“Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to see the world and wanted to experience other cultures but little did she know that what would unfold in front of her was the most beautiful fairytale ever, that she would be proved wrong and that love at first sight does exist and there’s is really the greatest love story that I have ever seen.” – Armina’s sister, Heidi Deyro
The quote above was taken from Heidi’s emotional speech as Armina’s maid of honor, spoken during the reception. The girl was Heidi and she, with her tears and genuine words, attested to the love of her sister, Armina, and husband Sonny. I firmly believe Heidi’s story of the two lovers was backed by the support and reciprocation from the audience of friends and family who gathered on that day to see Armina and Sonny unite.
Outone met with Sonny & Armina a few times during the months before my wedding, so I didn’t have the pleasure of formally meeting them in person until the day of their wedding, which took place in January. I was only one month removed from my November wedding, so everything about Armina’s set up in the hotel and the sense of anxiety at Sonny’s house felt very familiar. This was my first wedding shoot as a newly wed, so I felt like I had a different pair of eyes this time around. I could easily relate to the electricity in the air, Armina’s excited smile when talking about their upcoming honey moon in Hawaii and Sonny’s quiet determination to make sure everyone was dressed and ready on time. I had a number of “ah-ha” moments that reminded me of what it felt like on that day. Most people just don’t “get it” until they lived as either a bride or groom.
It’s easy to forget and dismiss a lot of the subtle moments for the big ones like the moment she walks down the isle, or you land your first kiss as husband and wife, so I really wanted to make a point of helping Armina and Sonny remember (or even see for the first time) some of these subtle moments during their wedding day. Our 70-200mm lens was my best friend on that day. The weather was fantastic and downtown St. Pete was as gorgeous as ever. I understood then why Sonny (a Boston native) and Armina (a Chicago native) insisted on us capturing the downtown area. St. Pete may not be on par with either of those American landmark cities, but it certainly gives you a familiar feeling when your standing in the middle of it. Sonny & Armina could not have picked a better day to get married.
Photograph courtesy of Heidi Deyro Creations
Our time with Armina began during her prep work at the Vinoy Hotel. Spirits were high and every one was anxiously watching the soon to be bride get ready. I took the opportunity to chat with Armina (this being the first time we’ve spoke face to face, so I was a little nervous about asking any questions on camera) and she immediately impressed me with her energetic attitude and openness to talk on camera. It’s like she had her game face on, she knew today was as important of a day as any other, but anyone could tell she was more than ready to walk down the isle and embrace her soon to be husband. The adjective bridezilla was so off the radar for Armina, and that made filming so easy and fun. In fact, both her and Sonny are two totally down to Earth people who were completely open to any ideas we had. They demanded very little from us and that gave us the freedom to be ourselves. We greatly, GREATLY, appreciated that.
Armina engaged my questions like a true sport and her answers felt genuine, which I thought was classy and tasteful. Armina puts a lot of those brides you see on TV to shame with her witty charm, yet excited demeanor. When asked about what was going through her head at the moment, she took only a second to respond that she was ready to party and get on to their honey moon. Now the answer may appear crass at first glance…like why wouldn’t she be excited about the ceremony? Or how come she’s not thinking about standing at the alter with her beloved? To me, the answer embodied everything Armina and Sonny stood for: The will to just enjoy life’s moments and have the most fun you can while living it.
Look, not everyone needs to feel deeply emotion about every second of their wedding, and not every bride has to be yelling and screaming and stressing out about her make up during the pre-ceremony. Nothing against those who feel that way (I was on the deeply emotional side myself), to each their own, but some people just make love fun. Fun to experience and equally fun to watch. Some people just like to focus on enjoying life and that’s how I felt about Armina and Sonny all day. My thoughts were affirmed by the time the reception kicked into high gear and everyone was having a blast on the dance floor.
