MEGA-POST WARNING!!! :)
i don’t know about any of you out there, but there are only a handful of times in my life when i have felt truly blessed. not blessed like when you sneeze in a crowded room and 15 people say bless you, but blessed like when the heavens shine down on you and say this is going to be one of the best times of your life. memories of those times, and the people i shared them with are very dear to me. i say all of this because the post you are looking at contains memories of one of those times.
after looking at the title of this post you may be asking yourself why i feel so blessed.
please, read on. (yes, this is the abridged version.)
i was lucky enough to meet alex when we were both goofy little junior high kids. back then, no girl wanted anything to do with us, and we couldn’t blame them, but we had our small group of friends and over the next half decade our tribe shared some of the best times of our lives. too many good times to list.
two weeks after high school that all came to a screeching halt. i joined the navy and went away for 5 LONG years. as a teenager, life in the military wasn’t exactly easy. i felt like i was missing out on the last few years of my childhood. i missed my family, friends, and home . i stayed in touch with my family and friends of course, but alex always sent the best correspondence. he’d mail letters and little home-made comic strips that always made me laugh, and always reminded me of home. he really helped me feel like i wasn’t gone as much as i was. when i finally returned home alex was well on his way to a career of his own, a career that would unfortunately take him away from san diego. luckily he still comes back to san diego often, he’s still a die-hard padres and chargers fan, and he’s still like a brother to me. he always has been. i could not ask for a better friend.
as with any member of my ohana i want to see them happy and successful.
enter yuki. when alex met yuki we could instantly see the happiness he felt. it was the kind of happiness that comes from the heart. one of my earliest memories of yuki is also when i realized what a wonderful person she is and how perfect she is for alex. yuki set up a surprise birthday party at FLEMINGS prime steakhouse and wine bar in la jolla and invited alex’s closest friends. she took care of everthing, down to the finest detail. alex had no idea and was completely surprised. that night was amazing for all of us, and it was all because of yuki. i had never before been a part of anything like that. from that very moment i knew how much she cared for my friend. for someone who is a self-proclaimed selfish person, i don’t see it. yuki gives so much of herself to so many people. she is appreciated more than she knows. rain, especially, looks up to her with stars in her eyes. i love hearing rain call her aunt yuki. just last week i overheard yuki’s neighbor ask her if she and alex are blood relatives of ours. yuki’s multiple answers made my heart smile. she didn’t want to say no, so instead she said “yes”, “pretty much”, and “we should be.”
that’s what ohana means.
i just had a random thought. if alex and yuki were ever on a centerfold together this is what it would say:
turn-offs include: not being together, mondays after vacation, sodium, knuckleheads.
turn-ons include: karaoke, traveling the globe, skiing/snowboarding in mammoth, riding their sea doos on mission bay, sunsets, long walks on the beach, taking lots of pictures, sampling fine irish whiskey, trying to find a cigar that is “the perfect smoke” (that’s not from cuba), and enjoying the company of good friends.
that’s where we come back in. nice segue huh?
some months back we received a letter that was long overdue. it was alex and yuki’s wedding announcement. in true alex and yuki style, they chose the island of st thomas in the u.s. virgin islands as the spot where they would say their i do’s. you would think that’s where the story ends and the post begins, right. wrongo.
remember earlier when i was talking about those times in your life when you just feel blessed? that feeling started when…
yuki threw us a knuckleball and asked if rain would be her flower girl. 0-1.
next, alex threw me a backdoor slider and asked if i would be a groomsman. 0-2.
then they did the unthinkable. with an 0-2 count they hung a curve and we knocked it out of the park.
they hired kim and april to shoot their wedding. the crowd (us) went wild.
we were completely humbled by ALL of their requests. it’s always a huge honor when you’re asked to be a part of someone’s wedding, but how often do you not only get to be in your best friends wedding, but be hired to shoot it as well. the fact that it was in st thomas was just the cherry on top.
i am absolutely busting to post these photos of my best friend’s wedding, so with no further adieu i present alex and yuki’s wedding on st thomas in the u.s. virgin islands.
not so fast george banks. first, a quick layover in hotlanta.
