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Chrisman Studios
Destination wedding photographers based in San Francisco and Charleston.
Destination wedding photographers based in San Francisco and Charleston.

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So often, the wedding is where the heart is. And for New Yorkers Karli and Christina, their collective heart had been firmly lodged at Murrieta’s Well in Livermore, CA, since they first saw it on a wine tasting trip.

“There was a period of time where Christina was living in California for a few months, and when I came to visit her she took me wine tasting,” Karli recalled. ” The first stop was Murrieta’s Well, and as we walked up the stairs, there was a rehearsal for a wedding. We had such a great time that later once we became engaged it was an easy choice of where we wanted to get married.”

The photos clearly show how much joy and fun Karli, Christina and their friends and family experienced on their wedding day. There was pre-ceremony champagne, pull-ups on the rafters, bouquet softball, some wild dance-floor antics, In-N-Out burgers, and, through it all, lots of happy tears.

“I think my favorite memory from the wedding day was during the reception,” Christina said. “The dance floor was never empty, and you really saw two families from two complete opposite sides of the country come together. If you didn’t know any better, you would have thought they all had known each other for years.” #Murrieta’sWellwedding # chrismanstudios
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It’s always when you think you are the least likely to meet THE guy, that you meet the guy. For Hwa, it was the night in Washington D.C. when she agreed to be her friend’s wingman at a bar. While her friend was dressed in cute go-out clothes, Hwa, having recently broken her leg, was in a cast and sneakers.

When they got to the bar, they found that the room was on the 3rd floor, so a bouncer had to carry her up. Shortly after they got there, her friend spotted a cute guy she wanted to talk to, so Hwa decided to make conversation with the guy’s friend, who wasn’t talking with anyone. It was really just something to pass the time while her friend flirted. At the end of the night, the four of them shared a cab to their respective apartments, and the guy’s friend asked for Hwa’s number. She thought she gave him a fake number as she always did with guys at bars. Except… she was a little tipsy and accidentally gave him her real number. She realized this a couple of months later when he texted her, and she had no idea who he was.

Hwa, who is Korean, and Thom, who is half-Venezuelan, are now in their fourth state together, him having followed her to several different job changes, from D.C. to New York, to Connecticut, and now to Charlotte, N.C., where they bought a house together. She says she is every stereotype you can think of for a Type A person, and Thom balances her with his calm, friendly, go-with-the-flow attitude. She pushes and encourages him; he mellows her out.

It was a balance we got to see when we shot their engagement photos at their new home, and again at their wedding at Pomme in Radnor, PA (where Hwa grew up). I saw a girl who could not stop smiling all day, and a guy who relaxed immediately whenever she was by his side. The wedding weekend was fun and lively, with a Korean Paebaek ceremony on Thursday night, and the wedding on Friday, inside Pomme’s beautiful candlelit ballroom. But when I think of these two, I think of them going back to their quiet home in Charlotte, where Thom cooks dinner for Hwa nearly every night (and earns extra happy-wife points with his homemade sangria), and where the two of them have settled back into a life in sync.

Because that is where their magic is – not in the pageantry of ceremonies and sparkly gowns and the clinking of champagne flutes, but in the beauty and simplicity of everyday life. And really, that’s exactly where you want the magic to be.

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In high school, Conner always had Ashley’s phone number. But it took his sister to finally make the first move. One night at a bar in Texas, Conner’s sister Macy met Ashley. After just a few minutes of talking, Macy rushed over to her brother, who was also there, and said, “You need to marry this girl.”

And within a month of dating, Ashley knew she had found her husband. “He’s everything to me that everyone else is not,” Ashley told me during one of our first phone calls.

Conner was living in Hawaii at the time. He had always lived in Texas, and thought the Big Island would be a good place to explore and learn about himself. But he came back to Texas for Ashley, where they were surrounded by friends and family. When it came time to pick a place for their wedding though, Hawaii was the special place for both of them. They chose the +Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Kailua-Kona, a resort that is world-class in every way. Even Lebron James was there hanging out at the kids pool most of the time we were there.

Their four-day event was filled with non-stop activities, surprises, and Snapchats, from an underwater photo booth, to a mermaid at the rehearsal dinner, to traditional fire-dancers, to sea turtles all over the beach and a Hawaii history lesson at the rehearsal dinner. There was champagne exploding everywhere, flowers flown in from other countries, and even a shout-out on the celebrity gossip site TMZ.

Their wedding was the perfect, all-in situation that we thrive on. And Ashley’s father got to walk her down the aisle, which was one of the most important parts of the entire wedding for both of them.
Ashley’s vision for everything was brought together by the hardworking, but also easy-going, staff of India, Billinda, Matthew and Garrett with Wilkinson Rhodes. Weddings this complex can feel stressful, but not this one. I wish we got to work with their team all the time.

