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One month and one day ago, I got married.

I don’t remember waking up – what I thought or felt. Which is funny, because I used to tell myself “make sure you think or feel something when you wake up on your wedding day”. But no, I just woke up.

Jess came to pick me up at about 9:30,  along with my pile of stuff – dress, underdress, boots, overnight bag, etc, etc, etc. Our first stop was my hair and makeup appointment. It took over two hours, but I was very happy with the result – it was very close to what I had envisioned. And I still looked like me. We ended up running kind of late though, and by the time we ordered and picked up lunch for everyone at sweet pea’s, it was already almost 1pm (by which point we were supposed to be at the hotel already).

wedding hair

We hurried over to the hotel and were the third ones there – the photographer (Sarah) and bridesmaid Jenelle were already there. We started unpacking and the girls started getting ready, then my mom and sister showed up at about 2. Somehow, we just ran out of time. One minute I was trying to curl Jess’s hair, and the next the limo was there and I wasn’t even dressed yet. I wish we had scheduled more time. It all goes so fast, you know? I put on my epic dress and with some help got the thing zipped, and with little more than a glance in the mirror and a rushed gathering of necessary items, Jenelle, Jess and I were out the door. My mom, Anya, and the niece and nephew were to follow in a van.

limo

Driving up to the venue I was overwhelmed. I felt nervous and exhilarated, and also, I think, somewhat sad that everything was going so fast. Like I was missing it somehow, because it was going too fast. I read and re-read my vows to make sure I wouldn’t stutter, and I thought about how Sean must be feeling. He was already at the venue, directing last minute decorations.  I kept trying to remember what I used to feel about getting married – the significance, the overwhelming nature of the promises I was about to make. I kept trying to grasp those things and hold them in my mind, but they kept slipping away. Then I figured, I’ve had 4.5 years to decide to marry this guy – maybe I’ve thought about it enough. Maybe now it’s time to just do it, get the public display over with, and get on with the rest of our lives. It’s impossible to grasp in one moment what took years to decide, and what will take the rest of our lives to perfect.

But man, was I nervous.

When we arrived at the venue, someone made sure Sean was out of eyesight, and the girls and I snuck over to the bridal room. We ended up spending an awful long time in there, as people took forever to arrive and we started the ceremony half an hour late. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I just stopped thinking about it.

bridal room

bridal room

When it was finally time to start, someone handed me my bouquet, and I walked out and grabbed my father’s arm. He seemed somewhat overwhelmed too, but I’m glad he was there to steady me. I held unto his arm as if it was my life raft. We had to walk very slowly, because my 4 inch heels sunk in the soft grass upon contact. Later I found out that people thought I was going to faint, when really, I was just trying not to trip.

walking down the aisle

Sean was serious and determined. He could tell how nervous I was, so he grabbed my hand and held it the entire time.

The ceremony went quickly, which is what we wanted. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but I walked away from there someone’s wife.

The ensuing pictures were chaotic as usual, and since we started so late it was nearly dark, so we had to go fast. And then, the fun began.

Food! And friends and family. The toasts were lovely, and the mingling easy. The whole night was a blur of dancing and socializing. I wanted it to go on and on, but too soon it as over and people started heading home. I wish there had been more dancing, but we ran out of music, and the venue wouldn’t let us play it loud enough. Aside from that, it was a nearly perfect night. I was filled with sadness when all the lights and decorations started coming down and the tables folded up. We lingered until the last possible moment, making our car and driver wait for us for almost an hour. I didn’t want to say goodbye to my family, or my friends. Eventually, though, it was time to go, and I got to leave with my husband :0)

There’s some pretty significant symbolism in that simple act – saying goodbye to everyone, and going home with your husband. Not that you have to completely separate yourself from everyone, that would be unhealthy, but you have to acknowledge that you are part of a new unit now, separate somehow from all of the other units and partnerships you may have been a part of in the past. That is, and will be, the hardest part for me – pulling away, ever-so-slightly from the past life of relationships and entanglements in order to form a stronger bond with my new family, a family of two.

(courtesy of http://www.sarahandersonphotography.net/)

sean and liza

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The week leading up to the wedding was what you would expect on the one hand. Mayhem, craziness, disbelief. Every person you come across is likely to ask you how you’re handling it, whether you’re stressed, and on the occasion that the person in question is a female friend of yours, there’s the ever-present “aren’t you EXCITED!!!??”

…which in my case led to a somewhat awkward “…I guess…” and a vague sense of guilt that I wasn’t more excited. Particularly because for me this indicated a common problem I have with long-awaited events wherein the anticipation is so intense and long-lived that I find myself completely detached from the fact that the event is actually occurring or about to occur.

Then there was the unusual characteristics of that week – my business ( as a wedding photographer) was really good in October, with my last event being only two weeks before my wedding. Which meant that two days before my wedding I was still scrambling trying desperately to finish editing the last batch of photos. Truthfully, most of the month leading up to the wedding was a blur of finishing up last minute details for my own wedding while being fully invested as a photographer in 4 other weddings. I don’t remember getting a significant chance to sit and reflect and soak it in. I hate it when that happens, it’s just kind of a bummer (the not-getting-a-chance-to-reflect bit, not the business-is-good bit).

