Epic Hotel Weddings

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] have had several Epic Hotel Weddings in past years, weather it be for the getting ready room alone or for the entire wedding / reception.  In fact, about this same time last year I shot Aly & Mark’s wedding at the Epic Hotel where they had everything take place there, and was an incredible time.  But, today is extra special in the sense that we get to also goto Jungle Island!

My clients Laura & Evan have a love affair with anything animals, and are extremely fun loving people.  Having the mix of some images taken from the more “polished” Epic Hotel, and then the ceremony and reception over at the Tree Top Ballroom at Jungle Island made for a very diverse set of images that really seem to reflect who they are.

Speaking of who they are… Evan met Laura one night when he was hosting team trivia at a local bar.  Laura, had a few friends who liked to play regularly and it was just a matter of time until she decided to join them in the fun.  Evan knew some of Laura’s friends and after trivia that night.. invited everyone out for some karaoke!  (see what I mean, fun loving people!)  Evan claims today that after hearing Laura sing he was hooked.  Somehow (and that maybe true), but I am betting on that after he saw her sing.. he was hooked 😉  Numbers were exchanged, and sure enough the tiger had Laura as his date the following weekend at a “Gatsby” themed party.  (seriously need to hang out with these people!).  From that “date” they became inseparable, and dated for a year.. and.. then…

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]With a ring now burring a hole in his pocket, Evan had constructed a beautiful plan to ask for Laura’s hand in marriage.[/perfectpullquote]

The surprise proposal was set to take place one evening at “City Hall” (which is a restaurant), and actually hired the local band “The French Horn” that they both were big fan’s of (and ended up playing at the wedding as well) to come, and do a sort of “flash serenade” while they were waiting to order dessert.  All of the sudden, a trumpet started playing upstairs… and then… another one joined in with the violin downstairs…. then a third with the bass, and then they all approached their table and like a scene out of a movie Evan got down on one knee, looked into Laura’s eyes, pulled out his ring and asked her to be his wife.  So beautiful. 🙂   AND.. if that was not enough.. Evan (take notes guys), collaborated all of this with Laura’s boss and got her the following day off from work, and took her to the spa to relax and unwind!  My god.  I hope my wife does not read this LOL.

Laura, Evan… you guys.  LOL.  When I met with you both about a year and a half now ago, and we sat and talked about your wedding plans… I knew that it was going to be a fun time, and I remember telling my wife “I hope they go with me”, as I truly was so excited to learn more about you and have fun.  I always seem to have a good time at weddings, I look at them as an “adventure” and like how no one wedding is ever the same.  Your wedding felt like one big celebration that started from the second I opened the hotel room with the girls getting ready.. and it just kept ramping up all day long.  I had such a great time with you both, and I truly enjoyed getting to know your families and friends.  Evan, your a rock star.  When I saw you out on the dance floor, and even cutting the cake.. all I could think about is how much you remind me of some famous rock star!  Laura, so beautiful and easy going.. it’s no wonder why the two of you work so well together.  Your mom too, such a sweet person 🙂  Thank you both so much for having us at your wedding, I loved every second!

God bless you both, and have a very wonderful Thanksgiving!


First, speaking of “Epic Hotel Weddings” check out this behind the scenes video of yours truly in action while I captured some of the key shots of Laura, mom, and the girls on the wedding day.  This is a great window into what actually takes place on a wedding day, and gives you the best experience by far!

