Lately I feel like time is flying by. Sometimes the days can feel so long. But then suddenly a month has gone by. And then a whole year. This is one reason I love and believe in family films. Video is such a great way to capture a time and a phase of life. Next year the Hoffman family will look different. Their baby won't be much of a baby and their oldest a teenager. I love the opportunity to create pieces of family history to be cherished with the passing of time.
Blanding, Utah is a town about 90 minutes south of Moab. Heard of the Bears Ears? Blanding is the gateway town to that incredible area. This was my first wedding in Blanding, and I was excited because it felt like a local wedding. We small towns in rural Utah have to stick together (except when it comes to high school sports).
And then when the groom's mother told me the couples' names- I got even more excited. Heaven and Devon. And then I showed up to the beautiful barn venue, that sometimes acts as a drive-in theater(!!!!), and saw the marquee: "Match made in 'Heaven', said Devon". And the rest is history.
In his opening remarks, the officiant Timmy, a good friend of theirs, mentioned that more than three times as many people showed up to the ceremony than they originally thought during the planning stages. Chantell and Andrea, two local Moab women, were surrounded by loving and supporting friends and family. In the beginning of the film, I include some of Timmy's words. He essentially says that Andrea and Chantell's happiness is of huge importance to their friends and family's happiness, and that if they ever need anything, loved ones of these women are trusting that they will ask for assistance. So lovely!
The two got ready separately at Red Cliffs Lodge, and then arrived separately at the wedding venue at the gorgeous Castle Rock Ranch. Their first look was down the aisle and dramatically fun as Chantell arrived first by classic car, and then Andrea by a horse drawn carriage. The ceremony was full of beautiful words while they also raced the setting sun. I was so glad I prepared ahead and brought my lights, as they were essential for the couple's session after.
The reception that followed was one of my favorites of the year. There was a beautifully lit tent out in the alfalfa fields, complete with a dance floor and DJ. Have you ever seen a wedding money dance? If not, watch the entire film! Basically you pin money on the bride and dance with her. It is one of the most joyful things I have seen at a wedding. I drove home from this reception so cheerful and grateful for the love that absolutely does still exist in this world.
Jonna and I started planning her wedding this spring. She had some epic plans. She would bring her two kids and her fiancé Josh all the way from Georgia. They would ride horses, elope under an arch, fly home, and two days later have a reception at the Sky Lounge in downtown Atlanta, where her wedding film would be debuted to her loved ones.
Jonna is a professional horse trainer. Her darling daughter competes in riding and jumping horses. So naturally, she wanted footage of her family on horses. The night before their sunrise wedding, we headed over to Moab Horses so they could ride into the sunset. The views of Castleton Tower and Fisher Towers from the ranch are absolutely lovely. And then the trail ended right at the Colorado River; it was quite dreamy.
The next morning, we met at 6 am at Atomic salon to start filming. The original idea was to get married at Delicate Arch, but with all the road construction and restricted hours in Arches this summer, she decided to go for Corona Arch, which was genius. While Delicate is incredible, Corona is pretty amazing itself, and with hardly any people.
After Jonna was ready, I picked up Josh and drove him to the trailhead so we could do a first look. We met up with photographer Angela Hays, and got everyone positioned. I love the anticipation of first looks! And the double first look with the kids was extra cute.
The hike to Corona arch is no stroll in the park. It's 1.5 miles, with elevation gain, a section with steep enough climbing you need a chain, and then there is a ladder. The family did it in their wedding clothes, and no one complained once. It was actually a breeze for them. The ceremony went fantastic and clouds hung around for a great photo/video session after.
After our hike out, I filmed the family at their celebration brunch at the Moab Diner. The diner is so kid friendly and relaxed, and the staff was fantastic. I loved watching those kids chow down on their well deserved cinnamon rolls.
We said our goodbyes, and the next day they flew home to Georgia, and I got to editing. I edited non stop for two days and had the film ready on Friday night, in time for their Saturday reception.
I was dying with anticipation to hear how the film debut at the reception went. I heard from Jonna Sunday morning. She said:
"I can't wait to show you the video of everyone's reactions....Countless people cried. The moment was almost as magical as that special day. It was amazing. You are truly gifted and captured everything I could have imagined. I will never be able to thank you enough."
I was shown this sweet photo of Josh and Jonna watching the wedding film at the reception in Atlanta.
The minute I picked up the phone and started chatting with Rachel, back in the spring, I knew I'd like her. She's a first grade teacher (I have a first grader!!), is easy going, adventurous and so genuine. There are endless locations to elope around here, and Rachel and James decided on Sand Dune Arch, and for a hot sunny day, it doesn't get better. It's a dream to shoot. James had a fresh tattoo of Sand Dune Arch on his arm, above his wrist. Look for it in the film!!
Rachel and James came from the Boston area. We met at a cafe the day before the wedding. I think it had been about 48 hours since they landed in Vegas, and they'd already checked off 3 National Parks. After their elopement, they checked off many more over 10 days or so. Such a good idea- elope, then adventure.
