Their Kingdom is Magical
Being as involved in my community as much as I am, I get a lot of opportunity to shoot wedding photography for people I know, which is really awesome. But one of the things I enjoy about doing wedding shows is the opportunity to meet new people that are already embarking on their journey to their wedding. Being a photographer in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas allows me to attend many kinds of wedding shows.
I met Leslie and Kenny at the Bride World Convention in Los Angeles, as they are both from LA. As for their engagement session, they really wanted to do photos at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The Concert Hall is located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, surrounded by the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, The Ahmanson Theater and LA City Hall, just to name a few. The Hall is the home of the LA Philharmonic and the theater was designed by architect Frank Gehry. Amazing looking.
As I got to know Leslie and Kenny, I noticed that they were both a little shy at first, but once you got them to laugh a little they really opened up. We had a great time joking around with them and getting to know them better. Really cute couple. In addition to doing their engagement photo session, we shot their wedding at Calamigos in Malibu on June 9th.
From the beginning, I loved their story. I hope you do too.
Leslie and Kenny’s Love Story:
Q: How did you both meet?
A: Leslie and I met on the second day of college back in 2006. I decided that since I was going to be alone with these 100+ strangers for the next 5 years in Architecture school, I should probably start making friends. I approached Leslie, who was sitting alone in the lecture hall and tried to strike up a conversation. She seemed apprehensive and uncomfortable about continuing the dialogue and so I decided to step away and leave her alone. Oddly enough, we didn’t really have another exchange again for 5 years; and when we finally had our serendipitous reunion during our senior year of college, we immediately hit it off. We still laugh about the situation from time to time and wonder how things would’ve turned out if we had just gotten along from the start.
Q: Who liked who first?
A. We talk about this a lot and sometimes the narrative changes. I think it’s because we both feel like it happened almost instantaneously for both of us, like love at first sight. But if we had to give an answer, I think Leslie liked me first. Apparently, I had a good friend who was unintentionally talking me up to her a lot.
Q. Tell us about your first date. Who was more nervous and what did you guys do?
A. Our first date wasn’t your typical fairy tale story. It’s actually kind of funny. We had planned our first date on February 13th, a day before Valentine’s Day, but also the same day as one of our Midterm Architectural reviews. And if you’ve ever known an architecture student, you’ll know that they are very hard-working, stressed, and sleep-deprived individuals. They usually lose many consecutive nights of sleep and forget to eat right before a major deadline, and this was definitely an example of one of those times.
We had been up for at least 24 hours, so immediately following the conclusion of the design reviews, we decided to take a brief nap before our date. “Brief” is the relative term here because we both overslept and ended up missing our planned date! Not wanting to cancel our time together, we decided to just run to our local Wendy’s fast food restaurant and ate together in the parking lot. Not a fabulous first date story, but definitely one that we both still laugh about. Nerves weren’t really a factor here because I think we were both still recuperating from the sleep deprivation.
Q. What’s the proposal story? Give us all the details and who cried first?
A. Ahh. The good ole proposal story. I had been trying to plan a proposal for a long time but couldn’t really land on a good way to do it. The original goal was to propose in September, but the actual proposition didn’t occur until November 18 because I kept going back and forth on many different and extravagant ideas. In the end I decided to stick to the basics and take her to someplace that meant a lot to the both of us, Disneyland. Leslie had grown up going to Disneyland a lot and she became extremely fond of it; and after we got together, Leslie passed on that enthusiasm and excitement to me. We both have annual passes and go there often, so I decided “what better surprise than the one in plain sight?”
