Kate & Ahmed (Part I) – Ojai Wedding, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

It’s hard to describe how special to me this wedding was; for many reasons, not least of which being that Kate and Ahmed are friends of mine. I hugged, cried, and photographed my way through the day, and felt as if I had been written into their story forever. I think the best way to capture the vibe of the day is describing how it began: in the morning light of a serene hotel room, with my assistant Chloe and I setting up as Kate and Ahmed giggled and brushed their teeth in the bathroom nearby. We could hear them through the quaint shuttered window above the bath, teasing and bantering, wiping their sleepy eyes as the excitement of the day tickled them awake. It was effortless–their love, their contentment, their sheer joy at knowing they were hours away from being wed. Their happiness was infectious. Chloe and I looked at each other, said out loud, "They are so cute,” and knew we were in for a great day. 

This was one of my favorite photos, taken after Kate was completely ready. The stunning scalloped lace back of her dress and the delicate bow of her belt seemed to be a dream beneath the gauzy haze of the veil her mother made for her. (Yes, her mother hand-made that incredible mantilla-style veil. Please start a store, Mary!) The commotion in the hotel room had grown with the arrival of family and friends, but right before she left, I saw Kate catching one last, quiet glimpse of herself in front of the mirror. She didn’t have an ounce of nerves or self-consciousness; instead, all the excitement had stilled to a calm satisfaction, and the air seemed to whisper, “Yes.”

I think my exact words to Ahmed, when he donned his full suit and looked to me for a reaction, were “You look like a hot Pakistani George Washington.” (Which, if you knew Kate, was a look she would totally be into.) It could just be that I’m currently obsessed with the show Turn: Washington’s Spies (which you should be watching if you aren’t already), but the muted neutrals paired with the rich colonial blue of his suit was a strikingly regal (and dare I say, presidential) combination. And of course, that waistcoat! I’m ashamed to admit I actually argued against a vest at one point (long before the wedding day), and I have never been happier to be proven wrong. Mr. Darcy would be proud.

They saw each other as bride and groom for the first time beneath a row of sun-drenched trees. He looked at her as if she was a painting, as if she was sunlight after a storm, as if she was real and yet somehow not real, and he had to keep staring to believe it. “Can I kiss her?” he nervously called out, for some reason asking my permission but I feel, a little bit, asking hers as well. She beamed, he whispered, they kissed, and I tried my best not to blush. He stared at her the entire walk back to the hotel, where we gathered our things and took off for the ceremony venue. Stay tuned for the rest of their wedding, which I’ll be posting in the coming weeks!