Wednesday, July 09, 2008

"Wedding Wednesday" #1, East Bay Express

(click on the photo for the slideshow)

During the past few weeks, I've participated in two "Wedding Wednesdays", sponsored by the East Bay Express, volunteering as a second shooter for my photographer friend, Lauren Cohn-Frankel, who donated her photography skills to the paper in exchange for advertising the contest she's running for free same sex wedding photography! If you're looking for a photographer for your LGBT wedding, check out Lauren's contest! These events were perfect for both of us, as we'd been talking together about how to build our gay and lesbian wedding portfolios even before the ruling was announced.

What an awesome series of events this was. All of the vendors donated their services in order to create (with only 2 weeks' notice!) beautiful days for each of the six couples (3 were married each Wednesday). We had a wide range of backgrounds, and it was definitely one of the most joyous events I've ever participated in.

On the first Wednesday there were 2 male couples (Victor and Scott, and Bruce and Mallory), and one female couple (Patrice and Tanika). Lauren and I mostly photographed all of them equally, but you'll see my portraits weighted more heavily towards the lesbian couple, since they were the ones I ended up having the most time with.

Bruce and Mallory have two kids under 5 (!), so they spent a good portion of their wedding day doing things that any parents of young children do - trying to keep the kids happy, busy, and out of trouble. While we were doing some sunset portraits, they joked that this was the latest they had been up in years (8:30 pm). The kids were definitely cuties!

Their son, Josh, had made them special wedding day necklaces, which they wore all day like dutiful fathers. Adorable!

And little Gabriella was about the most adorable thing I've ever seen!

This post will kind of jump from couple to couple (since that's what I was doing throughout the day) - next, Patrice's beautiful Baby Phat shoes:

And the bride herself getting ready - I love her little twists!

This evening reminded me, over and over again, that the "act" of falling in love isn't something you can plan or control - and you certainly don't choose. People who find themselves in same sex relationships are from every kind of background, race, upbringing, class, religion, and political association. While some gay and lesbian couples embrace the political and activist aspects that come from just loving the person they're with, these weddings and marriages are not about that - they're about finding the person who complements yourself, and making a loving, lifelong commitment to them. And I just adore that!

Patrice and Tanika were a prime example of that - they have been together for nine years, and considering that they are only 26, that's a lifetime. Patrice told me that, just like you'd see in a movie, the moment she saw Tanika, she just knew that was the person she was going to marry. It was so sweet to be there on their wedding day, when the 17 year old Patrice's premonition came true!

Limo transport provided by the very friendly and efficient Angelica Limousines.

At the venue (the hip Periscope Cellars in Emeryville), I caught up with Victor as he tearfully added the finishing touches to his fabulous ensemble. Oh, even looking at these shots makes me feel emotional!

At the same time as being an every day celebration of love and regular couples, this was an amazing, groundbreaking and historical process, and when the officiant read the words, "... in accordance with the laws of the state of California, I pronounce you married", was when I found myself most choked up. Something about the bureaucracy of it is extra romantic to me! I love my state.

And, and KRON news was there! Apparently it was on TV, but since I don't watch local or cable TV (only DVDs), I didn't see it and couldn't find it online. Hopefully I successfully hid behind the camera.

Here's another example of parenting-while-marrying - the guys let Josh help them with the rings, and Mallory even surprised him with a candy ring of his own! What a beautiful family.

Patrice and Tanika's vows were filled with love, tears, and the relief at finally being able to marry. These two are still so passionately in love after NINE years - it's pretty awesome!

My favorite part, a much quieter moment... the signing of the LEGAL licenses! Hell yeah! :)

A little ambience at Periscope:

And the joyful first dances:

Another thing that was so exceptional about these events is how supportive each couple, and their guests, were to the other newlyweds. Many times, I saw the guests of one couple smiling and taking photos of another couple's first dance or cake cutting, and I think it's so unbelievably awesome how contagious the love and happiness was. For example, this woman was part of the lesbian couple's party - but look at how moved she is during Bruce and Mallory's dance!

The brides made everyone cry with their sweet and passionate first dance - including each other:

Lauren took each couple down to the Emeryville Marin for portraits at sunset, and I tagged along towards the end:

The sky was filled with smokey, foggy haze from the wildfires, which made for a fancy orange sunset:

Bruce and Mallory, about to head home to tuck their family in:

And beautiful Patrice and Tanika, who were so easy to photograph, and braved the cold wind for these dramatic shots, which I love!

Oh, my goodness... it's wonderful to reminisce about the day. This day made me want to go and get married all over again!

Please take a look at Lauren's blog entry as well, you can see what different and complementary shots we came up with.

Other great vendors include:
the Bancroft Hotel, in Berkeley (where the couples got ready)
Bridal Image (bride's gowns)
Stevenswood Resort & Spa in Mendocino (for their honeymoons - lucky ducks!)
Discount Fabrics (decor)
Chef Ani (cake)
Cafe de la Paz (catering)
Alex Mack and her Ensemble (band)
White Horse Bar (afterparty- apparently America's oldest gay bar, cool!)
Johanna Uribes (painted portraits of couples)

And a big thanks to all of the couples! Congratulations!


baffle said...


I feeeeeeel the LOVE.

karri said...

I love that you are featuring these weddings. And that you highlight the beauty of everyone - every shade, shape, and size. Beautiful work.

Shy said...

I don't know what to say, the more I scroll down your blog the greater my appreciation of your work becomes.

Pierre said...

Well, we're not exactly planning a wedding, but we would like to know whether you would recommend this hotel (

Pierre dowing

Jessamyn Harris said...

yes, I thought the hotel was fabulous! very cute, very courteous, and very centrally located.