Exhaustive Guide to Bay Area Wedding Venues

When it comes to choosing the perfect wedding venue in the Bay Area, engaged couples are spoiled for choice. I’ve had the privilege of capturing breathtaking moments across the Bay Area – from working ranches to the redwoods from intimate garden spaces to the golden vineyards. Read on for inspiration for potential wedding venues and the scene they might set for your wedding day. 

Slide Ranch

Rustic coastal charm meets breathtaking ocean views, especially during a classic Bay Area foggy summer afternoon. Aside from the spectacular vistas, what sets Slide Ranch apart is its affordability, ensuring you can create the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank. Enjoy the freedom to bring your own caterer and alcohol and the peace of mind knowing that every dollar you invest in this magical venue supports Slide Ranch’s nonprofit mission. Slide Ranch is a partner of the Golden Gate National Parks, located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service.

With three distinct locations to choose from for your ceremony and reception, Slide Ranch offers versatility and charm. Whether you prefer a coastal ceremony, a rustic barn reception, or a garden celebration, Slide Ranch has it all. Your Slide Ranch wedding promises not just a celebration of love but also a commitment to a brighter, sustainable future.

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Beltane Ranch

Set in the heart of wine country in Sonoma Valley, Beltane Ranch features picturesque vineyards and rustic barns against the backdrop of rolling hills. Majestic oaks and quaint architecture provide quintessential wine country charm for romantic weddings and serve as a beautiful backdrop for a variety of styles. I recently shot a fantastical garden party/cottage core wedding complete with roaming chickens, Wally the lamb, and exquisite florals at Beltane – see the detailed shots here.

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Carneros Resort and Spa

Located in the renowned Napa Valley wine region, Carneros Resort and Spa provides a luxurious and vineyard-laced backdrop. Its elegant views of rolling hills and upscale amenities offer an ideal setting for capturing the beauty and sophistication of wine country celebration. The dinner pictured below felt especially warm and cozy as it was nestled in an outdoor patio between buildings. This venue truly offers a variety of spaces that are flexible for all types of celebrations.

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Cornerstone Sonoma

Cornerstone Sonoma, with its picturesque vineyards and rolling hills, presents an idyllic setting for weddings. This property, renowned for its world-class wines and unique terroir, offers more than just scenic beauty; it provides a romantic backdrop perfect for special moments. The vibrant colors and fragrances of the vineyards enhance the atmosphere, making every ceremony feel like a page out of a fairy tale. The stunning sunsets paint the sky in warm hues, creating a magical setting for evening celebrations. Moreover, the exceptional local cuisine and world-renowned wines add a gourmet touch to wedding feasts. With such a combination of natural beauty and culinary excellence, Cornerstone Sonoma stands out as a premier choice for couples seeking a memorable and picturesque wedding venue.

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Sausalito Woman’s Club

Celebrate your special day in timeless elegance at the Sausalito Woman’s Club, an enchanting wedding venue that transports you back to 1918. This intimate space offers sweeping views of the Bay and San Francisco, providing a picturesque backdrop for your celebration.

Designed by Julia Morgan, California’s pioneering woman architect and the mastermind behind the iconic Hearst Castle, the unique craftsman-style building adds a touch of historical charm to your wedding experience. Marvel at the exquisite gardens, panoramic views, and the simple yet sophisticated interior décor that reflects the Club’s rich traditions and historical significance.

The Sausalito Woman’s Club stands as a testament to the passage of time and the celebration of love. Since its dedication as a woman’s club in 1917, it has become one of the most sought-after wedding venues and event spaces in Sausalito.

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Triple S Ranch

Nestled in the mountains above Calistoga, Triple S Ranch, a secluded estate, boasts an elevation that treats guests to some of the most breathtaking sunsets in California wine country. There are so many visually interesting and quirky parts to this venue including the restored “Grand Victorian” farmhouse and a 2,200-square foot vintner’s barn. Guest accommodations include glamping tents and treehouses and they’ll be busy enjoying the organic garden, outdoor pool, and pizza ovens while you take portraits. Most ceremonies take place under a 175-year-old grand walnut tree that demands attention as if the vows weren’t enough. Here’s a dedicated blog post about Triple S Ranch for even more photos. The beautiful natural setting paired with the comfort offered by Triple S Ranch provides you with a truly outstanding location for your wedding.

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Old Mill Park Ampitheatre

Nestled in the heart of charming Mill Valley, Old Mill Park Amphitheatre emerges as a captivating wedding venue, seamlessly blending natural beauty with historical charm. Surrounded by towering redwoods, this enchanting amphitheater offers a magical ambiance for your special day. The rustic allure of the venue, combined with its serene creek-side location, creates an idyllic backdrop for exchanging vows. What sets Old Mill Park Amphitheatre apart is its versatility, accommodating both intimate ceremonies and grand celebrations. The amphitheater’s historic significance adds a touch of nostalgia to your wedding, creating lasting memories. With its convenient location and picturesque surroundings, Old Mill Park Amphitheatre stands out as an ideal choice for couples seeking a timeless and enchanting wedding venue in the heart of Northern California.

