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On a beautiful sunny California day Xenia, Alex and I went into a bar… sounds like the beginning of a joke but it’s not. It was the beginning of some serious fun and photo inspiration to take their engagement pictures on what I like to call a photowalk. This place, Trials Pub in San Jose, has so much character! And it was clear the second we walked in that these two have enjoyed many times there. You could feel the history they have there. There is nothing like your local watering hole. It reminded me of stories my parents would tell about pubs back in England and Ireland. Places not just about getting drinks but about creating community. A place where people can come together and let the outside world slip away.

For these pictures the pub was not yet open, so we had the place to ourselves thanks to the bartender that let us in.  Away from the eyes of strangers on the street watching us take pictures, I could observe the ease that Xenia and Alex have with each other.  The way Alex looks at Xenia- every girls dream. He makes Xenia beam with such a bright and sometimes sassy smile- and that is every guys dream! These two are perfect for each other.


san-jose-engagement-pictures-susannah-gill_0153We did make it out into the daylight! Though we could have stay in that pub alllllll day long, it was so cozy and welcoming.  Just down the street we found this gorgeous light but it had a yucky parking behind it. But with the right lens and their massive cuteness to distract you, one wouldn’t even know it!san-jose-engagement-pictures-susannah-gill_0155I left these two heading off into downtown San Jose to enjoy the rest of their evening! Perfect that in this last image Alex was admiring his beautiful soon to be wife and Xenia was smiling from ear to ear with a happiness that only Alex can give her!

These two lovies are tying the knot soon at Testarossa Winery and I’m so excited! I can’t wait to photograph all their little glances, smiles and eyebrow raises that they give each other! Congratulations Xenia and Alex!

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Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0015

Welcome back to Smitha and Miraj’s wedding celebration part 2! If you happened to miss the first blog post of the wedding ceremony please check it out here… but then come right back!

After Smitha & Miraj’s wedding ceremony at The Mountain Winery, everyone headed to The Fairmont Hotel in San Jose.  Way up high in the Penthouse that was so big that it could have housed a small village, Smitha was on one side with her ladies and Miraj was on the other with the guys.

Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0016Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0017Smitha had a whole new hair style, make up and another sensational outfit!
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Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0127Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0021Smitha set up a beautiful table with gifts for her ladies!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0022Tears were rolling and champagne was popping!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0023Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0024Down the hall the boys were enjoying a game of strategy- washed down with beer. Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0025Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0026Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0027The guys got some gifts too, including these fun, perhaps maturity level appropriate socks! Just kidding guys!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0028Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0029
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0030Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0031Cheers!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0032In the middle the two groups met up for a big group picture!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0033With the cocktail hour under way, we stole into the hallway for some portraits in Smitha and Miraj’s reception outfits. Having done a First Look in the morning, we did just a short 15 minutes of pictures here. They nailed it!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0034Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0035Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0036Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0037Smitha’s intricate henna created a Peacock when her hands were put together.Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0038Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0039Check out this wedding weekend celebration lineup! Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0040Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0041WOW!!! Look at this ballroom! Such an incredible job by all those who worked so hard to create this elegant evening!
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0042Smitha and Miraj’s sweetheart table had a little flower wall behind it consisting of over 1,000 roses! Besides being so beautiful to look at, it smelled amazing!
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0044Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0045Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0046All the other floral arrangements were just as magical too!
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0048Water Lily Pond FloristIndian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0050Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0053Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0051Those stunning glittering Rose Gold tablecloths made a great ring backdrop!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0055It was time to celebrate! The siblings and nieces were announced into the ballroom.Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0057Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0056Followed by Miraj’s parents…Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0058…then Smitha’s parents!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0059The main attraction then danced their way though a line created by their friends!
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0061The newlyweds!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0062The two families then danced together on the dance floor!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0063Everyone took their seats and I couldn’t help but smile seeing Smitha and Miraj taking a selfie at their sweetheart table! Love it! This to me is part of our history.  One day their grandchildren might look at this picture and say “What were you holding in your hand?!”Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0064The toasts at this wedding were some of the best and funniest I have ever heard! The first toast was given by Miraj’s sister and brother. Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0065Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0066Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0068Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0069Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0071Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0072Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0074Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0075Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0076Followed by Smitha’s brother. Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0077Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0070Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0079Next up was Miraj’s parents.
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0081Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0082Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0083Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0080Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0084Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0085Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0086Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0088Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0089Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0132Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0138Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0093Great job by everyone expressing their love and happiness for Smitha and Miraj! One of my favorite lines from the toasts was, “May your only pain be Champagne!”Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0094Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0087Smitha and Miraj spoke last thanking everyone so sincerely for coming from near and far to celebrate with them.
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0095Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0096Smitha and Miraj looked too good for me not to ask them to glam it up for me at the sweetheart table!
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0097Smitha and Miraj then descended onto the ballroom and had their first dance as husband and wife!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0098Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0100
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0101Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0102Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0103Smitha was then joined by her father and Miraj by his mother for a side by side parent dance.Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0104Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0105Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0106Without a second to spare, the dance floor started up and everyone joined in!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0107
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0109Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0110Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0111This little one was the life of the party!
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0113Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0133Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0114Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0118This wedding reception was SO much fun! The high energy was so contagious! Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0119Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0120Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0122Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0136Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0137Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0123Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0116Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0125As we were heading out the door, we looked back and saw this. A full-on dance party with so much enthusiasm, perfect to celebrate Smitha and Miraj’s marriage! Smitha and Miraj, thank you for the incredible honor of documenting your wedding! We wish you a lifetime of love, fun and velvet cupcakes!


