Lori has been my longtime friend for about 20 years! We first started to get to know each other when I coordinated her first wedding in Ventura many years ago. Since that time we have had many happy times together as friends and with our families. She has three amazing kids and these three and my two love to be together, even though there is quite a bit of an age gap between my oldest and her youngest. Playing games, swimming, boat riding, water skiing, garage sale-ing, eating junk food, going to the zoo, etc. She is an absolute joy to be around.
As it goes sometimes, life changes. Times get tough and we struggle through things. Lori has had her struggles but she has come through them a real champion. One of the greatest prizes she has received for all these tribulations is AJ! And what a prize he is! Who would have guessed that a trip to the tattoo artist would lead to a love affair! Love comes in the most unexpected places.
I met AJ for the first time in Santa Barbara when I was up there for my brother’s wedding. They joined us with all the kids for hang time and an engagement shoot. I must admit I was a little nervous! I really wanted to like him but I wanted the absolutely best stepdad for Lori’s kids and an amazing husband for my friend. I wasn’t disappointed! Here was this big, burly, tattoed guy…and he was a real teddy bear! The kids’ interactions with him were joyous and so sweet and I was won over.
Zack, Katelyn and I drove 6 hours north to make sure we didn’t miss AJ and Lori’s special wedding at Bass Lake. Completely worth it. Miller’s Landing was the scene for their fun event and is very special to them because AJ’s sister and her husband’s family own the venue and they have shared many happy times there together…including the day AJ proposed (on a boat and surrounded by the kids)! They are so loved that many of their family and friends were willing to make the trek…and we were all rewarded with a stunning display of Autumn leaves! So many of the trees were on fire with color! Orange, red, yellow and a combination of all three. The perfect backdrop for a wonderful weekend.
I think my favorite part of the day was following AJ around and watching him interact with everyone. Who would have guessed he is such an emotional guy! Here is this motorcycle riding, tattoo artist…and he’s a crier! Love that about him. As he got ready with the boys it was so sweet to watch as he helped them get dressed and as they gave him a hard time, along with his other friends. Guys are hilarious. He cried through the ceremony too…and so did Lori…and so did all three kids! It was truly an emotional day. I was waiting for their dog Lulu to start next but she held it together.
We had so much fun shooting their images after the ceremony! What a gift I was given! Two beautiful people in love, an antique car, a motorcycle, a lake, and brilliant trees! What more could a photographer ask for! When we got back the reception was so casual, personal and fun, just like the bride and groom.
AJ and Lori, you are so loved by so many, and for good reason! Your love for life, each other, God and your kids is evident in all you do and we are grateful to be your friends. Congratulations on your new life together!