Love. It takes all shapes, it comes in many forms. There’s no one-size-fits-all. In this supersweet case, this love is between not only a husband- and wife-to-be, but also includes their sweet eight-year-old daughter, Sophia. Yep, Anitra and Matthew have 14 years together, a house, and a daughter. When they decided to get married, it sure wasn’t due to expectations or pressure or doing things traditionally. They chose to marry because uniting their families formally felt right. It was truly what they wanted. And they sure threw an awesome bash to mark the occasion.
The day began at the Inn at the Park. Rallying a whole lot of bridesmaids full of laughter and frenzy, Anitra got all sorts of gussied up. From floral robes, they all glammed up, kids running circles and spinning in chairs, while Anitra got treated like royalty.
Nervously preparing, Anitra’s delightful brother Johnny paced, rehearsing for his officiation—for which he blew my mind. He had no reason to be nervous. But more on that a little later.
Keeping pretty mum, Matthew prepared quietly and warmly, the polar opposite of the loud, nutty frenzy in Anitra’s suite. It was so interesting to see their personality traits side-by-side in the lead up to this significant event.
With hundreds of guests, these two turned this into a charmingly homegrown affair. I loved the staked-bottles-turned-baby’s-breath-vases. Also, the ring nest that Sophia carried sped up my heart just a smidge. Johnny did his thing… sharing with over two-hundred onlookers what love is really all about. About family. About trials and tribulations. About the connection that exists and grows between two people when they band together to take on the world. About believing in each other, and believing in their family. It was beautiful and funny, and sweet, and tear-jerking. And then both Anitra and Matthew got teared up, and stayed so through the tender vows they made to one another.
After witnessing how very different their behaviors and reactions were in the lead-up to the ceremony, it was delightful to see how they impacted each other once they had some alone time for portraits. Occasionally I will have couples who decide portraits aren’t much of a priority on this day in which so much occurs. But Anitra and Matthew were shining examples of why it’s so valuable to set aside that time. On your wedding day, you’re pulled in a million directions. You rarely get any time alone. There is something powerful in setting aside that time after your ceremony. In making sure that you get to bask a little in the bond you just shared with your community.
In the case of these two charmers, I got to see how they affect one another. Anitra brings out Matthew’s playful side. His wit and snarky energy are given room to breathe. While, in contrast, I can see the serenity in Anitra come forward. He centers her. It is among the greatest things in my life to witness how two people can come together and balance each other so well.
I’m crazy about the venue of their grand reception—the Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park is the cutest colorful courtyard of spanish-style buildings, filled up with art galleries and artisan shops. All the concrete is painted out in such colorful tile, it warms the very cockles of my heart, every time.
After an epic stringlight-lit, burgers-and-fries dinner by Miho Gastrotruck, and some hilarious speeches by the best man and maid of honor, the piece de resistance was the super-secret surprise: Sophia took the mic and sang her parents the most heartwarming cover there could ever be of ‘1000 Years.’ I’m pretty sure everyone’s hearts flat out jumped out of their chests. Fearlessly, this little girl let her voice be the perfect representation of her mom and dad’s love. After that. everybody got crazy, in the best possible way. Especially grandma!
It was a night full of laughter and dancing, and oh-so-much love. Anitra, Matthew, and Sophia… this wasn’t really the start of something special, so much as the greatest reason to pause and reflect upon what an immensely wonderful adventure you’re smack-dab in the middle of. I can’t wait to see it all continue to unfold.
TALENT ROLL CALL: Photography: Let’s Frolic Together / Assistant Photographer: Josh Mitchell / Venue: Balboa Park, San Diego / Catering: Miho Gastrotruck / Dessert: European Cake Gallery / Florist: Self-done! / DJ: JD Musik SD / Officiant: Johnny Snyder / Hair & Makeup: Liz Dion / Dress: Maggie Sottero / Veil: Ann Taylor / Earrings & Bracelet: Nordstrom / Ring: Irelia Fine Jewelry / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alfred Sung / Tuxes: Theory / Tie: Michael Kors / Shoes: Glint / Musician: Rich Ibarra