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Mill Valley Recreation Center

The Mill Park Recreation Center offers an abundance of natural light with its large windows and scenic outdoor spaces, providing ample opportunities for beautiful photographs. The Center’s expansive outdoor areas, including an inviting patio, provide the perfect canvas for romantic ceremonies and lively receptions. Opened in April 2001, this award-winning facility offers a stunning backdrop for your special day.

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UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

The 34-acre UC Botanical Garden is one of the most diverse landscapes in the world. Exchange vows in the Stephen T. Mather Redwood Grove, surrounded by coast redwoods planted in the 1930s, and host a reception in the Julia Morgan Hall, designed by Julia Morgan in 1911 and relocated to inside the Botanical Garden in 2014. The newly restored Julia Morgan Hall, with its warm redwood character, gas fireplace, and modern amenities, is full of character and intimate. The 20-ft wide deck overlooks the native California plant collection of the Garden with broad vistas. From other sections of the garden, such as Garden of Old Roses, you can enjoy views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Berkeley City Club 

Immerse yourself in the rich history and architectural marvels of the Berkeley City Club, a captivating wedding venue with a story to tell. Originally commissioned as the club house for the Berkeley Women’s City Club in 1927, this historic hotel stands as a testament to social, civic, and cultural progress. Once exclusively for women, the club is now open to all, offering its iconic building for overnight stays, weddings, and special occasions. The club seamlessly blends Moorish and Gothic elements, creating a landmark of California design. It’s often referred to as the “Little Castle” in a nod to Morgan’s Hearst Castle. This architectural gem exudes timeless grandeur – there are endless photo opportunities with backdrops of ornate details, lush vegetation, and intimate alcoves. It’s a historic and elegant environment, perfect for a wedding right in the heart of Berkeley.

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Seven Branches (formerly Ramekins)

Seven Branches Venue & Inn is a Sonoma county culinary-inspired wedding venue choice. Bordering enchanting parklands and mere blocks from Sonoma’s historic town square, this venue seamlessly encapsulates the romance of wine country nuptials. The expansive ballroom, intimate patio, enchanting courtyard, and luxurious bridal suite provide diverse settings to tailor your wedding to perfection. Whether you envision an indoor gala or an outdoor soiree, Seven Branches ensures a captivating backdrop with a dash of creativity and gourmet flair.

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Silverado Resort

Napa Valley vineyards meet an elegant resort. The Grand Ballroom, adorned with stunning chandeliers and ambient lighting, sets the stage for a truly elegant atmosphere. For a peaceful and relaxed setting, the Vintner’s Court is ideal for more intimate occasions. The Mansion Gardens, surrounded by manicured lawns and ancient trees, offer an idyllic outdoor setting, while the Fairway Deck provides a serene backdrop for your special moment. At Silverado Resort, your wedding dreams become a reality with unmatched service and an array of breathtaking settings to choose from. If iconic palms, vineyards, and manicured lawns are your vibe, look no further. 

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Stanly Ranch

A luxury resort/working ranch in the heart of Napa Valley. Ideal for couples seeking a touch of modern elegance in wine country for their wedding celebration. Dramatic landscapes, intense evening shadows, and texturally interesting interiors can all be found here. The suites for getting ready are elegant and chic with indoor-outdoor options. For a detailed photo journey of this venue see this recap from a recent wedding Stanly Ranch.

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Ralston White Retreat

This historic Mill Valley retreat offers peaceful ambiance and stunning views for couples desiring a tranquil celebration. The venue is hidden away down a series of long winding roads. The wedding ceremony can be held in a majestic redwood grove. Located on a vast 43 acre plot you enjoy numerous spaces to gather before the grand home designed by one of San Francisco’s most prolific architects, Willis Polk, lends itself to your wedding reception.

San Francisco City Hall

An iconic landmark for both grandeur and intimacy. Its stunning architecture and spacious interiors are perfect for unforgettable wedding photos. Whether you choose a One-hour Wedding on the Mayor’s Balcony with stunning views of the Grand Staircase, or an Evening Wedding with dinner and dancing under the ornate dome of the Rotunda, you’ll have the experience of a lifetime being wed in this historic landmark. After the ceremony you will be perfectly positioned to access the rest of SF. Click here for a four part run down of a City Hall wedding turned cable car romp through the city. Click here for a Southern-Northern CA love story turned Mayor’s Balcony wedding, followed by a reception at Wayfare Tavern.

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Terra Gallery

Terra Gallery & Event Venue, located in the heart of San Francisco, is an exceptional choice for wedding celebrations. Spanning two levels and encompassing 24,000 square feet, it offers a versatile space adaptable to any wedding theme or size. Its expansive area can be transformed to create multiple environments, from intimate gatherings to grand celebrations. The venue’s modern design and flexible layout allow for a personalized touch, ensuring each wedding is unique and memorable. Terra Gallery & Event Venue’s central location in San Francisco adds to its appeal, making it convenient for guests and providing a range of urban backdrops for stunning wedding photos. For those looking to host an unforgettable wedding, Terra Gallery presents an ideal blend of elegance, space, and adaptability.

