WedFest - Melissa and Ray's Incredible Santa Barbara Wedding - Tobin Photography

Seldom have I encountered a couple who I admire as much as I do Melissa and Ray. These two not only march to the beat of their own drum, but seem to own their very own drum factory. They do every area of life in their own way – and what a beautiful way it is.

They do friendship unlike any people I’ve known. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call them curators of the very finest humans our planet has to offer – meeting them throughout their lives at work, school, festivals, and across the globe on their international trips, and, unlike most of us who content ourselves by keeping in touch on Facebook, they actually cultivate deep, rich relationships with these extraordinary humans. I was moved to tears early and often during their two-day celebration of love they coined “WedFest” during the myriad honorings, toasts and roasts of how Ray met so-and-so, or Melissa first connected with such and so, that I began to become inured to the swelling of my now-overworked heart and tear-ducts. These PEOPLE, though! From across so many walks of life and corners of the planet, these two have cultivated a menagerie of the most loving, effusive, kind, brilliant, creative, and fascinating humans I’ve ever witnessed in the same place at the same time – a veritable rainbow of top-shelf peeps. 

It’s no wonder that these people are attracted to Melissa and Ray. These two are a picture of authenticity, kindness, curiosity, vulnerability, fun, and world-class creativity. I don’t mean they’re creatives, like they’re painters or musicians, I mean that they have made this life their canvas, that they are writing their own stories with the kind of color and joy that I can imagine God must’ve felt in the story of Genesis…not from a script, but from their hearts and their imaginations. Artists of their reality, these two. What else could one say about two (6 foot +) people who chose to travel to EVERY SINGLE state in the USA, living in a van while working full-time? Who wouldn’t want to get some’a that on ’em?

But how did they get to be this awesome??!!

The question of nature vs. nurture was answered, at least, in part, as I began to see the love, support, and creativity which poured forth from their respective families. From Ray’s mom who macraméd the fantastical fringed archway under which they were wed (and gave the eager guests a hands-on lesson on macramé during day one of WedFest) to Melissa’s Dad, whose home-made Belgian ale fueled much of the weekend’s shenaniganry, to her sister, who co-created an honorific hip-hop speech-toast that split our ribs and brought tears to our eyes, these two were brought up with the understanding that, to put it in Fleetwood Macian terms, they could (and very much should) GO THEIR OWN WAY!

Congratulations, Melissa and Ray. The world is a better place for your partnership. I’m the better for having had the privilege of contributing to your wedding and for having you two in my world from now on. Bless your lives, your marriage and your path together.


Now I invite you to get cozy and watch this sweet little slideshow.

Hint: turn up the volume, grab some tissues and watch it full-screen (thank me later).




To view the entire wedding gallery, go here.

You can even take 25% off any prints you’d like to order for the first week the gallery is live (’til Midnight on the 5th of July) with this coupon code: MelissaRay25


(Note: all images ordered at prints will receive touch-ups and beautifications
similar to what you see here in this blog post!)