Category Archives: Weddings

These weddings were photographed by the founders and owners of Radiant Photography, Scott & Breanna Chanson

Mac and Amy’s wedding: a historical tour of Phoenix with mad style!

I have to admit that during our first meeting with Amy and Mac all we really heard was “The Icehouse”.  Sorry, guys… we thought you guys were cool too, but the word “Icehouse” just seemed to echo in our brains for a long time afterwards! 😉

We were so excited because we’d shot there once before and have been itching to do it again ever since!

I’m sure you can see why!

If the Icehouse sounds like a weird name for a wedding venue, it’s because it’s only recently begun to be used for weddings… it’s actually the place where they manufactured ice in 1910 to ship produce on railroads.  After that time, it was used for the police to store crime evidence (crazy huh?!). In the 90’s a couple of artists bought it and now it’s used for all kinds of events… including weddings like this one!

Needless to say, it definitely has some history to it!  And as you can see by the pictures… it’s sooooo cool too!

(The Groomsmen were psyched about their gambling picture!)

(Like us on Facebook to tag yourself in some of the photos).

Let me back up a bit and tell the story from the beginning.  The day began at the hotel everyone was staying, Hotel San Carlos, which is another historical building  in downtown Phoenix (this wedding was like a regular old history channel special!) that was opened in 1928.

It was the first air conditioned, high rise hotel in Phoenix.  If you’re an Arizona history buff (and don’t already know all this) there is plenty more for you to read up on and the info on their site is pretty interesting.

Oh and by the way, apparently this hotel is haunted!  One final fact about Hotel San Carlos that is particularly relevant to Mac and Amy’s story is that it was the first high rise hotel in Arizona to have elevators.  And Mac knew just how to take advantage of these elevators.  He wanted to see his beautiful bride for the first time as the doors slid open… and it worked out perfectly.

(They wanted their bridal party around for the reveal moment to cheer them on.  I like how you can see the bridesmaids swooning in the background!).

(They exchanged gifts during their reveal moment.  Amy gave Mac this pocket watch and he gave her diamond earrings. Both gifts were a hit!).

(Two of my- Breanna’s- favorite ring pictures of all time!).

After spending some time shooting at the hotel (and the bar next door to it as you can see in the picture below)…

…we loaded up on Ollie the Trolley (yes, that really is the name of it!) to drive around downtown Phoenix for some photo opps.

Of course, the first stop we made on our historical tour around Phoenix was at the gas station to get some beer for the road.

It was soon time to head over to the Icehouse for the main event of the day… the wedding.

Mac and Amy’s ceremony was positively stunning.

With the old bricks, wide open ceiling, and the many little touches they both made to the look and feel of the place… the beauty was just unreal and definitely unique!

After their ceremony of perfection, a little time for celebrating…

…and a little more time for photos around their amazing venue….

…the doors to the reception area were opened and you could almost hear an audible gasp from the guests by what they saw.  In standard Icehouse wedding tradition, there was a huge warehouse looking room that was contrasted beautifully with all kinds of stunning details.

The biggest difference between Mac and Amy’s wedding and a typical wedding at the Icehouse is that Mac and Amy handmade and customized so many little details.

They spent lots of time setting up the lights to fit the room perfectly. The manzanita trees that you saw at their ceremony and also behind their head table, were all hand picked (from nature, not a nursery) and potted by them, and well…. I could go on and on about all the amazing details there.  You’ll just have to see them all in the pictures!

Riette, who works with Downtown Phoenix Venues, is the go to person for all the events that happen in many of the cool venues around that area, did an amazing job setting up all those little details and enabling the entire look to come together just right!  Props to Riette and her team for making Amy and Mac’s vision come to life!

Oh and one more thing about the details of the day that I can’t forget to mention… Mac and Amy were each in charge of a cake. Amy handled the groom’s cake and did an excellent job having it done in full Ohio State fashion (The Buckeyes were a constant theme throughout this wedding… even Amy’s garter had their logo on it!).  Mac took care of the actual wedding cake and rumor has it, he made it himself!!!

Seriously, that is amazing, isn’t it?!

I don’t think this wedding could’ve been any more perfect for Mac and Amy.

(More bridesmaid swooning).

They put so much of themselves into it and the results were so worth the time and energy!  Everything was beautiful…

…including the bride herself of course…

…their party was amazing…

…and they were just so SO happy throughout it all!

Mac and Amy, the best of luck to you both.  Thanks for allowing us to be a part of this and for doing such a good job planning everything and giving us great material to work with! 🙂  Congrats!

