elisha & brandon in santa barbara

Elisha and Brandon. Oh, boy. Where do I even begin with these two amazing humans?!

In Elisha’s initial e-mail to Emily, she described how their wedding day vision began as “big and sparkly,” but changed pretty dramatically when Elisha was diagnosed with a neurological disorder called Chiari malformation (we have learned SO much about this thing we’d never heard of before!). After making it through a menagerie of medical treatments, including brain surgery (brain surgery!), Elisha and Brandon’s relationship emerged even stronger, though their wedding plans evolved to include only their nearest and dearest in an intimate setting.

Emily met these two marvelous people in a coffee shop in San Francisco, where they greeted each other with hugs and spent hours chatting about the wedding, Chiari, and how sad Emily was to already be booked on their wedding day. But I was available, so we set a date for another meeting, this time in Santa Barbara, where Elisha and Brandon, as Emily says, “proceeded to fall in love with Rhianna, just as I knew they would.” Awww.  :)

From the bride herself, who has become very passionate about awareness, on her experience with Chiari malformation:

A few months after becoming engaged to the man of my dreams, I was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a serious neurological disorder in which the back part of your brain descends down into your spinal canal, creating dangerous pressure and, in my case, impairing spinal fluid flow.

My now-husband and I initially envisioned a huge outdoor wedding in Missouri, my home state, but after several months of developing progressively debilitating symptoms, we reluctantly decided the giant Missouri wedding would have to be shelved.

By November 2014, I couldn’t walk without the assistance of a cane due to severe dizziness and impaired balance. We feared that I had grown so sick that I might not even be able to walk down the aisle on our wedding day – whenever that might be. The unspoken fear was that my need for a cane would eventually become a need for a wheelchair, or even worse, and we were tremendously frightened.

I suffered treacherous headaches on a daily basis, my vision was completely blurry more days out of the week than it was not, and I was constantly nauseous, feverish, and growing weaker and weaker by the day. On November 5, 2014, I had brain surgery with the hope that it would stop the damage that was being caused by Chiari by reducing pressure on my brain and spinal cord and restoring the flow of my spinal fluid.

When I woke up from brain surgery, the first thing I noticed was that my vision wasn’t blurry. Then, even with the pain from having my head cut open, I noticed amazing relief of pressure in my brain. The room didn’t appear to be spinning, as it had been for the past several months. By the time I left the hospital, I was walking (albeit very slowly) without the assistance of a cane, because my balance had improved so dramatically!

About one month after my brain surgery, while I was still deeply within the throes of my recovery, we started talking again about our wedding. By then, we had decided to completely scrap the giant wedding in Missouri and opted for an intimate, no-frills, outdoor ceremony in Santa Barbara, surrounded by our immediate families and closest friends.

I contacted Emily and shared part of my story with her, knowing it had to sound completely outrageous. I was amazed when she emailed me back right away and told me she already felt “connected” to my story and Anna Delores would love to be a part of our very special day. For us, it was important we found photographers who understood that our wedding day was more than a celebration of our love – it was a celebration of my continued life. It was a symbol of hope and joy, even in the midst of great uncertainty and profound challenges.

On April 18, 2015, surrounded by incredible beauty, friends and family members who had seen us through the darkest time of our young lives, I walked (nearly skipped!) down the aisle toward my best friend, both of us with tears streaming down our faces, as we knew exactly what it meant for me to be walking toward him. While I still face many health challenges, having brain surgery gave me back a part of me we feared Chiari had claimed forever. We had a new outlook on the fragility and sanctity of life, and our wedding day perfectly reflected that. Honest. Simple. Beautiful. Because of Anna Delores Photography, we have the most magical photos capturing sacred moments from one of the most important days of our lives.

Thank you, Elisha, for sharing and for even inviting us to be part of your story in the first place. Without further ado, here are a few of our favorites from their wedding day, which brimmed with as much emotion, love, and joy as you might dare imagine.

Santa Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photosSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photosSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photosSanta Barbara wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photosSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photographerSanta Barbara wedding photographer_4164Santa Barbara courthouse wedding photosSanta Barbara wedding photosSanta Barbara wedding photographySanta Barbara wedding photographySanta Barbara wedding photographySanta Barbara wedding photographySanta Barbara wedding photographySanta Barbara wedding photographySanta Barbara wedding photographersSanta Barbara courthouse wedding photos

All I wanted was to show their love and their strength. They allowed me to photograph their triumphs, they were real and vulnerable, and I am forever changed because of the time I spent with them.

