Emily, Mats and their Sunday brunch wedding at the Bishops Bay Country club

 

+ Bishops Bay wedding in Middleton, WI

Normally, there’s numerous reasons why I am excited to photograph someone’s wedding.

And when Emily and Mats reached out to me, I got excited about their wedding because of two somewhat unusual ones. First of all, the wedding was going to be Sunday brunch wedding. Secondly, wedding was planned to happen in Bishop’s Bay Country club.

But this time, excitement was there because never photographed brunch wedding AND I’ve never photographed a wedding in Bishops Bay. Boom! I was ready to meet the team.

Since Emily’s has a somewhat challenging schedule (she works with foster care and adoption) and I was traveling at the time, it took a bit of planning on both ends in order to set-up an initial wedding consultation. Eventually, Emily her mom (bot traveled from Illinois) and I met for a coffee at Black Locust cafe. It’s always fun to see family coming together to help with a wedding planning.

Emily and Mats Bishops Bay wedding with amazing vies, good light and newly built seasonal reception tent.

On a wedding day, Emily’s and Mat’s Bishops bay wedding had it all: outdoors wedding overlooking lake Mendota, good wedding crowd, amazing Sunday brunch buffet, croquembouche (Gosh, I LOVE just how it sounds!) for dessert and a framed letter as a gift from Mats mom. It had the following words in it:

“Dear Emily and Mats,
Please accept our sincere congratulations to you both on this special day.
Your relationship has bridged the states of Wisconsin and Illinois, and we are pleased to join your loved ones in wishing you great joy as you begin this new chapter in your lives together.

United States Senator Tammy Baldwin
United States Senator Tammy Duckworth

Just like that! BOOM!

For their grand departure, Emily and Matt got into their speed boat, waved goodbye to the wedding guests on the shore, and took off fighting choppy waters of Lake Mendota.

That was on Sunday.

And on Monday, posts with pictures from Iceland started showing up on Emily’s Instagram account. That’s where couple went for their honeymoon. Now that’s what I call a starting your new week (and life together) with a bang!

To see more images from Emily’s and Matt’s Bishops Bay wedding, please see click >>HERE<<.

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lake view through the window in Bishop’s Bay Country club in Middleton, WI bridesmaids fixing little girl’s hair at Bishops Bay country club bride is sitting with her eyes closed in silence before her Bishops Bay wedding ceremony bride helping her grandmother with jewelry before Bishops Bay wedding ceremony in Middleton, Wisconsin groom and groomsmen are preparing for Sunday wedding ceremony in Bishop’s bay country club groom hugging and his dad during wedding ceremony on a shore of lake Mendota, Madison Wisconsin flower girls dropping flower petals during wedding ceremony at Bishops Bay country clubbride laughing after seeing the groom for the first time on her wedding day groom smile after seeing bride for the first time before the wedding ceremony in Middleton, Wisconsin bride and groom kissing during their wedding ceremony with the Bishops Bay in the backgroundbride kissing the groom during their Bishop’s Bay wedding ceremony little girl in the doorway during Bishop’s Bay Sunday brunch wedding reception in the tentbride and groom kissing before their grand entrance to the Bishop’s bay tent wedding reception parents of the groom are smiling while listening to wedding speeches groom and groom laughing during wedding speeches in Bishops bay country club outdoor tent bride and groom receive framed wedding greeting signed by two United States senatorsbride and groom dancing at their Bishops bay outdoor tent wedding reception in Middleton, Wisconsin bride with her father dancing at the Bishop's bay tent wedding reception wedding portrait of bride and groom outside of Bishop’s Bay country club bride and her mother dancing at the Bishops bay outdoor tent in Middleton, Wisconsinbride and groom walking down the dock for a boat departure at Bishop’s Bay wedding wedding guests watching departure of the newlyweds at the Bishop’s bay country club bride and groom preparing for grand departure on the speed boat bride and groom riding a speed boat in Lake Mendota, Middleton, Wisconsin afternoon Sun shining through the tree tops at the Bishop’s bay country club in Middleton, Wisconsin

 See full Emily and Mats Bishop’s Bay wedding gallery >>HERE<<.

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Planning your wedding in Bishop’s Bay Country Club? Looking for documentary wedding photographer that? Look no further! I’m an an award-winning wedding photographer from Madison, Wisconsin and I would love to be on board of your wedding team. Please visit my wedding photography FAQ page to get better idea what to expect on a wedding day. And give me a shout via my contact page!

