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Ralston White Retreat Wedding ~ Beylah & Chris!

DYI letterpress wedding Beylah and Chris, lovers of the great outdoors, family and friends and anything that calls for creativity!  When their family and friends from near and far gathered at the Ralston White Retreat for their wedding weekend, I think it’s easy to say how blown away everyone was.  Not only by the location but all that they did to personalize it for their wedding as well.  From the letterpress invitation that Beylah &  Chris designed and printed themselves to the woodwork- signage, games and a chuppah! This crafty couple took  the term DIY wedding to a whole new level and they did it with such skill and creativity, everything looked so beautiful. We all know DIY does not always end in something pretty!

Right at the start of the blog I’d like to give a big acknowledgment to Lindsay and her crew from 2 Friends Events.  They did a wonderful job of making this wedding stay on track and they were so friendly as they did it! Organized and kind- love that!

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Besides all of the DIY touches, one of the cool things about the wedding was that it was actually one big slumber party too! The 2nd and the 3rd floors of the house have many rooms for guests to stay in.  Communal bathrooms and showers brought back memories of summer camp and dorm life!

With so many DIY touches I asked Beylah to help me out for the blog with describing them.

Welcome Easel: The easel welcoming our guests to our wedding was the very first woodworking project Chris took on! Inspired by his late father’s love of woodworking (and a desire to save money by taking on some DIY projects) Chris dove in and hand built this beautiful two-sided easel. I then decorated it with chalk to welcome our guests! Like many of our projects, it was a true team effort!

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1960Beylah’s dress by Allure was stunning and this image of it in no way shows the beauty of it’s delicate lace and buttons! Only seeing it on Beylah really shows that. But I do like the sweetness of it here waiting for Beylah.Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1962The creative talent was not just limited to Beylah and Chris but family members as well.  Chris’ Mom is a national needlepoint champion! She created this delicate ring pillow holding the wedding bands for the ceremony. Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1963

Beylah got dressed with the help of her mother and her sister.Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1964

Mom did every button up with love, that’s a lot of love!!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1965Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1966

Supported by her sister, buttoned up by her mother- so much love in this image!

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1970Chris’ Mom arrived and was all smiles at the sight of her beautiful soon-to-be daughter-in-law!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1967Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1969As were her childhood best friends!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1971Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1972Everyone then joined in to help with the finishing touches before the first look.Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1973Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1974Beylah presented the Moms with a beautiful custom handkerchief- almost too pretty to use!

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2126Sisters!!

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1975While the ladies were busy with hair, makeup and doing up a long row of tiny buttons, the guys were doing what guys do best: using power tools, drinking beer, hanging out and eventually getting dressed!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1976Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1978Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1977The unfair thing about guys is that within seconds they can get ready and look oh so handsome!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1979I  love the look of anticipation on Chris’ face!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1981Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1980So much happiness!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1983Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1982Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1984

Big smiles, crying eyes- I love the emotions of a first look!

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2105Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1985Just out back of the retreat center are trails leading you into an amazing world of a redwood forest!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1986Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2106Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1992There is nothing like walking amongst redwoods to remind you of the amazing grandness of nature.Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1991Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1987Beylah’s bouquet held a picture of her late grandmother, such a special way to have her near on the wedding day. All the beautiful florals were created by Nancy Ann Flowers.Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1988Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2108How awesome are these wedding shoes?  Beylah was the smartest bride ever wearing sparkly flats!
Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1990Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1993When I get to a venue I try to scout locations to do pictures of the bride and groom.  But sometimes I wander too far or climb over things without fully thinking how a bride might get there in a wedding dress…. and still keep that dress clean! And sometimes I just hope that the bride might not care and wants that picture as much as I do!  That is what happened here.

