Photos by Andrew Scalini
I arrived at Amanda’s bridal suite in the Embassy Suites just in time to join ace photographer Andrew Scalini in capturing some great shots of Amanda getting into her gorgeous, slender gown and later poignantly greeting her ailing mother, who had been too sick to attend some of Amanda’s previous milestone events but wasn’t going to miss this one for the world. I also caught Shaun holed up in the adjacent suite’s bathroom memorizing his vows. The ceremony took place right next door in the grand Indiana Roof Ballroom, which was beautifully adorned by Our Backyard Flowers. A long aisle of floating candles (wish I knew the terminology) greeted the guests and made an amazing entrance for the bridal party. The couple exchanged their beautifully-written and emotional vows under a huge, leafy arch with lots of little candles hanging over their heads.

This arch later made a great addition to what is already one of the most stunning entrances in the city as guests re-entered the ballroom for the reception after cocktails. The couple was introduced following the Roof’s signature thunder and lightning show, and Greg Imboden’s Indy Express Band contributed plenty of class and brass to the dinner and dancing music for the remainder of the evening. All of these festivities took place under the watchful eye of consultant Leslie Jones (thanks for another great referral, Leslie!) and her awesome assistant Marjan, who took the reins for this event like a seasoned pro and clearly shared Leslie’s knack for pampering the bride while keeping everything on schedule.

Anytime I book a Hindu wedding, I know I’m in for an unforgettable experience, and Sajal & Shash’s wedding was no exception. I joined the festivities on Friday at their party at the Knights of Columbus, where Sajal showed off the most intricate henna tattoos on her hands and feet that I’d ever seen. Once Shash arrived, the drumming and dancing started and rarely let up for the rest of the evening. I’ve never really liked Indian food, but the food that I sampled there was quite good and sold me on trying more in the future. My favorite part of the night was a traditional dance that involved two revolving lines of people hitting each other’s “sticks.” (I’m not going to pretend to remember any of the formal names for these events.)

Then on Saturday morning, Shash (on a horse) and company lined up at the east end of the Oak Hill Mansion’s parking lot and slowly danced and paraded towards the front door, where Shash was greeted by Sajal’s parents. Then the 300-plus guests worked their way into the ballroom for a casually paced ceremony during which many beautiful traditions were observed, the guests freely mingled, and no one seemed to mind me and photographer K.C. Ferrill hanging around in front of the stage to capture the formalities. The room was fabulously decorated by Sonali Patel of Dulhani (her first job, amazingly!) with floral help from Julie Acheson of Royal Creations. Laurie videotaped the reception festivities there that evening, which included some funny speeches, plenty of surprises, and a LOT of colorful and spirited dancing.

Photo by Angela Talley

I was excited when consultant Tonya Shadoan of Circle City Planners first contacted me about flying me out to Seattle to cover Amanda & Doug’s 8/3/07 wedding in Seattle, but bummed that the couple opted to hire someone local instead. I guess I can’t expect to tag along on ALL of Tonya’s destination weddings, but it would have been a blast to work again with Seattle transplant Tania Shepherd (formerly of Studio E Photography here in Indy), let alone on a boat in front of the Seattle skyline!

I was delighted, however, to have the opportunity to cover the couple’s reception last night at the Mavris Arts & Event Center, where I had also worked only six days earlier. Tonya had the venue decked out fabulously with a huge bar in the middle of the room and English daisy accents everywhere – most notably on the yummy cupcakes. Mary Beth Poe of MBP Catering added a fiesta flair with several Mexican food buffet stations, my favorites of which were the fajita bar and fried ice cream station. Photographer Angela Talley and I had our usual great time gabbing in between grabbing shots of the couple and their guests, and it was a pleasant surprise to see the band etc. again after working with them just last weekend.