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San Francisco Botanical Garden

Exchange vows in the midst of a living museum, spanning 55 acres and showcasing an impressive array of 8,000 plant varieties from around the globe. The themed gardens, including the Garden of Fragrance, Moon Viewing Garden, Redwood Grove, Celebration Garden, and Zellerbach Garden of Perennials, serve as extremely special backdrops to a wedding. Additional open-air spaces, such as the Palm Terrace, Orchid Pavilion, and Conservatory Lawns, provide versatile options for your event rentals. It’s timeless and seasonal, embrace nature at the Botanical Garden for your wedding and you’ll have created memories that bloom for a lifetime.

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Roaring Camp

Roaring Camp Railroads in the Coastal Santa Cruz Mountains is for couples seeking a touch of nostalgia. This venue is home to a tourist railroad attraction that uses steam locomotives to bring guests up the mountain through a redwood forest. Choose from three distinctive ceremony sites: the exclusive Steam Train to Cathedral Grove, the expansive School House Lawn, or the rustic charm of Bret Harte Hall inside a Redwood barn. The celebration continues at Bret Harte Hall, a 6,000 square foot rustic barn with wrought-iron chandeliers, twinkling lights, and adaptable theatrical lighting. Your wedding at Roaring Camp is a magical journey through nature and history, where the rhythmic chug of a steam train and the embrace of ancient Redwoods create unforgettable moments. All aboard for a wedding experience that transcends time and captivates the heart.

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The Gardens at Heather Farm

The Gardens at Heather Farm, Walnut Creek, provides an enchanting backdrop for couples seeking a timeless and versatile wedding venue. With 1000 blooming rose bushes enveloping the Gazebo, couples with a taste for classic romance can exchange vows in a storybook setting from spring through fall. The Meadow Lawn, offering panoramic garden views and an open, grassy expanse, serves as an idyllic spot for group photos or lawn games amidst the natural beauty of surrounding trees and shrubs. Versatility is key at The Gardens, accommodating a spectrum of wedding themes—from rustic chic to vintage country to modern garden glam. This venue offers a captivating journey from lush garden ceremonies to delightful cocktail hours and unforgettable banquet receptions.

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the gardens at heather farm, wedding, documentary wedding photographer

The Brazilian Room

Boasting panoramic hillside and forest views, the Brazilian Room creates a captivating backdrop for couples seeking a romantic and picturesque setting for their special day. Steeped in history, the rich hardwood paneled, light filled building was gifted to the East Bay Regional Park District after being exhibited at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exhibition. The large flagstone patio surrounded by meticulously landscaped gardens, provides a charming outdoor space for ceremonies, cocktail hours, or leisurely strolls. Inside, the Brazilian Room welcomes guests with hardwood floors, creating an elegant and versatile space for celebrations. The lovely Tilden Botanical Garden is also nearby and can be reserved for photos. 

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Officer’s Club at the Presidio

The Presidio Officers’ Club emerges as an irresistible wedding venue, seamlessly blending historic grandeur with modern charm. Once a haven for Army brass, this iconic venue, the park’s oldest building, now offers a spectacular setting for weddings and celebrations, steeped in the rich history of San Francisco’s Presidio. Dating back to the late eighteenth century, the meticulously rehabilitated Officers’ Club showcases Spanish colonial revival architecture and reopened in 2014 as a premier park venue. With three distinct gathering spaces, including the grand Moraga Hall, loft-style Ortega Ballroom, and the open-air Hardie Courtyard, couples can choose an ambiance that perfectly suits their vision.

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Rockefeller Lodge

The Rockefeller Lodge, in San Pablo, with its rich history dating back to the Mexican Grant era, offers a unique and enchanting wedding venue. Its journey from a grand Colonial showplace to John D. Rockefeller’s hunting retreat, and even a Buddhist monastery, adds layers of intriguing character. Today, this venue dazzles with its serene garden atmosphere, elegant gazebo, market lighting, and outdoor firepit. The dedicated bar space and formal indoor area provide a perfect blend of charm and sophistication. With a history of hosting joyous events, and amenities like a cozy dressing room, historic fireplace, and relaxing waterfall, it’s an idyllic setting for any wedding, creating memories in a place where history and romance intertwine.

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Log Cabin at the Presidio

Another Presidio gem, the Log Cabin dates back to the late 1930s when it served as a gathering place for military personnel and their families during World War II. Its rustic yet elegant architecture, featuring exposed wooden beams and a cozy fireplace, adds a warm component to what is often a cool evening in the Presidio. Wedding ceremonies often take place out on the lawn with a lovely view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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The Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts, located at the eastern edge of the Presidio, was built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, and adds a heft dose of grandeur to any wedding. Wedding ceremonies are allowed only under the rotunda, accommodating up to 250 people. It’s a timeless and iconic setting and conveniently located near areas of interest in the Presidio and Golden Gate Park. For J & D’s wedding pictured below we also made portraits in Golden Gate Park by the ferris wheel and California Academy of Sciences.

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Stable Cafe

Stable Cafe, located in San Francisco’s Mission District, is a charming cafe/garden venue, a perfect haven for couples seeking an intimate wedding experience. Its rustic indoor space, lush garden, covered patio, and outdoor fireplace are all comfortable and lived in spaces that invite you to wine, dine, relax, and enjoy yourself. The venue seamlessly combines urban sophistication with rustic charm, offering versatility for smaller ceremony and reception packages or just the celebration after an off-site ceremony. Either way, its a special experience in a unique and comfortable space.

