I’m excited to share a roundup of elopement, wedding, and engagement photography work from 2020! This annual photography recap brings me joy, and I hope these images bring a smile to your face too. They are proof that even in the toughest times there is great joy to be found!
Ah 2020 – where to begin? As so many others experienced, last year was without a doubt my most challenging to date. Like I mentioned in my 2019 roundup, I went into last January thinking it’d be my busiest and most successful twelve months yet. So many couples were excitedly waiting for 2020 to have their weddings, only to have their plans drastically change when mid March hit. Adding such profound disappointment to an already stressful world situation is a lot for anyone to handle, and my heart ached for them. Even though we’re not out of the woods yet with COVID-19, I’m now seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with the invent of the vaccine and an administration dedicated to ending the pandemic. To be entirely frank, thus far I’ve had fourteen weddings postpone (and counting), five changed to an elopement or micro wedding, not to mention some straight up cancellations or postponements to dates I had already booked up. While all of those logistics have been a lot to sort through, I am incredibly grateful for the beauty I was able to witness in 2020. Elopements became a much more regular occurrence, and they might just be my favorite thing to photograph! Here’s a quick peek at what’s to come in this long post!
Let’s go to the beginning of last year (ah, simpler times)! Sophie and Michael travelled to Los Angeles from Georgia for their Joshua Tree elopement. They were ahead of the trend! They kicked off their morning in Palm Springs and ended the day with a ceremony at sunset in the park. Shindig Chic created beautiful flowers and the whole day was featured on Green Wedding Shoes!
That circular peony arch from Shindig Chic is absolutely gorgeous!
Hot tip – if you want to elope in Joshua Tree make sure you have a permit. You’ll definitely get asked to show your documentation, especially if you’re riding around in this classic Ford Thunderbird like we were!
Jessica and Alma had a Salvation Mountain engagement session! It had been years since I last visited this unique and colorful location, and it was freezing by California standards – we’re talking 30 degrees and windy! These two were such troopers, especially since this was a sunrise session. Totally worth it for that gorgeous backlight!
They brought their adorable Pomeranian, Leo, along for the shoot!
Haley and Brian had a beautiful February wedding in Palm Desert! We kicked off the day at Hotel Paseo which has this yellow California sign near the pool. Isn’t Haley’s gown from Lili Bridal absolutely beautiful?!
The wedding itself took place at the Living Desert Zoo, which is by far one of my favorite locations. There are so many stunning gardens and different backdrops, including this cactus garden!
Haley did all of the signage and paper good design herself. She’s so talented!
The palm garden is a beautiful location for a wedding reception. I loved the decor for Haley & Brian’s wedding so much – future full blog post to come!
I travelled to Phoenix, Arizona in the middle of February to photograph Molly and Chelsea’s wedding! It was basically a tropical storm all morning, right up until we were about to start portraits – and then the sun came out! Just as I was packing up at the end of the night the rain started coming down again. The timing of this day couldn’t have been more perfect!
The wedding itself took place at Molly’s parents’ house – what a gorgeous backyard wedding!!
Arizona’s landscape is captivating. I love the saguaro cacti, mountains, palm trees, and beautiful golden light!
The talented team at Bloom & Blueprint managed to remove all of the rain tents, set up the entire ceremony, and flip the ceremony to this reception in record time.
Missy and Peter had a wedding at The Unique Space on 2/29/20 – Leap Day! The venue recently repainted their old mural to this ombre backdrop and it couldn’t have been more perfect for M&P’s color scheme!
Missy and Peter’s Unique Space wedding is currently printed in the national issue of The Knot Magazine! Florals by Shindig Chic added an extra color pop!
Missy’s custom Galia Lahav star wedding gown added a perfect amount of whimsy! This mural is close to the Unique Space, located in the Arts District.
A bubble ceremony exit is always a win!
Peter truly pulled off a hot pink suit!
That star cathedral length veil though. Stunning!!
Angelena (of aforementioned Shindig Chic), Michael and I visited the almond orchards during their annual bloom! A&M got engaged a couple months later and are getting married this April!
Mel and Ben had a wedding at The Fig House in Los Angeles on March 14, 2020. Not only was this Pi Day, but it was the weekend before we went into nationwide shutdowns for COVID-19. It was pouring rain off and on during the day and dozens of guests cancelled at the last minute, but these two kept smiling throughout everything!
Mel and Ben absolutely love TV shows and incorporated lots of fun details into their wedding day. Ben’s suit was inspired by a contestant from The Bachelor, and Mel’s gown was a nod to Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones!
The rain held off long enough for a lovely outdoor ceremony! Their officiant dressed up like Joey in the Friends’ wedding episode.
Cocktails from RoomForty are always a win!
