We loved capturing Noor and Wael’s wedding portraits a few weekends ago! We don’t often get a chance to do wedding portrait sessions like this, independent of a wedding, and I really loved having the time and space to hone in on the authenticity and emotions of their session without any of the extra necessities of documenting a wedding day. Don’t me wrong, we love big blow-out weddings, but it’s always refreshing mix things up and use a new format to hone your craft!
Like so many of our couples, Noor and Wael had a big wedding planned, but then COVID hit and those plans had to go out the window. So, instead of the traditional Muslim wedding they were expecting, these two decided to have an intimate wedding with just their immediate family. But Noor still wanted to find a Los Angeles wedding photographer to create the wedding photos she had dreamed of, so she found us and we did a light, airy, and romantic portrait session by the ocean at sunset to capture what the start of this new chapter meant for these two.
We connected with Noor and Wael right off the bat when we met in Palos Verde because of how sweet these two were and how deeply and easily they loved each other. These two were also so in sync with our philosophy about photoshoots! Recently, we have been really focusing on helping couples fully enjoy and stay present together during the photo shoot experience, and capturing authentic moments as a result. We never want them worrying about posing or holding the perfect smile, because we strongly believe these shoots should be about creating a meaningful experience you’ll want to remember forever. The photos are just a great excuse to go somewhere that moves you and document a real moment in your love story! I love that Noor and Wael wanted to make the most of this experience, so they included the ceremonial elements of exchanging rings and privately exchanging vows.
As soon as our session began and Noor and Wael started to exchange rings, Noor started to tear up and got emotional – which then made me emotional. It seemed like the weight of wedding planning and worrying about COVID changes and everything else was finally lifted from her, and instead she could let it sink in that she was actually married! She had this union to hold onto, amidst all the stress we’ve all been through this year.
Her tears were honest, unexpected, and a reminder of how incredible and relieving and exciting it is to have someone to move through life with. Being present for that moment also reminded me that, while COVID has taken so much from so much of all of us, I am grateful that it has forced us to slow down and focus on the connections that truly matter. Dan and I recently had a vow renewal for our ten year anniversary and, although we started the day by rushing around to pick up the new rings and get things in order, we then made the choice to slow down, and had a small but priceless moment together, just talking and exchanging rings in our bedroom. It was a small moment of re-commitment, but was beautiful and I’m so glad we took the time for it, just the two of us.
It can be hard to remember to taken in those little moments when we’re all busy and running around all the time – especially for couples during their weddings. We always try to encourage our couples to stay present during their wedding day because it goes by so fast, but there’s so much to do during a wedding day that it’s no small feat. But that’s one of the wonderful benefits of the elopements and micro weddings we’re seeing so much of now – these smaller celebrations allow you to slow down and really experience your wedding for what it should be – the first day of your marriage, and a celebration of your everyday, real love. It allows for real, raw, unexpected moments, which are why we do this work.
One last thought on finding the real moments. I think the space you choose for your wedding, or your shoot, or whatever celebration you decide on, can be so impactful in helping you slow down, breathe, and let the excitement and poignancy of your new marriage set in. Noor and Wael were so in their element on the cliffs by the ocean in Palos Verde, and it shows. I love doing engagement shoots and weddings in spaces like the desert or by the ocean because, when you’re in a powerful, expansive landscape like that, your focus becomes “taking it all in” together and you automatically forget about the camera. It pulls you into the present and into a mentality of stillness effortlessly, especially if those landscapes are ones you deeply love, like the ocean is for Dan and me. So it was awe-inspiring to capture Noor and Wael’s wonderful moment of stillness together, surrounded by the calm and the constancy of the ocean.
Looking back, I hope our portrait session helped extend and deepen that “first day of marriage” feeling for Noor and Wael. They had a space and a time dedicated to slowing down and relaxing into the comfort of their future. It became a real moment in their love story, not just a photoshoot or a day run by a timeline. And I’m so glad that they let us in on their emotional journey. In all our shoots we try to discover what emotions are right under the surface and pull them out so we can visually tell that story, and we are grateful that our couples trust us enough to be authentic in front of the camera. So to Noor and Wael: we are so glad you decided to give each other the gift of this moment together gave us the honor of documenting your love story. We’re so excited to see how your future unfolds together!