There is always magic in the snow covered ski village up at SilverStar Mountain Resort. The bright colored buildings, the smell of a wood burning firepit in the center square for skiers to warm up. But today, today the marriage of Derek and Monica brought with it the warmth of family gathering to celebrate the union of best friends, parents, and wholly individual personalities complimenting each other as one couple.
On the day of the wedding I drove up the hill from our Vernon Apartment and found myself on mental autopilot up the hill while day dreaming about the photos I was going to take. As you climb the hill the snow covered trees and small peeks down into the valley make you think about fairy tale winter wonderlands. I knew we had to use this insanely breathtaking backdrop for their photos. I had my fingers crossed they would be just as game as I was braving the cold air!
As the day started I met Monica in her hotel room, it was abuzz with laughter and inside jokes shared between the dearest of friends. Her grown children dressed dapperly in suits, they looked at their mom with the admiration of her inner and outer beauty. Their family dogs scurrying around everyone’s feet as they got ready.
As family gathered in the ballroom faces were a glow with happiness to be included in such a important day. Derek beamed from ear to ear as he watched each bridesmaid make their way to the alter, then with baited breath and the pull back of the sheer drapped fabric Monica gracefully moved toward him with all the anticipation and excitement a smile can hold.
Between meaningful words shared and spoken over their marriage, Derek and Monica married their best friend.
After the ceremony the family spilled out into the foyer of the ballroom. I love this part of a wedding because there is so much love poured out onto the couple. Embraces mingling with congratulations.
There is one image that brings me back everytime I think about it, and for Monica she see’s at as more than a photo but a memory frozen in time. The hug shared between her and her mother. In 2019 her mother would pass away and she remembered her through this candid moment.
After the family photos were finished we ventured out into the village to take some of my favourite bridal party portraiture. There is nothing better than the dreamy winterscape as your backdrop.
I laugh when I look back at this picture. When you look at them you don’t see the 100’s of skiiers moving in and out behind them. I spent time strategically positioning them in the moment, but still edited out a lot of the bustling ski hill behind them. Another reason it pays to have a photographer well versed in photo editing, you will never regret it, and if they’re really good you wont even notice in the finished images that they ever did a thing.
I instantly fell in love with the photos of just Derek and Monica, the bright cool light that illuminated the snow and their faces, the way they looked at each other, sharing sweet and silly moments with one another.
I also adore when my clients incorporate their fur babies in their photos. The hilarity of this wedding was that their fur babies were shivering Weiner dogs ready to be done with it all, eagerly pulling their leashes to be picked up and snuggled by family standing behind me.
As the sun went down and the village became a deep blue hue I imagined backlit photos would create cinematic portraits for this couple, and I was not wrong. Between a champ of a groomsmen being our “voice operated” lightstand we were able to capture some truly stunning images.
Snowflakes and side profile silhouettes took my breath away on the back of the camera, when I took to editing them they excited me like nothing else. I was sharing them with my bride and groom with so much joy I couldn’t contain it. When a creative heart gets to exercise their vision and see it unfold beautifully their heart soars!
The reception was just as fun as the beginning of the day, drinks and laughter shared with family and friends.
Speeches spoke about how loved and adored this couple was by their friends.
As the night went on the dance floor opened and Derek took Monica’s hand, they waltzed around the floor. Monica looked like a queen framed in her man’s arms.
As family and friends took to the floor the fun really unfolded and I captured some really fun personalities in full swing.
Derek and Monica’s wedding is one for the books, the type of memories that have that nostaglic glow.
When I asked Monica what she felt about her experience having her wedding photographed by someone who looks for the candid and real moments she said this:
“Working with Stephanie to plan and execute a wedding session was the easiest part of my planning. Meeting her and instantly connecting with her i knew her vision would make our day. She is completely professional and at the same time will put you at ease with her knowledge and amazing talent. She braved the snow and cold to bring our winter wedding photos to life. She understood how important having not only our extended family but our four legged family included. These are not just pictures but memories for a life time. Stephanie captured them all and more. Capturing candid moments of laughter and joy that being you back to that exact moment when you look at them. Her talent definitely made the whole day the best memories for us.”
Thank you Derek and Monica for trusting me with your most important memories. I will always think about you with inviting smiles and authentic laughter. May the many years that come fill you with as much joy and love as it did the day you said “I DO”.
