An Indie Golden Gate Park Wedding in San Francisco by Sonya Yruel

Adrienne and Shannon wanted to have an intimate wedding with their closest family and friends, without all the fuss. Being nature lovers, Golden Gate Park felt like the right place within their city of San Francisco. Summer in San Francisco is not always so warm, but the sun was shining warmly that day! They asked their guests to wear bright colors, and the bride did as well! She created her own wedding dress by upcycling two other dresses into one! She included pockets and a ribbon inside to tie her husband-to-be's wedding band. The result was a beautiful pink ombré design like none other!

Their officiant, Cynthia Gregory, was non-denominational, but they included some older wedding rituals with nod to Paganism, such as a handfasting. The ceremony was held in the Aids Memorial Grove within the park, and was followed by a picnic lunch.

Not only did Adrienne make her dress, but she also made their wedding cake! To date it is one of the best I have tasted! This chocolate stout cake had fresh strawberry buttercream filling and a chocolate buttercream frosting. The couple had collected an assortment of vintage plates to serve up their scrumptious cake.

Thanks to Rock N Roll Bride and Huffington Post Weddings for the features!

Melisa & Laif's Winter Wedding at Old St Hilary's in Tiburon! by Sonya Yruel

When you meet Melisa and Laif, you know that these two have a passion for life that just radiates all around them! They were wed in Old St Hilary's, a little white chapel that sits on a grassy windswept hill overlooking the waters of the Bay and the cityscape of San Francisco. And in that chapel, everyone felt their excitement and love radiating as the two read their vows to each other, and sealed the deal!

The two had met thanks to a vintage cherry red Honda motorcycle named Betty. At the time, Laif was working on bikes at Piston and Chain, a community motorcycle club in San Francisco. A friend who knew Melisa, mentioned her to Laif. The very next day, Laif was helping a friend fix his bike on Divisadero street. He heard the sound of a motorcycle, looked up and saw Melisa riding by on Betty! He found her on Facebook and sent her a message. Not knowing who he was, Melisa almost deleted it....but took another look at his blue eyes in his photo, and decided to respond. They set up a date to go ride their motorcycles together, and soon became inseparable. So of course, some bike riding was necessary activity for their engagement session! And 2 years later after Melisa rode past Laif, the two wed in front of their closest family, friends, and of course Bella, their doggie ring bearer.

Their wedding was filled with all kinds of beautiful moments and super stars that made the day an amazing success! Some say rain on your wedding day is lucky, but truly it is the positive attitudes of the bride, groom, and everyone involved that makes it an amazing:

Despite the rain causing some changes in the plans, Mandy Scott pulled the details of the day together flawlessly. Before the ceremony started, Josh Gronner riffed jolly tunes on the piano, bringing smiles to the guests' faces as they patiently waited. Then Laif broke into an impromptu dance with his mom. One of the bridesmaids, the talented Lena Hall, sang beautifully as Melisa walked down the aisle with her dad. Bella, Melisa and Laif's pooch, obediently padded down the aisle carrying their wedding rings tied to her back. At the reception, Melisa's Uncle Rouben performed a surprise Armenian traditional dance that got everyone on their feet cheering! And later in the evening when the dancing was in full swing, the bride's sister, Cristina Hall, treated everyone to some of her incredible dance moves as a professional flamenco dancer. Guests told Melisa later that it was the most beautiful wedding they'd attended.

Vendor credits:
Coordination:  Mandy Scott Events
Florist:  Green Petal Designs
Getting Ready Hotels:  The Waters Edge & The Lodge at Tiburon
Ceremony:  Old St. Hilary's Chapel
Reception:  Corinthian Yacht Club
Rentals:  La Tavola
Bride's Dress:  Martina Liana
Bride's Necklace:  The famous Jewelia!
Bride's Shoes:  The Seller
Make-up Artist:  Melisa Hall
Hair Stylist:  Kelly Dale as directed by Melisa Hall
Bridesmaid Robes:  Sandy Waters
Groom's Suit:  Jos A Banks
Groom's Shoes:  Allen Edmonds
Groom's Pocket Watch:  An antique Waltham, a gift from the bride.
Stationary & Table Cards:  Designed and printed by the bride
Cake:  Branching Out Cakes
Custom Cake Topper:  Toppers Delight
Officiant:  Bride's Godfather, Tim Hornbecker
Ceremony Piano & Reception DJ & MC:  Josh Gronner
Reception Band:  Jaz Sawyer Group
Ceremony Singer:  Lena Hall
Maid of Honor, Bride's Sister, & Flamenco Dancer Extraordinaire:  Cristina Hall

I asked the bride if she had any advice for couples planning a wedding:

Follow your intuition. Listen to the inner voice that tells you what your truly wanting to do. Also be prepared to see who your true support and friends are. When you least expect it people will show up to love you through the important moments. Those that don't will gradually fade away. Stay close with your partner and listen to each other. Plan slowly and deliberately. Choose Sonya and Mandy as your wedding ninjas! Haha.
It's so important to hire the right people to take care of you on your wedding day. I always strive to do this for my brides. It's not just about the job... it's about loving them through what we do. Mandy did that for me every step of the way. I got to relax and let go because of her. She was truly the biggest gift!