Venue: Fairmont Hotel

Wedding Planner: Avant Planners

Caterer: Jalsa Catering and Events

Henna artist:Keyuri’s

Florist: Water Lily Pond

Linens: Fine Linen Creation

Hair and Makeup:

Videographer: Kindlewood Films

Photographer: Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling










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Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4858Within the first 20 minutes of meeting Smitha and Miraj they bought me a Red Velvet cupcake. Not just any Red Velvet cupcake- the best one I’ve ever had!  From observing these two on their wedding day with their friends and family, that just seems to be how they operate, fully enjoying life and celebrating it with others! Cupcakes included!

Let’s take a second to move away from cupcakes and talk about this incredibly beautiful wedding! The Mountain Winery  has endless views that were the perfect backdrop for this Mandap brilliantly created by Water Lily Pond. This Mandap was extraordinary!!

The events of this wedding day were incredibly orchestrated by Avant Planners. I cannot rave enough about them!

Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4859Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4860Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4861Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4862Smitha and Miraj’s wedding day was packed full of events that started early in the day. They decided to have a first look in the part of Mt. Winery called The Meadow. Here Miraj is waiting patiently as we get Smitha into place. Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4863Smitha, looking so lovely, is in place and ready to go!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4864The best- those moments right before you are about to see each other on your wedding day!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4865Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4866Those smiles!  That view! Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4867Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4868Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4869Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4870Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4871Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4872After taking a minute to enjoy the views, Miraj left for his Baraat and Smitha returned to the bridal suite. Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4873Miraj’s Baraat started at the bottom of the hill.  He was greeted by his Mom with a huge hug to start off the celebration!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4874With a DJ on wheels and dhal players keeping the beat- all the groom’s family and friends, they made their way joyously up the hill!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4875Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4876Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4877Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4878Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4879As they approached the top of the hill, Smitha’s family was waiting for them!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4880The Milni took place next, a ceremony where both families exchange well wishes on meeting each other.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4882Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4883Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4884The guests involved in the Baraat then found their seats.  Sweets were provided as well as umbrellas and fans to stay cool from the midday sun.
Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4885Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4886Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4887An abundance of adorableness!!! Smitha’s sister with her 3 daughters and Smitha’s sister in law with her daughter, came down the aisle first and spread some happiness!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4888Smitha’s entrance was so dramatic!  She was carried in by family members on a Dholi, which tradition says is to treat her like a Princess. Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4889Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4890Smitha was then escorted down the aisle by her parents. Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4891Miraj’s view of Smitha was concealed by a veil held by his family members. Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4892Waiting patiently!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4893Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4894The veil was lowered in an exciting moment where Smitha and Miraj got to see each other. Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4895Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4896They then exchanged garlands, called Jaimala, signifying accepting each other and respecting each other as partners.

Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4897The wedding was conducted in Hindu and consisted of many small ceremonies. What I love most about Indian weddings is the involvement of both sets of families in the ceremonies.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4898Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4899Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4900Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4901Smitha’s sister carries out a tray of fruit into the audience for blessings.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4902Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4903Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4904Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4905Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4907Miraj ties a Mangalsutra necklace around Smitha to symbolize marriage.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4906Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4910Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4909Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4911

During Kanyadanam, the father of the bride places her hand in the groom’s hand requesting him to accept her as an equal partner.

Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4912Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4913Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4914Miraj and Smitha then spoke beautiful, touching and funny words to each other!
Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4915Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4917Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4918Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4919Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4920During the Havan ceremony, the couple invokes Agni, the god of Fire, to witness their commitment to each other. Crushed sandalwood, herbs, sugar, rice and oil are offered to the ceremonial fire.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4921Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4916Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4922During Hasth Melap, the bride and groom offer the rice as a sacrifice into the fire.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4923Smitha and Miraj take seven steps together representing the vows and promises they are making to each other. Here are what each of the 7 steps represents.

First step: To respect and honor each other

Second step: To share each other’s joy and sorrow

Third step: To trust and be loyal to each other

Fourth step: To cultivate appreciation for knowledge, values, sacrifice and service

Fifth step: To reconfirm their vow of purity, love family duties and spiritual growth

Sixth step: To follow principles of Dharma (righteousness)

Seventh step: To nurture an eternal bond of friendship and love

Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4924Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4925Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4926Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4927Smitha and Miraj are then asked to smear a paste made from cumin seeds and jaggery on each other while taking a vow to face the future together. The jaggery represents the sweetness life may have and the cumin represents the bittiness it may have as well. Having smeared this on each other it symbolizes that their relationship is unbreakable and inseparable.
Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4928Aashirvad, a parental blessing, the parents of the bride and groom give their blessings to the couple. The couple touches the feet of their parents as a sign of respect.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4929A fun moment that everyone enjoyed was when Smitha and Miraj went back and forth pouring and dumping the rice on each other’s heads! This ritual is called Talambraalu and this signifies joy and happiness in marriage, along with prosperity Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4930Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4931Miraj places a ring on Smitha’s toe and finger.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4932The wedding ceremony has come to an end!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4933The newlyweds!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4934Miraj sweeps Smitha up and carries her away!!!

Click here for part 2 of this wedding day story!




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Susannah Gill_4724I first met JD years ago while photographing his brother Greg’s wedding.  JD was the best man and he gave a hysterical toast that had everyone laughing. I remember Tammy from that day too- every time I looked at her she was smiling and cracking up over something!  So I was more than thrilled when I was hired to photograph Tammy & JD’s wedding!  Years later from that wedding, these two are still smiling and making everyone laugh. Their enthusiasm for having a great time is contagious. Their wedding felt like a big fun picnic and I imagined that is exactly what they were hoping for. Family, friends, games and an abundance of fun to celebrate their love!Susannah Gill_4725Tammy and JD both got ready at the Saratoga Inn- their rooms just right next door to each other!  Susannah Gill_4726Susannah Gill_4727Tammy’s Mom and sister bring down the dress- it’s time! Tammy is going to be doing a quick step in as later you will see her getting ready again- next time in the forest!Susannah Gill_4728Susannah Gill_4729Why girlfriends are so awesome and important!

Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4935Just next door the guys were doing their thing. Susannah Gill_4731How awesome are those groomsmen gifts?!

Susannah Gill_4730Looking sharp JD!Susannah Gill_4732Susannah Gill_4733Susannah Gill_4734Off to Saratoga Springs! Susannah Gill_4735The guys! Susannah Gill_4736The beautiful ladies! Susannah Gill_4737Tammy dreamed of getting ready in the forest with a mirror. Dreams do come true and it was so cool!  Surrounded by trees, a stream and her ladies- Tammy finished getting ready for her First Look with JD.

Susannah Gill_4738Susannah Gill_4739Susannah Gill_4740It was time for the First Look. Tammy’s ladies left the scene while her sister stayed back to help. While Tammy and her sister hid, Greg and I got JD into position on the bridge.  Once we were in position we gave the signal.  The energy in the air was amazing, First Looks are always so exciting!Susannah Gill_4741Susannah Gill_4742The tap- the smiles- love it!Susannah Gill_4743Susannah Gill_4744Susannah Gill_4745Such a sweet moment when JD sees Tammy!Susannah Gill_4746Susannah Gill_4748Perfection!
Susannah Gill_4750Susannah Gill_4751Susannah Gill_4752Susannah Gill_4749

Susannah Gill_4754Tammy and JD had such a fun bridal party!Susannah Gill_4755Susannah Gill_4756Haha, they know how to make the tough faces too!  Well…everyone but someone 😉Susannah Gill_4757Susannah Gill_4758Susannah Gill_4759Tammy’s flower girls arrived and were so excited to see Tammy! This picture just melts my heart!Susannah Gill_4760Tammy and JD’s wedding took place at the Longbridge section of Saratoga Springs. Tammy’s Mom did such a great job bringing together all the signage and decorations to make their wedding so personalized and beautiful.Susannah Gill_4761Tammy and JD’s friends dress up as the characters from ‘Dumb and Dumber.’Susannah Gill_4762Susannah Gill_4763JD escorted both the Moms down the aisle! So cute!Susannah Gill_4764Next up was the bridal party!Susannah Gill_4765Susannah Gill_4766Susannah Gill_4767Susannah Gill_4768Tammy’s brother with JD’s sister!Susannah Gill_4769The Best Man, JD’s brother with the Matron of Honor, Tammy’s sister.Susannah Gill_4770The flower girls came through spreading so much joy and of course flower petals!Susannah Gill_4771The handsome young ring bearer took his job very seriously and the rings arrived safety!Susannah Gill_4772Tammy was escorted down the aisle by her Dad. Susannah Gill_4773Susannah Gill_4774Susannah Gill_4775Such a sweet moment!Susannah Gill_4776So pretty!  The dress color Tammy chose for her bridesmaids was just perfect amongst all the greenery of the venue. Susannah Gill_4777Susannah Gill_4778Susannah Gill_4779One of the reasons why Tammy and JD fell in love with this venue is the old bridge that becomes part of the stunning backdrop. Susannah Gill_4780Susannah Gill_4781Susannah Gill_4782Something funny happened, I’m not sure what but I love the way Tammy laughs, full of happiness and great joy!Susannah Gill_4783Susannah Gill_4784Susannah Gill_4785Vows and rings were exchanged….Susannah Gill_4786JD’s ring proved to be a little harder to get on!Susannah Gill_4787Kiss the bride!!!!Susannah Gill_4788Susannah Gill_4789With great enthusiasm these two ran up the aisle and into the sunshine!Susannah Gill_4790Love it!!!Susannah Gill_4791The bridal party, this time with the little ones too! Susannah Gill_4792And then just these precious little ones!Susannah Gill_4793It was time for the cocktail party! Drinks were poured and the games began!Susannah Gill_4794Susannah Gill_4795Susannah Gill_4796Susannah Gill_4797Susannah Gill_4798Susannah Gill_4799Susannah Gill_4800Susannah Gill_4801Susannah Gill_4803Susannah Gill_4804Meanwhile, the tables were transformed with the wedding decor! The place looked stunning!Susannah Gill_4805Susannah Gill_4806Susannah Gill_4807The sweetheart table was extra special with their personalized champagne flutes, forks and this fun plate!Susannah Gill_4808
