Tag Archives: wedding photographer

Wedding Wednesdays!

Wedding Wednesday

I hop online each week with a tasty brew to chat about an array of topics surrounding your wedding planning and how to make everything as awesome as you ever imagined. We’ll cover everything from picking a venue to posing for your engagement photos to how to ensure your wedding day runs smoothly. I’ve been in the wedding industry for 10 years, I’ll share my wedding tips along with some anecdotes and bad jokes here and there. If you know me at all you know I don’t take myself too seriously, so this series is a fun romp through all the wedding wildness that’s floating around in my brain! 🙂 

COMING UP!

I’m super pumped to dive into Wedding Wednesday for week number two where we’ll be talking about where the heck you even BEGIN the wedding planning process! While overflowing pinterest boards and DIY dreams are some of the more fun and stress free parts of the experience, there are a lot of big and serious tasks you’ve got to tackle right out of the gate in order to set yourself up for success! Tune in to my FB and IG live at 5:00pm PST to hear the tip of the iceberg of advice I’ve got for couples who are planning. If you’ve got planning success (or horror!) stories, advice on where to begin, or a specific question regarding planning then let me know at the link below! I’m stoked to connect with you personally and get you all the help you need to make your wedding GRRRRRRRRREAT! 🐯💛

WEDDING WEDNESDAYS QUESTIONS, ADVICE, & STORY SUBMISSIONS

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Laurel and Mike’s Zhangjiajie Forest Park Wedding Part 3 – The Ceremony

FINALLY. The big day. (Holy sh*it, we were excited!)

After the immacualte welcome BBQ, the rowdy door games, and the amazing breakfast, I was STOKED to get to the main event. Mike and his boys were well into their suits by the time we arrived for photos and were already starting in on their second bottle of wedding wine. If ever there was ever an indication of how awesome this day was going to be, that was it. Their get up gave a nod to traditional Chinese styling and fused the past with the present with slim fitting garments and modern dress shoes. The crazy socks were a must, signaling how wild and wonderful they all felt.

Now, I had heard for months about Laurel’s custom made red wedding dress but NOTHING prepared me for the sheer perfection of it. Her gown looked like something off the MET Gala carpet and I was HERE fot it. Not only did Laurel look stunning, but so did all of her bridesmaids. Their dresses all sported a different cut for each but created from the same gorgeous navy bloe floral pattern. I don’t know about you, but I think this is one of the hottest bridal parties ever!

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The ceremony was held at the Zhangjiajie National Forest park in the Hunan province of China. If this epic backdrop looks familiar, it’s because this is the same spot James Cameron filmed his 2009 epic Avatar. The floating mountains were absolutly breathtaking, I couldn’t believe this was the backdrop for the wedding! Of course, the decor of the aisle and alter matched the stunning neautrals of the fog filled background with an abundance of white flowers, walkways, teraces, and arangements. Watching Laurel stride down the aisle in her electrifying red dress is a sureal and beautiful moment that I will truly never forget. The ceremony was performed in both English and Chinese to accomdate for all the guests and involved traditional Western vows as well as a tea ceremony with the parents of the couple. It was sealed with a kiss, some dancing, and lots of joy!

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Laurel and Mike’s Zhangjiajie Forest Park Wedding Part 2 – Door Games

After recovering from a rowdy late night Welcome BBQ (see the blog post about that HERE) everyone was up bright and early for the Door Games. I had no idea what to expect from this part of the wedding, but Laurel said it was the part she was most looking forward to, so I was definitely stoked to see it all play out.

Door games are a series of challenges that the bride and her bridesmaids put forth to the groom and groomsmen in order to determine if he is, in fact, worthy of his bride. These can range from physical strength competitions to straight up making him pay cash for his bride, as well as anything in between. With Laurel’s insanely fun friends on the stage, I knew the boys were in for trouble. They did an awesome job completing all the challenges and no one died, so that’s a plus! 😉

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THE PRESENTATION OF THE BRIDE (with bridesmaids in matching onesies, no less!)

