An L.A. Sunrise Wedding {and weekend}

 My take on Jonny's wedding ...

Next shot, my favorite shot of the day ...because it's SO Jonny. 
{Right, those of you that know Jonny?}

In my twenties, I lived in Indonesia.

August 19th, 1996, after three days of travel {and I'm so not exaggerating}, I landed on the West side of the island of New Guinea, in the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya {now called Papua}.

I arrived not knowing a soul. I was on the other side of the world, way far away from family and friends, before the days of Skype and fast internet connections. Think "You've Got Mail" AOL dial up sound and that's what we're talking about IF the electricity was actually working, which was, at best, rather sketchy. 

I saw it as a grand adventure and part of God's plan for my life and looking back, I simply cannot imagine my life without Indonesia in it. {I actually had a way harder time transitioning back to life in America when my three-year stint in Indonesia was over. Living in a third world country grabs a hold of your heart and never really lets go. Ever.

I was single at the time {God had to get Jack's attention by sending me across the globe for him to realize I really was the one he wanted. I'm so glad this is my blog so that I can write my interpretation of how things went down.} 

And when you're single, not knowing a soul, living in a foreign land and not knowing the language, the people that reach out and take you in and include you and help you in your new adventure become family to you. 

As in TRUE FAMILY. 

There might not be that blood relation thing that technically defines family, but there is this stronger-than-you-can-possibly-imagine bond that grows deep and wide when you are all alone and someone says ... 

"Come over. 
Eat with us. 
Vacation with us. 
Do Christmas with us. 
Happy birthday in a surprise sort of way with us. 
When you have malaria you can sleep over so we can give you your meds and make sure you're alive. 
And when you've had too many meals in a row all by yourself, come over and sit at our table and eat our food and drink our Diet Coke. 
Watch a movie with us on a lonely Saturday night. 
Use our computer. 
Play games around our table. 
Go out to eat with us. 
Go to the ocean with us for the weekend.
And on and on it goes." 

So you get the idea. 

I was welcomed and loved on by all of the families in Irian. When everyone is far away from their 'home and native lands', a community arises that becomes family. It's hard to describe and even harder to understand. I love every last one of my students and their families. Every last one. 

And then within that huge loving community, there were a few families that did everything I mentioned in that paragraph above ... and those families are so very, very, VERY precious to me. {They all deserve a post unto their own.}

The Stubers. 
The Isaacs. 
The Dukes. 
The Wileys. 
The Hans. 

And "The Hans Family" were the reason for my first and last two trips to California. Last June to San Diego for Becca's wedding {still haven't blogged about that one yet - on my list people, on my list.}  And then Jonny married sweet Nina this past Saturday, hence the recent trip to L.A.

Jonny is like a little brother to me. Except he's bigger than me now but it wasn't always so, especially when he was a scrawny little 8th grader who was more interested in making everyone laugh than doing his homework. I can say that because I was his teacher for three years.


Jonny is, how shall we say it --- he's just JONNY. 

With a capital JONNY. 

When you say his name you sort of shake your head and smirk out of the corner of your mouth because just saying his name makes you smile. You're smirking right now, aren't you? If you know him, I know you're smirking.

He is a story - a grand story - waiting to happen at every moment in time. Seriously, the guy finds himself in these predicaments that turn grandiose. Like the time he hurt himself surfing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and ended up on a U.S. Military ship, eating steak with the captain of the ship and spending several days on board, just because. I'm so not kidding.

And those of us that know and love Jonny could tell story, after story, after story, of Jonny's adventures. Perhaps he needs to write a book while the rest of us are alive so that we could validate that he is, indeed, telling the truth.

I do believe that anyone and everyone who has met and come to know and love Jonny would say that about him. He has personality PLUS. He is super KIND and would give anything to anybody. He makes time for others - never in a rush. {Sometimes in the past we wished he would have been in a little bit of a rush. Sometimes.}

He HELPS those in need. He doesn't judge someone because of how they look or what they wear or don't wear. He has a big heart and he's always interested in others.

And as we found out at the reception, Nina is the same way -- and supposedly Jonny is just the female version of Nina. So that's a whole lotta love in two great people. 

I have a feeling they might change the world, these two. 


I'm really proud of the man Jonny has become. When you know a kid as a junior higher and high schooler you know the potential that is there. So when they navigate those years and land close to thirty years old and have rich character and a heart after God's and a love for others, you can't help but be proud. 

