Documentary Style Wedding Photography San Francisco City Hall – Kathryn & Brian

Kathryn & Brian were complete infectious delight from beginning to end. They made each other laugh in every room and hallway and trolley car, and tree shadow, and ocean breeze throughout their wedding day, from San Francisco City Hall, out to Land’s End for portraits, and back to Nopalito for the reception. I had known this was a possibility. We had met up beforehand to think through the wedding timeline over cocktails at the Garden Court in the Palace Hotel, and that had been all laughter from the get go.

Ahhh… San Francisco City Hall, after ten visits to photograph weddings back in those halcyon days of 2019, you strike me an old friend. We hear you are open for weddings again all the way out here in 2021! A sure sign the pandemic is slowing down here in San Francisco.

San Francisco City Hall is a functional space from where the city is governed, but it also tends to feel a bit of a ruin in its age and grandness. Every San Francisco City Hall Wedding is also an exploration of generous halls, and gorgeous light, the sound of oxfords echoing against the marble floors, the coolness of the stone as one leans, shoulder meets tulle meets stone wall. In every corner a brass bust of a mayor of yore . But it is far from ruin alone. As I remember, there was a Zumba class dancing their way to fitness when I arrived for Kathryn & Brian’s wedding.

After the nuptials in the rotunda, we stepped outside into the sun, where more of Kathryn and Brian’s beloveds had gathered for a Hornblower trolley tour of the city. We passed another wedding at the Haas-Lilienthal House which sparked cheering and shouts from trolley to house, and house to trolley. Out at Land’s End we were greeted with lovely light for wedding portraits. As the day unfolded, more and more of Kathryn & Brian’s closest people arrived, first for the trolley tour, and then at Nopalito later in the evening. It total it was a glorious day from start to finish with very little fuss.


Cavallo Point Wedding – Jessica & David

Jessica & David’s intimate wedding unfolded in three parts – Getting ready at Cavallo Point, vows and a big smooch at the Palace of Fine Arts, and portraits in the Music Councourse at Golden Gate Park.

We started the day at Cavallo Point in a lovely old building where Jessica’s sister helped her into her dress and shoes, while her brother helped David with his boutonniere. They had their first look on the sun porch. We walked out to the pier for a few photos with the Golden Gate Bridge, and were lucky enough to be visited by a seagull at just the right moment.

For the wedding at the Palace of Fine Arts click here.


St Ignatius Wedding San Francisco

St. Ignatius Cathedral wedding San Francisco – Steff & Quito

This is part 1 of 2 (for part 2 at the Julia Morgan Ballroom click here)

St. Ignatius Cathedral is a stunning building. It’s perched atop one of San Francisco’s numerous hills, so tall you can see it from much of the city. Grandeur is really the right word for St. Ignatius. (Exhibit A: see the photograph of Steff & Quito with St. Ignatius and its towers in the background).

This was a themed wedding: there were details woven throughout the day that referenced the short film “Paperman.” It was no surprise that the wedding was themed, because Steff is a multi-talented costume-designer who has a strong presence on the cosplay scene. She was behind much of the design: her bouquet of roses with a paper airplane marked by a lipstick kiss, the newspaper-themed wedding program, and the color scheme — a sea of black and white, from black tuxes to black oxfords to Steff’s white wedding gown, and then the pop of bright red lipstick on her lips.

Steff & Quito met at University of San Francisco (USF), so this was a return to roots. Quito actually attended St. Ignatius when they were undergrads. We made portraits on the USF campus, where they first fell in love, and up on Lone Mountain with sweeping views of the city. Then we headed across town to the Julia Morgan Ballroom.

I love the photograph of the two of them in the back of the car swallowed in the volume of her dress.

(for part 2 at the Julia Morgan Ballroom click here)

For Part 2 at the Julia Morgan Ballroom, click here.

Ceremony Venue : St. Ignatius Parish, San Francisco
Reception Venue : Julia Morgan Ballroom
Photographer : Hazel Photo
Florist : Wish Social Events
Bride’s dress : Steff Von Schweetz
DJ : Quan Zou Blue Edge Pro
Cake : Cafe Madeleine
Catering : Julia Morgan Ballroom
Band : Joyous Lee



University Club San Francisco Wedding

Here are a few moments from Elise and Lionel’s University Club of San Francisco wedding that have stuck with me months after their wedding day:

Elise sitting on the bed reading one last love note before her betrothal. It was clear this was neither the first nor the last love note Lionel would write to her.

Elise’s mother weaving the long white veil into her daughter’s hair in that sweet window light.

The luminous red satin map of the world sewn into the interior of Lionel’s custom tux, hinting at the further travels they would make around the world.

The glorious train of Elise’s dress everywhere: as she walked upstairs to meet Lionel at the landing for their first look, then as we walked down the streets of Nob Hill to make portraits, and trailing behind her as she was escorted to the altar by her father.

Their nerves before the ceremony, the particulars of his comforting way, a window into their complimentary natures, the peace and the strength of their life together.

His epic vows full of poetry, as if he had dreamed of reading vows to his beloved all his life, and here he had arrived, there she was, and his words flowed forth.

His niece, the flower girl, her sweetness, her skepticism about this new temporary world the adults have made i.e. the wedding.

