Organic Wedding on the Fjords of Norway

It’s always a joy sharing a wedding of a couple we know. Nina and Wes have an amazing story, one filled with many up’s and down’s like most marriages, but it is inspiring to read about how far they’ve come together. I’m so honored Nina shared their incredible vow renewal with Once Wed. You can read more of about their wedding below…

Our marriage, like many marriages, hasn’t been easy.  Wes and I dated for 2 months before I left for Nepal to volunteer for 4 months.  During my last week in Nepal, Wes surprised me by showing up.  On the way back to the States, we had planned to stop in Norway (where my mother is from, and where I spent most of my childhood summers).  And it was there, on top of a mountain, in the land of the midnight sun, that Wes asked me to marry him.  Three months later, after a whirlwind of planning, and doing nothing the way we truly wanted to, we got married.  Yes…it was fast.  And it could be said that we weren’t quite ready for what we had just stepped into.  But, never the less, we were together…for better and for worse.  The next five years or so proved to be extremely difficult, with more lows than highs.  We fought hard, though, and worked through each year with great determination.  In year seven, after a fight with infertility and cancer, we welcomed 2 beautiful children into our little family….a boy and a girl…twins. They were born in Ethiopia, and we spent three months there with them, waiting for the completion of their adoption.  Through those difficult 3 months in Africa, our marriage only grew stronger.

 Once we finally arrived home from Ethiopia, after all the crazy struggles we had crawled through, we started to think about renewing our vows.  We decided we wanted to renew our vows in our tenth year of marriage.  We wanted to make it special and beautiful.  And this time, we wanted amazing photographs to capture this miraculous and momentous occasion.

 We met Erich McVey at a workshop we all attended in Maui almost two years ago.  As photographers ourselves, we knew we wanted this special time in our lives to be documented by someone who knew how to consistently capture beauty and love on film.  After getting to know Erich, and his equally talented wife, Amy, Wes and I both agreed that we wanted them to be there to photograph our special day. 

 Our dream was to go back to Norway to renew our vows.  We envisioned saying “yes” to each other again in the middle of a beautiful field, surrounded by mountains, overlooking the sea and the fjords.  We knew that most of our friends wouldn’t be able to make it, because of the cost, so we kept things simple.  And somewhere in the middle of the year leading up to our vow renewal, I met the incredibly talented Ginny Au, and we became quick friends.  And somehow, we got her on a plane to Norway, and she helped plan and style our vow renewal. 

 Ginny worked with Wes and I to style a simple and organic gathering. We started with what we would wear.  I’ve always been a bit of a hippie at heart, at least when it comes to clothing.  So I searched for a vintage pattern on Etsy, and found a classic 1970’s pattern to style my dress from.  When Wes and I first got married, I wanted my mother, who is an amazing seamstress, to make my dress.  But at the time, I got lost in the excitement of trying on dresses and ended up purchasing one instead.  10 years later, I was determined to have her hands stitch together a dress that symbolized so much more than just a fashion statement.  And as a finishing touch, I thought a little bit of ribbon would be a perfect addition to the dress.  And of course, true to my inner flower-child, I was barefoot.  And then there was Wes….Wes is a bit of an old soul…he loves to relax on a quiet evening, sometimes smoking a pipe while sipping on a bit of his favorite bourbon, all whilst reading a little bit of classic literature, like Sherlock Holmes.  We really wanted this to play into what he would wear in Norway.  I love the final outcome.  A slim fit, linen suit, with a plain tee, a scarf, and a driver’s cap.  Perfect. All Wes. 