Katelynn has always had a very special place in my heart.
Born 6 years apart my little cousin and I were always together, at 6 I thought that a new little girl in our family was sheer awesome. I remember spending summer days at their house and giving her cuddles and her learning to give awkward baby kisses back; and as the years went by we went camping with our families and had sleepovers at our grandma’s house. Never were we without fun and amusement, including our many meals with grandma’s homemade bread, peanut butter, and canned goods. We had an amazing childhood and that will never be argued!
Time passed as it often does and I had the opportunity to rent with a few different amazing people, but early on in my ‘independent’ life I lived with her family for a year when my parents moved to the Philippines, we made memories with her mom and dad that I’ll treasure forever.
A couple years passed and the moment that evolved our relationship from cousins to close sisters was when Katelynn lost her dad to cancer and I moved into their home again for a couple years. Ken had been a sudo father in my life and was exemplary in showing both Katelynn and I how we should be treated by our future husbands. That we should be treasured, loved unconditionally, and have some true deep laughter along the way.
Now that you have a glimpse into how Katelynn means so much to me, you can understand why I was beyond honoured to be asked to photograph her wedding. Her father helped support my jump into professional photography gear and never asked for anything in return, he cheered me on and I am forever changed by his love. My ability to show Katelynn my love through photographing her wedding is a reflection of her fathers love invested into me. There was rarely a moment that a thought of her father wasn’t close in my mind as I captured each moment of the day. He would have loved their quiet intimate family wedding, he would’ve been proud of his wife for planning such an amazing event, and praised his little girl and her new husband as they promised each other forever.
Enough about all my sentimental attachment to my favourite little cousin Katelynn, here is but a taste of the love that Mike and Katelynn’s love story…
Mike and Katelynn were quite simply destined for each other. In high school they met through mutual friends, and for a boy who lived in the Kootneys and a girl who lived in the Fraser Valley it may have seemed like a dream to fall in love with such distance between them at such a young age, but Katelynn has told me that she knew then that he would be her forever, and his love for her was echoed in his teenage poem recited by their maid of honour at the reception.
It wouldn’t be till years later after her dad had passed away that Mike would come into her life full force and it was clear as soon as he was here, that it was the right season to pursue this relationship. Mike’s deep love for Katelynn and respect of their shared faith often sparked long conversations with Katelynn’s mother Linda on their porch on warm summer nights. There was something unique about them as a couple from the start, and to watch my ‘little sister’ fall in love with her future husband melted my heart.
I wish you only the best, a marriage full of love, and a friendship full of laughter for the rest of your life and there after!
Mikes father was his best man, and when he asked to have a photograph with his new daughter in law I nearly fell apart when he placed a kiss on her head, such a fatherly gesture on a day like this meant more than anyone could possibly know.
It was a beautiful touch on Katelynn’s bouquet had a opened faced locket with a picture of her father, he was there in memory for every moment, including walking her down the aisle.
The cake stand was an amazing labour of love, hand crafted by Mike’s father and sister, with gourmet cupcakes on rugged tiers and a lovely birch inspired wedding cake at the top it was a conversation piece of the night.
Brittany and Dustin met when they were in high school, grade 8 and 9 to be exact. Their love story is an intricately woven tale of young love that had to wait; Now more than a decade later they fell head over heels once again.
It was my pure joy to be asked by Brittany to photograph her wedding day, after all, we had giggled about boys back in high school together. I honestly couldn’t imagine a better man for her, and a sweeter father to her daughter. Dustin is her prince, her knight in shining armour, her soulmate, and her best friend; he is a man of unadulterated love for her and her daughter.
From the moment he gave Brooke a necklace with an eternity pendant my heart melted, every moment after from the first look to the final dance was enveloped in joy. You couldn’t wipe any of their smiles of their faces, Dustin beamed when he gazed at Brittany, Brittany blushed in her wide grins, and Brooke looked like she won the parent lottery which I completely agree!
If you could ever fall in love with someone else’s love story, Dustin and Brittany’s would be a tale as old as time and as sweet as any Disney story ever told.
Henry and Joka’s wedding from start to finish was beautiful, it was a sunny day that gave that heavenly glow wherever we went. I cant begin to describe how meaningful their nuptials were, both families gathered to celebrate their marriage, some even came from across the globe. As Henry and Joka embark on their life as husband and wife I want to wish them the very best, full of blessings and joy!