Brandon and Elisha, thank you for choosing us to help tell your story. It was a beautiful honor and we are so humbled and grateful that we got to work with you.  xoxo

ceremony // santa barbara courthouse
reception // wine cask restaurant
photographer // rhianna mercier
second shooter // liana mccain

mccormick home ranch wedding

During Christy and Brady’s wedding reception, I set my camera down and crunched across the gravel of McCormick Home Ranch to grab a glass of water from the bar.  I looked down at my feet while I walked and I remember this wonderful euphoria washing over me.  Not because of my feet, mind you — they were swollen and achy.  My arms were sore and I had a rash from the material on my dress sleeve.  My current camera strap, as much as I love it, had pinched me a few times on my bicep throughout the day.

But I felt this wonderful sense of happiness and peace like a downpour, and it was delightful.  

I returned to the photo booth (where we were also storing our gear) with cups of water for me, Rhianna, Liana, Maddy, and Felicia with a big, goofy smile plastered on my face.  “You guys!” I exclaimed.  “I am so freakin’ happy right now!”

We had just returned from Clayton Austin’s marvelous workshop in Marfa, where Rhianna and I FINALLY met Maddy and Feli in person despite living 40 minutes away from each other here in California.  They had agreed to help with the debut of the Anna Delores photo booth  before we’d even left for the trip.  The four of us instantly connected with each other and now we can’t seem to pry ourselves away from each other’s lives via Snapchat.  Liana is a total doll and will be making many more appearances at Anna Delores weddings this summer.  The photo booth was proving to be a hit and, to my delight, hadn’t encountered any hiccups.

And more than anything, I felt so crazy-lucky to be photographing Christy and Brady’s wedding day.  I’d collaborated a bit with Jenn and Debbie and Candice (though the three of them did ALL the work) to bring some extra sparkle to the celebration, and it truly could not have been bestowed upon a more deserving couple.  Besides being the two most photogenic people EVER, Christy and Brady are kind, joyful, and don’t take themselves too seriously (but their love is the REAL DEAL, let me tell you).

So I feel extra special that my moment of “hey, I am really, really happy!” happened during their wedding, because clients like them are part of what gives my life a robust sense of purpose and satisfaction.

I have a bit more to say about Debbie, Candice, and Jenn and the contributions they made to making Christy and Brady’s wedding an extraordinary one, but since I’ve rambled so much I’ll show you a few photos before I get to the other stuff.

navy blue wedding stationeryMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding_3629McCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding_3594McCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding ceremonyMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photos

Before we get into the delicious details of the wedding day, I want to give major props to Pretty Vintage Rentals for doing such a fabulous job of decking out the space!  The welcome table, two lounge areas, sweetheart table, dessert display, all the little decor touches — SO GOOD!  And Jennifer Jeanne Events went above and beyond by collaborating with Candice and Debbie at Pretty Vintage as well as adding a ton of extra florals and greenery to make everything extra special.  Christy and Brady were in awe.  It was a pretty incredible day.

McCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photographerMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding photosMcCormick Home Ranch weddingMcCormick Home Ranch weddingMcCormick Home Ranch weddingMcCormick Home Ranch weddingMcCormick Home Ranch weddingMcCormick Home Ranch weddingMcCormick Home Ranch weddingMcCormick Home Ranch weddingMcCormick Home Ranch weddingMcCormick Home Ranch weddingMcCormick Home Ranch weddingMcCormick Home Ranch weddingMcCormick Home Ranch wedding

A little dinner, a little dancing, a little cupcake-grabbing…

McCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding_3701McCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photosMcCormick Home Ranch wedding reception photos

The end.

And WOW that was a lot of photos. #sorrynotsorry

EXTRA thanks to Rhianna and Liana, who helped me SO MUCH.  It was a relief to know all my bases were covered by two stellar, talented photographers who were there to make sure Anna Delores nailed it with this wedding.  You ladies are the BEST.

planning // jennifer jeanne events
rentals // pretty vintage rentals
catering // wood ranch bbq & grill
venue // mccormick home ranch
dj // elegant event entertainment
cupcakes // michelle hatch
second shooters // rhianna + liana
photo booth // little gem photo booth
photo booth attendants // i heart my groom
personal flowers + centerpieces // hillary heuser
additional floral design // jennifer jeanne events
hair + makeup // christine bennett from the hair lounge
bride’s dress // maggie sottero
officiant // kirk dewitt

why have a wedding video

The decision of whether or not to have a wedding video is a tricky one. A lot of the couples I work with prioritize photography as one of the most important components of their wedding day (of course!), but when it comes to having a highlight film, feature film, or even just raw footage of their ceremony, toasts, etc., their vision is sometimes a little muddy. Some married couples note that their biggest regret is not hiring a cinematographer; others say they rarely watch their wedding film so wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a “must-have” for other brides and grooms.

korakia pensione wedding

The Gathering Season made a rad video of this wedding we photographed in Palm Springs!