Mel and Ben’s TV Inspired wedding can also be seen here on The Knot’s website!
Their friend created the cutest table numbers by putting Mel and Ben in all of their favorite TV shows. Lookout Jim and Pam, you’re being replaced!
MARCH 15 – JUNE:
Once mid-March hit everything quickly changed. Most couples who were booked to get married in the spring pushed to late summer or autumn, and the cycle of postponing has continued ever since. California, especially LA County, has some of the strictest pandemic ordinances in the entire nation. As much as I desperately want to be back to normal life again, I wholeheartedly believe that everyone’s health and safety comes first and that the CDC’s guidelines need to be followed to save lives and make this end that much faster. My husband, Mike, and I have been taking everything very seriously and I’ve been especially careful about the new jobs I book and how all interactions take place. Everything must be outdoors, sessions are now contact-free, and I practice social distancing and remain masked the whole time.
Photographing in a mask presents quite a few challenges (a foggy camera viewfinder, trying to breathe in the California heat, clients having trouble hearing directions from the muffled sound, the list goes on…) but wearing a mask is SO important in preventing the spread of COVID-19. I barely picked up my camera for three months in lockdown until my friends Lauren and Ryan decided to elope on their original wedding date in June. Ryan is actually the reason Mike and I met, and I felt relieved having my first mid-pandemic photography experience take place with trusted friends. We went to the nearly empty Santa Barbara Courthouse and the beach for their portraits following a private ceremony!
Siana and Jarrett originally planned to have a Bel Air Bay Club wedding in May, but they decided to rent a home in Malibu for a week with their immediate family and have the wedding during their stay on the property. Shindig Chic did a stunning job with the tropical-inspired florals!
Shindig Chic decorated a gorgeous table for Siana & Jarrett’s wedding dinner. I captured detail photos earlier in the day and left before the meal began as a safety precaution.
These beautiful ceremony pillars were easily moved around the property for photo opps!
Siana and Jarrett’s pup, Lucca, in his emerald tie – too cute!
This mountain backdrop was basically at the end of the house’s driveway! We took photos until sunset and then Siana and Jarrett went back to the house for dinner and celebrations with their family. A micro wedding done right!
Zanny and Chris planned their elopement in one week! I met them in Orange County on a sunny summer afternoon. I love Chris’ outfit choice with the rolled sleeves and different fabric textures!
Zanny did her own hair and makeup – this half updo with flowers is so sweet and whimsical!
Marina and Oscar did a sunrise Echo Park Lake engagement session! The backdrops here are much prettier at sunrise, plus the park is way less crowded first thing in the morning.
We popped over to their apartment to meet Lily, their sweet old pup!
Rachel and Chris got married on their original wedding date in August but downsized their guest list to their closest family and friends. They changed their Adamson House wedding to a Topanga Canyon micro wedding at a rental property. It was such a sunny and pretty afternoon!
Mike and my best friends, Jess and Steve, got engaged in May 2019! They ultimately decided to do a micro wedding in Topanga Canyon in October. We did these pre-wedding portraits in August to kick off the celebration, starting at their Echo Park house with their kitty, Montana.
This BHLDN gown arrived in the mail as we were literally walking out the door. What a win! We got a photo permit from the Los Angeles Arboretum and explored the beautiful grounds together.
How cool is the bamboo forest at the LA Arboretum?!
As luck would have it this bougainvillea was blooming in the middle of the August heat!
We finished the day at sunset, overlooking the LA skyline.
Stay tuned further down the post for their micro wedding at the Inn of the Seventh Ray!
Alena and Alex had the most colorful elopement! They had a ceremony at the Bob Baker Marionette theatre and then we met up for a portrait session in Culver City at the California Dreaming mural. Alena designed her confetti-inspired gown herself and Miss Tashina brought it to life. You can see more details about their unique elopement here on Rock N Roll Bride!
Alena ordered the cutest custom balloons from Oh Shiny Co!
Biodegradable confetti toss!
We went to a scenic overlook for a backdrop change! This day made me smile from ear to ear. Alena and Alex were such a joy to be around, their style is so fun and inspiring, and it was an unexpected opportunity that popped up at the last minute!
Nichole and Ryan drove cross-country to California for their big day! They planned to get married in April but ended up doing a micro wedding in September. They did portraits in Joshua Tree National Park during the day with their immediate family and best friends – it just so happened to be National Public Lands Day, so they weren’t allowed to have their actual ceremony in the park like they would’ve preferred. We made it work with the harsh mid-day light and heat and drove back to 29 Palms for their ceremony at a private residence.
The Glamis Sand Dunes (also known as the Imperial Sand Dunes) have been on my photo bucket list for ages, and Stephanie and Brandon thankfully picked this location for their epic engagement session! This spot is right near the Mexico border and there is nothing around for miles. It’s a unique and fascinating place!
