Garberville, California Wedding – Vanessa and Lempe

Vanessa met Lempe while studying on a semester abroad in Senegal. After many late nights up drinking tea and Lempe fielding Vanessa’s endless questions, the two started dating. Their road wasn’t easy because she had to go back to the U.S. in a few months. It was 3 years before she made it back to Senegal and then only for 4 months. The next trip though, they married in Senegal! 3 years later they are back living in California together. When I got an email from Vanessa telling me that they were planning a California wedding and that she’d been hoping I’d photograph her wedding ever since I photographed her friend Caitlin’s wedding 2 years prior, I was so excited. Knowing that someone really connects with me and my work makes documenting their special time that much more precious. Plus I adored her when I met her.

The wedding was held at Vanessa’s family’s property in the gorgeous Redwood country of Garberville, California, an area with so much meaning to them. Her father spent the most part of the year lovingly preparing their land and garden for the festivities. They had to wait to lock in a date until her brother knew he would be able to get leave from the army. He also officiated their wedding. A toast given by Vanessa’s mom in the Pig Latin type language that Vanessa used to speak with her friends was a hilarious highlight.

Lempe’s father was the only family member that was able to make the long trip from Senegal. He is a police officer back home and speaks Senegalese and French. In the slideshow below there is a shot of Vanessa translating his speech for him, and Lempe’s reaction to follow. Since he is Muslim, Lempe’s father doesn’t drink alcohol. I love the shot of Scott (Caitlin’s husband) secretly handing Lempe a flask so he could sneak some wedding day booze without his father noticing.

One more great tidbit, their dress requirement was to add an element of flair!

Vanessa was so sweet to send me a great Zouk song to go with the slideshow and the love poem read at their ceremony which follows.

It’s best to let the slideshow load before watching it.

Love by Roy Croft


I love you


Not only for what you are,


But for what I am

When I am with you.


I love you,


Not only for what

You have made of yourself,


But for what

You are making of me.


I love you

For the part of me

That you bring out;


I love you

For putting your hand

Into my heaped-up heart


And passing over

All the foolish, weak things

That you can’t help
Dimly seeing there,


And for drawing out

Into the light

All the beautiful belongings


That no one else had looked

Quite far enough to find


I love you because you

Are helping me to make

Of the lumber of my life

Not a tavern

But a temple.


Out of the works

Of my every day

Not a reproach

But a song.


I love you

Because you have done

More than any creed

Could have done

To make me good.


And more than any fate

Could have done

To make me happy.


You have done it

Without a touch,


Without a word,


Without a sign.


You have done it

By being yourself.

Felicitations Vanessa and Lempe!