did i mention it was a 5 and a half hour layover? awesome! :|
not seen here is kim, out cold on the airport floor. as many of you know, kim is deathly afraid of flying, so this time around kim tried something to help her with that fear. when it kicked in, she kicked out. really out. so out that a lady that was trying to hurry through the airport to catch her flight tripped, fell, and hit her head on the tile no more than 10 feet away from kim. the lady may have broken her arm in the fall and was crying for help. kim lifted her head, only for a moment, then fell back asleep. luckily, kim was not that woman’s only hope. airport employees arrived in minutes and helped her out. we all hope she is ok. kim made a full recovery after the last leg of the flight.
the baxters, alex, and yuki
on a routine expedition
met the greatest earthquake ever known.
high on the rapids
it struck their tiny raft.
and plunged them down a thousand feet below.
to the land of the lost.
actually, these little fellas were all over the beach right out in front of the beautiful place alex and yuki were staying in, the secret harbour resort st thomas usvi.
if yuki were an animated video game character that came to life and was portrayed on the big screen by angelina jolie, she would be lara croft. among other things she is highly skilled at, yuki is an awesome scuba diver. the day after we got to st thomas yuki had an early morning scuba class with steve at the aqua action dive center right there at secret harbour usvi. yuki passed with flying colors and is now fully qualified as a rescue diver! but can she perform a scuba rescue while in her wedding dress? if anyone can, yuki can :)
since i’m on the subject, anyone that loves to scuba and/or snorkel needs to check out the lunocet swim fin. it is awesome! yuki is already eyeballin one.
when yuki is fully rested she has the energy of a 6 year old. sometimes alex tries to reign her in. to no avail :) this was taken as they were getting things ready for their wedding day.
speaking of getting things ready for their wedding day…
beautiful bride in wedding dress…
we used the big hook because yuki is an avid fisher. she heads out of san diego to go deep sea fishing for a few days every year with the same group of salty old sailors. after hearing some of her sea stories we couldn’t help but to take a part of that passion and make it a small part of her wedding day.
flower for the bride…
rain rivaled april as best flower girl ever. (april was the flower girl for kim and i.)
rain walked the entire length of lindquist beach throwing one petal at a time.
as compared to april who tripped at the end of the aisle, and then walked over to the guys side. we’ll leave it up to you to decide who gets the crown.
i can’t think of a more perfect place to marry the person you love. lindquist beach on st thomas usvi is absolutely incredible, albeit very bright.
once rain had made it to her mark, alex turned his attention to his beautiful bride-to-be…
and then came the waterworks.
beep beep! whoa! did anyone else just see that bus go by. sorry buddy. if it’s any consolation, alex’s tears were justified tears of joy AND extremely manly :)
in all the years i have known him, i can not remember a time when i saw alex as happy as he was on this day. for that matter, i can’t remember yuki ever being quite as happy as she was that day either.
they both seemed to smile a little bigger,
laugh a little louder,
and express more loving emotion than ever before.
the ceremony was very intimate and very touching. i was so glad to be standing there next to them. we all felt extremely privileged to witness their commitment to each other.
it was killing me not having a camera in my hands during the ceremony, so as soon as alex and yuki were pronounced husband and wife i grabbed my camera and we headed off down the beach to get some post wedding bridal portraits in one of the most incredible backdrops on the planet. while heading down to an insane looking white sand point we saw this cool little spot in the trees just off the beach. you can’t tell from this shot, but we all just about died walking barefoot over pokey balls and twigs to get to this spot. by we i may just be referring to me, but it was like walking on nails through there. props to alex and yuki for toughing it out and making this incredible shot for me.
april also braved the twig mine jungle and snapped this sweet shot of yuki.
here’s that white sand point i was talking about. alex and yuki made it white hot.
WOW! look at those legs!
shield your eyes kids
after turning a little sand into glass alex and yuki needed a quick dip in the crystal clear water to cool down.
later that afternoon alex and yuki treated everyone to a sunset sail aboard the fury.
lil juk juk made a surprise appearance and had us all singing i’m on a boat.
this right here is the most insane wedding cake we have ever tasted. it was a flourless chocolate cake with some sort of cappuccino-mousse-awesomeness filling. i don’t like coffee, but this cake was amazing! it was made even more amazing by the chocolates on top that yuki hand-made herself.
mmmmm chocolaaaates. (said in homer simpson voice)
alex made a huge tiny mistake when he thought he could get away with this.
yuki wasted little time getting retribution. she waited until alex was distracted by the awesome sunset and then…
she may have had some help from her little minion, but i can neither confirm nor deny that.
just as the sun was ready to dip over the horizon alex and yuki pulled out a wooden box containing a bottle of midleton very rare fine irish whiskey and poured a round for everyone (except april and rain of course).
