Bernardus Lodge and Spa, Carmel Valley Wedding - BrieAnn and Ryan

What a sweet wedding! I've had some really small intimate weddings this year and just love them (my own was only immediate family!). BrieAnn and Ryan chose Bernardus Lodge in the Carmel Valley for their wedding and I could see why as soon as I got there! It's set on one side of the valley so has views to the opposite side hills, has all sorts of gardens, vineyards and nooks and crannies to explore and it's lovely gorgeous, quiet and luxurious. What a pretty setting for a small wedding. Plus BrieAnn said they could do everything there! Rehearsal dinner, lodging, and wedding!

It was all about their closest family and friends and the food and wine. Given the lunch I had near the pool before I started shooting, the food is luxurious too! Wanda Straw did an amazing job keeping things flowing and Aga Kazmierczak put together the stunning flowers. I especially loved the "arch" over the bride and groom during the ceremony.

BrieAnn stunned in her simple Amy Kuschel gown and even though I had very limited time with the newlyweds for photos, we had fun and I couldn't go wrong with how sweet they were together AND the gorgeousness of the property.

Congratulations to BrieAnn and Ryan!

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Carmel Valley Wedding

Venue: Bernardus Lodge & Spa

Dress: Amy Kuschel, Little White Dress Denver

Coordinator: Stacey Clapp of Bernardus Lodge & Spa and Wanda Straw, Day-of-Planner

Event Designer & Florist: Aga Kazmierczak, Unskripted Design

Caterer: Bernardus Lodge & Spa

Hair & Makeup: Blush Studio

Music: Tim Marconett, Ivy Hill Entertainment

Beaulieu Garden Wedding | Julie and Russell

Julie and Russell chose the Beaulieu Garden property for their stunning wedding and it's one of my favorite wine country venues so I was thrilled to photograph it. Despite the large property, their wedding was a wedding for immediate family on a Thursday and although fancier than mine, it reminded me of my own wedding which was on a Tuesday in Yosemite Valley so it was especially fun to photograph!

Thank goodness their day was so incredible, because Julie and Russell had one of the craziest wedding week stories I had ever heard! Their rental car was broken into in SF TWO DAYS before the wedding and in the rental car were their wedding rings, their marriage license, their passports, all of the tuxedos, and the groom's suitcase which contained all of his clothes for their month-long honeymoon. Oh my! How do you recover from that one? Well, miraculously, the police found the car near an alley and they searched the people who were in the alley near the car and recovered the wedding rings and passports! Isn't that unbelievable?! Anyway, they were able to secure a last minute wedding license and then did a LOT of shopping to replace clothing in the couple of days after the wedding so with their wedding rings on their fingers they flew off safely. Whew. Now that's a story!

Despite all that happened before their wedding, their wedding day was incredible. Paula Le Duc Fine Catering is the exclusive caterer at Beaulieu and their service and food is always stunningly perfect. Valley Flora's flowers were a great addition to an already gorgeous venue and Aimee Wendel of 2chic Events made sure everything ran smoothly.

As for Julie and Russell, well, Julie was incredible in her Amsale gown and luxuriously flowing hair done by Sheerie Long and Russell smiled and laughed all day long never complaining about the near 100 degree heat. He just couldn't keep his eyes off his bride! His two darling boys too! This was a stunning but also intimate affair and pulled off perfectly. So happy for Julie and Russell!

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Rancho La Puerta Wedding at La Cocina Que Canta and Tres Estrellas Organic Farm - Maya and Jerome

After many years photographing for Rancho La Puerta's marketing materials, I was thrilled to be asked to photograph long-time RLP fitness instructor Maya's wedding this past March. Rancho La Puerta, in case you didn't know, is consistently rated one of the best destination wellness and fitness spas in the world. Founded in the mid 1940s it was also one of the first.

Over the years, they have added into the 4.000 acre property a huge organic garden (Estrellas Organic Farm) and fabulous cooking school (La Cocina Que Canta) and are now offering that gorgeous piece of the property for weddings, special events and vow renewals. A destination wedding in Tecate Mexico? Why not!? Tecate is a safe and festive town and RIGHT over the border at a super easy border crossing. When I go down to "The Ranch", I fly into San Diego and it's really just a little over an hour to the border!