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There was an attempt at winning the bridesmaids over with cold hard cash but, unfortunately for the boys, they wouldn’t get off that easy.KEC11182KEC11191

CHALLENGE #2

The bridesmaids tried to get the groomsmen to quit by making them wear saucy little headbands and Kardashian level fake butts, but these boys were in it to win it. The next part of the challenge was for the men to show Laurel how much they love her by creating the word LOVE out of their bodies! While it seems like an easy feat, one of the members also had to be inverted throughout. These boys busted out all the stops to impress the girls and give everyone a laugh.KEH20754007Q0579007Q0599007Q0645007Q0640

GAME #3: BALLOON POP

I’ll go ahead and throw this one in under the category of a humiliation ritual (re: hazing). The groomsmen had to tie balloons around their waist and, without using their hands, pop all of the balloons. Needless to say, there was a lot of hilarious physical contact and attempts at smashing in all the wrong places.

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CHALLENGE #5

This challenge was the physical representation of all the feelings of married life: spicy, sweet, bitter, and sour. These boys had to slam some red chilli peppers, whole sweet mandarin oranges, some icky bitter melon, and a shot of black vinegar!

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CHALLENGE #7

This challenge was sort of a two parter. The bridesmaids asked questions about Laurels life, family, favorite things, etc. and Mike had to answer them. He also had to name 8 countries that Laurel planned to visit in the near future. If he got a question or country wrong, he had to hold a Scorpion inversion yoga pose, meant to open the heart, for 60 seconds. Lucky for him, he was able to also ask a groomsman to step up to the plate. One of them even managed to slam a beer while upside down! (And he’s single, ladies!) 😉

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CHALLENGE #8

Where would the fun be if there wasn’t some element that was actually physically painful? The girls wanted to know how tough these boys were, so they busted out the wax strips for a healthy dose of  ‘beauty is pain’. Each one left the game with a fresh bald patch on their leg. Secretly though, I was hoping they’re go for the chest or armpit!

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CHALLENGE #9

This was one of the most fun challenges, of which the boys had been able to practice ahead of time. They did an amazing dance routine to a 90’s boy band song and got everyone to sing and dance along!

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CHALLENGE #10

Last but not least, FEATS OF STRENGTH! The boys were challenged to a pushup contest and a tug’o’war against Laurel’s chosen team of friends. The push up contest consisted of a team of boys doing push ups at the same time with one of Laurel’s friends resting on their back. Laurel’s team kicked butt, groomsmen… not so much. My all time favorite part of this challenge was when, to many people’s surprise, Laurel’s friend Lucia DEMOLISHED Mike’s brother Rich in an arm wrestling contest. I guess all that acro yoga, rock climbing, and aerial silk training pays off!

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And of course, even though the boys got their butts handed to them (real butts and fake rubber ones), Laurel and her bridesmaids approved of the effort and it was time to get ready for the wedding!

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PART 3 – ZHANGJIAJIE NATIONAL FOREST PARK WEDDING – COMING SOON!

Laurel and Mike’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Wedding: Part 1 – Welcome BBQ

Who: Laurel and Mike

Where: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. Hunan, China.

When: October 2019

If I had been told 5 years ago that I would be flown all the way to China to shoot a multi-day all expenses paid black tie wedding, I would have called you BANANAS. As much as I love to travel, China was never really on my radar. I didn’t have friends traveling or living there and I had very little knowledge on any of it’s features or history other than the Great Wall and Mulan (I know, I know… typical Westerner). But of course, life has a funny way of pushing your boundaries and opening up doors you never knew existed.

Enter, Laurel.

I met Laurel about 5 years back while shooting a wedding for our mutual friends, Gia and Scott. She was a bridesmaid and as Gia’s day carried on with plenty of drinks and tons of laughter, Laurel and I chatted and realized we had a lot in common. After she freed me from a folding chair acting as a bear trap (that’s a whole other story) she hugged me, drunkenly proclaimed us BFF’s, and told me she wasn’t engaged but was DEFINITELY going to hire me to shoot her wedding one day. As a wedding photographer you hear this quite a bit at events, especially when people have been drinking, so I hugged her, we exchanged numbers, and said I would hold her to it, without giving it a second thought. I never thought that such an innocent exchange would lead to the most insane travel and photography experience of my life!

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Evidence of our first meeting at Gia’s wedding. (Look at the sweet babies!)