I had been looking forward to covering Kelly & Tim’s wedding for quite a while, since they were one of the first couples to book us for 2007, and since they were planning to do a first dance fake out similar to Kevin & Jill’s, which they first saw on this blog. The day was every bit as hot as advertised, but even without air conditioning, the ceremony at Holy Cross Parish was a beautiful affair enjoyed by their 250 guests. Afterwards, we all snuck onto the railroad tracks outside the Mavris Arts & Event Center for some cool photos in front of the downtown skyline with super photographer and friend Jessica Strickland (who referred the couple to me – thanks, Jess!).

The reception inside the Mavris was a welcome reprieve from the heat, and the artsy loft atmosphere added the perfect ambiance to the couple’s colorful decor. My favorite touch was the monogrammed decals on all the doors, a simple but effective way for Kelly & Tim to put their own personal stamp on the venue. The first dance surprise was a hit set the tone for rest the evening, and Dave & Rae had no problem maintaining that energy among the lively crowd for the rest of the night. Consultant Carlie Oakley did a great job throughout the day staying a step ahead of everyone, and I’m looking forward to watching her run the show at many more events. My only regret was having to leave before this fellow IU couple had breadsticks from Pizza Express delivered. I’ve been craving them ever since!

Anytime consultant Leslie Jones refers a wedding to us (thanks, Leslie!), I know we’re in for an adventure together, and Sara & Michael’s big weekend was no different. The fun started a day earlier, as Michael’s family hired us to cover the rehearsal dinner at the gorgeous Eiteljorg Museum. One comment that I kept hearing throughout the evening was that this event was being given the level of attention normally reserved for a reception, and my good friend Sarah Bean and her staff pulled it all off beautifully. The crowd enjoyed the video slideshow I put together, the speeches were plentiful but concise and often hilarious, and the huge tub of ice cream had to rank among the best dessert experiences ever. (Haagen Dazs, Ben & Jerry’s or Handel’s Pops? I had to sample all three in order to decide!)

Laurie covered most of the events on the wedding day, including a beautiful ketubah-signing ceremony prior to the couple’s traditional Jewish ceremony under a lovely chuppah at the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. The reception marked our fourth trip to the posh Conrad Hotel this year, where Leslie (with much help from her awesome assistant Marjan) took an already magnificent ballroom to a whole new level with her unerring sense of style. I wish I could describe the scene, but let’s just say that the band etc. had a backdrop that they just had to LOVE playing in front of. I stopped by late to say “hi” to Laurie, Leslie, Marjan, the Conrad’s Liz Mok and photographer Hether Miles, only to be hired on the spot to cover the swanky after-party outside the ballroom until 1 a.m. This group sure knows how to throw a party!

Jennifer Montoya of Majestic Events called me today to share the sad news of the sudden passing of a mutual former client, Ryan Holmes. Along with consultant Deanna Boyce of Eventfull Planning and photographer Angela Talley, I covered his and Stephanie’s beautiful wedding and reception three years ago at the Columbia Club.

It remains one of the most memorable events for all of us that still seems to come up often in conversation, but Ryan really made the biggest impression on me the night before at the rehearsal dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery. It was there during the speeches that it became clear what a special person he was, and how much he truly cherished his family, especially his mother who had passed away earlier. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and it says a lot that that particular memory is more salient to me today than the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl that took place on the big-screens later that night.

It will be with a heavy heart that I will be working with Ryan’s family over the next few days to create a photo presentation for his memorial service at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. I thought this was the least I could do for someone who, like all former clients, will always be part of the IndyVisual “family.” All of my heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to Stephanie, their new baby, Ryan’s dad and the rest of their family. Here’s an Indianapolis Star article with more information about his passing.

UPDATE (8/9/07): Wow. Although I can’t begin to fathom what the Holmes and Grumbacher families are going through, it was inspirational to arrive at our huge church and see a full parking lot and endless line of visitors weaving back and forth in the narthex waiting to pay their respects. It’s a testament to how many people’s lives Ryan has touched over his 34 years. It also makes me want to live my life in a way that I can touch so many people by the time I move on…