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This was the last family I photographed in 2011 and the last family I will be photographing for a while, due to time constraints. Which makes me quite sad because I have truly enjoyed each and every family I have had the opportunity to meet this past year, especially all those bright, sunshiny little faces. There is a dynamic that families share that I love and that I find in my own. I can relate to the joy that parents have in their eyes as they run and laugh and play with their little ones. I look at my own kid and think to myself how quickly he is becoming a little boy ~ time and time again, you hear how fast they grow. And it’s true.

I met the Williston-Bartemucci family in their home one drizzly September afternoon. This was a long awaited for session because their youngest daughter, Wren, has cancer. Had cancer. While I was in Vancouver last year, I was approached by a co-worker/friend who wanted to gift them with a set of family pictures. But we weren’t able to do them until now due to times of exhaustion and stays in the hospital. And I’m glad that we were able to do the session in a more familiar setting, at their home, a place where they clearly find a heart connection to the land and community.

Looking at Wren, you’d never guess that she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma a few months before her second birthday. She danced and giggled and chased her sister, Chloe, around when I arrived. Full of life. But I know that the year before was a trying one for the family, with a temporary move to the city to be closer to the Children’s Hospital, where Wren was receiving care. Patrick had shared with me that at their last doctor’s visit, there was the happy announcement that the cancer was gone. There was much to be thankful for.

Patrick and Paula are biologists and this love of the land has passed down into their girls. We went on one of their favourite walks, not too far from their home in Smithers. Avid pickers of mushrooms, berries and fall leaves, the girls ran up and down the path with voracious interest in any interesting thing their little eyes could see. Even I learned about ghost mushrooms, powderpuff mushrooms, among other plantlife…..I came away from this photo session feeling so much smarter!

We then went to their home where the girls laid out their findings, one by one, methodically like scientists. Wren got some snuggles from her Papa before showing me something very special. The doll that she was given in the hospital where the nurses would explain certain things like where the needles would go. Covered in cartoon bandaids, the doll bore the testament of Wren’s experience. It broke my heart to watch her open up the case full of tubes and wipes and nozzles and syringes. But at the same time, it made me smile because this little girl is a survivor. She is well and happy and thriving. And wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

This family has endured quite a bit but their courage, compassion and love for each other was clear. It was inspiring to say the least.

Patrick made a blog to document their journey while staying in Vancouver ~ more as a means to stay in touch with family and friends back home. But if you would like to read about their journey, you can do so here.

I hope you all enjoy this special family today.

 

  • Crystal Nelligan - It is so amazing how many perfect moments can happen in a small space of time. What a beautiful tribute to your families beauty and resiliancy. It is an honour to know you all.ReplyCancel

  • Ann Williams - Glorious photographs of a joyous family! Both the color and black and white pictures are spectacular!ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly Guynn - Paula, Patrick, Chloe and Wren; oh so beautiful. Love and prayers to your every so wonderful family. So happy Wren has had a complete recovery after such a long ordeal of suffering and fatique. Hide the doll..made me cry, but did help Wren survive the IVs, shots and all. You friend from Littleton Colorado (friend of Kelly Kates) who has kept us posted along the journey to a wonderful, beautiful normal life.
    With so much love and prayersReplyCancel

  • Jean Williston - Absolutely wonderful to see you all in such happy times and situations.Love and blessings. Jean and TheodoreReplyCancel

  • Racheal Bateman - Lovely Family Photo’s Rose! Perfect moment shots and such great attention to detail!ReplyCancel

The last part of a tremendous wedding. Anna helped me write this posting as well.

“We didn’t have ‘wedding colors’… whenever someone asked I would just say ‘natural&neutral’. I had always known we were going to be using burlap for table runners and mason jars as vases…and was caught a bit off guard when it pushed it’s way into the forefront of rustic wedding fashion. I was worried about people thinking we were just following the trend….. (usually if something becomes super trendy I am turned off by it) but we were so happy that we stuck with it and came up with a celebration that felt so personal, individual, and organic.”

This reception was one of the most incredibly detailed parties I have ever been to and I adore the fact that Anna had put so much time, effort and careful thought into all of it. Everything was in line with the couple’s personal values from sharing a meal that was not only delicious (Anna is a bit of a foodie….OK, well a lot!) but also made by the bride and family themselves using passed down recipes right down to being able to reuse/share/recycle any item as well. This was the first time I had tasted pulled pork and seriously, what took me so long? Anna and kin had spent the entire night before shredding the pork for the wedding ~ if that isn’t dedication, then I don’t know what is. And quite a bit of the decor was already in Anna’s personal repertoire from her home. Even all the Torani syrups!