Click to see the rest of Mac and Amy’s downtown wedding photos.

The Reveal Moment… to have or not to have.

I’ve heard it many times before…. “WHAT?!  You’re going to see each other before the wedding?!  You’re going to put a curse on your marriage!”  Well actually, the reason behind the custom of not seeing each other before the ceremony on your wedding has less to do with superstitions and more to do with the realities of arranged marriages.  The reason a groom is not to see his bride before the wedding…. is to make sure he doesn’t run away.  Seriously.  Many of the traditions we have in fact, are there for the sole purpose of keeping a groom planted in place just long enough to get a firm commitment out of him to a girl he’s never met before.  Flowers… they hide bad smelling brides very well.  The veil… he doesn’t lift it until he’s promised his life away, remember?  And of course the whole “not seeing each other before hand thing”.  Keep your flowers and your veil traditions, I’m fine with those and they both add a little something to the wedding.  The hiding away from one another however, is a tradition I’d be happy to see go.

In case you’re thinking I’m just being a selfish photographer who wants more time with our clients, that is not at all the case.  I have thought long and hard about this and have experienced many weddings on both sides of the scenario.  And the final verdict from my voice of experience?  The reveal moment wins hands down.

Benefit of the reveal moment

So what are the big arguments for not seeing each other before hand?  Well there’s the whole keeping with tradition thing, which I think we’ve already decided is a bogus tradition that doesn’t really deserve our respect (unless you really are afraid that your groom will run away when he sees your face… then maybe you want to keep this tradition).  The other excuse of course is that you want to experience the moment of seeing each other for the first time during the ceremony.  I totally agree with this line of thinking… it is an amazing moment.  Which is exactly why I think it deserves to be given the thought, time, and attention that the reveal moment gives it.

wedding first look

The reveal moment (or what some call a “First Look”), really is a an actual moment… we make it a big deal!  It’s not like you’re just walking around on your wedding day high fiving one another casually in passing while only half your hair’s done.  It’s basically set up to be the ultimate “seeing each other for the first time experience”.  You can see in the pictures below what the set up looks like. The sneaking up of the bride…

…tapping on the shoulder (with a slight pause to torture the groom as he waits impatiently)…

…and then… tada! 

THE MOMENT!

The first lookReveal moment

But not just a quick moment, a moment that keeps on giving and giving.

Why a first look wedding

The reveal moment takes those few blurry seconds of haziness that you would experience during a ceremony first look (when your brain is flopping back and forth from “don’t trip”, to “don’t cry”, to “oh my gosh I have a wedgie”) and turns it into a time that has your true 100% focus when you are allowed to do whatever you feel like to express your true emotions…. cry…

…kiss, make out sick, pray (like the couple below is did)…

…or even just sit and hold each other.

You don’t get to do that at the ceremony.  In fact, you are spending so much energy trying NOT to cry in front of everyone that you could almost miss the moment entirely.

benefit of the reveal moment

Of course as you are expressing all the emotion you’d only wish you could express if this first look had happened at the alter, we are getting much better pictures than we would of that quick glance at the beginning of the ceremony.  Which brings me to the next reason why people are against reveal moments… they often want a picture of that happening during the ceremony.

Hawaii wedding

Well consider for a moment the fact that all your guests are standing up during this point in time (not all of us are giants like Scottie who can take pictures over everyone’s heads)… and that there really are only so many angles we can get the right shot from and lighting, ceremony set up, etc. affects that…. and remember that this moment only goes on for a few seconds.  Well, we will do our best, but you really can’t blame us if we miss it.  For the reveal moment, we pick the place (a private one with beautiful lighting where we have the freedom to move and shoot from wherever we want with nothing in our way), we also have as long as we need to catch what’s happening, and we have that one quick second of the initial look that turns into 15 minutes of adoring looks that only grow in emotion from that first second on.

the first look wedding

(All 4 of these pictures above and below are taken right at their ceremony alter… it just happened to be before the wedding started so we could actually stand wherever we wanted and light it however we wanted.  There’s no way we could’ve got a perfect kiss shot that close up during their ceremony because of the chair set up… but this was their first kiss on their wedding day and because of the reveal moment, they now have a better photo of it than if it had been during the ceremony!  Don’t worry, the actual wedding kiss is still a HUGE deal and we got photos of that one as well!).

Better pictures from that same moment at the ceremony?  Highly unlikely.