And Jonny's had some tough things happen in his life but I love that his love for Jesus is authentic and real and contagious. His talk matches his walk. He doesn't have Christianity sealed up in a nice small gift-wrapped box with a pretty bow on top. His God is big and outside-the-box and Jonny ends up being a safe place for people to ask the tough questions without getting a flippant answer. He sits in the messiness with folks. I love that about Jonny and have great respect for people that will sit in the messiness with others.

And so as I watched Jonny say "I Do" to Nina, I felt this big sister sort of pride welling up inside. Maybe it was good that my camera was on the broken end of life, because it forced me to just observe and take in and linger in the beauty that is marriage and wedding commitments and hope and love.

So Jonny's married.

He's all growed up now. 
He's got a ring on his finger. 
He's got a bride by his side. 
He was on-time to all events this weekend, which is nothing short of miraculous if you knew Jonny as a teen. 
He was getting oil in his car on the way out of town for their honeymoon, the sign of someone really being an adult. 
And he was walking into marriage with his eyes wide open, picking Nina as his beautiful bride to share the rest of his days on this earth. 


I look forward to getting to know Nina in the coming years. While I don't know her well {yet}, I know that if Jonny is crazy about her, than I am too! And what I do know of her, I love. She's groovy and fashionable and compassionate and generous and loving and dang, the girl can dance. 

 An incredibly large portion of their wedding day was donated to them by friends, from Jonny's custom-made fancy pants suit to the fancy pants coffee and favors to the music and lighting and videoing and boxed water and on and on the list goes. 

{And a special shout out to the hair and make-up gal who showed up at the hotel at 2:30am with coffee in hand for the bride, and a smile on her face. That's what Nina said -- I wouldn't know because I was fast asleep because it was, well, 2:30am.}

And what I shared with Jonny and Nina was that people's generosity really was a testament to who Jonny and Nina are -- because they are so generous and giving and loving themselves, it is just natural that people would absolutely want to give back to them on their special sunrise wedding extravaganza! 

So the wedding in photos -----

{Please excuse the quality of the pictures. I dropped - and broke - my camera the day before the wedding so about every third picture turned out and those were, shall we say, sub-par ... but still captured the flavor of the day .... My camera is now at the shop. Boo.}

Anyway, the wedding. 

In one word. 

MAGICAL. 

In a bunch of words. 

A magical 6am sunrise wedding in a national park with mountains in each direction, the ceremony being held in an amphitheatre with stone seats and grass popping out between said stones, lights dangling, birds singing in the background, trees in grand canopy, open fields waiting to be picnicked in after said ceremony, a coffee bar serving your favorite latte or espresso, brunch muffins and quiches and fancies and make-your-own yoghurt parfaits in vintage looking jars, mimosas in champagne flutes waiting to be sipped and a mariachi band that rolled on queue as Jonny and Nina were pronounced husband and wife! I can't imagine a better place to be than right there at Jonny and Nina's wedding. 

Spectacularly moving. 

Two people that are crazy about each other pledged their love in front of a bunch of their favorite people from around the globe while the sun popped up over the mountains just as the moms and dads finished praying for their beautiful - inside and out - children. 


I think for me, one of the ceremony highlights was seeing Jonny come out, looking spiffy and all, but more importantly, watching him stand up front and slowly look through the crowd, taking in the site of those that he loves all in one place, celebrating his marriage.
I won't lie - I cried when I saw him doing that. It was very touching and a reminder that to him, the day was more about who he was marrying and who he was with, than about the fancy stuff around him. He was soaking in the moment. He was living in the moment, realizing the significance of what he was about to do. 

And this next picture captures every friendship that Jonny has, and really, he's this way with complete strangers, too. You can't be around him for long before he's making you belly laugh. 
Oh, and the pastor rocked his talk. Seriously. Said some beautiful, significant, powerful things, none of which I can remember right this second. {I'm bad like that but I do want a transcript of his talk because it was that good. Someone send that to me, okay?}
  
And now for a few poor quality shots of the venue...

From a distance, as you arrived and after you grabbed coffee, you walked through the woods to this ...

 Dad and daughter ...
You may kiss your bride ...

Mariachi Band right on queue ...

4 inch heels. Wowzas. {I think I tripped down the stairs just looking at these heels.}

And what's a wedding without a pinata?

And peacocks? {This guy graced our presence during set up on Friday morning but forgot to show up at 6am on Saturday. Maybe it was too early for him?}

I love my Barb and Ailie ...
And because I love hats so very, very much, I had to end with this shot of 'the hat couple' as I affectionately called them, as they left the dreamy reception.

Jonny and Nina, you will live happily ever after.

You will change the world. 

One friendship at a time.

And on a shallower note, you will continue to rock the 4-inch heels and the custom-made suits. 

I just know it!

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