Thomas Fogarty Winery Wedding

Lisa and Alex were married at Thomas Fogarty Winery on October 23, 2021. Lisa had first reached out to me about photographing her wedding, almost exactly two years previous on October 24th of 2019. While they did intend to have their wedding at Thomas Fogarty on October 24th 2020, I wouldn’t put it past Lisa to find a photographer two years in advance. From that initial Zoom conversation I felt great excitement and anticipation about Lisa and Alex’s wedding. She was so positive and organized, and a delight to communicate with. Well… we all got to hold onto that feeling of anticipation much longer than we thought we might.

Lisa and Alex met as college students at UC Berkeley. Their friends and family were scattered across the country and globe, so gathering at Thomas Fogarty Winery with its hilltop retreat feeling was appealing.

After more than a year, we finally had the chance to meet in person in May of 2021 on the UC Berkeley campus for their engagement session. But more about that in the blogpost about their delightful UC Berkeley engagement session here.

Thomas Fogarty is a special type of winery and vineyard. It is both perched on a mountaintop, and yet a comfortable drive from San Francisco. The approach along Skyline is glorious: a wooded ridge line reveals views out into the valley. The Winery itself is composed of a series of generous buildings built into the hilltop with the view at top of mind. Almost every room looks out over the sky, the vineyards, and the valley below.

We began Lisa and Alex’s wedding day with a Chinese tea ceremony out on the deck under the gaze of a large double happiness symbol and a floral arch incorporated into one. The tea ceremony ritual that centers the elders and the ancestors took on a deeper meaning as a result of the delay caused by the pandemic. Finally the elders were able to gather safely to bless the young couple . Even at the height of the pandemic, an elopement was possible at a dining room table over Zoom, but this in-person blessing of elders could not happen safely before the vaccine, and finally, here it was. After the tea ceremony, Lisa and Alex changed out of their qipao and changshan into outfits a bit more suitable (get it?) for dancing, and we ran out into the vineyard to catch the last of the light and make a few photographs before dinner, toasts and dancing.

Thanks to everybody who made the day run so smoothly, especially Jutta Lammerts of a Day Like No Other, who dotted all the is and crossed all the ts.

Venue : Thomas Fogarty Winery
Photographer : Hazel Photo
Hair and Makeup : Lydia Song, Brides by Lydia
Wedding planner: Jutta Lammerts, A Day Like No Other
Catering : Global Gourmet Catering
Videographer: Justin & Georgina from Weddings on Film
DJ/Band : Stefano Bortolin from BIG FUN Disc Jockeys
Florist: Janelle Jacky from Green Petal Designs


2021 Year-in-Review Bay Area Wedding Photography

In 2021 I photographed 24 weddings in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. All but a couple happened in the 2nd half of the year. I feel overwhelmed with gratefulness as I look back on all of the beauty and connection I was invited to witness and document. There’s nothing like a pandemic to remind a person how incredibly good it feels to gather friends, chosen family, and family to celebrate love.

2022 is looking to be a fuller year for weddings… My year is 70% booked, and will bring me up to Mendocino Sonoma and Napa, out to Walnut Creek and Lake Tahoe, and down to Half Moon Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I can’t wait for all these adventures to come.

-XO

Paul


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.


Palace of Fine Arts Wedding – Jessica & David

Jessica & David Part 2 Palace of Fine Arts Wedding.

This was one of the most intimate weddings I photographed during the pandemic. There were five guests in total. We assembled under a glorious willow tree at the Palace of Fine Arts, and one of Jessica’s friends officiated. Just as the two had hoped the sun weaved in and out from behind the clouds. After a few wedding portraits at the Palace of Fine Arts, we headed over to Golden Gate Park for a few more couples portraits and a bit of revelry. We ended in the Shakespeare Garden where Jessica and David read love letters they had written to each other. I certainly not what they had set out planning all the way back in 2019, but they excelled in finding a way to make their wedding day magical, romantic, and full of good humor throughout.

Click here for part 1 getting ready and portraits at Cavallo Point.


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.


Sarah & Chris – COVID Wedding San Francisco

Sarah & Chris were married in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and a historic uprising for racial equality. 

Sarah & Chris were married on a gorgeous, sunny day at their apartment in the Mission District with bright blue skies overhead and wisps of fog off in the distance. 

Sarah & Chris were married on a moody day, dense with fog and magic in a redwood grove in Golden Gate Park. 

All  of these sentences are true. It’s the concept of “Yes/And:” 

Yes, Sarah & Chris, had their plans for a larger wedding upended by the COVID pandemic… and they planned a gorgeous, multi-climate micro COVID wedding anyway. 

It takes a special sort of person, and a special sort of mind to live out the “Yes/And.” Sarah & Chris are both that kind of special person with that special kind of mind. For some, being forced to cancel or reimagine wedding plans due to COVID-19 is primarily felt as a loss. But Sarah & Chris found about a million ways to make their COVID wedding day one of the most meaningful, gorgeous, unforgettable days the two shall ever live. 

The City of San Francisco offered them a virtual wedding ceremony with a virtual officiant on June 19th… so, they said “Yes/And.” Yes to the virtual wedding ceremony (which they were able to share with their families through a Zoom screenshare) and yes to the fact that the day on offer was Juneteenth, a day of protest and celebration for equality and liberation of black people. They would find ways to honor Juneteenth as part of their wedding celebration. 

The day started in Sarah & Chris’ apartment, where they live surrounded by objects imbued with their love and their story: including carefully tended house plants, a web of photographs from their shared adventures, elaborate paper masks, homemade sourdough bread, and a glossy magazine that Sarah made as part of their mutual marriage proposal. After the official ceremony with the City of San Francisco, sealed with a ring exchange and a kiss, they shared personal vows in front of their family on Zoom. They placed leis over each other’s heads and toasted with champagne.

We made  a few portraits in their apartment and on the roof deck, then headed downstairs, where a bike trailer packed with wedding reception fixings lay in wait. On the bike ride to Golden Gate Park, they wore placards that read (small print) “Just Married” and (large print) “Black Lives Matter.” We biked the Wiggle with sweet passersby cheering and honking in support and celebration.

When we arrived in Golden Gate Park we made some portraits at the Music Concourse, the Rose Garden, and the Redwood Grove, where we met up with a few of the couple’s closest friends. There, they hosted a socially-distant wedding reception with well-spaced group portraits, more celebratory signs, and a socially distant dance party.

If you’ve made it this far reading this post, you too can say Yes/And: Yes, we can enjoy witnessing Sarah & Chris’ expression of love — And we can honor them by joining the struggle for racial justice and equality. Breonna Taylor’s killers walk free. You can find resources for action here, here and here.


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