Friday, February 24, 2017

Live Life, Celebrate Life

This past weekend I was given the opportunity to photograph a beautiful Engagement Party for some vey close family friends that I so love and adore. We have been friends since I was a kid. In fact I babysat the soon to be groom and his brother when they were kids. Not only that but once I showed up at this event I felt right at home. Many of you know that I come from a big Italian Family. You may see a lot of photos on my Facebook or Instagram of my family because my immediate family is all I have in AZ. I never grew up with cousins or distant relatives. I have one Uncle that lives in Arizona who is the coolest guy you will ever meet and sing just like Frank Sinatra. I had one set of Grandparents on my mothers side who lived in Arizona as well. My grandfather passed when I was in Jr. High and my grandmother passed when I was in college. Eventually my other set of Grandparents on my father side moved to Arizona and I was able to spend many precious years with them too before they passed. Originally with family being from Italy most of our family migrated primarily to the Chicago, IL area and to Canada. Thankfully my mom worked for the airlines so growing up we traveled a lot. My sisters and I LOVED Summer vacations. It never failed the night before a big trip us sisters wouldn’t be able to sleep because we were so excited to go see family. When we returned home from our trips my parents would hear endless cries that were more like sobbing as if we were mourning a death. OH BOY! Did we ever pile on every kind of guilt trip you could imagine as to why we had to leave and why, OH WHY, Did you make us grow up in Arizona??!! Oh goodness it was awful. Just thinking about it I have to say I’m so sorry mom and dad. But I know my sisters would probably say “nope we aren’t sorry," LOL! We still have our moments trust me. Just last week my sisters and I were talking about our childhood memories visiting family and no joke we were all in tears. 

But somehow, someway my parents made a way to integrate the Italian culture even though we were FAR from it living it the sunny state of AZ. We attended lots of Italians gatherings and had a lot of friends we called Aunts and Uncles and their family we would call our family. If you know anything about the Italian culture you know we do everything BIG! The food is a BIG, our music is a BIG, the memories we create are a BIG, which makes our celebrations VERY BIG, which then leads to the LOVE we feel, express and give is VERY BIG too. To people we might sound like we are yelling at each other but all that is, is the passion we have to LOVE so BIG that we just can't help but to yell and sometimes YES when there is a disagreement that breaks out you better believe there is some REAL YELLING going on too, haha! There is no shame in hiding or expressing our feelings. 

Every culture has something we gotta work on right, haha!    

I say all this to express the joy I felt attending and capturing this beautiful engagement party. It felt like home to me, the minute I walked through the doors people I didn't even know were greeting me with hugs and kisses and even the soon to be Brides Nonna starts speaking to me in Italian. I would just smile and node my head just the way I used to do with my grandmother and what was so great is she even did what my grandmother used to do, she would grab my face and think the world of me too, lol! I left with my heart filled to the max and the minute I walked out of those doors I called my mom and went straight to my parents house to give them a hug. I know family is something not everybody has nor do you stay on good terms with. Trust me we have plenty of that in our family too. But can I just say no matter who you call family make time to hold them close. If you have kids teach them the essence of what Family looks like and teach them to celebrate life, food, people and culture in a healthy and beautiful way. It may be foreign to you or it may be very close to you. Either way I encourage you to discover it and create it today. We can all learn from each others ways and see culture and diversity as a beautiful thing. So, today I am happy to share my beautiful culture with you along with some very beautiful people that have worked so hard to be where they are today. 

Meet Evan and Erika, they have been dating each other for nine years. Over Christmas Break Evan propose to Erika in the beautiful Napa Valley, CA.
Evan Graduated from ASU with a four year degree in Criminal Justice with moving onto one year in the Police Academy. Erika has a Masters in Speech Pathology from ASU, and studied abroad three different summers in Italy. To see their family and friends come along side them, support them and now celebrate them was a very beautiful thing to witness.
All the food and pastries you see was all made from scratch even down to the herbs and lemons straight from the backyard and much much more. I shot over 500+ images and somehow narrowed it down to 230+ but here on the blog I am sharing as many as I can with you. This celebration was one to remember and I hope as you look through these pictures you are inspired to celebrate life, share life and create one beautiful life to live. 

Thank you Brenda for this wonderful opportunity to allow me to capture a very special moment in your family's life. Evan and Erika I will always and forever remember this beautiful celebration. What a beautiful life you have ahead of you. Wishing you the very best.  
And Nonna thanks for making snagging me away to capture this sweet moment with you. I felt my grandparents smiling down at me this evening and it felt like home.  


  1. Soo incredibly beautiful!!! Looks like a spread from a luxury magazine! So incredibly happy for this amazing family. And great job on telling their story through your lovely words and stunning photos!

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    2. Kristin thank you so much! The spread was amazing and the camaraderie of people was so beautiful. It was an easy event to photograph that's for sure. I appreciate you taking time to read my blog, thank you, love you my friend.

  2. Thank you for your beautiful pictures, I was able to enjoy the party from afar. I am good friends with one of the soon to be Brides cousins, and I had the pleasure of visiting the Besthoff family a couple of years ago and I too felt like you felt...and there was not even a big party like this! I felt as if I walked into my family's home. They embraced my son and I as if we knew each other a lifetime. Amazing family! Being Greek myself, you reminded me of my family with some of the things you wrote above...the loud talking, the food, the music, haha!! We always say, "Una Fazza, una Razza", right? :)

    1. I am so happy you were able to enjoy the blog and all the pictures. I agree such an amazing family. I love that sang so much "Una Fazza, Ina Razza" that's right! Greek and Italians have SO much in common. Such a beautiful culture. I'm looking so forward to visiting Europe one day to appreciate it all even more. Thank you so much for taking time to read my blog. I am so glad you were touched by it.