Love is Love

I was still working at the Summit House in Fullerton, CA when I received a phone call from Juju, a bride wanting to do anything to make her future wife as happy as possible on their wedding day! I distinctly remember running into the bridal suite at the Summit House and taking a knee on the cushioned bench, anxiously listening to Juju explain her expectations. She was quick to schedule a meeting with me and her fiancé Daphne at their favorite coffee shop, Hot Java. I couldn't have been more excited because that’s also my favorite local coffee shop in Long Beach! I truly believe things happening for a reason and the six degrees of separation secretly pulling us all together. :)

I sat outside that afternoon sipping on my latte, as Juju mentioned they would be bringing their dog Bodhi, the ring bearer. :) Moments later I heard a knocking on the window behind me, it was challenging to see through as I leaned in closer and could finally make out a tall blonde waving back at me. :) “It must be them”, so I made my way inside... That’s sometimes the hard thing about meeting people in public that I don't know, they’re unfamiliar faces (unless they add me on social media first) and it can feel a little bit like a first date, brought to you by yours truly, Tinder. Haha

I walked towards to the two ladies as they welcomed me, “Erin?!”

I laughed, “Yes, I thought you’d want to sit outside because of your dog.”

“Bodhi is a service dog.” ;)

We chatted for some time, Daphne sharing all her ideas and sense of overwhelming stress trying to bring to life the wedding of her dreams. This is pretty common when I first meet with couples. A lot of; “We didn't know it would be this hard”, “I feel overwhelmed by all the details”, or “We don't know what to do next or if we’re even doing anything right”. I always try my best to give comfort to the couples I’m meeting with, because I understand the ins and outs of a wedding but for them its a foreign language. Daphne wanted that “easy going” but still elegant beach feel. Juju didn't want either of them stressing on the day of and again just wanted her future wife to be happy! Although Daphne felt like she was being some element of difficult, I am all about any person that says “easy going”! People like this understand the essence of any event (its a celebration and about the people you love most sharing that day with you), are wonderful to work with and I know no matter what, things are going to go beautifully on their day!

Was I ever right! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, because despite the minor set backs that day, Daphne and Juju were smiling from ear to ear all evening!!

I arrived at the venue that morning to get things moving right along on schedule, left my assistant Tiffany to organize the tables and drove across town to pick up the flowers. Their florist Margaret Rose worked from her home, I had found this local florist for them. She had been in the business for years and was willing to create anything along the lines of a bride’s imagination. Her house was very artsy, covered in greenery, with scattered pots and nick knacks. I remember Margaret being a little hesitant with Daphne’s vision, a mixture of tropical florals and roses but when she brought them out to my car, my breath was taken away. We think sometimes as "creatives” that we can envision anything but sometimes my clients truly impress me with their creativity!! :)

That day I put together my first arrangement on a ceremonial arch, with white swag and all! We excused the beach goes on the sand for a beautiful ceremony and reception. The venue’s staff was VERY helpful with the final touches, as Tiffany had to make her way back home to her newborn baby. We welcomed guests to take their seats as the bridal party arrived and Daphne was tucked away on a boat across the bay, awaiting for her grand entrance!

It’s always so exciting right before a ceremony begins, the anxiousness of a couple transpiring into amazing energy and the start of two people joining their lives together is about to take place!! I am smiling from ear to ear right now with watery eyes as I type this… love is of it’s own beauty.

And despite our efforts, unknown people gathered around to witness their unity. I say despite but it’s truly remarkable how we all just want to witness a little bit of love in our lives, even if it’s a complete stranger’s…

Once the ceremony had completed the bridal party was greeted with champagne and guests congregated on the sand for traditional Hawaiian hors d’oeuvres. Daphne & Juju’s marriage license was signed, photos of joy were captured and many kisses were embraced. Everyone was asked to take their seat in the warm sand, as I ran around barefoot, getting the bridal party, DJ and photographers ready for the grand entrance.

One thing I absolutely love is dancing and two of my favorite moments that evening revolved around dancing. After the brides’ first dance, their children joined them on the floor for a family dance! The other moment I adored, was the Greek wedding dance (either the Kalamatiano, Hasapiko, Zeibekiko or Tsamiko, I didn't ask which :/) Moments that made guests cry and smile all at once!

Before the night concluded, Juju and Daphne approached me to share their gratitude, along with their son Josh, who I shared a celebratory shot with as the bar announced last call.

In the moment of a wedding and even after the fact, I get caught up in what didn't go perfectly and my goals of wanting to make my next couple’s day that much more memorable, but having the opportunity months later to reflect, is one of the best parts about my job! We all get caught up in the expectations of what a wedding should look like, but it’s so much more than that and capturing that is golden.

Months later I had the pleasure of meeting Daphne and Juju in New York while I happen to be in the city and they were on vacation. It meant the world to me that they wanted to take the time out of their crazy vacation experience to have breakfast with me. :)) The other golden moment of my job, is staying connect with these couples that welcome me into one of the most intimate moments of their lives.

I am blessed.

Erin James