The staff at La Cocina Que Canta is incredibly talented and provides everything you need. From event design and planning to florals, cake and an incredible organic meal most of which comes right from the garden. Your guests can wander through the organic garden without even being a Rancho La Puerta guest (although that would certainly be fun for them to have a few days or week at the spa added on to their experience). Guests CAN stay in the town instead but still get to experience a little taste of this world renown spa property plus experience the wedding of someone they love on top of it all.

I LOVED photographing this wedding. The staff at "The Ranch" really consider themselves la familia (family!). Most of the staff at RLP stay for years (and why wouldn't you - it's an incredible property) and Maya has been a fitness instructor there for as long as I've been shooting there. All day I was calling her the pixie fairy bride because she's so lovely and petite. When I was at The Ranch last December I had lunch with Maya to discuss wedding details and asked her about how she and her groom, Jerome met. Out came the pixie fairy and she told me she was just really finally ready to find her partner and started "putting it out to the universe" as often as she could. Not long after she started this practice she met Jerome thought the RLP founder! Jerome is the founder's personal pilates instructor. How perfect is THAT? I think the universe was listening and knew Maya deserved her perfect partner.

And that they ARE. Watching them on their wedding day and then seeing their pure joy throughout the time it took me to edit the wedding, I kept thinking "this couple is truly meant to be together". They are true soulmates. The Ranch means a lot to Maya since she lives part time on the property and I loved that she got to get married on such sacred ground in a place she loves. The day was sunny and the evening was warm for that time of the year. The branches on the trees and bushes were just starting to bud and the garden was producing luscious looking produce. Standing in front of the statue of St. Francis at the top of stone steps with little bursts of flowers, Maya and Jerome said their vows and read a poem they created together. Surrounded by family and friends everything was just bursting with love and hope. They were great sports for me as I traipsed them through the garden for photos and then they ate and danced the night away under the starry sky. Totally perfect.

If you are considering a destination wedding, this is a pretty darned special place. Congratulations to Maya and Jerome and THANK you for letting me share in an incredible day!

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Holy Name Cathedral and The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Chicago - Cara and Albert

Every once in a while I get the chance to photograph a wedding near my home town in Chicago. Cara, Albert and I were a perfect fit given that we all live in the bay area, so we were able to do an engagement session here and since Cara and I grew up in the Chicago area so I was able to go and see my family and photograph their wedding in Chicago! Lucky me!

What a fabulous and classic city style wedding! Cara was absolutely spectacular in her Rivini Couture "Sabina" ball gown and long gorgeous veil. I knew from our e-session she would be such fun to photograph and despite cold weather, wind and drizzle she was fabulous in front of the camera! Albert was the perfect groom having just as much fun and indulging his bride and it's obvious in the pictures what fun they have together as a couple.

Their ceremony at Holy Name Cathedral was so gorgeous set under the glorious wood carved ceiling and the reception at the Waldorf sparkled in intimate city splendor with florals by Kehoe Designs. I LOVED how gorgeous that cake was and just HAD to turn it around on it's table to get the sparkle of candlelight behind it (something I would never normally do for a photograph!). As the night went on it went from elegant and candlelit to one heck of a party with Style Matters DJs spinning, champagne and cocktails and dancing into the wee hours. It was amazing the family was able to get up in the morning to go to the traditional Korean Tea ceremony! I LOVE photographing Korean tea ceremonies, but especially the bride dressing. The costumes are truly works of art.

Loved Cara and Albert and had such fun photographing their wedding. Congratulations!

Reception Venue, Event Coordination, and Caterer: The Waldorf Astoria

Ceremony Venue: Holy Name Cathedral

Floral Designer: Kehoe Designs

DJ: Style Matters

Bridal Gown: Rivini Couture

Stationary: Jane Weber, ink!

Hair and Makeup: Mindy City Hair

**Special thanks to my good friend Jeff Ellis for helping me photograph this wedding. I worked with Jeff when I was first getting into photography over 25 years ago!

Atwood Ranch Wedding - Cristin and Capp

Yeehaw! This was a fun one! Starting with the rehearsal dinner hoedown at the Swiss Hotel in downtown Sonoma and the wedding at the ever gorgeous Atwood Ranch. Cristin and Capp and their guests had a blast throughout the weekend and Atwood Ranch was as always stunning with design by Julie Atwood, florals by Marie Philbin Floral Design and a fabulous family style meal by Sage Catering.

