We had no idea when we met the delightful couple in the general admission area of a San Jose Bruce Sringsteen concert that it would lead us months later, to an equally delightful wedding in the woods! Having given the couple a card and talked about weddings during the show we were pleased and surprised when Bonita Hart Andrews, the fairer part of the couple, contacted us about a wedding she was coordinating,
Of course it is true that fans of the Boss share a lot of common values and tend to be cool, lol. Therefore in retrospect it should be no surprise that Nikki and Darren’s wedding was similarly wonderful. Bonita does a great job! I recommend you contact us for her info. One thing that particularly both impressed and dazzled us was the use of many many candles with electric tea lights, honoring the strict no candle rule while creating a really lovely and romantic candle-lit atmosphere anyway!
Stern Grove in December was a bit of an unknown proposition but the heavens cooperated- staying dry and not too too cold for the day. The woods were magical that day, and a shaft of light shone down on Nikki during her portraits before the ceremony. The ceremony, too, was lit in a fairy tale way set in the tall trees.
Love was the theme, love of a special kind- family love that had already been tested and found strong and lasting. During their six years together they had already added a darling little girl Madison to Nikki’s sweet daughter Alyssa so that it was truly a family getting married that day. Madison and her cousin Audrey were flowers girls, and Alyssa proudly gave her Mom away. Their vows were incredibly moving , and refreshing in their honesty about the sometimes difficult path that had brought them to that day, the work they had put in to their relationship, and on a lighter note, her promise not to rub it in when his college football team loses and his promise to make her coffee every day and never make her learn to grill a steak.
They were surrounded by loving family and friends and even more unusually- not only is Alyssa’s father a good friend and part of their extended family- but he was the DJ! His girlfriend was a guest,his sister a bridesmaid, his parents attended- truly this couple knows how to make family and friendship an abiding principle to live by.
The reception atmosphere was totally dominated by the big crackling fire that filled in the spaces with warmth wherever love did not already do that. After a really delicious meal by Small Thymes Catering , as well a beautiful and yummy cake by Ellen Johnson at Yumm , that very DJ Alex Merino with Spintronix kept the place rocking and rolling. What better way to celebrate a family come together in love and commitment in this way but to dance? And dance dance dance they did.
Congratulations NIkki and Darren! Thank you for including us in your day.
The Weegels - just knowing this lively, smart, and funny couple playfully created this name for themselves from their last names and you knew their wedding would be full of touches that would resonate with their personalities.
They had even had part of their engagement portrait at the dance studio where they learned to waltz for their wedding. We are always impressed when a couple decides to go that extra bit and learn a special dance- besides it adds a lot to our photo ops!
We knew that Julie had gotten a custom gown in New York and were excited to see it- and it was loaded with bling- our favorite! The bridesmaids dresses, also custom made, were a beautiful shade of blue that was complemented beautifully by the bouquets in shades of orange and red. Those bouquets, the vividness of the bright colors, were another Julie touch of the many that we saw that day.
It was very different and very consistent with this couple that they wanted more photos with their wedding party than they did of themselves. You could see the strong love and loyalty among them all and they had a great time in the Stanford quad doing photos before heading out for the party at the Stanford Barn.
The Stanford Barn (California Café) is a great place for a wedding reception- the food is superb and the space is warm and inviting. Right off we saw another great Julie Charles touch- they had a photo booth from Party Booths and the guests had a great time sitting in the booth mugging for the camera and then decorating the prints with stickers- it was fabulous fun! We know because we did it too!
Their cake, from Beaux Gateaux was really unique, of course- inspired by the design of their wedding rings and incorporating the autumn leaves that were also part of the decor throughout the reception- a perfect autumn leaf on each napkin, stunning displays of autumn foliage in large stands, and leaves among the gorgeous centerpieces.
A light rain came during the reception, and though it did not dampen the party whatsoever it did create a bit of an obstacle for their waltz in the form of a wooden support beam in the middle of the dance floor. They bravely and beautifully adapted and the magic moment when Charles was down on one knee holding Julie’s hand while she circled around him moved at least one photographer and several guests to tears. Next came a total treat- a Cha-Cha lesson by their amazing and gifted dance teacher Diane Surkis from the Starlite Ballroom. Thus began a great set of dancing from a Chicken Dance contest (without a winner- we think everyone won!) to a few Bollywood dances which were wonderfully passionate and surprisingly included a few talented guests obviously well practiced at this style of dance.
Bouquet and garter thrown our couple was off and on their way - to a lifetime of dances together.
It was evident from the playful quality of NIna and Fred’s engagement photos that they shared a wonderful sense of humor as well as a special affection. We were really looking forward to this wedding!
It rained that day , as luck would have it, but we can say that it never affected the festivities. Their wonderful venue, the Stanford Park Hotel, has a lovely indoor facility for weddings and if anything everything had a cozy warm feeling.
Their friends and family had 12 years to prepare for this big event- and we always feel that people who wait a long time to marry really know what it means to exchange those sacred vows.
Visiting both of them while they got ready we were struck by how calm they were, and how much they both looked forward to becoming married. They had decided to meet before their ceremony and we love witnessing that moment when a couple encounters one another and it really sinks in that today really is their wedding day. It is always so moving to behold- and all of our couples who elect to do that are so happy that they do.
Nina’s dress was gorgeous, simple and elegant with just enough bling- it suited her perfectly. She was shining with that special bloom that only brides can claim. As you will see it shows in all of her photos. The artfully designed bouquets by Ah Sam complemented her dress and the birdesmaids perfectly.
We love a harp it adds a special magic to both ceremony and cocktail hour, and Stephanie Janowski added a lyrical beauty to both.
The minister had a wonderful way of tying the Jewish and Christian traditions together and it was a lovely ceremony. Glass broken, first kiss exchanged, their faces as they came down the aisle said everything about their joy at marrying one another at last.
It was fabulous that we had gotten all the family and wedding party photographs done ahead of time as it allows us to proceed right to the party after the ceremony. First, though, we took our bride and groom golf umbrellas and the wedding party out to play a bit. We coaxed our couple to practice their waltz, and I also knew that Nina would be one who would be happy to dance for our camera, twirling and laughing and just glowing!
That turned out to be just the beginning of an evening full of dancing , as once the delicious meal and lavish dessert buffet plus wedding cake were over the dance floor was full and very very active. One of the high points was the almost solemn announcement of a special song for the groom- and then the strains of Baby Got Back filled the air!! Even more fun, the bride’s parents then hit the dance floor and boogied down to everyone’s delight. Fueled by the elegant rocking supervisions of RIch Amooi of Hey Mr. DJ the dance floor was alive up to the very last minute of the evening- which, as ever, came too soon.
As we headed up to San Francisco to meet Karen and Nathan for their pre-wedding portrait play session at the Lyon Street steps we speculated , as we always do, about what kind of wedding dress Karen had chosen. However no speculation really prepares you for the vision that presents itself when you first see a bride and groom all dressed for their wedding.
To put it simply- Karen, with her auburn hair upswept but soft around her face, studded with pearls, and her lovely simple yet elegant dress- looked like an exquisite Greek goddess. Handsome Nathan in white tie and tails was the perfect complement for that beauty. That we were given that sweet time with them to play and make beautiful images before the ceremony was such a gift!
Aside from the obvious love between these two the other thing that strikes you is the great humor that they obviously share. It is infectious, and by the time we left to head for the wedding we were smiling and laughing ourselves. All three of us had been excited by the images we had made with their gorgeousness and the fabulous backdrops afforded by one of our favorite places in San Francisco to do portraits. Their willingness to play with us- and obvious ease of playfulness between them had made our work easy.
Their ceremony only furthered that feeling for the humor and fun that they share as their were moments of laughter threaded throughout along with the tears and emotion that also accompany the exchanging of vows. We never get tired of hearing the special words between a couple- in fact Meg and Michael feel as if they get to renew their vows week after week.
The room changed from ceremony site to beautifully appointed reception room- candles glowing from the candelabras that are a special touch at Marine’s Memorial Club . After the guests were seated the Lion dance began and the room was full of excitement- we have seen quite a few Lion dances as we love photographing Chinese banquets, but this was the best we have seen. Even more unusual- the best man was one of the lions!
After the delicious dinner and cake, a beauteous cake by The Cakemaker,Karen and Nathan danced their special dance and the love from friends and family surrounded them and filled the room. Terry from The Spinheads kept the place rocking with his well chosen dance songs and a wonderful mood set by his lighting -and the night flew by as these most special of nights tend to….
The light rain that fell for only a short time did nothing to dampen either the incredible beauty of Nestldown, (in the Santa Cruz mountains) or the high spirits and love present during Alison and Chad’s wedding day. While driving there that day we all decided that Nestldown is most definitely among our very favorite venues. Every corner of the property offers a new enchanting surprise- be it the storybook cottage, the shrub animals, the myriad of quaint or romantic benches, the long emerald expanse of lawn and trees that invites one to stroll and dream…. and it is endlessly new again.
Alison loved loved loved purple and as it is Meg’s favorite color it was a delight to see it represented in the maid of honor’s dress, the ring pillow, Alison’s delicate crystal jewelry, the table linens, and expressed with fabulous flair in the gorgeous bouquets and centerpieces from Boulder Creek Flowers .
Luck meant no rain fell during the ceremony in the breathtaking redwood glen that only Nestldown offers. Even repeated experiences do not keep you from a sharp intake of breath when you see the beautiful steps leading down to the canopy of greenery that forms the altar for the wedding overlooking a pond. It is quite simply beautiful every time of year.
Soon after the ceremony, with the arrival of the newly married couple in the classic old English taxi, the partying began in earnest in the warm barn, which always seems to glow whether with chandelier light or candle light.
One had only to hear that the groom had given the bride her heart shaped diamond ring on the collar of a kitten to know this was a special love story. In keeping with that shared love of the couple’s, they had given a gift to the Human Society in lieu of a favor- and there was a card at each place setting with photos of the pets of the couple and friends and family.
Delicious catering (as ALWAYS) from Teri Menchini at La Bocca Fina left everyone warm and delightfully full but there was no chance to be lulled to quiet with Big Fun DJ in the house! Woody had the barn rocking and as ever their light show was a treat to photograph. Ceron Anthony of Cake Expressions had made them a gorgeous heart shaped cake.
The night flew by and suddenly it was time to bid the couple adieu and send them off into the night and into their bright future as husband and wife.
Michael will do anything necessary to see his vision come to life!
The image he was stalking…
When the California Supreme Court ruled In a 4-3 decision, that people have a fundamental ‘right to marry’ the person of their choice and that gender restrictions violate the state Constitution’s equal protection guarantee- we celebrated here at Cat Heaven (well- it is cat and dog heaven since last November…). This particular issue is close to our hearts- first because we know true love when we see it, and it defies gender…and second because Meg’s sister has been with her partner for over thirty years.
When the day arrived a month later when the first weddings were allowed to legally occur we knew we wanted to be there to participate in the joy from the front row! We headed to San Francisco to offer free portraits to anyone and everyone we could find. It was one of the happiest experiences we have ever, and we mean ever had.
We joined a jubilant throng of well wishers and joyful couples along with friends and family. Happy onlookers brought bouquets, cake, champagne- even wedding favors.
The photos will speak for themselves!
Hero of the day!
Richness is the word we associate with the beautiful wedding of Christine and Isa. Richness of traditions, richness of family history and connection, richness of color, richness of flavor. We love doing the weddings that have many traditions and customs and we knew we would see the passionate dancing that comes with a Palestinian reception, as well as the many sacred traditions in the Greek Orthodox ceremony.
Christine has an exotic sensuous beauty and were thrilled to discover on the day that she was a natural model in front of the camera. She wore an absolutely gorgeous dress from the Unique Bride in Burlingame - a store with which we are very familiar as our favorite wedding planner Tosca Clark also owns this wonderful bridal store.