 

BISHOP’S BAY WEDDING MIDDLETON, WI VENDORS:

Ceremony and Reception: Bishop’s Bay Country Club
Wedding Dress: Nordstrom
Boat rentals: Skipper Bud’s

a story about same-sex wedding ceremony in Black Rock City and how I almost missed it

candid wedding picture of two lesbian women after their same sex marriage ceremony

 

a story about same-sex wedding ceremony that I almost missed

The sun was rapidly approaching mountain range line that was surrounding the desert. I was on my way to the Temple, to meet Jessie and Taylor. We exchanged some emails about what and when, but honestly, we didn’t do our homework. I didn’t know how Jessie and Taylor looks like, we never had a chance to talk over the phone and discuss wedding ceremony details.

Nevertheless, that day in Playa, everything was going accordingly to the plan. Temple was few minutes away. I knew I am right on time. Weather looked good. Light was perfect for the wedding ceremony.

And then I’ve noticed the dust storm rapidly approaching in the horizon. And I knew right away that everything was about to get a bit more complicated.

Some people mistakenly call them sand storms. But in Black Rock desert, it’s really not a sand. It’s an alkali lake bed dust. And that alkali is no joke. And that dust storm will kick your ass if you’re not prepared. It’s usually dry and packed, but it gets ground up from the surface during heavy car, bike and foot traffic over the course of 30 days of Burning Man preparations. And so that dust is everywhere, waiting for that perfect wind to show up.

So, when the dust storm kicked in at the full power, I finally admitted there were quite a few problems I had to deal with.

First of all, I didn’t know what exact spot where wedding ceremony will happen. Second of all, I didn’t know big wedding party will be.
And then there was this third problem. My favorite one. I didn’t even know the gender of the wedding couple. Jessie and Taylor. Could be woman and man, could be to gay guys, or it could be lesbian couple. And honestly, I was hoping for the latter, as I never photographed lesbian wedding ceremony before.

And I was ready to figure that on the go, but the dust storm, with visibility limited to 15-20ft, suddenly made it all much complicated.
So, my journey in the dust storm began.

I encountered several wedding ceremonies, I’ve met music band, I’ve found pastry chef wondering around with wedding cake.
But Jessie and Taylor were nowhere to be seen.

And after wondering in the dust for 45 minutes, I was ready to give up.

But then three figures, wrapped up in goggles and bandanas, stepped out of the dust wall. Right in front of me. And after exchanging words I quickly learned that they were looking for their wedding party. I was like “Who’s getting married, yo?”. And the figures covered faces were like “It’s us!”. I was like “You’re not Jessie and Taylor, are you?”.
And the covered faces said the magic words: “Yes! we are!”.

And once the face covers were down, I realized my little dream came true. I was going to be photographing my first lesbian wedding ceremony after all!

Apparently, they got separated from their wedding ceremony attendees. Third person turned out to be wedding officiant. In my Burning Man wedding ceremony planning tips, I strongly discourage couples from losing your wedding officiant.

And since wedding officiant and wedding photographer were there, Jessie and Taylor decided to proceed with their same-sex marriage.

The ceremony was one of the dustier ones I ever photographed. Couple had covered faces for big portion of it, and finally took it off as the wind started dying off in the end of same-sex wedding ceremony.

Taylor and Jessie’s wedding had exactly three guests. Four actually, if you count wedding photographer. All strangers. Saul, my Amber Dust camp mate, that appeared out of nowhere (and later disappeared the same way), and a couple of random by passers. Very typical wedding crowd for Playa’s wedding ceremony.

After the wedding ceremony, we exchanged congratulations and good-bye hugs. Jessie and Taylor were ready to head back to camp and celebrate their same-sex marriage with their friends.

The dust was settling down. Weather was calm. And the night was rolling in. It was time to put some warmer clothes and get ready for night in Playa.

See another, Sandi’s and Andy’s Burning Man wedding ceremony, >> HERE <<

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lesbian couple and officiant during the same-sex wedding ceremony in the desert officiant is giving speech during outdoor gay wedding ceremony wedding guests holding hands while observing LGBT wedding ceremony in Madison, WIclose up picture of two pairs of hands during wedding ceremony lesbian couple holding hands and laughing during wedding vow exchange lesbian couple holding hands and exchanging vows during their same-sex wedding close-up picture of hands holding a wedding ring during wedding ceremony in Madison, Wisconsin wedding ring exchange during lesbian wedding ceremony in Madison, Wisconsin close-up picture of wedding ring exchange during same-sex wedding ceremony in Madison, Wisconsinwine angle shot of the wedding guests at the lesbian wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert two lesbian women exchanging first kiss during their wedding ceremony two women passionately kissing during their wedding ceremony a close-up of lesbian couple hugging after the wedding ceremony two wedding guests smiling and applauding during gay wedding ceremonylesbian couple is kissing after their wedding ceremony in Madison, WI a portrait two lesbian women holding hands after their gay wedding ceremony candid wedding picture of two lesbian women after their same sex marriage ceremony

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I am LGBTQ friendly award-winning wedding photographer based in Madison, WI. If you’re a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer couple and are planning your LGBT wedding in Madison, WI or Black Rock City, give me a shout! It really doesn’t matter how big or how small your LGBTQ wedding will be- I would love to be part of it! Love is love!
Available to travel worldwide!