We photographed their sand dunes engagement session just before the ATV season started which was a lucky accident. I’ve read that the vehicles can leave unattractive tire tracks in the sand and that the ATVs can pop out of nowhere! It was 110 degrees during Steph and Brandon’s session and those sand dunes are a legit cardio workout, but I think it was completely worth it!
Alyssa and Tyler also got to experience triple digits for their engagement session in Palm Springs! They are getting married at the Saguaro Hotel later in 2021, so it was only fitting we do some of their engagement session photos at the hotel too!
We drove over to some Mid-Century Modern neighborhoods and found some bougainvillea!
A pink door in Palm Springs is a must-see!
Less than a week later I was back in Palm Springs for Breana and Matthew’s elopement! They got married on their original wedding date but decided to forgo the big wedding in favor of an epic photo shoot around town. They did a vow exchange to make the day extra special.
This beautiful 1962 Ford Thunderbird made a comeback!
Breana picked up some biodegradable confetti for the occasion!
That light, those mountains, their style – it doesn’t get more perfect than this!!
My dear friends Megan and Mitchell got married on their original date, 10/10/2020. They had a backyard wedding at their house with a total of 10 people and it was stunning! Shindig Chic did the flowers and Megan herself designed all of the signage and paper goods.
I first met Megan while we were studying abroad in The Netherlands, and we were so happy to discover we grew up 15 minutes apart in New Hampshire! Fast forward 14 years and here we are still together in Los Angeles! She is a vision.
I brought my tripod along so we could get a full group photo! We all got tested for COVID prior to the wedding and had been practicing social distancing and quarantining. It was SO NICE to celebrate with friends for an afternoon!! Spoiler alert, I cried a lot of tears!
Mitchell grew up in LA and brought us to his secret overlook at sunset for “locals only”!
I was lucky enough to team up with Heartthrob Events and Lark Farnum Design for this micro wedding inspiration shoot at Redbird & Vibiana! The venues are offering special micro wedding packages in their gorgeous gardens.
The pomegranate with persimmons and mushrooms…yes please!
Nicole Bakes Cakes made the prettiest creation!
Emily and Elliott were the winners of free engagement session Instagram Giveaway I did on my birthday! They originally planned to take photos in Palm Springs but decided to stay local in LA given the desert heat. We started at this cute Griffith Observatory mural in Los Feliz!
Next up – their Chinatown engagement session! What a cool and unique location!
Ah, we’ve come to Jess and Steve again! They rented a gorgeous property in Topanga Canyon for us all to stay in, and the ceremony itself took place at Inn of the Seventh Ray. Jess included lots of disco balls in her decor!
Jess is a multidisciplinary designer and created all of the paper goods and decor herself!
They did their first look just outside their cabin!
Here’s the full group of us! Once again we all got tested and practiced social distancing and COVID safety precautions. I was so honored to be a bridesmaid and Mike was their officiant!
Jess’ Willowby by Watters gown is so unique! I love the bell sleeves and jewels!
They broadcasted their ceremony live to dozens of family and friends who couldn’t be there. I love this shot of Jess looking at her sister, Jenna!
We left the Inn of the Seventh Ray and went to a lovely golden field for sunset!
Back at the rental property we enjoyed a delicious taco dinner together under the stars! This balloon installation by Bonjour Fete really added something special to the decor!
Cameron and Tom did a Yosemite engagement session at the very end of October, the day before the main road was about to close (unbeknownst to us)! Yosemite is truly my favorite place in the world and I was so happy they wanted to travel here. We met up in the park and did half of their session at sunrise, took a break for several hours mid day, and then finished with a sunset hike. It was my first time seeing the park at sunrise and we were all blown away by the light!
Heartthrob Weddings put together Heartthrob Hotel – a unique curated pop-up elopement experience with a team of experienced vendors! This event took place at Ruby Street at the beginning of November, although there are hopefully more on the way! Alex and Ty were such a delight to capture.
Their first look was so sweet!!
They also brought along their three dogs and it was just about the cutest thing ever.
Whit Hazen made a perfect bouquet!
Ty sang to Alex as a surprise!
Flouring LA made an ube cake with paint-inspired frosting!
There you have it! 2020 taught me a lot about my personal resilience and about the importance of setting boundaries, and it was a huge reminder about what matters most in life. This entry truly includes some of my very best days. I’m incredibly grateful I was able to keep working in some capacity, and that couples still found a way to celebrate their love and get married in spite of many challenges. It’s hard to know what 2021 will bring, and while I can’t wait to have big parties again, I know we can make magic happen no matter what! Take care friends, and thank you so much for following along!