The evening before Jenny & Ethan’s wedding day, their close friends and family gathered at the bride’s parent’s house in Bozeman for their rehearsal dinner. The calm Montana evening in early Fall did not disappoint. The sun settled into a fantastic sunset over the Bridger Mountains where their out of town guest snapped photos and soaked up the Montana lifestyle. Rehearsal dinners are great to photograph. Often it’s the first time many of the guests get to see the wedding couple and the atmosphere tends to be more laid back prior to the main event. These two had me come out and document it all. Here are some of my favorite images from their rehearsal dinner. Also, be sure to check out their wedding photos here. I had a great time. Congrats to the newlyweds! -Mike

I returned to the rocky mountains of Colorado a couple weeks ago to document the wedding weekend of Ali and Drausin in Vail, Colorado. It was a wonderful crossroad of my past and my future. Ali, has been a buddy of mine for years now. Back in college, while my journalism peers were seeking out newspaper internships, I opted instead to work two summers as a summer camp counselor at Cheley Colorado Camps. Ali was a campfire counselor at the adjacent girls camp. It was a job that paid pennies but rewarded you with an entire summer exploration of the surrounding mountains while sharing your passions, skills and goofiness with great outdoorsy kids. It’s amazing how certain places in your life really leave an impact on you. My two summers in Estes Park, Colorado and the people I met there, like Ali, played a big role in making me a better person. Besides helping to shape me on my path, the experience gave fruit to really great friendships. I was lucky to keep in touch with her.

When Drausin and her emailed me about photographing their wedding rehearsal and wedding day back in the mountains stomping grounds of my earlier youth, I was stoked. I love mountain weddings! The soon to be newly weds decided to have a causal relaxing rehearsal “dinner” at the base of the Vail ski mountain at the Manor Vail Lodge. It was quite the place. Instead of a formal sit down dinner, they had a tapas style buffet and a bar which worked out really well. It allowed everyone to go at their own pace and socialize.

They also spread out the toasts throughout the evening rather than one right after the other. It gave each speaker a chance to really express themselves without feeling rushed. It was so special to listen to the incredibly eloquent speeches from friends and family in such a warm (and green!) setting. There is a lot of love and support for these two newlyweds. Here are some of my favorite images from the evening. I’m hard at work finishing the wedding photos. So excited to show you all. It was quite the weekend. Stay tuned… -M

To see the entire rehearsal dinner photo shoot click here.

About a week ago, I left the mountains of Montana to head over to Sonoma, California to photograph the long awaited wedding weekend of Molly and Brian. Back in mid May, I made the same journey to photograph their engagement session. Sonoma is a truly beautiful place. This time of year the famous grapevines are starting to bear their fruit and the surrounding valleys are covered in multi-layered shades of green. Molly and Brian live in Chicago, Illinois, not far from my old stomping grounds of my youth. Rather than soak in the midwest humidity, they decided to have their wedding out west and bring out all of their friends and family out to California for their big day. I met up with them Friday evening at the famous El Dorado Kitchen Restaurant in the heart of downtown Sonoma for their rehearsal dinner with close friends and family members. Here are some of my favorites from the evening. I’ve been busy working on all of their wedding day photos and will post them soon. More goodness to come. -M

To view all of the images from Molly and Brian’s Rehearsal Dinner at El Dorado Kitchen Restaurant go here.

I love shooting the weddings of friends especially one’s I haven’t seen in a while. Last weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to Denver, Colorado to photograph the wedding of an old high school friend Erin who was tying the knot with her college sweetheart Ryan. The two hired me for a full weekend coverage starting with their wedding rehearsal dinner at the beautiful Wine Experience Café & World Cellar in the southeast corner of Aurora, Colorado part of the greater Denver area. I flew out to Denver Friday morning from Sacramento and arrived mid afternoon in the mile high city. Being back Colorado, I had forgotten how much I missed it. While in college, I worked a couple summers at a outdoor summer camp in Estes Park, CO where I quickly fell in love with the front range of the Rocky Mountains. I had not been back much since and was looking forward to a return. Erin and Ryan had met years earlier while attending undergrad studying Marketing at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado and the two now live and work in Palo Alto, California – Erin at Facebook and Ryan for the AGC of California.  Sharing the same love for Colorado as I do, they decided to have their wedding there where they would be closer to family and friends not to mention having a stunning mountain backdrop for their wedding weekend.

Erin and Ryan wanted their rehearsal dinner to be a relaxed evening event before their big day. They brought their wedding guests to the Wine Experience Café & World Cellar for a wine tasting and light dinner hosted by family friends and owners Rita and Eldon Larson. It was a photographer’s dream location. The cafe had a huge large windows that cast a beautiful soft window light across all of the guests, both local and from out of town, as they wined and dined with smiles on their faces. You could feel the excitement from everyone in anticipation of the wedding the next day. One of the things I’ve been seeing a lot at weddings I’ve photographed this wedding season is couples opting for small samples of many different types of foods served in a tapas style format. I like it because it turns the meal experience into an adventure where guest can really get a feel for the food artistry of the chef. It’s a pretty cool concept and the best part is if there is something someone doesn’t like (a rarity) they know they have more delicious samples on deck. The guests (and the lucky photographer) were served in rounds based off the wine that was being served at the time. As people were starting to trickle in, an assortment of small flavorful dishes like Asian Seared Ahi Tuna paired with a San Quirico Vernaccia di San Gimignano or a Tenderloin Bruschetta with horse radish cream paired with a Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvee wine were served as a starter. As we moved into the seated meal, the food changed course and started with a Apple Spinach Salad or Calamari served in a tempura style with jalapenos and french green beans that was then paired with a Sparr Dry Riesling or an Emyael Off Dry Riesling. As the night progressed onward, the main entree’s were served. It was an assortment of awesomeness. Guests had their choice of Seared Sea Scallops paired with a Chateau Ste. Michelle Horse Heaven Sauvignon Blanc, Wild Boar Fettuccini with sauteed mushrooms paired with an Arrowood Chardonnay, a Filet Mignon with garlic mash potatoes paired with a Luigi Bosca DOC Malbec (a personal favorite), or Pan Seared Chicken Breast with smoked ham and broccolini risotto paired with Century Oak Cabernet Sauvignon. In all it was a really nice evening filled with fine wines, good food and great conversation between friends and family. It was a meal memory won’t soon forget.

These are some of my favorite photographs from their rehearsal dinner. You can view and purchase all of the photos from the evening here. Now onto editing down and toning close to 6000 images I made from the wedding day. I have my work cut out for me. So many great images to choose from. I’ll post them as soon as I finish. Until then, -M