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Ruth Bancroft Gardens

The Ruth Bancroft Garden, unassumingly placed in the heart of Walnut Creek, California, stands as an enchanting and distinctive wedding venue, offering a captivating blend of history and natural beauty. Established by Ruth Bancroft, this 2.5-acre public dry garden boasts over 2,000 cacti, succulents, trees, and shrubs native to California, Mexico, Chile, South Africa, and Australia. Bright florals stand out against the gardens desert tones and there are surprises around every corner (perfect for portraits and guests alike). Indoor and outdoor spaces are available and flexibility with bar carts and amenities make this an exciting space to personalize.

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The City Club of San Francisco

The Stock Exchange Tower, now home to The City Club of San Francisco, presents a stunning and sophisticated wedding venue. Renowned for its architectural brilliance by Miller & Pflueger and adorned with Diego Rivera’s famed fresco, this space offers a blend of artistic history and modern elegance. Rivera’s mural, a captivating representation of California’s spirit, provides an unforgettable backdrop for any wedding. The building’s interior, a showcase of art deco style with intricate metalwork and luxurious materials like Belgian blue marble and Hungarian ash, creates an atmosphere of timeless romance. The grand staircase and detailed elevator doors add to the venue’s unique character, making it an ideal setting for couples seeking a venue with both historical significance and architectural beauty.

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Oceano Hotel and Spa

This venue takes advantage of its position in Half Moon Bay and offers breathtaking ocean views, sunsets, and seaside wedding photography. The building’s architecture is reminiscent of a charming seaside village, with its shingled exteriors and coastal-inspired details providing a visually captivating atmosphere. The Grand Ballroom, adorned with golden chandeliers, and the Atrium, featuring an ethereal glass ceiling, create a magical ambiance for your celebration. Additionally, The Gate House, a rustic event space with French doors opening onto a scenic patio, and the Wedding Garden, a romantic seaside outdoor venue, enhance the charm of this Half Moon Bay destination for weddings.

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Oceano hotel and spa wedding, documentary wedding photographer
Oceano hotel and spa wedding, documentary wedding photographer

The Golden Gate Club

The Golden Gate Club captivates with stunning floor-to-ceiling windows that frame views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay, and Alcatraz Island. Nestled in the Presidio’s Main Post, this historic venue, once an enlisted men’s service club, now serves as a picturesque setting for weddings. Its original Mission architecture and surrounding landscapes create a memorable backdrop. From the Ventana Ballroom with bay views to the Cypress and Hawthorn Ballrooms and a picturesque courtyard, each space is uniquely stunning, providing an ideal setting for ceremonies and receptions.

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Eagle Ridge

Situated in the rolling hills of Gilroy, California, this Wedgewood property offers a charming and scenic backdrop for weddings with its lush golf course surroundings. Eagle Ridge boasts Colonial American architecture, spacious versatility, and vintage charm. With rustic features, a dramatic built-in bar, picturesque chandelier, and stunning backdrop of Santa Clara County hills, it offers historic elegance for an unforgettable celebration.

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Hacienda de las Flores

Hacienda de la Flores in Moraga is an ideal Spanish-style estate for weddings. The Flower Mansion, with its open-air patio, central fountain, and beautiful gardens, exudes timeless charm. The Pavilion, featuring neo-classical architecture, Corinthian columns, and lush enclosed gardens, adds grandeur to celebrations for up to 200 guests. Originally owned by the Moraga Family, this venue seamlessly blends architectural styles, providing a natural and scenic backdrop for weddings. With meticulous interiors, beamed ceilings, and hardwood floors, Hacienda de la Flores offers a haven for nature-loving couples seeking an elegant yet serene setting.

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Gar Woods

Gar Woods Grill & Pier in Lake Tahoe offers a picturesque setting for weddings, with stunning lake views and a vibrant atmosphere. Renowned for their signature Wet Woody cocktail and a menu featuring hand-cut steaks and fresh seafood, it’s a perfect blend of elegance and fun. The venue’s casual sophistication, combined with breathtaking natural scenery, makes it an ideal choice for memorable celebrations. Its floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor seating enhance the scenic beauty, ensuring an unforgettable experience.

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Thomas Fogarty Winery

The Thomas Fogarty Winery nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, offers a unique and breathtaking wedding venue. Established by Dr. Thomas Fogarty, the estate spans approximately 350 acres, primarily dedicated to open space and vineyards of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This setting provides an exceptional backdrop for weddings, with its panoramic views high above Silicon Valley. The vineyards, organically farmed and meticulously cared for, add to the venue’s rustic charm and elegance. The preservation of the estate under the Williamson Act ensures that its natural beauty, encompassing Heritage Oak and Fir forests, remains untouched, offering a serene and picturesque setting for your special day. The combination of stunning views, lush vineyards, and a commitment to preserving the natural landscape makes the Fogarty Estate an ideal choice for couples seeking a unique and memorable wedding experience.

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thomas fogarty winery, documentary wedding photographer

Shakespeare Garden

Behind fencing veiled by lush foliage, the Shakespeare Garden is a hidden gem of a location for a lush and intimate wedding ceremony. Upon entering the charming iron gate, guests are transported to a fairy-tale atmosphere. The garden’s kid-friendly and flexible nature allows for a variety of celebrations, ensuring that your wedding vision becomes a reality. The lush surroundings, blooming flowers, and serene atmosphere make the Shakespeare Garden an ideal backdrop for capturing the essence of love and commitment.