Susannah Gill_4810The view of the reception area from the other side of the bridge. Susannah Gill_4811Tammy and JD ran into their reception too… Tammy chose my favorite kind of shoes to wear! Susannah Gill_4812Susannah Gill_4813Susannah Gill_4814Tammy’s Mom started off the toasts. Susannah Gill_4815Susannah Gill_4816Susannah Gill_4817Susannah Gill_4818Followed by JD’s Dad.Susannah Gill_4819Susannah Gill_4820Susannah Gill_4821Susannah Gill_4822Susannah Gill_4823Next up was Tammy’s sister. Susannah Gill_4824Susannah Gill_4825Susannah Gill_4826Susannah Gill_4827Susannah Gill_4828And last but not least, JD’s brother and best man!Susannah Gill_4829Susannah Gill_4830Susannah Gill_4831Last up was Tammy and JD who thanked everyone for making their day so special!Susannah Gill_4832Susannah Gill_4833Susannah Gill_4834The sun went down and the light faded fast. But that was more than fine as the venue was transformed into a magical place with twinkly lights all around!  The fire was also lit making it time for everyone’s favorite- S’mores!Susannah Gill_4835Susannah Gill_4836Tammy and JD started their first dance off like everyone else- sweet and slow- when suddenly it wasn’t…
Susannah Gill_4838The two started swinging each other around as the crowd cheered them on!Susannah Gill_4839Susannah Gill_4840On top of a tower of cupcakes sat the sweetest little cake. Behind that tower of YUM was an antique desk with its drawers filled with flowers and more treats! Everything was so beautiful AND delicious!Susannah Gill_4841Susannah Gill_4842Susannah Gill_4843Tammy and JD cut the cake!  Then Tammy had to make up for wiping JD’s face with frosting with a sweet kiss!Susannah Gill_4844Susannah Gill_4845Moving on to more traditions, Tammy threw her bouquet and JD went searching for a garter! Tammy’s expression is priceless!Susannah Gill_4846Susannah Gill_4847Perhaps not a true wedding tradition but I’d vote for it to become one. Good old Flip Cup! If you have played, you know the fun and if you have never played you are greatly missing out!Susannah Gill_4848As the evening moved on, the dance floor got moving!
Susannah Gill_4849Susannah Gill_4850Susannah Gill_4851As we left, the night was still going strong.  Everyone was having so much fun either dancing, playing games or enjoying endless sweets!  Tammy and JD, we wish you a lifetime of happiness, belly laughs and games- especially flip cup!

Hotel: The Inn at Saratoga

Dress: Bolee Bridal 

Venue & Caterer: Saratoga Springs 

DJ: Alex Wrigley

Cake and cupcakes: Icing on the Cake in Los Gatos

Photography: Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling






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Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4683

You fall in love with someone and decide to get married. You search and find the perfect venue, dress, suit, shoes, florist, photographer, invitations, caterer and on and on and on. Planning a wedding is a ton of work, so you better believe that every couple wants the perfect weather too. “Rain on your wedding day is good luck” … “Rain makes the wedding knot tighter”. Sure.

I think it came as a shock to everyone when the weather for Marisa & Zach’s Northern California wedding didn’t look so… wedding-like.  I’m sure like me, everyone was glued to that 10 day forecast, checking it everyday multiple times. The storm system was just not budging.

