On a rare warm day in San Francisco, I rode my motorcycle to meet Rachel and Sam at their rehearsal dinner in Oakland. You know when people are just cool right? These two.
We weren’t able to do an engagement shoot since they live in New York, so it was great to get a chance to work with Rachel and Sam that evening for a bit before the wedding the next day. Cool and nice too.
The next morning, we started at the Claremont at Fairmont hotel. Here’s a tip for all brides to be. If you want better getting ready photos and have the option, find a place that has big windows that does not have direct sunlight pouring in. Whether Rachel did it intentionally or not, I knew right away that we’d have great lighting when I entered the suite.
Still in her dressing gown, Rachel took her time getting ready with her family hanging about, including their dog. I focused on getting the the family time moments. When it was time to put on the dress, Rachel’s mom provided a hang and she stepped out to the approval of everyone. We spent a bit more time with everyone before I headed over to the guys downstairs.
Sam was mostly dressed, but had his side of the family with him to put on the finishing touches down by the hotel’s bar. Once again, we were positioned right by full floor to ceiling glass and had incredible light come in to highlight the minimalist decor.
I took some time to scout out the hotel to take advantage of all their gorgeous interior design and architecture. For the guys, we stuck with the bar and lounge area to do some portraits. One of the restaurants had yet to open, so I asked if we could use it for the first look.
I always like to guess who would be more emotional during the first look. In this case, with Rachel waiting in the restaurant, I was leaning 90/10 towards Sam. And I was completely right. I gave them their space, but found the angle to get Sam’s first reactions to see his bride-to-be. It nearly made me want to cry.
With the family gathered together, we headed to Lake Chalet with a quick stop for me and the couple at the Fox Theatre for a tribute of sort photo opp.
At Lake Chalet, the ceremony would take place at the end of the dock, which meant water on 3 sides. Not a bad place to get married. I just had to make sure, I didn’t fall off the dock during the ceremony. Rule #4: Don’t be a distraction during the ceremony.
Late summer/early fall weddings are great because you get all the extra light, which mean the day’s theme of good lighting continued through cocktail hour where the cold drinks and tasty hors d’ouervres were enjoyed. The party continued inside with a grand dancing entrance by the wedding party. The couple definitely threw down.
Between dinner and speeches, one of the couple’s friend performed a beautiful song and it gave me a chance to get a few more tearful and joyous reaction shots, this time out of Rachel. I enjoy weddings. I really do and even more so when I see everyone really have fun and laughing like there’s no worry in the world.
With the evening winding down, Rachel and Sam returned to the dock for a gondola ride. What? I had just returned from Venice, so it was awesome to see a full blown gondola right in the Bay Area. I told them I had to be on the gondola to take shots of them. Um. Yea. Definitely needed to be on the gondola. And so we rode off into the twilight of the day and captured some more magical moments. Of course, I wasn’t that selfish, so I asked to be let off so that they could enjoy the rest of the ride on their own – and so I could shoot from a different vantage point. They opened up the gondola for their guests afterwards and commenced with dancing the rest of the evening away.