When I finally pulled my nose out of my photo editing software, cracked my neck, stretched my back, had a cup of tea….suddenly it dawned on me that I had to shower and get ready for my rehearsal. How it happened, how it came to be that it was *that* week, and only days before *that* day – I couldn’t tell you.

It was Thursday. I had gotten up early to do…whatever it was I had to do. Shower, get dressed, do a myriad of errands, etc. On the way to meeting up with my parents and going to the rehearsal, I sent off the last DVD of the last wedding, and it was a huge burden lifting. Suddenly it was *my* wedding I could think about, without thinking about anyone else’s.

We went up to the venue and made the introductions – various members of my family who hadn’t met various members of sean’s, etc. It was a brisk but gloriously sunny day on the mountain – this bade well for the weekend to come. The rehearsal was bizarre. Well, to me, the whole thing is kind of bizarre. The older half of my family (parents, grandparents) had never been to an American wedding, so it was a crash course in American Christian Wedding ceremony. We all walked down the “aisle” , went through the ceremony once and….well, and that was it. Kind of anticlimactic, really.  I had wanted there to be  moment, you know? A “holy crap, I’m going to be getting married right in this very spot two days from now” moment. Didn’t happen. It was just a fun day with people from various places and different  realms of my life all gathered in one spot.

We piled into cars and drove back down the hill to Buca di Beppo for lunch. The food was good, the company was splendid. The only thing it lacked, i think, was a certain level of…pizazz. Sean’s not much for pizazz, but me, I kind of thrive on it. Maybe it’s the Russian tendency to make an “occasion” out of any old thing, but certainly this I felt needed some “occasion-ness”. OOmph. Hooplah. TaDa. etc. Other than that, it was great :0)

The afternoon was spent shoe-shopping with bridesmaid Jenelle. Random, I know. I kept reminding myself that “it’s the Thursday before my wedding!!11” hoping that it would sink in and I would get that rush of excitement…but really, it was just Jenelle and I, wandering around Target and Marshalls, lookin at shoes. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good time, but just…strange. I find I have a hard time experiencing and being really *present* during events which are somehow out of the ordinary. It’s like ll of my senses of perception and the associated emotions are used to a certain rut of events. I know how to feel about going running, how to dread a deadline, how to look forward to an evening out with Seany, going to the same ol places and doing the same ol things. But as soon as something out of the ordinary happens – even something as small as my friend from another city and I are wandering about a part of town I’ve never been to looking at shoes two days before my wedding- I go into system shut down. I have no idea how to feel about the whole thing. I know I should be having fun, and I do, but it feels different. Somehow…I dunno…false.  Surreal. Like, I can’t fully enjoy an experience until I’ve already experienced it once before.

It’s amazing to me that I just wrote an entire paragraph about shopping for shoes. Clearly, I’ve been lacking a writing outlet.

Up next:  Bachlorette party. Stay tuned.

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…And so, the countdown which has already begun previously, now really begins.

 

So far, the month of October has completely evaded me. The knowledge, the experience of October. Which is a shame, because it is one of my favorite months – the beginning of the season of fog. I swore to myself that this year, I would in fact carve a pumpkin. I would put up leafy wreaths, and clean up the front porch (which may seem like two completely unrelated tasks, but they’re not). Little did I know, that this October I would shoot 4 weddings, quit my day job, all whilst preparing for my own wedding in just 3. short. weeks.

There is time for pumpkin carving in my day, but there is no room for it in my mind. And so October passes. The rains come, the roads slick with the grease of summer, the fog greets me on my daily run. And all of it passes. So that now it is almost the end of October, and I haven’t yet begun to notice it.

I had a nightmare about getting married this morning. Well, perhaps nightmare is too strong a word. But it was one of those  dreams in which the wedding comes upon me unexpectedly, and nothing is prepared, and I am unprepared, and I am not ready, and I am taken unaware. Like I wake up on the drive to the venue, or even become aware as I am exiting the door with my father, down the wooden steps of the back porch, unto the lawn, towards the aisle, towards my groom. It’s like that scene in fight club where he realizes he’s missing the memory of entire chunks of his life – “Have I been sleeping? Have I slept?”. Everyone has their favorite fight club quote, and that is mine. I say it to myself when I find entire chunks of my memory missing, and I wonder where I’ve been, and why I haven’t been paying attention. When I wake up in that shaky stupor that comes from a particularly stressful dream and tell myself (it was only a dream) and then realize….well, not completely. It wasn’t only “only a dream” but in fact, I am getting married in 3 weeks. No Joke.

I busy myself with the making and completing itemized lists. I busy myself in the nitty gritty of planning. I lose myself in TV. I put off preparing my mind and my heart because I just don’t know how. There is no such thing as being ready. Eventually, people just stop trying and go with the flow. They get tired, they sleep.

