Kristen and Dustin were married just over a week ago at the Wayfarer’s Chapel in Palos Verdes in a beautiful evening ceremony in a gorgeous glass building. I had never been to the chapel they selected for their wedding, but was looking forward to seeing the venue after they told me the name and sent a link with photos of the grounds.
The Wayfarer’s Chapel is a small building made mostly of glass which made for great light during the evening ceremony they had planned.

I have known the Parsons family for several years, so being thrown into a busy wedding weekend with them wasn’t much trouble at all. Both sides of the family were pretty busy running around taking care of last minute preparations and getting things set up. Kristen’s brothers are all military men who flew in from around the US for the ceremony. Dustin and his twin brother Dillon are military as well and have recently returned from their tours. The cool thing about all of this is that everyone was going to be in their dress uniforms for the ceremony!

The evening of the rehearsal was short and sweet with most all of my questions being answered with “No. You can’t do that.” Basically I was banished the back of the chapel with further restrictions on when I could shoot (no flash, etc). This is always incredibly frustrating as a photographer since it basically makes the wedding a one-lens affair. I had to use my telephoto pretty much the entire time since I was 30-40 feet away from the front.

The wedding day started later than normal since the Parsons planned a night ceremony at 8pm. So the bridal parties prep was started right after lunch. Sister-in-law Lauren was doing hair and makeup for Kristen and several of the family members and bridal party.
Once everyone was ready we took a few moments before loading up into the limo to do a very quick first-look. Since everyone was going to be in the same car on the way to the chapel Dustin and Kristen agreed it would be nice to have images of the first time seeing each other.

After arriving at the chapel we took some time during sunset to get some of the different group shots out of the way. There wasn’t a clear answer on exactly how long we would have after the ceremony for photos, so we wanted to try and get as many done outside as possible in case we couldn’t do them inside afterward.

The ceremony was beautiful, but the lighting was pretty difficult. When a venue tells you “You can’t use flash, but don’t worry you’ll have plenty of light coming in.” they obviously mean day time weddings… and have forgotten that you’ll be shooting an evening ceremony. Thank god for today’s sensors and RAW image processing to get enough detail in low light shots. Keep in mind everything had to be shot with a telephoto in addition to no flash AND little sunlight. hahaha!
They still came out great though… scroll down and you’ll see. Promise.

The reception was a blast, but very short since everything was later in the evening due to the ceremony time. Click past the break for over a 100 images from my weekend with the Burney and Parsons families.


Arriving on a blustery afternoon for the rehearsal

Practice was the only time I was allowed to be this close… they made it very clear that I had to stay in the back. I think I was told four times. hahaha

As the afternoon before the weddings starts off Kristen sits with Lauren who has been doing hair for family members the last hour.

Kristen was really secretive about her dress. She didn’t let any family members see it til she had it on that evening!

Time for makeup!

Lauren’s tools are a little different than mine..

Mom came in to help with the dress once it was time for Kristen to put it on

They were having trouble figuring out where the clasp was for the top of her zipper. I had to put the camera down for a minute and find it. If there’s one thing I’ve become very good at, it’s wedding dresses and figuring out backs and bustles. LOL

Down the hall the guys were all starting to get ready in their room

Proud Mrs. Parsons with her sons

The last piece Kristen had to put on was her veil

Kristen, looking amazing before her wedding

Heading down the lobby Kristen was greeted by all her brothers and bridesmaids

Dustin had be patiently waiting outside for his bride

They both had huge smiles as he turned around to see her for the first time

The funniest part to me was as we were waiting to load the limo everyone was was taking photos of their phones/etc – while in full uniform.

Lookin sharp gentlemen!

We did a dip shot, of course.


Needing some help with her shoes!

Mrs. Burney being escorted by two of her three sons

All the ladies waiting outside for their cue

Quick shot with the bride!

This was pretty funny… the men didn’t hear the music cue in time and all the ladies had already entered and lined up before they came out and took their positions!