Before separating from Outone, I asked Armina one more question. “What do you think Sonny is doing right now?” Her immediate response was, “Probably nothing, because I think he’s sick.” With that, I left Outone to hang behind and get some more shots of the bride getting ready and our assistant, Casey, and I headed over to Sonny and Armina’s house.
When we arrived the house was quiet and there was a lot less activity going on as compared to the bride’s area. There were a number of young children running around, but the groom was no where to be found. We met all the groomsmen and even the second photographer before the groom emerged. Sonny calmly greeted us and was totally game for anything we wanted to do in terms of filming. Again, the openness almost caught us off guard, but we did our best to fulfill his wish to do as we pleased. The gang comprised of the groom’s mother, the groomsmen and their children, each of whom played a role in the wedding ceremony.
Taking a look around the home, I noticed a lot of life and energy. There was an area of the house dedicated to music and instruments (both the groom and bride play the guitar), there were a great deal of wonderful pictures of Chicago landmarks and some fantastic pieces of artwork (such as Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte from The Art Institute of Chicago). I also noticed the excellent poster from The Godfather, a legendary classic. Then I realized I was filming someone by the name of Sonny…and I put it all together. Fortunately, our Sonny will not meet the same fate at the end of this story as The Godfather’s Sonny Corleone did in the film and novel.
One of the subtle things that I noticed that I just love seeing was the pictures of Sonny and Armina’s parents and presumably their grandparents. There was one frame that contained old wedding photos, those sorts of pictures are timeless and putting them on display says a lot about a couple’s character. You get to know them through their home decor, their values and what it is they cherish most. It’s a wonderful experience and I know Outone and I can only hope to gain more with future weddings.
The time finally came for the groom and his family members to get ready and they wasted little time doing it. It appeared as though Sonny was almost in and out the entire time he was getting ready. Theres’ a great shot of this panaroma around the room that really captures the atmosphere. Every corner of the room was taken up with people getting ready as the time to leave for the ceremony was drawing near. Sonny stayed determined to get everyone ready on time and looking sharp (there was quite a discussion over the method for putting on a cufflink). The atmosphere was as energetic and before we knew it, we were on our way to the ceremony.
Photo Courtesy of Heidi Deyro Creations
Armina and Sonny’s wedding ceremony was traditional, short and sweet, but there was a lot of emotion up there between the two. I suspect most of the guests did not have the opportunity to see this emotion as Armina and Sonny had their backs turned during a lot of these parts (they were kneeling at the alter). Fortunately, I was at the perfect vantage point to capture a lot of these moments using extreme close ups. It was a really beautiful thing to watch unfold and what made it more amazing was that I was able to capture it on camera.
The couple had a few very talented singers performing songs during the ceremony, which really livened up the atmosphere and added more layers of emotion to the ceremony. When trying to remember my own ceremony in real time it all feels like a blur at this point, and I’m sure Sonny and Armina feel the same way. But thanks to video, we captured some timeless moments that epitomize not only the entire ceremony, but every bit of love between Armina and Sonny. My favorite shot was the look on Armina’s face right after their first kiss, her eyes were twinkling and her smile was so genuine. It was one of the highlights of the day for us.
The cocktail hour and wedding reception took place at the Museum of Fine Arts, which held a beautiful reception hall with a lot of open space. There was a very cool cat walk that Sonny and Armina used for their bouquet and garter toss. I managed to follow them into the elevator after that took place to capture some candid moments of the two as they prepared to greet their audience once again. Both looked eagerly determined to put on a great reception and they succeeded. The night was full of emotional toasts and exuberant dancing. It felt as though this was the moment Sonny and Armina had been waiting for all this time. The chance to solidify their love in one of the most artistic and natural displays of showing human celebration: dancing.
On behalf of A Peachy Life Productions, bravo to Armina and Sonny. Congratulations on a gorgeous wedding and thank you for allowing us to be a part of it. Happy third month anniversary and heres to many, many more anniversaries in the future!
Featured Image by Leah Salkoff Photography
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