Epic-Hotel-Weddings-002So, when I did walk into the getting ready room at the Epic Hotel.. I noticed things were going to be on the tight side in terms of space, girls, hair / makeup etc.. and I wanted to take this opportunity to try and get a creative shot of the dress while Laura finished getting ready.  So, we took the dress to the 14th floor where the ballrooms are, and I saw this composition.  I used a static light source to match the ambient, set my camera on the floor and within a few test shots got this image above.Epic-Hotel-Weddings-001Now, back in the hotel room I knew that I needed to get another shot (closer) of the dress.. and to spite me thinking (and knowing) that “dress shots” always look best when on the bride.. I still take some static shots like this one (above).  It’s nice, as Laura had the custom hanger made with the last name.  At the same time, I took some shots of the other accessories (above, right).  I do want to point out.. that I have not invested too much time shooting crazy with the “details” as I fully intend shooting them on Laura,  which I even comment on during the behind the scenes video.  Some things like ear rings, bracelet, hair piece etc.. all looks so much better (subjective opinion), but whats factual is that the images of the details on Laura will have more meaning to her as time moves on vs. the static shots of the same items sitting on a table top.  Publications love the static items as it kinda sets the tone for the wedding day, and arguably it does look good here in a blog post.  However, when it comes to an album my bet is that the “detail” images that have Laura in them are going to be the winners 🙂Epic-Hotel-Weddings-003I opened my behind the scenes video with this shot (above), and it was SO much fun!  If you watch the video to the very end there is a little “blooper” that really paints the picture on what I was doing, saying, etc.  The bottom line, is I gotta have fun with all that I do.  I truly do.  I have fun at my weddings, and it’s not just apart of me, but it’s apart of my entire workflow that leads to the type of results that I get.Epic-Hotel-Weddings-005Here we are with the makeup done.  I love the “roller” shots like this, and any excuse to get another image of Laura in that beautiful robe.  I loved the colors here, and wanted to use the grey backdrop to create that “contrast”.  A huge shout out goes to “Just Naivi” for having ALL of the girls done, and ready on time.  Which is no joke, this is a very important part of the day and I have spoken about this at length throughout my site.Epic-Hotel-Weddings-004Here is Laura’s mom.  So pretty :-).  So, as you can see on the video.. she was one of the first ones done.. and I actually helped with the hair and makeup planning as apart of my timeline for photography, as we knew that mom would be one of the ones helping Laura into the wedding dress.  She was just sitting there being quite.. and I saw the opportunity to get a nice portrait of her.  You can see in the video, how I moved the chairs, got her to sit on the edge of the couch for better lighting and then within 20 seconds got this shot of her.Epic-Hotel-Weddings-006I’m not going to lie.. getting shots like this one (above) and the one (below) are not as easy as you think.  The video shows me directing all of this (well to a point), basically I had them in good light near the window.. and I myself had to shoot this from standing outside of the room LOL.  Once the “technical” part was dialed in, I then just needed to “get the shot’.  I was looking for interaction, and moments that would appear “candid”.  I often hear clients, people etc.. say “well, we don’t like posed shots.. we like just natural, candid shots”.  Whats ironic, is that by looking at the shots here.. you would guess that this was one of those moments.  Would’t you?  Well.. yes and no.  If you watch the behind the scenes video you will see that this is all apart of my design, and “vision”.  First, none of the girls where just standing there.. I had to bring them over, and place them to fill the frame.  Then, I have Laura looking into the light.. and am laughing back and forth with all the other girls to keep the energy going long enough to capture something that looks genuine.  I would love nothing more then to sit back, and snap “candid / un-directed” shots all day.. unfortunately weddings don’t work that way (except for the ceremony of course), so if this is the “look” and feel you want.. you need to hire a photographer that is good at manufacturing shots to look candid, and knows how to get that type of content in the camera.Epic-Hotel-Weddings-007Epic-Hotel-Weddings-008I had mom help with the putting on of the bracelet.  