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.


Round Pond Estate Wedding – Napa Valley

Cat & Ross held their wedding rehearsal dinner at Round Pond Estate, a gorgeous vineyard and winery in California’s Napa Valley. The Approach to Round Pond down the palm-lined driveway is absolutely iconic, as is the architecture of the winery. The first floor is comprised of a large wine cave with a glass ceiling. The 2nd floor houses a tasting room with a massive window down onto the wine cave below. Dinner was served on a patio off the 2nd floor overlooking the vineyard and the rolling hills beyond.

When Cat & Ross, and their guests arrived they were treated to a tour of the vineyards, the garden, and the wine cave. Dinner was a 5 course tasting menu paired with Napa Valley wines from Round Pond winery. Between the courses we ran out into the field to make couples portraits with the rows of palm trees, and the rows of grape vines. I’m particularly fond of what happened with the light in the vineyards after the sun had dipped below the horizon, such supple bright light for these two the night before their wedding.


OVY Camp Wedding – San Gregorio, California

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.

Wedding Venue : OVY Camp, San Gregorio
Photographer : Hazel Photo
Florist : Wish Social Events
Catering : Lamas Peruvian
Band : Undone in Sorrow (Katelyn)


Brazilian Room Wedding – Brunch Style

Brazilian Room Brunch Wedding – Emily & Ben

On their wedding day Emily & Ben met me early in the morning at Berkeley’s Brazilian Room for a few couples portraits before their guests arrived. A low hanging dense fog made Tilden Park feel like a cloud forest. The Brazilian Room seemed like a mountain inn looking out over the foggy valley below. Fog makes for some of the dreamiest most flattering light. Lucky for me, we get lots of dreamy fog light here in the bay area.

Speaking of Tilden park, Emily & Ben love the place so much, they named their dog Tilden.

This was definitely a feminist wedding through and through, which always makes my heart sing. For the ceremony they opted to have no center aisle, and walked in from either side flanked by both of their parents. A friend officiated, and they signed a mutual contract before smooching.  

Though this was a brunch wedding, there was definitely a cocktail hour. The sun emerged from the clouds making it warm enough for guests to enjoy all the lawn games that been laid out: frisbee, and cornhole, and horseshoes etc. At one point some of the wedding party tapped me on the shoulder to invite me to photograph their human pyramid. This was a playful bunch.

After cocktail hour, guests gathered in the Brazilian Room for brunch: waffles, berries, quiche, omelettes, and bacon included. Toasts and dancing followed with a fire in the fireplace, and large french windows letting lots of light in.

One of my favorite moments of the day was when danced with grandma who is blind. The pleasure in both their faces as they did this improbable beautiful thing.

Ceremony Venue : Tilden Park
Reception Venue : Brazilian Room
Photographer : Hazel Photo
Florist : Ashby Flowers, Berkeley California
Cake : James and the Giant Cupcake
Catering : The Arlington


Julia Morgan Ballroom Wedding

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.

To see photos from the wedding ceremony at St. Ignatius 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



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