Marriage is one of those Big Things that you can not undo. Sure, people get divorces and such if they no longer are able to continue with the marriage – but it will always “have been” regardless. It will always “have changed” you forever. I suppose this is true in some minor way of every decision you make every day. But I often try to keep myself from fretting (I am a fretter. I fret. Keeping myself from it is a full time job I do not take lightly, as that is the only thing that makes living possible) by saying to myself “This is no Big Deal. If you screw this up, you will recover. Life will go on. ” That’s how I made it through school without freaking out about every test, how I made it through work without freaking out about every mistake. Asking myself, “whats the worst that could happen?”. Up until now, the worst has always been relatively insignificant. Liveable. I could get fired (oh well, I can find another job). Or I could get a bad grade (Oh well, you don’t need good grades to be an artist). Even a couple weeks ago, when I was freaking out about my first solo paid wedding photography gig, I kept telling myself  “If the worst happens, and your pictures suck, you will still have the chance to take good pictures in the future. You could redeem yourself. Life would go on. ”

And now for marriage. What do I tell myself about marriage? I am not the sort of person that can picture “life would go on” if anything should go wrong. If Sean and I have chosen poorly, if we don’t have the strength to work through life together. If we change our minds and our hearts. How can someone possibly know now what they will become in 20 years? 30? 40? You can’t, but you promise to stand beside your promises anyway. Your silly, 25-year-old-self promises. What could you possibly know of life at 25 years?

See, I told you I fret. The real reason is, I would rather fret than be caught off guard. I would rather worry now, and think over the worst and best case scenario, so as to minimize surprise in the future. So I won’t wake up one day and think “I didn’t ever think it would be like this” and be caught completely off guard and not know what to do with myself.  Fretting is a security blanket for me. Some may think it unnecessarily pessimistic, but really….I just want to be prepared. Or at least think that I am prepared, when there’s no real way to actually be.

Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly excited. :0)

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This past weekend (well, it was August 21st) I had the pleasure of 2nd shooting another beautiful wedding with Kim Mendoza: Irene and David. We were scheduled for 10 hours at a breath-taking golf course in Pleasanton.

I arrived at Kim’s a bit early, but we headed out pretty soon thereafter anyway, because having a time buffer is never a bad thing. We ended up at the venue over an hour early, which gave us lots of time to wander around and get some great detail shots.

irene+david

irene+david

The place was so beautiful! Archways and high ceilings and vistas and  pillars covered in wisteria.

irene+david

The bride, groom and wedding party all arrived a little while later. Kim was with the bride and bridesmaids, and I got to hang out with the guys while they ate lunch and hung out. It was a rather relax-pace as the guys ate and then started to get ready. I got some good ol candids and managed a couple of portraits.

irene+david

irene+david

irene+david

irene+david

irene+david

irene+david

irene+david

This is possibly my favorite of the day (though it has some contenders…)

irene+david

The first thing on the agenda was a traditional (Chinese, I believe) tea ceremony.  The bride and groom changed into traditional garb and went through the process of offering tea to their family members and receiving blessings and red envelopes in return.

irene+david

irene+david

irene+david

irene+david

irene+david

Afterwords they changed back into their traditional American wedding fare (David looked like he was straight out of  James Bond film, while Irene was positively glowing in her voluminous fashionista gown ). There was a little bit of down time with people signing in and milling about before the ceremony began.

The ceremony was beautiful and emotional, with lots of praying, crying, laughing. It was a glorious day outside, and we had a blast capturing the moments.

irene&david

irene&david

irene&david

irene&david

irene&david

irene&david

After the ceremony there were the bridal party shots. We took some at the venue, and a few at a nearby vineyard.

irene&david

irene&david

irene&david

irene&david

irene&david

irene&david

And then, the party ensued, including toasts, slideshows, dances, and even a storm trooper!

irene&david

irene&david

irene&david

irene&david

irene&david

irene&david

We had a blast! Please take a look at the rest of my photos from Irene and David’s wedding here: http://juniperspringphotography.com/Weddings/Irene-and-David/

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A low, thick layer of clouds covers silicon valley today. Fall is in the air. I am glad that we decided to get married in November, though from a practical standpoint we probably should have saved up longer. November is a good time to make a new start in life – the soil and sky are full of rain, and you’re suspended in between, waiting for something to happen to break the balance. I am disappointed as my train pulls into the station by my work to find that the only patch of blue sky for miles around seems to be right overhead. I want to think it will get swallowed in the gray fluff of the surrounding clouds but in reality I know that this is a sure sign that the gray will burn off in an hours’ time. And life in all it’s sunshine will be back to business as usual. It’s ok though, fall is just beginning.

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Is it folly, you think, to marry someone who doesn’t comprehend you? Or is it folly, instead, to presume someone ever could? At every turn I have to stop myself and ask – am I doing this by my own will, or just because? Am I just following a trajectory, like a rock thrown, merely flying along by the laws of physics? Is there a difference? Ultimately, I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. But I do know, that I would like to live my life with Sean. And that has to be good enough.

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finally finished making my photography blog! check out the newest entry:

Elisa and Tito

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