The summer breeze billowed through the dusty blue bridesmaid dresses and filled the air with the comforting smell of roses and perfume. Guests had filled every seat in the garden courtyard of Jardine's Restaurant in San Juan Bautista, and the bridal party made their way down the brick aisle to the beautiful white picket arbor draped in blue and white hydrangeas and daisies. Shayna's gorgeous lace wedding gown with a beautiful sweetheart neckline trailed behind her as her mother (and our favorite neighbor) walked her down the aisle to the man who chose her and her son. To the man who stepped in and stepped up to take care of her, take care of his new family and said yes to a lifetime of the most joyful smile I've ever seen.
I knew in a moment that he was the one
When Shayna told me that he was more than just fun
Yes, Joey would listen and show love and concern
Always there for Shayna, no matter the turn.
—Julie's Mother of the Bride Toast
Shayna and Joe's San Juan Bautista garden wedding was the perfect summer celebration under a blue sky and warm sunshine. Every person in attendance knew what it took for this couple to get here, and we stood there proud of both of them, hearts beating with them and for them to experience the joy and excitement waiting for them in marriage. It was a particularly special ceremony, because Shayna and Joe not only made vows to each other, but made a vow to her son, DJ, that this family would always stay together, never separate and always fight for one another. For most of their relationship, Joe didn't hesitate to step in and be a father for DJ. It was obvious DJ loved Joe and wanted more than anything for his mom to be happy.
Pretty sure we were all crying just a little by the end of this summer wedding ceremony 😭
Earlier that day, I walked into a luxurious hotel room at Hacienda de Léal in San Juan Bautista to find a beaming bride and her bodacious babes all comfortably dressed in their dusty blue rompers next to the bride's lacy white romper. I love when bridesmaids all wear matching "getting ready" outfits—extra points to the brides who get creative and do something other than the usual floral robe (also gorgeous which you can see in Shelly and Jonathan's Fernwood Cellars Gilroy rainy wedding here!). While the girls finished getting their hair done, I spent a little time with Shayna's details: simply and dainty peep toed heels, sentimental jewelry from beloved family members, a custom made Wizard of Oz Dorothy-themed garter, and a beautiful bouquet of hydrangeas, roses, and baby's breath. Classic.
Shayna and Joe have a friend in San Juan Bautista that owns an awesome little bar right in the heart of downtown. They closed down the facility for an hour so the bridal party could come in for some pre-gaming (my fave) and billiards. Even DJ got in on the fun (don't worry—they gave him soda)! But the bride and groom snuck around each other so as not to get any kind of sneak peaks of each other before the ceremony. They wanted a traditional first look down the aisle just moments before becoming husband and wife. And boy, was it good.
We spent some time after the ceremony at Mission San Juan Bautista for family portraits, and it might have ended up being some of my favorites because the mission is just so beautiful. Sometimes family portraits can be really stressful for couples because so often, it's the least fun and most disorganized part of the day. Not for me. And Shayna and Joe prepared everyone properly, had a list and we finished in about 15 minutes! That's incredible! They were total troopers.
Of course, the best part of the day, both for the couple and their guests, was the party that awaited them in the brick garden at Jardine's in San Juan Bautista. This might have been one of my favorite receptions because they catered with my favorite food—Mexican! There weren't any nachos on the menu, but it doesn't matter. Chips with salsa and guacamole is all I really need to be happy. It's the best! And Jardine's does it right!
It wasn't long before almost everyone was on the dance floor. Didn't matter how old you were, everyone's feet were moving! Receptions are sometimes one of my favorite things to photograph at a wedding. I've got a good strategy—blend in. I just sneak my way into the crowd, dance with my newly made friends (because I make friends really fast) and snap shots of people just having a blast. And I get to party with them, so it's a win-win really.
The next day, Shayna and Joe, along with some of their closest family and friends, met up with me at Carmel for something extra cool. Shayna, when she first met with me over a year before, already had her heart set on trashing her wedding dress in Carmel. She was more excited about that than pretty much anything else, which made me laugh and was a fun experience for all of us when the day was finally here. It also made for a great opportunity to have a separate bridal session at Carmel beach, which made the flow of the wedding day that much more fun for the couple because they got to spend all of their time with their guests. This is a great option for couples looking for beautiful wedding portraits without the stress and hustle of wedding day jitters. It totally worked for Shayna and Joe. Keep scrolling to see why!
You'll just have to see for yourself! Check out some of my favorites from Shayna and Joe's San Juan Bautista Garden Wedding and Carmel Trash The Dress and let me know what you think in the comments below!