Joanna & Eric’s Rustic Mountaintop Wedding

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Soaring upwards of 3800 feet, Mount Diablo can be seen from most of the San Francisco Bay Area. Our bride Joanna grew up taking in its panoramic views with her family and knew that it would one day play an important role in her wedding. After nine years together, she and Eric decided to tie the knot.

Sure enough, the silhouette of the mountain appeared as a graphic element on their invitations, thank-you cards, programs, table name cards, place cards, and ice cream sandwich wrappers (more on that later), all of which Joanna designed (check out the envelope liners she made and the escort cards she embossed with matching gold chevron). Even more amazingly, they discovered Diablo Ranch on the mountain itself, a working cattle ranch accessed via twisty, harrowing roads. Complete with barns, hay bales, tractors, cows, and an emu, not to mention a swimming pool and game rooms, it was the perfect place for them to get hitched.

Their ceremony, officiated by brother-in-law Mark, was overseen by a grand oak tree and overlooked the peaks and valleys of the East Bay as the sun set in the distance. Family traditions and support enhanced the special occasion even further. Joanna’s sister Joyce pulled her son/ringbearer Colby down the aisle in a little red wagon, only to have him unexpectedly clamber out to hand off the wooden ring box to a guest. His big sister Penelope followed them with a basket of flower petals.

For Joanna’s walk down the aisle with her parents, their DJ and acoustic guitarist Spencer performed “Glasgow Love Theme” from Love Actually, a movie that Joanna’s family watches every Christmas. Says Joanna, “The song is really the only ‘dream wedding’ thing I’d had when we started wedding planning.”

Joyce and Eric’s brother Marcus performed “How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You),” much to Colby’s delight (he yelled “again!” multiple times after they had finished), after which Eric’s grandmother Pat said a blessing during the traditional Filipino veil, cord, and coin ceremony. They used the veil and cord from Marcus’s wedding last year and 13 silver coins that first appeared in Pat’s wedding in the Philippines 61 years ago. (Joanna and Eric were the sixth couple in the family to celebrate their marriage with the coins.) Heartfelt vows and a tussle with the rings rounded out the laughter- and tear-filled ceremony.

After some portraits, our newlyweds joined their guests poolside for the reception. Fairylight-filled mason jars, candles, and yards of string lights illuminated the scene as guests noshed on barbecue, hit the scotch bar, and guffawed at a bevy of revealing toasts. Marcus had a large stack of index cards to keep his roast in line, while Joanna’s dad concluded his speech with the USC fight song and victory sign, slightly dismayed that he hadn’t been able to hire the full Trojan marching band for the wedding (he, Joanna, and Eric are all alumni).

Dessert came in the form of ice cream sandwiches, which were “one of the first things we decided upon for our wedding,” says Joanna. “We’ve eaten a lot of ice cream, and Bi-Rite Creamery is by far our favorite. We had three flavors: Earl Grey ice cream with a dark chocolate cookie, mint chip ice cream with a chocolate chip cookie, and strawberry balsamic ice cream with a sugar cookie. Earl Grey is one of my favorite flavors, but Bi-Rite only offers it in the winter. We asked for Earl Grey before its official season and for mint chip with a different cookie. We were so happy that they accommodated our special requests!”

Other fun touches included late-night tacos and s’mores at the fire pit, which provided additional fuel for the dance party. The celebration may have raged until dawn since Diablo Ranch has no time restrictions, but we left before the reception became a deliberate or accidental splash zone. We did, however, capture plenty of wonderful moments, including an animated arm wrestling match between Eric and his brother. Enjoy!

