It Takes a Village - Umstead-Vanderwalker Wedding in Durham, NC
How To Throw a Bash Like You Mean It
It was an enormous pleasure for me to spend the last few days in Durham, NC with my family as we celebrated and prepared for my sister Michelle's wedding. I had gotten to know her fiancé Sean Umstead recently on a family vacation, and I knew that they were going to be putting together a hell of a party, as involved as they both are in the food and drink culture of Durham. As will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that knows my sister, every single element that could be designed and built by her and Sean was handled that way, and just about everything else was handled by friends and family amongst their extensive network in Durham. She designed and created her dress with help from my mother, came up with a lighting and decor setup for the venue and provided all the decorations. Sean handled the food and liquor purchases, catering and much more. My father and I played music for the ceremony, our dear friend (and unofficial second mother) Lee Scharf officiated, friends of theirs handled the cake and flowers, and friends and family helped with the actual setup . It was a great example of how to get the absolute most bang for your buck, and that is coming from someone who has been a part of hundreds of weddings now.
Making Connections and Getting Things Together
Friday night happened to be my birthday, and my father graciously hosted a great Italian dinner at Mother and Son's in Durham, giving the Umsteads and (extended) Myers a chance to catch up and get to know each other a little better.
Tacos and Beer make it better - Rehearsal Dinner
Saturday found us at Fullsteam Brewery for a short ceremony rehearsal, followed by tacos and beer. What else can be said, beyond tacos and beer?
It Takes a Village - Everyone Pitches In
Michelle and Sean planned the decorations and setup meticulously, and with lots of help from friends and family, it went off extremely smoothly. I love the ethic of involving friends and family in more than just showing up to the event - it lets everyone know that they are valued and that they can count on a return favor, lets them feel great about participating, and gives time for catching up and generally just spending time together. The kids have a blast and get to build a lot more memories of the event than they might just from the blur that is the wedding night.
Finally, after all the partying and prep, the time was upon us. After dropping my wife and Michelle off at the hotel, I went back and hung with the guys for a little while before we headed over to the ceremony. Even managed to get in a quick rehearsal with my father for Michelle's procession song - the Beatle's "When I'm 64". It was all somewhat of a blur from there out, with guitar and photography duties, as well as dancing, barbecue, catching up with old friends and relatives, and a certain amount of libations included. Michelle and Sean's friend Aaron Stearns handled all the hard photography duties (thanks Aaron), and I'll be sure to link his photos up as soon as they're ready. I enjoyed shooting just with the Fujifilm X-Pro 2, although I did miss my Nikon gear quite a bit once the sun dropped and it became harder to focus. Mirrorless systems in general still seem to lag behind quite a bit in autofocus capability in low light scenarios. For anyone that would like to view the rest of the photos, the link is HERE