There was threat of rain all day and then during the ceremony the clouds broke up and the sun burst through just as they were ready to seal their marriage with a kiss! Cocktails were on the patio and then after a big group shot with pompoms (Cristin was a cheerleader and Capp was a football player!), the barn doors opened to reveal the gorgeous barn lit by candles and lovely chandeliers. After dinner the party really got started and late night (after I left) apparently a huge group stayed on for acoustic music by the outdoor fire into the night. 

What a gorgeous wedding! Congrats Cristin and Capp!

Venue: Atwood Ranch

Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Swiss Hotel

Event Coordinator: Julie Atwood Events

Floral Designer: Marie Philbin Floral Design

Caterer: Sage Catering

Cake Designer: Scandia Bakery

Hair and Make-up Artist: Rebecca Butz

DJ: Boutique DJs and Entertainment

Linen Rental: La Tavola

Rentals: Classic Party Rentals

 

The InterContinental The Clement Monterey Wedding - Lisa and Ken

LOVED the yellow and gray/charcoal color scheme for this gorgeous Hotel Clement Monterey wedding which was beautifully planned and executed by my former bride, Lauren Sloan of Ryder Sloan Events. Lisa was radiant in her Ace gown by Allure and I loved her bridesmaids gray flowing dresses and yellow flowers by Laughin' Gal Florist!

What a setting and what incredible weather for January! Sometimes winter weather on the west coast can be better than summer weather and this proved that point. It was downright hot out and there was no fog in sight for the glorious view of the Monterey bay throughout the wedding. Plus the wedding was set right off of the main drag, so we were able to sneak away and grab a shot of the bride and groom with their bridal party in front of the iconic Monterey Cannery Row sign! 

What fun was had by all, but especially Lisa and Ken. A super sweet couple who was smiling all day long. Ken was doing the traditional surprise honeymoon for his bride and I'm just DYING to know where it was. How romantic overall! Congrats to Lisa and Ken!

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Venue and Caterer: InterContinental The Clement Monterey

Event Coordinator: Ryder Sloan Events

Floral Designer: Laughin' Gal Florist

Cake: Patisserie Bechler

Hair and Makeup Artist: Oya Salon

Linen Rentals: La Tavola

Rentals: Chic Events

Musicians: Sound in Motion

Dress Designer: Allure

Bridesmaid Dress Designer: Bill Levkoff

Pebble Beach and The Inn at Spanish Bay Wedding - Molly and Aneep

In my questionnaire that I send to all my brides, I have a question that asks for any favorite moments or memories of their day. Molly's answer was: "Too many to list. Day was perfect." and that it was! I have NEVER photographed a wedding in the Carmel/Monterey coastal area that wasn't a bit chilly and often foggy. Molly and Aneep and everyone else were completely surprised by this unseasonably warm wedding day! Pebble Beach and the coastline were stunning and sparkly in the warm sun and it really WAS a perfect day. Molly was absolutely the picture of "stunning" in her Vera Wang gown and Aneep was smiling every time he looked at his gorgeous bride! 
 

Melia Yust of Wedspring in San Francisco designed and planned this simple and elegant wedding for this intimate gathering. I loved the use of dahlias in the florals, the sparkle of the cocktail tablecloths and especially the intimacy of the candlelit dinner set in a small private dining room at The Inn at Spanish Bay. Molly was one of the most calm brides I ever photographed and it was a joy to connect with that calm and gorgeous face through my camera all day long. Stunning.

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Ceremony Venue: Pebble Beach Resort

Reception Venue: Inn at Spanish Bay Resort 

Wedding Coordinator & Florist: WedSpring

Caterer: Peppoli Restaurant

Stationary: Alee & Press

Ralston White Retreat - Mill Valley Wedding of Jennie and Eric

Everything about the wedding was totally dreamy, from the flowers and the redwoods to the bride and groom! I loved shooting at this venue which I've never shot at before. The Ralston White Retreat is tucked in a grove of redwoods on the side of Mt. Tamalpais (Mt. Tam to locals) in Mill Valley, Marin County. If you love quiet, redwoods and a location close to SF this is it! 

