Stunning California Engagement and Wedding Photos

Jacqueline and her fiancé, Jose contacted me a year before their wedding to inquire about engagement photos. I originally met them a few years before as members of the bridal party for Jose’s brother Manny and his bride, Sarah. They were so excited that after six years together, they were getting married! I was honored they remembered me and reached out.

Though they originally requested only engagement photos, we exchanged a few emails and brought up the idea of doing both the engagement and the wedding. We met in person to talk more about what was most important to them in a wedding photographer. 

When we met, Jackie and Chepe (as their friends and family call them) expressed the importance of photos for both their engagement and the big day; they said they would feel more comfortable with a photographer that could be there for both the engagement photos and the wedding day. I couldn’t agree more; an engagement session is a way for a couple to take me and my services for a test run before their wedding day.

After our initial meeting, we felt this would be a good fit for all and we began planning their dream engagement and wedding photos. 

For their engagement session, we visited two locations. The first, the Legion of Honor, offered a beautiful courtyard of tall pillars which made for stunning photos. We then moved to a lush green lawn with views of the Golden Gate Bridge which is an iconic spot in the Bay Area and the United States; it was perfect to include in this Bay Area couple’s engagement session. We then went to The Sutro Baths: in the late 1800's it was the world's largest indoor swimming pool. The location is now ruins, but creates a gorgeous backdrop.

Legion of honor engagement couple sitting

Legion of Honor Couple kissing near pillars

Legion of Honor couple with bride and groom signs

The Sutro Baths Engagement couple

With the engagement photos complete, we then focused on planning for the wedding which took place at Queen of All Saints in Concord and the reception in the Perera Pavilion at the Pleasant Hill Community Center.

Prior to their wedding, we had a site tour which included visiting the church and the reception location. When having a church wedding, it’s very important to understand the rules around the church and the religion. Despite being a cradle Catholic, Queen of All Saints has their own rules that are specific to their church. 

For example, during the ceremony we were unable to use on or off camera flash and unable to go behind the alter. We were limited to remaining in the aisle or the outer perimeter. These details are important to understand well ahead of time.

When touring the Pleasant Hill Rec Center, we found it to be more flexible in terms of where and how we could take photos. The couple and guests could wander anywhere they would like to as the surrounding area is open to the public, which gave many options for the photos.

The day of the event, my second photographer was also hired for the day. This allowed for a smoother day overall. We started at the Crowne Plaza in Concord for getting ready photos. My second photographer assisted me with setting up the posed photos including the dress hanging and detail shots. When those were complete, he headed over to take photos of the guys. When they were done, the men headed to the church.

Thankfully the guys finished up their photos quickly because the church will not wait for anyone, even the bride! We finished with the getting ready photos and headed to the church to see the procession already walking down the aisle. Thankfully, with the couple hiring a second photographer we had coverage of the start of the wedding even though the bride and I had not arrived yet. 

Jackie’s Dad passed prior to the wedding so her Mom walked her down the aisle carrying two photos: one of Jackie and her Dad, and the other of her day on his own. The ceremony was beautiful and then everyone transitioned to the Pleasant Hill Community Center.

New World Events decorated the church with fresh flowers and created a classic and elegant setting for the reception. The reception tables included a lace overlay for the table settings paired with a tall white fresh flower centerpiece. For the sweetheart table, they used a sheer behind the table to help breakup the large floor to ceiling windows of the Perera Pavilion and to help further bring attention to the bride and groom. There was also a table dedicated to her Dad that included photos and a single bouquet. 

The Perera Pavilion at The Pleasant Hill Recreation Center is an absolute fairytale with large windows and high ceilings nestled among tall redwoods and perfectly manicured grasses. The grounds around the Perera are open to the public which meant we had access to the Gazebo for some beautiful evening shots. 

At the reception, Basilico Italian Catering served delicious food to the guests. They created a memorable menu including appetizers of parmesan meatball bites in their signature Roma tomato Chardonnay sauce, fruit skewers, and organic cheese tortellini and for the main course, rosemary infused salmon, creamy pesto chicken, seasonal veggies, and gluten free penne in creamy pesto sauce.
They created a unique menu that not only pleased each guest but also complimented the couple’s tastes. Jackie and Chepe had a vision in mind and we turned that into reality by working side by side with the staff.

Despite Jackie’s organization and the planned timeline, the reception took a life of its own. We still captured what the couple envisioned, just not in the order we planned. It’s my job, along with my team, to remain flexible and calm, and to adjust as the day unfolds around us. I am so happy that I could be here to capture the day of this bride and groom who are beautiful inside and out.  

Bridal Lip Makeup

Makeup Brushes Ready To Go

Wedding Bouquet with Bride's Shoes

Groom Tying Shoes in Deep Thought

Groom Helping Father with Finishing Touches

Best Man Helps Groom Finish Up, Father Waiting Patiently

Best Man and Groom, Brothers

Bride and Matron of Honor

Bride and Mother of the Bride

Mother of the Bride Helps Bride With Veil

Helping the Bride with Finishing Touches

Bride Reads Loving Letter from Husband

Groom with Parents at the Altar

Mother of Bride Walks Bride Down the Aisle

Loving Embrace Between Mother of Bride and Bride at Altar

Mother of the Bride Gives Bride Away

Mother of Bride looks at Bride with Love and Pride

Bride and Groom join hands at the Altar

Priest leading Bride and Groom in Vows

Bride and Groom Official Wedding Kiss

Priest Blessing a Bridesmaid

Priest Blessing a Bridesmaid and Bouquet

Bride and Groom Lighting the Candles

Priest Blessing Bride and Groom with Best Man's and Maid of Honor's Help

Everyone joins hands in Prayer

Bride and Groom walking down the Aisle

Bride and Groom present flowers to La Virgen de Guadalupe Altar

Bride and Groom leaving the Church

Priest Praying with the Bride and Groom

Bride and Groom share their First Kiss

Bride and Groom with Groom's side of the Family

Bride and Groom with Bride's side of the Family

Reception Decor Ready

Dining Table Set Up and Centerpiece

Grandmother of Bride enjoying the Reception

Bride and Matron of Honor

Adding to the Guest Book

Bride and Groom celebrate with Bride's Family

Bride, Mother of the Bride, and Grandmother of the Bride share loving embrace

Bride and Groom with Groom's Parents

Bouquet Charms in Tribute to Father of the Bride

Bride and Groom share a Passionate Kiss

Bride and Groom with eyes full of Love

Bride and Groom dance their way through guests

First Dance of Bride and Groom

All eyes on the Bride and Groom for their First Dance

Bride and Groom really get down to their First Dance

Reception's Dinner Buffet

Starting Salad for Dinner

Dinner Setting with beautiful Main Dishes

Mother of Groom gives her Toast

Mother of Groom and Bride in loving, accepting embrace

Mother of Bride gives her Toast

Beginning of Money Pinning Dance

Grandmother of Bride and Groom Dance together

Bridesmaid joins Groom for Money Pinning Dance

Groom and Mother of Groom share a Dance

Bride and Groom share a Dance

Three Tier Wedding Cake

Bride and Groom take first bites of their Wedding Cake

Bride and Groom embrace lovingly under the Gazebo


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