The sweet moment they shared in the last light in the University Club’s library after they had been wed.

Her father toasting them, the immediacy of his charisma, and the mirth that flowed into the room.

The University Club’s stunning picture windows revealing the San Francisco skyline, the triangle of the Transamerica building piercing through the fog.

San Francisco’s characteristic purple sunset in the moment when the fog retreated.

Venue : University Club San Francisco
Photographer : Hazel Photo
Florist : Beth Covey-Snedegar Sassy Diva Designs
Wedding planner : Beth Covey-Snedegar Sassy Diva Design
Hair : Stylebee
Makeup : Ashley Lentz Ash’s Lashes
Cake : Two Chicks in the Mix
Catering : University Club San Francisco
Band : Musicians League



Burning Man Meets Jewish Summer Camp Wedding – Johanna & Phil

Part 2:
(to start with part 1 click here.)

Yes, “Burning man meets Jewish summer camp” was how Phil succinctly described his and Johanna’s wedding in their introductory podcast! (See Part 1).

After the kiss, wedding guests were lead from the chuppah to the camp mess hall by a pair of musicians. On arrival at cocktail hour, they were greeted by groomsmen in Chippendales vests serving cocktails. Glittery face paint was generously distributed (see? Burning Man!).

A candlelit dinner at long banquet tables and a host of memorable toasts were followed by a surprise birthday celebration for Johanna’s dad’s 70th.

Photographing a hora under the stars comes with its challenges, but I had a bevy of off-camera-flashes set up, and I’m thrilled with the result (see?  Jewish Summer Camp!)

The action was nonstop. A choreographed flash mob was led by the groom’s niece, and the groomsmen led a second choreographed dance. A spontaneous limbo formed on the dance floor.

As the night drew long, Phil was treated to an epic chair dance.

Johanna forced a unicorn piñata into submission, showering the dance floor with candy.

Unbelievably, there were another two DJ sets still to come after I finished up my coverage!

Venue : Camp Navarro
Photographer : Paul Gargagliano – Hazelphoto
Wedding dress : Leanne Marshall
Suit : Knot Standard
Florist : Morgan Johnson
Wedding planner : Sonya Houston – Mendocino Wedding
Hair and makeup : Jordyn Condit- Mendo Bridal Beauty
DJ and/or band : Ashleyanne
Cake : Shani’s Sweet Creations
Catering : Camp Navarro
Invitations: Minted
Officiant : Ilyse Magy


Camp Navarro Wedding Mendocino – Johanna & Phil

The beauty of Johanna & Phil’s wedding at Camp Navarro in Mendocino, California was overwhelming. There were meaningful flourishes sewn into every aspect of the weekend. So I’m going to split this wedding up into two posts. It’s just entirely too epic for one! 

The delights started before I arrived at Camp Navarro. As we descended on Mendocino County from far flung burgs, wedding guests were treated to a downloadable wedding podcast hosted by the bride and groom. There was an interview with the flower girl, an analysis of the distinction between genres of brokenbeat music, interviews with the parents, and advertisements for camp-style activities all set to the theme music from This American Life, Serial, et al. I laughed and laughed as I drove north.

Camp Navarro is nestled in a remote redwood forest, a few hours North of San Francisco. When you arrive, the smell, the light, and the feeling of the air in your lungs makes the rest of the workaday world fall away.

I started with Johanna and her bridesmaids, where I was treated to a sneak peek of her fabulous dress: a marigold to white ombre theme by Leanne Marshall. Once she had slipped the dress on, she looked as if she had walked out of a Helen Frankenthaler painting.

Sitting on the table in the getting ready cabin was a printout of Johanna & Phil’s initial text exchanges. At the center of these exchanges was their connection around Johanna’s expertise as a midwife and Phil’s desire to be a Birth DJ. As the romance unfolded through these messages, it became clear how funny each of them were, and how well matched to each other.

One of my favorite frames from the day came as we were readying to head over to the first look. The ring bearer hopped on the back of a bicycle and was pedaled across camp.

After the first look, they had a ketubah signing before heading over to chuppah. One of Johanna’s friends did all of the florals. I particularly loved the sunflowers on the chuppah that matched Johanna’s dress.

The officiant, a close friend of the couple, wore an exuberant rainbow shawl that tied together the colorful bridesmaids dresses.

During the ceremony, when the officiant asked the assembled guests if there were any objections to the marriage, a planted objector jumped up and spoke about some of the limits of marriage as we now, and have historically, practiced the convention. Johanna and Phil both addressed their vows to the objector, and to each other. This emotional ritual allowed Johanna and Phil to acknowledge the flaws of the institution of marriage, while defending their own decision to express their love through marriage.

And this was only the beginning… the party also had myriad fabulous chapters…

Click here for part 2

Click here for part 2

Venue : Camp Navarro
Photographer : Paul Gargagliano – Hazelphoto
Wedding dress : Leanne Marshall
Suit : Knot Standard
Florist : Morgan Johnson
Wedding planner : Sonya Houston – Mendocino Wedding
Hair and makeup : Jordyn Condit- Mendo Bridal Beauty
DJ and/or band : Ashleyanne
Cake : Shani’s Sweet Creations
Catering : Camp Navarro
Invitations: Minted
Officiant : Ilyse Magy


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