Courtney and Brandon | — Vesta Irene —

Courtney and Brandon


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Courtney and Brandon got married at Zephyr Cove, up at more than beautiful Lake Tahoe. As a wedding venue, Zephyr Cove has it all, starting with the Lake. It’s a gorgeous backdrop for a wedding ceremony.

After the ceremony, which the Zephyr Cove people have set up right on the shore, the bridal party and the happy couple’s guests can move right into the large tented area for drinks and conversation or, if they prefer, they can drink and chat and enjoy the Lake view as they watch the sun go down.


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Because Brandon was kind of traditional and didn’t want to see his bride in her wedding gown till the ceremony, they used two places up at the Lake. Courtney got ready in a multi level house they rented, which was only a hop skip and a jump from the Cove. Brandon got ready in a small motel right on Stateside. The motel was in Nevada, but walk across the street and you were in California.


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The lighting in the house where Courtney got ready was gorgeous, the way the sunlight streamed through the windows made for perfect photos. Of course, when you’re taking pictures of a beautiful bride, the photos are going to be gorgeous, because you just can’t help taking beautiful pictures of a girl in white, but if you can add wonderful light to the mix, we’ll take it.


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The lighting in the motel where Brandon got ready was okay, but I added flash, because it was just a tiny bit too dark. Shooting the groom and his groomsmen getting ready is a whole heck of a lot different than shooting the bride and her bridesmaids.


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Usually the girls take a couple, maybe three hours, getting their makeup and hair done. That’s plenty of time for them to have a drink or two and pose for pictures and to just hang out and have a lot of fun, before they help the bride into her dress. As for the guys, one minute they’re in their street clothes and five or ten minutes later, they’re dressed in their tuxes and ready to go.


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And that’s what happened with Courtney and Brandon’s wedding. Vesta and I were hanging out with Courtney and her bridesmaids, taking pictures and having fun, then it came time from me to drive to Stateside and shoot the groomsmen while Vesta photographed Courtney getting into her dress.


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At the motel, Brandon and his groomsmen were waiting. We chatted for a few minutes, then they got dressed. It seemed like it was over before it started. As I said above, that’s usually how it works. But fast as it goes, shooting the groom and his crew as they don their duds is always a lot of fun, because you can feel the the anticipation running through the room, even though they often won’t admit it. And it’s infections.


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Of course, when you photograph a wedding, every photo is important, but there are just some which rank above the rest, some that hit you with a certain magic. Well, some that hit me with a little magic anyway.

And this is one of those.


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Courtney’s father has just seen her for the first time in her wedding dress and he’s just told her how beautiful she is. 


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When we did Courtney and Brandon’s engagement shoot, we knew they were a couple destined to last. Just the way they looked at each other made you want to blush. And when she told us she was getting married up at Zephyr Cove, we were over the moon happy, because it’s a great place for a wedding.

Actually, anywhere up at Lake Tahoe is beautiful, but as a wedding venue Zephyr cove is just outstanding. The people there bend over backwards to make sure everything is just perfect.


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The Zephyr Cove people have their ceremonies lakeside and it’s almost impossible not to get beautiful shots. We’d done a couple weddings at the Cove and a senior photo session and a couple engagement sessions, so we were very familiar with the place, but we up a couple days before the ceremony anyway, at the time the ceremony was going to take place to check on the light.


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We always do that, no matter how familiar we are with a venue, because who knows, things could’ve changed. They could’ve moved the wedding arch, the light’s not same season to season and besides you can’t be too familiar with a wedding venue. That’s what we think anyway.


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And things had changed. It had been cold outside the last two times we shot a wedding there, so they made room in the giant circus type tent they have there for their wedding receptions for the dancing. This day was warm and it was going to be warm in two days time, so they had a place outside, adjacent to the tent for the dancing.


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We hung around for a bit and Vesta picked up some pine cones. It seems you can never have too many of those. Then we headed home.


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Two days later we were back in the bright sun, standing with Brandon, waiting for Courtney and her bridesmaids. Usually we don’t like shooting in blazing sunlight, because you get a lot of people squinting in the photos and squinty people don’t make for good wedding photos. However, Courtney solved this problem. She bought these great looking plastic sunglasses with colored frames for everybody.


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We got a few shots of Brandon as he was waiting for his bride and when we saw how beautiful Courtney was as she approached the aisle, we couldn’t stop shooting. I especially was taken with the look of pure joy on her father’s face. He was proud of his daughter and loved her very much, you could see it from a mile away.


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The ceremony was beautiful and I’m sure their were some people tearing up under those sunglasses. Vesta was, but then she gets that way at every single wedding we do. After Brandon kissed his bride and the officiant presented the new couple to their family and friends, Brandon whipped on a smile that was absolutely blazing with the sun’s reflected light. And you can see that smile below, as he’s still wearing it as he triumphantly walks his new bride back down the aisle to the joy of everybody present.


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Courtney wanted her formal photos done lakeside, right after the ceremony. Several of her guests had traveled a long way and she and Brandon were eager to start spending time with them, so we started right up with the pictures.

The good thing about shooting lakeside on a sunny day is that the beach sand reflects plenty of light up onto your subjects faces, so you don’t have to use too much fill flash, so your subjects don’t look like they’re all related to Bambi and caught in your headlights late at night. 


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And Courtney had thought out her photos well ahead of time. She didn’t want herself, her groom and the members of her bridal party squinting into the sun, so we shot with that old yellow ball at their backs. However, she’d brought along enough sunglasses for every single guest, so of course she wanted some photos of her and Brandon and her wedding party wearing them and, you know, it was a great idea. The photos aren’t your usual formal photos and they’re memorable as well as beautiful.


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After the formal photos were finished, she wanted a few shots of every single person who’d come to her wedding in the same photo, all wearing those sunglasses and those photos are just fabulous. What a great idea. She’s got everyone in one photograph to look at and treasure forever.


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As I mentioned earlier, we’d only done wedding photos at Zephyr Cove a couple times before and both times it was too cold to have the dancing outside, so they’d done it inside the heated tent. But this was a wonderful day and this was a crowd that liked to dance and dance they did, next to the most beautiful lake on Earth. It was a beautiful sight to behold.

Another thing that was different about this wedding than the two winter weddings we’d done up at the Cove is that the tent had the sides rolled up, so you could see the lake as you were dining and the light inside the tent was all natural, so we didn’t have to use filters on our flashes, well not until dark anyway.


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All in all, everything about Courtney and Brandon’s wedding came together and conspired to make our job as wedding photographers easy and enjoyable. And everybody there, all of her guests, seemed to want their photo taken and they were all full of smiles on this happy day.


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Earlier on, we’d decided that we’d take some more formal photos of just Courtney and Brandon lakeside near sundown. And those photos are stunning. Courtney is beautiful next to her handsome groom. It almost seemed a shame to go back inside for the cake cutting and the bouquet and garter tossing, but you can only take so maybe pictures of the perfect couple in one setting.


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But we stopped by the dance floor, before going back into the tent and we took some more photos of this couple who loved to dance and who look so good doing it.


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Everything about Courtney and Brandon’s wedding reception was wedding photographer perfect. But the best photos, I think, were the last photos taken as the happy couple are running through a parade of sparklers to their limo, which was waiting like a great white steed, to whisk them away on their honeymoon.


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