When the email came in that Plan B, the rain plan, was moving into effect, I think everyone involved with the wedding felt a little saddened.  Except I’m thinking the tent rental company, they kind of have to love Plan B!

BUT imagine this, what if Plan B was really Plan A+? Well I am here to show you that Plan B was like unicorns and rainbows- well actually just one rainbow. But an awesome rainbow!

Plan B was simply spectacular and this lovely couple deserved it all, especially that rainbow!

Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4507

VRBOJust down the road from the winery, Marisa got ready surrounded by her leading ladies at a lovely home they rented out from VRBO.
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4511Well there was one little dude, but with a smile like that he was allowed to hang with the ladies!

Brilliant Earth RingsMarisa and Zach made an ethical choice for their rings from Brilliant Earth, a company that only uses conflict free jewels. Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4515Since Marisa and Zach are both nurses, the stethoscope made the perfect little nest for the rings to be photographed!

Wash and Brushup CoMarisa’s hair looked so amazing, it was perfectly curled and braided by the talented Diadra of Wash & Brushup Co.
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4684It was time to go and the dress was in good hands with Marisa’s sister-in-law! Hotel Les MarsWhile all the girl primping was happening, the guys were getting ready at the Hotel Les Mars.Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4519The guys do not have to do much except watch sports, have a few drinks and eventually tie a tie and their shoes. Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4520Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4521Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4522But they do clean up nice!Arista Winery WeddingWhen I asked Marisa and Zach why they chose Arista Winery, they told me that when they visited other venues the actual place did not look as good as the pictures.  But when they arrived at Arista, the place was even better than the pictures! They loved the charm and beauty of it all and were blown away by the staff, especially wedding planners, Meredith and Taylor. Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4524The ladies tucked themselves away in the tasting room. As you can see it’s still not raining but the sky was threatening. Hayley Paige Wedding dressMarisa’s dress so masterfully created by Hayley Paige! Sure it was cool to hang it and get this image but this dress cannot be truly appreciated until you see it on Marisa! Jimmy Choo wedding shoesArista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4527Take a tip from this bride and stay on your getting ready timeline on your wedding day! She arrived at her venue with some time to hang out and enjoy herself with her ladies! Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4528Zach and his guys headed up the hill to the Pavilion to make sure he didn’t see Marisa. One of the incredible aspects of this venue is how the layout can be used for different parts of the wedding day. For this wedding, the ceremony was behind the tasting room but for other weddings the ceremony might be up the hill at the Pavilion.  There are so many options to customize your wedding at Arista. Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4529Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4531Back in the tasting room it was time for Marisa to get dressed!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4532Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4533Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4685Zach’s Mom and Marisa’s sister-in-law beamed with happiness!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4686Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4687Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4537Japanese garden at wineryWith the guys wayyyyy out of site, the ladies headed to the charming Japanese garden outside the tasting room for the last touches of getting ready. Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4539This dress! Marisa in this dress! Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4540Awwww, Mom’s little girl all grown up! Such a sweet moment!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4688Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4543Not only did Marisa have some time to hang with her ladies but we also had time to take just some pictures of her!  I was in photo heaven and secretly praising Mother Nature for holding on to her raindrops! Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4544Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4545The Bloomery Co.Can you believe this bouquet? Incredible! All the floral design and work was just stunning. Job well done by The Bloomery Co!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4550The ceremony was held at the Front Lawn.  It’s a space that’s perfect for a smaller wedding such as this or even a cocktail hour.  