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California Weddings

An incredible summer

Ceremony 198 (1)

Ceremony 198 (1)

I can't believe the blog hasn't been updated in months! The wonderfully busy summer came to an end and soon I'll be posting up all the weddings that took place. I'm at least 12 weddings behind on the blog and October is completely full too! What's more, we just had our 2nd baby a full seven weeks before her due date and both mommy and daddy are relearning how to take care of our new bundle of joy. After 15 days in the NICU we finally got her home last night.

Walnut Grove Wedding: Nikki and Catalin

It's said that love overcomes all, and Nikki and Catalin could write a book. These two have overcome quite a lot that life has thrown at them! All of those struggles have made them stronger and now together in marriage they're ready to forge ahead a new future. It was a pleasure to get to know these two and the wonderful people that Catalin works with, who helped prepare everything for their wedding ceremony and reception at a beautiful home in Walnut Grove. Thank you Nikki and Catalin for the wonderful day! Hugs :-)

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Wedding Venue: Private home along the Delta River in Walnut Grove

Fortuna Backyard Wedding: Peter and Gina

Without a doubt, simple backyard weddings are always a truly fun celebration of a couple's love, and this one was no exception. But what made the day extra special for me was knowing a good number of people attending this wedding. I go to the same church as Peter's family and good friends. Peter's dad was my Sunday school teacher way back when I was in high school. The weather in the northwest part of California can be unpredictable, but by God's grace it turned out to be a gorgeous warm day surrounded by wildflowers and coastal redwood trees. Peter and Gina's closest friends from college as well as family from the Bay Area pitched in together to set the stage for these two to make solemn vows to one another.

All the best to you Peter and Gina and thank you for making me a part of your big day!  

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And the slideshow!

Scribner Bend Vineyard Wedding: Aaron and Lauren!

Good old fashion word of mouth is how I was lucky enough to meet Aaron and Lauren, who got married last Saturday at the charming Scribner Bend Vineyard near Sacramento. Their wedding was a country affair, with cowboy hats, boots and of course some really yummy BBQ. But all of that was just a backdrop of a really beautiful union between a really sweet couple. Their story Lauren and Aaron's story is like a bad made for TV movie: Two elementary school teachers who met years ago and never gave each other a second thought, suddenly found themselves both single, and teaching at the same tiny school. Not only were they at the same school, but Lauren taught 5th grade, and Aaron taught 6h, so you can imagine the excitement buzzing around the little campus when they publically announced that they were dating at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year.

Once the initial excitement died down, the relationship continued to progress until April 4th 2012, when Aaron asked Lauren to make an honest man out of him at the top of the Martis Camp Express chairlift at Northstar Ski Resort. It was very romantic with the sideways snow landing in their hot dogs, and the slightly soggy potato chips, so of course Lauren said yes. For the rest of the day, she called a different friend on the phone each time they got on a lift to fill them in on the big news.

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And for more highlights from this amazing wedding check out the slideshow!

Wedding Venue: Scribner Bend Vineyard, Sacramento CA

Awesome DJ coverage provided by Anthony Karabetyan at DNA Entertainment

Catering by Rayna's Gourmet Catering

Flowers by Shanan Spears, a friend of the Bride and Groom - contact me for her info

Scott's Restaurant Walnut Creek Wedding: Joseph and Mary

Thanks to a recent inquiry about shooting a wedding at Scott's Restaurant I realized Joseph and Mary's wedding never got posted to the blog! How could I forget the couple with the most interesting combination of names? It was an especially fun wedding for me because I photographed Mary's cousins wedding (Rose and Archie) a few years ago and have since become really good friends with them. So seeing Rose and Archie and all the other familiar faces from their wedding made the whole event really comfortable for me to photograph. The only hiccup was in the rush to leave the hotel, the bouquet was left behind! Note to all the brides out there: have a checklist of things never to leave behind for your wedding! The highlight by far was hearing Joseph pull off a special number for Mary -- he's quite the romantic and left all the ladies in the house swooning. Joseph and Mary - a year has gone by but I hear Southern California is treating you well -- best of luck to you both! A few words about the venue... Scott's Restaurant in Walnut Creek is constantly booked for weddings for good reason -- they're old pro's at putting together small to mid-size wedding celebrations. At the past two weddings I've photographed there, they were actually pulling off simultaneous wedding parties in different parts of the restaurant.  The staff was efficient and courteous as one would expect, but not always receive from just any wedding venue.