How I use my wedding photography to help those in need

bonfire sparkles with silhouettes of palm trees in the background

 

// helping those in need with my wedding photography

Today is January 31st, 2018. And one of the first things I did in the morning was to send $85 donation to a family from Netherlands. I’ve never met them before and never will. What caught my eye was a post by Huy (the man behind Fearless photographers) in my Facebook feed, asking to help a family from Netherlands whose house burned down in recent fire.

I was in.

“Why would you do that?” someone might wonder. Well…

Even though, I might have agreed with them several years ago, I really wouldn’t today. I’m not the same human being and wedding photographer I was few years ago.

We live in the world that is getting wilder and crazier every day. Therefore, I think it’s more important than ever to suffocate that negativity and remain human being.

family is gathering at the bonfire in Little Gasparilla island, Florida

my family getting together at the bonfire

when and how it all started

When in end of 2016 I was working on my wedding photography business re-branding and was planning wedding photography business expenses for 2017, I was curious: what would happen if I wouldn’t spend any money on advertising?

With this in mind, I made a decision: I’ll give it a try. As a result, my relationship with Wedding Wire and Wedding Planner and Guide was over.

All of a sudden, I felt liberated. And I was ready to pass my all advertising expenses to those who really need it (and no Yelp, it’s not you silly).

Things were about to get exciting!

where did it take me?

2017 went by.

Throughout the year my family and I made several contributions for individual fundraisers, natural disaster reliefs funds, etc. And when wedding and portrait photography work started slowing down around Holiday season, I thought to myself: why stop here? Right?

See, donating money for the cause of my choice directly was one thing. Of course, it made an impact, but, I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing to have my friends, clients and social media followers join me for a good cause?

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in 2017, my family and I donated 5.8% of my wedding photography profits to help those in need. to some people it’s might seem not that much, but to me it’s helluva good start.

_______

With this in mind, I went ahead and did series of studio portraits for clients for free, as long as my clients provided me with a proof of donation of $150 or more. As soon as I posted proposals on Instagram and Facebook, people started to respond!

Suddenly, I wasn’t doing it alone anymore!

Consequently, I influenced around $1,000 donations to recent victims of hurricanes in US and Puerto Rico along with victims of wildfires in California.

And you know what’s the best part? Being wedding photographer that gives back to those who need it more than I do AND influencing people around me to join me felt amazing!

aerial image from above of wedding photographer that gives back with his son laying in the beach

Aerial shot of the beach in Little Gasparilla island

what’s next?

Those who know me, know that me would be me, if I would keep it all simple.

Here comes the magical question that has been asked before: Why stop here?

I’m talking to you, my friend.

I’m asking you to look around and realize how much you have already. As Gary would say, “you won the ultimate lottery” already when you was born. Not as a snail, not as some weird specimen on Mars, but as a human being. And that’s a good start.

At the same time, even if you think you’re poor, you most likely are not. In reality, you’re probably still in the richest 15% of the world’s population.

So I want to challenge you to find your cause. To find your battle. Roll up the sleeves, get to work and help your brothers and sisters who need little push. Give little love to mother nature. Donate to local pet rescue non-profit.

It is easier than you think an. And I promise- it’s a damn good and rewarding feeling!

Because your donation can change someone’s life.

And it will!

And one day, all the good you gave to others, will come back you.

In 2017, my family and I donated 5.8% of my wedding photography profits to help those in need. To some people it’s might seem not that much, but to me it’s helluva good start.

That was 2017.

In the meantime, we’re all are stoked about what we’ll do in 2018.

Thanks for reading!

Please share thoughts in comment section and help to spread the word by sharing this story!

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the list

In conclusion, I put a list of several recommended top charities where your donations would make biggest impact:

United States:

EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY
US HURRICANE RELIEF FUND
PLANNED PARENTHOOD
ANIMAL WELFARE INSTITUTE
BREAST CANCER RESEARCH FOUNDATION
PREVENT CHILD ABUSE AMERICA
NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE

International:

GIVE DIRECTLY
AGAINST MALARIA FOUNDATION
FOOD FORTIFICATION INITIATIVE

Local (Madison, Wisconsin):

WIL-MAR NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER
OPERATION FRESH START
W.O.R.T.
UNDERDOG PET RESCUE

If you don’t see preferred charity organization listed here, please click  >> HERE << and look for well rated non profits.

