June 27, 2020

Carolita & Kyler's Intimate Redwood Forest Wedding


Wowzers, where do I start with this one?! None of us expected what happened in 2020. Many people's lives have been shaken to their very foundations during this pandemic and the current politics of the world we live in today. I've grown a much greater appreciation for what I used to think was my boring suburban life. I've also realized just how much I love being a wedding photographer. Because even in the darkest of times, there is love. What are weddings, if not a celebration of love? I needed this reminder more than ever! 

So here it goes a beautiful love story...

When I first chatted with Kyler & Coralita, over Facetime, in the warm Tennessee and me in the Foggy Bay Area of California, we talked about what they wanted for their wedding day. See Kyler is quite the creative guy, check him out @kylerpotter. Kyler grew up here in Santa Cruz among the Redwoods and knew he wanted to get married here, among these breathtaking giants. Carolita envisioned a beautiful green foresty theme. I have been entirely in love with these Redwood Forests since I first moved here. This is a dream wedding for me!

Then the pandemic hit. I have had to hear so many sad stories of brides having to cancel or postpone their weddings. For a while, it felt like love was canceled. But these two lovebirds would not let a little pandemic stop them. They had to make many, many changes! Their wedding was limited to 10 people due to county regulations. This included me, the photographer, and the officiant, who is a dear family friend. They no longer had a venue, caterer, florist, etc. 

And so Kyller's parents home in Aptos, that happens to have a little Redwood Grove behind their house became their new venue. A favorite local restaurant, Sweet Pea's Cafe, became their "caterer." Kyler's mom became the florist, cake baker, and more. Kyler's dad made them a beautiful wedding arch, and the whole family worked countless hours on turning that little Redwood grove into the perfect ceremony venue! Everything happened in such a short period, but after another Facetime with Kyler & Carolita, everything seemed to be back on track. We decided to have their portrait session in The Forest of Nisine Marks, which was only a 15 min drive away, and luckily was still open!

But the world just had to throw one more curveball at these two soon to be newlyweds. Their flights to California got canceled last minute. 🤦‍♀️ Man, I might have just canceled everything then. Not Kyler and Carolita! They drove the 2,500 miles from Tennessee to Santa Cruz, California! It took them a whole three days! 

It was great to meet these two lovebirds; finally, I have been talking to for the last eight months, in person for the first time along with their family. There is something special about being invited into someone's home this way. There was a lot of hustling and bustling going on like on any other wedding day, but it was more laid back than usual. They weren't allowed to have more than ten people at their wedding, which made many things tricky, like hair & makeup. Kyler's sister, Brenna, came to the rescue. I have seen plenty of good and bad makeup jobs at weddings, and Brenna did a great job. I was reminded again of just how intimate this wedding was during the "prep time." It felt like two sisters just hanging out and talking makeup, something I remember doing with my sister as a kid.

We did a first look with Carolita & her dad, that was so sweet. Dad's and girls, man. My dad still calls me his baby to this day. Then it was time for Carolita & Kyler's first look. I wanted to do it next to the Redwoods outside, and it turned out great. I also loved that after Kyler looked Carolita over and awed over her a bit, she made him turn around so she could check him out. It was an adorable first look.

The Ceremony. It was terrific to finally see Carolita walking down that path in the redwood grove that her family work so hard on making. It was a beautiful place to get married. The light was so nicely filtered through the trees that surrounded us. Mr. Mustard, their officiant, gave a brilliant summary of their relationship. It wasn't an ordinary service; it was custom made for these two beautiful people. Kyler & Carolita are both tea lovers and decided to create their very own tea ceremony for their wedding. They had all the ingredients measured out and combined them under the gorgeous redwoods to create their very own tea. 

Kyler's brother, who is one of the sweetest young men I have met, was in charge of the rings, and he had some exceptional plans in mind. See Kyler once decided to prank him by putting his gift inside of multiple boxes, and Miles decided to return the favor, but with a twist. After unpacking all the boxes and not finding a ring, he leaped over a tree stump to retrieve a Lego AT-AT that the rings were meant to be in, but to everyone surprise, even Miles, it was not. Now, most people would think this was a bad thing, but this family is different and had a good laugh about it all. No one was upset; it was just plain funny. The rings were later retrieved from Miles's room. Still, the idea was excellent, even if it didn't go entirely according to his plan. I vote for more Lego AT-AT ring holders.

After the family portraits, we headed over to the Forrest of Nisine Marks for their portraits. It was beautiful and peaceful all the birds singing as if they are singing just for these two newlyweds. It was beautiful. We even found a geocache at one of the spots. After heading back, we had dinner, and for the first time in my life, I sat right next to the bride, eating delicious food at a wedding reception, enjoying the conversations going on. There were beautiful heartfelt speeches, the kid you can only have at such intimate affairs. It felt so special to be a part of this day.

Thank you, Carolita and Kyler, for being brave and facing all the obstacles. Your love is pure and knows no bounds.