Blackhawk Country Club Wedding: Nate and Annie!

In just the last few days Annie and I wrapped up their wedding album, which is getting printed as I type this! I can't wait to get it into their hands because I know they'll just love it. Now that we've got that out of the way, I have time to post just a few of their many favorites from their wedding out at Blackhawk Country club last year. Thank you Nate and Annie for the fun engagement session in San Diego and the privilege of capturing your beautiful day in Danville!

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Best of 2012 San Francisco City Hall Weddings!

It's not so extraordinary that people travel to San Francisco or Napa to have their destination wedding. We do have some pretty incredible venues no doubt. But this year I was amazed to have clients, from as far away as Singapore, to photography their ceremony at San Francisco City Hall. And not just one international couple, but several -- couples from China, Japan and Guatemala! 2-hour packages start at just $500 and always include a second location of the couple's choosing. If you're a couple who's found this page and are interested in booking your date, head over to the main wedding website and contact Dan to get all the package options and prices.

Here's some of the 2012 highlights!

Bella Montagna Wedding: Sadek and Carmen

Sadek and Carmen 

Married on September 29th 

Photos Delivered Oct 1st 

Sadek and Carmen grew up here in the U.S., but come from families that immigrated here many years ago. On a warm, cloudless day in the hills above San Jose, their different cultures united to make a beautiful and unique celebration of their love. What made it special for me was hearing the different languages -- one minute Carmen's grandma is holding my arm and speaking to me in Portuguese in the most endearing way (I smile and nod, giving the impression that I understand her - we have several more "conversations" like this)... then I turn around and hear another warm exchange of affection between relatives in Arabic. Toward the end of the evening, everyone seemed to know Korean as they got downright silly dancing and singing along with PSY - you know the song I'm talking about.

The venue for their wedding and reception was at the Bella Montagna, a hillside estate that overlooks San Jose and the entire south bay. Marcia coordinates weddings for this place with amazing efficiency and kept the day moving beautifully, despite the inevitable hiccups. Thanks Marcia for the great communication both before the wedding and on the day itself -- I don't know how you do it all!

Thanks Carmen and Sadek for allowing me the privilege of capturing your big day - Parabéns and تهنئة !

 

And lastly, the highlight slideshow!

Wedding at Valencia Hotel - Santana Row: Kiki and John

John and Kiki 

Married on September 23th 

Photos delivered on September 25th

These two pulled off something amazing for their wedding at Santana Row's Valencia Hotel in San Jose. You see, Kiki's from New Orleans and wanted a 2nd Line - google it like I did (also pictured in the last two photos). John's a trained musician and played in a Latin rock band back in Houston, where he met Kiki. Somehow they brought together both of these musical flavors in San Jose--a brass band and a latin rock band--for one amazing reception at the Cielo rooftop.

Before the party, there was a wedding of course. Kiki and her entourage got their hair done up at drybar. It's a very convenient place if you're getting married at the Valencia or anywhere around the Santana Row area. John of course got ready in the bathroom of his hotel room, also a convenient location I must say.

At the Valencia's courtyard, they ceremony was small and intimate. It's always a special moment to capture a groom holding back tears when he sees his bride walking down the aisle. John held it together pretty well though, that is until it came time to give his vows. When I captured him holding his hand over his chest, it was a moment that got us all choked up. It's a beautiful thing to see such an emotional and genuine pledge of undying love for another, and luckily I could hide my misty eyes behind the camera quite nicely.

Check out their wedding website and highlight slideshow here.

Thanks John and Kiki for having us capture your really fun day -- looking forward to the upcoming post-wedding portrait session!

Sean and Daniela's Wedding at the Garden Valley Ranch - Petaluma

Sean and Daniela 

Married on September 22 

Photos delivered September 24 

This summer as I blog the weddings, I'm having a hard time not starting off with something totally cliche like "Sean and Daniela's wedding was amazing from start to finish!". But the thing is each wedding really has been quite wonderful and Sean and Daniela's was no exception. Having had not just one but two wonderful conversations with them over coffee before the wedding, I got to learn a bit of their story. Long before they promised to love, cherish, and honor each other for the rest of their lives, they've been doing it in a loving relationship where each sacrificed for the other as they pursued their respective careers. Daniela helping Sean as he became a CHP officer, and then Sean helping Daniela as she went through grad school. They've been through many chapters of life together and on a warm September day, they began yet a new chapter as husband and wife.

Daniela and Sean, I hope you're enjoying every minute of your honeymoon in Mexico. Thank you for allowing me the privilege to capture your beautiful day...it was an honor I didn't take lightly.

A few notes on this wedding -- Daniela and Sean (mostly the former, I think!) made all the decorations you see in these photos. They chose to see each other before the wedding - you can see those "First Look" photos below. When the Garden Valley Ranch isn't being used as a gorgeous wedding venue, it serves the community as a working nursery and is open for touring around. Their wedding was on a Saturday and all their carefully edited photos were delivered Monday night!

Because of the potential illegality of an actual wish-lantern send off, these photos above are merely photoshop depictions of what a send off would have looked like. Sean and his other law-enforcement guests would never have willingly broken the law, and the arrival of the local Fire Marshal that evening was purely coincidental.

 

Erik and Ellen's Pear Valley Vineyards Wedding in Paso Robles

Erik and EllenMarried August 4th Photos Delivered Aug 6th 

When it comes to having a wedding in a Paso Robles, there are plenty of great options but you might not need to look much further than Pear Valley Vineyards. A stunning location, complete with a hill top they use for ceremonies which overlooks the valley and thousands of beautiful vineyards. This is where Erik and Ellen chose for their wedding last Saturday, attended by their closest friends and family who drove and flew in from all around the country. Erik and Ellen actually live in Washington near the Canadian border, but they both grew up in California where their families still reside. Erik's parents are lucky enough to live in this rival to Napa Valley, which might have a certain charm found nowhere else.

The alarming thing that happened on their wedding day is it rained. I mean it rained hard and solid for a good hour or more in the morning, complete with thunder and lightening -- which undoubtedly stressed out everyone since this was an outdoor-only ceremony venue. But by the afternoon, it was bright and sunny and almost too hot.  I got to Pear Valley after a 3 hour drive from the Bay Area and in plenty of time to find to Ellen and her bridesmaids who were still getting ready. The winery has a large room for bridal prep though the ambiance was a little office-like. That was ok because the real photographs would be taken outdoors anyway, where everywhere you turn there are great locations for portraits. Erik was getting ready at his parents house a few minutes away so we had enough time to do a few photos of the details and some portraits of Ellen and her bridesmaids.

Erik shows up soon after and I choreograph the "first look", where the bride and groom get a chance to see each other and share an intimate moment before all the non-stop craziness of the day really takes off. I love these moments because the raw emotion is plain to see -- always a joy to photograph this from any angle.

The ceremony was picturesque with vista views in every direction, and Ellen's pastor officiated a wonderful union. It really could not have been more perfect.

With family and wedding party portraits out of the way, Erik and Ellen headed over to a ridge across from the hill where the ceremony was held (but still on Pear Valley Vineyard property) that I had spotted a few hours earlier where that would make for some wonderful bride and groom photos. When I told them of my plan to take us over there, it so happened that Ellen was going to suggest the same exact location! But I had in mind to try something a little different that in all honesty didn't completely satisfy. I tried for a shot (showen below) from the hill where the ceremony took place. Yeah it's ok. I just was hoping for something a little better. If the hill were 100 feet closer it would have been a great shot.  Never the less I had several other locations in mind and since we were running late, I prioritized and took us to just 3 spots where we cranked these out in less than 10 minutes. I hear of photographers insisting on 1-2 hours for photography and I just don't get it. If you plan out the shots ahead of time and are a master of your camera settings, some great portraits can be achieved in just a few minutes.

