Intimate beach wedding – Santa Cruz

On Earth Day, 2016, I had the pleasure of photographing an intimate beach wedding at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California.

Jess and Eric are the proud parents of two adorable girls, and Jess is truly a super mom. I have photographed lots of brides getting ready, but never have I witnessed such a selfless woman, putting the needs of her babies before her own comfort. Her youngest, Marley, is just 3 months old and exclusively breastfed, there was no question that Jess would make sure she was full before lacing her dress.

super mom

 

Or that she would continue to hold her baby girl as the dress was tightened.

super mom

 

Jess & Eric’s older daughter, Jules, missed her nap, but that didn’t stop her from being adorable.

tired flowergirl

 

The forecast called for rain and it poured all morning. Though we were all a bit nervous for what the evening would bring, the puddles were beginning to dry up when we arrived at the beach. How gorgeous is this beach bride!?

beach bride

 

beach bride

 

Jess’ “Poppy” walked her down the aisle and spoke words that Jess said will be with her forever,

“I’m not giving her away. This is just a lifetime lease”.

poppy kiss

 

lifetime lease

 

lifetime lease

 

When Jess talked about her wedding photo wish list to me months before, she described a wide shot of everyone in two half circles. When I asked her to tell be about some of her favorite images, this one made the list:

“OMG, Jules is reaching out to touch Marley’s face! It was already my fave pic of everyone, but now it’s extra special!”

intimate beach wedding

 

Little Miss Jules decided that she wanted to be held mid-ceremony. Jess didn’t skip a beat, swooped up her little girl, and still looked like a goddess doing it.

intimate beach wedding

 

Jess & Eric had a little something special planned for the end of their ceremony… a celebratory shot. Jess explains:

“The significance of the drinks was that the first night I finally got Eric to hang out with me outside of work we drank an entire bottle of Jack just the two of us, so our marriage started the way our relationship did – a shot of JD on a Friday night!”

 

stiff drink on a Friday night

 

significant drink

 

This isn’t their official “first kiss”, but it’s my favorite of the kiss photos at the ceremony. From my perspective, it was a spontaneous display of affection. Jess gave me the low down:

“That wasn’t just a random hug and kiss after we first became husband and wife, that was me hugging him to quietly {tell him a personal secret inappropriate for a public blog} and then us laughing about it.

This is my favorite of the series, because of Jules in the background watching her mommy & daddy.

intimate beach wedding

 

Now, as you can see, the weather held out and we were all pretty stoked that there wasn’t a downpour.

Little did we know, it was about to get spectacular.

From a sudden warm glow

intimate beach wedding

 

To the beginnings of a decent sunset.

intimate beach wedding

 

Then a rainbow appeared

intimate beach wedding

 

Then the sky got more intense and the rain started again, but only lightly, almost magically.

intimate beach wedding

 

And then, the rainbow became a double. For real. It was an amazing moment to be alive.

intimate beach wedding

 

I couldn’t stop taking pictures. Earth Day indeed.

Natural Bridges

 

We had just a few moments left of light and I snapped a few shots of beautiful Jess, my barefoot bride.

barefoot bride

 

It was a rare moment without her kids in her arms, so I suggested that Eric seize the opportunity.

intimate beach wedding

 

The glorious sunset and rainbows put us all in a fabulous mood and we made our way back to the beach house to hose off the sand and enjoy cocktails and desserts. Upon the relentless insistence of the bride & groom, I stayed a while after my official time had ended and enjoyed a margarita and some cupcakes.

intimate beach wedding

 

I am so honored to be part of what Jess remembers of her wedding day:

“My favorite quote of the day, that I’ve actually played over in my head about a million times since because I love it so much…(It may be my new life motto lol) was “We can fix almost anything in Photoshop, but I can’t Photoshop happiness”. It totally made me focus on how happy I really was right then, all the bs and prep aside.

Now Mischa wants to add it to our website.

That’s cool with me, everytime I remember Jess & Eric’s intimate beach wedding, I smile, remembering how magical it was to be there.

beach wedding selfie

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