 

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wedding photographer and his family sitting on rental house stairs in Florida

my nut family and I on a rental house stairs in Florida. February, 2018

All images used in this blog post are from Little Gasparilla island, Florida, where I am currently vacationing with my wife and kids.

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Burning Man wedding ceremony and the story behind my infamous underwear picture

me as a Madison WI wedding photographer after wedding in Black Rock Dessert hugging happy bride and groom

 

 // burning man wedding ceremony :: Sandi and Andy

I was drunk, I was in my underwear wearing tank top with “FUCK YEAH” paint sprayed on it, I had my cowboy boots on, I was about couple miles away from their wedding ceremony location AND I didn’t know how bride and groom looked like!

I had 4 minutes to make it to their wedding ceremony.

Few minutes earlier before it all happened I got back to my camp, grabbed a beer and made myself comfortable in in lounging chair. It wasn’t my first drink of the day- I had few already (I’m out here to party after all, right?). Heck yeah, I was having a great Monday!

And then my camp mate showed up. She walked over to me and gave nice heartwarming greeting: “Why the hell are you here? You’re supposed to be photographing Sandi and Andy’s Burning Man wedding ceremony!”. My heart jumped. “No” I said. “No I’m not!. They’re not getting married today. It’s mañana”. “It’s today you idiot!” she responded. “They stopped like 5 hours ago and left you an updated message on chalk board!”. My friend was definitely enjoying giving me hard time.

My heart was racing by now. I ran to our camp’s improvised message board and there it was- date that before was saying “9/2/15” was changed to “9/1/15”. They moved date from Tuesday to Monday! Their Playa wedding ceremony time remained the same- 6pm. I looked at my watch.

It was 5:56pm.

Some people get married in the banquet halls, some people get married in the barns, and well, some people get married in the middle of the desert.

Planning Burning Man wedding ceremony during this week-long festival is no joke. I never realized amount of homework until I started talking to couples who get married there. In a way it’s exactly the same wedding planning as in real world: you have a date and time, you need to dress up, you need to have your marriage license, and most likely there will be wedding guests. And if you really into wedding planning, you can figure out flowers, cake, music band, party bus, wedding photographer, etc. I’ve seen it all.

It definitely won’t be easy to put it all together. But worth indeed, if you willing go extra mile in order experience magic of Burning Man!

Sandi and I exchanged some emails before leaving for Playa. I never met her and her future husband-to-be Andy. I didn’t know where they from, I didn’t know how they look. I knew the date and they knew my camp’s approximate location.

When festival started they were able to figure out where my camp is. Unfortunately, they were not so lucky tracking me down. I was never at the camp. So this improvised message board was started: Sandi and Andy would leave me a message, and I would leave a reply when i would get back from my journeys. The couple would come back to see me again and would leave another message. And I would reply. And it worked. Until that Monday afternoon, I learned the date was moved and I was given few minutes to get my ass to the wedding ceremony.

So after realizing that time’s almost up, I got on my bike and I pedaled. I pedaled that shitty bike I had like I never will pedal again! Lol!

And I made it. And they were there, all dressed up, and happy to see their wedding photographer.

Sandi and Andy’s Burning man wedding ceremony had a real taste of Playa: short, sweet, emotional and topped with a juicy kiss. No silly games, no pretending to be someone you’re not. They got married surrounded by few friends and bunch of strangers. After the wedding ceremony, couple with their wedding attendees got on their bikes and disappeared in the dust whiteout to celebrate marriage, friends and life.

Sun was out and night was quickly creeping in.

It was time for me to head back to the camp, put the pants on and get ready for the night.

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See full Sandi and Andy’s Burning Man wedding gallery >>HERE<<.

Thinking about getting married or renewing your vows in Black Rock City during Burning Man festival? Check out my blog post about simple, easy and effective Burning Man wedding planning tips >>HERE<<.

