This is a first for me, but Sasha & Andrew’s wedding was so ridiculously epic that I am breaking it up into 4, yes 4, posts.
We begin at the 4th Floor North Gallery of San Francisco’s City Hall
Part 1 of 4
4th Floor North Gallery San Francisco City Hall Wedding – Sasha & Andrew
Sasha found me on the internet when she was looking for a wedding photographer. I remember our first conversation clearly. She was driving home from work, and for some reason we had a long exchange about her first week in San Francisco, the nadir/highlight of which was when another driver caught that road rage and threw a strawberry smoothie at her car. Don’t ask why she knew it was strawberry. I couldn’t keep from cackling and I knew instantly that I wanted to work with Sasha and her fiancé, Andrew. Sasha may be a biochemist working in drug development for the time-being, but there is definitely an alternate world where she is killing it on the standup scene.
One thing that made the planning of this wedding a tiny bit different was that Sasha was hiding a major surprise from Andrew. Okay, jump ahead. It’s a sunny Friday in August, the day of Sasha and Andrew’s wedding. We meet at San Francisco City Hall. Andrew enters from Carlton B Goode Plaza, Sasha from Van Ness. I leave my 2nd photographer with Andrew up on the 4th flour waiting with his back against a column. I hop in the elevator to go meet Sasha to bring her up. The elevator opens, and there she is in this fabulous pink satin dress with a shock of gold sequins from the hip down. And, yes, the dress did have pockets. I had never seem anything like it, and it sparked immediate and lasting joy. Of course Andrew was delighted by Sasha’s dress as well. Just take a look at his face in the first look photos. But, that wasn’t the major surprise.
Skip ahead again. The wedding ceremony was held on the 4th floor of San Francisco City Hall in the North Gallery. An old friend officiated. Sasha and Andrew exchanged vows that made each of them in turn laugh uproariously. At one point Sasha said something along the lines of, “Andrew and I talked about having the wedding in New Orleans, a city we both adore, but here we are in San Francisco. Regardless, Andrew absolutely deserves the biggest brass band in the world” I don’t know what to say about the way the ceremony ended other than, “Some people just know how to smooch in a government building.”
Ceremony Venue : San Francisco City Hall 4th Floor North Gallery
Reception Venue : Big Daddy’s Antiques
Photographer : Hazel Photo
Florist : Max Gill Design
Wedding planner : Jenni Grubba
Makeup : Kelly Jo Makeup & Hair
Makeup : Kelly Jo Makeup & Hair
Wedding attire : Grooms Suit: Custom, Bride’s gown: Sachin & Babi
Cake : Butter &
Catering : Fogcutter
2nd line Band : MJs Brass Boppers
DJ/Band : Golden Bells Music
Wedding Transport : Hornblower Cable Cars
Photobooth : Pika Pika
OVY Camp Wedding – Katelyn & Michael
Early November served up a gorgeous, sunny day for Katelyn & Michael’s OVY Camp wedding in San Gregorio, California. As you wind down the dusty road approaching OVY, you can’t help but get that magical feeling of returning to summer camp. We began with a few getting ready photos at a cabin looking out over the dining hall and ball fields. Katelyn switched out her vintage t-shirt for a two-piece wedding top and skirt with motorcycle boots on bottom. Wedding guests had pitched a tent on the deck which gave the space a communal, sleep-over kind of feeling. Cousins and aunts shared mirrors to put finishing touches on their hair. Michael helped his nephews prepare for their roles in the processional and the ceremony.
The ceremony was held in a hidden redwood grove on a whimsical treehouse-cum-altar, built into the trunks of a cluster of redwoods. As the ceremony began, the sun was high in the sky, but the redwoods filtered the light, and made their special type of magic as they are wont to do. Katelyn & Michael were serenaded by a family band with an acapella rendition of a pop song. Michael and Katelyn read personal vows to each other, and as Katelyn was tearing up, somebody passed a tissue on to the altar to Michael, and rather than pass it along to Katelyn, he dried his own tears, and they both broke into laughter.
Directly after the ceremony, a family friend made a panoramic photograph of all the assembled wedding guests. At the cocktail hour Katelyn and Michael passed out challenge coins with symbols of each of their qualities on opposite sides of a coin. The challenge coins were particularly apt as Michael had served in the Marines, and a few of his fellows were in attendance at the wedding
When the sun got a bit lower in the sky and the light got good and juicy, we returned to the redwood grove for couples portraits. And that, I must say, was some of the most delicious light I have ever encountered. For a moment I worried the drama of the light might overpower Katelyn & Michael, but they held their own without a doubt.
