Grandpa Norm | 100th Birthday

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Amy Gray Photography

Today is Grandpa Norman's 100th Birthday! On this auspicious day it feels like the right time to share this most special series of photos. This session with Grandpa, Michelle, Angela, Dylan and Jon is something Ivan and I will never forget. These are my favorite images I have ever taken. This is the session that is most meaningful to me. 

These images were taken over a year ago in April, after Michelle and Dylan's wedding. They are so precious to me and because of that I haven't felt ready to share them. I've kept them close, revisiting them often, not ready to share them with the world. When is the right time to share images from an evening that changed your life? I've been struggling for over a year to find the right words to go along with these images. I still don't have the words and probably never will. I'll just share the story of the day and hope the pictures tell the rest.

When you meet Grandpa Norm you're instantly taken in by his calm, kind presence. There's a radiance about him and a sphere that immediately envelopes you. After spending just a few minutes together we were able to see the very special connection Michelle and Angela had with him. They were playful, loving, nurturing and there was an understanding between the 3 of them, a deep bond that was evident. Their connection is strong and different from any I have every witnessed between grandparent and grandchild.

Angela and Michelle, who are twins, were married 8 months apart, Angela and Jon in the states and Michelle and Dylan in Australia. Being as close as they are with Grandpa Norm, it was heartbreaking that he wasn't able to make the journey to either one of the weddings, so they decided to bring a piece of their weddings to him! 

On a lovely, Fall evening, in a little neighborhood outside of Sydney, Michelle and Angela brought Grandpa Norm from his assisted care facility to the very special grounds around his church. As a boy he had tended the small garden there, with its young trees as tall as he was. Now, an old man, he sat in his wheelchair surrounded by an Eden he's cultivated with nearly a hundred years of love and care: a sprawling display of lush tropical greenery, a forest of big beautiful trees reaching to the sky, and "two beautiful granddaughters, each more lovely than the last." When they arrived, Michelle and Angela lovingly guided his wheelchair through the grass to a special spot. Once he was settled the twins hurried inside to get dressed. Surrounded by the lush garden, accompanied by the singing birds, Ivan and I sat with Grandpa for a few peaceful moments until we moved into place and Michelle, Dylan, Angela and Jon began walking as one towards Grandpa. They were a vision, walking down the hill in their wedding dresses and suits, all 4 of them intently focused on Grandpa, smiling ear to ear. 

When they reached Grandpa he broke into the biggest smile. He grabbed Angela's hand and began reciting his poem that had been read at her wedding-

"A Little Golden Ring"

A little Golden Ring

Binds hands, lips, hearts

And makes them sing

With love,

Through years and years,

Through joy and tears,

And still keeps tied the knot

Unto the land where Time is not.

 He then turned to Michelle and recited his poem that was read at her wedding-

"Spring Wedding"

This your Spring, love's early treasure.

Summer brings to fullest measure;

Autumn's fruits of happy marriage;

Winter's chill may not disparage;

Through Life's seasons you will find

Joy increasing in the mind.

Winter's trials are but showers,

Spring returns with all it's flowers;

Pray your love be from the Lord,

Eternal springs be your reward.

The moment was surreal, the connection, the love, the sense of presence. Being part of such a powerful, intimate moment felt other-worldly. So much so that at one point I looked up from my camera and wondered it we had been transported to heaven. In this moment it was brilliantly clear to me that this is the purpose of our lives: to care for, connect with and cherish one another, and that family is the wellspring of this, the place where it all begins and where, if we're lucky, it will end. 

Happy 100th birthday, Grandpa Norm. We hope today is filled with the magic we felt when we were with you. We love you!

Grandpa plays with his and his beloved Ruth's wedding bands. 

Grandpa plays with his and his beloved Ruth's wedding bands. 

Angela and Jon packed their wedding attire in their suitcases and flew with it to Sydney all the way from Pennsylvania to create this special surprise Grandpa Norm! 