 

an improvised chalk messaging board in Amber Dust Camp in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride and groom biking to their wedding ceremony during Burning Man festival in Black Rock desert, Nevadacandid image of bride Sandi getting wedding paperwork out of the bike basket for her Burning Man wedding photography in Black Rock desert, Nevadawriting on musicians hand indicating time and the location of Burning Man wedding ceremonygroom taking a sip of bourbon from the flash before his wedding ceremony at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock desert, Nevada smiling groom looking at the bride during Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadawedding guests during Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride reading her wedding vows to the groom during Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadasmiling ceremony attendees during Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadadust whiteout during Sandi and Andy Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert a big tear is rolling down the bride’s best friend’s cheek during Burning Man wedding ceremonyofficiant is announcing newlyweds after the Burning Man wedding ceremony in Playa bride and groom kissing after the Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride’s and groom’s dusty hands with wedding rings on them after the Burning Man wedding ceremonycandid image of bride Sandi after her Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride and groom walking away and smiling after the Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride Sandi and groom Andy are happy screaming out loud with the Burning Man statue in the background at the Black Rock desert, Nevada bride and groom portrait while posing in front of Infinity Tree art piece during Burning Man festival in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride is observing wedding document signing witness after her wedding ceremony at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock desert, Nevadawedding witness is signing wedding documents after the Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadacandid picture of bride and groom after their wedding ceremony during Burning Man festival in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride and groom portrait while posing in front of Infinity Tree art piece during Burning Man festival in Black Rock desert, Nevada

Thanks a bunch for stopping by, reading Sandi and Andy’s Burning Man wedding ceremony adventure! Are you a fellow burner that is planning Playa wedding out there in Black Rock desert? Or maybe it’s your friends who are getting married? Either way, shoot me a message with your thoughts how you imagine your Burning Man wedding and what you have planned so far. I might be there and you might be able help you out!
I am documentary wedding photographer based in Madison, Wisconsin that specializes in moment driven wedding photojournalism. I won’t boss you around. I won’t ask you to be an actor and pretend to be someone you are not. I will stay out of your way and I will let you be true you.
See my FAQ page for more information. Available for travel worldwide!

 

 

12 Simple Tips for Planning an Amazing Burning Man Wedding

12 Simple and effective Tips for Planning an Amazing Burning Man Wedding

 

// 12 simple tips for planning an amazing Burning Man wedding

If you’re reading this you most likely are spending your Labor Day weekend in Playa. And you probably are getting married there as well. And it’s fOcking exciting in so many ways, yet keep in mind: just like putting together a default world wedding, you will have homework to do. 
Where to start? What to expect? And how make sure you get the most out of it.

I went ahead and I did put a list of simple and easy real-life wedding planning tips to help you get the most out of your wedding and have an amazing Burning Man experience. I’ve been going to and photographing Black Rock City since 2009.

And while the wedding planning tips below will be most helpful to someone who have never been to the Burning Man before, I’m pretty sure a seasoned burner still can find some of them useful.

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1. Figure out legal stuff in advance

I know, it’s not most exciting thing to do, but if you want a real wedding, that’s where it all needs to start. Marriage license, officiant, etc. Burning Man website has some useful information regarding weddings in Playa. Make sure you do your homework in advance, because it won’t be an easy task if you arrive to Playa unprepared.

licensed officiant signing the marriage certificate after the Burning Man wedding ceremony

2. Find your wedding vendors

Yes, there’s more homework to do. So, roll your sleeves and hit the Pinterest and Google search. I imagine, finding wedding photographer is probably a bit easier than, let’s say, finding a guy will roast you a pig, but… Reality is, every imaginable wedding vendor is there in Playa. I’ve met music bands, I’ve seen pastry chefs delivering cakes, I know florists who made flowers for brides. Go ahead, find a camp that serves dessert, talk to some fire spinners you found online, grab some champagne on the way to Playa. And you got yourself a decent start for the wedding ceremony after party.

licensed wedding officiator friend is taking a gulp of bourbon bottle after signing marriage certificate

3. Do all heavy lifting BEFORE event starts

Talk to all your vendors in advance and touch base again 2-3 weeks before the event. Once out there in the desert, communication could get tricky due to unreliable phone and internet service. Also, bear in mind that all serious shopping is done in Reno, NV. And that’s 3 hours away.

bride and groom raising their hands and shouting after their Burning Man wedding ceremony

4. Figure out where and when.

When it comes to time, be specific. “Sunrise” or “sunset” could really fall into 30-45 minute gap. Also, keep in mind, that sunset or sunrise, while definitely nice times of the day to get married, could be very busy in certain locations (i.e. Temple). Usually, around that time of the day, you can find numerous wedding ceremonies happening at those locations simultaneously.
Consider less traveled spot in deep Playa if you want more intimate Burning Man wedding experience.

group of people gathered for a wedding ceremony near art installation in Burning Man

5. Don’t get separated from your officiant/ wedding guests

Want to make sure your wedding ceremony attendees won’t get lost in transition? Go ahead and gather people in camp. Bike together or set gathering point at the art peace that is easy to find and is less traveled. If you’re going for a wedding ceremony at the busy spot, park your bikes further away, and walk to your spot the whole group.
Believe me, it’s easy to lose your friends (and wedding guests) in Playa.

