Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, a venue I hadn’t visited since around 2017, greeted us with its familiar charm. Arriving ahead of schedule at 2:20, Felipe and I were keen to re-familiarize ourselves with the venue before our 3:00 prep coverage. The gardens, was as splendid as I remembered and we quickly got our bearings after a brief chat with the wedding planner, Amanda Smith, from White Pumpkin.
With the groom and his party yet to arrive, I took the opportunity to capture the intricate details of the bride’s dress, shoes, rings, and flowers masterfully arranged by Karin’s Florist. The back patio behind the atrium served as a convenient and picturesque backdrop for these shots. Meanwhile, inside the tight quarters of the bridal suite, Felipe captured the bridesmaids’ candid preparation moments.
As the bridesmaids were almost ready, Felipe and I traded places, and I captured their final touches. Soon after, the spotlight was on Krista. Assisted by her mother and matron of honor, she slipped into her dress, a moment filled with quiet excitement. Will made his appearance around 3:15, and Felipe was ready to jump into the fray with his party. The venue, lacking a dedicated space for both parties, had Will’s group improvising. They tucked themselves into the bathroom for their final touches, making sure that Will would remain oblivious to Krista’s look until the right moment.
The anticipation for the first look was high. Still uncertain of our plan of attack for the first look, a collaboration was in order. Felipe and I got together with Erin from Compass Studios, the filmmaker for the day (who when all was said and done produced an absolutely gorgeous video of the day). Our goal was clear: a first look that was not only visually captivating, but also logistically smooth. After debating some alternatives, the breezeway on the southern side of the atrium emerged as a good option. Its ambiance, shade, and the gardens reflecting off the glass, combined the architectural beauty of the building (not to mention some convenient places for three people to stay out of each other’s way), would work perfectly.
By 3:30, everything was in place, and the first look unfolded just as we had envisioned.
Portraits with the Bridal Parties
Despite the pressing heat and ticking clock, the vicinity right around the atrium building had lots of potential. Felipe took the reins with Will and his party, while I directed Krista and her bridesmaids. I got started on the the shaded patio behind the atrium, full of blooming pink flowers. Krista looked absolutely stunning, in part thanks to the help of the incredibly talented team of artists at Glam Bridal Beauty. Meanwhile, Felipe opted for an area of speckled light area right next to where we’d done the first look.
Roughly thirty minutes later, we converged the parties for group shots on the lawn south of the atrium. The gentle cloud cover was a blessing which allowed us to experiment with spots that would have otherwise been drenched in harsh sunlight. We began with a relaxed arrangement over a flower bed’s stonework, ensuring the flora remained undisturbed. The session culminated with a dynamic shot of the entire group traversing the lawn.
By 4:30, the first guests began to trickle in. We managed to steal a few more moments with Krista & Will before they retreated and for us to gear up for the ceremony.
Given the limited space on the patio, I equipped myself with a super long 400-800mm lens, ensuring I could capture intimate moments from a distance. An 85mm lens was also at the ready for those wider, bokeh-rich shots. Felipe would stay up close with a wider lens, getting in and out of that area otherwise would be tricky once the ceremony was underway.
The ceremony, though brief, was just what the two of them wanted. The officiant, acutely aware of the heat, ensured a concise yet meaningful ceremony. A standout moment was Krista & Will’s hourglass sand ceremony, a symbolic representation of two lives merging into one. The intricacy of this ritual made me grateful for my long lens.
The ceremony’s conclusion signaled the start of the family portraits. The atrium’s front patio, with its vibrant florals and generous shade, was the chosen locale. It also helped that it would put us outside the cocktail hour action that can so frequently become a distraction that slows things down. Time was of the essence and we efficiently captured all the essential family moments so that Krista could get bustled and the two of them could spend some time at the cocktail hour.
The atrium reverberated with energy and laughter as the reception commenced. The DJ for the event, Hesson Entertainment, helped the wedding party make their introductions across a decorative stone bridge, with each member showcasing their unique flair. Emotions ran high as Krista’s mom, maid of honor, and Will’s best mate shared heartfelt words.
While finger food was still being passed around, Krista & Will shared a moment for their first dance. I played some off the cuff tricks with the mirror technique to create some interesting etherial shots of the moment, and Felipe captured a great photo of the two of them with their guests in the background.
Once dinner was properly served, the culinary delights of the evening, courtesy of Blue Heron Catering (the exclusive caterer at the Atrium), were a gastronomic treat. Their menu featured gluten-free appetizers, succulent chicken, steak, and wildly creamy mashed potatoes. I don’t usually sit down and eat while I’m shooting a wedding, but this time I did. Dinner also set the stage for Felipe and me to engage with the guests while we captured casual photos of each table. Table photos, although interrupting dinner for about 60 seconds at a time, are really the best way to make sure everyone turns up in at least one photo, so that’s something we do by default.
As people finished their meals, the dance floor transformed into a cultural showcase with a traditional Lebanese dance demonstration by one of Krista’s friends. The infectious rhythm had guests joining in, their enthusiasm obvious, even if the steps were unfamiliar.
Sunset Portraits with Krista & Will
By this time, the setting sun was painting the sky a brilliant set of blue and purple and pink colors that begged for some attention. Good thing we’d planned for that moment. We took a brief step away from the action to venture into the gardens with Krista & Will. Now, I’m not saying that I’m a seer or anything, but I anticipated that it might get sweaty, and so I had brought a towel. And lo and behold, when Will needed a dab and we were prepared, I kind of felt like a hero magician.
Into The Evening
The rest of the evening involved a lot of dance, laughter, and memories. For the younger attendees, games and toys awaited on the back patio, though the allure of the dance floor was undeniable. Toward the end of the evening, Krista & Will cut the stunning cake supplied by Happy Tart Bakery, Krista tossed her flowers, and the night’s finale was a grand exit under a canopy of bubbles. With some quick backlighting adjustments, the bubbles shimmered, agains the night sky and really captured the atmosphere of the moment.
From the meticulous preparations to the grand exit, every moment of Krista & Will’s wedding at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens was a blend of precision, care, and raw emotion. A big shout out to White Pumpkin who helped pull so many strings together to make this event work, and a huge cheers to Krista & Will. Can’t wait until we meet again.