Erik and Ellen, thank you for asking me to photography your wonderful day. You guys were so sweet to send me home with a little gift for my wife and the cake was out of this world delicious. I'll look you guys up when I'm in Washington!

 

Check out their highlight slideshow and wedding website here

A bold new promise - Your Beautiful Wedding Photos in 2 days!

I've heard the story more than once and so have you. A couple gets married, and 6 or 9 months later the photographer still hasn't handed over the photos. I heard the story again just the other day from a couple that booked me for their wedding. One of her bridesmaids got married and is still waiting, not for the photos actually but for the video. And it isn't just 9 months, it's been a year and a half.  Wow. When I first started the wedding photography business I delivered the digital negatives to clients in 3 weeks. Then last year I started delivering in 10 days and the feedback was incredible. Now it's time to up the bar even more: 2 Days!  How does this happen without compromising the quality of the editing? Simple. I totally and completely block off the entire day following your wedding to meticulously cull, edit and prepare all your photos. I then upload them to your wedding website for you to share and enjoy. That's it! I might be turning down extra commissions to deliver this service, but for me it will be worth it: couples get to instantly enjoy going through their photos on phones, ipads, laptops, or good' old fashion desktop computer, sharing and facebooking all those photos to their hearts content. And I get the satisfaction of making my couples very happy -which for a helpless people pleaser like myself, it doesn't get any better.

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Pat and Sarah's Wedding at Saint Mary's Chapel, Moraga

I've gotten to work with some really sweet people doing wedding photography and I love it when these clients become friends and refer me to more sweet, friendly people. I don't mind the clients that just want great wedding photos... I work my rear off for them too. But it's such a pleasure to work with the ones that go just a little out of their way to appreciate the effort I make at delivering tons of great photos from their big day. There's no bigger compliment (and source of encouragement) than when a bride refers me to another bride-to-be. That's how I met Sarah, who found me through Vicki, her hair sylist at pHyxx Salon in Walnut Creek. Pat and Sarah both attended Saint Mary's College in Moraga, which gives its alumni the privilege of using it's chapel for wedding ceremonies. This alone might be why we'll send our children there someday, according to my wife. Despite the alumni-only requirement, the chapel books up constantly a year in advance and they'll do 3  weddings on a typical Saturday. The campus, the spanish-style church and flowered courtyards are made for perfect wedding photographs, and it certainly made our job a breeze.

The other thing Pat and Sarah did at Vicki's recommendation was to use Positino in Lafayette for their reception. This place is full of great character and charm and did not disappoint.

Now a word about Pat and Sarah themselves. They are not on Facebook and really value their privacy... not that I would go on and on here about their personal lives...I just admire them for bucking the trend and keeping things real in their lives. How I wish I could do the same but alas wedding photography is all about online social marketing these days and sadly, less about serving clients well and getting awesome referrals like Pat and Sarah. But I digress... Pat and Sarah, it was a great pleasure to document your big day and I totally love you guys!

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And the highlight slideshow (click play below) has many more photos from Pat and Sarah's wonderful day.

Reception: Postino Restaurant, Lafayette

Katy and Val's Watsonville Wedding in the Redwoods

When Katy first described their plans for the wedding, I knew this was going to be a day like no other... Indeed, it wasn't. Not even close to other weddings that I have photographed.   First of all they reserved an entire campground for two nights, not just for themselves but for the 100+ guests! Mount Madonna State Park, just west of Gilroy up in the redwood forests, has this amazing park with an amphitheater, which apparently gets used a lot for weddings. All the guests came up Friday night and camped in their exclusive little grove of trees, which would serve as the reception area the following evening. This in itself was awesome, but it also meant that everyone was there to help put on what I can only describe as a love-filled, community-crowed-sourced extravaganza, where everyone chipped in to do something in an ultra organized fashion. From decorating the nearby amphitheater to preparing the sumptuous meal, it was all done by their friends and family.

