Hannah and Ryan: when two people just “click”

Hannah and Ryan: when two people just “click”

“Of myths and legends.”

One of my favorite parts of my work is hearing my wedding clients’ love stories: how they met, their spark, how they proposed, and why they have decided to spend the rest of their lives with each other. I recently worked with Hannah and Ryan as their wedding photographer for their casual ceremony and reception at Twin Oaks Golf Course, and completely fell for their movie-worthy storybook love story.

Hannah and Ryan first met in their college myths and legends class, where one fateful day, Hannah decided to sit next to her attractive classmate, who excitedly chatted with her until they hopelessly fell for each other. It turned out that their hobbies, hopes, and interests were one in the same, and it seemed destined for them to be together. When Ryan came to the conclusion that he didn’t want to spend another minute without Hannah in his world, he organized a proposal under the magic of a July 4th’s fireworks. With his parents and hers gleaming in the background, he got down on one knee right before the finale. And she said yes.

Their wedding was focused on fun and love. With a casual ambiance and 81 of their closest friends and family, they were wed with a sunset-stained violet mountains as their backdrop.

Hannah and Ryan focused on a maroon, blush, and white color scheme that complimented the natural beauty of their surroundings highlighted with string lights–it illuminated the intimacy of the event and looked fantastic in their pictures. The falling sun painted the reception’s outdoor seating and dance floor, where I witnessed one of the BEST choreographed first dances in my entire career! There didn’t seem to be enough of the happy couple to go around, as practically every photo booth picture included them! Each guest was sent home with a succulent as an easy-growing (just like Hannah and Ryan’s story!) memento of the wedding.

This story sounds like a fairy tale, but Hannah and Ryan are living proof of a dream. It was so much fun capturing their close-knit, lovely wedding and getting to know them personally. Here’s to lifelong, legendary happiness together, you two.

Thank you, clients! A badge earned for connecting with customers

Thank you, clients! A badge earned for connecting with customers

Thank you clients!

My top priority as a wedding photographer is to ensure my clients have an amazing time with me and that they receive unforgettable moments captured in their wedding photos. It’s because of my clients’ positive experiences in working with me that I get to continue growing my business. They often make my job the highlight of my days.

weddingwire photographer badgeSo when WeddingWire awarded me the WeddingWire Rated™ Badge, I was overcome with gratitude. It’s one thing to receive referrals from past clients, but there is an indescribable sentimentality in reading people’s reviews about my work. To read so many of my clients’ positive reviews is a career milestone for me, and each review gives me a fond memory of my work and connections with others.

Photography’s my job, connecting with my clients is my passion. It is an honor to work with all of my fantastic clients, and I can’t wait to continue exceeding expectations. If I didn’t say it already, thank you, clients!

Fates intertwined: Jaimie and Wes’ sweet love story

Fates intertwined: Jaimie and Wes’ sweet love story

It’s astonishing how our paths intertwine and change others’ lives in the most beautiful, surprising ways.

inspirational wedding story brant bender photographyI recently worked with this very cute couple and heard their even cuter love story, as I documented their boho-meets-military wedding on the shores of Lake Arrowhead. Jaimie and Wes hold a history that inspires you, uplifts you, and most importantly, makes you smile.

The backstory

Years ago, these two met in San Diego through a mutual friend. Their chemistry was evident, but fizzled over time, as Jaimie resided in San Diego and Wes lived in Virginia Beach. Then, upon hearing the heartbreaking news of their friend’s passing, their fates crossed again. A friendship formed from their grieving, and in honor of their fallen friend, Jaimie visited Wes for a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list

The wedding

Now, we flash forward to their serene destination wedding at Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa, located in Lake Arrowhead, CA. These two bask in the outdoors whenever they have spare time, so this location served as the ideal place for their matrimony.

bride and bridesmaids pink orange whiteJaimie picked an array of warm tones like various pinks, cream, burgundy and orange to compliment the late summer colors of the lake, which also happened to pair well with the crisp white uniform of her military man. The towering pine trees, vibrant foliage, and clean sunlight that surrounded the resort provided a woodsy yet refreshing backdrop to their stunning ceremony. If there was any place in the world that embodied these two, they found it in Lake Arrowhead.