From the moment we arrived at Christine’s family home and met her lovely warm father and mother we were immersed in the wonderful traditions that a celebration of this kind means in their culture. We also loved seeing the framed wedding photographs from Christine’s sister’s weddings on the walls in the living room as it was a true history of wedding styles, as well a a testimony to the value this family places on the celebration of such a day in their lives.
There was a lavish and delicious spread of food with many things prepared by our bride’s Mother awaiting the family guests who arrived to greet the bride. Soon the women greeted her in their own special way- dancing and singing- and we were in photographer heaven. It is such an honor for us to be part of these family gatherings! We so love each detail, each special custom. Michael photographed a similarly rich gathering at Isa’s family home and then it was time for the two families to meet at the home of the bride (though per custom Isa did not join them).
The ceremony at St. Thomas Moore church in San Francisco was full of wonderful traditions and even more unexpectedly Meg was able to photograph quite near to the vows- that is a wonderful treat and not at all common in most churches.
A number of rituals in the ceremony are repeated three times and this symbolizes the Holy Trinity. We love the beautiful crowns that hold so very much meaning (exchanged between the heads of the couple, three times) and the circling of the altar three times that the wedding party does with the priest.
Once our sweet couple was married and greeted with the shouts of joy from the guests we spent some time photographing them and then set off for Fayrouz in Palo Alto- a Mediterranean restaurant and supper club.
On their arrival Christine and Isa began their first dance, and we knew how fun that would be- everyone dances around them to the beautiful and passionate music and the joy of celebrating this marriage was palpable.
Fayrouz had the perfect atmosphere for the celebration with beautiful colorful lighting and delicious richly spiced food- so much food you could hardly believe everyone could dance but dance dance dance they did! We were able to go out into the courtyard for a few more photographs of our couple and Christine. already alight with her newly married status, was breathtaking in front of our cameras.
The beautiful Christine
When Stephanie and David contacted us about photographing their Friday afternoon wedding at San Francisco City Hall it created a first for us as we had never photographed there before.
We creaed a special several hours event coverage for them with Michael as their photographer. He had no idea how gorgeous the backdrop would be for their portraits and their vows. He had such a wonderful time that we created a City Hall special in the hopes that we can do many more. What an exquisite place! There are so many beautiful places to photograph. The wedding locations are also absolutely beautiful. After their wedding Michael took them to the nearby Aisan Art Museum- another beautiful place for commemorating your relationship.
We had no idea that we would soon be able to offer this coeverage to many more couples after the Supreme Court granted same sex couples the long overdue right to marry.
When the wonderful Tosca Clark of Tosca Productions contacted us about a wedding in San Francisco in March we did not have to think twice. We know her events will be beautifully planned with gorgeous details to photograph - so we were eager to be part of the day.
As ever, Tosca did not disappoint- the beautiful bride and dapper groom held their reception at the closed for the event Bix Restaurant, a gorgeous 30’s/40’s design supper club. It has an atmosphere of the Barbary Coast’s bygone speakeasies.
First though, our wonderful couple married in the most traditional sacred of ways at Temple Emanu-el. They chose to see one another before the wedding and we absolutely love being present to record that moment when they first see one another. The Jewish vows are rich with tradition and meaning - just our cup of tea! Our favorite part of the ceremony is when the bride and groom circle one another at the beginning - it feels as though they are the only two people in the room.
Family photos are always important- bringing two families together to celebrate the joining through their children- and we honor that! After that we were off to document the rest of the party- and it was a fabulous one. The club was gorgeous- beautifully lit, tables appointed with fabulous flair- not that we expect anything else with Tosca as part of the day! Tradition was there too with the enthusiastic dancing of the horah . True to Sarah’s history with her friends there was not only a wedding cake but yumm- cupcakes from SIbby’s
In the end it came down to a final moment with our freshly married couple, dancing in each others arms, again as if they were the only two people in the room.