Vero Beach FL Destination Wedding Weekend } Sarah and Derek Part One!

Honestly, I don’t know where to start with this one! Should I start by sharing the details of the destination weekend and what a beautiful and fabulous time everyone had? Or maybe I should start with what a privilege it was to work with Sarah, Derek and their families because they are simply wonderful people?  Oh and the venues – LOVE LOVE LOVE the Moorings and the Costa d’Este!  What I do know for sure is that I am splitting this amaaaaazing wedding weekend into two posts because seriously, it’s a lot to soak in and I want you to:  soak. it. in.

What I really must do first is introduce you to Sarah and Derek.

She was living in Charlotte and he was in Kentucky.  She was coaching cheerleading on the side (her day job in corporate events) and became friends with his mom -a teacher.  He was working in venture captial but coming home to NC frequently to visit with his dad who was ill. His mom kept mentioning Sarah but he wasn’t really in the mood for a first date. But his mom wasn’t in the mood to give up. Before Derek’s dad passed away she had the chance to point Sarah out and say, “Wouldn’t she be great for Derek?”  You see his mom fell in love with Sarah first. She’s that kind of girl.

So Derek asked Sarah out; they had pizza and talked.  Then the restaurant began to close and they kept talking – and never looked back.  About two years later he crashed her girls weekend in Austin TX in order to propose; of course the girls were in on it, he knew Sarah would enjoy celebrating among friends – he’s that kind of guy.

I can’t say enough about what a pleasure it was to photograph this wedding. There are the obvious reasons: a beautiful well-planned event, great venues, a weekend away at the Costa d’Este… But there is one reason alone that truly makes any wedding a pleasure to photograph: the people!  Sarah and Derek and their respective families were amazing. Every one of them were so over-the-top kind to me, hospitable, generous, friendly and just plain fun to be around. With Sarah’s family being from Texas, I can’t help but give the South a little credit. High five the South – Amen.

Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough, they trusted me.  Between Sarah, Derek and their parents there was never a moment that I didn’t feel like I had their complete confidence. This allows me to feel so much more free in the creative process. On a wedding day especially, a photographer needs as much of that feeling as they can get because so much of the day is highly structured: the schedule, the locations, etc. are all planned out ahead of time.  This can make creativity challenging (especially with a tight schedule – don’t have a tight schedule!) but with the absolute confidence of your clients and their trust in your work, you can have freedom within the structure and everyone can enjoy the process.  I consider that a gift from clients because I know that when you have invested your resources (specifically the monetary kind) in something as subjective as photography, it can be difficult to trust.  BUT, if you have done your homework and invested in a professional, you have purchased the luxury to relax and have confidence in their vision, their experience and their reliability.  Sarah, Derek and their family didn’t have to be so nice, after all I’m technically the hired help right?  Here’s the thing – I don’t think it would have mattered if I were making the beds at the hotel, shooting the wedding, driving the bus (yes they had a bus) or Gloria herself for that matter – they would have treated me the same. They are those kind of people.

The first thing we did on Wednesday evening was shoot Sarah’s Bridal Portrait at The Moorings Club in Vero Beach, the same venue we would return to for the reception. Keep in mind, no one at this wedding is from the area, but Sarah and her family have vacationed in Vero Beach for years and she just knew this is where she wanted to marry Derek. She found her fabulous Jim Hjelm dress at Hayden Olivia Bridal in Charlotte. Her shoes are Kate Spade. She had a simple bouquet made for the bridal portrait. And she’s gorgeous, inside and out.

The Moorings

(the interior lobby below as well as the dressing room area where brides can get ready -love. Oh and a sneak peak for tomorrow out by the pool!)

How gorgeous was the weather!? Big thanks to impending storms. Love it. No I didn’t love the part that made me sweat right before the session wondering what we would do if we were rained out and how we could fit a reschedule into the weekend somehow. But it was worth it and it helps that Sarah was so relaxed. Are pretty girls supposed to be this fun?  Sarah can be silly and sweet and breathtaking all wrapped up into one.

I rest my case.

Dear husband, since I have two ring fingers and all…

My favorite from the session above. So classic.

A word about sunsets in general because this was a gorgeous sunset. I love them as much as the next person; however, I always shoot with my subject in mind and I love natural light.  If I wanted to capture the sunset in all it’s glory (so you could see the fiery ball dropping into the water) I would need to put some artificial light on Sarah or else she would be very dark.  I’m not knocking those kinds of photographs, they just aren’t my style.  I prefer to expose for Sarah, to keep her the center of attention while retaining as much of the beauty behind her as I possibly can. I say this because I get requests all the time from clients who would like photos with the sunset. I adore the light it gives us to work with but I’m not big on making room for another subject in the photographs. You feel me?

And we are off and running. A weekend of fun with guests arriving from Texas, North Carolina, the North East, well you get it – all over. Everyone stayed at the Costa d’Este, a personal luxury resort by Gloria and Emilio Estefan.  I love this resort! It’s the perfect size at only 5 floors, the design is carried throughout – a chic, modern and earthy vibe. Dana stayed over the first night while my schedule was lighter -and we will definitely be back.

The welcome party Thursday night… Yes this party started on Thursday with a pink signature cocktail and a steel drummer. Yummy.

Sarah’s nephew couldn’t help but steal the show sometimes. He is scrumptious.

Sarah told me in our first meeting about her desire for the wedding to reflect real Florida style. Palms, lots of green, etc. I took notes way back then and kept it in mind as I shot all weekend. That’s why it’s great to share your vision with your photographer because your pictures will be your memory lane and you want memory lane to move in the right creative direction.

Somehow, all the guys made it out bright and early the next morning for a round of golf at the Moorings. Good times!

The girls met for lunch the same day at the vacation home of Sarah’s aunt. I was head over heels for the detached garage turned shabby chic cafe. What a beautiful job with color and design! She even invited me to see the rest of the historical home. Because I LOVE all things antique (LOVE the coffee pot and creamer set below!) I ran across some old circus photographs on the wall and assumed they were purely decor. Oh no, it was Sarah’s grandma in the pics. So I officially fell in love with her too because seriously is there anything cooler than being an acrobat in the classic circus?

Can you say festive?

Photographs of all the brides in the family before Sarah adorned the table inside. What a beautiful touch.

Below we have arrived at the rehearsal dinner Friday night -everyone had a blast!

The evening concluded with friends and family sharing stories, laughs and tears – all centered around Sarah and Derek and their love for each other. It couldn’t get any better than that… until the wedding day. Stay tuned for part TWO!

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