The flight to Chilliwack felt different this time for me; for the first time since moving to Yellowknife in January of this year, I had a sense of misplacement. I had three previous wedding photography engagements in BC that needed to be fulfilled between January and August, and each time I travelled back I’d say: “I’m coming home”.
This time however, something had shifted. As I sat in the terminal waiting for my flight out of the smoke-filled city of Yellowknife, I felt I was leaving home. I had finally settled into my new life in the North and was excited about the new season that is about to start for Stephanie Lauren Photography. Change of home aside, I was as excited as ever to make the trip to my true original home town to spend time with family and photograph my last summer wedding.
Back in January when Sheila and I spoke before my wedding we talked about her son’s upcoming marriage to his high school sweetheart, and in the end we were honoured to photograph unforgettable moments in each other’s lives.
Now, a little about the Bride and Groom:
Cody and Paige met in the seventh grade. Cody was smitten immediately, and eventually their friendship would blossom into a great love story that would produce the greatest addition to their life, baby Hunter.
Not even three months prior to the wedding Cody and Paige welcomed their beautiful baby boy into the world. Paige said to Cody during her vows, “you have already gave me the greatest gift of my life”. The sincerity of their love is humbling and the immense joy they share is infectious to those that surround them.
Thank you for sharing your story with me Cody and Paige!
The girls all gathered at Paige’s grandparents home, a beautiful and rustic loft-style home. I couldn’t have asked for a better backdrop to photograph the bridal preparations.
Cody and his groomsmen got ready at his parents’ new farm property, where the ceremony was to take place in the open field out back. Their shared moments of laughter and morning golf had them mischievous and playful for pictures.
You know these men are a group of confident athletes by their request to have a GQ shirtless group shot.
Cody’s mom Sheila was busy finishing all the last details of the decorations and food, but took some quality time to help her son get ready. If ever you could see the overwhelming love of a mother, it is surely in the embrace of her son on his wedding day.
Paige stood gazing at her dress, the moment was finally here, her forever was about to start.
Once they saw each other for the first time…
After their first look, Cody surprised Paige with a beautiful eternity bracelet; she held back happy tears and was beyond elated with his gift.
After Cody and Paige’s first look and bridal portraits, we headed back inside to cool down. Hunter was happily cradled in his grandma’s arms and everyone was excited for the group pictures.
The Ceremony and Reception were held at Cody’s parents’ farm, a beautiful property looking out on Mt. Cheam. Rustic hay bale seating made for a true country wedding in the warm community of Rosedale.
She was the joyful doe eyed cousin I grew up with on the farm at Nana’s, I was her older cousin but we played together just the same. Her family eventually moved away to Grand Prairie but we always stayed in touch when family came to visit.
Jon and Chelsea first met when she was just 16, as the years flew by she fell madly in love with him. True Alberta blood runs through both their veins and their destination wedding in BC was full of sentimental moments, including her Nana’s home where she got ready for the day.
I am so blessed to have been asked to photograph her wedding and I wish them a lifetime full of love and laughter together. Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Millwater.
I’m pretty sure my cousin Luke looks just like TinTin. ↓
The morning began with laughter… Carolynn and her bridesmaids took their time to enjoy the morning and the pampering that only comes with hair and make-up. Today was the day she had been waiting for since the moment she fell in love with Braden, today she would become Mrs. Adams. I was completely honoured being apart of her day and telling her wedding story through photographs, it meant the world to me.
Carolynn is a talented artist and she hand painted each bridesmaid a lovely word art piece.
Carolynn’s father is a jeweller and hand-crafts unique pieces, it only seemed right to showcase her wedding jewellery on the tools that make such beautiful thins.
Braden grew up with a strong love for baseball so we incorporated it into the big day.
The orchard has got to be the most romantic idea to me…. leading lines and deep earth tones.
January the 4th was just like any other day, the sun was shining and the air was crisp and cold. I had 4 of my best friends stay at the hotel with me the night before, so we would all be in one place for hair and make-up. Needless to say I was an early riser at the hour of 5:30 am so that I could let the hairstylist/make-up artist into our room.
As I awoke everyone else slowly but surely followed, not to say they were as chipper about such an early rise time. We ordered breakfast, laughed about the day, and began preparation.
