Spanish beauty, Russian traditions, and a gorgeous landscape made this wedding an incredible joy to capture.
Ruth was born and raised in Spain and moved to Los Angeles after her mother and father (Breaking Bad star Jonathan Banks) met in a fairytale whirlwind of film sets, translators, and many, many miles of travel. Ruth’s telling of her parents’ love story plays out like a magical romance pulled from the pages of a Hollywood script. Not unlike her parents, Ruth + Mike’s story involves travel and chance encounters as well.
College led Ruth to Chicago, but her life was in motion and Spain was calling her again. As fate would have it, she and Mike met before she could say goodbye to the Windy City. Ruth was looking for a night out with friends. Mike was looking for an excuse to get out of bike night. Luckily, they had a mutual friend who decided to invite them both out for drinks. The rest is history.
Ruth + Mike are a fun and unique couple. Seriously. When the two started to spend more time together, they didn’t officially announce their dating status. Mike turned to Ruth and said, “We’re dating.” Ruth responded, “I guess we are.” When their relationship grew deeper, it was Mike who said, “You love me.” When Mike proposed on Christmas Eve, he leaned over from a beach chair in Malibu’s Paradise Cove and asked her to marry him. Ruth’s first sentence was, “Where’s my knee, b*tch?!” They’re the bold colors in the Crayola box. The crimson and midnight black. Spicy, not mild. When I learned that Ruth’s dress was a bright red, my first thought was, “Of course it is.” Her dress perfectly captured her elegant appeal and fiery Spanish charm, while Mike’s choice to seal their vows with a wristwatch instead of a ring perfectly captured his witty and sensible nature. As you can tell, they’re the definition of “original.”
On the wedding day, the girls were graced with a spectacular view of the ocean from a private Malibu beach house and an endless flow of seabirds flying overhead. In order to see Ruth for their first-look, Mike had to complete a number of challenges created by the bridesmaids. For our shoot locations, we stopped at various spots in the Santa Monica Mountains and along the Pacific Coast. The wind was in a frenzy and the sun was full blaze, but that didn’t stop us from getting amazing photos. Ruth + Mike’s ceremony was set in the beautiful gardens of her parents’ Malibu home. Their reception was held at a neighbor’s estate, in a greenhouse that transformed into a glass palace of light and white decor, and was lavishly catered by Romanov. Each location was thoughtfully adorned and enough to take your breath away. But the best part was the people. Their families were warm and welcoming, and their wedding party was overflowing with personality – not surprising, given the couple. And while their guests were diverse, Ruth + Mike blended the Spanish and Russian cultures seamlessly.
When they first contacted me about photographing their Malibu wedding, Mike asked me, “Have you ever shot a Russian wedding?” “Not yet,” I replied. “Good. You have no idea what you’re getting into then!” Mike stated with excitement. Little did I know this would indeed be the hardest I’ve ever had to work. As I came to learn, Russian wedding receptions are typically different than the traditional American model. Vodka bottles are obviously an important centerpiece for every table, but more than that, the reception is a continuous cycle of eating, speeches, dancing, eating, speeches, dancing…you get the point. It was wonderful. It was true celebration. And it was unrelenting. There were no breaks from a photography stand point, but capturing the constant stream of joy, hilarious toasts, and brilliant musical numbers was exhilarating.
One of the speeches you see in the gallery above is what I’ll leave you with here. Dasha, the mutual friend who brought Ruth + Mike together, recounted a night years ago when Mike told her he was a loyal kind of friend – the kind of friend who would give you the shirt off his back – then, without missing a beat, proved it by ripping his shirt and giving her a piece. To everyone’s surprise, Dasha had saved that piece of fabric from years ago and presented it in a frame with a photo of the three friends. Then, when her story was finished, she ripped her bridesmaid dress and gave a piece to the couple, saying she was also a loyal kind of friend. That’s the kind of wedding this was. It was thoughtful and crazy. It was sophisticated and down-to-earth. It was Ruth + Mike.
Ashley + Austen met through mutual friends on Facebook. After months of talking online and many hours spent on FaceTime together, they decided it was finally time to meet in person. Ashley flew to Minneapolis from Wyoming, and Austen won her heart. A year later they were engaged.