Fast forward a few years and Laurel and I had gotten closer while living near each other in the Bay Area. She invites me to come shoot headshots for the women of Docusign and eat ramen, I invite her to eat ramen and participate in some passion projects of mine. (You can see the ovararching theme, no?) Eventually, I got to know her boyfriend turned fiance, Mike. A sweet and light hearted friend to everyone, Mike is always good for a laugh, a drink, or some political banter. He also helps to order authentic and delicious Asian food for me when I’m strugling with a foreign menu! It was pretty much love at first dumpling for Mike and me.

When Laurel and Mike got engaged on a trip to New Zealand everyone was thrilled. It’s always so fun when your friends make bug moves in their lives, and I knew these two were about to truly become the power couple of the century. I was equally as excited when Laurel floated the idea of my shooting their engagement photos and wedding. (That long held drunken promise wasn’t forgotten!) Working with friends is always so much fun and I knew their wedding would be a reuinion of friends, a celebration of her heritage, and a truly epic party. I may have had an inkling it would be great, but I had no idea what Laurel had up her sleeve.

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Roaming the streets of SF to find the perfect photo and food spots. You can see more of their engagement photos on the blog HERE!

Two years of coordinating, engagement sessions, planning, and preparations later and I was off to China in October to capture their incredible multi-day wedding! My faaaaabulous associate shooter and travel companion for the trip was my best friend Da Karai. We were pretty much ready for adventure the moment we got to the airport at 6:00am. Mimosas (lots of mimosas), movies, and munchies got us from SFO to Shanghai and, although I almost got stranded at the Shanghai airport, we eventually made it to Zhangjiajie.

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WE MADE IT! Good to be showered and fresh after nearly 24 hours of travel!

The first of the many amazing wedding festivites was the welcome BBQ. Laurel and Mike are huge international travelers and have lived all over the world. You know a couple is well loved when 200 of their closest friends and family members fly into China from abroad to celebrate their big day! Their guest list was an aclectic mix of friends from every corner of the globe. In order to welcome people and allow everyone to settle in properly the BBQ was full of insane food, bottomless Tsingtao, and some incredible Chinese traditons. The night began with a heart pounding traditional Tang Gu (堂鼓) drum routine and an intricate lion dance (or Wu Shi 舞獅) filled with skillful acrobatics and stunts. It was shockingly beautiful and the perfect opener for many of the guests’ first time in China. After the performance we were greeted by the MC, heard toasts from some of the important people in Laurel and Mike’s lives (including the couple themselves), and were encouraged to eat and drink while mingling with the array of other guests. It was one hell of a party, especially for a first day!

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STAY TUNED FOR A CRAZY PART 2: DOOR GAMES! 

Happy New Year!

The new year is here! While I understand it’s simply another Wednesday and nothing has truly changed since yesterday, it feels like a very transformative time; even more so that years past because of the changing of the decade. It’s time to transcend to the next version of ourselves. Today marks the pinnacle of a time of renewal. A time to affirm goals and envision our brightest future.

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For me, that future includes growing my client base as well as my family. (I’ll settle for a small dog or a small human, they will be equally loved.)

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It includes improving my work, challenging myself, and thinking outside the box more often. (I plan on doing lots of personal creative work this year!)

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It includes finding my ideal client and giving them exactly what they want as an artist. (POWER TO THE PEOPLE!)

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It also includes solidifying my personal relationships as well as professional ones and carving out paths that lead in positive directions I haven’t even figured out yet. (2020 includes a LOT of love and adventure!)

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As cheesy as it sounds, today is the first day of the rest of our lives! I strive to remember that this year and treated every waking moment with the respect and focus it deserves. Cheers to a ridiculous growth spurt in 2020!

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George & Elisa’s Rainy Day Wedding in Livermore California

Imagine this; it’s three days before your wedding and the skies are pitch black. Rain is pouring down and there’s no sign of it stopping. Your venue, an exclusively outdoor historical site, has just informed you that you need a special permit to put up tents for your event. The permit will take weeks to acquire. Imagine switching venues for your entire event that same afternoon and imagine handling it with such grace and charm and humor that guests wouldn’t even know it it all happened just a few days before your wedding, save for the call informing you of the new location.

Elisa and George were THAT couple. Along with their planner, Kelsey at Avida Bridal, they were able to find a solution within hours and move everything around. Their acceptance of the situation and roll of their eyes at the twist of fate before them was right in line with their incredible character. They are kind and lighthearted and full of love for each another, which in no way was dampened by the stormy weather. They were lucky enough to still be able to get ready at and do their first look at the Ravenswood Historical Site in Livermore, where they had originally intended to do their entire wedding. The covered wraparound deck was the perfect spot for an intimate and tearful; first look. It’s always beautiful to watch the raw emotions unfold between a couple so in love. After braving the rain for a couple of fun group portraits we headed over to their new ceremony site, The Barn in Livermore.

Their beautiful lavender laden arch looked perfect against the rustic aluminum siding of this rustic indoor venue. Their purple table linens and pops of color in the flowers throughout brought a cheery disposition to an otherwise gloomy day. There was a very sweet walk down memory lane in the form childhood photos interspersed with sweet treats to snack on while viewing. Of course, the rain let up directly after their ceremony for just enough time for us to head outside and get some beautiful couples photos. Even mother nature wanted to give these two a break on their special day.

One of the most exciting parts of their day was when they did a long held German tradition called a log cutting ceremony. The couple uses a traditional two-person saw to cut through a large log. The tradition aims to symbolize the first challenge the couple will face as husband and wife. George and Elisa may have had a slow start, but they got their rhythm and ripped through their log in a little less than four minutes. With a solid high-five to seal the deal, this couple had officially passed the first test of married life!

Along with being fantastically fun people all around, Elisa is also an incredibly talented musician. She showed off her skills and intertwined a violin performance with her deep love of George. The couple then shared a sweet first dance with a couple of twirls and a lot of smiles. The epic party came to a close with a ribbon wand exit as these two headed out into their future together. I’m so happy I was the one who got to capture their day, it was such an honor to be there!

Congratulations George and Elisa! ❤

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Meghan and Kyle’s Blooming Spring Wedding at The Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek California

As wedding season gets into full swing, I often find myself grinning at memories of past events and daydreaming about what wonderful memories I’ll get to capture in the upcoming year. I met Meghan and Kyle last year when we booked their engagement session and we were instant buddies. We chatted wedding plans over countless glasses of wine, shared belly busting laughter over memes and videos, and even snuck in a family photo session for Meghan in the Fall. All the way up to their day, they were nothing short of gleeful and great to be around. I was super pumped once their wedding finally rolled around in March!

Meghan got ready at her sister’s house with her BFF’s while watching a rotation of wedding themed movies (i.e. – Bridesmaids, 27 dresses, etc.) Kyle was busy attempting to stay as sober as possible while his guys enjoyed some beers at the local pub. (He did a darn good job around those crazy dudes, if I might add!) Their wedding took place at the ever stunning Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek, California. Nestled in next to a man-made pond and a natural lake, the garden and fields all around the venue always have something blooming. The ceremony took place under a beautiful vine covered pergola with purple flowers all around. Kyle was nothing but smiles as he watched his beautiful bride walk through the garden and down the aisle to him.

After ending the ceremony with a big smooch and an excited hurrah, we wandered into the Garden to find a private spot for Kyle and Meghan to read each other their personal vows. Although we couldn’t hear them, we could feel the strong impact their words had on one another. It was a truly beautiful moment. After vows we squeezed in some sweet couple photos right at the golden hour before heading inside to their awesome reception.

Megan is the baby in her family, so the wedding was a big deal for everyone on her side. Her dad gave a hilarious toast involving stories of her as a child, including an heirloom stuffed bear that spent the rest of the night next to the wine glasses on their sweetheart table. Where you usually expect the brother of the groom to embarrass his older brother to no end, Kyle’s brother’s toast was incredibly thoughtful and tearful. I doubt there was a dry eye in the house after his kind words. Of course, it was all balanced out by the best man and his antics afterward. 😉

Once toasts were made, dances were had, cake was cut, and the bouquet was thrown, it was time for one of the crazier dance parties I’ve ever been apart of. Highlights include the best man splitting his pants wide open during the very first song, Meghan spinning around on the dance floor like a princess who just discovered pop music, and myself getting commandeered mid-photo and twirled around the dance floor, cameras in hand by an enthusiastic guest. All in all, their entire day was one I won’t forget any time soon.

