Stylish Story Telling with Raw Emotion
Lauren and Seth’s Valley of the Moon wedding at Kunde Family Estate was a big tipping point in our decision to leave San Diego and head for the hills (so-to-speak) of Sonoma County. With crisp, clear nights and hot dry days, dense redwood forests and endless fields of alfalfa grass punctuated by towering Valley Oaks, there’s a balance of contrasts up here that really appealed to us, and must be what draw so many people to the valleys, vineyards, and redwood forests year after year. We love life up here and there’s nothing better than good people coming into town and leaving a bit of their hearts behind.
Seth and Lauren’s day was all about family love and having the most fun you could possibly have on your wedding day. The day’s events were seamlessly orchestrated by the team at Alison Events, who brought a luxurious and whimsical afternoon tea-party feel to the day’s progressive events. Guests were chauffeured to the ceremony site atop Boot Hill and served lemonade as they took shade under the majestic Oak trees and awaited the family’s arrival. After the ceremony, the bride and groom paraded away, leading a New Orleans jazz band and the wedding party as guests congregated around tree bar for cocktails and appetizers, received their seating assignments, and enjoyed signature cocktails. As the afternoon light faded, the party moved to the ruins of a pre-19th century winery for dinner, speeches, some amazing performances, dancing, a flash-mob organized by the Rogen family where everyone sang and performed to Carl Douglas’ Kung Fu Fighting…and to top it off, and arcade tent that opened after dinner. Lauren and Seth are truly good people, and any pre-wedding jitters we may have had disappeared as soon as we arrived and began shooting. No matter who you may be or what your role is in the world, when your wedding day arrives, you’re just a couple of crazy kids in love with each other and out to have the best day ever and that’s exactly what went down that Sunday afternoon in October.
Seth and Lauren recently established the Hilarity for Charity Fund as part of the National Alzheimer’s Association, through which monies raised will be directed to help families struggling with Alzheimer’s care, increase support groups nationwide, and fund cutting edge research. Lauren’s long time involvement in the community and Seth’s creative wit have joined forces to create this light-hearted and approachable platform from which to educate people about the disease. They’re using their gifts to spread the message to college campuses across the country and have taken their message all the way to Washington…where humor is apparently a new concept. Look out for their next HFC event, coming to a town near you.
We all go through times in our lives where are just living day to day, getting things done, pushing forward. We forget to stop and smell the roses, to take time for ourselves and our family and we forget to enjoy this precious gift of life we have.
Moving, for us, took a toll on our lives and our time – I feel like we have been playing catch up for the past few months and a lot of days, I am the first to admit I have forgotten to do all these things. Last week on one of these very days I am talking about, where I had my head stuck in the computer, we got news – the kind of news that really makes you drop what you are doing and sit, stare and pinch yourself. Is this a bad nightmare?
“Hey guys! We’re working on getting that testimonial over very soon, just been a bit hectic lately. I actually got news that I have Hodgkin’s lymphoma earlier this afternoon…I’ve been preparing myself for this, however, and the good news is, it’s very treatable with a high cure rate and…I’m gonna’ beat this so please don’t worry! We have had to cancel our honeymoon though (we were supposed to leave today) as they want to get tests underway immediately and move quickly with a treatment plan. Good news is we have lots of free time all of a sudden and we’ll be passing through your way on Sunday though and we’d love to catch up. Talk to you soon!”
The first time we met Adriana and Ro, we bonded immediately and became quick friends. We met them for dinner in San Francisco to talk about their wedding plans… next thing you know, the evening turned into night and then turned into the wee hours of the morning…. and then we had a second dinner (which has actually become kind of a trend when we get together). This pair is so special, has so much vitality, so much love in their hearts – they enjoy life to its fullest and are just all around amazing human beings. We are grateful to call them friends and it was a huge shock to hear this news. We’ve never known someone, so close to us in age, so unlikely to get cancer… to actually get cancer.
But… this is going to be another emo-cancer story. So no more tears.
Ro is extremely positive and, from our first email from him with the news, we knew that cancer had picked the wrong guy to f with. He’s fortunate in that he lives just minutes from the Stanford Cancer Center and that his wife Adriana also happens to work at Stanford (in Pediatrics) and they both have family that live nearby. For Adriana to have to go through this alongside the person she’s planning to spend the rest of her life with – just months into their marriage – is very difficult for us to wrap our heads around. But if any one can beat this, with a smile on their faces, these two can. He WILL pull thrugh this, but the fact still remains that the next few months of Adriana and Ro’s new life together is going to be hard and Ro is going to get sicker before he gets better.
In a few days, Ro begins an aggressive treatment plan know as the Stanford V which should eradicate the cancer cells in his body but in the process, the treatment will kill a lot of other cells too, like his hair cells. Rather than letting the treatment take his hair, he thought he’d take control of the situation. On Wednesday afternoon, we stopped by their home in Redwood City and were treated to a champagne brunch before Adriana took the razor to his head. Ro’s spirit and the love the two have for each other inspires us, and we were honored to be there to document this time in their lives.
