Squaw Valley wedding at the Olympic Village Lodge

Lake Tahoe Squaw Valley wedding photography

By Monique

This sweet, shy couple was married at the Olympic Village Lodge in Squaw Valley last fall.

I thought I’d start off the new year with this particular wedding because it gives me an opportunity to also talk a bit about our personal lives, which we don’t really do here on our blog. But being in the reflective spirit that the new year brings, it just seems like the right wedding to share today. On the morning of this wedding, I got a call from the groom telling me that the bride’s mother had passed away the day before the wedding. The bride’s mother had been ill, but really, there is no right time to lose a loved one regardless of the circumstances. My heart deeply ached for this couple because I personally know the pain of losing my mom who died in 2012. I told him that I would be very careful with the way I documented the wedding day. Normally, as a wedding photojournalist, I try to capture all the candid, tearful moments as part of the day’s story. But this was different. I would have to approach each situation through out the day lightly, and in some cases, walk away to give them their space to grieve. It is one thing to capture tears of joy, or perhaps even a few sad tears during toasts that reminisce about lost loved ones. But since this was literally so fresh, I felt like they didn’t need all the grieving moments captured. Maybe a few, but certainly not all. The groom agreed, and so that would be the plan for the day. Through out the day, I could feel and relate to the heaviness that the bride, her father and sister must have been feeling. There were moments that I could tell each of them were just trying to focus on the next breath. But then there were also the many precious moments of love, joy, togetherness, and celebration they shared with their family and friends. I occasionally tear up at weddings during emotional moments, but the tears I shed behind the lens that day were more intense and came straight from that personal heart ache I still feel to this day for my mom. Scott also lost his mom last year in August, a little over a month before this wedding, so I was also feeling the sadness of losing my second mom.

So I guess my whole point of sharing this personal experience I had while covering this wedding is that I understand the fragility of this life we live, and I feel both the serious responsibility and the overwhelming gratitude for being chosen to capture families coming together on a wedding day. Thank you to everyone out there who has trusted us with this work, we are honored to be a part of it all. I understand that this life gives us all challenges. One of my favorite yoga teachers, Janet Stone, likes to remind us that “we all have our stories,” and I think this helps us to be more compassionate with each other. Which brings me back to my mom. She felt her feelings strongly, and had extreme compassion for others. And she was also one of the most positive, bubbly, giddy people I have ever known, choosing to see things optimistically. I am grateful to her for sharing these character traits with me! My mom’s favorite expression was, ” This is the Life.” She would say it when we would be on fun family vacations together, or even just when she was having a nice day! We dont know what the future holds, and we will be faced with more challenges and grief the older we get. But it is in the spirit of this expression that I want to bring in 2016, and I hope that you all have many, many opportunities to say, “This is the Life,” in the coming year!

And finally, thank you to Anicia Beckwith for being my second shooter for this wedding. It was the first time I had ever worked with another photographer at a wedding other than Scott, and it was fun to get to know a new photographer friend!

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