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The Faculty Club, UC Berkeley

The Faculty Club is located in a lush part of the UC Berkeley campus just south of Strawberry Creek and east of the what is colloquially known as 4.0 Hill, where Freshman are advised that if they want a 4.0 they need to roll down the aforementioned hill. The club is old-timey, wood-paneled, scholarly lodge with big tables and heavy armchairs. The intimate patio space is dappled in shade and the adjoining lawn and garden space are lush with maples, camellias, and oaks. The Faculty Club offers an elegant and comfortable backdrop for capturing classic and refined wedding moments, not to mention the myriad of photo opportunities throughout the rest of campus.

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University Club SF

Perched high in the heart of San Francisco’s downtown, this venue boasts stunning skyline views from its rooftop terrace. It’s always fun to capture the wedding party’s parade through downtown, sometimes via streetcars, to the venue. It has a true old-time club feel, with Audubon prints on the walls, dark paneling, and touches of velvet. The libraries are perfect for portraits, the cocktail and dancing spaces are convenient and flexible. I’ve seen the billiards room turned into a champagne tower cocktail bar taken some seriously romantic photos of newlyweds kissing with the reflection of the city in the background.

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Pizzaiolo

Located in the lively Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, Pizzaiolo is a culinary haven with a warm and inviting atmosphere, making it an ideal locale for romantic and local wedding scenes. Beyond its cozy courtyard adorned with twinkling lights and lush greenery, Pizzaiolo boasts a renowned culinary experience. The restaurant’s commitment to using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients ensures that each dish is a flavorful masterpiece, adding a delectable touch to your celebration. With its dedication to quality, Pizzaiolo promises an enchanting blend of delectable flavors and an inviting environment, setting the stage for a wedding celebration that delights all the senses.

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Gallery 308

Overlooking the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, Gallery 308 at Fort Mason offers a versatile event space with historic military architecture. Originally host to maritime trade, this venue boasts panoramic views, an open floor plan, and state-of-the-art lighting, creating a captivating backdrop for weddings. Meticulously rehabilitated by Jensen architects, known for SFMOMA’s rooftop garden, Gallery 308 provides an iconic setting, blending historic charm with contemporary elegance for couples seeking a unique and memorable celebration. A unique and iconic setting for capturing eclectic and historic wedding memories.

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Olema House

Nestled in the heart of Marin County, Olema House seamlessly blends rustic wilderness with a modern-eclectic style. With idyllic views of Olema Creek, the Inverness Ridge, and Mt. Wittenberg, Olema House’s twenty-two guest rooms and two cottages offer thoughtful and elegant accommodations, providing a perfect blend of comfort and sophistication. The venue’s tranquil, verdant surroundings bring the magic and natural wonder of Northern California to life, making it an ideal setting for a romantic celebration.

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Stonetree

Stonetree Estate is an enchanting retreat offering sweeping views of rolling hills, parks, and wildlife that create a captivating backdrop for weddings. Its elegantly rustic ceremony site seamlessly complements various wedding decor styles, ensuring every celebration is truly spectacular. Couples are drawn to this venue for its jaw-dropping views, rustic-yet-elegant interior styling, and a spacious terrace ideal for cocktail hour. The lush ivy wall, grand windows, and well-manicured garden provide the perfect canvas for stunning photo opportunities. Conveniently accessible from Napa and Sonoma Counties, Stonetree Estate is a charismatic destination that attracts couples from all over seeking a classic Northern California wedding.

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Deer Park Villa

Deer Park Villa offers a fairytale-like setting with its wooded pathways, charming bridges, and cascading waterfalls, creating a magical environment for dreamy wedding vignettes. The highlight of the venue is Grandpa Joe’s Grove, where couples can exchange vows surrounded by the magical Redwood Forest. The Redwood Grove, Redwood Deck, and indoor facility provide versatile spaces for wedding receptions. The venue also features a historic Bridal Cottage, adding a touch of vintage elegance to the experience.

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Leal Vineyards

Set in the heart of the Santa Clara Valley wine region, Leal Vineyards offers vineyard views and Mediterranean-inspired gardens, providing a romantic and sun-kissed backdrop for celebration amidst picturesque grapevines. Set across 50 private acres, the venue provides a captivating backdrop for celebrations year-round, accommodating up to 500 guests. The rustic architectural charm creates an unforgettable atmosphere, while on-site accommodations in three charming homes offer an immersive escape amidst the rolling vineyards.

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leal vineyards, indian wedding, documentary wedding photographer
leal vineyards, indian wedding, documentary wedding photographer

Fay Park

Located in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood, Fay Park is a sweet and intimate pocket park tucked away among the Victorians. The garden park has three terraces, connected by stairs and ramps, which climb the hillside for half a city block. The top most terrace has two latticed wooden gazebos that overlook the Bay. Fay Park is just a block away from the famous Lombard Street and a bunch of restaurants and bars along Polk and Hyde Streets for a reception.