As before, this morning brunch, turned into evening, the evening turned into night – and after several amazing meals and a few* (ok a lot) too many drinks, we hugged our friends tight and wished them luck. It’s crazy to think that, on an otherwise ordinary day, one phone call can change the course of the rest of your life. On the way home, I promised my self to never take anything or anyone for granted. To remember to stop and smell the roses – no matter what is going on in life – to really take every single day as a gift and make the most of it. You never know what will happen.
We wish our friends all the strength in the world… and to Ro… you got this!!!
I thought this would be a good post for today as much of the US is by now, thoroughly done with Winter and good news…Spring is just 3 weeks away! On the same gorgeous day the Mavericks Invitational was set to be held down in Half Moon Bay, I ventured up the coast with my Pentax 67 to see what the swell was looking like closer to home…and it was pretty incredible. It’s hard to tell in the photos because there are so few surfers out for scale, but it’s about 15 feet (surfer’s estimate) or 25-30 feet (that same surfer’s mother’s estimate).
Out of respect for the patient locals who seldom score this place so good, I’ll leave it unnamed. If any friends want to come visit with a big board however, it’s on!
We’re nearing the finish line and our new website is slated to launch next week. Whoohoo! All the digging back through and revisiting previous work has been a really wonderful trip down memory lane and brought more than a few tears to our eyes. As time goes on, lives change, families form, grow, and occasionally loved ones pass on. The mother of a very, very, dear client just passed away this week and when we wrote to send our love, he replied with: Just wanted to let you guys know that I have blown up a beautiful picture of my mother from my wedding to use at her service. I’m positive this is the best picture ever taken of my Mom and I am thankful it is a Viera original. I wish more than that comment that his mother were still here today to enjoy more time with her gorgeous grandson, but I am happy knowing that we were able to give them something to remember her by. We do love what we do, we love our family, and we love the clients who have become our friends. All the emotions of this week got me looking at my own family and my son Alex comes up in more photos than anyone and, we used to post his adventures more often but with our shift to Sonoma and with this massive website redux, the posts have been few and far between…but that’s all about to change! With five years of separation between these images to provide perspective, I can see things clearly now that back then, I had suspected might be emerging personality traits. Our son is a many things, but one thing he’s been since day one is CHEEKY, but so good at helping us to not take life too seriously. The first photo is from back when we were living in Dunedin and, while Jaime and I thought our boy was upstairs napping, he was actually up and raiding our chocolate bar stash. Luckily we heard him fumbling with the foil wrapper and tiptoed upstairs just in time to catch him red (actually brown) handed. Oh how we LOVE our boy.
The Parker is the type of place you drive up to with your windows rolled down and the AC blasting. As you drive up to it’s iconic cinderblock entryway, you’ll swear you hear the sound of flutes dancing in the succulents and you expect to see Julie London emerging from behing its signature tangerine (Pantone 17-1463 Tangerine Tango to be precise) front doors. The Parker was established in 1959 as a Holiday Inn – the first in the state, actually. Two years later, it was purchased by Gene Autry to accommodate his baseball team, the California Angels. Over the years, ownership changed hands several times, though trough the mid-90′s Autry’s maintained a residence in the rear of the property along with his wife until his passing in 1998. The history of the place and it’s colorful guest-list spanning 5 decades would be too long to detail here but when you arrive, you feel that history all around you.
The day unfolded lazily as the Parker lends an air of an afternoon tea and croquet social to its events and, with plenty of room for guests to roam around, grab a lemonade, work on their petanque game, or just lie in a hammock staring up at the desert sky, a wedding couldn’t be much more chilled out. For their wedding venue, Janet and James chose well as there are few places in the U.S. that you can safely plan a wedding in the middle of Winter with the peace of mind that you’ll score with the weather. While it’s existence defies engineering logic, the city of Palm Springs is an undeniably genius setting for a wedding; with year-round weather as stable as the San Jacinto Mountains, great food, breathtaking views, and a diverse and a welcoming community…it really does tick all the boxes.
James and Janet share a love for music and play the violin and viola respectively, so in lieu of a first dance, the couple played a number together for their guests and I can’t decide which would’ve been more nerve-wracking…dancing or playing in front of all those people; nevertheless, their performance was beautiful. Janet is a first-grade teacher and her students put together what I believe to be the most thoughtful wedding gift EVER by a group of 6-year olds. They made Janet and James a book; each student creating a page in the form of a drawing and some kind (and sometimes hilarious) words, wishing the two well on their future together. It broke my heart and I photographed almost every page of the book. What a sweet, sweet gift. With the majority of their guests being school friends, and many journeying long distances to be there, they definitely gave everyone a day to remember.