before Charlie and Alex’s first birthday party. We’d been talking and emailing about the girls’ first birthday for months and it was finally here; and knowing Iya for as long as I have, I knew she would spare no details.

It was the Saturday before Easter Sunday so what better theme to have, right? There were cakepops shaped like bunnies and baby chicks (which Iya spent days making), a dessert table filled with the most scrumptuous (and evil!) of goodies, an Easter basket-making corner, a balloon artist, an Easter Bunny roaming around and a photobooth, of course, for pictures with the holiday’s mascot.  

Charlie and Alex took a really short nap in the morning, and when they got to their party and saw all their guests, they looked like they were fighting sleep. Alas, they gave in for a little while but woke up in time for cake! Our friend from college, Belle, made this AMAZING two-tier cake, not to mention two personalized smash cakes for the girls to, well, smash. They didn’t exactly do any smashing though. They, in fact, looked kinda weirded out by their mom and dad sticking their fingers into the cake! I think Chris and Iya had more fun with that smash cake than the girls did. haha!

Charlie and Alex ended their day with a mass opening of gifts (well, Iya opened and we watched, haha!), caring for the packaging more than anything, laughing at each other, clapping their hands and I couldn’t help but think, they’re one already?! Weren’t we all just taking turns holding them at the hospital?! But before I could get all mushy or senti about it, I was distracted by the two silly little girls sitting in the sea of giftbags, playing with a crumpled piece of tissue and looking as content as can be. 1 year old – now THAT was the life! 

All That Matters: Keshia & Jake

My uncle hadn’t even gotten through singing his song when the room suddenly turned into a tearful crowd. His youngest daughter, my cousin Keshia, sat at a nearby table, held together by her new husband Jake. She couldn’t stop crying (and neither could I – thank goodness for my awesome buddy/2nd shooter Andrew who took a lot of the shots below); overcome by such emotion that she walked right up to her dad still crooning into the mic, and hugged him as tightly as she could.

As strong as my uncle has fought through his cancer, so too did Keshia and Jake fight through a long-distance relationship. My uncle has been an example of a simple but powerful philosophy that his daughter (and most of us) have taken to heart – there really is no better time than now. Love-NOW. Live-NOW. And that’s exactly what Keshia and Jake did. There was no need for a year’s worth of preparation for a huge wedding. What was important to them was starting a life together as soon as possible – why wait? 

The florals were put together by my awesome mom – roses and baby’s breath for the bridesmaids and orchids from her own little garden for the bride. My cousin, Dan and his roommate, Ken provided music for the ceremony and the reception. The banquet hall was not huge, but love and joy spilled out of every window and door. The guestlist was minimal, but each family member and close friend emanated such high spirits and boiseterousness that would shame the largest parties.

Keshia has always been like another little sister to me, but on her wedding day, she was a radiant, absolutely gorgeous bride and wife-to-be. Jake, who I hadn’t known very well, is exactly the warm, generous, kind man that deserves a woman like Keshia.

Thank you so much, dear cousin and cousin-in-law, for trusting me to record this most special day. I wish you two endless happiness!

The Real Deal: Joan & Bong

Joan’s long white robe opened up as she leaned over to pick up something and there was Hello Kitty peaking out, patterned all over her pink pajamas. I own two pairs of Hello Kitty pj’s myself (don’t hate, they’re cute!) and couldn’t help but, “aaaw!” I told her (Joan, not Hello Kitty) that we absolutely needed to get some shots of her in the adorable pj’s and she laughed, “Really? Are you sure?” How could we not? Every thread of those Sanrio pj’s reflected more of Joan’s personality than any boring white Marriott bathrobe ever could.

Joan was aglow all morning; heck, all day, as most brides tend to be. And I don’t think I remember her ever looking stressed or worried. Calm as a cucumber (when did vegetables gain the ability to experience calm? Save it for another entry? ok). In the short time I’ve gotten to know her, I discovered she’s like that all the time. And her hubby, Bong, is, literally, a barrel of laughs. The way he cracks Joan up (not to mention everyone around him), it’s not a mystery why they were meant to be together.

Thanks for letting us be part of your day, Mr. & Mrs.!