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Bride’s dress: custom gown by Lea Couture
Bride’s shoes: TOMS
Bride’s earrings: Mabel Chong
Groom’s suit: Armani Collezioni
Groom’s shoes & belt: Allen Edmonds
Groom’s shirt: Luxire
Groom’s & groomsmen’s ties: Kent Wang
Hair (for bride, moms, bridesmaids & groom): Natasha Warton-Sanivskaya of Cetana Salon Spa (San Francisco)
Make-up: Juanita Valencia of Cetana Salon Spa
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Jenny Yoo (on matron of honor) and Donna Morgan (on bridesmaid)
Bride’s ring: Natural Sapphire Company
Groom’s ring: e-Wedding Bands
Ring box: Duende Jewelry (Etsy)
Flowers: Delancey Street Foundation
Caterers: Fist of Flour (cocktail hour; Oakland), 4505 Meats (barbecue dinner; San Francisco), Erika Parra (late-night tacos)
Ice cream sandwiches: Bi-Rite Creamery (San Francisco)
Custom labels: freezerlabels.net
DJ & guitarist: Sutherland Entertainment (Berkeley)
Wedding planner: Erin Donoghue Vigil (Your Event by Erin)
Videographer: Awkward Turtle Media
Wire picks for table name cards: Little House of Details (Etsy)
Lantern lights: Lights for All Occasions
Mountain silhouette graphic: MottShop (Etsy)
All printed materials: Brandes Printing Company (Berkeley)

Melanie & Michael’s Fun & Games Cinnabar Hills Wedding

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You might recall the cute engagement session we did with high-school sweethearts Melanie and Michael (and Tugs, their trusty owl sidekick) this past summer, on their 12th dating anniversary. A few months later, we had the pleasure of capturing their lighthearted, fun-filled wedding at San Jose’s Cinnabar Hills Golf Course.

The day kicked off with them getting ready for their big day. Melanie was a knockout in a white, strapless, beaded lace gown with sweetheart neckline and long train; for her “something old,” she donned the same shoes she wore to a high school dance with Michael. Michael cut a dashing figure in a three-piece charcoal suit with eggplant tie. With the help of YouTube, his groomsmen expertly pinned on everyone’s boutonnieres. Michael thanked them with Star Wars Lego watches that featured Stormtroopers (detachable, as Lily accidentally found out when she bumped into one).

Their first look under a grand oak tree was peppered with lots of hugs, kisses, exuberant laughter and smiles, and high fives, which set the tone for the rest of their day. In one memorable moment, the flower girl fastidiously dropped petals down the aisle, only to realize she didn’t know what to do once she reached the end. Without a word, she whipped around and ran back down the aisle, much to the delight of the guests. Hopefully she found solace in her new, plush Snuffles Gund bear (Melanie and Mike both own three each and gave all their pint-sized guests goodie bags that included one)! The rest of the touching ceremony, set against rolling green hills, went off without a hitch.

The reception perfectly reflected who they are as both a couple and individuals, and we love all the thought that went into the details and activities. The table numbers were actually words and numbers that are significant to Melanie and Michael (how cute that Michael thinks Melanie would be an otter if she were an animal!). The wedding program complemented the invitation Michael had hand-drawn nicely, and not only included the day’s schedule but a single playing card. Guests were encouraged to mingle and form poker hands in exchange for raffle tickets that would be drawn for prizes at the end of the night. Guests could also earn raffle tickets by finding plastic eggs that were hidden around the property, and had a chance to win prizes by correctly answering trivia questions about our newlyweds. (Prizes were awarded towards the end of the night.) The Fun Facts wall was a spot where their “fun, eclectic group of friends” could “share their experience, knowledge, and eccentric personalities.” Instead of signing a guestbook, guests left notes in specially marked jars for our couple to read on their first, fifth, and tenth anniversaries.

They made a lavender-and-purple backdrop for the wildbooth, which guests enthusiastically jumped into. The candy bar was also a hit, and showcased purple and lavender M&Ms that matched the color theme. Speaking of sweets, they love cake so much that they offered three flavors: burnt almond (one of Michael’s favorites), chocolate with fresh strawberry cream, and a light cake with mango mousse. A to-go cake station made sure all the cake found a good home.

Melanie and Michael weren’t the only ones who did some planning for the wedding. At the end of Melanie’s sister’s toast/roast, she said that since Melanie was her best friend, it was only appropriate that she take a leaf from My Best Friend’s Wedding. She surprised Melanie with a live performance by Melanie’s friend Josephine, who sang two of her favorite songs: John Legend’s “All of Me” and Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road.” Josephine went to elementary, middle, high school, and college with Melanie and has known our couple throughout their lives. The look of surprise on Melanie’s face is priceless, and we hope you enjoy viewing that as well as the rest of their wonderful day.

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Bride’s dress: Casablanca Bridal
Hair & make-up: Joanne Kim
Groom’s suit: Banana Republic’s Monogram collection
Tie: Tie Bar
Bridesmaids’ dresses: J.Crew (Nadia)
Flowers: Bloomsters
Caterer: Cinnabar Hills Golf Course
Cake: La Patisserie
DJ: Benomix
Wedding planner: Kimberley Capp

Deanna & Stephen’s Whimsical, Handcrafted South Bay Wedding

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When we photographed Deanna and Stephen’s engagement session at the Rengstorff House in Mountain View earlier this year, we had no idea the amazing transformation it would undergo on their wedding day! Sure, the 19th-century Victorian Italianate house remained as stately as ever, surrounded by lush greenery and chockablock with intriguing knickknacks, taxidermied creatures, and old-timey machinery such as Victrolas, manual typewriters, and wooden phones with exterior bells. Deanna’s vision, however, truly enlivened its exterior (and not just with the banner she constructed to string across the front of the house). We were impressed by how everything came together in a couple of hours.

The backyard was cozy and intimate, a perfect spot to hold their touching ceremony. After the bubble boy nearly veered off course during the processional, we were slightly concerned our teary-eyed bride might have trouble making her way to her equally teary-eyed groom, but her father cheerfully steered her in the right direction. During their unity salt ceremony, no granules were unnecessarily spilled but the wind abducted a few doilies. Luckily, no one was harmed.

The lawn games and vintage-style furniture in the yard in front of the house were a hit during cocktail hour. Guests signed their congratulations and well wishes on a customized wood plank, and some made use of the sunblock, insect repellent, handy wipes, hand warmers, and fleece wraps that Deanna thoughtfully provided.

The larger, unassuming side lawn, strung with cafe lights and outfitted with a mix of wooden farm tables and circular tables, couldn’t have been a more magical place to celebrate with family and friends. Fittingly, dinner was served family style as the sun set over the bay. We still can’t believe all the kids kept their hands off the rustic dessert station until after the cake was cut! It was totally eye candy, featuring drool-worthy macarons, cupcakes, and a variety of jarred delectables, as well as a cake that was frosted to look like it had wood grain! But the topper, literally, was the cake topper, two felt owls with a heart-shaped balloon that Deanna painstakingly needle-felted.

Speaking of felt, the bridal party’s bouquets were absolutely adorable, as were other hand-made details, including the fan programs, customized wire basket, and favors (matches in cork-topped vials, M&Ms for “real kids only”). Also adorable? Deanna and Stephen during their first dance. We’re not sure if Stephen was cracking jokes, but Deanna laughed the entire time they twirled from one part of the dancefloor to the other. (Incidentally, Deanna was stunning in her long, strapless gown, and Stephen was dapper in his gray suit with yellow tie and matching pom-pom boutonniere.)

It was such a joyous occasion, and we were privileged to capture it. Please enjoy this visual account of their special day.

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Bride’s dress: Mori Lee
Bride’s shoes: Bandolino
Groom’s suit: Alfani
Bridesmaids’ dresses: DressHome (Etsy)
Flowergirls’ dresses: NollaCollection (Etsy)
Hair & make-up: Imagi by Fiona
Caterer: Toast Catering
DJ & acoustic performer: All Ears DJ
Cake, cupcakes & jarred desserts: La Vie Douce Design
Macarons: Chef Chirp
Furniture rentals: Lost & Found Vintage Rental (San Jose)
Felt flowers: Etsy
Rubber stamp: lilimandrill (Etsy)
Salt & egg: Centered Ceramics (Etsy)
Guestbook board: Resalvaged (Etsy)