as we were heading back to the dock and the light was dwindling i remember thinking to myself what a special evening it was. there we were, thousands of miles from home, on a sailboat off the coast of st thomas, sipping fine irish whiskey, and watching the sun set on our best friend’s wedding day. it is definitely something i will remember for the rest of my life.
cheers alex and yuki! thank you both so much for letting us share your day. it means more to us than we could possibly say. you both mean the world to us and we wish you two continued happiness for the rest of your lives.
speaking of U2 :)
alex might possibly be the worlds biggest U2 fan, next to kim and i that is.
exhibit a: this is the shirt that kim was wearing when we waited until 3am outside of the place U2 was at in los angeles the last time they toured there. the shirt she was wearing when we met bono. the shirt bono signed as he chatted with us about the show. the shirt alex was no where near that night because he was oddly nowhere to be seen.
kim and dave U2 points=1
alex U2 points=0 :)
the bikini was yuki’s surprise for alex. the record was our way of keeping this post PG :)
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It was scary how I was waiting and waiting and waiting for this post. I was literally refreshing my email every few minutes when you hinted that they would be posted soon! The wait was well worth it!
Your words are very touching, I almost cried again. In a manly way of course! Yuki and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We wanted you there and we wanted you to capture our wedding ceremony. You did it in a way no other photographer could. We are forever indebted and grateful to you, Kim, April, and Rain for that. You certainly proved what ohana is all about. We love you guys! I am speechless….
You guys are awesome! Love reading your posts!
Ok, so THIS was the post you all were talking about today! I was so out of the loop! DOH!
LMAO at the airport story/pic of Kim.
Awesome work as always!….and Rain is too damn cute for her own good.
Good seeing you guys today!! :)
I’m crazy for all the black and white pics! The Virgin Islands is gorgeous isn’t it, add hot bride and handsome groom, what do you get? Rockin Virgin Islands wedding! I’d get married all over again to have you guys shoot it! Hawaii wedding perhaps ;) Okay, so I’m dreaming, a girl can dream can’t she?
Congrats to Alex and Yuki! You are a beautiful couple!
What an amazing day — love those beach shots with that fantastic wind and sky!
Beautiful couple, beautiful images, beautiful story! You guy’s are truly blessed!
Aww I am so flattered you came over to my blog and left me some love!
I just love this wedding. So intimate and yet filled with such emotion and love. I also love your story telling ability as it kept me quite interested in going through all of the photos!
That ring shot on the fish hook was awesome! I also love the sexy shot where he’s holding her dress up. The black and whites on the beach are phenom! I have too many favorites. But excellent job!
Loved this post! I felt like I was tagging along for the ride — your words and images so crisp — what a one-of-a-kind event to be a part of! Breathtaking images… rings, blue skies, ack, it’s all rockin’!
dude you did it again! WOW!
Shut up!! The hook ring shot is pretty much the best ever. And the black and whites with all of the sticks/limbs…left me a bit breathless. Gorgeous storytelling for a gorgeous couple.
Wow, I almost felt like I was there with you, haha! You guys are prolly the most FUN wedding photogs ever! The island was beautiful, the couple was gorgeous, and of course the photos were amazing. :)
What a great great blog post – and the images are just awesome.
WOW beautiful images, beautiful story!!!!!
I love U2 too…but the shot of the rings on the hook is an instant classic!
Great job as always.
Awesome! I love it! And the last pic sooo rocks!!! I would blow that one up and hang it up in my office! :)
wow, you really poured your heart and soul into this. i can truly feel the meaning of ohana…special memories were created and your words and photos tell the story beautifully.
Hmm, for some reason I want chocolate, STAT!
If I were the lovely couple, I would blow up a big pic of the boats on the water at night to remember the wedding eve… simply wonderful! Loving the sexy shots!
What a wonderful story! Such a beautiful wedding, couple, everything! Awesome shots! Sexy shots are HOT!
I am all teary eyed over here! You really can feel from your storytelling how much you all love this couple. Wow, they must really be awesome to get a story like that!
My favorites are the black and white twiggy/pokey ball pics and then of course the hottie ones ;)
i am truly speechless. i love everything about this post. from the incredible story, to the ah!mazing photographs to all the little wonderful details in between. absolutely amazing — not that anything less could be expected from you guys!!! ;) you so rock!
lahuuuuuuv these photos!! Every shot is aaaaahmazing! :)
The photos of Alex’s wedding are totally beautiful…you have a fantastic ability to catch the moments that will bring them right back to special memory every time they look at your photos!