Seeing each other before ceremony(This is still one of my favorite pictures we’ve ever taken… and it happened at a reveal.  This shot wouldn’t exist had they not decided to do a reveal moment, because there’s no way we would have been able to get one this perfect during their ceremony… at least not without standing right in front of their parents throughout the entire thing!).

first look benefit

By the way, many of our couples who do the reveal, also have an amazing moment when they see each other at the ceremony for the first time… it’s a different kind of moment, because it’s more of a “we have a shared secret and I feel so close to you right now, kind of look”. This look is just as good as the first moment look, it’s special in it’s own way. The two pictures below were taken between their reveal moments and the ceremony.  This is the “shared secret” look I’m talking about…

Wedding emotion

Why do they have a secret between them at the ceremony?  Because they had time to bond together before heading into it.  They are walking in front of everyone they know, full of nerves, fears, worries, etc…. and they are the only two people there at that moment that are sharing those exact same feelings to that degree… and they have already laughed and cried about it together… now they get to just live it side by side.

There really is something to say for the magic that happens between a couple during the reveal moment.  Every single time we’ve had it, at least one of the two people involved, whether it’s the bride or the groom, goes through a transition that takes them from ” stressed out maniac” to “chill, in love, happiest person in the world” as soon as they see their love.  It is amazing, it’s almost like you can see the ton of bricks slide off their shoulders all at once into a heap at their feet.

Their entire countenance changes as they stop thinking about the hundreds of eyes on them, the missing bouquets, or the angry family members because all they can think about is that they are here to marry this amazing person in front of them.  All of a sudden, they are enjoying their day and they remember the importance of what it’s all about.  This same thing often happens with the ceremony first look, but it’s sad to me that they wasted so much of their wedding day NOT feeling like that when they didn’t have to.

As you can see, my advice to choose a reveal moment for your wedding day has to do with far more than just pictures.  It has made so many of our clients so very happy… so much so that as they are getting ready to walk down the aisle, they are going on and on to me about how glad they are that they did a reveal moment.  I’m not talking about just one of our clients raving about it on their very wedding day… I’m talking about most of our clients.  I also have had brides turn to me during a particular nerve wracking moment on a very stressful wedding day and say “I really wish we had done the reveal moment thing, I think I would feel so much better right now if I had!”.

The proof is in the pudding people.

You do have every right to disagree with me….and I am fine with that.  In fact, some of our clients do disagree with me and choose not to do reveal moments and I totally respect their choice and give them that right.  I just consider it my duty as their photographer to inform them of the options and to educate them on things I’ve learned in my experiences.  And just so you know, Scottie and I did NOT have a reveal moment at our own wedding, we did things in what we call “The Old School” way and I was fine with it.

BUT, had I seen the things I’ve now seen and known the stuff I now know, I would’ve done the reveal moment in a heartbeat because I know that even though my wedding day was totally fine the way it was and I don’t have any complaints, there is a pretty good chance that it could’ve been even better had I been more open minded about this particular tradition.  I’m not sad about it and my point is not to make anyone else sad about it.  My point is to fully educate those who still have this decision to make one day.

I know, I know, after hearing all this, many of you are still saying, “but it’s just not what I imagined!!”.  I know that is a big deal when you’re planning a wedding, especially if you’ve been planning it since you were like 5!  That is pretty much the one argument I can’t stand up against, because I know, it’s not what you imagined.  But I still implore you to make that one sacrifice for the greater good.  Those few seconds of the first look during the ceremony… the ones that might not even go the way you dreamed, that you are willing to plan your entire day around… are they worth losing out on all the other benefits for?  If so, then you have made your decision and more power to you, follow those childhood wedding dreams!

Despite the fact that I currently have a blog post here that is much longer than I planned on, I still have not even told you half the reasons I think a reveal moment is a good idea.  So here’s my short little summary of my points about this…

The Lesser Known Benefits of the Reveal Moment:

  1. The first time you see each other in a ceremony happens in the blur of a few seconds. The reveal takes that amazing moment and turns it into it’s own event which makes it more memorable and significant.
  2. You feel more like partners going into this together rather than alone… it is an amazing bonding experience to anticipate the moment together.
  3. Your emotions are more genuine when expressed in private, which is one of the many things about a reveal moment that will make the photos of the first time you see one another turn out better
  4. Your nerves calm down significantly when you see one another, allowing you to enjoy the first half of your wedding day more.
  5. Your schedule is more relaxed which will make your entire wedding day feel more relaxed.
  6. It feels more natural to do family photos before the ceremony because afterwards all you want to do is be together for a few minutes and then go join your party.
  7. You have more time for photos of the two of you alone and with the people you care about (30 min to 1 hr more!).
  8. Cocktail hour is shorter and your guests are happier!
  9. The reveal moment is all about relaxing everyone and making the day more enjoyable.  Every person involved in the wedding will be more chill and have more fun when the reveal moment schedule is used.
  10. Part of the reason our clients hire us is because they trust our experience and you believe we have their best interests at heart… and we fully believe they will be happiest experiencing the benefits of the Reveal Moment Schedule.