The whole wedding was such a gathering of family and friends ~ setting up, preparing and taking down. Alain and Anna are well-loved, indeed.

Thank you both, from the bottom of my heart, for making me feel more like a welcomed guest. Your families are tremendous and your extended network sublime. Your wedding day was perfect!

Reception Location: Glenwood Hall (Driftwood Hall)
Catering: Bride designed the menu and recipes. Family from both sides pitched in the day before the wedding to whip up the delicious feast!
Cakes: Molly Hosie (bridesmaid ) and Emily Zentner (honorary sister) who walked in the flowergirl and ringbearer
DJ & MC: Jesse Butler, Northern Lights Audio
Stripey Straws: Think Garnish with ‘flag’ nametags handmade & added
Refreshments: Italian Soda Bar using Torani Italian syrups
Design and Decor: Wreaths, pompadours, table runners, doily pennants, mason jar vases, lanterns, and homemade sweet pea seed favors all lovingly (obsessively) assembled over a long cold northern winter. The cost to rent tablecloths equaled the cost to purchase enough muslin for all the tablecloths, so we bought the muslin and then were able to give lots of it away to all the family that had pitched in to cut & hem tablecloths. They will be able to use it for quilting and sewing projects of their own! We cut rounds of birch for the reception decor from logs we had cleared from our fields. Every path and decision made was based on using something we already had tonnes of (like mason jars) or purchasing something that could happily be reused (fabric)!

  • Comfort - WOW! Anna is an amazing planner! What a beautiful day she pulled together! Looks like quite the day to remember. And of course, Rose you captured it all so perfectly! Simply amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Christine Blair - As usual, your pictures are gorgeous! And what a beautiful job the bride & family did on everything – so much work and attention to detail.
    I’m curious…are those yeasted works of art from Meg Hobson at Rustica Bakery?ReplyCancel

  • Andrea R - I had the great honour of working with Anna and know first hand that those dishes must have tasted a wonderful as they look. The photos capture perfectly what looks to have been an extraordinary day!ReplyCancel

  • damara - so beautiful. makes me want to get married all over again and have her as a bestfriend bridesmaid! what amazing vision and creativity she had.ReplyCancel

  • Anna - thanks peoples! Yes, i forgot to note that the buns are from Rustica and they are fabulous (even from my freezer 2 months later).
    Damara- just let me know when ! :)
    I myself am so excited to see the rest of the day after photos!ReplyCancel

The next part as promised.

I’m loving this set because it’s all about the wedding party having some fun and most importantly, the Bride and Groom ~ just the two of them. Everyone was so great to work with, especially when I stepped into a hole in the ground and sprained my ankle pretty badly (it’s a reoccurring injury so I’m used to this). But the show goes on! There was a fabulous old turn of the century homestead that we used for more formal pictures and we then worked our way down to the creek, then across the field, onto the road and into a next door holding area for round haybales.

While photographing the portraits of the guys, Alain remembered he had some cigars he bought in Mexico while on business specifically for his wedding day. While I don’t condone smoking by any means, I certainly don’t mind a little celebratory cigar partaking with the boys. And the ladies? Well, what can I say other than the light pink chiffon J. Crew dresses with Anna’s Maggie Sottero gown were a perfect match ~ along with the cowboy boots, of course.

For some of the Bride and Groom images, we stepped into a field with a No Trespassing sign ~ the 8 foot tall grass was far too tempting and the field had already been hayed with the swampy areas left behind. I enjoyed working with Alain and Anna so much ~ such a laid-back, down to earth and real couple. It’s one of my favourite parts of the day, the Bride and Groom pictures, and this was no exception.

If you missed Part One, you can see it here. Anna spent a lot of time (one year to be exact) putting together a wedding that she really wanted. Part One focused on the getting ready and ceremony and included a lot of links to local Smithers producers or Etsy sellers. Part Three will be coming up shortly and will focus on…..the party!

  • anna - hip hip hooray!!!!! will never be able to pick favorites!!!ReplyCancel

  • karen - So many lovely photos!! You really caught it all!ReplyCancel