After we got ready a Starbucks run was in order. I was super excited about the ‘Beatles’ inspired picture that Sheila captured.
If you haven’t met them already… These are my girls, from left to right [Kristi, Melissa, Tiffany, and Carolynn] It killed me that I could only have 3 of them as bridesmaids but having Tiffany there for our sleepover and with us all day meant the world to me… she referred to herself as the ninja bridesmaid, and it always made me smile, because even though she was behind the scenes she was so much help and support to us! Tiffany this special shout out goes to you darling!
and so began the finishing touches. Flowers, dresses, and jewellery!
I received two amazing gifts on our wedding day. The first was a stunning Citizen diamond watch from Ian with a heartfelt note that touched my heart. The second gift was from my mom, a beautiful strand of heirloom pearls, with drop pearl earrings.
My father is my first best friend. We are both insanely silly, geeky, and soft hearted. So when I thought of my wedding day, I knew I wanted my dad to have the VERY first look. January 4th is his birthday and I HAD to honour it, no matter what. A couple months prior to the wedding I had gone on Ebay, Amazon, and Etsy to find the best gift I could think of.
Here is some context to the small cuff-links if you are not a BBC aficionado like my father and myself. The cuff-links are fashioned after the TARDIS, a blue Police Box, which is from the long time running TV show, Doctor Who. I knew he would love them, and I was right!
Meanwhile on the other side of town Ian had started his day as well. His best friends and brother were in the midst of preparation. Mike, as I had instructed him to do had Ian’s gifts ready for him.
When I bought Ian’s gift it was almost impossible for myself to keep the secret. I purchased cuff-links for him as well, his were Canon Camera Mode Dials, what you would normally see on the top of your camera. Perfect really just for the fact we are both avid photographers. I also got him a Citizen Nighthawk Watch that he had asked for.
They soon left Mike’s home and came to the hotel, it was time for Ian and I’s first look.
Our formal photos were before the ceremony at the newly built Chilliwack Senior Secondary Campus. I loved the architecture, and the multiple locations to shoot in one spot.
This is my wonderful Maid of Honor Kristi Loewen, I have known her since I was born and lived with her for half a year.
This is my second bridesmaid Mellissa Tanner, fun fact I was a bridesmaid in her wedding.
This is my third bridesmaid, Carolynn Porter (soon to be Mrs. Adams), we knew eachother since we were toddlers, and I am beyond excited to shoot her wedding in April.
and last but certainly not least, my ninja bridesmaid Tiffany Gillette, my long time best friend. We’ve shared so many experiences in life, including Ireland. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend, she makes me laugh, and knows just what to say.
and then my dad stole the show with the ladies…
This is Ian’s Best Man, Mike Taekema. Long time friend, and Ian was actually his best man as well.
This is Ian’s groomsman and brother, Gord Wills.
This is Ian’s 3rd groomsman and friend, Adam Dunn. Friends since childhood, and particular fondness of everything I.T.
This is Ian’s father David, and his mother Marilyn.
Ian and I are avid readers, granted we have very different taste, but we had to have a Library incorporated somewhere into our wedding photos.
And then the biggest moment arrived… the moment I would marry my best friend and soul mate.
I put three lockets on my bouquet. For three men who were fathers in my life. Ken Johnson, my Grandpa Lambert, and Scott Turnbull; all taken far too soon from this world.
and then he saw me…
And so, now married and ready to celebrate with family, we headed back to the Coast Hotel.
Not to sure what Ian had said to make us all erupt in laughter, but we did. And below is Ian’s cousin Aaron, she was our emcee for the reception and she did an amazing job!
My grandpa Nelson prayed for dinner as well.
If anyone doesnt know what our first dance song was… it was “married life” the instrumental from the Disney movie “UP”. If you’d like a reminder, play this audio clip below while looking at our first dance photo.
When I was trying to plan the Father Daughter Dance, I quickly decided that it wasn’t really my job to pick our song. So I asked my dad, please pick our song and keep it a secret till the wedding day. I had listened to this exact song on repeat in my car leading up to the weddings so when It started to play it really touched my heart. Thank you for dancing with me daddy.
We had a bouquet/garter toss and all the singles came up. My favourite part was when Ian strutted around me and threw off his vest. He made the whole room laugh.