The final point of all time for why you should opt for a reveal moment on your wedding day?  Just look at all these pictures.  They are some of the most emotional moments we’ve ever captured… and they are moments that never would have happened if the couple hadn’t made the decision to include this time in their wedding day.

(to hear more about our wedding experiences or to see many more beautiful wedding moments, stay connected with us by liking Radiant Photography on Facebook!)

first look

Vanessa and Andy’s Beautiful golf course wedding

I can’t believe Vanessa’s all grown up and married!

I (Breanna) first met Vanessa when she was around 14 years old and as the years passed, I spent many hours talking to her as she came to me for advice about life… so I was very excited to find myself at her wedding this past month!!

(Obviously she was excited about her wedding too!!)

Not only did I go it, but I took pictures of it!

And I have to admit, it looks like my advice was good over the years since she ended up marrying Andy, who is a great guy and someone I am very happy to see Vanessa with.

There’s nothing better than seeing two people who belong together get married (*tiny tear*).

Vanessa and Andy’s wedding was a beautiful one.  I am still amazed how beautiful it is in AZ in January, and their wedding day was no exception to that.  A great day, a great girl, and a great guy… it doesn’t get any better than that!

(Getting ready to walk down the aisle with her dad!  Can’t you just feel the nerves?!)

They also had a few fun little touches to their big day.

(Vanessa always sees pictures of groomsmen with sunglasses on so she thought she’d put a spin on it and have the girls wear them instead…)

(… only hers were broken!!  ha ha!).

One fun thing they did that comes to mind is that they played a comedy video on all the TV’s in the reception hall to keep the guests entertained while we were out taking pictures during the cocktail hour.

But the main event when it comes to fun, happened during their first dance…they cut short the romantic song (pretending like it was an accident)…

…to bust into a choreographed dance they saw on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air!  The whole bridal party joined them on the dance floor to dance in unison to “Jump On It”. Have you ever seen a girl in a wedding dress doing this dance?!  Sooo funny!

(Like us on Facebook to tag yourselves in some of these photos!)

Vanessa and Andy, we loved being a part of your wedding and we’re excited to see where the future takes the two of you!  Congratulations!

Click to see the rest of the photos from Vanessa and Andy’s beautiful golf course wedding!

Alex and David and their perfect wedding!

When David proposed to Alex, it didn’t take her long to figure out where she wanted to have the wedding.

Next to David, Trune North Golf Club in AZ was her one and only.

And I can see why!

The desert setting in January was PERFECT for all of their out of town guests who just couldn’t wait to get out of the snow.

It was an absolutely perfect day, and everything from the sky and the decorations…

…to the bride and her bridesmaids, were just beautiful.

It really couldn’t have been a more perfect setting for a perfect wedding.

(Like our Facebook page if you want to tag yourself in some of these photos!).

The only thing that was about to go wrong was quickly solved as one of the bridesmaids graciously rushed back to the hotel to get Alex’s forgotten jewelry and arrived back just in time for pictures.  See, even the “almost mistakes” were fixed perfectly!

Alex was the perfect bride with her relaxed attitude and beautiful laughter that was heard every time David was near (I must say, he’s a pretty funny guy!).

And David was the perfect groom as he was ready and willing to climb any rock and stand in any pose we asked of him, all while maintaining a big, excited smile on his face the entire time.

Alex and David…  you guys definitely know how to put on a successful wedding and you made our job go so smoothly!  Thanks for being so easy to work with and for being wonderful people.  We wish you all the best of luck in your future together!

Click to see the rest of the photos from Alex and David’s perfect wedding!

The Top 25 Radiant Photos of 2010: Weddings/ Unique Sessions

All of you Radiant fans have spoken… and you have been heard! The results of our “Best of 2010: Weddings and Unique Sessions” contest are in!

Out of 118 photos in the album on Facebook, these are the photos that received the most votes (click here if you want to see all the runners up). The winners are divided into categories so you can see which ones had the most votes, but within each category they are listed in a random order.

So please sit back and enjoy….

“The Top 25 Radiant Photos of 2010: Weddings/Unique Sessions”

40 – 60 votes

Best wedding photography contest

This photo got 2 votes for her being a mermaid.