Kristen, being escorted down the aisle by her father

The chapel was gorgeous with all the windows. I’m curious if it get hot in their during the day though…

And a quick note for the photography geeks out there – this is at approximately 8:15pm on the coast using only available light. Fortunately boosted ISO and exposures in post still create nice images, but I still feel like using a flash for a bit of fill light would have been ideal.

Asking the parents for their blessings on the marriage

Exchanging of vows

And exchanging of rings

Lighting of the unity candle

Anddd husband and wife!

Once outside the pastor greeted them once more and congratulated the new couple.

One good looking looking group, wouldn’t you agree?

Finding out that all three of Kristen’s brother are military (Marines and Navy) wasn’t surprising since her husband is in the Air Force… but I can only imagine the debates and jokes they must all have at family gatherings about who is tougher…

And the night portrait of Kristen from the top of this page. I love night images like these with lots of colorful lighting.

And a quick shot of me and Lauren – forgot to adjust my shutter speed though. whoops!

Working on the bustle as everyone gets ready to be announced for the reception

Right after their entrance Dustin and Kristen walked to the center of the dance floor and began their first dance as husband and wife.

Dustin started by dipping and kissing his wife almost immediately

And after that they were all smiles and they danced together while their family and friends looked on

Soon everyone else was invited to join them and the floor quickly crowded with people

Speeches from the Maid of Honor

And Best Man – Dillon laughed that he would have to read everything he wrote for his brother versus trying to pull it from memory.

Dustin’s sister Lauren also said a few words, too

Next was the Daddy-Daughter dance

And then Dustin danced with his mom during the Mother-Son dance

Dustin also dipped his mom! Look at Lauren laughing in the background at her brother and mom.

Then the DJ asked everyone that was their with parents to bring them to the dance floor and share a dance with them.

So Mrs. Parsons was joined by her other son and daughter

Mrs. Burney dancing with all her military boys!

Grandma and Grandpa were the winners of the Anniversary Dance – married over 60 years!

Ha! Dustin looking a little unsure about picking up the cake!

Success! No messy cake-dropping or anything!

But Dustin let his wife smear some cake on his face since neither of them got very messy

Dustin takes a minute to say a few words and thank everyone that was there to be part of their wedding day, as well as everyone that helped in some way.

We attempted a huge group photo… I actually hit my head on the ceiling standing on the chair… I think I almost got everyone, right?

After that the rest of the night was dancing and laughter for the remaining hours.

Me with the bride and groom!

Lauren rushing out ahead of everyone to try and get the bouquet.

Next was the garter toss with the men

Since Dustin was going to have to use his teeth, first Kristen had to lose the flip flops she had changed into

Dustin prepares to throw the garter after his first try didn’t work too well

Andddd all the men casually stand there – a bit different than the ladies who typically fight over the bouquet

Last song of the night and a few people make their way back to the dance floor to join Dustin and Kristen

Huge group hug toward the end of the song!

And one last kiss before leaving the dance floor

Making their way out of the reception under everyone’s arms!

One last shot out front before leaving for the night.

The whole evening with the Parsons and Burney families was a blast. I still have a bunch of images to go through and edit, but I hope everyone enjoyed this preview of everything.

Check back soon as I have a couple more shoots coming up and will be wrapping up the next phase of one of my bigger projects I’ve been working on.

3 thoughts on “The Burney-Parsons Military Wedding in Palos Verdes

  1. Wow – by far, the most beautiful chapel I’ve ever seen. Thought this was an outdoor ceremony until I googled the place and realized it was all stone and glass! Amazing.

  2. John, you did a fabulous job with a photographer’s nightmare…lighting! Especially loved the the first picture of Kristen on the steps! And, of course, Thelma with her boys!

  3. Thank you for sharing the beautiful wedding pictures, awesome! We were unable to attend so this was really nice. Congrats from Colorado! Hugs n love Nanny n Papa Gilbert

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook