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.


Beltane Ranch Wedding Sonoma, California

Beltane Ranch Wedding Sonoma, California – Cat & Ross

Cat & Ross were married at Beltane Ranch in Glen Ellen, California on a gobsmackingly beautiful April day. They opted for an elopement with only family in attendance. Over the weekend I was able to get to know them and their families a bit, especially so as I also photographed their rehearsal dinner at Round Pond Estate the night before. Both nights were celebrations of love, of course, but also of food, as Cat and Ross have a bit of a flare for the gastronomic. But, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

The truly remarkable thing that happened on that Saturday in April in Glen Ellen California under a live oak tree overlooking a vineyard, is that time came to a standstill. The wedding ceremony was proceeding as planned. Ross’s mother led him to the altar. Cat’s father led her to Ross. Ross’s brother, the officiant, spoke eloquently. Cat’s mother shared a reading. The wind rustled the ribbons tied to the chairs, and the leaves of the oak overhead, and all of the rows of grapevines beyond out into the horizon. And then Cat produced a small notebook and began to read her vows. Like that. Time stopped. It was everything I could do to continue making photographs. Cat’s words demanded the attention of all present, Ross, her family, the old ranch house, the chef, the farm kitten, but also, the clouds, and all of creation. I had never experienced anything quite like that before.

It feels strange to go on, but one must. We all found our legs again, and the two recessed down the aisle, husband and wife. Champagne was poured, toasts were made, hugs were dispensed with abandon. The sun began to reach for the horizon. Cat and Ross shared a first dance under the oak tree to the dulcet tones of a string trio.

Dinner was served at a long table flanked by heat lamps overlooking the vineyards. This wedding may only have had 10 guests in total, but there were seven courses on the menu. Wines from Sonoma Valley were poured to pair with each course. When golden hour struck, Cat, Ross and I hopped in an ATV with Lauren from Beltane, and headed off to the rolling hills of vineyards to make a few portraits. When we returned we were graced with an absolutely spectacular sunset to close out the night

Venue : Beltane Ranch
Photographer : Hazel Photo
Hair and Makeup : Ashley Jensen
Wedding attire : Grooms Suit: Jojayden, Bride’s gown: Jenny Yoo
Cake : Bouchon
Catering : Beltane Ranch
DJ/Band : BellaRosa String Quartet
Wine : Schramsberg , Davies Vineyard


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


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