Viera Photographics

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Shauna and Vinay – Indian Wedding Day

Marriage is union of two people, two families, and in Shauna and Vinay’s case a blending of two cultures. As they entered into a union together, they offered a unique experience for all their guests by spreading their wedding ceremonies across two days and two cultures. The Kunde Family Estate’s diverse property was the perfect location for the celebrations. The first day guests were treated to the colorful Vedic Ceremony down in the ruins. The second day on Boot Hill, they were treated to a traditional western ceremony, elegant white wedding dress and all.

The Vedic ceremony is an ancient Hindu marriage ceremony that brings two individuals into a harmonious union. It is a long day of many different meaningful rituals, each one filled with colors, music, family and blessings. I love that each bit incorporates the whole family and that the ceremony itself is focused on mutual devotion – teaching that they will move forward and tackling this life together, as one.

After the ceremony, guests enjoyed a beautiful Sonoma sunset while sipping mango lassi’s, enjoying the many colorful bracelets or getting henna paintings. After mingling for a while, guests moved into the ruins to watch the choreographed dance that told the story of Shauna and Vinay’s relationship. It was a wonderful surprise to them and very clearly, many friends and family worked incredibly hard to make it happen. What a treat!

The night ended with a amazing meal and dancing in the ruins. One more wedding to go!

Here is a brief rundown of the days events to explain the photos:

The day began with the Barat, and Vinay riding a horse with his entire family in tow.. making ALOT of noise.

Her family was waiting to receive them for the Milni – which is a ceremony where the corresponding person from each side of the family great each other and exchange garlands. This was one of our favorite parts of the day. It was so great to see each member meeting each other, hugging and trying to pick each other up!

The ceremony consist of several rituals, beginning with the lighting of the sacred fire.  Shauna’s parents offer her hand to Vinay, in Vedic tradition, this is the greatest gift anyone can give. Vinay then holds Shauna’s hand and they both solumly pledge that they will forever love each other and remain mutually devoted to each other for the rest of their lives.

As they around the sacred fire, they take seven steps and make seven promises to each other:

  1. We will provide for the household and live with honor and respect
  2. Together we will develop mental and spiritual strength
  3. We will preserve our wealth through righteous means
  4. We will share our joys and sorrows through mutual love and trust
  5. We will nurture our children
  6. Together we will strive for self-restrain, longevity and peaceful life
  7. We will have true companionship and everlasting partnership

And in the end Vinay adorns Shauna with the vermilion powder, symbolizing her as his eternal partner and vowing his love, devotion and integrity.

And after seeking a blessing from their elders… they walked away with one more wedding to go!


Saray and Jesse

Saray woke up on yet another beautiful Sonoma morning, a day not unlike the many others her and Jesse have spent in wine country. And just like all the others, the blue sky was in full effect, the grapes were dangling dangerously off the vines, begging to be picked; but on this day… on this particular day…. she was going to marry her best friend.

These two adventurous, stubborn, dreamers (the three words she used to describe them as a couple) from Chicago dreamed up a perfect destination wedding. They wanted it to be intimate, as they wanted to be able to spend time with each and every important person in their lives. They wanted it to be fun and unique and they especially wanted to show off the Sonoma that they loved so much. Arista Winery with its rustic elegance and natural beauty was the perfect venue.

The ceremony took place under a huge oak tree, looking out over the rows of grapes, and golden hills. They asked guests to pick a seat, not a side as these two families were joined. Then, surrounded by 60 of their closest friends and family from all over the globe, they cried, they laughed and they promised to be each other’s everything.

During the golden hour, Arista’s delicious Pinot Noir was passed as guests were treated to a gorgeous sunset. We took that opportunity to explore some of Arista’s property, stopping to take photos along the way. The evening continued with a dynamite dinner by The Girl and The Fig, under the twinkling bistro lights and the bright moon. After the heartfelt speeches and the cutting of the cake, the party started in the cellar room and the two families bonded as they tried their moves at Ghangam Style.

The next day, I got a text from Saray and they had so much fun, that Jesse’s pants were latterly ripped off him about 10 minutes after we left. I think that means the wedding was a huge success. :)

Bethany and Brian

Sometimes you speak with a client and just want to show them your cards, tell them PLEASE let us shoot your wedding!  Bethany and Brian were those clients.  Bethany has the sweetest and most disarming voice you’ll ever hear and Brian just has this smile and demeanor that makes you want to hug him.  We knew straight away that they would be a good fit for us.

