Monday, November 16, 2009

two weddings and a refund

Happy Monday, everyone! And I can wish people a happy Monday because I had a kick ass weekend shooting not one, but TWO weddings!

Both weddings were set in Malibu, and as I was driving in the late afternoon sunshine on Friday afternoon heading to the Bel Air Bay Club for the first wedding, my car cruising down Pacific Coast Highway as it overlooked the Pacific Ocean sparkling in the sun, I got all grateful and mushy for how awesome my life is and how many cool opportunities I have already had - and how many more I'm probably in for.

I'm also grateful that for both the Friday and Saturday weddings this weekend, the brides were just about the coolest, most laid back ladies I have ever met. The bride on Friday, who wore The.Most.Gorgeous.Dress.Ever (it was made entirely out of cream-colored peacock feathers. I know it sounds like it wouldn't work, but trust me, it worked) kept exclaiming, "Everything is so beautiful!" And it was. This wedding had the feel of a dance party, especially when, for the first dance, a choir came out of nowhere to sing the couple's song, then burst into a rendition of Ain't No Mountain High Enough and welcomed the guests to jump up and dance and sing along. So the happy couple went from dancing alone on the dance floor to surrounded by a choir and hundreds of guests who were singing and dancing and laughing and crying and I got to photograph all of it - it was an incredibly perfect night.

Saturday night's wedding also had a total party-vibe feel to it after the bride and groom were married in the Stauffer Chapel at Pepperdine University (if you are in Southern California and you haven't been to this chapel you are missing out - huge, gorgeous stained-glass windows overlooking the ocean in the afternoon sunlight - one of the most beautiful places in all of California), then moved the reception to one of Hollywood's hottest clubs, the kind where they don't have the address or any sign on the building - why does LA think that if it's hard to find, it makes it cooler?

I think the highlight of Saturday night's wedding (besides the swanky club and amazing food) was me helping the chief bartender tape up the wedding coordinator's sprained ankle with electrical tape, all while being stuffed into a small utility closet so no one would notice. Yup, definitely the highlight of the night. I got a free Shirley Temple out of that one.

I didn't take this picture. But this is what the Pepperdine chapel looks like on the inside. Gorgeous, no?

So those were my two weddings - I had a fantastic time, took tons of photos that I'm not allowed to show any of you (wah! Client releases!) and spent half my weekend in hip, trendy clubs and beautiful chapels, listening to sentimental toasts and photographing crying family members and stealing slices of wedding cake. Um...scratch that last one.


And in other news, do any of you remember that total BS speeding ticket I got way back in June of this year? I blogged about it here and finally decided that I wanted to fight it in court - something about 98% of the rest of my family and friends (and my insurance agent) told me not to do.

I fought it anyways. Maybe it's a New Englander thing to want to naturally do what other people tell me I can't, or to fight back against what I feel can occasionally be a corrupt bureaucracy of people more interested in creating excess paperwork to get more money for the city than in the general safety of the public. Whatever happened to that catchy slogan "To protect and to serve?"

Either way, civil disobedience is in my blood, so I started doing some research. And I have to apologize to my non-Cali readers here because the following laws I'm going to be talking about are only California Vehicle Codes, so you guys that live in the rest of the United States can feel free to go grab a soda or something while I give my fellow Californians a quick lesson in Fighting Your Speeding Ticket 101. Ready?

1) Let me guess. You were told that if you fight your ticket and declare yourself Not Guilty you waive your right to go to traffic school, thus making it appear that fighting your ticket is a huge gamble that you can't afford. In reality, when you make your argument to the judge, you can ask that if in the event that you are found guilty in a court of law, your monetary fine be reduced (hey, it never hurts to ask) and that you be allowed to go to traffic school if you do not have a violation on your driving record within the last three years.

2) You were probably also told that it's a pain in the ass to show up in court and fight your ticket. Contrary to popular belief, police have a few very good reasons to show up in court if you decide to fight your ticket in person, the main two being: a) a cop gets paid OVERTIME to show up in court, and b) the court date scheduled on your ticket is always going to be one of the officer's days off.

What you might not know is that to initially contest your speeding ticket, you DO NOT have to appear in court. Pay your fine in full once you get it in the mail (declaring yourself Not Guilty on the check and in a letter), then request a TWD in that same letter - a Trial of Written Declaration. The court will mail you a pre-existing form (bet you didn't know they had those lying around) where you get a chance to explain your side of the story and offer up any proof, including recent road surveys, photographs of the speed limit sign, the road, etc. Instead of being paid overtime to show up in court and intimidate the hell out of you, now the police officer's job is to prove that the violation he issued you was correctly and legitimately issued - and he has to work to gather the proper paperwork on his own time.

