One of the things that humbles me most as a photographer is when my dear friends refer their dear friends my way. That’s how I met Diana, to whom our mutual friend Karen had recommended me. Diana invited me to photograph the intimate wedding of her father-in-law George and his partner Barry – which she also meticulously organized (and for which she created the most amazing armadillo cake, but I digress).

Before the big day, I hadn’t actually met any of this eclectic and wonderful group but from the moment I arrived I was welcomed like a lifelong friend. This is a family full of some very big love – love that extends and expands to include, well, pretty much everyone. Because that’s just who they are.

After toasting the grooms at Diana and her hubby Adam’s home, we headed over to Gudrun Tasting Room in Steveston (which, if you haven’t already checked out, you definitely should), where the wedding and reception were held. Although the officiant got caught in traffic and arrived just a wee bit late, it didn’t matter…guests enjoyed a little pre-wedding wine and conversation as they waited for the ceremony to begin. The happy couple said their vows amidst those closest to them – children, grandchildren, lifelong friends, and their beloved fur baby Dexter.

During the speeches, Barry thanked George’s family for welcoming him so warmly. “I didn’t know whether you would accept me, or whether the cost would be too great,” he said. “But you opened your hearts and your arms to me, to us, and I couldn’t be more honoured to be part of this family.”

Though they were legally married several months earlier, this celebration, they said, made it feel official. And I’m so honoured to have been there to document their special day.

The famous armadillo cake. As delicious as it was adorable.

Did I mention the food? Because it was amazing!

Just two of the gorgeous grandchildren.

  • Karen - June 27, 2016 - 12:02 am

    So perfect, darlingk! You did another fantastic job of shooting this wedding. Thank you for living up to my raving recommendation!

    • Wendy Lees - June 27, 2016 - 6:34 am

      Oh my goodness, Dahlingk, thank YOU for introducing me to these wonderful friends…what a joy!ReplyCancel

Oh. my. goodness.

When your good friend calls and asks whether you might be willing to shoot her sister’s wedding in Hawaii, there really is only one answer. That’s how the hubs and I ended up in Lanikai for Irshad + Laura’s intimate celebration.

And if not for Irshad’s dear friends Jim and Liz (who happened to live a few doors down from a certain eligible dog owner they met and got to know) this wedding would never have taken place. Somehow, Jim and Liz knew that their good friend needed someone like Laura…although they nearly had to trick Irshad into meeting her that first time.

But once these two met that fateful Thanksgiving Day, one thing was certain: they each found the one for whom they had been waiting all of their lives. On a visit to New York the following January (where Irshad lived at the time) Laura asked to see the ring Irshad always wore on her left ring finger. When she put it back on Irshad’s hand, it felt different; what Irshad found in its place was a stunning Cartier love band. “Aren’t you going to ask me something?” Irshad said to Laura, who was only too happy to pop that question.

Soon a date was set and while Irshad worked in New York and L.A., Laura, along with Irshad’s sister (and my sweet friend) Ish, began planning their destination wedding on the east coast of Oahu in gorgeous Lanikai.

Their dearest friends and family came from near and far to join in the celebrations. I think one of the loveliest things about this wedding (and there were a lot of lovely things, believe me!) was the way so many people from so many different backgrounds and faiths gathered to celebrate with these two. I also loved how J and I were welcomed so warmly into this close-knit group, now our friends, too.

Irshad and Laura, thank you soooooo much for having us along…what a wonderful day!

Lucy (and Ricky, below) came all the way from LA to share in the day.

Irshad’s Uncle Masum (right) and her friend Jim (left) walked her down the aisle.

Laura and Irshad tossed flowers into the ocean in honour of Laura’s late parents.

As the couple tossed the flowers, the photographer got soaked by a rogue wave. Here’s the guests’ reaction to my impromtu shower (ha ha):

Irshad’s mama Mumtaz (love this woman!) referred to the brides “creatures” instead of “creations.” Oops!

It was a very touching ceremony. Let’s just say Annie wasn’t the only one feeling it.

“We did it!”

Have I mentioned how much I love Mama Mumtaz? Her laugh is THE BEST.

Love this family.

Sunrise photos the next morning. (Minus the sun.)

Laura’s dress: David’s Bridal | Irshad’s dress: Two Birds Bridesmaid | Rings: Cartier | Flowers: Spinning Web Florist | Catering: Chef Elmer Guzman | Music: Robby Armstrong  | Venue: Private villa | Second shooter: my amazing hubby Jerry Lees | Videographer: the delightfully charming Annie Escobar


  • Nancy Kline - June 5, 2016 - 9:04 pm

    It’s just as I remember, Wendy. Warm, loving and beautiful beyond description. Your photos do a great job of describing it. I’m so glad you showed us what your view was when you got soaked by that wave…I had wondered. The only thing is…you didn’t include a photo of yourself. I’ll have to send you one I took of you in the kitchen the next morning.ReplyCancel

    • Wendy Lees - June 5, 2016 - 9:13 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Nancy…I’m so blessed to have met you and Bob and Liz and Jim (and everyone else, too!). I try never to include photos of myself, ha ha! I know what I look like :-).ReplyCancel

Over a year ago at the BC Lupus Society’s 2015 Lupus Gala Vancouver, M was the successful bidder on a gift certificate for a family photo shoot that I donated. She was expecting her second child at the time so wanted to wait until her baby was born before we set a date. Of course as often happens when new babies arrive, sometimes the best laid plans fall to the side in the busyness of life.

So when I ran into M and her hubby again at the 2016 Gala, we agreed it was time to get those family shots done. But as we emailed back and forth figuring out a date, M shared that she was recently diagnosed with colon cancer…and she wanted, in her words, “to capture this stressful and scary moment and turn it into something beautiful.”

I couldn’t agree more, M. What an honour and privilege to be part of this meaningful moment.


Their paths crossed long ago at a group bible study and although Holly thought Seth was pretty great, let’s just say that Seth somehow missed a few clues. The two ended up seeing other people but remained friends. Fast forward a few years. Both had been in relationships but were single when they met up again. But this time, Holly made sure Seth knew she still thought he was pretty great…and Seth realized this gem of a woman who had been hiding in plain sight.

That was a year and a half ago and these two have been inseparable ever since. So of course, when Seth asked Holly to be his wife, there was only one possible answer. Now, they’re planning their July 2017 wedding! We got together for their engagement shoot on a perfect April evening and here are a few of my favourites…

Holly and Seth, I’m so happy for the two of you and I can’t wait to celebrate your wedding with you next summer!

Can you feel the joy?! Love this one!