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Fay park, russian hill, sf wedding, documentary wedding photographer

Firehouse

The Firehouse venue at Fort Mason offers a picturesque and versatile setting for weddings. Overlooking the bay waters, its windows provide a picturesque backdrop, complemented by adjacent patios offering unparalleled vistas of Angel Island and Alcatraz. This one-of-a-kind venue features fully carpeted interiors with track lighting, creating an inviting ambiance for small weddings and receptions. The Firehouse’s unique appeal extends to its spacious setting, allowing for the inclusion of food trucks and cocktail carts outside. As the sun sets, the venue transforms during golden hour, offering a delightful atmosphere against the iconic backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Oz Farm

Situated in the serene wilderness of Mendocino County, Oz Farm encompasses acres of organic farmland and redwood forests. Ceremony sites include the serene Redwood Grove or scenic Tai Chi Hill. Site facilities include the Barn, the communal gathering spot of the Community House & Bath House, and various accommodations such as Tiny House, Tai Chi, Newbird, Rainbow, Springhouse, Sunset Yurt, Tower, and Queen’s Quarters. Indulge in the wood-fire hot tub, make use of the pizza oven and firepit, and take a refreshing swim in the Garcia River. Wander through on-site trails, explore lush gardens and orchards, all within the tranquil ambiance of Oz Farm. Everything is as fantastical as it sounds and makes for a truly immersive wedding experience.

Barndiva

Located in the heart of wine country in Healdsburg, this upscale restaurant boasts a charming rustic barn surrounded by rolling vineyards and blooming gardens. Immerse yourself in the rustic elegance of a Barndiva wedding, where heritage trees set the stage for a charming ceremony, followed by cocktails in the art gallery, dinner in the illuminated studio garden, and dancing in the gallery into the night. Barndiva promises seasonally inspired menus using locally sourced ingredients and you can expect high quality food service since it’s coming from a Michelin-star restaurant!

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barndiva healdsburg, sonoma county wedding, documentary wedding photographer
barndiva healdsburg, sonoma county wedding, documentary wedding photographer

The SF Conservatory of Flowers

The Conservatory of Flowers stands as a historic gem within Golden Gate Park, boasting five exhibit spaces adorned with exotic plants and flowers from all corners of the world. Each gallery showcases not only botanical wonders but also features custom metalwork and architectural beauty throughout the building. The white greenhouse is a dramatic feature and dresses, flowers, and faces pop against its background. Added up-lighting and ample space make this a special and grand venue.

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san francisco conservatory of flowers, golden gate park, documentary wedding photographer
san francisco conservatory of flowers, golden gate park, documentary wedding photographer

MacArthur Place

Set in the heart of Sonoma on a historic 19th century estate, this venue encompasses historic charm with beautiful gardens, centuries-old trees, and vine-covered walkways. It’s a romantic and picturesque backdrop for a quaint wine country wedding for anywhere from 40 to 100 guests. Event room blocks rentals allow you and your guests to truly relax and stay awhile in this top-rated hotel experience. Indulge in the culinary delights offered by the rustic-chic restaurant, where locally sourced ingredients create a farm-to-table dining experience.

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Exploratorium

Unconventional and interactive. Located along San Francisco’s waterfront, the Exploratorium offers a unique blend of science, art, and stunning Bay views. The Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery & Terrace boasts panoramic views of the city and Bay, offering an enchanting outdoor terrace for ceremonies or receptions. The East Gallery, featuring captivating views, hosts a dynamic life-sciences exhibit collection, adding a touch of natural beauty to your special day. It’s an innovative and contemporary setting for couples seeking a creative wedding venue and will leave your guests gasping with childlike wonder.

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exploratorium, sf pier wedding, documentary wedding photographer

Saint Ignatius Church

Saint Ignatius Church is located on the University of San Francisco campus. As one of the city’s largest churches it is a prominent landmark and known for it its mix of Italian Renaissance and Baroque elements. This majestic church boasts ornate detailing, a grand dome, and intricate stained glass, making it an exquisite backdrop for wedding photography.

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saint ignatius church wedding, documentary wedding photographer, sf wedding
saint ignatius church wedding, documentary wedding photographer, sf wedding

Julia Morgan Ballroom

Located on the 15th floor of the Merchants Exchange Building in downtown San Francisco, the Julia Morgan Ballroom combines a timeless Beaux-Arts interior with modern amenities. It’s a stunning and versatile event space that is well-equipped to handle any kind of event, especially weddings. Photos in this space are rich, sophisticated, lux, and opulent.

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julia morgan ballroom, merchants exchange building, sf wedding, documentary wedding photographer
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OVY Camp

Located in the Santa Cruz mountains, deep in the redwoods, OVY camp is a traditional camp ground that makes for an untraditional wedding venue. On site cabins accommodate guests and day of getting-ready festivities, ceremonies can take place in the redwood grove or ampitheatre, and receptions are often held in the Main Hall. With access to a pool, an extensive network of trails, BBQs and plenty of recreational space, a wedding weekend here is sure to be one to write home about.

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The Stern Grove Clubhouse (Trocadero)

Built in 1892 the Trocadero roadhouse was a lively gathering space that offered dancing and gambling at roulette tables. Sounds like a party, right? As of this writing (1/2024) Trocadero is unfortunately out of commission since it was damaged by a fallen tree in March 2023. However, if you’re in luck and looking far enough ahead, perhaps this could be your opportunity to party like its 1986 (when Trocadero was renovated last).

