Chante and Dustin’s wedding was a very special wedding for me to photograph because we are family. Dustin is a third cousin and, interestingly, we had never met until last 4th of July. In fact, I personally had never met any of his side of the family that call themselves “the Yavasiles” until a weekend get-away up to Visalia, California about two months before my meeting Dustin and Chante. You will notice that their last name is very similar to mine: just replace the “Y” with an “I” and that’s the difference. My understanding is that Dustin’s grandfather, my grandfather’s youngest brother, decided to change the spelling of his last name so that it would retain the original italian pronunciation “ya” instead of the confusing “ia” that my last name still retains. I have to admit, I like that! Somehow, my last name has morphed into “eye-va-sil” which just confuses everyone when they see that “a” after the letter “i” which for some reason goes silent! I also like the “Y” because it is one of those letters that can’t easily get mistaken for some other letter. I personally have suffered all my life with people mispelling my name by making the first letter “I” into a “J” or more recently, thinking it’s a lower case “L”.
Anyway, Dustin and his family are from Visalia, which is thousands of miles away from my hometown of Livonia, Michigan. Until about a year ago, he and his family were those curious relatives that had the same last name as me, but just spelled it differently! Ironically, the weekend I drove up to meet my parents (who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary) at Dustin’s grandmother’s home in Visalia last May, they had posted photos on Facebook showing that they had become engaged! By the end of my weekend, thrilled that I had connected with this family that I had only heard of all my life, I offered to photograph the wedding. Thankfully Dustin and Chante accepted, and I can honestly say that photographing their wedding was a joy and an honor that I will never forget! Not only was I able to photograph a terrific and heartfelt wedding, perfect for my style of documentary photography, but I am certain that the opportunity cemented our relationship as family. Now that I live on the west coast, having more family out here means everything to me! It was also such a tremendous pleasure to be able to photograph an event that was very meaningful to my own parents and to have them their in my midst.
The day began at the Visalia Marriott at the Convention Center where I was able to bounce between rooms to catch all the action: Chante and her bridesmaids getting their hair and makeup done in one suite, and Dustin and the guys getting ready in another. It was great to get there early and hang out…and let the everyone get used to me doing what I do best, capturing moments as they happen. Chante and Dustin’s wedding party completely consisted of family members. Chante’s Maid of Honor was Dustin’s sister Jeramie, and her bridesmaids were Jessica (married to Dustin’s brother Jacob), and Natalie (girlfriend of Chante’s brother Mylan). Dustin’s Best Man was his brother Jacob, and his groomsmen were Chante’s brother Mylan, and Dustin’s brother-in-law Nitin. They had two flower girls, Divya and Dempsey, and two ring bearers, Bodhi and Luke, all nieces and nephews of Dustin. It was awesome to see so much family love surrounding the nervous, yet excited couple on their big day!
The ceremony and reception took place at the nearby Yavasile family ranch which provided a sentimental, rustic and elegant setting. The Yavasile children grew up in this beautiful log cabin home that sits on several acres and is surrounded by orchard-filled, rolling hills. Each have had their weddings here, and Chante and Dustin’s would be the final. The ceremony took place out in the front lawn of the home next to an idyllic pond, surrounded by blooming, colorful flowers. The reception was only a short walk for the guests to the backyard of the home, which featured a large patio for dancing, and vintage decorated tables with antique blue glass bottles, and a variety of lawn games around the swimming pool.
Dustin and Chante were introduced formerly to their guests as they entered the reception area and immediately performed their first dance as husband and wife. The environment was casual and festive, and the guests were treated to margaritas and tacos from an authentic, mobile taco stand. Toasts followed by both sets of parents, the maid of honor, both brothers and finally from Dustin and Chante. A particularly heart-warming moment took place when Dustin thanked his grandmother with an orchid for cooking the food and hosting the rehearsal dinner the night before. The gift brought tears to her eyes, and touched the hearts of everyone. You can see this moment below in one of several of my favorite photographic captures from the day. The evening followed with the father/daughter and mother/son dances as dusk arrived. It could not have been a more perfect day and evening for an outdoor wedding! The guests helped celebrate the nuptials of the happy couple by dancing into the moon and starlit sky!
I could not be happier with the results of the photos captured. Most weddings I get to vicariously enjoy the emotions and excitement of the families I photograph, but this one was the real deal for me! Check out some of my favorites of the day above and below. You can also see the entire highlight slideshow set to music by clicking >>>HERE<<<<