Angela and Jon packed their wedding attire in their suitcases and flew with it to Sydney all the way from Pennsylvania to create this special surprise Grandpa Norm! 

Amy Gray Photography

Erin & Jake | The Fig House | Highland Park Wedding Photographer

The Fig House Wedding

Erin and Jake win the award for “Smiliest Wedding.” They have two of the  best grins we’ve ever seen and their joy to be marrying one another was apparent the entire day. Not only were they joyful and smiley, their guests were too. Throughout the day Ivan and I kept turning to one another in disbelief at how many cute candids we were getting. Everywhere we turned were sweet, smiley interactions! As I began working on their images I found myself beaming at my computer screen.

The Fig House in Highland Park was the perfect venue to compliment their bright, energetic personalities. The entire space is splashed with color, every inch beautifully decorated with thoughtful and vibrant details. I think it just may be my Spirit Venue! Not only are Erin and Jake fellow color lovers, they are first and foremost dancers! Erin grew up dancing, they met while dancing, and in their vows they committed to be one another’s dance partner for life! With such a deep love of dance we knew we were in for a treat with their first dance. We were blown away when they brought down the house with their dance to ‘Golden Years’ by David Bowie. Their chemistry on the dance floor was such a joy to capture and the energy they brought was shared with their guests. When a bride and groom love dancing as much as these two, people come ready to cut a rug! Everyone was dancing from Grandma to the flower girl! We loved being in the sea of guests, surrounded by music, joyful interactions and amazing dance moves.

Erin and Jake’s day contained so many of our favorite things—color, wild dancing and intentional details—but most of all their day was focused on community. From Jake’s 4 families, their 2 friend officiants, the countless hugs, sweet excited squeals and heartfelt speeches, it was clear how much Erin and Jake love and value their people and how much those people love and cherish them. Seeing these connections is always a deeply profound honor. We feel so lucky to experience and capture all the love, from the little moments like a heartfelt greeting, to the big moments like a mother-daughter dance. Wedding days never cease to bring me back to what it’s all about: the relationships we build and the love we share.


Erin and Jake, thank you for including us in your wedding. For welcoming us in to witness the relationships you’ve built and the love that you share. We are so honored to have been a part of it all. Here are some of the memories of that day. We can’t wait to share more!

The Fig House Wedding
The Fig House, Eagle Rock
The Fig House
The Fig House wedding
Amy Gray Photography
The Fig House Los Angeles
Wedding at the Fig House
Amy Gray Photography Los Angeles
Amy Gray Photography the Fig House
Florals by Sweet Emilia Jane
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Venue- The Fig House

Planning and Florals - Sweet Emilia Jane

DJ- Dart Collective 

Hair and Make-Up- Rachel Stolte

Catering- RoomForty

Cocktails - Pharmacia 

Devika & Rilwan | Beverly Hills Courthouse | Los Angeles Elopement Photographer

Paul Smith Pink Wall Wedding

April 7th was special. It was Devika and Rilwan's elopement but that wasn't the only monumental part of the day. April 7th was the day their families were meeting for the first time. As we stood on the steps of the Beverly Hills Courthouse I got to witness their moms welcome one another into their lives, arms out stretched, tears in their eyes. I got to see Devkia's sister, snuggle and play with Rilwan's niece. I was able to see the heartfelt connection their fathers made via facetime. I often get to witness two families coming together at a wedding but this was different. This was bigger. There was so much wrapped up into one moment, it was the greeting, the getting to know and the embracing of two families and cultures all at once. 

Their Beverly Hills Courthouse ceremony, conducted by a passionate and kind Justice of the Peace, was heartfelt and genuine. She shared beautiful and honest words of wisdom, that have stuck with me. She shared that for a successful marriage the couple must grow together but more importantly they must grow as individuals. She encouraged them to explore their separate interests and to strive to grow personally in order to strengthen their marriage. Such a strong and useful message in a marriage ceremony! 