Dress Whites for military in weddingOn top of choosing a perfect location and hues for their wedding, it was also imperative to this couple to include family, tradition, and honor. Wes wore his Dress Whites; fellow military members wore their Dress Blues. Jaimie savored a special moment with her father, where he had his own “first look” of his baby girl before he would walk her down the aisle. The military sword detail in concluding Jaimie’s and Wes’ exchanging of vows emphasized their value of serving our country, and also provided a humbling experience for guests.

It was a fantastic event, and a heartwarming history to hear about. These two were so much fun to photograph, and it was inspiring to take part in celebrating their remarkable marriage. Wes’ and Jaimie’s story carries so much depth, and we can all agree that fate had a very special plan for these two.

Jamie and Wes’ love story emerged from devastation. Little did they know it would be their late friend’s biggest gift to them. Every part of this wedding meant something important to the happy couple, and the day was spent focusing on their bright future, their gratefulness to their friend, and the loved ones and experiences that made them who they are now. Cheers to Jaimie and Wes, whose romantic love story will serve as inspiration for those still waiting for their destinies to unfold.weddings lake arrowhead brant bender photography

Why telling your photographer everything makes for an amazing wedding

Why telling your photographer everything makes for an amazing wedding

Laurel and Michael had a perfect wedding photo shoot.

No awkward encounters, uncomfortable pictures, or unwanted reunions. All the most important people in their lives were captured together on camera. Every image meant something to every member of their bridal party. And it’s because Laurel and Michael gave me extensive details on how to best photograph their family, friends, and guests on their big day.

Couples that provide me extensive information about the special relationships they have with their guests set themselves up for a better experience. Laurel and Michael let me know that they specifically wanted a few fun pictures on a carousel and listed the guests they especially wanted pictures with. They also told me about a few locations where they hoped to get some funky shots in with their bridesmaids and groomsmen as well.

However, being honest with your wedding photographer can come as a challenge to some couples. I get it–privacy is important, and I’m just the guy taking pictures. But keep in mind that giving me extensive details on the photos you want is in both yours and my best interests. It’s my life’s goal to give you great pictures, and great pictures come from great experiences, which are almost always free of conflicts.

On a personal note with these matters, confidentiality is a key element in my business. Every family or friend group has its secrets, but every family or friend group has its sweetness too. My passion in my work is to capture the good and memorable moments that make your wedding one of your most cherished memories.

Giving me backgrounds on (sometimes sensitive) family/friend issues leverages my abilities to execute group photos and give my clients exactly what they ask for. That honesty and openness sets the stage for smoother, quicker group formals that make way for the more important and fun parts of the wedding. Telling me about your vision for some of your pictures helps me help you capture your relationship with your bride/groom and lets you focus on your wedding, instead of potential drama or missed picture opportunities.


Avoiding wedding makeup mistakes and choosing the best look for your pictures

Avoiding wedding makeup mistakes and choosing the best look for your pictures

After 15+ years in the wedding photography business, I maintain strong opinions on the impacts of wedding makeup. Wedding makeup is an art, involving an in-depth understanding of the bride’s desired look as well as her facial features and her best qualities. It defines the bride’s entire image and how she wants to present herself: classic, romantic, daring, bold, sexy, elegant–sometimes all of the above. When done well, a bride’s makeup makes a major difference in pictures. When done wrong, it makes an even bigger difference.

Mistake 1: Not fitting in with your surroundings.

Different venues and themes tie into the bride’s stylistic approach. For example, smokey eyes and dark eye shadows may not fit a springtime meadow wedding as well as an evening cityscape wedding. When a bride’s makeup doesn’t fit her surroundings, things can seem out of place, which shows up in group formals, first looks, and more.