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stern grove clubhouse, trocadero, roadhouse wedding, documentary wedding photographer, Stick-Eastlake architectural style, 19th century roadhouse

Trione Vineyards

Trione Vineyards cultivates more than 650 vineyard acres in Russian River, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Coast. You are truly in good hands when it comes to wine.. and weddings here. The Old Stone Building at Trione is straight out of a fairytale wedding, it’s texturally interesting and rustic and grand, making for a beautiful backdrop for ceremony and reception alike. Wine and dine like kings and queens as you enjoy drinking from two redwood service bars on each floor of the Old Stone Building.

Lucie Stern Community Center

Constructed in 1934, the Spanish Mediterranean-style Lucie Stern Community Center (LSCC) is a charming complex in Palo Alto. Home to the City of Palo Alto’s Recreation Department, as well as a Community Theatre and Children’s Theatre, it offers a versatile venue for weddings. The LSCC provides a spacious and well-lit ballroom, creating an inviting atmosphere for both intimate ceremonies and elegant receptions. With ample garden and courtyard space, it’s an ideal setting for cocktail hours, reception festivities, and capturing timeless portraits. The picturesque surroundings make the Lucie Stern Community Center a captivating California backdrop, ensuring a delightful and memorable celebration for couples and their guests.

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lucie stern community center, palo alto wedding, documentary wedding photographer
lucie stern community center, palo alto wedding, documentary wedding photographer

Overwhelmed?

The Bay Area boasts an impressive array of wedding venues, each offering its own unique charm. From lush gardens to historic landmarks, the options are as diverse as the region itself. As a wedding photographer, I’ve witnessed the magic of these venues firsthand, and I can confidently say that no matter your style or vision, there’s a perfect Bay Area venue waiting to host your special day. Please reach out if any of these photos have piqued your interest and you would like to see more from a specific gallery!


Inner Richmond and China Beach Engagement Photos

Christine and Craig met and fell in love while they were living on opposite ends of country. But after getting together, moves ensued and they nurtured a life together in San Francisco.

Their engagement session started in their Inner Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco. We stopped for a stiff drink at their favorite bar and then visited their favorite bookstore – Green Apple Books. We wandered the aisles and I captured candid images of them existing in their regular spots and making each other smile and laugh like they regularly do.

We eventually made it out to China Beach where we took advantage of golden hour. Christine’s glowing red dress contrasting beautifully with the sand and rock. Craig with a sly outfit change into something more casual for beach time.

The images captured pieces of their connection and the ease of their relationship. 

Check out their beautiful Carneros Resort wedding here.

engagement photo shoot san francisco bar
engagement photo shoot san francisco bar

Sonoma Garden Wedding

Vignettes from an unforgettably whimsical garden wedding at Beltane Ranch in Glen Ellen, Sonoma Valley, California.

Madeline and Matt

Her delicate dress of embroidered French cotton lace, buttons all down the back.

His whimsical olive linen suit lined with citrons.

Her crown of dried flowers affixed with a splash of orange ribbon.

The magical lane of Persian rugs leading down the aisle to the towering majesty of the live oak draped in a shawl of flowers.

The dulcet tones of their friend/officiant’s southern twang.

The ethereal light reflecting off her vows and onto her alabaster cheek.

The fine line between tears and riotous laughter that was crossed again and again as Madeline and Matt exchanged vows.

The air suffuse with dried flower petals as they ecstatically flew back down the aisle. As if all the world were filled with flower petals cascading through the air.

Whatever they told their guests to wear worked out just about right, cocktail hour a sea of floral prints and colorful summer suits scattered across the lawn, sipping Mavericks and Roosters.

Come Together, I Want To Hold Your Hand, And I Love Her, She Loves You, Here Comes the Sun, Strawberry Fields Forever.

Wally the sheep with his glorious floral crown somewhat bashful, nibbling the lawn, but also delighted by all the attention, especially from Madeline, his greatest fan.

The caricaturist hard at work sketching guests.

Her brother’s cow and sheep cufflinks.

The chickens promenading through cocktail hour, and round the reception tables.

Designed by Madeline, each escort card a flower petal, waiting to be plucked by a guest from its field of blossoms.

Stargazer, bluebell, marigold, poppy, peony demarcating each baroque tablescape with long paisley tablecloths, intricately detailed amber goblets. Everything designed and drawn by Madeline. One had the sense this was not the first tea party Madeline had hosted.

Chicken cake! Surrounded by holstein pops, cartons of cake eggs and cake chicks, mini hay bale cakes, carrot cakes in the shape of carrots.

A day so thoroughly governed by whimsy and the unexpected.

Delights at every corner.

Love Me Do, Eight Days a Week, Free as a Bird, Don’t Let Me Down, Octopus’s Garden.

Also, the pair of original songs with which Madeline and Matt serenaded their guests. Her gleeful recorder solo against the setting sun.

A rainbow of ombre tapers burning against the dying light of the head table.

And if all this, somehow, wasn’t quite enough, an exquisite sunset sidled in as Madeline & Matt’s wedding day came to it’s conclusion.