Working with couples like Meghan and Kyle makes me take stock of my life and remember how impactful and fulfilling my job is. Not only do I get to be a part of so many big days, but I get to be the one to help people relive them for years to come. It’s an unbelievable joy to do what I do and I feel just so insanely lucky to do it.

Cheers to the Degoey’s, the radest couple around. 🙂

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Photos: Katherine Elyse Photography // @LoveKEPhoto

Wedding Planner: An Everlasting Moment // @AnEverlastingMoment

Venue: The Gardens at Heather Farm // @GardensHF

Hair and Makeup: Madame Me Makeup & Hair // @MadameMeBeauty

Floral: The Bloom Bar // @TheBloomBarCo

Entertainment: Eric Marquez (DJ Eric M)

Catering: Havana // @HavanaCatering

Lauren and Clayton: A Vintage Inspired Wedding at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza

I met Lauren and Clayton at a bridal fair in 2018. We hit it off after Clayton and I discovered we both had a deep love of true crime. We talked shows, movies, and podcasts before finally moving on to chat about their wedding. Lauren described her style as vintage with a heavy dose of rock and roll and said they were more interested in candid shots of them enjoying their day with their friends and family than formal photos. I felt like we instantly got each other’s vibe and I was thrilled when their wedding day finally came.

The Hotel Shattuck Plaza was the perfect venue for this quirky couple. The decor screams unique vintage, with colorful wall paper and monochrome tiles throughout. Lauren fit right in with her fit and flare wedding dress and Marilyn red lips. Clayton was channeling some serious Mad Men vibes as he sipped whiskey and got into his dapper 3-piece suit. These two are a match made in old school heaven!

Everything from their ceremony to their wild reception went off without a hitch. Some favorite moments of my time with them include: a massive bridal party photo straight off the pages of Vogue magazine, their grand entrance to “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins (drum solo acted out perfectly), a hysterical reading of Clayton’s old OK Cupid dating profile by Lauren during toasts, a serious mosh pit in the middle of the reception, the most ridiculous rendition of the shoe game I’ve ever witnessed, and everyone dancing to “The Time Warp”. I am so stoked I was able to be a part of their day and I’m happy to say that I’ve made yet another set of lifelong friends in this couple.

CHEERS TO THE TRAYLOR’S!

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Lauren sprinkled bits of tiki vibes throughout her day, bringing a pop of rich jungle colors to each event.

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No one was more excited for Lauren than her gaggle of gorgeous bridesmaids. She looked like an absolute vintage vision!

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Clayton was throwing off some serious Don Draper vibes while getting ready. Of course, not every moment can be a serious one when you’re surrounded by 8 of your best friends drinking whiskey.

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The ceremony took place inside Hotel Shattuck’s newly updated bar/ceremony space. The full white draping gave it a dreamy and intimate feel.

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Everyone deserves a high five when “I give you this wing… RING” is uttered by BOTH the bride and groom during their vows!

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What do you do when you have a bridal party of 16 plus the bride and groom? You out on your best impression of a Vogue cover shoot and hope for the best!

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These two were just so in love… wandering around the hotel for couples photos was an absolute delight.

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Lauren loves everything rose gold and shiny, so their reception decor was tricked out in pink sequins. Their bar was tiki inspired, with signature cocktails to match the theme. Their dessert table was something out of every sweet lover’s dream and their awesome guestbook was a mish-mosh of polaroids and signed records.

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If you’re not acting out a drum solo during your grand entrance, you’re doing it wrong!

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The toasts were hilarious through and through. We found ourselves laughing along with them throughout!

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There’s nothing like first dances. Lauren mixed things up by dancing with her mom as well as her dad. These two ladies really turned on the waterworks.

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The shoe game is a fun was to interact with your guests and friends during the reception. Both a bride and groom hold one of each persons shoe. Questions are asked about their relationship (i.e. – who is the better cook or who talks more?) and the couple raises the shoe of the person they think fits the questions best. Sometimes they’re in agreement, but sometimes they hilariously disagree and everyone involved has a good laugh. Lucky for these two love birds, there was very little disagreement.

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There’s nothing like cake in your face to get the party started!

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Rowdy doesn’t even begin to describe this incredible dance party!