Mistake 2: Hiring good versus great.

What’s that? You’re looking for a professional makeup artist for your big day? Look no further, one of your bridesmaids recommended her third cousin who has a great Instagram following and brand new brushes. Hiring a friend, or a friend of a friend, who is “good” at makeup means hiring someone that may only understand how to highlight her best qualities, not necessarily others’. Professional makeup artists are educated and experienced in creating stunning looks that vary depending on their client’s features.

What always works:

In every scenario and in my experience, the bold yet classic approach always wins. A natural and dewy glow, rosy lips, and dramatic eyes melt the camera every time. I recently worked along side the makeup gurus at Design Visage, who flawlessly executed the bold/classic combo for the beautiful bride, Dianna. Hers and Stephen’s wedding at the sophisticated and classic Prado at Balboa Park filled the venue with grace and elegance. Needless to say, Dianna’s makeup awed all and held strong throughout the entire day,

Wedding makeup completes the bride identity by complimenting her dress, her venue, and most importantly, her self-image. Don’t lose out on the perfect look for your wedding, and consider the tried and true approach to that jaw-dropping reaction you want from your guests when they see your first steps toward the next big chapter!

Dianna and Stephen’s wedding - vendor credits:

Coordination: High Society Events  | Ceremony Venue: The Immaculata Catholic Church  | Reception Venue: The Prado at Balboa Park | Floral Design: Elegant by Design | Hair + Makeup: Design Visage | Reception Music: Visions Entertainment | Videography: Taylor Films | Linens: Mikasa Fine Linen | Lighting: San Diego Events Lighting | Cake: Cute Cakes | Rentals: Folklore | Transportation: Top Dog Limo Bus

MUST TRY wedding recipe: Sweet Cheeks Baking Co. & San Diego Safari Park

MUST TRY wedding recipe: Sweet Cheeks Baking Co. & San Diego Safari Park

A saccharine adventure to say the least, Stephanie and Samuel recently took the cake for this year’s spectacular wedding, thanks to their ultra-fun personalities, desserts by Sweet Cheeks Baking Co., and their majestically daring venue, the Kijamii Overlook at San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Sweet Cheeks and I combined forces to support Stephanie and Samuel in starting an amazing adventure together, beginning with a beautiful ceremony and ending in sentimental sweetness. This couple made the fun at their wedding, where free-roaming giraffes, cheetahs, and rhinos painted an extraordinary backdrop for their relationship and many more years of happiness. The Sweet Cheeks crew crafted personalized desserts for the couple, embodying the exotic yet tasteful fun of the wedding’s location. Samuel and Stephanie noted that their guests “devoured” the goodies provided.

A couple more outstanding vendors at this wedding included entertainment master Music Phreek with Vynce Pham, who ignited the dance floor and painted an exquisite reception ambiance, and wedding planner team Nicole George Events, who weaved together an unforgettable, wrinkle-free wedding and reception full of meaningful details that complimented the overall theme of the wedding.

This wild-yet-whimsical wedding made such a lion’s roar (and a few elephant trumpets, too) that it even caught the attention of SanDiegoWedding.com, for its creativity, desserts, and even sweeter memories. Consider these “ingredients” for the ultimate San Diego matrimony recipe, when you plan your wedding day in San Diego. Great job to all vendors that helped bring together Stephanie and Samuel, two amazing individuals, and a special shout out to Sweet Cheeks and their incredible-edible work.

Vendor credits: Event Planner: Nicole George Events | Venue: San Diego Zoo Safari Park in the Kijamii Overlook | Florist: Simply Adina Florals | Hair and Makeup Stylist: Susie Beyer McCartney | Caterer: San Diego Safari Park | Cake & Desserts: Sweet Cheeks Baking Co.  | DJ: Music Phreek DJ & Lighting


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