(See more from this session in the Cenotes of Playa Del Carmen, Mexico here).

“Captured exactly how I was feeling.” – The Bride.

Best photography 2010 Southern California winner

This photo got 3 votes for her being a mermaid… I guess you can tell what my (Breanna’s) favorite movie was growing up!

One voter began the rumor that he was playing chopsticks here… the truth is a secret between the two of them (mostly because I don’t remember).

Winning Mexico wedding photographer

Described as “epic, dramatic, exceptional, dream-like, phenomenal, gorgeous, and breath taking”… I’d say this one is a winner for sure.  Read all the comments (and add your own) here.


21- 39 votes

Winning Hawaii wedding photographer

“I loved everything about this wedding! It was definitely one of your best works EVER!” – Molly Ellison

Click to see the rest of this Hawaii wedding here…. Molly vouches for it!

Best vintage wedding photos 2010

This one had some great comments. Here are a few…

“I love these crybabies.” – Stephanie Kafton (sister of the groom)

“One of the only moments I remember clearly from that day!” – The Bride

“I wish I had a picture of my parents or grandparents like this.” – Inez Moreno

“If this doesn’t win, I am moving to Canada.” – Sari Beliak (looks like you get to stay, Sari).

“I love this shot! So Indie and so cute.” – Kirsten Leah Bitzer

See more of the comments here.

” Her love awaits, just outside those doors…” – Janae Tyars (of Tyars Media)

The general agreement is that this kid rocks.

One word votes: “Romance”.

“Beautiful beautiful beautiful. I want light like this to follow me around all day.” – Molly Ellison (what an excellent commenter you are, Molly!)

Many agreed that this looks like a scene in a movie. But if this is a movie, it’s definitely based on a true story because one of their friends let us know that they really are that in love!


16- 20 votes

Ek, I’m so sick of hearing about how beautiful Julie is!  Just kidding… Julie you are freaking stunning!

” My absolute favorite! Looks like a movie! Perhaps a Pride & Prejudice moment.” – The Bride.

“This cave and water shoot just stirs something in me. love it.” – Gabrielle Dailey Bass

See more from this session in the Cenotes of Playa Del Carmen, Mexico here.

“Earthy and elegant!” – Janae Tyars (Tyars Media). I thought that was the perfect description of this photo.  Also, my pride insists that I inform you that another commenter said this belongs in a bridal magazine! 🙂

This one is meant to remind everyone that there is more than just cactus in Arizona!


15 – 10 votes

Looks like you just happened to capture a tender moment…” – Jennifer Gabrielson Anderson

It’s unanimous… this is one of the coolest bouquets of all time (and I agree… I totally wished I had thought of that for my wedding)!

“WOW!!!” – Andrea Sholer

… several comments later…

“I’ve already commented, but I just can’t get over this one!!!” – Andrea Sholer

Best Phoenix wedding photographer 2010

” Best day of my life!!” – The Bride.

To answer the questions, this is at the Tre Bella wedding venue in Downtown Mesa.  See more from this wedding here.

Many people have told us since we first posted this photo that it is their all time favorite because of the symbolism of a dad working hard to be there for his beautiful little girl.

“Working hands for a beautiful daughter!!” – Kimberly Brown (mother of the bride)

” Beautiful shot…i can still ‘hear’ Breanna’s words explaining the incredible symbolism behind this one on the Radiant Blog!” – Chelsea Nelsen (The blog post she’s talking about is here).

Winning Mexico wedding photos

“Scottie-you’re a lighting wizard!” – Lucinda Green

I (Breanna) agree.  Watch the “Making of Video” for this session to see what we’re talking about!

Best vintage wedding photographer phoenix

One word comments: “Vintage”.  This wedding did have a super cool vintage feel.  See more from it here.

Julie and Andrew, I think your Unique Session is a big winner in the contest… people love it!

Congratulations to all of the couples in our winning photos.  Your win is a testament to you putting a lot of hard work, thought, and time into your photos and to you planning amazing weddings and Unique Sessions… thanks for making our portfolio amazing!  We can honestly say we love you all and we feel so blessed that we get some of the best couples around.   We regularly get comments on our Facebook page and blog telling us how cool our couples are… and we SO agree!

And thanks so much to everyone who voted.  We had so much fun reading all the comments and you were all a major encouragement to us.  Thanks to all your kind words we’re all refreshed and psyched out of our minds to blow it up in 2011! Here’s to a fantastic 2011!

P.S. Our winners in the high school senior/family photo session category will be going up later this week!