Who amongst us succeeds in bringing so many chapters of the magic of childhood into her wedding? Very few I say, none quite like Madeline & Matt in this past decade that I have documented.

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Beltane Ranch, Sonoma Garden wedding, documentary wedding photography, custom seating chart, DIY
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Beltane Ranch, Sonoma Garden wedding, documentary wedding photography, golden hour sunset.

Wedding Planning : Samar of Blissful Event Planning
Venue: Beltane Ranch
Flowers: Mae Flowers Sonoma
Sheep: Wally the Wooly Weeder
Rentals: Encore Events Rentals (SSS Ranch Napa)
Band: Ticket to Ride (Beatles cover band)
Catering: Sage Catering
Cake/Desserts: Supreme Sweets
Hair & Makeup: Santa Rosa Powder Room
Dress: Atelier Des Modistes


San Francisco City Hall Mayor’s Balcony Wedding

I remember that Ruth and Tom originally found me and reached out because they were attracted to a specific photograph I made of a couple walking across the street in front of San Francisco City Hall with the blur of a US Postal Service truck passing by behind them… so I knew we would become fast friends.

The couple has a classic Bay Area – Los Angeles love story, complete with a first meeting halfway in between at the lot behind Brooks Brothers in Bakersfield, CA. Their San Francisco City Hall Mayor’s Balcony Wedding was a beautiful event that celebrated their time together living in San Francisco.

The Mayor’s Balcony provides the opportunity for customization with up to 100 guests, room to read your own vows, have a friend officiate, have musicians serenade you down the aisle, and stomp on a wine glass wrapped in a napkin if you like.

The Mayor’s balcony looks out on the grand staircase, the lobby, and the rotunda. I typically make group portraits in the Fourth Floor North Gallery. There are a million spots in City Hall to make couples’ portraits, the building’s nooks and crannies provide an embarrassment of riches. We lucky enough to create a few photos while no one else was on the grand staircase. We also had the chance to make a few photographs that captured Ruth’s dress with movement.

After City Hall we headed to Ruth and Tom’s apartment in the Inner Sunset for an intimate cocktail hour with their closest friends, their dog, pizza, and homemade cookies by Ruth. They had decorated the apartment with Japanese cranes a friend made for them, a good omen for a prosperous marriage. After resting our feet, and filling our bellies, we set out for Golden Gate Park with the dog and friends in tow. One of my favorite moments of the day was when Ruth and Tom bumped into a neighbor on our walk, and I was able to capture an earnest neighborly greeting. I enjoy making photographs in a variety of settings because I’m able to capture a range of feelings as each distinct space is activated. When everything goes well, the images can take on some of the complexity of a partnership.

From here we hopped on MUNI where the party continued. It’s fun to be out on the town in wedding finery as passersby often shout out celebratory greetings – and you feel welcomed and celebrated by the city at large.

See Part 2 for details on the reception at Wayfare Tavern… 

For a four part post about a San Francisco City Hall Fourth Floor North Gallery wedding, click here.

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san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding
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san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding, fourth floor north gallery
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding, fourth floor north gallery
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding, fourth floor north gallery
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding, fourth floor north gallery
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding, fourth floor north gallery
san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding, fourth floor north gallery
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san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding, fourth floor north gallery
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san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding, fourth floor north gallery, bride and groom portraits, documentary photography
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san francisco city hall mayor's balcony wedding, fourth floor north gallery, bride and groom portraits, documentary photography
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Wedding attire: BHLDN

Hair and Makeup: Kristina Curtis (@bykristinacurtis)

Wedding Ceremony Venue: San Francisco City Hall Mayor’s Balcony

Wedding Reception Venue : Wayfare Tavern


Wayfare Tavern Wedding Reception

If you want to start at the beginning of Ruth and Tom’s wedding day you can read about their San Francisco City Hall Mayor’s Balcony wedding here. 

Their Wayfare Tavern wedding reception followed a wedding ceremony at the Mayor’s Balcony at San Francisco City Hall, an Inner Sunset apartment mini-reception, Golden Gate park dog walk, and a MUNI ride.

Wayfare Tavern makes for an excellent intimate wedding reception venue – it has an industrial vintage feeling with dark wood paneling, exposed brick, and painted wood floors. Ruth and Tom’s guests dined in the Bartlett Room which is adjacent to the wine cellar. There’s an old-school, speakeasy club feel to the space that is balanced with the airy, glass-enclosed wine cellar and industrial retrofitting. Located in the Financial District it feels upscale and classy but urban and gritty at the same time. 

Ruth and Tom utilized one of my all time favorite wedding traditions and included hand-written letters to each guest as their place settings. As a continuation of the handmade theme, origami paper cranes adorned the wedding cake – baked by Ruth herself! 

What a wonderful day it was galavanting through San Francisco, and celebrating the marriage of two of the loveliest people you might hope to meet.

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Wedding Ceremony Venue: Mayor’s Balcony San Francisco City Hall

Wedding Reception Venue : Wayfare Tavern

Wedding attire: BHLDN

Hair and Makeup: Kristina Curtis @bykristinacurtis

Cake: by Bride!

Transportation : MUNI

Catering: Wayfare Tavern


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


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