There were other frames of this, some that showed more of the “bracelet” however, here the look that they gave each other is just perfect.. Epic-Hotel-Weddings-013Epic-Hotel-Weddings-014The Epic Hotel was so kind.. they actually sent up a bottle of champaign for Laura!  Had to get this toast shot!Epic-Hotel-Weddings-009So, here (above) are the images of some of the details I was speaking about.  I grouped them smaller here on the blog as they all kinda speak as “one” all together.  Images like this are great for the album, and can really make a spread look incredible and more to the point.. meaningful.Epic-Hotel-Weddings-010Now… now, I get a few moments of styled shots 🙂  Very quickly, and with some hesitation due to the weather Laura came out with me out on the balcony at the Epic Hotel.  The behind the scenes video at the top of the blog post is really the best way to experience this…Epic-Hotel-Weddings-041When I stepped out on the balcony, I knew instantly that I wanted to capture some of her in the reflection.  This, dictated where she needed to stand and where my vantage point should be coming from.  I did some of her looking away, looking at me, and some looking down.  All were beautiful!Epic-Hotel-Weddings-012For this one (above), I decided to get her very close to the glass to “amplify” the mirror effect.  I placed her in the pose, and at the last second (see video) had her tilt in her head to complete the composition.Epic-Hotel-Weddings-015Here (above) we have Evan and the guys.  They did not get ready at the hotel, and is why there was no “groom coverage”, but they did meet with me for a few moments for this shot of all the guys and Evan’s wonderfully behaved dog.. who.. was in fact the ring bearer! Epic-Hotel-Weddings-019The ceremony at Jungle Island was actually set to be outside.  But, it was pouring rain.. so the backup plan was another ball room.  Which.. was very good!  It worked out well, and no one got wet.  Here (above) you can see Evan very excited as he knows Laura is just moments way.. Epic-Hotel-Weddings-016Laura with her dad making the entrance… pouring rain behind them.  Actually, kinda romantic in a way!Epic-Hotel-Weddings-021I bet that’s how Evan looked when he saw Laura for the first time at that bar…  LOL.Epic-Hotel-Weddings-020So pretty.  I loved the colors, and Laura’s flowers were provided by “Lazarus FlowersEpic-Hotel-Weddings-022Epic-Hotel-Weddings-023Here are some nice, actual “candid” moments of the Maid of Honor (above, left) and of course Evan and Laura looking at each other like they don’t have a care in the world.  I’ll tell ya.. her Maid Of Honer was so funny.  I don’t know if you caught it or not in the video.. when I was setting up the first shot she said “So, you do this for a living”.  LOL, I loved her personality and all day it was like that.. she was great!Epic-Hotel-Weddings-024Epic-Hotel-Weddings-025Epic-Hotel-Weddings-026Bring on the animals!  After all we are at Jungle Island.  There are other shots too, but I just really like the expressions on this one (above).Epic-Hotel-Weddings-017I captured this one right after the ceremony, during cocktail hour.  I saw that wall that looks like a giraffe, and setup my lighting to get a dramatic shot of them.  With my personality it was easy to feed, and provoke them to get a reaction like this 😉 Epic-Hotel-Weddings-027Remember that local band that Evan hired for the proposal?  Well.. here they are (above).  “The French Horn“.  They were playing at cocktail.. and while I never have a chance to shoot anything at cocktail hour on the wedding day, I wanted to be sure to at least capture this!  😉Epic-Hotel-Weddings-028Epic-Hotel-Weddings-029This wedding’s decore is right in time for Thanksgiving!  So nice, warm, and in season.  Leyani Linens did a great job!  and that cake was provided by Ana Paz.Epic-Hotel-Weddings-030Check this out.. for the daughter / father dance… it started out nice, and slow and seemed very predicable.. and then, all of the sudden the music changed over to some fast paced beats and they broke it down!  Epic-Hotel-Weddings-031Epic-Hotel-Weddings-032Epic-Hotel-Weddings-034Evan with his mom 🙂Epic-Hotel-Weddings-035Epic-Hotel-Weddings-036Epic-Hotel-Weddings-037These few images of them with the cake are so funny.  They way they danced around the cake, and teased each other was incredible.  They have some moves!  Rock Star!Epic-Hotel-Weddings-038Epic-Hotel-Weddings-039Epic-Hotel-Weddings-040Epic-Hotel-Weddings-018I signed off the night with this shot out on the balcony at Jungle Island, looking back towards the Miami skyline 🙂  That reflection is one of the “high top” tables left over from cocktail hour!


Many thanks to all of the amazing vendors who made this wedding come to life…

Venue: Epic Hotel / Jungle Island / Tree Top Ball Room

Wedding Dress by: Rosa Clará

Floral: Lazarus Flowers

Hair / MUA: “Just Naivi

Cake: Ana Paz

Linen: Leyani Linens

DJ: Redefine Productions (DJ Krys)

Photo: Travis Harris