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This post is Part 2 of a 4-part series. Read Part 1 – Read Part 2 – Read Part 3Read Part 4

I’ve had many chances by now to witness the phenomenon of the nervous bride. I always imagined the nervousness came from the public nature of the ceremony, from knowing how many people will be watching her walk down the aisle, speak her vows, manage her dress/veil/shoes/hair/makeup/jewelry situation. That’s what I’d be nervous about, anyway. But what if there are no guests? Does a bride still get nervous before the wedding?

If Jill is any indication of what brides do, then the answer is definitely yes. Despite the fact that there were only four people watching her get married, despite her high level of comfort with all of those people, Jill was quite jittery before the ceremony. So jittery that Jill G. (the stylist) and I had to coax her out of the door towards the altar, where Chase was waiting patiently. He, of course, knew exactly how Jill would react to the walk down the aisle, and had the perfect encouraging smile on his face to draw her to where he stood under the canopy. By the time she got there, Jill was confident and laughing.

Why the nerves? Without firsthand experience, I can’t say for sure, but I think it might be that whole making-a-lifetime-commitment thing, guests or no guests. That’s a very big deal even when it’s not done in front of a crowd. Or maybe it’s the feeling that comes from suddenly realizing just how far the current of love has carried you. All the way to this moment, to these promises, to a point you didn’t think of reaching when you were first swept off of your feet by that wave.

It’s a very solemn and serious thing, this matrimony stuff, which made it extra funny when the ring got dropped before the ceremony could even start, and everyone under the canopy had to get down on the ground to search for it under the flower petals.

The vows for this ceremony were sweet, written by Jill and Chase themselves, and they integrated beautifully with the words of the officiant, Dr. Carrell Zaehn. You can find out more about Dr. Carrell here. The vows describe their love better than I ever could, and I was touched as I watched them say the words to each other from my vantage point under the canopy, a mere three feet away from them. It’s rare to have an opportunity to shoot a bride and groom at such close range. Patrick shot from the balcony that looked over the ceremony garden. Such opportunities are less rare for him. Give that guy a hill or a balcony or a rickety wooden thing to stand on while he takes pictures, and he’s right at home.

And now it’s time to let the photos tell the story. Tune in tomorrow for Part 3! For more about Pacific Oaks Vineyard Estate, click here.

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