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Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Traylor! ❤

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Lisa and Sean: Swedenborgian Church Wedding + Hotel Kabuki Reception

Lisa and Sean are a quirky and fun couple who put on all the stops for their amazing San Francisco wedding in September. Lovers of both culture and architecture, their ceremony was held at the stunning Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco and their reception was held at Japan Town in SF at The Hotel Kabuki. The church is over 120 years old and provides a rustic and enchanting backdrop for weddings of around 80 people. The Hotel Kabuki is in juxtaposition to the old world church, with plenty of modern pop art and colorful decor. The combination provided the best of both worlds and made for a stunning day from beginning to end.

Some of my favorite moments of Lisa and Sean’s day include her adoring aunt doing a live stream on behalf of her family who couldn’t attend for nearly the entire day, their adorable dog sprinting down the aisle in the church, a rad wall of records at the entrance of the hotel reception where they popped a bottle of champagne, and all the swaggy ridiculous dance moves them and their guests busted out all evening long. Their day was full of goofiness, laughter, joy, and LOTS of dancing; I feel so incredibly lucky to have been a part of it! For your convenience, a vendor list can be found at the end of this blog post.

CONGRATULATIONS LISA AND SEAN!

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HUGE THANKS TO

Photography: Katherine Elyse Photography​ // @LoveKEphoto

Coordination: Avida Bridal ​// @​AvidaBridal

Ceremony: Swedenborgian Church​ // @SfSwedenborgianEvents

Reception: Hotel Kabuki​ // @HotelKabuki

Florist: Natalini Flowers​ // @natalini.flowers

Cake: The Cake Maker

Band: The Lucky Devils​ // @LuckyDevilsBand

Transportation: SF Limo Express

Grace and Chad: Plymouth Ranch Wedding at Rancho Victoria Vineyards

Grace and Chad’s wedding day was an absolute dream. From the bridal party, to the emotional moments, to the gorgeous location, especially the joy that was felt by all, it couldn’t have been more perfect. Grace and Chad, THANK YOU for allowing me to be a part of your big day! What a joy you are to each other’s families! Chad: you’re sweet, intelligent, committed, faithful, and you care for other people oh-so well. Now you’re married to the sweetest, funkiest, most amazing girl ever and I know you’re going to love her in the most special way. You’re both so lucky!!

The day started with some seriously awesome bridesmaids on bridal beauty duty. They were rocking their blue converse and making sure Grace stayed smiling and looked PERFECT from every angle!

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Even the tiniest member of the bridal party couldn’t stay away.

After getting the girls secured in their hiding spot, it was time for this gaggle of awesome dudes to strut their stuff!

And of course, some tender moment were due for the groom as well.

After that we shooed everyone away for a sweet moment of love and prayer (and no peeking) between the couple. It brought tears to my eyes too Chad, and I’m so glad I got to witness this amazing moment.

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I couldn’t wait to see Chads face when Grace walked down the aisle and boy, I was not disappointed. Not a dry eye in the house!

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Their ceremony was gorgeous, held under a massive blooming Oak. Their commitment to one another was felt by all who witnessed their vows to God and each other.

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After a romantic and deeply moving ceremony, the knot was tied and they were happy to galavant back down the aisle (with a few surprise kisses) as a married couple!

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Getting the whole family and bridal party together was a delight and you could tell everyone was so happy to be a part of the celebrations!

Then it was onto couples photos and, let me tell you, these two ROCKED their portrait session. (I don’t have to tell you though, see for yourself!)

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The reception was nothing but pure joy and insanity. Everyone boogied their way in, laughed their way through dinner (so much so I was able to sneak the couple away for sunset photos!), and smiled and cried along with the couple during their wedding speeches and dances.

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After the main events it was time to party down and dance the night away! Glow sticks and crazy guests added so much texture and energy to the night!

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Beyond being an awesome couple to photograph, these two pushed me outside of my comfort zone with their requests for some super fun off camera flash and sparkler photography!

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Their night came to a close with another ride in the incredible vintage wonder car as they waved good-bye to all their guests!

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I am so thankful Grace and Chad chose me for their wedding. I don’t know if I’ve ever shot a couple with more style, flare, and all around good vibes! I wish them all the best in their life together, even though I know they don’t need it. ❤

(HUGE thanks to Rebecca Skidgel from Rebecca Skidgel Photography for second shooting for me on this fine day!)