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To Have and to Holden is our series where we interview real couples about their romance, weddings, and whatever else comes up along the way. Enjoy!
Julia Kinnunen is a wedding photographer based in Seattle. She got married herself this past year, and her husband Noel wore our Square Profile. We caught up with her over the phone to get her advice on how to pick a wedding photographer, her favorite photo to take at weddings, and her own love story!
What would you say is the thing you love most about being a wedding photographer?
I really love having the opportunity to meet my couples where they’re at. I work with a lot of folks who get that there’s more to planning a wedding and having a wedding than the surfacey stuff, they really get the heart of what they’re doing. Weddings can be stressful and a pretty high stakes scenario, but fortunately I've crafted a brand for myself that reflects sort of your less typical wedding and a little bit more offbeat and quirky clientele, which is part of what resonated for my husband and me with Holden, like, “Oh this, they get this, they get us, this is cool.”
What’s THE SHOT that you love to take?
I love an aisle recessional photo - right after the ceremony, right after that big kiss. The looks on people’s faces are priceless. There's so much excitement and so much joy that it explodes. I love a good “fridge” photo too - looking back, the photos I loved seeing of my parents’ wedding and my grandparents’ wedding were just these beautiful classic, timeless, smiling at the camera photos. Highlighting the warm fuzzies of their day through this portrait, and I think those really stand up against the test of time.
I also love candids - wedding days go so fast, and one of my favorite bits of feedback I get from my clients after I’ve delivered their galleries is, “Oh we didn't even notice that this was going on, or we didn't notice the flower girl pulled this face.”
Do you have any advice for couples who are looking for a wedding photographer?
The images are one thing but your photographer is with you all. day. long. Your photographer is someone who you have to vibe with and you have to be comfortable having around watching you all day. I think people get stuck in this “oh you know we have to find someone who fits our budget, or we really love their images” - ultimately personality fit is going to be the best decision you have to make.
That sounds really important, especially if you're in there, getting ready with them...
Yeah! There are boobs everywhere! You want to find somebody that you feel comfortable with!
So...what was it like being a wedding professional at your own wedding?
It was super surreal. I can't think of a better word to describe it. My husband and I were together for six years before we got married. People were like, “Ohhh Julia’s in the industry, she knows all the things! What is your wedding gonna be like?” We’re a little bit older, I’m 30, he’s 36, we didn’t feel a need to have a wedding for anyone else except for ourselves.
You said you and Noel dated for six years. How did you meet?
We met on Match.com. We kind of predated all the other apps and swipes and whatnot.
How did you get engaged?
We were in LA. I had one weekend before my wedding season started.It was our last night, we'd been eating delicious farm-to-table, very fresh, amazing food. And I was like, "You know what I really want tonight? I just want In-N-Out. Let's take it back to the hotel room, have a hotel picnic with our In-N-Out." And so we just kind of laid low and we were watching Food Network. I'd actually gone to bed. I was in bed and Noel kept pacing. And he went over to his backpack and got down on one knee and was like, "You know, I had all of these opportunities this weekend and nothing felt quite like us. And here we are watching Food Network, eating In-N-Out in our hotel. I can't think of a better moment to ask if you'll be my wife." And I was like, "Uh...wow, yes! Of course!" I think at that point it was probably one o'clock in the morning and we got to sleep on it, and it was just ours overnight.
Wow. That's amazing. So how did you two find Holden?
I get a lot of wedding-targeted ads in my social media these days, and I'm pretty sure it was an Instagram ad. It really resonated with me personally, and with my brand as a photographer, that Holden is such an inclusive brand because there's such a need for that in our industry and it's so important. And so I was like, "Babe, check these out." And he was like, "Yeah, they look good." I told him they do engraving, and it was like a light bulb. He went, "Oh, that's cool."
Do you have a specific memory from your wedding that you just know that you'll remember for the rest of your life?
We wanted our ceremony to be about us, but we didn't necessarily want to say vows that we had written. We communicate those things to each other on a very private, personal level, and speaking some of those things in front of our friends and family didn't feel super true to who we are. And so my sister, who officiated the wedding, crafted this beautiful ceremony for us and part of that was a blessing of the rings. We passed our rings around, we had them tied in a silk ribbon. We originally had just been going to pass them around and have people silently love on them and send some good ju-ju into them. And last minute, my mom was like, "What if people actually said their blessing aloud?" And so we had 80 people, 82 including the two of us, at our wedding and it took a long time but we passed the rings and everyone said a blessing for us. And we feel that and carry that with us every day.
I have one more question - either as a photographer, or a person who got married, or a person in love, or just in general, do you have any advice you'd give to couples?
I think it is so important to tune out the noise. At the root of it, we know what's going to be best for ourselves, and for our partner, and for our lives together. And I think that will serve people so well both in wedding planning and just existing in our culture because there's a lot of opinions and a lot of projected "you should do this to look like this, to fit this box" out there. And brands like Holden and hopefully what I am doing with my work as well kind of highlight how important it is to trust your gut and, like, fuck the rest of it.
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