Al and Jill's Destination Wedding in San Francisco
On March 24th, 2018, I got to photograph my best friend get married to the love of her life. It's been a long road for Jill and I. We met at a strange point in both of our lives. We watched each other find ourselves in pretty interesting relationships and also spent days as single girls out on the town. One day she told me that she met a girl and was SUPER into her. This was right after the first date. I ended up on their second date which was a trip to IKEA. That's when I met Alexandra aka Al, and I can see why Jill was so smitten. Al is probably the most delightful girl I've ever met. Jill was freaking out, to put it mildly. Jill was so nervous, and at one point I had to tell her to calm the hell down because she was getting annoying. Jill knew she was going to marry this girl and sometime later, she proposed and Al said yes. I was thrilled to see Jill with someone who saw how amazing she was just like I have. No matter where we were in our lives, Jill was always there for me being completely supportive and nonjudgmental. We can laugh over the dumbest stuff. One time I actually threw up while we were on the phone because I was laughing so hard. Jill has always been an exceptional person to me, so I was thrilled to see her find the perfect partner.
Here we are, and Jill and Al asked me to photograph their wedding in the Muir Woods National Monument. I've only been on a handful of flights, but I have been to California before, but I've never been to San Francisco. In true Mercury Retrograde fashion (which started the day that we were meant to leave) a filling fell out of, which caused a lot of freaking out. Thankfully there was no pain, so one crisis averted. We had to leave to Massachusetts where they lived a day early because we were going to be hit with a super big snowstorm, which never happened. On the flight to San Francisco, with about 40 minutes left, we had the roughest turbulence any of us have ever experienced. The plane pretty much dropped out of the sky. Now if you don't know me, you know that I do not drive. There are many reasons why I don't drive, but one of them is I don't like going down declines. If you're driving a car and I'm in it, I will be asking you to slow down when you go down a hill. So, just imagine we're in the sky, and then we are dropping out of it. People were screaming. My iPad flew out of my hands. The girl in front of Jill passed out. This was also the moment when I decided to go sit by myself because there were some empty seats behind our row. I thought "Oh great. I'm going to die alone because all my friends are together a few rows in front of me." I kept looking at a photo of my boyfriend on my phone hoping I would be able to see him again. We learned afterward that we were flying over the mountains so turbulence can happen then. We landed safely not without a few tears (actually a lot of tears). But I told everyone, that feeling we all felt as we dropped out of the sky, that's how I feel every day driving down a hill in a car. I think they finally understood.
Eventually, we got to where we were staying which was this big mansion called the Ellen Kenna House in Oakland that is used for photo shoots and movies. It was a small group of us. Jill and Al's families plus some of Al's closest friends and Ryan and I on Jill's side. The next day we went out to brunch and then did some sightseeing. We went to go see the Golden Gate Bridge to take some photos and then we came across The Palace of Fine Arts. We drove around the city, and as you can probably figure out, I hated the hills, but I parked myself in the back of the van so I could hide as we drove around. The night before the wedding I was hanging out downstairs with some of the friends and family. If you want to have a good time, hang out with Jill's dad Ed. He will make sure your glass is never empty. Even though the clock said midnight, we were still on Eastern time, so we kept the party going until about 3am EST.
The next morning we started to get ready for the wedding. I walked around taking photos of everyone getting ready and taking in the few hours we had before we were off to the ceremony. It was such a beautiful drive up to get into the forest. I've never seen trees that tall before in my life. It was a beautiful day which started off a little rainy, but thankfully, just in time for the ceremony, it stopped raining.
This is an excellent time to talk about how lovely Al is. If you've ever watched or read Matilda, Al is like Miss Honey. She is the kindest, sweetest, most adorable person I have ever met. My boyfriend and I love to tell people how much of a gift Al is to this earth. I can't help but go on and on saying how delightful and beautiful she is. She will light up your heart just by saying hello. Everything she says is the nicest thing you've ever heard, and you feel how genuine she is. Sometimes I wonder how Jill landed her, but I'm glad she did because now we get to have Al in our lives.
We took a walk to where the ceremony would be happening. Al's brother-in-law officiated the ceremony. We stood around and watched and shed a few tears as they said their vows. Thankfully, I was taking photos because I probably would've been crying hysterically at the moment.
Just like that, they were married. I photographed the family photos, and then took the girls off to take some formal pictures around the forest. It was a busy Saturday, so there were tons of people around who were very excited to share their congratulations with the happy couple.
When we were done we made our way to the restaurant where we were having dinner. We toasted the couple out on the balcony looking out over the water during sunset. The next day we had to fly home. We all shared our teary goodbyes as Jill and Al dropped us off at the airport. Ryan, Jill's best man, and I sat in the terminal and reflected on the trip, and both prayed that we would not have to go to that turbulence again (there was none).
It was the kind of trip where there were so many moments that happened and stories to share that I couldn't possibly express them all here. You just had to be there. I'm grateful to have been a part of my best friend's wedding. Here's the link to Jill and Al's Love story on Dancing With Her. I wanted to share some new photos from the trip in this blog post. Happy anniversary Jillian and Alexandra. I love you both more than words can express.