Thanks to Chrisman Studios photographer Ryan Zhang for coming along with me, and for getting that ceremony exit photo. That’s one of many I wish I had taken.

Ashley and Conner, what an experience you gave everyone. We’re coming to visit you at the ranch as soon as we can.

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Allison and Ames marry in a classic NYC wedding at the Church of the Heavenly Rest and the Burden Mansion. If you recognize Ames, it's because he was on Season 7 of The Bachelorette in 2011 :) Photos by Ryan Zhang, with additional photographers Aaron Morris and Dave Paek. Read Allison and Ames' story and see their highlight film by Vladimir Chaloupka here: 

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So here’s a crazy story for you of two people who met online by accident and then realized they already knew each other.

Admittedly, yes, Craig had accounts on several online dating sites. He is a successful architect in Atlanta who didn’t have time to hang out at bars waiting for the right person to walk in the door. Monica wasn’t on ANY dating website. But one day she got on as a favor to a friend who had asked her to do the free trial just to see what kind of men were out there. In order to play with the free trial, it made Monica set up an account. So she threw one together with the most sparse information, not even putting any photos up, just to allow her to do some research for her friend.

The automated algorithm matched her with Craig immediately and sent her a notification. Out of curiosity, she clicked, and, to her surprise, recognized him. She contacted him and he replied, even with her having no photos up. He didn’t even know her name during the email exchange, but he said he was curious about her. “He didn’t know my name for a long time,” Monica said, laughing.
Well, it turns out that they were in school together at Georgia Tech the same year. Though they never actually met while there, they discovered that Craig’s business partner was Monica’s architecture professor at Georgia Tech.

They eventually met up for a real date at a restaurant, and Monica says Craig charmed her and continues to charm her every day. We met up with them at +The Cloister at Sea Island in Georgia for their sweet elopement. It was there we saw for ourselves that Craig is equally charmed by Monica. The two of them are like teenagers – super flirty, affectionate, and constantly laughing. We had the best day wandering The Cloister with them, watching them become unexpectedly emotional during the ceremony at the Avenue of the Oaks, and then having the unbelievable honor of being invited to join them for their wedding dinner at the Chef’s Table at the Georgian Room. The staff prepared an incomparable eight-course dinner for the four of us as we watched all the preparations from our table in the kitchen.

Monica and Craig treated us like old friends, and we bonded quickly. They spent part of their honeymoon in Charleston, where we live, so we met up with them for a few more photos and drinks at a rooftop bar overlooking downtown. Craig and Ben now email one another regularly, and we love getting little updates and check-ins from them. They are just two people we felt we were destined to meet, and I know there will be many more shared experiences in our future.

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A pianist and an opera singer fall in love and get married in her father’s recently completed dream house in Santiago, Mexico. There are beautiful, emotional moments of love and tenderness. And then there are moments of hauling a shopping cart of booze up four flights of a narrow staircase.

That is Alex and Patrick’s life together – a perfect mix of serious and playful, spontaneous and planned. One thing is sure though – there is never a dull moment around this vivacious girl. She is bubbly, bold, chatty, and an instant friend to everyone she meets (including another bride she ran into on her wedding day outside the church).

Alex and Patrick live in Texas but invited all their friends and family to Alex’s father’s home in Santiago for the wedding celebration, with a ceremony before that at a local church. Our photographer Ryan spent the day before the wedding watching Alex and Patrick rehearse their wedding reception performance with the string quartet. It was a treat to see these two perform together – both supremely talented and with a deep connection that elevates the music they make together. After their performance, the reception erupted into an unhinged party of direct tequila pours and raucous hijinks, which is exactly what we love about Mexico weddings.

The next day, Alex and Patrick had a day-after portrait session with Ryan, where they explored the green, lush landscape of Monterrey, returned to the gorgeous church where they were married, and relaxed into that blissful feeling of knowing you just had the best party of your life, and now you get to spend the rest of your days as husband and wife.

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Elaine and Tony get married in Bangkok at the +The Sukhothai Bangkok and +HANSAR HOTELS & RESORTS!

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Julia and Joel's wedding at +casarealevents in Pleasanton is on the blog. Photos by the super team of Mauricio Arias and Ryan Zhang: #casarealwedding

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Jenna and Jeffrey's San Francisco wedding at Saint Kevin Catholic Church and Green Hills Country Club is new on our blog today! Photos by Mauricio Arias, with additional photographer Lisa Stone.

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Sarah and Angelique, two fellow photographers who are also airline pilots, get married on a windy day at @cavebestatewinery in Washington State. 
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