Forest was important to Jennie and Eric because they spend a lot of time hiking and in the outdoors so being amongst the redwoods for their wedding was pretty special to them. I loved shooting their portrait session on the dirt road on the property. The light was filtering through and Jennie looked like a woodland fairy! 

Jennie's sister envisioned the style of the decor and florals and Flora Grubb executed the look beautifully. The food by Le Papillon was incredible (the vendors were also treated to this yummy food) and the little dancing room was simple and pretty with white balloons floating to the ceiling. This was a lovely group and an equally lovely wedding! Congrats to Jennie and Eric!

Vendors who participated in this wedding included: 

Venue: Ralston White Retreat

Floral Design: Flora Grubb

Caterer: Le Papillon 

Bakery: Jasmine Rae Bakery

Best of 2013!

So excited to share my best of 2013 show! I can't believe how fortunate I am to photograph such happy couples and gorgeous locations. Reviewing this made me weepy. So many beautiful couples and emotional moments. I hope you enjoy looking at it as much as I do. A big thank you to all of the vendors and locations for giving me such gorgeousness to photograph and a super big congratulations to all of my 2013 clients. I hope you all have many happy years ahead! With love, Julie

NOTE: The embedded video below will play in low definition video, so it is best viewed in its current size. Please click here for high definition, full screen viewing.

Chileno Valley Ranch Wedding - Anne and John

Oh how I loved the gorgeousness of this wedding and how absolutely RELAXING it was for all. It helps that Anne and John are incredibly low-key. That translated to all facets of their wedding and made for a truly enjoyable experience for everyone. This was my first time shooting at 

Chileno Valley Ranch

, a private ranch in the heart of the Sonoma ranching community. I love the rolling golden California hills already and then add a barn, a gorgeous Victorian home and lush gardens and you have the PERFECT setting.

Madeline Trait did the flowers, which were perfectly fitting with all the antique touches of the furnishings and other details, and I LOVED that they did a pig roast by Pam Ferrari Custom Catering. And the cake by Della Fattoria? To die for! Here's a sneak peek!

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Vendors involved in this wedding included:

Venue: Chileno Valley Ranch

Floral Design: Madeline Trait

Catering: Pam Ferrari Custom Catering

Cake: Della Fattoria

Napa Wedding at Brix - Marilyn and Michael

Bright fuchsia and grapevines make this a super cheerful Fourth of July wedding in Napa Valley. I just LOVE the outdoor area of Brix restaurant. With the organic garden, vineyard and mountains in the background, I think it's one of the prettiest and most intimate spots in Napa Valley. Dee Merz did a wonderful job creating this super colorful and cheerful setting for Marilyn and Michal's intimate gathering. This was a destination wedding for bride and groom and guests (all were in from Canada) and I'm sure it was the perfect day for them that it was meant to be. Great atmosphere, gorgeous weather and family are all you need for a perfect wedding day!  

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Vendors involved in this wedding included:

Venue: Brix Planning: Dee Merz Weddings and Special Events Catering: Brix Hair and Makeup: Monique of Unique Sonoma Salon Flowers: Sue Buhagiar Cake: Perfect Endings

Rancho La Puerta Take Three!

Oh, what a good gig! For the third time in a year I've been lucky enough to go to what I'm now considering might be the most special place in the world. Rancho La Puerta is a spa/health ranch located just south of San Diego, nestled on 3,000 in Tecate, Mexico. It was founded in the '40s by a health-conscious couple and has grown into a lovely, healthy getaway. It was voted two years in a row as "best destination spa in the world" by Travel and Leisure magazine readers. The fitness program is top-notch, with full time instructors plus weekly visiting instructors in various disciplines. The food is vegetarian with a bit of fresh fish, and a lot is grown on their own gigantic and gorgeous organic farm. Oh, and the spas and the spa staff are phenomenal! Last time I was there, I got something called a "four hands" massage. Two burly guys working on you completely in sync. Incredibly decadent! Best part about the ranch is it's not pretentious in the LEAST. Most people describe it as "summer camp for adults". Everyone comes in on Saturday and stays until the following Saturday. With mostly communal tables in the dining room, you get to know a lot of the other guests by the end of the week. I've met some fascinating people every time! This visit's assignment was trying to get more men in the pictures to encourage more men to visit. I brought my hubby and he pops up in some of the pics!

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