Located in Healdsburg, Northern Ca.
Documenting wedding days throughout wine country, the Bay Area and worldwide.

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Wine Country

Sami & Marco // Romantic Olympia’s Valley Estate Wedding, Petaluma CA

February 2, 2022

Sami, Marco and I have been talking for two years. They had big wedding plans and, as has been the story over and over, COVID hit. Everything was paused. The bad news (besides the bad news that we all know gripped the world) was that we had to re-think it all. The good news is that we had that much longer to work together. I have had some of the very best clients to move through this mess with. Clients that were patient, kind, understanding and we worked as teammates to keep the dream alive. In September of 2021 they finally got hitched and it was a perfect day.

In editing their images into one cohesive story I was struck by how many small choices they made that created a flowing and easy going celebration. I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about what I think they did right so that you might be inspired!

  • Everyone either got ready or put their final touches on at the venue. Less driving around and more time to enjoy each other. This isn’t always possible but when it is it’s awfully nice.

  • Sami had her details ready to go in an envelope for me with multiple copies of her invites and had their rings in her room. She also had her florist arrive early enough to send over some loose florals and ribbon for the flat photo of their invites and rings which added a really pretty touch.

  • I asked Sami & Marco if they had any spots on the property that they were particularly drawn to. Sami shared that they loved the willows and hoped to do their formals there. The sun was super bright at the hour of formals so I offered advice to do the formals in front of the house. They loved the house idea and I began thinking of ways to incorporate the willows in for later photos.

  • When creating their timeline we added an extra few minutes into the formals & first look parts of the day to make up for lost time after getting ready. The first part of the day always takes longer than expected. Adding time here will ensure that we get through all the formal photos and get folks hidden away before guests arrive without added pressure. Added pressure isn’t fun. When it’s not fun… well, it just should be.

  • Post ceremony they had a few extended family photos that they wanted to capture. To make sure that they went smoothly they 1) kept their shot list very short, 2) let those folks know where to meet following the ceremony in order to get through them quickly. Post ceremony photos are often chaotic and can be draining for couples that are really just ready to get to the party! Keeping it short & simple will definitely help!

  • Cocktail “hour” was an hour and a half. I see this trend gaining traction and I love it. Cocktail hour is a grossly underestimated part of the day. Stretching it out gives a few extra minutes for extended formals without sacrificing time with guests. Also doing so gives everyone more opportunity for delicious cocktails appetizers and hugs in the daylight!

  • Their dining room was set up and ready for photographing during cocktail hour so that I could document the details before they were enjoyed.

  • Knowing that we can only estimate light on any given day, Marco & Sami were flexible in breaking up their sunset photos into two 20 minutes sessions, one during cocktail hour and one post introduction at dinner. The sky filled with glorious puffy clouds as the day went on and we had to make some shifts since it was darker earlier than expected. They were down and happy to take the suggestion… and as we know, happy folks makes for a happy day and of course joyful photos. We also shot near the willows since it was so bright earlier! Definitely want folks to get everything what they want if at all possible!

  • During sunset photos these two played. They enjoyed each other. They kissed and cuddled and allowed themselves to really be in the moment together. That’s not always an easy thing to do but they really gave into it.

  • Sami, Marco, Lisa at Bravo Events and their caterer Elaine Bell made sure that my second shooter & I ate at my requested time of day. Often enough caterers and planners have their own ideas of when it’s right for us to eat but the truth is that we have a very very tiny window of opportunity between moments. This opportunity falls at the same time that couples eat. Folks aren’t the most photogenic with mouths full of food and usually we’re either heading out for sunset photos or we’re heading into speeches during meals. So alas, if we’re going to have some hot food during a long work day, we need to eat when couples eat. Super grateful for these guys for making that happen. Well fed photographers are a plus.

  • Dancing photos lasted about 40 minutes. This was perfect. Enough time to photograph some good times but also not to overwhelm guest with flashes. There is a point in the evening when folks want to just get on down without it all being documented.

  • They included a second shooter and were lucky enough to have my right hand gal Danielle Kinney shoot their day with me. She’s amazing, has trained with me for nearly 2 decades for a seamless style across the gallery. She’s the very best.

  • Sami & Marco and of course their entire team worked hard to make every piece of the day just right. That said, once the day arrived, these two allowed the day to unfold as it would. There will and is always minor hickups. Letting them come in and out without letting them steal celebration or joy is absolutely key in a successful wedding day. Cheers to these two for making that their reality.

Sami & Marco, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your care and consideration and of course for having me. You two are magic in the world and I’m so lucky to have met you and been a part of such a breathtaking day in your lives. Much love and joy to you both.

xx

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In my house I print everything. I have stacks of prints that have yet to make it into albums but to me, the organization isn't what's important, it's having the prints to spread out on the floor and talk about with my two children. We've been doing that since they were tiny and the stacks just grow and we share more about what they remind us of and laugh together and sometimes cry a little too.

My son Dorian is 16 and my daughter Hazel is 18 and when they were 3 & 5 their father, my husband Igor, died of suicide. I hesitate to share this with you all because it's kind of heavy but I want you to know where my value in photographs comes from. My prints, those ones that we spread out on the floor, are the stories that they have left and are what keeps my memory fresh. We get to see his happy grin, his dance folly and the hugs he gave his loved ones. There are no possessions I treasure more than those images and there is no gift greater for Hazel and Dorian.

As we print new photographs of our lives, our story unfolds before us. We can map our journey as a family now of three. We can see where the images that include him stop and where our smaller team began and we have hand held evidence of our joys and our adventures reminding us always of the meaning and humor, regardless of loss, in life. 
Wedding days are such precious crowns of tenderness and hope. They bring people together that might otherwise never see one another. They can build bridges and mend broken hearts. I want the experience for you, of spreading out your images, picking each up and being reminded of that moment's joy and the people you shared it with over and over again. 

I photograph weddings because when memories fade, as they eventually do, what you have left are the photographs; physical, celebratory and lasting evidence of what was a magnificent coming together. Wedding days are for laughter and promises and gathering and they are an example of all things good in the world. If that's not worth documenting with full heart I don't know what is.


I'm eager to learn about you, your journey here & your wedding day dreams.

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