Nieces and nephews blew bubbles, chased each other through the ball field, played soccer and basketball. At dawn dinner was distributed from Lamas, a Peruvian food truck; ceviche, lomo saltado, platanos, all scrumptious. Guests gathered around tables in OVY‘s mess hall
Katelyn comes from a family of old-time musicians with West Virginia roots. A friend called a contra dance while Katelyn & Michael danced with their guests. Then the family band convened: Michael on spoons, Katelyn on Banjo, and her dad on stand up bass. Katelyn’s brother called a square dance. Eventually old- time tunes gave way to pop hits, with an emphasis on 80s and 90s throwbacks. Michael’s father danced with his grown daughters.
Julia Morgan Ballroom wedding – Steff & Quito
(This is part 2 of 2. To begin at the beginning head here for the wedding ceremony at St. Ignatius cathedral.)
Steff & Quito’s wedding reception was held at the Julia Morgan Ballroom. The dinner & toasts portion of the evening was upstairs, in the ballroom itself. Dancing followed downstairs in the Merchants Exchange Club (a kind of basement speakeasy).
We began the reception with portraits of Steff & Quito and their wedding party in the grand lobby of the Merchants Exchange Building and the balcony that looks out over the lobby. The lobby is a lofted winter garden of sorts, with gorgeous arched skylights and illuminated busts of early San Francisco luminaries looming down from the walls. Steff & Quito were a combination of complete class and utter goofball. I see both qualities in most of the photos.
The cocktail hour was hosted in the elegant bar adjacent to the Julia Morgan Ballroom. Steff & Quito’s epic engagement photos were on display. Obviously, they were also themed: Dragon Ball Z (see the “Paperman” theme described in Part One). The two made self-portraits with Dragon Balls in The Philippines, Korea, Japan, Hawaii, Death Valley, and in the very elevator on the USF Campus where they first met.
The Paperman theme also continued at the Julia Morgan Ballroom. There were paper airplanes tucked everywhere, including in the florals on the mantles and on each dinner plate.
That night, the moon was so bright that its light joined the lights of the city through the windows of the Julia Morgan Ballroom. There’s a portrait of Steff and Quito with the moon above, making a cameo.
The father of the bride and the father of the groom worked the ballroom together, distributing cigars to wedding guests. Meanwhile, downstairs at the Merchants’ Exchange Club, “Paperman” was playing on a big screen, cocktails were being shaken, carnival masks imported from Manila were being distributed, and the DJ was beginning to lay down tracks. Of course Steff, the costume designer, was going to have an outfit change before it was time to dance. Instead of a traditional bouquet toss, Steff launched a paper airplane with a bright red kiss mark, as in the short film.
Then there was a money dance with currencies from around the world, and an impromptu conga line formed.
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
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
Laura & Matt – A Stern Grove Wedding at the Trocadero Clubhouse in San Francisco
Laura & Matt were married on a dynamic San Francisco day at Sigmund Stern Grove in the Sunset District. The wedding venue is nestled in a forested valley. The Trocadero Clubhouse, A Victorian Inn built in 1892, a small lake, and a redwood grove are surrounded by hills of swaying eucalyptus. The valley has a magical feeling as if at any moment a benevolent elf might just wander out of the woods.
I often meet clients about a month before their wedding day to talk through timeline details, game plan, and get excited together. I remember Laura & Matt came to talk to me at my spot in the Inner Sunset. When I asked them how planning was going, they tag-teamed the answer to my question. It was striking how well they seemed to be communicating and working as a team.
Their wedding was a DIY affair, of which, I have seen my fair share. And, I have to say that it was the tightest DIY wedding I think I’ve ever attended. There was a bit of time pressure to flip the dinner tables in the Trocadero Clubhouse and decorate them with florals between family pictures and the ceremony, but a team comprised of family made fast work of it. Laura & Matt had delegated well, and they both seemed relaxed, and confident that their families would pull it off.
Our couples portraits were particularly memorable. We walked over to the amphitheater where the Stern Grove music festival takes place, and found some lovely light on an elevated walkway. Matt let his hair down, and magic was made instantly.
During the ceremony the redwood grove made for a serene hidden-away feeling. Laura & Matt entered together hand-in-hand with the long train of Laura’s dress sliding over the redwood duff. I loved the shock of color in the pastor’s robes, and the sweet, diffuse angular light falling over the whole scene.
As the night grew long, Korean Tacos from Koja were savored, a series of riotous toasts were made, and a few old college traditions were revisited. The crowd was certainly “good craic” as the Irish say.
Many thanks to Small Shindigs for keeping everything running smoothly.
Venue : Sigmund Stern Grove & Trocadero Clubhouse
Photographer : Hazel Photo
Florist : Petals
Wedding planner : Brenda – Small Shindigs
Hair : Zip Zap Hair
Makeup : Jelise Baires
Cake : Whole Foods and Mariposa Bakery
Catering : Koja Kitchen food truck, appetizers from Cafe La Mediterranee
Officiant : Reverend Eric Metoyer