After Rilwan and Devika said "I Do" we got to stop at the iconic, pink, Paul Smith wall for a few fun portraits and then made our way to Gracias Madre for some snacks and delicious cocktails. It was such a treat to be able sit and enjoy 45 minutes with Rilwan and Devika. Typical wedding days are go, go, go. I loved getting to capture a bride and groom relaxing and enjoying one another's company. The staff was so excited to have a newly married couple that they sent drinks to the table and offered Mexican Wedding cookies! 

Rilwan and Devika's wedding was a true lesson in rolling with the punches, looking at the positive, and being present in the moment. Due to flight cancellations as a result of an airport bomb threat Devika's father and sister were unable to make it to the wedding, a heart breaking reality of the day. Despite this set their presence was very much felt throughout the day! Thank goodness for technology! Facetime allowed them to see the ceremony, enabled Devika's father to give his speech at their reception dinner and made it possible for them to meet all of Rilwan's family. It was especially sweet to see both fathers meeting. Rilwan's father's hand on his heart as the both talked about the pride and love the felt. 

 Another set back of the day was when all 14 guest accidentally went to the wrong restaurant. Instead of being upset or stressed, Rilwan and Devika spent the time snuggled up, chatting and laughing in the outdoor lounge at Craft Los Angeles. The stayed in the moment and were focused on one another. When everyone eventually made it they excitedly welcomed them, no stress or frustration. Wedding days are unpredictable, things will go wrong, but those hiccups don't have to ruin the day or even cause stress. The day is going to unfold just as it is meant to. As long as your focus is on what matters most and you remember to breath and laugh your day will be wonderful.

Rilwan and Devika did just that! The entire day they were laughing, snuggling and just so happy! It was such a joy to witness their marriage. The union of their families and their love for one another. 

Beverly Hills Courthouse Wedding
Beverly Hills Elopement
Los Angeles Courthouse Elopement
Los Angeles Elopement
Los Angeles Courthouse Wedding
Beverly Hills Courthouse Wedding
Los Angeles Elopement
Justice of the Peace Wedding Los Angeles
Los Angeles Elopement Photographer
Amy Gray Photography
Los Angeles Elopement Photographer
Los Angeles Elopement Photographer
Los Angeles Elopement Photographer
Los Angeles Elopement Photographer
Los Angeles Elopement
Amy Gray Photography
Devika and Rilwan's fathers meeting for the first time via Facetime

Devika and Rilwan's fathers meeting for the first time via Facetime

Alexis & Edwin | Hotel Casa Pestagua | Cartagena Wedding Photographer

Casa Pestagua wedding

Mid-February, we stepped off the plane in Colombia and were immediately swept up by Cartagena. Within minutes of leaving the airport all of my senses were invigorated: the smell of the sea, the cozy feel of humidity, the colors of the buildings, the sounds of the streets and the sweet taste of mango. The energy within the city walls was electric. It made me feel more alive, more present. Our time spent there brought me back to myself. It encouraged me to refocus on what is most important: family, friends, meaningful connections and purpose. On our first morning we wandered the colorful streets as we made our way to Casa Pestagua, where we found Alexis and Edwin. It was at this point that the reality of the weekend sank in. Not only were we here in Cartagena to celebrate Alexis and Edwin, but we were here to celebrate along with some of our nearest and dearest friends. If I had to imagine heaven, it'd be a lot like our time in Cartagena—days spent in a beautiful setting, surrounded by your favorite people with the shared intention of celebration, all the while getting to do a job that you love with the person you love most.

Oh, I could go on and on about this wedding weekend, about how humbling it was to have witnessed Alexis' and Edwin's families share their cultures, American and Colombian, with one another; about riding a chiva (party) bus through Cartagena next to the mother of the bride as we laughed hysterically and danced on cue; about how moving, heartfelt and real the vows Alexis and Edwin shared were; about how special it was to reconnect with some of my oldest friends; about how ridiculously fun the reception was, or how grateful I am for the sweet friendship that has grown between Alexis and myself. I have so much to say but what it would all be explaining is that this experience healed parts of my heart that had been aching for a long time. This wedding, the place, the people, Alexis and Edwin reminded me of what is most important at a moment when I truly needed it.  

