Vanessa and Michael had what I'll call from now on an Elopement+, not quite a regular wedding, hosting less than 20 guests. Theirs was my last wedding in 2018, so I was pretty excited about working a Destination Elopement+ with an amazing team for the first time ever and on a new venue. That's definitely good luck stuff. Speaking of good luck stuff, having a rainy wedding day is considered a good luck charm in Puerto Rico, so you could say Vanessa and Michael couldn't have done better. In my Wedding, Wednesday article "What if it Rains?", I walk you through my rainy-wedding day logic, and here, you'll see it in action.
Getting Ready at Old San Juan Airbnb for The Elopement +
Our day started at an Airbnb on Calle San Sebastian, at the heart of Old San Juan, where Vanessa and Michael were getting ready at two different rooms of the property. I cycled around the rooms, capturing details, moments and waiting for the bride and groom to be ready for their first look session. We were originally looking forward to capturing their first look in the cobblestone streets of the old town, but it was too stormy for that. We opened up a room so the couple could have this moment together before moving to the ceremony location. It was a very emotional moment in which the couple exchanged gifts and encouraging words.
Elopement At Cinema Bar 1950 at Cuartel de Ballaja
It wasn't so much the rain, but the unexpected wind, the thing that threw our itinerary out of whack. The original plan to elope at El Morro Fortress was voted down by the couple, who would be hosting some elderly guests and it would be a bit cruel to have them stand under the rain and wind. Luckily enough, their planner Merilyn had already set up a plan B at their reception venue, Cinema Bar 1950, which is an independent movie theater, that also hosts live shows, and has a great restaurant with amazing food and drinks. It is located inside Cuartel de Ballajá, built originally as a military barracks for the Spanish army on the 17th Century, but is currently known as a cultural and museum landmark.
When planning an outdoor wedding or elopement it is important to create a rainy day contingency plan you feel comfortable with. We can't control the weather, but we can control how we react to it, and choosing to enjoy the wedding day, no matter what.
As a photographer, I'm not just a mere observer as I'm not able to distance myself from emotionally-charged moments as their ceremony. It was one of the most emotional, beautiful, moving moments of my 2018 and my career. Only knowing them for about two hours, it was obvious that Vanessa and Michael are solid: their grace, happiness, and kind disposition didn't fail throughout the day.
Their vows were amazing, and soon enough, there wasn't a dry eye in the room. I was doing a fine job keeping myself together until both Vanessa and Michael took a turn to pronounce custom vows to their spouse's children, where they promised to uphold and protect the new family they were creating at that instant. After they were pronounced a married couple, their kids joined the stage for a big, emotional embrace before we headed out for the newlywed portraits around Ballajá.
There were only a few minutes of daylight left, so this session is mostly nocturnal, so different from what I'm used to, but the lovebirds rocked every minute of it. When finished, we moved back indoors for family portraits before I left them so they could have dinner with their loved ones.