Everything looked so sensational and the sky just was making it even more exciting and dramatic!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4690Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4552Beautiful details everywhere you looked!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4553Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4554Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4547Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4548I even got some time to photograph the handsome groom! His sharp suit was created by Christian Roche. How cool is that under the collar detail!? No excuses now for forgetting the anniversary!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4549It was time for the ceremony to start.  The guys headed down and Marisa headed back to the tasting room. Hayley PaigeArista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4555Zach escorted his Mother down the aisle. Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4556Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4557Can you feel the love?! Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4558With music playing and excitement in the air, Marisa appeared into sight with her parents. Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4559Zach’s face erupted into the biggest smile at the first glimpse of his beautiful bride!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4560Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4561Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4562So much love at this wedding!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4564The ceremony began and was wonderfully officiated by their good friend Dean Baxter. Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4565Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4566Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4567Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4568Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4569Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4575Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4570Marisa and Zach exchanged vows…Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4571Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4572Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4573…then rings.
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4577With a stomp of a foot, Zach shattered the glass!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4578Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4579Then he kissed his bride!!!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4580Married!!!!!!!!! Mazel Tov!!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4581Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4582Whoot! Whoot!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4691While the newlyweds shared a few minutes together in their newlywed bliss, I got to spend some blissful minutes with this incredible bouquet!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4585The guests were taken up the hill to enjoy cocktail hour and we were busy having some fun photographing Marisa and Zach around the property and taking advantage of the dry weather.Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4586Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4587So much happiness!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4588Everywhere you turn at Arista there is a place to take pictures!  This venue is a DREAM for weddings!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4589And yes, this couple considered the pen that held the goats to be one of those places for pictures! They risked being bitten, stepping on poop and anything else that can happen with animals because they just love them so. Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4590And the animals loved them too and played nice!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4591Marisa wore her Mother’s veil! And with a little wind and some magic it performed so beautifully for some photographs!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4592We hopped on the Hummer driven by Meredith and headed up the hill. We were only halfway up when we were surrounded by the vineyards. The view seemed endless and was awe-inspiring. Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4593Of course we headed into them for some photographs, I mean this place is all about the wine!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4594Marisa’s Dad who was enjoying the said wine came by to say hello!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4595Besides the fact that these two were radiating such joy, do you notice anything?!?! The light changed. And just like that it became a sunny day! Mother nature decided to take her full gray clouds to the next town and let her rain drop! The sun delivered it’s wedding gift, some powerful and amazing rays of sunshine!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4596Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4692Sun + lavender + love!!! Yes!!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4598