lesbian couple holing hands after wedding ceremony in Black Rock Desert, Nevada

6. Have a plan, but also have no plan

Have a plan, but play it by the ear once there. Keep your eyes and ears open in Playa as Burning Man festivals offers lots of unexpected opportunities. So be smart and use them.

dusty bride’s and groom’s hands with wedding rings on fingers

7. Prepare for the worst weather

Seriously, please do. As someone who spends 2-3 weeks in desert during each Burn, I have a simple advice when it comes to newcomers: please do not underestimate Playa weather. Weather in Playa changes quickly and things could go sideways at the same speed. Over-engineer your camp, over-engineer your art installation structures. Please do the same for your wedding. And see a story about how bad weather almost ruined this beautiful same-sex wedding ceremony.

Burning Man wedding tip about dust storm whiteout in the desert

8. Don’t expect things to go 100% smoothly

Trust me, this will happen just like in default world wedding. Someone will get drunk and not going to make it, someone will get lost on the way to wedding ceremony location. Heck, I missed several Playa wedding myself. 
So, keep calm and keep smiling. Because all you really need is your significant other and your officiant.

groom is opening and spilling champagne bottle while bride is laughing

9. Invite your new friends to attend your wedding

While in Playa, you’ll meet new people, make new friends. Go ahead, plan your wedding for Thursday or Friday, and invite them all to your wedding ceremony. People love attending weddings in Playa!
Or just invite everybody.

man holding “just married” sign after the Burning Man wedding ceremony

10. Get creative. Dress up

If you could wear ANYTHING, (and by anything, I even mean you could arrive to your wedding ceremony naked), what would you wear? Seriously. Dress fucking up.

lesbian couple holing hands after wedding ceremony in Black Rock Desert, Nevada

11. Be yourself

No one is there to judge you. Nobody cares who you are. People who surround you are people who love you. The reality is, that there’s no better place to be true yourself, than Playa.

lesbian couple kissing after exchanging vows during Burning man wedding ceremony

12. Enjoy every little bit of it

No one is there to judge you. Do whatever the fuck you wanna do. Get weird, get freaky and have fun!

portrait of bride and groom after the wedding ceremony: Burning Man wedding tips

Thanks for reading!

Wisconsin river wedding: an extraordinary adventure of Midwesterner and Southerner

bride and groom are walking barefoot in the woods near Wisconsin river

a story about two amazing souls and their extraordinary Wisconsin river wedding

“You were recommended to us and we were told that you’re wedding photographer who loves weird and not normal. I knew right away you were just the right wedding photographer for my husband and me.” This was a first sentence from Laura’s very personal initial wedding photography inquiry she sent me. I was 100% ready to photograph Laura’s and Adrian’s wedding day without even talking to them first. That was the the exciting beginning.

Then I got to meet them in person. Laura- Southerner, an award-winning storyteller, actor, writer, and speaker. Adrian- Midwesterner, entrepreneur, co-founder of Yum Butter. Two amazing souls, full of life and love, building their own house with their own hands (one of my dreams) in Salida, CO. Seriously my kind of wedding couple.

“You were recommended to us and we were told that you’re wedding photographer who loves weird and not normal. I knew right away you were just the right wedding photographer for my husband and me.”

Laura Thomas

And then the wedding day came it turned out Laura lied- there was nothing weird about their wedding day at all. Just a extraordinary day filled with down-to-earth people, singing into deodorant stick, lots of bare feet, meaningful hugs, river shore slip-n-slide, talent show for the brave, breath taking outdoors views, great food buffet and Xena the dog that interrupted wedding ceremony twice. As a result Laura’s and Adrien’s wedding day was real and simple, yet amazing in every aspect.

Just like centuries ago, the tribe (closest friends and immediate family) got together and helped to make it all happen: make up, decorations, music, officiating, etc.

Laura and Adrian showed us once again: it’s not about how much you spend, but how you feel about it.

