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Erin and AJ | Foreign Cinema Ceremony and Wedding Reception in San Francisco

I think it was raining the day before this wedding. We’ve been in what seems like the rainiest season in years, but it luckily ended up being a beautiful, sunny day. We hit up a few classic San Francisco locations for a few portraits before the ceremony and reception at the always beautiful Foreign Cinema.

(Words from AJ and Erin)

What was the most memorable part of the day?
Most memorable part I think was the moment of quiet time we got to spend alone right after the ceremony. As we were eating the appetizers saved for us and looking at all the different people who came from all the different parts of our lives to celebrate, it really hit us that we had done something that we would remember for the rest of our lives.

What unique detail was the most important for you to include and why?
Capturing the wine capsule in a photo-journalistic way was really nice for us. Neither of us is religious, so it was important that we had a unique, but still symbolically ceremonial aspect to the ceremony. We were afraid that the capsule wouldn't make sense, especially in pictures, but it turned out great since we could clearly see the progression from empty box, to placing the wines, and finally to holding up the sealed capsule.


What came most as a surprise to you about the day?

How fast the actual wedding flew by! We planned this event for over 8 months, with the last 3 months being really intense on our end. We were making all the DIY items, like the wedding arch, the table decorations, and the place cards, while making final plans with every single vendor. It was exhausting and felt like a second job. However, when the day finally arrived, everything went pretty much perfectly and according to plan. We were glad to have done all the work, but for as much as we had to do, it seemed like the day was over just as quickly as it started. Our friends had warned us that this would be the general feeling and advised us to make sure to soak in the little moments, which definitely helped us in our day!


And if you could give one piece of advice to another couple about the wedding, what would it be?
Make sure you get the best vendors that you can find. Everyone who was involved from the venue's events coordinator (with whom we must have exchanged a hundred emails over the course of a year) to the DJ (who pulled double duty as coordinating when she saw things were getting hectic) and especially the photographer (of course!) was extremely professional, talented, and clearly committed to making sure that we had the best and most memorable experience possible. 


Venue: Foreign Cinema
Florist: Bell & Trunk
DJ: Heart of Gold DJs

An Ottowa Couple Elopes at San Francisco City Hall | Taryn & Natalie

Ever since getting engaged myself, people have asked, “When’s the wedding?” and my response has always been, “I haven’t even started planning yet.”

With all the hubbub of planning and expectations, sometimes I think I would follow in Taryn and Natalie’s footsteps and just elope somewhere. Maybe in a completely different country! When Taryn and Natalie first contacted me, they told me they were from Ottowa, Canada, and they were coming to San Francisco to get married at City Hall.

”Taryn and I are truly best friends - we have a great time together without having to stage it, so I’d love that to come through in our wedding photos,” Natalie wrote me in her initial email. They treated themselves to the unique Proper Hotel in San Francisco and I joined them as they got ready together. We walked to City Hall, and one of my favorite moments was when the judge officiating their ceremony snuck us to the Mayor’s Balcony because it was so loud and crowded in the usual area. “They usually charge extra for this,” I gushed to Natalie as we hurried over.

It’s hard to express how honored I was to be not only their photographer but also their witness. I was breathtakingly close as the vows were said, the rings exchanged, and I got chills shooting through it.

Thank you Taryn and Natalie!

Margaret and Dan | A Nontraditional Golden Gate Bridge View and Thee Parkside Wedding

When Margaret and Dan first reached out to me about shooting their wedding, they told me that it wasn’t going to be your normal wedding. First off, there was no real “ceremony venue” because they would be taking their guests on a tour bus around San Francisco and somewhere along the stops, they would do a super quick, 2 minute ceremony. They also weren’t going to do a typical sit-down dinner, instead they would have a taco bar for everyone!

How am I so lucky?

Tour Bus: San Francisco Bus Tours
Wedding Ceremony: Golden Gate Bridge View
Reception Venue / Catering: Thee Parkside
Band: Uke-Hunt
DJ: Jackie Sugarlumps

Words from Margaret:

1. Your wedding was definitely unique! Could you tell us how you came up with the Big Bus Tour idea and having the wedding ceremony as part of the quick stop?
Many of our guests were traveling from out of state to be at our wedding, so we wanted to offer them something more than just a party, which they could get anywhere. Taking them to a couple of tourist attractions and seeing more of the city was our way to thank them for traveling so far. 