I made reservations at the Carthay Circle restaurant at Disney’s California Adventure park and asked the management team and wait staff to help with the setup. The first step was requesting a private room to make the proposal more intimate. I didn’t want to embarrass Leslie by making a huge spectacle of it all. The next step was to ensure that Leslie was completely taken by surprise. This was accomplished by instructing the wait staff and hostesses to act as if we did not have a reservation. If we walked up with a reservation, Leslie would immediately get suspicious. So as we approached the check-in counter I asked the hostess if they were accepting any walk-ins and had any tables available, knowing well that we had a private room reserved for us. They responded by saying that by some miracle, they had an open table and we proceeded to head upstairs. Upon entering the booth, there was a table lit with candles and covered with lush, red rose petals. In the center of a table sat a silver, domed plate cover with two glasses of champagne flanking its sides. I removed the plate cover and underneath it was the ring, sitting in a beautiful red box. There was an LED light built into the box that highlighted the ring splendidly, much like a spotlight on a theatrical actor. I then took the ring out and asked Leslie to marry me. We enjoyed the rest of the night together, eating a gorgeous meal and having champagne in our keepsake glasses. No one really cried during the proposal because we could feel looming eyes upon us the whole time, so we forced ourselves to hold it together.
Although most dinner proposals happen at the end of the meal, I wanted to propose at the beginning so that we could celebrate the rest of the night together. It was funny because throughout the night we had 7-8 different staff members wait on us in order to see the ring, and while we were leaving we had several staff members apologize to us for stalking and being intrusive. We had to reassure them that they weren’t.
Q. As you approach the wedding day, what have you both enjoyed most about the wedding planning process?
A. For Leslie, I know it’s been the cake sampling. She hasn’t been shy about that. For me, I’ve liked the venue research. I’ve always enjoyed travelling and visiting new places, so I liked having to go to venues that were in locations I never visited before.
Q. What has been the hardest part about planning your wedding?
A. It’s funny because before we started this whole process, we didn’t really know what to expect. Not many of our friends have held traditional weddings and we haven’t been to any weddings recently, so we were unsure what was involved and spent a lot of time doing research. We came across many articles that say that the “venue” and the “wedding dress” are among the most difficult things, but for us, they were actually some of the easier items that we quickly crossed off our list. For us, not compromising on our budget has been really difficult. It’s so easy to get lost in planning, adding this and that to make your wedding more extravagant; but trying to remain disciplined and sticking to the budget is easier said than done.
We’re also finding out that it’s not the vendor selections that are difficult. Selecting your florist, wedding coordinator, entertainment etc., that’s the easy part. It’s ALL the TINY details of the decorations, timeline, etc. that are harder to work out.
Q. Why did you choose your particular wedding and reception venue?
A. We actually get asked this question a lot. It wasn’t necessarily a matter of selecting this venue because it was something we knew we wanted; it was more a result of knowing what we didn’t want. We’ve been to a handful of weddings in our lifetime, and when envisioning our own wedding day, none of the aforementioned wedding venue/types really appealed to us. We didn’t like the idea of being confined to a hotel ballroom for 3-4 hours and contrastingly, we loved the idea of an outdoor wedding with market lights. We liked the idea of taking our friends and family and transplanting them someplace out of the city, taking them away from the distractions of everyday life, but not making it a destiny wedding that some couldn’t afford. So we settled on a nice venue nuzzled in the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s breaking the bank a little bit, but we wanted to execute our vision and have it in a place that most of our loved ones could attend.
Q. Where did you draw some of your inspiration from for your wedding day?
A. Believe it or not, our inspiration for the look and feel of the wedding evolved organically after selecting the venue. We felt that a venue like Calamigos Ranch incites a certain theme by its very nature, and we pretty much took that and kept the ball rolling. So choosing our color scheme, decorations, etc, was pretty easy to do since we are simply accentuating what’s already there.
Q. Where are you going for your honeymoon? Are you excited and why did you choose that destination?
A. We’ve actually decided to postpone our honeymoon and discuss the details later. We’ve been putting all of our time and energy into this amazing June 9th wedding and will regroup to discuss the honeymoon afterward. We are definitely excited about the prospect of going on a honeymoon!! And are sure it’ll be amazing and fun wherever we choose to go!! But for now, our attention is on the big day.