See full Laura’s and Adrian’s Wisconsin river wedding gallery on Paulius Musteikis Pixieset.

exterior of the AirBNB house in Dekorra, WI that Laura and Adrien rented for their Wisconsin river wedding broom and grooms father are helping groom’s mother with the dress bride is laughing with her bridesmaids while getting ready for the wedding ceremony family dog is observing people getting ready for the Wisconsin river wedding bride and her bridesmaid are dancing and singing into deodorant stick while getting ready for Wisconsin river wedding ceremony girl is looking for shade during Wisconsin river wedding ceremony bride and groom are kissing during the Wisconsin river wedding ceremony bride and groom are making funny faces while walking away after the Wisconsin river wedding ceremony bride and groom are making funny faces while walking away after the Wisconsin river wedding ceremonybride and groom surrounded by friends and immediate family are sharing their life stories mother of the groom laughing during the gathering in living room area grooms friend is giving blessing to the newlyweds bride, groom and groom’s parents are doing a group hug after the wedding ceremony black and white portrait of bride and groom in the woods near Wisconsin river bride and groom are hugging and smiling in the woods near Wisconsin river bride and groom are walking barefoot in the woods near Wisconsin river bride and groom are hugging and smiling in the woods near Wisconsin river bride is chatting and laughing with wedding guests after the dinner beautiful sunset in Dekorra near Wisconsin river

WISCONSIN RIVER WEDDING VENDORS:

Wedding Date: June 3, 2017
Wedding Location: Rental House on the Wisconsin river via AirBNB
Catering: Underground Butcher

What your wedding day is really about (or) professional wedding photographer’s advice to bride and groom

Bride in dressing room of Overture Center is having a private moment before the first look with groom

 

// professional wedding photographer’s advice to bride and groom

So I am at the recent wedding. Doing, you know, my thing- wedding photojournalism and stuff. I’m hanging out with the bride and her friends. Ladies are about to be done with getting ready. Emily and I are about to head out for the first look with Andrew (her future husband to be).

At one moment Emily looks me in the eye and says “I’m very nervous. I’m really really  nervous.”

I pause for a second. I look at Emily. I know I need to respond. What do I say?

“Well Emily…” I begin slowly…

__________

I often ask myself what it’s all about. You know, what wedding day is about? How people see it? I mean technically it’s a ceremony where two people or a couple are united in marriage. But what else?
Timeline? Shoes? Dancing? Friends and family? Tears? Laughter? Beautiful weather? Princess dress? Helluva amazing party? All the love in the world? 5 tier wedding cake? Bartender that makes best Old Fashioned in Midwest?

A nice mix of everything?

Does anybody ever think about a wedding day as just a day? Like just another day in life? Expensive one, but just another day. Not a day filled sugarcoated with fairy tales and princesses, but a day filled ordinary people. Imperfect ordinary people.

Wedding dress will get dirty. Sparkly sandals won’t be nearly as comfortable as initially anticipated. DJ will get drunk. Wedding pictures outside won’t happen because of rain. Best man will get into fight at the after party. Food will be served cold. Mother of the groom will turn into momzilla. Stressed out maid of honor will take too much Valium. Limo driver will get lost in downtown after football game traffic Armageddon.

And when imperfect real people will look back into their wedding day 5 years from now, they, hopefully, will laugh at all those small things that went wrong. Because it’s just life. And life happens. And it’s happening right now. And we’re breathing it in.

And we often get so obsessed about the destination that we forget to enjoy the journey. We discard those small little imperfections that happen to us we find along the way as a bad thing. And yet these imperfections, these small bumps in the road is what the journey is about.

So here’s my professional wedding photographer’s advice to bride and groom: Live in the moment. Take it all. Enjoy every little bit of it.

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So I look at Emily and give most honest yet (hopefully) comforting advice that I can give as a true wedding photojournalist: “Emily, there’s nothing wrong with being nervous. It’s an intense moment you’re about to experience. So it’s OK to be nervous. Heck, it’s event OK to be REALLY nervous. Who wouldn’t be nervous in this situation? I know you’ll be fine. I know you’ll get married today. So, enjoy the being nervous part. Enjoy every little uncomfortable moment of your wedding day. Because that’s how life is- an exciting journey filled with lot’s of uncomfortable, and yet amazing, moments. Now let’s go find the man and let’s get you two married.”

And off we go to find her man.

 

how Amy and Jason’s did it right: family backyard wedding madison wi

people are giving high-five after drinking alcohol shots out of the ski shot at the family backyard wedding Madison WI