We were a little short on time but I knew from my walk that morning that there was a pond on the property that was surrounded by beautiful trees and what seemed to be the leftovers of some manmade structures. The space was enchanting and I wanted so badly for Beylah and Chris to be photographed amongst it. When I suggested it, Chris eyes lit up and Beylah said, “of course” with a shrug of her shoulders! I love adventurous brides and grooms!  Ahhh, this image above makes my photographer heart happy!  I love when an idea comes to fruition, thank you Beylah and Chris for being up for it!  (Oh and Beylah’s delicate dress stayed perfectly clean and intact!)
Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1994Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2109Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1995Heading on back to get married!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1996Everything was all set for the ceremony, blue skies and all!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2111

Chuppah: The chuppah was truly a labor of love to put together! Chris spent hours upon hours building, sanding (and then more sanding!), and staining the chuppah. On the day of the wedding he assembled it with the help from some handy friends, and as in Jewish tradition, we adorned it with a lace tablecloth that we will use in our future home!

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1997Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1998A portrait of Chris’ late father was placed in the front row. Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_1999Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2000Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2001

“Yay” Flags: In lieu of throwing rice, Chris and I thought it would be a fun idea to see all of our loved ones waving little celebratory flags when we walked back down the aisle after the ceremony. I wanted them to represent us, so we added in “Opa!” to represent Chris’s Greek roots, and “Mazel Tov” to represent my Jewish roots. It was a fun project to take on– I taught myself to screen print designs onto fabric, and then cut and sewed each flag onto wooden dowels. It was wonderful to learn a new skill and make something that truly represented both of us for the wedding!

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2002Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2003With flags at the ready, it was time to start the wedding ceremony!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2005Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2004Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2006

Beylah was walked down the aisle by her mother, as her father had been dealing with some serious health issues and was unable to attend. However, friends and family members really pitched in and used technology to allow her father to watch the wedding live.

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2008Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2007Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2016Beylah and Chris’ close friend, Jake officiated the wedding ceremony. He did such an amazing job and really made the ceremony so special for everyone. Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2100Beylah’s sister did the first reading.Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2012Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2011Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2101Beylah’s aunt did the 2nd reading. Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2009Loved how the Ralston Retreat Center has a hill that goes up beyond the ceremony site allowing for views down onto the ceremony.Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2102Beylah and Chris created their own vows to each other. It was beautiful, funny and had everyone laughing with welled up eyes! Nothing like a good belly laugh!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2013Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2015Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2014The balcony from the house also made for a cool vantage point!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2103Rings were exchanged…
Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2017Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2018And with a kiss it was official!  Married!!!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2019Mr & Mrs!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2020Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2093Beylah and Chris’ wedding bands. Chris’ band was passed down to him from his late father.
Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2021Beylah and Chris thought of everything to give their guests an amazing experience! Extra blankets, lovely drinks (Does Beylah not have the prettiest handwriting!?) and even games!!!

Lawn Games: Having fun lawn games during our cocktail hour was something we were really excited to do, and Chris took on the major projects of building some of them himself! He built a giant Jenga, as well as the ladder golf. It was a lot of work with tons of sanding all of those pieces (as well as some fun test runs playing in my parents backyard), but it was so worth it to see our guests having fun on our wedding day!

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2022Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2127Lifelong buddies and their partners- quite a crew of amazing people!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2099Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2098Everyone was having so much fun playing!!  Best cocktail party ever!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2118Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2023The life-sized Jenga was a huge hit!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2024Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2025Ummm, sorry Chris!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2094Sandwich hug!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2027The Ralston Retreat Center also has a resident doggy who roamed around giving love and helping with clean up 😉Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2028Greg, a die-hard Yankee fan had to really check his sports ego at the door to capture Chris wearing Boston Red Sox socks on his wedding day!!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2026Inside the house, the dining room was beautifully decorated. Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2029

Wooden Escort Card Holders: For these, Chris and I scavenged for long fallen branches in Marin, and then took them home where Chris hand cut them into individual escort card holders! I designed the actual cards to fit in, another great team effort.

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Table Numbers: Chris had lots of fun with these! Since we are lovers of the outdoors and nature, Chris designed each table “number” to be a native California tree (ones we had seen together during our first ten years of adventuring), and found fun tree facts to put on each card. Super dorky, but super us!