A marriage is not just a union between two people but a merging of families, and on this late afternoon in Napa,  Brian and his four boys welcomed Bethany into their lives whole-heartedly. The love, respect, and admiration between Bethany and her new boys was inspiring and had our viewfinders foggy, yet again again. Bethany is not one for a big fuss, so she found a simple dress that she had never worn in the back of her closet – it was pretty, and perfect for the occasions. A few months later, she found her self at a trunk show with a friend.  All proceeds from the show went to help children in need and, being that she works for a children’s charity… it was surely fate.  She bought the dress.  If my memory serves, I don’t even think she tried it on!  Bethany thought it might make for a great surprise if she kept this dress a secret, so she held out and didn’t tell a soul.  She invited her mom and sisters in to help her change, but when she walked onto the lawn for the ceremony, it was clear the secret had been kept and everyone was completely surprised. Bethany and Brian exchanged their own vows on the upper lawn as the boys stood around them, each a huge part in this new union.

The evening finished with everyone sitting down for an exquisite food and wine pairing experience, together under the stars.  We drove off again, feeling so fortunate to have been there with this incredible couple on their beautiful wedding day.

Linsey and Roy

In some cultures, rain is a sign of good luck on your wedding day.  It symbolizes cleansing and fertility.  But it can be tough to view it as a good thing when you’ve planned an entirely outdoor, non-covered wedding with no real backup plan.

After what had seemed like an eternity since the last rainfall, on a day not typical of rain, it finally rained.  As I drove down toward the coast, the clouds mocked me as if they were following me to wherever I was headed.  When I arrived at Linsey’s childhood home, in the distance, I heard the sounds of maracas, tambourines and chanting.  Linsey and some other family members were on the balcony doing a rain dance.  The photojournalist in me was disappointed to have missed such a moment.  The artist in me was still thrilled because I knew the light was going to be beautiful.

Even though the rain didn’t really stop until the reception festivities began, there was a beautiful sunset that night and Linsey, Roy and nearly every single guest were nothing but smiles the entire day.  I’ve always been a go-with-the-flow kind of gal.  It doesn’t make much sense to fight things that can’t be changed (like rain) But I learned a lot from this couple and their families that day besides embracing the unchangeable.  The rain didn’t effect anyone’s spirits that day, they embraced it (despite trying to make it go away with a lighthearted rain dance!) and one another.  The warm, loving families with kind souls and cheerful dispositions filled my heart and showed me that the capacity we have to love one another is truly endless so long as you accept it completely without prejudice.

Cheers to you both Linsey and Roy and I hope the wedding day rain brings you lots of babies in return!

A special thanks to Sarah Dupree for shooting alongside me for the rainy day celebration.

Christine and Doug

Grapevines are laden with the season’s harvest and the smell of freshly crushed fruit fills the air as the warmth of the afternoons give way to the chill of the evening…it’s a great time to be in wine country! We arrived at Jacuzzi with smiles on our faces, and just as all the other times we’ve shot there, the light was magical.  Christine was putting on her finishing touches in the Bridal Suite and the nerves were just starting to set in while Doug greeted his family with quiet confidence and an infectious smile.  With support from her best friend, Christine was just able to hold back the tears…and then she approached the aisle and saw Doug for the first time.  At that point, everyone shared tears of joy.  Although we only had limited conversations with Doug and Christine leading up to their wedding day, we are both perceptive and empathetic people, so we can figure a lot of things out very quickly. It was quite clear to us as Doug and Christine – holding each other’s hands tightly – and looking deeply and  into each other’s eyes, have the kind of relationship that will stand the test of time.

As the sunlight faded and the sky turned a rosy amber, guests were passed wine and hors d’oeuvres as the couple went for walk amongst the vines.  The dinner was served in Jacuzzi’s open air courtyard and guests laughed and made new friends, reconnected with old ones, and enjoyed dinner served with a great selection of wines from the family estate.  The evening finished off in the barrel room with an incredibly high participation dance party, as the two families cemented their union with some solid rump-shakin’.  A perfect day.

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