Caren and Dale | — Vesta Irene —

Caren and Dale


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Caren and Dale got married thirty-three years ago and after awhile they thought the magic had gone out of their marriage, so they got a divorce, but not before Nikki was born. Throughout the years they remained close friends, which might indicate that not all of that magic had flown, despite the fact that they both remarried and had several children with their new respective spouses.

Then sadly, last year, their spouses passed away and Dale and Caren started seeing more and more of each other and wouldn’t you know it, that magic hadn’t completely gone. One thing led to another and guess what?

You guessed it.


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They decided to get married again. Only this time, they had a very large extended and blended family to help with the preparations and every one of them pitched in. It was a wonderful sight to behold, them all hustling and bustling to get the reception hall set up for the happy couples second rodeo.


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They’d decided to retie the knot up at the Galena Fish Hatchery, which really isn’t a fish hatchery anymore, it hasn’t been for years and years, now it’s a gorgeous historic sight in the mountains above Reno, where you can relax or enjoy the excellent fly fishing or maybe even get married.


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We arrived up at Galena Creek Park, which is, I think, the official name of the place, an hour before the first guest, because we not only like to scout out the location in advance—only in this case we didn’t have to do much scouting, because we’d done a couple engagement sessions up there—we also like to take some quiet time, sort of like a little calm before the storm.


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We met the park ranger and she let us into the building where the reception was going to be held and she showed us the two spots where most of the weddings up their usually took place,


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However, when the Caren and Dale got there, Dale came up with still another place to hold his ceremony, which would put the lake and a lot of green trees behind them, plus the mountains off in the distance. And as soon as he designated the site, some of their kids started erecting the wedding arch and setting up the chairs, while still others went about setting up the reception hall.

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Vesta and I have seen lot of different places being set up for wedding receptions, some by friends and family and many by professionals, because we like to show up early and watch everything come together. But never have we seen so many people having so much fun doing it.

And because we’d photographed Jessica’s wedding (on of their children) and Alyssia’s (another child) family photos and Nikki’s (also a child) family photos, we were very familiar with this family and that made picture taking a very easy affair.


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The large room Caren and Dale was using for the reception came with a kitchen and a store room, which when we got there was full of tables and chairs. However, once the reception hall was set up, the storeroom was basically empty, so Caren used it to get ready. Once her hair was done and she was in her gorgeous purple dress, she had to stay in there, because she didn’t want Dale to see her before the ceremony, duh, so Dale and his crew kept on with the business of setting everything up and as soon as she was ready, Dale and his groomsmen went to the parks public restroom and changed into their wedding duds.


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Fortunately, Dale and his crew were fast in their preparations, so Caren only had to wait a few minutes in that storeroom.

Dale went from that restroom to the wedding arch and in minutes, the wedding party was coming up the aisle. This couple was itching to get on with it. It was so romantic.


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Caren’s brother Dan officiated at her wedding and all of her children and Dale’s and their spouses and their grandchildren were in the super sized ceremony. Dale and Caren are the senior members of a grand clan. 

They are tightly knit closer than any family I’ve ever seen. Vesta and I spent an evening with them, not just Caren and Dale, but their family, before the wedding and, of course, we spent their wedding day with them as well.


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And I have to say, if there is somebody in charge of this group, we didn’t see it. They all just seem to work and play like a well rehearsed unit and they seem to be having the time of their lives while they’re doing it. And the in laws, those who are lucky enough to have married into this family, you wouldn’t know them from the ones who were born into it.


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When the ceremony started, we positioned ourselves with our cameras to shoot the bridal party as they came down the aisle and as you can see in the gallery below, there were a lot of them. It seemed like a never ending procession. We didn’t realize just how large the party was till we started photographing them two by two as they passed by our cameras and we were taking their photos.

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Once the bridesmaids and groomsmen were all in place, with Dale standing next to Dan, waiting for his bride, she came up the aisle on her father’s arm in her beautiful purple dress and that’s when she turned on her smile, which was sort of a cross between Mona Lisa’s and Madonna’s and it said for all to see that she was happy.


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It was a short, maybe ten minutes long, ceremony and as soon as it was finished, we went straight to the formal photos and after spending fifteen minutes or so shooting Caren and Dale, we started wondering how in the world we were going to get the whole bridal party in the same photograph.


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Then Vesta came up with this idea of us going down below the stone fence affair they had at the park and shooting up at everyone and that worked out very well, especially because nobody fell.


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And actually, we were a bit worried about that falling business, because the guys decided it would be a better photo if they all stepped over the wooden fence, which was supposed to act kind’ve like a guard rail and, you know, those things you’re not supposed to cross.


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I could tell Vesta was a bit worried, because Dan had Sky in his lap and Chris had Hunter in his. True, it wasn’t much of a fall, but still, it could hurt and if one of those kids fell, well it would have been not so cool. That’d probably have been okay, because they’re kids and kids are resilient, but Vesta never would’ve let me forget it.


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The truth is, I didn’t notice they were climbing over the fence with their kids. I should have and I should have told them to keep the children with mom. Next time, I’ll be more careful.


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Wedding Receptions are like a family reunion, two family reunions actually, merged with the mother of all parties. Good ones anyway. Sometimes they’re a little subdued and sometimes they go over the top, especially the ones with an open bar.

Most times wedding receptions are also a place where two families get to know each other, oftentimes meeting each other for the first time. Sometimes the bride and groom have seating arrangements, which we think is silly, because usually they group people who know each other together.


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And sometimes there is open seating, which we like a lot, because a lot of folks wind up eating with someone who is a stranger to them, who will be a stranger no more when the evening is through.


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Caren and Dale’s reception took place in the afternoon and ended before dark and they had an open bar, which nobody, not one person, abused. They had open seating, which only made sense, because unlike most receptions, everybody knew each other. No strangers here.


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Vesta and I got to the site first, so we could photograph the bridal couple’s family setting up the reception hall. Dan, the officiant, was also apparently in charge of setting up the food. I say apparently, because nobody was really in charge of anything. Everybody just did and everything got done. No orders given, no orders followed, just doing. It was pretty amazing.


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Dan’s presentation was as good as and better than a lot of the professional caterers we’ve seen. When it was time to eat, there was no DJ calling out the tables, people just wandered over, chatting and having a good time as they waited in line.


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Except the kids, they were all outside playing. Some of the adults were too. And who knew Craig and Chris could throw a football so far and that Donovan could field it so well.


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Inside the reception hall, Dale got out of his white tux straightaway and into a baseball jersey and joined in the fun. And it was fun. True, it was a different kind of wedding reception, it was more reunion than party, but it was fun, it really was.


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Maybe one of the reasons we had such a good time is that we’d photographed so many of the people present and had come to know them and to like them so much. And Vesta, and maybe me a little bit, was swept away by Caren and Dale’s romantic story.


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Of course, Caren tossed her bouquet and Dale threw Caren’s garter and there was the cake cutting and the cake eating that you have at most wedding receptions and we photographed that stuff as we always do.


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But what got me like an arrow to the heart was the dancing. I’m a sucker for dancing photos and I am always on the lookout for the perfect one, where couple are dancing like nobody is watching, like their dance is the perfect moment. That’s the kind of photo I love to capture and I got few at this reception.


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Vesta Irene Wedding and Portrait Photography, 1250 Ralston Street, Reno, NV 89503 
Phone: 775 393-9529