Ghanooni Wedding- Rosehill Community Center Phoenix Wedding Photographer/ Leilani Dong Photography

Last fall, I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with Keahi and trying my best to prepare for the "engagement season" that takes place at the end of the year, when newly engaged brides would be looking for photographers.  As a new wedding photographer, I had a lot of work to do in order to be ready.  My website was underway, and I was looking into different advertising sites.  

I was recommended to Katie from a past bride whose wedding I had photographed that summer.  I was so grateful when she reached out to me!  

Katie in so many ways is someone I would consider the perfect "Leilani Dong Bride".   If you meet me in person, you'd know I'm rather introverted and quite.  I'm not an in your face personality.  I find and look for deep meaning in the world around me.  Katie is a kindred spirit.  I love wedding days, because you're surrounded by all of your favorite people.  I could tell that Katie was surrounded by people who cared and loved her fiercely- Josh too.  

As fate would have it, this year has been extremely difficult for me.  Last November, a month after my second son Keahi was born, I found myself in the emergency room.  Although I didn't know it at the time, I was experiencing my first full blown hemiplegic migraine attack.  For those of you who don't know, when a full hemiplegic migraine hits, it mimics all of the symptoms of stroke.  I lost the ability to speak, it was difficult to think clearly, and the left side of my body went completely numb/weak.  There is a hicup in my DNA that makes it so my brain doesn't "clean" itself as well.  "Mini-strokes" were common in my family on my mom's side, so that's what I thought I was having.  I was shocked when I was diagnosed with HM.  Looking at things now, I think some of those mini-strokes my mom and others had might have actually been HM attacks- you won't know unless your seen/ have an during an attack what the exact cause is.  

Recovering and learning to cope with a new reality has been rough this year.  One of the main triggers for HM is lack of sleep and having a new born definitely adds to that.  Luckily, I know what some of the triggers are now, I'm working on getting better sleep, and I am able to have better control over my symptoms and attacks. 

Katie was so patient with me this past year.  I'm just so grateful for that! 

Sometimes, I think God knows what you need and what will be best for you.  One of the reasons I knew I was following in the right direction with marrying my husband was the circumstances I faced looking for a new job before we got married.  I had been working in a temporary position and was trying my best to find something more permanent.  Every time I would apply or try for a new opportunity, things fell through.  I felt like I was hitting my head against a wall!  Then, I reconnected with my husband.  We dated long distance with a short engagement and were married all within a matter of months.  (We were good friends in college- so we knew each other for a while before we started dating.)  My temporary job was a huge blessing to me.  I was able to put in my notice at the end of the season.  I didn't have to start somewhere new only to move away and leave a new company in a bind.               

I was being led and directed in my photography work this last year as well.  Photography is a happy place for me.  As long as I prepare well, I'm usually fine.  However, I remember looking back last fall and being so frustrated with things not working out.  With getting sick, my website launch was delayed, I wasn't able to prepare my styled guide or marketing materials as quickly as I wanted to, and I felt the pressure of having invested in myself and business with the prospect of little financial return. I was stressed.  Then, I decided to let go.  I let go of the need to be in control and be "perfect".  

Katie didn't receive her bridal guide until early in the summer.  Just enough time to make use of it, but still later than I initially promised and had planned.  You know what, I really don't want to make a habit of letting people down -keeping my promises is a big deal for me- which is why it initially probably bothered me so much, but Katie gave me nothing but compassion and understanding when I let her know I would be delayed.  Her compassion, concern, and understanding were huge blessings for me.  

When my husband was offered a job in Arizona this summer, I finally understood what all of those feelings of apprehension were and why things weren't working out last fall.  There is no way I could have handled a full wedding season these past few months with moving and little ones.  My husband came down to Arizona before I did.  So, for the months leading up to our move, I was essentially on my own.  I'm grateful for the friends and family who helped me during that time and amazing family session clients who lifted my spirits.

When it came time to decide if I would be able to photograph Josh and Katie's wedding, I reached out to a few photographers as back ups to be prepared.  But, when it came down to it, I couldn't not photograph Katie's wedding.  I'd had grown too close.  The wedding date was a perfect date for me (as I'm sure it was for Katie and Josh as well!).  I was able to move with my family to Arizona, my youngest son was sleeping better (we're still working on getting a better sleep routine down), and I had my husband's family that I could stay with in Washington.  I prayed and felt good about it, so I moved forward.

So many things went right for this wedding!  Katie said that in something like eight years, it hadn't rained once on the date they had chosen.  It rained that day!  Katie and Josh couldn't have chosen a more perfect venue, though!  The Rosehill Community Center had so many options in terms of places to photograph- including covered outdoor areas, and open green spaces for when the rain lifted.  We were blessed!

I loved seeing Josh and Katie in their element, surrounded by people who loved and cared about them!  I was amazed by all of her attention to detail.  When Erin Aasland, my second photographer, and I first arrived, we were greeted by two super professional coordinators who seemed to have everything running smoothly.  It wasn't until later that I found out that they were just Katie's friends, giving their time to her on her wedding day!  

Erin and I both gasped when we took out Katie's wedding dress.  It was stunning in every way!  From the start to the finish, I was amazed by the elegant pieces Katie and Josh added to their wedding and personal touches that made the day perfect for them!  It was perfect in every way, and I'm so grateful, more than anything, that I was able to be a part of it!

So much LOVE Katie and Josh!  Wishing you two all the happiness in the years to come!