3) I was issued a speeding ticket for going 61 mph in a 55 mph zone while accelerating up a hill - and I used these two CVCs (California Vehicle Codes) to argue my case. The first being CVC 22400, the Minimum Speed Law. The Minimum Speed Law asserts that a) No person shall drive upon a highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, unless the reduced speed is necessary for safe operation, because of a grade, or in compliance with law. Using this law, I argued that because everyone else behind and around me was driving faster, if I were to actually drive the speed limit posted, I would have been a hazard to the traffic behind me and attempting to pass me as I would have interrupted the flow of cars heading up the hill, so I instead chose to increase my speed and thus stop being a burden to the traffic behind me.

4) I also used CVC 22350, the Basic Speed Law, which states that if weather conditions are dry and clear, and traffic conditions are light and easy, I am allowed to drive at what I may deem a safe and reasonable speed. I noted that the officer failed to mark down what the weather and road conditions were on my speeding ticket, as he is required to do, and then I sent in my TWD (along with a copy of my ticket to show where he failed to note the weather and traffic conditions) via certified mail and waited nervously.

This weekend, I received a letter in the mail that notified me that I was found Not Guilty in a California court of Law and that my traffic fine was being refunded to me. Wooohooo! Who's got money for holiday presents now? (::points at myself::) I do!

And that, my friends, is how each and every one of us can sow just a tiny little bit of anarchy into a world that has long forgotten to put common sense above legality.

Thus endeth today's lesson. :)


Shanna Suburbia said...

Pepperdine is soooo beautiful. I almost went to that school except I decided I didn't want any religion classes as GE's. The dorm rules were strict even though they almost looked like hotel rooms!

Congrats on the ticket being refunded! I wanted to fight my last one but it was kind of my fault for being dumb enough to pass a cop car. *sigh*

drollgirl said...

RIGHT FUCKING ON!!! you fought the law and YOU WON!!!! this is awesome!!!

and the weddings sound like they were perfect!


Rachel said...

Have I told you lately that you ROCK!?!

krista said...

you are totally my hero.
if you can figure out a way for me to get out the street parking tickets on the days when i forget to move my car, i would be forever indebted.


Hoorahhh...glad to hear you won!
I went to traffic school to clear my name, it was awful...awful I tell you! Great new week & watch out for the cops, they hide pretty well-dang*

Jenn said...

ahhh pepperdine. a top consideration for college and then somehow i ended up in oxford, ohio. sigh.

and GOOD FOR YOU on the speeding ticket. if you hadn't taken the time - you would never have gotten that refund. you never know unless you try! :)

Annje said...

That is just pure awesomeness!

Jo said...

Good for you, lady!! Woohooooo!!!!

New England Girl said...

The weddings sound amazing. I am so sad we don't get to see photos. :( But I am soo happy for you that you got to experience these incredible moments. I bet the photos will be absolutely gorgeous! :)

And congrats on getting the refund! I hate when people of authority try to belittle and intimidate us "normal folk" with law jargon and other nonsense they think we don't know anything about. Such evilness. I am so happy you won. :)

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

You rule! On soooo many levels....

Burnt Reynolds said...

That's awesome! I love that story and thanks for the 411. BTW, my bf's parents were members of Bel-Air Bay Club and I love their wedding location.

Lori ann said...

How did you get to be so smart? That was an amazing lesson. Gee. If I ever get a ticket, can I call you?

So glad you enjoyed photographing those gorgeous weddings. You are right, you do have alot more to look forward to.
Such a smart girl you are ☺

Lira said...

That is super awesome!

In the meantime...are you building up your wedding port so other people can hire you? Um, not that I'm looking for any reason, but I kinda am. But then there's that whole, but I want her to enjoy herself, not work! kinda thing.


Nahl said...

You go girl! How incredible that you thought of fighting instead of giving up! I loved this!!!!!!! :)

Eeeno's World said...

This was AWESOME! Thanks for the legal advice! I had a totally BS ticket that I should've fought--female CHP was mad that I actually LOOK like a female. Not that I'm still bitter about it or anything...

After your description of the weddings, I really wish you could share pics with us! :-(

Gwen said...

The weddings sound beautiful and I'm glad you got your tickets refunded!!! Have a great week!!! XOXO

Iva said...

hi-5 hi-5 hi-5!!! woohooo SUPER!

Kristy said...

arguably one of the most useful blogs to date

Clarity said...

I didn't know you shot wedding photography? This is so freaky, that's what I did during uni and straight after graduating.... breathe.... kidding :) I am glad you are doing so well in it and getting Shirley Temples out of it.

I am still remembering what you posted about your brother, beautiful honesty.

As for your civil disobedience, love it! Your closing line about common sense made me smile - as did the laws and your lawyerise - perhaps you missed your calling, seriously think law school, new Erin Brokovich, with better make-up and dress sense.

I was fascinated by that and can see why you are so happy - that is a real achievement on the road to life, finding right can win with toil and smarts.

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