And finally, the location.  When we all got to Norway, we had no idea where we would have the ceremony.  It wasn’t until the day before, that we all went to the tourist information center, saw a picture of some beautiful fjords, asked the tourist guide where it was, he told us, we rented some cars, and drove there the next day.  And even once we got there, we still had no clue.  I just prayed that it would be that scene we had dreamed about when we first hired Erich.  We drove further and further up a mountain, and eventually found some private farmland.  Erich, Ginny, and myself snuck onto the farm with great anticipation.  And then it happened…we got to the top of a hill, got out of our car, and walked out into what seemed like a dream.  We stepped into a field filled with yellow wild flowers.  Behind us the mountain soared higher, with rays of sun beaming over top of it.  And beyond the field, we looked out over the most beautiful view you could imagine….the breathtaking view of the fjords of Norway, and the beautiful waters that flow between them.  It was just what we had imagined.  I thanked God in that moment, for that perfect answer to our prayer. 

 From there, we found the farmer who owned the farm, and without any need for explanations, he waved his hand in the air, gesturing to us that we were free to have our ceremony there.

 And in that field, with the late setting sun, and our loved ones surrounding us, we spoke aloud our continuing commitment to each other once again.  Both of us cried through the entire thing.  It was…perfect.

 Afterwards, Erich captured all the beautiful photos we had ached for.  And we sat down to the most beautiful picnic with our children.  We ate sandwiches wrapped in linen, and laughed and talked until it was time to go. 

 Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was one of the most beautiful days we have ever had together.  I am so thankful to God for this life he gave to me and Wes, and the strength he gave us to fight for our marriage.  That joy and commitment was so beautifully captured in each photo Erich took. 


Photographer:  Erich McVey | Brides Gown:  Adapted from a vintage 70’s pattern.  Made by the bride’s mother | Ribbon on Bride’s bouquet and dress:  Bits & Bobs by Ginny Au | Groom’s Suit:  H&M | Groom’s Scarf:  Banana Republic | Wooden Spoons: Joanna Ballentine of Felix Glenn | Photographer’s assistant:  Cara Dee Photography  | Officiant:  Jacob Cecil | Announcement and place cards:  Katie Decker Hyatt of Signora e Mare | Food: Made by Ginny Au & Cara Dee Cecil | Styling:  Ginny Au | Flowers:  Ginny Au | Hair & Makeup:  Amy McVey | Location:  Private farm in Ulvik, Norway | Videographer:  Amy McVey


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09.30.13 / Featured, Real Weddings, Real Weddings Blog

Prairie Engagement Shoot

How gorgeous is this engagement shoot set in the prairie fields of Flagstaff, AZ from Austin Gros? The couple’s wardrobe choice of neutrals and the bride’s natural makeup complement the gorgeous setting perfectly.
Photographer: Austin Gros | Hair & Makeup: Amanda Gros 

09.26.13 / Featured, Wedding Ideas, Wedding Ideas Blog

Elegant French Chateau Wedding

It is hard to find the right words to describe this wedding. Everything transpired so seamlessly, resulting in such a joyous organic design and experience.

Robyn and Mitch met in France, so it was only fitting to bring their closest family and friends to celebrate their wedding. They knew the venue would play an instrumental role in the design and mood, so finding Chateau St. Julien was like a dream. Supplying us with a home of all the guests, all the reception tables and chairs and even the vast grounds were foraged for all the flowers we made on site. Combined with the handmade and dyed ribbon from froufrou chic, homemade macaroons and family style dinner made and served by Ginny’s family and friends, this majestic environment was humbled by a truly hand crafted wedding. Holly Hollon designed the remarkable invitation suite, with hand torn paper and sealed with a delicate wax seal, presenting the guests with the perfect prelude of what was to come. Her gold calligraphy place cards were complimented by hand made cotton gauze napkins. We wrapped them around rolls from a local boulangerie and added sprigs of lavender found in the flower beds. The simple glass vases were all from the chateau filled with fresh lilac branches and the smell was heavenly.

The perfect end to this wedding cycle can be found in the beauty and grace of Rylee Hitchner’s photography. She has the magical ability to show the warmth and depth of the design and capture the love and peace of our couple and their guests.