This is the story of that day in the best way I know how to tell it. 

Hotel Casa Pestagua Wedding
Alon Linve White Alexandra Dress
Hotel Casa Pestagua wedding
Hotel Casa Pestagua
Casa Pestagua wedding
Casa Pestagua
Alon Livne Wedding Dress
Alon Livne Alexandra Dress
Cartagena Wedding Photographer
Alon Livne Wedding Dress
Cartagena Wedding photographer
Casa Pastagua wedding
Cartagena, Colombia
Casa Pestagua wedding Cartagena
Cartagena Colombia Wedding
Cartagena Colombia Destination Wedding
Amy Gray Photography
Casa Pestagua wedding
Alon Livne Bride
Cartagena Wedding
Casa Pestagua Wedding
Cartagena Colombia Wedding
Cartagena Wedding Photographer
Casa Pestagua wedding photographer
Cartagena Wedding Photography
Casa Pestagua Wedding Photographer
Cartagena wedding
Cartagena Wedding
Cartagena Wedding Photographer
Cartagena Colombia
Cartagena Wedding Photographer
Cartagena Wedding
Cartagena Wedding Cafe Del Mar
Cafe Del Mar Cartagena Wedding
Cartagena Cafe del Mar Wedding
Cartagena Wedding Parade
Cartagena Wedding
Amy Gray Photography
Casa Pestagua Wedding
Hotel Casa Pestagua, Cartagena
Casa Pestagua Wedding
Casa Pestagua
Casa Pestagua
Casa Pestagua Wedding

 

Venue - Casa Pestagua

Ceremony- Cafe del Mar

Florals - Alheli 

Invitations- Brittany Kuhl 

Ceremony and Cocktail Band -

Reception Band - Son de la Cueva 

Dress: Alon Livne

Dress shop: Mark Ingram Atelier, New York, NY

Blind Whino Elopement | Christine & Jenny | Washington, DC Wedding Photographer

Washington DC Mural Wedding Photo

Christine and Jenny knew they wanted a pop-up wedding in Washington, DC. They also knew they wanted their wedding to reflect their first date since it would be on the 4th anniversary of their meeting. Jenny and Christine's elopement was one of the most unique and fun weddings I have ever had the honor of documenting, every aspect of the day was thought filled and reflected who they are! 

Their ceremony took place in front of The Blind Whino, a one of a kind muraled church that is just 2 blocks from Jenny and Christine's home. With just their family present at the ceremony and Congresswoman Karen Bass officiating the wedding was intimate and heartfelt. From The Blind Whino we took pedicabs through the city. This was an homage to the bike tour Christine and Jenny took on their first date! We ended our ride at the Taste of DC a food festival on Constitution Avenue. The Taste of DC was the final part of Christine and Jenny's first date and the reception site for their wedding. When we arrived we were greeted like celebrities with cheers and ushered through the VIP gate to a private tent complete with a Just Married sign. 

Throughout the day strangers called out well wishes to Jenny and Christine or stopped them to give hugs and share in their excitement! Often people call out to couples "Congrats" or snap a photo on their phone but this was different. People stopped and chatted with them for several minutes, asked for photos with Jenny and Christine and even gave them free gifts! The well wishers were all types of people, from all different backgrounds - from a security guard at the Renwick Gallery, to the Taste of DC Organizers, to journalists, to a retired Marine. The joy that people were sharing for a couple they didn't even know was remarkable! 

We finished the day riding five stories into the air on a crane lift. As we rose above the crowds lining Constitution Ave., and looked out at the Capitol Building I felt a swell of pride to be in an American. I felt hopeful, that we as a nation we were headed in the right direction. In the days since the election my pride and hope have been tested. I have felt confused and saddened, as many of us have. But the images from Christine and Jenny's wedding have reminded me how hopeful I felt. As I look over these images I am reminded of the community of strangers that came together to celebrate their union. I am reminded of the celebration of diversity and the shared joy of their day.

