It’s hard to believe Jamie and Josh’s wedding at the Huntington Bay Club, just south of Los Angeles, California, was only a year ago — and what a shitshow of a year it’s been! I didn’t know what to suspect from my first big wedding on the West Coast, but knew after their fun and unique engagement photos that this couple would have something exciting up their sleeve. With expert guidance from the extraordinary Margaux of Harmony Creative Studio, they were able to combine the best of Southern California (a beach and desert landscape steps from the same venue??? Yes, please!) along with personal touches that showcase their love for many nerdy fandoms into their Huntington Bay Club wedding.
Truly, I didn’t know that mixing Pixar animation, Jewish traditions, a beachfront ceremony, deep-cut sitcom references, Dungeons and Dragons, and a jaunt through an arid nature preserve could all be part of such an elegant wedding. But they did that! You know you want to see all the details, so just keep scrolling to see all the sweet, quirky and personal touches they had throughout their wedding day.
We started off the day with a first look, just after Jamie finished getting ready with some help from her mother and bridesmaids. This lovely pathway down to the Huntington Bay Club’s Barefoot Bar was a perfect spot for the intimate moment, nestled between the beach and luscious palm fronds. Jamie and Josh had a tradition of breaking tradition, with Josh proposing in a hand-made card rather than getting down on one knee, and Jamie being prepared to immediately propose back with a man-gagement ring. They wanted to keep things simple and sweet without too much pomp or circumstance dictating what a wedding is “supposed to” be, starting with a more lowkey first look. Traditional or not, this delightful moment of them seeing one another for the first time on their wedding day was still the freaking cutest.
But this didn’t come easy for Jamie and Josh, who are the first to admit they are self conscious in the spotlight. In a review on TheKnot afterwards, Jamie wrote “I rarely like looking at photos of myself and the photos I enjoy taking are goofy ones where I can lean into my more unique qualities. So when it came time to choose who would capture our wedding day… I knew I needed someone I could trust and who could make me feel comfortable. I’m so thankful that Justin McCallum is out in the world providing that exact service.” Since I knew they weren’t the hugest fans of being in front of the camera, I mixed a blend of shrinking back into the distance so the soonly-weds could just cuddle and be themselves, then popping back in with jokes or prompts to have them get out of their own heads and into the moment. Josh added in a separate review on WeddingWire that I “managed to make what by all accounts should have been an uncomfortable few hours and turn it into a genuinely fun experience for everyone involved.”
In addition to portraits all over the sprawling grounds of Huntington Bay Club with their views of the water, we also ventured just down the road to the Bolsa Chica Land Trust and Nursery close to sunset for a bit of a different look. As someone who has always dreamed of an elopement shoot in Joshua Tree, this stunning light with arid shrubbery and even a groom named Josh was about as close to a dream as I could get. I think Jamie felt the fantasy, too, as she twirled around her custom Dolly Couture Bridal tea-length wedding dress.
I’m really obsessed with the style choices they made on their wedding day, from Josh’s pop of color with a navy bowtie, to Jamie wanting a more fun gown and selecting a designer that specializes in shorter alternative, rockabilly, pin-up and retro gowns. Also, since Jamie almost always wears a hat (I have known her for nearly half my life, and the only times I have seen her without one were their engagement session and wedding day), she found a way to skirt convention while keeping things classy by opting for a lil fascinator to wear. It’s just so cute and spunky!
The florals were also a lovely mix of quirky and classic, marvelously designed by the team at Winston & Main. With soft creams and blues mixed with chic eucalyptus and fun touches — like satin ribbons and magnetic boutonniere fixtures, they were a perfect embodiment of the day. I had actually gotten to be in a wedding party the weekend prior to this shoot that also had Winston & Main for their floral designs, and I can’t begin to describe how obsessed with them I am. Their work is environmentally friendly and actually influenced by the couples, plus absolutely breathtaking and original. I just wish they worked on the East Coast, too! I guess I’ll just have to photograph out in Los Angeles more, which I am not too mad about (ya know, post-pandemic).
When it came to portraits with their wedding party, I was at first a little worried. I have noticed over the years that wedding parties keep going two different directions — either very small with one honored bestie for each spouse, or expanding larger and larger so there are over a dozen folks standing up with a couple as they tie the knot. Jamie and Josh opted for the latter, with a mixed gender wedding party of 13 of the most important folks in their life including siblings, coworkers and a childhood-friend-turned-Broadway-actress. The common thread of this motley crew was absolute affection and joy for the bride and groom as they celebrated their love party. They were all goofy, cuddly, and willing to stand in the sand despite wearing high heels — which makes them great friends! I am so glad the bridesmaids and groomspeople all had as much fun as I did, with the couple writing in their reviews ‘The wedding party had a blast goofing around and posing together… I can’t count how many of my friends and family came to me after the wedding and told me ‘Justin was AMAZING’ because he made us ALL feel special and beautiful.”