Photography: Rylee Hitchner | Styling, Design & Coordination: Ginny Au | Ribbon: Frou Frou Chic | Venue: Reception Venue: Chateau St Julien | Brides gown: Monique Lhuillier, with Alterations by Edward Rios @Tailoring by Rios | Bride shoes:Vintage Christian Louboutin | Bridesmaid gowns: JCrew | Brides veil: Mother in Law’s Veil vintage | Brides earrings: Bride’s own | Grooms suit: Ralph Lauren | Grooms tie: Jos. A. Banks | Grooms shoes: Ralph Lauren | Hair and makeup: Kenneth Sierra styled my hair and Jenny Niver at Neiman Marcus Chanel styled my makeup | Wedding Invitations: Holly Hollon

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09.24.13 / Featured, Real Weddings, Real Weddings Blog

The 5 Minute Face Beauty Tutorial


The internet has become inundated with makeup tutorials, especially since the advent of Pinterest, but there is something special about Los Angeles based makeup artist Amy Clarke’s work that makes it stand out amongst the others floating around the web. It’s always such a treat for us to get a makeup tutorial from Amy and recently, we’ve been lucky enough for her to send over a few more! Amy creates tutorials that truly aim to enhance a woman’s natural beauty rather than mask it. We are in love with Amy’s organic style, and she couldn’t make it any easier to recreate these natural looks yourself.


Don’t be afraid to try and recreate this absolutely gorgeous look. If you’re looking for a really organic makeup style for your bridal shower or engagement pictures, this tutorial may be a way for you to do your makeup on your own! And this style is polished yet so effortless that you could wear it on a daily basis (the 5 minutes it takes to do it doesn’t hurt either). Aren’t we all looking for a full-proof routine that you can whip out right before work every day after you roll out of bed? Once you have the materials for this easy tutorial, it takes not time at all! Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Amy Clarke has outlined the tutorial below and Bryce Covey provided us with these absolutely gorgeous images to go along with them.


5-minute-face-tutorial copy

The 5 Minute Face

1. + 2. Apply a tinted moisturizer using a duo-blending brush all over face. I love Jane Iredale’s Blending brush and Coola Organic Tinted Moisturizer in Rose Essence, SPF 20.

3. + 4.  Apply Concealer under your eyes and on any blemishes or sunspots, and blend in with your fingers or blending brush. I used Tarte’s Maracuja Creaseless Concealer in “Medium”.

5. +6.  Next, apply a cream blush or cheek stain to the apples of your cheeks, and blend back towards the sides of your face using your fingers. Try Tarte’s Cheek Stain in “Natural Beauty”.

7. Fill in any sparse eyebrow spots, using an eyebrow pencil in a shade one or two shades lighter than your hair color. My absoulte favortie Eyebrow Pencil is Anastasia Beverly Hill’s Brow Wiz Eyebrow Pencil in “Ash Blonde”.

8. Set your makeup using a loose powder. Apply only to the the T-zone area, around your nose and under eyes. Try Laura Mercier’s loose powder in “Ivory”.

9. +10. Curl your Lashes and Apply mascara. Curl one set of lashes at a time, and apply mascara immediately after before moving to the next eye. This will ensure the curliest lashes! Try Kevyn Aucoin’s lash curler! I think it’s the most perfect lash curler out there. I used elf brand lengthening & Defining mascara.

11. Finish your look by apply a natural colored lipstick and gloss on your lips. No need for lip liner when you’re using a lipstick close to your natural lip color. I used Paul & Joe’s lipstick in “Candied Rose” and a yummy Victoria’s Secret Lipgloss in “Citrus Kissed”.

ProTip: The fewer brushes you use, the faster you will be at applying your makeup. Try using your fingers to blend instead of grabbing for another brush. Fingers are the best makeup applicator.

Photography: Bryce Covey | Makeup: Amy Clarke | Hair: Heidi Marie Garrett | Creative Direction: Emily Newman for Once Wed

09.19.13 / DIY Wedding Blog, DIY Weddings, Featured