A beautiful windy drive amongst Redwoods leads you to Pema Osel Ling, a retreat center in the Santa Cruz mountains where Melanie and Omar got married. The drive was calming and peaceful…well for some of us. Stay tuned for why a little further down!
On to our fabulous bride and groom, Melanie and Omar! These two are quite the team but what I learned about them is that a large part is that they are also very strong and dynamic individuals. Their respect and admiration for each other as individuals was inspiring.
The story of their wedding day has a little adventure to it but it’s ok, they love adventures. You will see that nothing could shake these two on their big day. They had each other, their love and the thrill of getting married to their soul mates- that was all they needed! And truly it was.
Like most wedding days it starts off with the guys (with one gal, one of Omar’s dear friends)lounging. Yep, no hair or make up needed for them just a little ironing later but first, lots of relaxing.The ladies did a different kind of relaxing- sitting around, chit chatting and doing hair and make up. Yeah, a little complicated. The suits needed pressing and since it was a holiday weekend all the cleaners were closed. They had to learn the DIY way.Melanie had her hair and make up done by the talented Kim Guiley!Poor Omar!
Melanie’s Mom, watching so sweetly!!
The super pretty florals were created by Booney Doon Floral.
It was right about now that the news came in… a Redwood tree had fallen down and was blocking the road to the venue. Guests would not be able to get there without having to drive around the other way- adding on an extra hour to their drives. This would delay the start of the wedding. Oh is that all? No, power lines would have to be shut down to clear the tree. Hmmm.
I watched Melanie take this news in. It might as well have been as if someone just told her the sky was blue. She nodded and kind of shrugged and kept on getting ready.
Finally it was time to get dressed, such an exciting part of a wedding day!!! Mom did up allllllll the teeny tiny buttons with a crochet hook!And they are off to see each other, all dressed up and ready to be married!!!Finding the perfect First Look location is so important. You want the scene to be pretty, private and with great lighting. I love the anticipation on Omar’s face as he waits for Melanie to tap his shoulder!The check out! We went for a little stroll and these two couldn’t keep their eyes off each other!! Love that!The back of Melanie’s Adriana Alier dress was amazing, so many little buttons and beautiful detailed lace! Omar looked so handsome too!We headed back up to the venue to see what the status of the tree was…not the best. Guests were delayed. But what was great was getting time to photograph the wedding party before the ceremony! This bunch was a riot!Omar and his guys and gal!Melanie with her ladies!!! The lavender bouquets were so amazing!Eventually everyone had arrived and it was time to begin!
Melanie’s grad school advisor and dear friend Anne Baker officiated the ceremony. Omar was escorted down the aisle by his Grandmother. Melanie was escorted down the aisle by her Father. The ceremony site was in a Redwood Grove, it was like being in a tree fort amongst some of natures most amazing trees!The ceremony was very personalized, a combination of different cultures that reflected the values that Omar and Melanie deeply care about. Melanie’s friend from the East coast Eshe Armah recited a poem. One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was a Hawaiian tradition.Melanie and Omar were asked to washed their own hands which symbolized forgiving themselves.Then each others, to symbolize forgiving each other, knowing that everything in the past has served to lead them to the place they are today. And then gently and with great, great love they dried each others hands. They are now new and their hands are cleansed, ready to receive the rings.Omar and Melanie spoke their individual words of love and vows to each other. Then, they exchanged rings.
After, included a Native America ritual which acknowledged their ancestors and future generations.
The unity candle.That look, I love watching for it- everyone knows what is about to happen and whatever last words are said I doubt the bride and groom even hear them!Until they are told they are married and they can kiss!!!Melanie and Omar ran up the aisle and into the woods where a lot of hugging, kissing and squeezing went on and on!While Melanie and Omar had some time together the guests went off to cocktail hour. Table assignments were found on this clever little chart that was also so pretty! Next to it was a box filled with lavender. Guests filled up their paper cones with lavender to throw on the newly weds when they arrived!The tables were set up outside which was so nice on this perfect summer evening.
Each table and place setting had a different herb. I thought this was such a great idea as their friends and family can now go home and enjoy them! Each herb also had a clothes pin with their name on it. This also could then be doubled as a name tag. You will later see someone found them to be collectors items 😉Custom cocktails!!! Yummy and pretty!Melanie and Omar then ran through their friends and family getting doused in lavender!And then it was time for hugs- big, long, warm and amazing hugs!Lawn games! I think the kiddos were a little less serious about the outcome of the game!Bottom left…my little clothes pin collector friend…he was just getting started at this point!It was time for toasts and Omar’s brother started it off!Followed by Melanie’s matron of honor and also one of Omar’s groom’s men.It was then open mic and various individuals from the couples past stood up and spoke. First was Heidi, Melanie’s California Mom! Melanie, an adventurous soul, went on a solo trip across the country couch surfing. Heidi’s was one of those many people that hosted Melanie for a few days. But Melanie’s stay with her lasted longer than that. And then she decided to make Santa Cruz her home and Heidi her official Californian Mom!Followed by Melanie’s friend and then their current housemate.Next up was Melanie’s Mama who knows her the best!And last but certainly not least, Omar’s Mama!I adore this image of Omar’s hand tenderly on Melanie’s back, with the new hardware too!Melanie and Omar then shared their first dance as a married couple!And from there on out the dance floor was packed! Trevor from Santa Cruz DJ Company did an amazing job!
Things were looking good, the news was that the tree was still being cleared but the venues generator was kicking in. The caterers were able to cook and Trevor was able to play music….
Notice the( …) in other words, pay attention. There seemed to be an abundance of adorable children at this wedding and one about to be born. In fact I think it was the actual due date for that little bundle in the belly!Awwww, a moment between the Mamas!This picture cracks me up! Clearly Omar was showing off to his new wife his dance moves….and Melanie? Hand to forehead! Classic!That’s one happy man!Look at this amazing cake that Heidi made for Melanie and Omar! Love Melanie’s expression in this photograph as they cut the cake!
The collector!! All sugared up, the dance floor was moving again, generator still going well! The venue lost water but Im not sure anyone even noticed!These guys were so much fun to photograph, two goofballs in love!The sun had set and the dance floor was only lit by the strands of lights….Until the place went pitch dark and silent! The generator had run out of stream…but Melanie and Omar’s guests had not. Iphone’s immediately lit the dance floor until a lantern was found. Lead by Melanie who has the voice of an angel, everyone sang songs out loud and strong and kept on dancing!!!
Nothing was going to stop this wedding from celebrating! Not the tree blocking the road, the intermittent power, losing water or in the end, losing the power completely. Some random Redwood tree, in a forest, on a mountain decided to fall and that was ok.
Melanie and Omar, thank you so much for the great honor of documenting your amazing wedding day
***I highly suggest checking out Melanie’s version of the wedding (and the first few days of their honeymoon!), go to her blog post, Even Natural Disasters Can’t Ruin My Wedding and Honeymoon!”