Having resigned to the fact that it was probably going to rain, I had personally just been happy that it was dry during Marisa and Zach’s ceremony.  I kept saying in my head, “Just let them get married outside in dry weather. Just let them get married outside in dry weather. Just let them get married outside in dry weather. ” You get the drill.  It was a total unexpected bonus that the sun was out and lighting up Marisa’s glorious dress and shining down upon everyone!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4599Marisa and Zach strolled up the road soaking up the glory!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4600At the Pavilion, cocktail hour was underway. The views were amazing, the wine was delicious and everyone was celebrating the newlyweds and the good old California weather!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4601Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4604Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4602Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4603Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4605Marisa & Zach played their personalized Cornhole game!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4606Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4607Ha!  I bet those men had no idea that a photographer was creeping up behind them for the sake of taking a cool picture!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4608Plan B involved a tent. Was it needed?  Not for rain because it never did rain!  But I found that it provided a sense of intimate space that held everyone together and kept everyone cozy. Like one big group hug!  The tables were set so spectacularly! Nothing at this wedding was overlooked, everything was perfect! Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4609Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4610Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4611The food was out of this world! Incredible job done by Ramekins Catering.Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4612Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4613Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4614Happiness everywhere you looked!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4615Admiring the new jewelry!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4616Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4617Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4618Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4619I had to see about the incredible Oak tree outside the Pavilion being so nicely lit up by the sun. Now I’m going to tell you a secret. Wedding days inspire me to no end.  If I have a couple in love I could photograph them all day long even in a dark alley! This inspiration can be a blessing and a curse, I mean, my couples need to eat and they want to be with their friends and family.  Even though I want to photograph them the whole time I know I cannot. BUT this tree- this magnificent tree so perfectly illuminated by the late setting sun was begging for photographs. Envisioning Marisa and Zach walking through that light felt like it would be out of a fairytale and well, Marisa likes fairytales…Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4620As luck would have it, it just so happened that these two were moving towards the other side of the Pavilion anyway! I simply kindly asked them to walk this way rather than that way… and well, I may have done a little happy dance right there on the spot!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4621Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4622Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4623Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4624It was time for toasts. Marisa’s Dad then Mom spoke about their love for Marisa and Zach. Don’t you just love wedding toasts? Hearing the stories choke me up every time and I especially love a tiny bit of roasting… just a little though!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4625Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4693Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4627Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4628Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4629Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4630Cheers!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4631Next up was Zach’s Mom. Just like Marisa’s parents’ toasts, it had everyone laughing and crying! Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4632Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4633Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4634Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4635Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4636What a lovely tribute to the newlyweds!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4637And then there is was… the RAINBOW!!!  Mother Nature’s gift and one of the many reasons why I think Plan B was really Plan A+!  This rainbow might have been missed from down below. But here was a group of people loved by Marisa and Zach, perched up at the Pavilion on this gorgeous sunny early evening, basking in the glory of a rainbow!!! The incredible way Plan B turned was unexpected, magical and perfect!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4638Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4639Move over wedding cake, it’s time for some pies!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4640When I inquired why they chose pies over a wedding cake they said wedding cakes never seemed to impress them. So they decided to shoot for amazing flavor over tradition! I like that thinking!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4641Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4642Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4643It was time for the first dance! A sweet moment surrounded by their loved ones!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4644Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4645Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4646A kiss and a cheer from the crowd and then we rushed off to grab sunset while everyone else got the dance floor warmed up!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4647Zach by this time was a photo pro!  He knew just what to do for some fun pictures!!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4648Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4649The sunset was ready and showing off its cotton candy colors!  The old Oak tree allowed for a wonderful silhouetted frame of the newlyweds!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4650Back at the Pavilion, the wedding favors were out and the parent dances were ready to pull on some heart strings!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4651Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4652Notice Marisa’s Mom and aunt in the background?! So sweet!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4694Big hugs!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4655Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4656Then Marisa’s Dad got a big hug from his brother! Being present to capturing moments like this are what makes being a wedding photographer such an honor. Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4657It was then Zach’s turn with his Mom!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4658Their dance was faster and feistier!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4659Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4660Super fun!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4695Oh man, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with a lump in my throat from those parent dances! But nothing like a Hora to get the energy buzzing again!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4662Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4696Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4663I think Zach knew what was coming…..
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4665Yep!  The chairs approached from the sides and the couple was lifted into the air!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4697Laughter filled the room as both Marisa and Zach held on for the ride!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4698Once back on the ground, Zach grabbed Marisa for dear life!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4668No time for resting though, the Hora must go on!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4669Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4670When the Hora was done and the music came on- Zach passed his bride to her Mother and the ladies danced it out!
Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4671Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4672Everyone had so much fun dancing the night away!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4673Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4674Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4675For those who might not have been the biggest dancers or just needed a little break, there was the candlelit tent or the amazing fire pit for relaxing!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4676Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4677But as you can see, Alex the DJ  from AMS Entertainment was doing an amazing job!Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4678Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4679The evening was coming to an end and the last song was upon us.Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4680Arista Winery Wedding- Susannah Gill_4681Ending with some sweetness by the fire pit, could you imagine something better than Plan B?

The wedding day was incredible from start to finish and we couldn’t be happier for Marisa and Zach.  Such a nice couple with such lovely family and friends! Marisa and Zach, thank you so much for allowing us the honor to document your wonderful wedding!

Thank you to all vendors who collaborated to make this wedidng such a dream!

Venue: Arista Winery

Caterer: Remekins Catering

Hair and Make Up: Wash & Brushup Co.

Florist: The Bloomery Co.

Rental Company: Encore Events Rentals

DJ: AMS Entertainment

Transportation: Royal Coach

Photography: Susannah Gill






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