In short, it was a day to remember and cherish for everyone in attendance.... Not because everything was done to perfection. There were challenges and improvisions left and right. But how this community rallied together to celebrate Katy and Val is what made it so special for me. I love how they made me a part of this effort and for that I am truly grateful to be a witness and documenter of their incredibly fun wedding -- thanks Katy and Val!

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Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay - Post Wedding Portraits

Corey and Michelle are a match made on.... Craigslist! Yes, they met on the same site you can swap old car tires for a pair of A's tickets. We had an amazing time at their engagement session in the wine country where we did a "Save the Date" film (link to the video) in addition to the portraits (separate blog post for those) As you can see from that video, this couple are the ultimate romantics and completely bonkers about each other. Their love is so easily captured in photos, they were the perfect couple to do some extra wedding portraits for at The Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay. There are tons of great spots for doing portraits at this hotel, which allows public access and free parking (which is limited and sometimes full on weekends). Just to the south of the hotel there is path way that parallels the cliff. All along this stretch the backdrop of the hotel and ocean combined make for beautiful portraits but you'll notice that one of the shots here is somewhat high pointing downward. Well that's a trade secret, but no I didn't use a helicopter for that shot! Sunset is obviously a great time to be here and we all paused and took in the amazing last few minutes of daylight. Thanks guys for the wonderful day at this gorgeous spot on the coast!

Ritz Carlton Wedding Photography packages at my main website

Hai'en and Ken's S.F. City Hall Ceremony

Ken lives in Shanghi, Ha'ien lives in Singapore and somehow San Francisco's City Hall worked out to be their wedding venue! It was a pleasure you two - see you in Singapore someday!

Getting married at San Francisco City Hall? Dan Johanson Photography offers special deals for these mid-week ceremonies. Contact Dan through the main wedding website.

Josie and Jimmy's Atherton Wedding at Holbrook Palmer Park

Avid readers of my blog will certainly recall Josie and Jimmy's Civil Wedding inside the stunningly photogenic  San Francisco City Hall. What a great idea by the way to do both a civil ceremony for just immediate family and then a bigger wedding to celebrate with all the other friends and family. I mean just for the sake of getting pictures in that beautiful place it was certainly worth the extra bit of money, which wasn't much. I obliged to consider that ceremony their "engagement" session which comes with most packages that I offer, and I'd gladly do that for future couples as well since it was such a fun place to shoot.  But I digress as this blog post is about Josie and Jimmy's Atherton wedding at Holbrook Palmer Park, a charming spot in it's own right that was just perfect for this unique celebration. You see Jimmy is from Peru, where he met Josie who was teaching English in his home town.  It was important for these two to incorporate a bit of Peruvian culture into the mix and they found a caterer that did an amazing job. Congrats to Josie and Jimmy!

Julianne and Andy's Wedding - Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery  Pleasanton

Julianne and Andy's Wedding - Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery Pleasanton

Andy and Julianne have one of those engagement stories straight out of a movie. Julianne was in Siem Reap, Cambodia for a medical stint at  a children's hospital and while she was due back in the U.S. in a matter of days, Andy simply couldn't wait to ask for her to marry him. With a ring in hand, he flew half way around the world. He pulled off a complete surprise and obviously endeared himself even more to Julianne. They dined at the Khmer Kitchen, a place where my wife and I have also eaten (upon hearing their story) while passing through Siem Reap last December. After dinner, in the back of a tuk-tuk, he asked for her hand in marriage. She said yes and they flew home together a short time later and began to plan the sacred day that they celebrated last April 3rd. They chose a really gorgeous wedding venue, the Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery in Pleasanton. It's a wedding photographers delight to work at a place like this, especially when it's coordinated by Alyssia and her team--probably the most accommodating, professional and organized wedding venue in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'll post a wedding venue review soon, which will definitely be glowing in every way.