Oh my goodness, these are simply AMAZING! Wonderful!
what a seriously amazing post.. a true tribute to friendship and love.. and vice versa.. wow.. I am blown away.. the images are amazing taken with so much love.. Congrats to Alex and Yuki.. may they have a lifetime full of much happiness
Cousins Cari & Charles Casillas: OMG so beautiful, sexy, hot Island tropical wonderfulness! Wishing you all the love and joy you show it up in the photos WOW! BIG KISS! <3!
Not even sure where to start! Two favs are the last one and the “shield your eyes kid” shot. Wow!
Wow you guys are something else. I always find myself laughing and in awe at the gorgeous pics. LOVE the rings with the fishing hook and the HDR images… they are HDR right??
These are such awesome photos. Isn’t it great to be there to witness that special day of dear friends?! Yuki looks like she’s a lot of fun and I doubt they will have a dull marriage. lol The picture in the twigs is gorgeous and I love the close up of her on the boat. lol She looks so gangster… in a good kinda way… ;)
dude this is an amazing set, awesome shots!
I can usually write my feelings and thoughts down pretty well….unfortunately I keep looking at this post and I don’t know what to say….I, for the first time actually speechless…
First, I love you guys so much!
Second, the Baxter family is the most amazing and talented group of photographers I know!
Third, I do not know how I will ever be able to express what these images mean to me!
The words that you wrote made me cry. We were so honored that you were able to even be there with us…..
Rain was the perfect flower girl and my partner in (cake) crime!!!!
It was so funny because I don’t think there really was anyone else besides my sister that knew what was coming……
Everything went so perfectly. The day was fun and very relaxing too. I would have been so totally uncomfterble with just any one taking our pictures. Over all I get pretty shy about pictures but you guys have that ability to calm me down and to set up some breath taking pictures. The other shots of me in the ocean….all I can say are…lucky you had the long lens :> J/K I am kidding because when I am old, grey and everything sagging….
I will look those ocean pictures and be totally grateful that I have them…
You are not just our friends…you are our family! Over the years our bonds have just gotten stronger!!
Thank you for being so wonderful to us and for always being there for us. You captured moments in our wedding that we can always look back on and feel the day all over again. Other photographers take photos…You guys create moments and capture emotions. We love all of you so much and thank god for blessing us with you and your family!!!
Great Work you guys! I love the dress and ring shot on the hook. The images are wonderful, I’m sure they will be thrilled.
Great post. Loved this couple, so fun!! Thanks for sharing!
WOW! You guys rock! Incredible images from a really beautiful day. Thanks for all the eye candy. :)
Ah..YES you are BLESSED! Love the whole post and the images are spectacular! :)
what a fun post!!that hook ring shot is amazing. :)
Love them all!! love the ring on the fishing hook! awesome!!
WOW! I can’t even begin to list my favorites!! These are amazing!!
these are spectacular! love the skyshots!!!
everyone one of them
And the fish hook ring shot ROCKS!
I feel like I was there. Which, clearly, is a very good thing. Awesome stuff, kids!
Hello AWESOME!? The one of the two of them with the clouds-UH.MAZING.
And the bokeh on the shot of the groom is so yummy I could eat it.
Beautiful as always guys!
I don’t know how to go about this post! Simply stunning! Rain looks beautiful.
These are amazing! I have no other words!
Wow guys way too legit for words. Cant imagine all the time and effort that went into a trip like this and looked like tons of fun. That ring shot with the hook is so DOPE!!!
How lucky are they to 1 have each other, 2 to have a wedding in the virgin islands, and 3 to have such caring friends that happen to be bad to the ass photographers!!
I cried reading your post, my husband is in the military and I know how hard it is on him to be gone and to have someone back home send care packages and letters makes a huge difference. Great story!
Congrats to the beautiful couple!
Absolutely amazing!!! What a gorgeous wedding!
LOVE this post. So much fun had by all I can see. Great shots! I’m probably partial though, I also got married in St. Thomas….and I thought my wedding photos were beautiful, then I saw these. LOL….great job guys!
These pics are incredible! What a fun couple, and the pictures tell the story perfectly!
Man I'm just catching up.. love the story you tell.. great pics too :) Blessed indeed…