The actual wedding ceremony occurred just before golden hour began, bay side on a terrace overlooking the beach. This is the best way to plan your own wedding, too, since it will be softer lighting but still allow guests to actually see you tie the knot. Plus afterwards during cocktail hour everyone can fully enjoy the sunset! But I digress. Observing Jewish custom, Jamie and Josh were escorted into the ceremony by both of their parents and wed under a chuppah. Observing a newer custom, they also asked to have an unplugged ceremony — saying guests shouldn’t be on their phones or snapping photos. Rather, asking folks to unplug encourages them to stay present, and also prevents them from getting the in the way of the photographer *cough* ahem wink *cough*. BUT that didn’t stop the bride from pulling out her phone to record a moment herself. A film and television editor, she compiles an annual collection of one-second-long videos from each day into a yearly retrospective of moments. Then their dear friend, who served as the officiant, guided them through the rest of the ceremony which was laden with inside jokes, personal anecdotes, and vows that featured the classic Parks and Rec line: “I love you and I like you.” They sealed everything with a smooch and little boogie back down the aisle!
While guests enjoyed a stunning sunset at cocktail hour, I took a bit of time to document some of the details that Jamie and Josh sprinkled throughout their day. They had beautifully designed art deco invitations that they sealed with a custom ink press featuring a monogram of their initials joined together. The design blended seamlessly across all their paper goods, and signage throughout the day. I combined a program with their favor — custom, multi-sided dice in their wedding colors along with instructions of how to play Dungeons and Dragons, which the happy couple plays with friends weekly. Other touches peppered across the day were memorabilia from the Pixar film “Up.” Josh works in animation and had tons of small references added including a hand painted mailbox, like Carl and Ellie’s, for guests to put their cards.
At the bar they displayed a custom sign referencing a recurring joke from How I Met Your Mother about a fastidious bartender at a wedding. They featured moments from that show as well as many of their rom-com moments in a custom compilation of romantic clips shown behind the bar all night. Jamie and Josh “created” personalized cake toppers by taking apart multiple Funko Pop figurines (including those of Doctor Who and Lin-Manuel Miranda) and assembling bits back together in their likeness. That’s truly the most hardcore DIY work I have ever seen at a wedding! Last but not least, as huge movie buffs, they had a popcorn bar at their cocktail hour with an assortment of flavors for guests to sample. I’m a slut for popcorn, so I obviously had to have to try some of each.
We finished cocktail hour with a little sunset portrait action which Jamie called “one of [her] favorite moments of the day… As the sun had almost set Justin ran up to us and said ‘I need to borrow you!’ and he took us outside to where the sky was an indescribable shade of red and orange and took a gorgeous silhouette of my husband and I before he lost the light. It’s maybe my favorite photo ever taken.” I have to agree — that shot is one of my absolute faves from the 175 weddings I’ve shot! After that, we made our way into their reception, which Jamie and Josh kicked off with a private high five before entering Huntington Bay Club’s Trinidad Ballroom.
The rest of the evening was a delightful party with all my favorite moments at any wedding: heartfelt toasts that also lovingly mocked the couple a bit, abundant cocktails leading to silly dance moves, and a good old fashioned hora. As a friend of the couple, I got the rare instance that I could lay down my camera for the last hour or so of the evening and just experience the ambiance and joy of their Huntington Bay Club wedding. Jamie and Josh truly found a way to infuse their personalities into the details and aesthetic of the day, but it was also mirrored by their community — some who traveled just down the 405, others across the globe — who showed up for them and affirmed their commitment to one another. I was so lucky to experience such a warm and happy room, and look back so fondly as it was one of my last weddings I photographed before the outbreak of COVID-19.
I can’t post every image I’d like to on here, not only because most folks wouldn’t scroll through them all, but also it wrecks a blog’s SEO score. However, I am so grateful for the kind words Jamie and Josh wrote about the moments I captured. “In addition to his great eye for staging, Justin has a way of capturing moments of beauty you didn’t even know were there. Blink-and-you-miss-them moments like the belly laugh after a joke, the joy of dancing with old friends, and the most meaningful of shared glances. He managed to bottle the full range of emotions of our day and lay them out in stunning detail so we can relive it over and over again… my favorites from the day were the candids he captured where he just allowed us to be ourselves enjoying the day—those photos were where the true magic was found. Me taking in all my loved ones at the reception… my best friend wiping away some happy tears. There are too many specific snapshots to mention that I treasure as much as the day itself.” Knowing my couples, especially those I am lucky enough to call my friends, have these moments to look back on is truly the best part of my job.
Planning + Design: Harmony Creative | Venue: Huntington Bay Club | Catering + Bar: 24 Carrots Catering and Events | Florals: Winston & Main | Invitations + Paper Goods Design: Josh Holtsclaw | Signage : Simply Stated LA | Band: The Class Band | Cake + Desserts: SusieCakes | Rentals: Signature |Dress: Dolly Couture | Fascinator: J C Milinery |Suit: Mens Warehouse | Favors: Chessex Dice and Q-workshop