The wedding was on a warm and beautiful day, which afforded the possibility of using the Casa Real's courtyard for their ceremony. The wedding photography is always a bit tricky when the sun is so high in the sky and casting harsh shadows on faces, but we pulled off a few tricks and got a bunch of snaps that I hope they enjoy for the rest of their lives.

Also check out the Album design sneak preview!

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Andy and Julianne opted to see each other before the ceremony, which I highly recommend to anyone getting married. Unless they believe in the power of superstitions, this moment is a wonderful, intimate moment that couples can have privately before the busyness of the day takes over. It also makes for some great photographic memories, as well as help reduce the amount of time doing portraits after the ceremony when they're anxious to get to the reception.

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Looking for a wedding photographer for your wedding at Casa Real? Dan would be happy to discuss all your engagement and wedding photography needs at a no-obligation chat over coffee near your home or work. Contact him here or check out his Wedding Website for more information.

Jimmy and Josie's San Francisco City Hall Wedding

I immediately felt a special bond with Jimmy and Josie over coffee a while back as I learned more about their story. Jimmy comes from Peru and met Josie while she was working there. A long distance separated them when Josie returned to the U.S. but their love for each other only grew stronger because of it. Funny how that works. Hazel and I felt our relationship was made stronger when I lived in the U.S. and she worked in Japan. Jimmy came here on a fiance visa which means they had to get legally hitched within 90 days. Somewhere they heard about how beautiful a civil ceremony / wedding can be at the San Francisco City Hall. The arcitecture on the outside is sort of typical "capitol" looking but the real beauty is found on the inside. It reminds me more of a cathedral than it does government building and makes for a stunning location to have a small public ceremony. There are locations though that afford a virtually private location, such as upstairs where many of their couples portraits were taken (the last few shots at the bottom). The officiant will allow you to choose between several locations, including the popular rotunda.  The tricky part for a solo photographer is that the ceremony is quick and there are plenty of stairs to negotiate to get both the wide and close up shots.

See you Jimmy and Josie in a few months at the Atherton wedding! ceremony portraits photographer

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We offer special San Francisco City Hall ceremony photography packages  - Contact us at our wedding site for more details

Winter Wedding in Denver - Paul and Krista

Winter Wedding in Denver - Paul and Krista

Paul and I go back to 2006 when our paths crossed in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It's a lonely place in Central Asia and we hung out, going on photo walks together, usually followed by a nice beers at the local German hofbrauhaus. Paul happens to be the son of my current director for an organization I work with, The Navigators. But that had nothing to do with coming out and shooting his wedding for free. Actually Paul graciously sent a check, which he didn't have to do since he came out and shot our wedding for free two years ago. He's also photographing weddings while wrapping up graduate studies and if you need a great photographer in Denver, look no further than Paul. Say you want an outdoor wedding in Denver around mid January -- we'll they figured out a way. The Butterfly Pavilion just north of Denver is like an indoor jungle, complete with humid, warm air and hundreds of beautiful butterflies flying around. The only downside is the lighting is absolutely terrible. It's by far the most challenging venue, in terms of lighting, that I have ever shot a wedding. Gee thanks Paul. We pulled it off thought because they were ok with some flashes going off at certain key parts of the ceremony. I normally would never ever flash a ceremony, but Paul completely understood it needed to be done. denver wedding couple wedding at the butterfly pavillion

After the ceremony we headed over to the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver, where they had checked in and were staying a few nights. The place is gorgeously decorated with Christmas lights everywhere which fortunately hadn't yet been taken down. It's a dim place so again some portable studio light was required, which is never easy to when I'm working solo, but it worked efficiently and got the shots we needed in less than 20 minutes.

the brown palace wedding denver The Brown Palace Denver Wedding the brown palace hotel wedding

I did Paul and Krista's engagement photos literally about 26 hours before their wedding and we were totally happy with how my new "Save the Date" video came out. Thanks you two for a wonderful weekend and I can't wait to cross paths with you again -- hopefully in Denver or San Francisco and not in Bishkek!