10 Reasons To Get Married at the Brazilian Room in Berkeley, CA

As a wedding photographer, I’ve had the privilege of capturing love stories in myriad settings. Yet, few places hold the allure and charm of the Brazilian Room in Tilden Regional Park. Nestled amidst the dynamic foggy hills, this venue offers a blend of natural beauty, architectural elegance, and versatility that make it an irresistible choice for couples. Let’s delve into why this venue is an absolute gem.

  1. Architectural Charisma: The Brazilian Room derives its name from its rich history, steeped in the cultural exchange between Brazil and the United States. Its interior features stunning hardwood paneling—including Jacaranda, Imbuya, Brazilian Chestnut, and Mahogany—that once adorned the Brazilian Pavilion at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exhibition on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay. ​​When the Exhibition ended, Brazil gifted the building to the newly formed East Bay Regional Parks District. Through the WPA, American carpenters moved the building into the Berkeley Hills and added an envelope to withstand weather. The Brazilian Room’s elegance, with a Maybeck-inspired Arts and Crafts feel and a fusion of Brazilian and American craftsmanship, offers couples a historic and character-filled wedding and reception venue.
  2. Breathtaking Views: The large, beautiful windows of the Brazilian Room frame stunning vistas of the surrounding hills and lush greenery. Whether the sun is shining or the mist rolls in, these panoramic views create a captivating backdrop for your wedding photographs.
  3. Outdoor Extravaganza: The Brazilian Room’s expansive lawn provides the perfect setting for outdoor festivities. I’ve witnessed the gamut of games from casual frisbee and horseshoes to full on cornhole tournaments.
  4. Dancing Under the Stars: The courtyard offers a magical setting for outdoor dancing. The twinkling lights overhead and warmth of the indoor light glowing from the windows makes for an especially romantic feel. 
  5. Natural Splendor: Just a stone’s throw away lies the East Bay Regional Parks Botanical Garden, a serene botanical garden perfect for capturing intimate family portraits and couples’ portraits amidst the redwood grove.
  6. Seasonal Beauty: Whether you’re exchanging vows in the spring amidst cherry blossoms or tying the knot in the Bay Area’s famously balmy Indian Summer, the Brazilian Room’s diverse gardens ensure there’s always something flowering, adding a burst of color to your wedding day.
  7. Mountain Retreat Vibes: Despite its proximity to the city, the Brazilian Room offers a secluded, at-the-edge-of-the-forest feel. It’s easy to forget you’re in Berkeley and not a tranquil mountain retreat.
  8. Convenient Location: The Brazilian Room is conveniently located near hotels like the Berkeley City Club and Claremont Hotel, ensuring a comfortable stay for out-of-town guests. 
  9. Seamless Transition: Some couples opt for a ceremony at the University of California, Berkeley Botanical Garden’s Redwood Amphitheater, followed by a reception at the Brazilian Room. This seamless transition allows couples to incorporate the beauty of both venues into their wedding day.
  10. Golden Hour Magic: A short drive into the hills above the city during the golden hour provides a breathtaking backdrop for capturing stunning sunset portraits.

In conclusion, the Brazilian Room in Berkeley, CA, is an extremely special backdrop of architectural charm, natural splendor, and timeless beauty for your wedding day. From the majestic hills to the blooming gardens, every element of this venue is carefully curated to ensure your wedding day is nothing short of magical. 

The Brazilian Room hosts wedding fairs a few times in the spring, serving as open houses for couples to tour the facilities and envision their special day. Reservations for the Brazilian Room can be made starting in January for the next calendar year via their online system or by phone. 

