Jen and Jeff ~ Choosing Life // Feature
Music used with permission by The Music Bed: I Can Feel Your Heartbeat (feat. Jordan) - A New Normal Love on My Arm - Matt Moberg Run Run - The Rival
Music used with permission from Interscope/Geffen Records: Edge of Glory (Acoustic Version) - Lady GaGa
Oh the magic that happens with Social Media. Over a month ago, I saw a post in my San Francisco Wedding Pros group on Facebook humbly asking for modest donations for a bride who is terminally ill. Having filmed weddings for over 11 years, and seeing so many amazing things I couldn't stand the thought of this family not having a video keepsake. So I volunteered my services for free.
Jen and Jeff are such a special couple. Jeff is a yoga instructor and Jen is a hair stylist. Their positivity and outlook on life is simply amazing. I was so inspired by them and their story. The wedding reception was held at Jen's childhood home and the ceremony was held at a park nearby. A next door neighbor graciously offered their backyard for the reception as well. So a fence was knocked down to accommodate the guests.
All I wanted was to make the best keepsake I can for them and their families.
What was supposed to be a simple, private wedding soon took on a life of its own. Local media soon got wind of their story.
I was the only videographer to volunteer for this wedding in the group. It's a smallish group and it was a prime Saturday in July, I just happened to have it available. I originally thought that I would film this wedding by myself. As this wedding got bigger and bigger and there was talk of the Today Show being there, yes THE Today Show, I realized…I'm going to need help…on a prime Saturday in July.
It takes a village to produce a film like this. We had some logistics to overcome. There was no way I was going to be able to pull this off by myself. Jim Snow gladly volunteered his time to help me as a main shooter. Then he suggested we get an assistant. He recruited Joe Oliverio to help out. Joe was great at getting different angles of the ceremony as a floater camera. He also filmed different angles of the 2nd Line and some of the cocktail hour. James LeDeau, a friend of the couple was already photographing the wedding but offered to film video for me as well since he was using a 6D. He grabbed groom prep and filmed Jeff at the ceremony. We had about six cameras covering the event. Overkill? Maybe. The ceremony was in the round and everyone was standing. Honestly, it was so perfect for them…like an embrace from loved ones. I also knew I would be competing with the Media for shots. I wasn't going to leave anything up to chance. The recessional was going into a 2nd Line parade immediately. (Sidebar: we don't get to film too many of these in California, in fact this was my first one! I was so excited!) I knew I wanted to film it on a camera stabilizer. I then recruited my aunt, Melanie Kuntz, to get my gear from the ceremony site to the reception. She even scrounged up an all black outfit! I can not thank my team enough.
The TV crew was absolutely wonderful to work with and were graciously unobtrusive. We were able to work around each other just fine.
Something happened to the Today Show camera during the ceremony so they used our ceremony footage for their story.
Jeff was such a good sport wearing three mics for the ceremony! Two of them for me!
I was able to keep it together for most of the day until the first dance. Now, I've never cried during a first dance, ever. This one was special. The song they chose, "Edge of Glory (Acoustic)" by Lady GaGa was beyond perfect. It was as if no one else existed in those four minutes. As I watched them melt into one another the tears flowed. I couldn't help it. I was trying to wipe my tears and maintain focus but I could hear other sniffles in the group. I don't think there was a dry eye during that moment.
When it came time to put it all together I had some nice songs picked out. I couldn't stop thinking about "Edge of Glory," and how beautiful that version was. How perfect it was. How it had to be in their film. How was this tiny little company going to get the rights to use a song from a mega pop star?
Ask and you shall receive.
It's because of Emily Electra LeDeau we heard of Jen and Jeff. It's because of Emily putting out the request on Facebook that I have a personal email from Interscope/Geffen Records saying that I had permission. Jamie Park, a classmate of Jen's, had the connections we needed. They were touched by Jen and Jeff's story. I would like to personally thank Emily Electra LeDeau and Jamie Park for getting this done and in less than 24 hours! I would also like to thank Erika Savage at Interscope/Geffen. This was icing just on the wedding cake for this film! At this point, I don't think there isn't anything Emily can't accomplish!
Social media is magic. This whole wedding wouldn't have happened unless someone just…asked.
It was nice to see such a positive story on the wedding industry for a change. I'm tired of hearing about people running off with deposits or price gouging. I wouldn't be in this business if I didn't have a heart. I know most of the people who volunteered their services and products would agree. Jen and Jeff's story really touched us. We are forever changed for the better because we got to know them and we were able to do this for them.
One of the biggest hearts out there is Erica Ota, who pulled off the impossible to bring Jen's Pinterest boards to life in a very short amount of time. Because of her, the vendor list GREW! She's amazing and the wedding was seamless.
My favorite memory of this day is Jen's smile. She never stopped smiling. She had great energy throughout the day and enjoyed every minute of it. She always kept us guessing with her wig and stylish outfit changes. She wore green instead of white. She's a true original. Jeff is such a sweetheart. So kind and always making sure everyone was taken care of especially Jen. They are both gracious and thankful. I know they feel blessed but so do I. This is a wedding that I will hold in my heart forever.
If you would like to donate to help offset Jen's medical costs please visit these sites:
If you would like to mail something to Jen, this is her fan mail address: Jen Bulik-Lang 650 Castro Street, Suite 120-280 Mountain View CA 94041
Jen also has a Facebook fan page:
Participating Wedding Vendors:
Retrospect Images James LeDeau Photography Captiv8 Imagery - Sly Vegas Swoon Films Benefit Cosmetics Traveling Photobooth Branch Out Flowers Patricia Gibbons Floral Designs The Petal Company All Things Simple Erica Ota Events La Tavola Linen Mari Norman Carrie Dove Catering Jane Hammond Events Knights Catering St. Gabriel's Celestial Brass Jazz Band Hartmann Studios Classic Party Rentals Sybella Rentals Expressions Entertainment Bert Javier Chariti Soriano Rowena Conlu Artisan Productions SF Candy Bar The Makeup Dolls Imagi By Fiona Lisa Teller I Makeup Artist Jennifer Hatcher - Jen the Hair Girl Fortino Winery Small Potatoes Catering Dream A Little Dream Events Siena Aline Events San Francisco Ice Company La Bonne Cuisine Kalena Brose Event Planning & Design Marizette Paperie Snake & Butterfly Nicole Verhalen Polished Dental Metro Mobile Beacon Hill Candles Jax- Rustic Chalkboard Display Signs The Paper Walrus Fresh Restorations Home Sewn Studio Charlie Chalk Designs HeritageTreeSoapCo Kate - Wooden Chalkboards The Funky Shack WhetYourPallet By Joe Lane Love Design The Succulent Source Blue Moon Boutique NC Lo Rustique Craftupyourlife Whatchawantdesign Feather River Boutique JJ Wonders & Workshop Newlook Institute Vogue Wigs Passiflora Designs Jessica and Tripp Johnson Sullivan Botello Events
Update: On Thursday October 10th, 2013 Jen passed away in the morning surrounded by family and friends. Jen was an incredible person. She fought cancer with so much grace and courage. I was so profoundly touched by Jen and Jeff's story and boundless love for each other. You will be missed, Jen. You are so loved. My heart goes out to Jeff, the families and friends during this difficult time. A memorial has been planned for October 19th. A memorial fund has been established. Please help if you can. You can access it here: http://tinyurl.com/kkugrpq. They have also asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to lungcancerfoundation.org.