Amy and Jason both been in the restaurant and food industry for well over a decade. Having spent so much time in the food industry they’ve made friends with incredibly talented people- bartenders, chefs and other service professionals. And when Jason proposal and when Amy said “Si Señor”, they knew right away they had themselves plus a pool of incredible people to draw from to help put their family backyard wedding Madison WI together.
However the fact that the couple managed to put a nice helping team for their DIY family farm wedding in rural Wisconsin didn’t mean Amy and Jason will sit back, relax and enjoy wedding preparation show. I knew these two for quite a few years now, and I knew how dedicated and restless and hard working they both are. It was clear from the very beginning that everybody will work hard, including Amy and Jason, to make that wedding day unique and awesome.
When I showed up at the hotel on their wedding day there were signs all over the room indicating all hard work while putting that wedding together. Jason was still wearing dirty clothing as he spent his morning at the family friend’s farm doing final wedding preparations. Amy was talking about all types of sausage they made (classic Wisconsin brat, spicy Andouille and a German Leberkäse) night before at their friend’s commercial kitchen.
Amy and Jason got married at the bottom of small hill under the big tree. Jason’s brother was the officiator. Wedding ceremony was nice, short and sprinkled with few smiles and few tears.
Real cheese cake made of variety of cheeses was the way to go for dessert. Somewhat unusual, but it really shouldn’t be. Wisconsin is America’s is dairyland after all.
Due to the fact that big percentage of guests were from food/restaurant industry and most of family folks seemed to be pretty straight forward party animals I had my own expectations for the reception part. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Booze helped people to celebrate life for many centuries. But add a ski shot that Brian and Grant from Death’s Door Spirits distillery brought along, and you got yourself another level of fun.
Dance floor at this family backyard wedding Madison WI was bouncing; people were enjoying fresh September night and outdoor garden illuminated by with candles, LED’s and torches.
Bottles were passed around on our way to after party in Maduro cigar bar later that night. We closed the bar, i walked them back to the hotel, and took pictures of them making out in the dark.
Amy and Jason they did their homework indeed. No slacking. No corner cutting. Everybody on Amy and Jason’ had on their team were dedicated in making this family backyard wedding Madison WI special. It was an exciting day for everybody.
See more pictures from this DIY family farm wedding here.

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getting ready in Madison Wisconsin Hilton hotel bride and groom rings in boxes friend of the bride is fixing bride's hair bridal party is ready in Hilton hotel Madison WI bride’s parents see bride on a wedding day Holton Monona Terrace hotel surroundings, tents and wedding vendors getting ready for outdoor wedding reception Guests lining up for an outdoor wedding ceremony groom cries while listening to wows during wedding ceremony in rural Wisconsin outside of Madisonplane passinbg by during wedding ceremony first kiss during outdoor wedding ceremony in rural Wisconsin outside of Madison guesta are laughing at the wedding reception in friends farm guests are doing ski shots sausage is being grilled for the outdoor wedding reception greens are being prepared chicken coop in farm's backtaard guests are laughing at the outdoor wedding reception in rural Wisconsin outside of Madison bride and groom standing in the field lit by the sunset during the golden hour guests are laughing at the outdoor wedding reception guests playing outdoor lawn games at dusk in friends and family farm during wedding reception bride’s and groom’s friends are helping in the mobile kitchen during wedding receptionfamily backyard wedding Madison WI outdoor garden setup and decorations at night time bride’s and groom’s friends are helping in the mobile kitchen during wedding reception guest has funny face while opening a bottle of whiskey bride and groom performing first dance during wedding reception in rural Wisconsin outside of Madisonwedding guests are hugging on the dance floor at the wedding reception in rural Wisconsin group of groom’s friends is performing a dance at the family backyard wedding Madison WI in rural Wisconsinfamily backyard wedding Madison WI guests sitting in garden refrigerator truck and ski shot in the darkwedding guests are hugging on the dance floor at the wedding reception in rural Wisconsin snacks are being passed for wedding guests before the departure drunk wedding guests dancing in the bus way back to Downtown Madison WI bride and groom are making out in the dark alley on their way to the hotel

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Le roi est mort, vive le roi!

a mockup of Paulius Musteikis portrait while wearing Queens and Hearts wedding photography partial logo

Today is a semi official day when Queens and Hearts went to the graveyard. 4 years into its existence , website’s heart beat stopped and heart rate monitor went continuous “Beep-beeep-beep-beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep”.
It all feels weird, scary and exciting at the same time. And particularly because I am doing it all intentionally.
I had quite a few buddies and other wedding photographers asking the same question: “Why?”. And my answer to them was: “Because life is too short not to be who you really are.”
Because the end of one journey means a fresh new start to another. Because it’s time for new challenges, new friendships and new adventures. I have no idea how this chapter in my life will go, but I’m fucking stoked about it!
I say “Cheers!” to my all previous clients, colleagues and friends who were on board with me for the last 4 years. I am very much thankful to have you all. I am honored for all your trust. I am honored for all intimate moments you’ve let me be around. I couldn’t be where I am without you all!
And now the new chapter.
I say “Let’s do it!”.
The King is dead, long live The King!

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Paulius Musteikis portrait and an announcement about Queens and Hearts wedding photography website being rebranded and replaced by Paulius Musteikis Weddingsphoto by Jurgis S.