A Beautiful Wedding at Brownstone Gardens, Oakley, CA

bride and groom standing in a field looking at each otherEvery wedding, like every couple, is unique. I love to see how weddings come together since there are so many different choices for details, including an overwhelming number of vendors for brides and grooms to choose from. Nina and Nelson contacted me after being referred by their venue, Brownstone Gardens in Oakley, CA. This is a great way to deal with the potential overwhelm of all the vendors you’ll need to find and hire for your wedding day; ask your venue if they have a preferred vendors list. For example, I am a preferred vendor for Brownstone and am listed in their brochure/website; couples don’t have to hire me, but it can be nice to know who the venue recommends.

Nina and Nelson contacted me shortly after they booked Brownstone Gardens, as they began the interview process for a photographer. When we met for coffee, I told them that when working with a photographer, this truly needs to be the best fit and I always understand if that’s not me. With all the choices you have, don’t feel pressured to choose someone, even if they happen to be on the venue’s list.

While I ultimately was hired by Nina and Nelson for their engagement photos and wedding, like many couples, they continued their search for a photographer for several months. We were in contact for follow-up questions as well as viewing past full weddings I photographed. When they decided to officially hire me, they chose the minimum package of one photographer with six hours’ coverage. I assured them we could always amend the plan later to add a second photographer if needed.

As the months went on, we talked about hiring an assistant to help me move through our day at Brownstone. This is a less expensive option than hiring a second photographer but allows me to move faster in hopes of obtaining more images of their day.

However, during their engagement session, we talked about the pros and cons of hiring an assistant versus a second photographer, and it quickly became clear that the best option would to hire a second photographer rather than an assistant. By hiring a second photographer you get double the images/coverage without double the price. We lucked out that one of my favorite second photographers was available to photograph their wedding, and who was also familiar with Brownstone. As you interview photographers, be sure to discuss the options you have, as well as how flexible the photographer is changing this plan if needed.

The week of their wedding we confirmed their timeline and what was most important to them for the wedding day. We began her coverage at Brownstone Gardens and included her dress hanging, stylized photos of her shoes, close up of the rings, flowers and other detail shots, followed by a quiet moment of Nina slipping into her gown with her best friend and MOH by her side. We then moved into the couple’s first look and into bridal party formals. By doing the first look, not only does the couple get to have a quiet moment to take in their love, but this also helps with diversity of images by getting the posed bridal party photos out of the way.

Brownstone Gardens is a gorgeous venue that has been in Manager Kay-Kay Hines’ family since she was just 4 years old. When her family purchased the property, it was an old almond orchard with tons of trees and dirt. The large property housed their roofing company and had dog kennels all across what is now “The Grand Court,” where Kay-Kay’s mother raised the chocolate Labradors they sold to make extra income.
 For Kay-Kay's parents' 20th anniversary, they completed a dream renovation to add a pond and waterfall with a gazebo. What they created was a place that left many saying, "you should do weddings here." So, B&K Ranch evolved into Brownstone Gardens and the venue continued to grow.

The development of the property happened in unique ways. For example, Bridal Falls, a 12’ waterfall, was created in 2006 from rocks Kay-Kay’s father stumbled upon one day many years before. The rocks and boulders came from the hills along Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek and many show signs of shells and fossils from being part of the sea that used to be there. Kay-Kay's dad saw these rocks being pulled out when Crystal Ranch was being built; when he asked about the plan for the rocks, he learned they could be his if he would haul them away!

Similarly, they brought in three olive trees and a muscatel tree that was being torn up where the Panera Bread is now located in Antioch. Kay-Kay's dad went down to the construction site, saved them, and brought them home with him. He put them in big boxes, nurturing them until he was ready to plant ready full grown trees into the waterfall area.
 The Brownstone garden is a venue that is truly a labor of love.

Nina and Nelson’s wedding ceremony took place in the Grand Court, followed by a cocktail hour in the Koi Pond Patio Area, and then onto the Bridal Falls area for the reception, where Nina wore a second, beautiful, gown. The guests enjoyed dinner and then danced to music from Terry Newberry, of Magic Entertainment. Terry is top-notch, professional and engaging; it’s no wonder he’s also a preferred vendor for Brownstone. Not only does he DJ, but he an incredible emcees as well.

As the night continued, instead of cutting the cake, the couple and guests enjoyed Coletta Gelato. Coletta makes their gelato in a traditional age-old Italian way while infusing tastes unique to California's culinary, creating a delicious twist for the palate. They source local raw ingredients, pasteurize their own milk, and hand-craft in an infusion of flavors; their goal is to produce delicious gelato in the purest form.

 Overall, the wedding was beautiful, and Nina and Nelson were thrilled with how everything came together- truly a labor of love.

bride and MOH getting dressedbride and MOH zipping wedding dressbride and MOH putting on shoesgroom and groomsmenfirst lookbrides first look at Brownstone Gardensfirst look at BrownstoneGroom and his groomsmen at Brownstone Gardensputting on boutonnière at Brownstonebridal party bride with bridal partysucculent wedding favorTable rounds at bridal falls groomsman and bridesmaids walking down isle Groom and mom walking down the isle groom and mombride and mom at the alter the kiss Mother of groom and bride hugging bride and groomsigning marriage license bride and groom walking cocktail hour at the koi pondBride and Groom Brownstonefirst dancegaleto bridal Coletta Gelatobride and groom in fieldbride and groom in butterfly chair maid of honor speechTerry Newberry of Magic EntertainmentFather of bride speechmother of groom dance mother son hug


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