I can attest that the Brazilian Room is truly a photographer’s paradise, offering endless opportunities to capture moments that will be cherished for a lifetime.

outdoor wedding at brazilian room in tilden botanical park
jewish ceremony groom walking around bride

UC Berkeley Engagement Session Photos

For Lisa & Alex’s engagement session we returned to the site where they fell in love, The UC Berkeley Campus. We met at Sather Gate to start our session. This was May, so the Berkeley campus was busy with happy graduating students. Outside of the Valley Life Sciences Building we found a sweet sliver of light, and made a few portraits. As we walked through the UC Berkeley Campus, Lisa & Alex shared a few of their memories from their time as students. Our tour brought us past Moffitt Library, and the Doe Memorial Library. We rested in the crook of an inviting tree, and then on the lawn at the Memorial Glade under the Campanille. Then we made portraits outside a dormitory on the grand staircase where they first kissed. As the sun edged toward the horizon, we climbed further up the hill and the light got better and better. For Lisa & Alex’s wedding at Thomas Fogarty Winery, click here.

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

Berkeley City Club Wedding

Berkeley City Club Wedding – Jenni & Andy

Jenni & Andy were married on a sunny day in late December at the Berkeley City Club, a hidden gem of a wedding venue, right next to the Cal campus. Genius architect, Julia Morgan, was at her finest when she designed this “castle in the city.”

As the sun was setting, wedding guests gathered on a generous balcony. The chuppah holders processed. Jenni and Andy’s puppy was led down the aisle by Jenni’s niece. A pair of friends/co-officiants effortlessly wove diverse rituals into the ceremony. Highlights included: the signing of a gorgeous, colorful ketubah depicting, among other things, the Golden Gate Bridge, and their frolicking puppy; a musical performance with Andy on trombone, a friend on sax, and Jenni, with a chorus of friends, on vocals. They smashed a glass, smooched, and headed into the library for cocktail hour, where a full jazz band serenaded guests.

The vision for the wedding reception was crystal clear: “dinner & a show,” oh, and a hora, of course. (Important life rule, never pass up a chance to dance the hora.) Andy’s parents kicked off the show portion of the evening with a riotous slideshow romp through Jenni & Andy’s childhoods. There were traditional toasts, a family band, experimental music, pop covers, a jazz set with Andy and band. Such a lovely full evening!

East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden Wedding Berkeley CA

East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden Wedding Berkeley, CA

Eli and Tobie were married in a shady grove of towering redwood trees in the East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley, California. They are both super charismatic, and they were great in front of the camera. When the connection between a couple is electric, like it is between Eli and Tobie, my job is easy.

Yes, Eli and Tobie’s wedding was overflowing with glorious colorful outfits, but Tobie’s pants — come on! They brought a burst of color to every image he was in. Tobie’s parents constructed a freestanding chuppah that looked like an erector set in the best possible way. There is one image of Tobie’s dad seeming to summon the chuppah from the earth. Poems were read, songs were sung, Eli’s family staged a production of the Owl and the Pussycat, replete with costumes and props. Eli is a talented musician, namely a singer songwriter. Throughout the ceremony and toasts, there were references to songs Eli had written, including a love song he wrote when he was first falling in love with Tobie. At the reception, guests were served the fanciest, most delicious, vegan barbecue you might ever encounter, especially that chimichurri sauce, yum! It was a typical Bay Area day, sunny and hot in the middle, cloudy and windy in the afternoon. I loved how one couple grabbed their travel quilt and got cozy.

Vegan Catering by It’s From the Garden

Temescal Beach House Wedding Alx & Chris

Temescal Beach House Wedding Alx & Chris

Alx & Chris had a lovely intimate wedding at the Temescal Beach House up in the hills of Oakland, CA. From the moment I met Alx she had a crystal clear vision of what she wanted on her wedding day. For the photos she wanted to have a formal photo with every guest. We were going for the simplicity of the wedding photos from the 1930s. Alx brought a cowhide rug, a vintage theater bench, and a couple assorted chairs. Those few items made styling the group portraits fun and easy. It did not hurt that the two had such fashionable wedding guests. Alx and Chris had done a lot of thinking about the parts of a traditional wedding ceremony that they appreciate, and the parts that they wanted to change. After Alx and Chris read personal vows to each other, they had their assembled guests read a communal vow. I was inspired by that turn!


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