Just this past weekend, Rachel and James had a gathering with loved ones and showed the film. This was the email Rachel sent me after the party:
"We had the film playing on a loop for guests during the party and every single person commented on how professional, creative and talented you are!!! Every guest cried watching it (I had to put a couple boxes of tissues out) and most people watched it more than once!! They were so curious as to how you filmed it and what direction you provided- your attention to detail and vision for our film was phenomenal!
You can go right ahead and post the real deal on social media - so many guests will be looking for it so they can watch it again!"
Emails like this are so incredibly rewarding to receive. I don't often get to see a bride or family watch a wedding film, so I love hearing about reactions.
I truly love filming elopements. The photographer, officiant, and I are the only ones who get to see this incredible event and it's seriously such a privilage. And then I get to create a film the couple can share with their loved back at home. It is just so exciting and meaningful.
I was lucky enough to travel to San Clemente, CA for a week back in July. If I could split my life between Moab and San Clemente, I would. Surfing Donuts, SUP surfing at Old Man's, Pedro's Tacos, beach all day everyday with the kids. I barely saw my boys all week they were so busy digging and boogie boarding.
While I was there, I was able to film two lovely families. I tried something different and created an interview style family film. Audio adds so much emotion to a wedding film, so I've been dying to try it with a lifestyle film. I absolutely love the result! I love watching the parents' eyes sparkle as they talked about their children. I loved the thoughtful things they said about each child. Their words were not scripted nor rehearsed nor too rosy.
I can't imagine having a film of my parents talking about me as a little one. About how cute I was without my two front teeth, or what a stubborn toddler I was (both true ;).
One of the mothers said her film showed her kids as they truly are. That is what I want!!! I want something that will become more and more of a treasure as time passes, both to the parents and the kids. I want to create films showing families in their true, authentic ways, doing what they do. Something more than families posed and smiling. I wouldn't mind filming a few more 6 year old knock knock jokes, or brothers putting sand in their sister's hair either.
The way Tyler delivered his vows to Kaitlin is something I will never forget. He had them written on a folded piece of paper in his hands. However, he never once looked at his notes. Instead he looked her in the eyes and delivered the most lovely vows. I later heard friends talking about how much they each cried during the ceremony.
This couple is in deep love, and it is obvious. You could just feel it as they looked at each other. It was also clear that they have many people who love and support them, because they return that same kind of love and support to others.
One thing I will also forever remember about this wedding was riding in the side by side through the pine trees, down a very rocky road, with Tyler and Kaitlin, the wonderful photographer Bailey Dalton, designer Annie Spring, and the wedding organizer to beat the sunset. It was getting dark so we were flying to capture the last light. We were laughing and hooting, and holding on for dear life. It's moments like this, where things get really fun. Everyone relaxes and true personalities come out. And then I realize I'd love to hang out with these people regularly. And we captured some gorgeous scenes, and made it back with plenty of time for dancing. Although someone may have eaten Tyler's piece of Key lime pie.
Dante and Anna are from Chicago, but have history together in the desert. From concerts and festivals, to the proposal, the desert is a part of them. They traveled from Chicago to Moab, for their wedding day. They were surrounded by loving friends and family who also traveled similar distances to be there. The whole day was grooving, with a fantastic playlist for each part of their wedding weekend.
Before the wedding, we buzzed over to Arches National Park to get some photos and footage in front of Turret Arch. It was about 100 degrees, and the first really hot day of summer. However, Dante carried water for his bride, and Anna had a parasol, and we had a great time. I love when people are flexible and face the elements cheerfully. Multiple times, they had to scramble up boulders in their finest for that perfect shot, and they did it so well.
We then headed back to Moab Under Canvas for the wedding. What a beautiful venue that is! You have gorgeous views of the La Sal Mountains, Arches National Park, Gemini Bridges road. It is lovely. Anna and Dante wrote heart felts vows bursting with humor and sincerity. It was gorgeous. And then the dancing. The dancing was amazing.
And I must mention that Anna's hair was gorgeous. Perhaps one of my favorite wedding hair styles ever. So happy for this couple!
Heather and Anthony climb, raft, and hike, with their sweet son in tow. They are my kind of people! Don't stop doing what you love because you have kids, just alter it a little! I am so glad I met this couple. Immediately I thought to myself- we would probably hang out often if we lived in the same city.
Heather and Anthony's day was full of joy and laughter. I could tell they were genuinely loving their wedding day. I found out Anthony has a secret skill of juggling pinecones. And Heather- she is tough. She lived in a tent for several months, pregnant. Yesss.
And to match the beautiful day, the La Sal mountains had recently received a spring snow storm, and they were absolutely stunning! Now, over a month later- this is hardly a patch of snow left up there. Congratulations Heather and Anthony!
One night I couldn't sleep, because I had this idea of creating oral history films. I truly believe that having video of our loved ones after they are gone is absolutely priceless. And then to have video of that person talking about their childhood, hardships, and joys, would be all the more valuable. And on top of that, imagine this footage including family young and old.
So I filmed an oral history of an incredible local Moab women. I am so proud of this film. It is one of my finest creations. However, the family would like it to remain private for a while, and I absolutely understand. So until I can show it to you, know that it is full of wisdom, love, adorable great grandchildren, admiring grandchildren, tears, and laughter.