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2034Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2035While everyone else was getting their seats for dinner, the now married Beylah and Chris got to relax on the steps for a moment and enjoy the scenery. Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2036Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2037Beylah and Chris welcomed their guests and poked fun at themselves for how long they waited to get married! I’m sure they were constantly asked (I know Greg and I were!) so why not have a little fun with it!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2038Beylah’s Mom did a big HOORAY that Chris was now finally her son-in-law!  Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2039Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2040Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2121Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2043Chris’ mom carried the running joke off without a hitch saying that she told Chris when he was younger that he wasn’t allow to get married til he was 30!

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2042Next up was Chris’ best man who shared hysterical stories of their past together… basically involving video games!
Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2044Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2045Beylah’s sister her Matron of Honor then gave a toast recalling childhood stories and how much she admires Beylah!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2046Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2120Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2047Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2048Next up was one of Beylah’s dearest friends who recalled the first movie they saw together at 10 and how she even still had the tickets from it!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2049Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2050Last but not least, Beylah’s grandfather stood up and gave a grand welcome to Chris into their family!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2051After toasts everyone enjoyed a delicious meal created by the talented A Fork Full of Earth!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2052Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2053At the Ralston Retreat Center- the dancing happens in the adjacent room to the dining area.  Everyone headed over for the first dance.Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2054Beylah and Chris, both a little shy of the limelight, did a short first dance before they asked their friends and family to join them on the dance floor!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2055Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2057Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2056Top right and bottom right of this image- two of my past brides and grooms!  Love seeing familiar faces at weddings!!!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2123The Hora! Hands down, chairs up- one of my favorite parts of a Jewish wedding!
Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2059Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2062Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2063Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2064Beylah in this picture is trying to get Chris to grab the napkin! This nods to an old Jewish custom back from the days when the men and woman could not touch when dancing.  The napkin allowed them to touch… without touching. Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2065They have strong friends- they were up there for a long time! No complaints from me! Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2066Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2067The guys got a little crazy! So much fun!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2068Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2069With the first dance and the Hora done it was now time to dance the night away! Shaun of Toasts & Bells (a dynamic team) did a wonderful job of keeping the dance floor going!  Rachelle also sang during the ceremony and the cocktail hour and had everyone in awe. Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2070Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2082Parents out dancing!  With their little guy sleeping nearby in the other room they were able to take a few spins on the dance floor while also keeping any eye on the monitor!
Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2084Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2085Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2071Dancing at a wedding should only be interrupted by one thing…. sugar! Look at this display of yumminess!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2072How adorable is this cake with the bears on top?!  Delicious sweet treats created by Teeny Cakes.
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Favors: Chris’s mom made dozens of delicious baklava (a Greek tradition of course!) using an old family recipe that we used as our favors.

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2075Photo booth fun!

Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2078All sugared up, the dance floor was in full swing again! Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2079Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2080Can you name the song they are dancing to?!?!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2081Awww, Chris and his Mom!
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Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2087Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2088Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2089Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2090Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2091Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2095Such a great team! Appropriate that they love to high 5 each other!Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2096Last dance! So much fun to be surrounded and celebrated by your friends and family….Ralston White retreat wedding Susannah Gill_2097…then smooshed!

Beylah & Chris, thank you so much for inviting us up to photograph your wedding! We were so inspired by your love for each other, your impressive craftiness and the beauty of Mill Valley!

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Holman Ranch Wedding~ Carly & Kevin

Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1804On a beautiful sunny day, Carly & Kevin celebrated their love with family and friends at the amazing Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley. Carly and Kevin are as fun and sweet as they are one darn good looking couple!!! I knew their wedding would be a blast just from the fun we had on their engagement session! Carly & Kevin are up for anything and love adventures….in fact later in this post you will even see them sitting in a tree- yes you read that right!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1805Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1891Oh Holman Ranch, how pretty you are! Holman Ranch is such an incredible place to get married. It’s full of rustic charm and everywhere you look there is something for your eyes to marvel at. There are also places to stay there so you and your family and friends can enjoy the property to its fullest.Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1806Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1812Carly’s beautiful dress which she also wore with a lace top, adding a romantic touch.

Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1813Jeanne Eckard did a wonderful job with the floral decorations, I love the mix of textures and colors she used.

Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1807The girls got dressed in the bridal room and honestly, they could have just played “getting ready” all day. These girls were having so much fun listening to music, taking pictures and getting all glammed up!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1916

Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1809Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1810Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1917Carly’s cousin Cammy on the far right is co-owner and designer of Show Me Your Mumu clothing line. The rompers were amazing and also a perfect gift for your ladies andddd great for getting ready as you can get out of them and into your dress without messing up your hair and makeup! Their latest line included bridesmaids dresses!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1814

Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1815Carly was dressed by her sisters and her mother and they were on a rollercoaster of emotions- they went from crying to laughing over and over! And that is exactly what I love about a wedding day!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1816Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1817Dad showed up looking so handsome with a big smile at seeing Carly in her dress!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1818The ladies! So pretty!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1819Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1820Stunning!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1821Guys getting ready was a much simpler and quicker task which they did in the last few minutes before they left for the church. Men have it so easy- get dressed, brush teeth and maybe some gel in the hair?Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1822Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1823Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1824Going to the chapel and I’m going to get maRRRRRRRRied! Going to the chapel……Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1825Carly and Kevin chose to get married at the Carmel Mission, a lovely church filled with history and quaint charm.Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1826Carly’s brother Jackson sneaks in to give his sister a big hug before the ceremony!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1827The little flower girl with her rosey cheeks and an angelic smile melted the hearts of everyone in attendance!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1828Look at Kevin and his big smile at seeing his gorgeous bride!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1829Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1830Carmel Mission- Susannah Gill_1831Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1832Carly & Kevin were all smiles during their ceremony!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1838Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1833Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1834Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1835The priest, Father Bob Fambrini, that married Carly and Kevin is a dear friend of Carly’s family. In fact he married Carly’s parents and also baptized Carly and her siblings!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1836Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1837Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1839This church, so pretty!

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Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1842I love the excitement as Carly listens to the Father announcing them as husband and wife!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1915Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1843Married!!!!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1844Kevin can’t contain his enthusiasm and breaks out into a celebration dance!!!!  Showboating how lucky he is to marry Carly!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1845Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1846Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1847For a moment I got them to stand still…..Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1848…then they all started celebrating again!!!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1849With all the festivities planned for the day, we had a whole 15 minutes to take portraits. It’s in a situation like this that I’m grateful I have done an engagement session with the couple! So between the practice we have already had, the killer light and this happily married couple- we got the job done!!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1851Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1850Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1852Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1918Thinking the answer might be “no” I  asked Carly and Kevin if they wanted to climb into the tree, they looked at me, shrugged and their answer was “yes” of course! I should’ve known!!!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1854Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1855Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1856Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1857Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1858Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1859And just like that we were done and they were swept away to their cocktail party on their ranch chariot!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1860Back at the ranch, the guest were enjoying cocktail hour and the glory of Holman Ranch and Carmel Valley.Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1861I love this creative way to showcase the table place cards. The boxes were filled with lavender!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1863Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1864Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1865Holman Ranch has a few hearts made out of metal that made perfect props!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1866Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1867What a setting for a wedding celebration! Wooden boxes filled with gorgeous flowers was the perfect compliment to the property.Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1868Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1869Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1870Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1871Mr. & Mrs. Riley!!!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1872Carly’s Dad welcomed everyone from near and far…even friends from Australia were there!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1873Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1874Father Bob said a blessing.Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1875It was then time for toasts! I love the toasts! Carly’s older sister started off followed by her “wombmate” her twin sister!  They had everyone laughing and crying, they were amazing!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1876Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1877Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1878Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1879Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1880Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1881Although Kevin’s best man had a tough act to follow, he did such a great job of giving us some scoop on Kevin from when they were kids!!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1882Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1883Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1884Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1885Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1886It was now time for the feast and what a feast it was!                Catering always does such an amazing job!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1887Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1888A sweet little treat for their friends!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1889I really liked how simplistic this cake was, perfectly decorated with the succulents.Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1890How could they not have games at their wedding?!?!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1892It was now time for Carly & Kevin’s first dance as husband and wife.Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1893Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1894Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1895Carly’s turn with Dad….Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1896Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1897Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1898…and then with her brother Jackson!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1899Last it was Kevin’s turn to have a dance and a spin with his Mom!  As a Mama to a little boy, this always melts my heart to watch!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1900Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1901Then it was that time!!!  Everyone had so much fun dancing!!!!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1902Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1904Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1905Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1906The sun had set but the candles on the cake table made for a beautiful glow as these two cut their cake!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1907Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1908Back to the party!!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1909Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1910Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1911Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1912We left Carly & Kevin dancing the night away and celebrating with all their wonderful family and friends!  Carly & Kevin, thank you so much for the great honor of witnessing and photographing your wedding day! It was as fun as it was beautiful, a perfect reflection of you two!!!Holman Ranch Wedding- Susannah Gill_1913Here a list of the amazing vendor team!!