In the days since the election Jenny and Christine's wedding has given me hope and perhaps, if only for a minute, it will for you as well.

Washington, DC Gay wedding
Washington DC Gay Wedding
Mural Wedding Photographer

A Renwick Gallery security guard stopped Jenny and Christine to congratulate them with hugs and well wishes! 

Blind Whino
Blind Whino Wedding
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Blind Whino
Amy Gray Photography
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Jenny and Christine's first dance was held on the main festival dance floor, surrounded my hundreds of strangers watched on as the danced and then after joined in. It was beautiful to feel the support and excitement of all the strangers around us. 

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Orchard Artist's Wedding | Michelle & Dylan | Australian Wedding Photographer

Amy Gray Photography

I'm not that kind of person that has ah-ha moments. All my life, my decisions have come gradually, as if the idea or decision slowly diffuses out from my inner-most self, into my thoughts and deeds until I can't remember ever deciding, but know exactly what it is I'm going to do. This happened with my decision to marry Ivan. There was never a big moment, there was just one point after several years that I knew spending the rest of my life with him was exactly what I was going to do. The same thing happened with our move to Los Angeles. There was no defining moment, no list of pros and cons--it was just the diffusion of a feeling until there was no other option. 

But Australia was different. 

We returned home changed after spending 2 weeks with Michelle and Dylan. Our hearts were opened and our perspectives shifted by this incredible couple. The time we shared with them is a moment in my life that I can point to and say, "Here is where I changed and this is who changed me."  

I have tried over and over to write this post, to explain how powerful spending time with Michelle and Dylan was to us, how sacred the space around their wedding felt and how loved they make everyone feel, but words fail when your heart has been touched, forever changed for the better. Knowing and sharing two weeks with this wonderful couple and their incredible group of friends and family is something Ivan and I will never forget.

Michelle and Dylan swept us up, welcoming Ivan and me into their home, family and friendships, giving us a front-row look into their relationships and daily life. We witnessed how Dylan and Michelle put their values of connection, creativity, joy and generosity into all they do. It was inspiring to watch how each of these was folded into different aspects of their lives, from daily swims in the sea to how sweetly they care for Grandpa Norm, Michelle's 98 year old grandfather. Michelle and Dylan have a way of making each person feel valued and celebrated; they actively make their friends and family the priority in their lives. They take the time to foster their relationships and celebrate them along the way. 

Dylan and Michelle's wedding was a reflection of these values. They poured intention into every detail of the day, from the tables guests dined at that Dylan built by hand (14 in all!), to the watercolor birds Michelle specifically chose and painted by hand for each guest. There was meaning in every aspect of the wedding. Feathers were carefully collected by Michelle and her mother for months and handmade into boutonnieres, while food was lovingly made and packaged into baskets by close friends for a picnic. The theme of birds was woven throughout the day and was made even more special when two wedged tailed eagles flew over the ceremony as Michelle walked down the aisle. The strength of Dylan and Michelle's relationships with their guests shone throughout the weekend, from excited reunions with guests attending from overseas, to inside jokes, to meaningful hugs, the love was everywhere. 

We are so profoundly grateful to have been a part of it all and to now have the honor of calling these two fantastic humans friends. Thank you Dylan and Michelle for being you, for changing our hearts forever and helping us to redefine our priorities by showing us the way you lead your life together. 

Michelle hand painted their invitations with scenes from the orchard where their wedding took place

Michelle and her mom, Margret, collect each of  the feathers for the boutonnieres from the forrest, bush and beaches around their home. Michelle chose the colors and feathers specifically for each one of their friends to wear. 

Dylan made every one of the tables guest had dinner at by hand, out of repurposed screen printing frames. Guest received a hand watercolored and specially chosen bird painting. Each had a quote on the back and were used as unique and personalized table cards. 

The bridal party surprised the bride and groom with a rousing and hilarious performance of "The Goatherd Song" from the sound of music. It was complete with choreography, costumes and lyrics customized for the occasion!