As for the wedding ceremony, we knew that the reception was the most important part of the wedding for us, so we wanted the ceremony to be quick and inexpensive. We didn’t really know if it would work or not, but we figured we could make it work with sheer numbers. It was so fun bringing 70 guests to a tourist spot and making our own space for the quick ceremony.

2. What was the most memorable part of the day?
The ceremony was definitely the most memorable part of the day. Even though it was cold, it felt magical getting married with the Golden Gate Bridge right beside us.

3. What unique detail was the most important for you to include and why?
We both really enjoyed dressing up our maid of honor and best man! We bought each of them a bright sequins jacket to wear at the wedding. They are both important people in our lives, so we wanted them to show off and be seen, and we knew they would be game for looking a little silly. It turns out they can really pull off the look! 

4. What came most as a surprise to you about the day?
We knew the live band was risky, but they ended up being fantastic. Their energy was contagious, and even though they were a little corny, it was hard not to like them. They set the tone for the rest of the night.

5. If you could give one piece of advice for a couple who also wants a nontraditional wedding, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to cut or rearrange parts of a traditional wedding. By eliminating some things (like a separate ceremony or a sit-down dinner), we were able to save a lot of money. You also realize how much a wedding still feels like a wedding even without the typical fixtures. Your guests will appreciate you being yourselves!

Oceano Hotel & Spa Half Moon Bay Wedding | Grace & Gabe

About a month before a wedding, I send out a questionnaire to my couple asking them for details about logistics and pertinent information. For my own curiosity, I also have a question that asks “What part of the day is most important to you photographically?” Most couples say portraits or ceremony. Grace and Gabe’s answer? “Reception Dancing” Heck yeah! I knew this was going to be fun.

Grace had made us sous vide salmon and rice as we chatted in her home about the wedding, which was coming up in just a few short weeks. Besides the usual advice I gave about timing and reception events, Grace and Gabe asked me how I could make the dance party even better. Most people choose glow sticks, I told them, but photographically speaking they don’t always make as big of an impact. So I told her about these light up foam sticks I saw once at a Las Vegas night club. Get a bunch of those, I told her, and they will definitely help make more of an impact.

Needless to say, their dance party was one of the craziest, most memorable wedding dancing I’ve experienced. (Also big shout out to my one of my favorite DJ companies Big Fun DJ with their amazing lights!)

Venue: Oceano Hotel & Spa Half Moon Bay
Florist: Alena Jean
DJ: Big Fun DJ
Cake: Dianda’s Bakery
Hair & Makeup: The Traveling Stylist

Natalie & Nick | White Arbor Wedding in Elk Grove

Wow, Natalie and Nick’s wedding. I’m always a fan of everything-in-one-location wedding days, and at this beautiful yet unassuming venue, having that little extra peace of mind and extra time was welcomed. Natalie was able to have a small “first look” with her grandmother (whose expression I’ll never forget!) before sharing a first look with Nick.

A few of my favorite moments:

  • After the ceremony, the wedding party snuck back upstairs to sign the marriage license and have a little joyous “Now it’s REALLY official and we’re the only ones to see!” celebration.

  • Looking back at Natalie and Nick’s wedding guests in their own romantic cuddle watching their first dance.

  • Witnessing and capturing the tiny moments of love between family - such as Natalie’s mom wrapping the grandparents together with a blanket.

Though their guest count was around 150, somehow it still felt so intimate!

Venue: White Arbor Weddings
DJ: DJ Eli Freshmode
Caterer: American River College
Flowers: American River College
Bridal Gown: BHLDN

Nadia & Joe | Outdoor Art Club in Mill Valley

I’m finally getting around to posting this gorgeous wedding from a while ago! I actually went to the same University with Nadia and Joe, and seeing so many familiar faces among the guests made the event even more welcoming - people who have seen me from the very beginning of my photography journey, starting with being the set photographer / camera assistant on film and music video productions to finding my way to being a full time photographer.

I’ve photographed at the Outdoor Art Club several times now, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite venues!

Venue: Outdoor Art Club
DJ: Ryan Ealum
Florist: Mill Valley Flowers
Caterer: Il Davide Restaurant
Cake: The Cakemaker