Wedding Coordinator: Engaged and Inspired

Hair and Make Up: The Hair & Makeup Co.

Caterer:  Paradise Catering

Videographer: Frame 44 Weddings

Florist: Jeanne Eckard Flowers & Design

Music: Belmont Entertainment

Cake: Layers




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Carly & Kevin’s Presido Engagement Photowalk!

When I met up with Carly & Kevin in the Presidio in San Francisco I knew we were going for a photo walk.  What happened instead was much more like a photo adventure! From the woods to the beach we laughed hysterically, got a few bug bites, scaled a log pile and I was even assisted down from a rocky ledge from a man not wearing any pants. And NO it was not Kevin.  And YES we were at the notorious Bakers Beach!  After all the fun we climbed up a huge set of stairs (I’m talking like West Coast Rocky style) to get back to the main road. When we looked back we saw the most glorious sunset. What an incredible way to end the adventure!

These two lovies are getting married next week at the historic Carmel Mission and then celebrating at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley, one of the most beautiful wedding venues I have ever seen. Looking forward to capturing some wedding magic with Carly and Kevin and working with the great team of vendors including: wedding planner Allison from Engaged and Inspired,  Frame 44 Weddings on video, Paradise Catering providing the scrumptious food, Layers Sensational Cakes creating the cake, Jean Eckard Flowers & Design on the blooms and Belmont Entertainment providing the music!

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[…] « Carly & Kevin’s Presido Engagement Photowalk! […]

Piedmont Community Hall Wedding~ Hidemi & Michael!

Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1516If the first wedding of the season is a sign of what’s to come- we are in for an amazing wedding season!

Hidemi & Michael are amazing. I can’t think of a better word to describe them.  They are so full of life! They love fashion, they love to travel, they love music & great food- they even love going on motorcycle adventures!  They are living life to the fullest and with hearts full of love for each other, their families and friends!

Hidemi & Michael celebrated this great love of theirs at the incredible Piedmont Community Hall in Oakland!

Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1517Hidemi’s Vera Wang dress was a piece of art and looked stunning on her! She paired it with some sparkly Enzo Angiolini shoes and walked around in them all day better than I can walk in flip flops!

Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1518Hidemi smiled throughout getting ready- if she had any jitters you would have never known.  She laughed and enjoyed every second of preparing to see Michael for the first look.  Hidemi’s hair and make up were skillfully done by Murata Toshi of Image StudiosPiedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1519

“The fabric pinned into my dress was a special gift from my Maid of Honor, Priti, for my “something blue”.  It is a section of our school uniform from boarding school where we met. Alumni often put their uniform in a shadow box or sometimes pull it out for reunions, so it was SHOCKING that she was willing to cut it up as a symbol of our friendship for almost 13 years.”-Hidemi

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“The veil was a DIY project. I modified a veil I found at a boutique by adding a blusher and gems that matched the original veil. I then added a tortoise shell vintage art deco haircomb from the 1930s that my mother and I found together out here in California to add a true splash of my own personal style.”-Hidemi

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Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1523 The guys got dressed at the hotel before they headed over to the hall so their getting ready was a little less complicated. Michael helped out one of his groomsmen with a specific knot, thanks to the help of an iphone and Google!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1524Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1525Michael and his Best Man prep the rings.

Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1526 Michael’s view as he approached Hidemi for the first look, breathtaking!!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1527 Such sweet anticipation!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1528Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1529Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1530Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1531Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1532Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1533 These two were just beaming at each other! At a certain point I had to interrupt them because they were needing time to head off for portraits and to meet the bridal party! So much admiration!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1534Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1535Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1536Hidemi is a woman that knows how to walk in heels! Even though her shoes were high and the terrain was not level,  she was able to move easily throughout these stunning paths!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1537Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1538Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1539
Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1541 We met up with Hidemi & Michael’s bridal party, who were all so much fun, so sweet and as you can see even the men were very cooperative!!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1542Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1543Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1544Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1545Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1547Look at this bouquet!!!!!  Hidemi asked to have Peruvian lilies in the bridal bouquet. They were special to Hidemi because they are her Grandmother’s favorite as they reminded her Grandmother of her mother who died in WWII when she was a young girl.Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1546

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The scene was perfectly set in a serene little Redwood grove.
Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1550Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1549Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1551Michael enters  followed by his groomsmen. Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1552This little sweetie pie was an incredible flower girl!  She also perfectly looked up for the camera!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1553I love this image captured by Greg of Hidemi and her Mom waiting with anticipation til it was their turn to walk down the aisle!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1554Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1555Even though Michael and Hidemi had been taking pictures just 20 minutes prior- nothing can take away from the emotion of seeing the woman you love walking down the aisle to marry you!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1556Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1557Those looks!!!!  Love the way a couple looks at each other in those first few ceremony moments!
Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1650Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1560It was now time for Michael and Hidemi to say their vows that they wrote themselves. Michael, you had 6 woman hanging on your EVERY word in this image and I’m sure every woman in the audience! Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1561Michael’s Mom!
Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1563Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1564Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1565Hidemi’s Grandmother and Mother. Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1569So adorable seeing Hidemi look back at her Mother!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1566Exchanging of the rings. Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1567Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1568
Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1571And kiss that beautiful bride!!!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1572Married!!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1573Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1574Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1575Cocktail hour was back up at the tea house.  What a lovely place for some delicious appetizers, drinks and enjoying some music! Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1576Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1577Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1578
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“The kimono I wore at the cocktail hour is SUPER special to me and truly the thing that Michael and I really wanted to ensure could happen here in the United States. We chose to showcase the Japanese tradition of wearing the bright colored furisode because it was handed down to me from my mother. She wore it on her wedding day as well. In our culture we wear this kimono when we come of age at 20 and are only allowed to wear it when we are single and unmarried. The wedding day is the last day I will wear that beautiful kimono as tradition allows – in Japan you generally change outfits several times in a wedding. From this point forward I can only wear a kimono with short sleeves rather than the sleeves that hang down the full length of my skirt (My mother and grandmother wore those types of kimonos at the wedding, black and then later the colorful type. Both adorn our family crest). The kimono I wore is a designer piece and features a belt that has gold & platinum foil thread patterns and the kimono is 100% hand-woven silk.”- Hidemi

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“The cranes were folded by me and Michael, my mother, my grandmother, and my bridesmaid Brittany (she learned just to help me!). In Japan folding 1000 paper cranes is for good luck and each crane is supposed to be folded with an individual wish for the bride and groom’s future. The tradition has morphed over the years, but for us it was a way to share Japanese customs and symbols with our American friends and family. It ended up being more than that as it became quite a group project and pulled largely together by the teamwork of my family behind the scenes. I really wanted to hold on to my culture despite marrying in the American traditions.”-Hidemi

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Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1589Down below the tables were elegantly set with lovely floral center pieces!  The gold colored chairs were the perfect accent to the scene!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1590Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1588Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1587Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1596The pretty and yummy cake was created by Delicieuse Princesse Bakery.Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1642It was no surprise to me that Hidemi & Michael would also have very unique wedding bands. Their style is amazing- even down to their rings! Rings created by the talented Grace Lee out of LA.

Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1593 Such a beautiful venue for a wedding!
Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1594Hidemi & Michael, announced into their reception…Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1591…to the sounds of bells ringing out that were on every table! Of course even the little ones had something special for them at their table- a wedding coloring book!  How sweet!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1595Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1597It didn’t take long for the sun to dip down behind the trees. The mood was perfectly set by the lighting created by Love In the Mix.  Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1598After a wonderful dinner, everyone sat back and enjoyed listening to stories of Hidemi & Michael from their family friend as well as the Maid of Honor and Best Man. Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1599Michael’s sisters!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1600Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1605Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1601
Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1602Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1603Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1606Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1607Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1608Cheers! There wasn’t a dry eye in sight!

Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1643Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1609Cake cutting and frosting smooshing… Michael’s lucky Hidemi played it nice!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1613A band with great sound and style, The Cosmo Alleycats!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1616
Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1648Surrounded by their family and friends Hidemi and Michael had their first dance as husband and wife!Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1612Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1614Piedmont Community Hall-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1618Look how much fun the Moms were having!!!!

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Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling_1651Hidemi and Michael- we wish you so much love and happiness for your future together!  Thank you for kicking off our wedding season with great style and fun!!

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Teen Kitchen Project in Santa Cruz

Teen Kitchen Project-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling-1000 A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to spend a couple of hours in a busy kitchen here in Santa Cruz. This is where the Teen Kitchen Project creates their delicious and nutritious meals with love!   When I arrived no one even saw that I had arrived as everyone was busy and happily working. What I noticed was teenagers scrubbing and prepping food, adults assisting, looking at lists and recipes- all to the sounds of Adam Levine playing on the radio.

I first heard of the Teen Kitchen Project last year when I attended a local charity fundraiser, the Santa Cruz chapter of 100 Women That Care.  The basis of this charity is that every 3 months, 100 women get together and pick a charity to donate $100 each to.  The result, one lucky charity goes back to their organization with $10,000.00!  It was the Teen Kitchen Project that won the money that night!

I was so enchanted by this organization that I offered to see if they would like some photography to document their hard work. So glad the answer was yes!

Here are some reasons why (taken from the Teen Kitchen Project website). For fifteen years Angela Farley has been guiding young people at a local Santa Cruz school, inspiring a love of learning in a classroom chock full of energy, laughter, and exploration. In 2011 her world changed forever when her youngest son Charlie was diagnosed with a rare lung cancer. Like any mother would, she supported her son through surgeries and chemotherapy with love, patience, and hope. After treatment ended (her son has a good prognosis), she vowed to help others still on their cancer journey by finding a way to give them nourishing, delicious food, and to lessen the isolation they may feel when in treatment by connecting them with their community.

Angela made her dream a reality by forming connections between two groups within the community:  families facing a serious illness and young people. Here in Santa Cruz, high school students need to do 40 hours of community service to graduate. Besides the importance of giving back, community service also helps you gain perspective on your own reality by understanding others. In addition to that, these teens are also learning about healthy food choices and how to cook.

Meals are prepared in a certified commercial kitchen and are designed by experienced chefs. Ingredients are organic and locally sourced.

Enjoy a look into this busy kitchen filled with so much goodness! As of today they have served 29,792 meals!!!!

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Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling- New Years Eve Wedding_1491Teen Kitchen Project-Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling-1020The teens write cards to send with each of the meals while their food is cooking.
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What impresses me most about Angela is that many people might have the idea to create a charity such as this but it’s very few that have the execution to make it a reality!

If your family or a family you know is in need of this wonderful service please click here.

If you would like to donate your money or time (cooking, helping, washing, driving meals, data entry, etc) to Teen Kitchen Project please click here. 

Angela, thank you for being such an outstanding example of giving back and community leadership! 

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