First things first: what’s the difference between a highlight film, feature film, and raw footage? And what does it mean to have audio included (or not)? Disclaimer: I’m a photographer so I don’t know all the fancy jargon for video! This is just my layperson’s explanation of what each type of film is like.  :)

A highlight wedding film is usually under 10 minutes (the average is anywhere from three to seven minutes) and is a montage of the highlights of the day’s events. This is what you’ll typically see on wedding videographers’ web portfolios; the shorter length makes it easy to share with family and friends and usually has a song or two (sometimes intermingled with audio clips like vows or toasts). You can see some examples (also some of my personal favorites) here, here, and here.

A feature film is longer, and I’m not sure about averages, but definitely significantly longer than the highlight film. It’s harder to show an example of this, since they are usually private and/or much less likely to be shown on a portfolio website, but Blue Kite Cinema has a link to one on their info page if you want to get an idea (click “feature film” toward the bottom of the page). Essentially, though, the story of your wedding day is a little more robustly told with a feature film, simply because there is more time to do so (and usually more audio coverage, too).

Raw footage is something I would usually discourage a couple from pursuing unless they ONLY want the unedited clips of the ceremony and toasts made by loved ones (which would include audio). This is something a bride and groom might want just so they can remember their vows or the details of loved ones’ speeches during the reception. Raw footage is typically less expensive than a highlight or feature film because there is no editing (or very little editing) involved for the cinematographer you hire, but that also means your product on the backend will be much less impressive. It won’t necessarily something you’ll want to share with friends and family; it better serves as documentation for posterity. I would hazard the guess that you won’t be able to find examples of raw footage on portfolio pages for wedding videographers. This is for the same reason I don’t show unedited images on my website portfolio (or anywhere in public, really!) — wedding filmmakers would much rather get creative by curating your wedding day and telling your story with a highlight or feature film, and it’s a much more polished product for the bride and groom to share with loved ones (and enjoy themselves, of course!).

If raw footage is what you’re after, I don’t think it’s the end of the world to have a friend or family member do the filming (though I VERY rarely recommend this option for ANY of your wedding vendors!). But again, if you’re just looking for a super-basic record of your ceremony, it’s no big deal. But if you think you might want editing done later on, do it right the first time — very few talented wedding cinematographers (if any) are going to be willing to edit someone else’s raw footage of your wedding day. They won’t know your story, the filming won’t be done in a way that’s conducive to curated content, and it’ll cost just as much as (if not more than) hiring a professional from the beginning.

When brides and grooms ask me about wedding films, I tell them they should expect to spend just as much on a videographer as they are on their photographer; there seems to be a misconception that video is somehow less expensive than photography, but there is just as much work and time involved in creating the finished product.

As with any other wedding vendor you hire, do your homework. Look at their previous work online — I think that’s the BEST way to see if you are interested in the cinematographer’s style and artistic vision. It also doesn’t hurt to have an idea of what inclusions you want or to ask questions about what to expect: the duration of the film, how many shooters/cameras there will be (and their shooting style, i.e. how intrusive they are and how much equipment they bring), how the music is selected (sometimes there is additional cost for this because music licensing is required), and how much editing will be done.

So what’s my personal opinion on wedding films? Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m a photographer, so of course I’m a big believer in preserving your wedding day memories and finding a talented professional to help you do so. I vote YES on having a wedding film, and my suggestion is to go for the investment of a highlight or feature film (versus raw footage). Moving pictures are an added dimension for remembering the momentous occasion of your wedding day, and this is enhanced even further if your vows are incorporated into the audio component of your film. My planner friend Vanessa recently commented that she and her husband said beautiful words to each other during their ceremony, but she can’t remember them because she opted out of hiring a videographer (which she now regrets, if you hadn’t already guessed). And she’s only been married for two and a half years, so imagine how you’ll feel in five, ten, or twenty years after your wedding.

Here are a few of my favorite videos with some great audio incorporated (again, apologies for my ignorance of the technical terminology!):

Both photography and videography, depending on your priorities for your wedding day, have a useful and legitimate place in your budget. Do some research, look at some highlight films, and if you’re convinced it’s something you want for the long run, you won’t regret the investment. And what a cool thing to be able to show your children and grandchildren! If my parents had a wedding video, I’d be watching it over and over.

And I’m sure you saw this coming, but whatever. My personal favorite choices for wedding cinematographers:

What do you guys think? Will you be hiring a wedding videographer? Or, if you’re already married, did you decide to go for it with a wedding film? Are you happy with your decision?

xoxo