An Almond Orchard Shoot

“Bloom beautifully, dangerously, loudly, bloom softly. However you need, just bloom.
-
Rupi Kaur

A styled wedding photo shoot can lack the spirit of the real thing, but for me, this one was so different. Everything about it was personal, and real…and magical. Each image in this collection celebrates the roots that have allowed each artist who contributed to bloom into the woman she is today. The hope of Springtime is calling all of us to believe again, and to find renewed beauty inside of the details of our dreams.

Photographer: Mariana Calderon | Bride: Maigia Yang | Groom: Ser Vang | Concept & Design: Sarah King & Mariana Calderon | Planning: Sarah King Napa Valley Events | Venue: Monk Ranch, Dixon Florals: Hana Floral Studio, by Ciara Guttig | Hair & Makeup: Napa Makeup Artist, Rachel Lusk | Cake: Sweet Abes Baking Co. by Abrah Hunter | Rentals: La Tavola | Wedding Dress: Sheer Beaded Bodice Organza A-Line, at David’s Bridal | Groom’s attire: JC Penny | Engagement ring: Shane Company

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Behind every photograph, there's a story... My story starts in the Spring of 2016. So many things were going on in my life at that time — moving from Costa Rica to Napa Valley, getting married, learning English, meeting new people, getting used to a new culture, trying to start my photography business... Everything in my life was new and different, and I found myself transitioning from a season I was used to into a season that was filled with possibilities, but almost no certainty. 

Yet there was so much beauty around me and so many inspiring ways to capture my new world through the lens of my camera. So I knew what I had to do, but stepping out and starting over isn’t easy for anyone, and rejection and the limitations others try to place on you can get very discouraging. But then one day, my husband and I drove passed an almond orchard in bloom. 

The snow-like carpet of almond blossoms covered the ground, and the air was alight with a swirl of hope and beauty! It was as if the orchard was calling out to me with promises of a fresh start and the courage I needed to believe that I was going to be just fine. It was as if I could see myself more clearly — like I was in bloom, too — and very suddenly, a peace washed over me and I knew I was entering into my season of beauty, too!

So when I picked the location for this shoot, it was like going back into my own journey of hope. And then when each of the women I invited to participate gathered together, our shared vision for this shoot reminded me of how each one of us is living out our unique dreams in this one collective experience. We are all fresh, up-and-comers in the world of weddings, and there is no doubt that this is our season to bloom!

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“I decided to use seasonal flowers for this shoot. Ranunculus, Hellebores, Jasmine…these were all flowers that were growing in the garden in the warm early spring. The color palette naturally fell into place with the almond blossoms — rustic pinks, variegated taupe textures and warm whites. The tulips posed a delicate femininity amongst the blossoming branches. I was inspired by the movement of the stems and the dreamy silhouettes they casted.” - Ciara Guttig


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“ I wanted the cake to complement the almond orchard by keeping the cake itself simple yet elegant. Having three chocolate layers peak through the white vanilla frosting adds texture and resembles the almond tree as a whole with its white blossoms. This Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake is moist, light in texture, rich in taste, and simply… delicious!” - Abrah Hunter


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I have always believed that when passionate women come together with a collective purpose, magic happens. And that's exactly what I wanted to achieve with this shoot: MAGIC. Each participant added her own layer of inspired art to make this photo shoot authentic and the kind that captures the ethereal qualities of love, hope, and possibility...

Words from the bride: “My relationship was unexpected. I guess it is true that you never know who you will fall in love with. My fiancé, Ser Vang, and I were blind dated on November 14th, 2015. Then, with a few months of getting to know one another I gave him my official “yes” to be his girlfriend on April 1st, 2016 (April Fools Day). He literally thought I was April fooling him until I sealed it with a kiss. After a few years of magical love and happiness, we got engaged on October 14th, 2018 in a beautiful ranch in Lodi.

Life is truly unpredictable. Ser and I planned to get marry last year, unfortunately, my father passed away in January. I was so scarred that I couldn't get marry the same year. Even now, I am still learning to let go and embrace the ill-fated memory. About eight years before my father's death, my parents divorced. In the traditional Hmong culture, the elders would separate the daughters for the mother and keep the sons for the father. Due to life being unforeseen, my siblings and I had to grow up fast with many judgments to live among. 

2019 is a new year, I want this year to start fresh and fill my empty holes with happiness while I start my new chapter of life.
I wish to plant flowers in these empty holes and let them bloom beautifully like an almond orchard. I am super content that my fiancé is supporting me emotionally, mentally and physically. I would like to thank him for kindly lighting the path out of the dark life. He gave me something to look forward to and that is pure love.

We are happily engaged and patiently waiting for the elders to pick an auspicious day to perform our traditional Hmong wedding this summer and American wedding for next year’s spring. 

I would like to complement that life is a bumping road. Yet, “life is a journey, not a destination.” I repeatedly tell myself that life is worth fighting for because I create my own fairytale. As I see photos of myself in a wedding dress, I see happily ever after. Every image that shows a bride in a white dress proves that fairytales do come true.” -Maigia Yang