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!