This was a wedding circled on my calendar all year. When I was initially pitched the idea of Susan and Conor's multi day wedding celebration by the couples fantastic coordinators, Everything and Pink Champagne I knew this day would be special. The couple's guests would be flying in from all parts of the country and they wanted a videographer that could capture not only their wedding day, but the entire weekend. I was sold! I arrived to the beautiful Napa Valley Friday around noon to meet up with the couple before their wedding rehearsal got underway. The two hadn't quite checked into their hotel yet so I took the opportunity to get some drone shots and establish the location. Since the Bride and Groom would be getting ready in two different locations on the wedding day, I had planned to film Conor's "getting ready" the day before. Staging groom prep is something I do at most of my weddings as a solo shooter, but having the luxury to film it the day before was special. Conor met up with me on the lawn outside the cottage the two had rented for the weekend. After formal introductions and some pleasantries were shared, he invited me into the room to start shooting details. Conor had mentioned he would be wearing cufflinks that were sentimental to him, so I knew I wanted to get some staged closeups. After details came the getting ready content, and Conor was faced with the challenge of tying a real bowtie. The getting ready shots were completed. I headed over to the venue hoping to beat the guests arriving. As a videographer you are always looking at natural ways to visually transition to new locations, and I've found guests arriving footage is the easiest way to get that done. The couple were set to wed at the oldest winery in the Napa valley, Charles Krug. I caught up with Nina and Jennifer, the coordinators for the wedding, and the rehearsal got underway. Filming the rehearsal is not only great for content, but it helps me understand where the best angles for filming will be. To make things even better, the couples photographer Bob McClenahan was also attending the rehearsal. Bob is somewhat of a famous photographer in the Napa Valley, so I was very excited to work along side of him during this wedding. Once the rehearsal concluded we headed across the street to the Culinary Institute of America where the rehearsal dinner would be taking place. This location is stunning, and would have served as a fantastic venue for the wedding. We had some time with the couple before the party officially got started so Bob and I took the them around the property for some portraits. This property was not short in shootable locations. Guests began to arrive and the first course was served. It was then time for what is the most important part of the day for me, the speeches. In our pre wedding meeting, the couple mentioned there would be a lot of speeches at the rehearsal, and they were not kidding. There were 15 total. For some this may be a lot to capture, but for me, this offers so much flexibility in the edit. Dinner wrapped up with some cocktails and it was time for me to return home and charge up all my gear for the wedding day tomorrow. Bright and early I made my way back into the Napa valley. This time my destination would be a Cottage on Charles Krug's property just a short walk from the ceremony and reception space. The cottage was beautiful. Susan was in the middle of her hair and makeup process but showed me where I could find her dress and detail box. I found a back bedroom with some natural light and got to filming. Laura, Bob's associate photographer, soon arrived and joined in on the details. Rather then film flat lays inside with the dress, we moved outside for some better lighting. Susan's hair and makeup process was coming to an end so I hurried inside to grab shots of the last of it. We then gathered the bridal party outside for some fun champagne photos before every one got dressed. Susan opted to have her sisters and mom help her into her dress in a back bedroom of the cottage while the bridal party waited outside for the big reveal. Some tears were shed and some hugs were shared with the bridal party before Susan was ushered back inside. We had to make sure she was hidden so that we could place her father, John for his first look with his daughter. This is always one of my favorite wedding moments. After the two collected themselves, we snapped some photos of the family before moving Susan back inside for one final time. Conor was placed and the stage was set for their first look. Susan made the long walk from the back door of the cottage to her awaiting groom on the front lawn, and the two shared a heartfelt moment with one another. We shot some portraits before I parted ways to head to the ceremony site. Once I had got my audio configured I began shooting the ceremony space. There were plenty of details to keep me busy. Guests began to take their seats and the ceremony got underway. The walk was long from the reception hall across the lawn to the ceremony, which gave me lots of time to get creative with my shots. The ceremony was officiated by the couples family friend and pastor, Robin. After some vows were shared, a reading was read, and a song was sang by the brides sister, the couple shared their first kiss. Following the ceremony, I made my way upstairs to the reception space and was struck by its beauty. The floral, details, and design was just beautiful. With so much to shoot, I got to work filming. The couple opted for a live band over a DJ, so I checked in with them to pull a feed for the speeches. It was time for the party to start. The couple was introduced and joined their hype crew (the bridal party) on the dance floor. After some celebrating, the dance floor cleared and the floor was set to share their first dance. This dance was something the two had been practicing for months, and their execution showed it. Perfection. After dinner, some speeches took place and the two shared a dance with their parents. It was then time to cut the cake. This wouldn't be a normal cake cutting, however. Susan's family had a tradition where wedding cakes were cut using an heirloom saber that had been passed down through several generations. Too cool! The party officially began as the band laid down some popular tunes. There is a certain unmatched energy a live band brings to a wedding. The night came to an end and the couple made their way downstairs for one final formality. Awaiting outside was a beautiful Vintage 1941 Packard Convertible. to take the two away. Through the cheers of their family and friends, Susan & Conor shared a glass of champagne as the Packard rolled into the night. The perfect end to this fairy tail weekend.
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Steven Martinez // Cinematographer