It was SUCH an honor to photograph their wedding! These two are creative spirits. Melisa is one of the best hair and make-up artists, in the Bay Area, and also a photographer! Laif is a talented actor (check out his reel), and if your motorcycle breaks down, Laif is your man.

A big thank you to Melissa Campos for your photography assistance and umbrella holding that day!

Welcome Baby Gibson! A San Francisco Newborn Session by Sonya Yruel

About three years ago I had the pleasure of getting to know Ryan and Jackie when I photographed their beautiful, fun, and love-filled wedding in Guerneville. Last month I was so honored to come and meet the newest member of their family, Gibson, who was just 16 days old. Their dog Louie seemed to also be very welcoming to Gibson, though he made sure to get the limelight for a few of the photos. I just received Gibson's newborn announcement in the mail and so I'm excited to share some favorites from their home session!

An Engagement Session at San Francisco Sutro Baths: Jessica & Scott by Sonya Yruel

Jessica and Scott just so happened to be neighbors, and met one day at BBQ. They hit it off, so one day Jessica took Scott to a HOT yoga class, which Scott endured! It seems that maybe Scott prefers colder temperatures, because then he took Jessica on a boat in Lake Tahoe (doesn't sound too bad!) and she watched as he swam the Trans Tahoe Relay Swim! Scott also swims in the San Francisco Bay.

Scott's proposal to Jessica took place on a ski trip at Breckenridge, Colorado. While on top of the mountain, Scott stopped to "fix his ski boot" and came up with a ring! These two adventured all over Sutro Baths with me on a beautifully sunny San Francisco Day.

I'm really excited to photograph their beautiful winter wedding at the top of Squaw Valley next year!

Jessica is an incredible entrepreneur! She believes in a balanced life and offers health coaching and wellness classes, as well as yoga at Beaming With Health. She also is the founder of Beam Financial Group, offering book keeping services and Quickbooks consulting.

Flower Bar Pop-Up for Fall! by Sonya Yruel

I'm always sad to see summer go-- who isn't? But I'm excited for fall temperatures, fall vegetables (spaghetti squash!), and most of all, fall colors! A recent little project with the talented Christina Vo of Conscious Style has gotten me feeling ready for fall. A few of these arrangements include one of my favorite flowers, the protea. Check out her Flower Bar at Viola on Castro street in San Francisco.

Juliana & Clement's San Francisco City Hall Wedding by Sonya Yruel

San Francisco's City Hall is one of the most beautiful places to have a sweet and simple civil ceremony. I am of course biased, because it's where I got married, but its stunning beaux-arts architecture and soft balcony window-light make it a true gem. Along with the romance, it's still a government building so there's the funny experience of being given a ticketed number to wait in line to check in to the County Clerk's office with any number of other brides and grooms. And most of the open areas are public space, so while taking your wedding photos you might happen to have a tourist rocking an Alcatraz sweatshirt in the background, but that's all part of the experience.

Juliana and Clement happened to meet at an airport, both catching different legs of their international flights. It was an absolute joy meeting them in person and seeing how much in love they are. Their small group of friends and family in attendance showed them so much love and support. Some of Clement's family took an incredibly long journey from Tanzania to come and witness their civil union.

Florals by


Ljubica & Milan's Wedding in Moraga, California by Sonya Yruel

Happy Anniversary to Ljubica and Milan! They were married one year ago today at the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox church in Moraga, California.

Ljubica's escort as she arrived at the church!

Milan with his Kum (best man)

One of my favorite moments of the day was how immediately following the ceremony, everyone processed outside.

They joined hands and danced a kolo to the festive accordian music!

During the cocktail reception, guests were given a sprig of rosemary or ruzmarin, traditional for slavic weddings.

Add Ljubica's family traveled all the way from her home country of Montenegro.

 She hadn't seen her father in six years, and their reunion was sweet. Particularly their dance together at the reception.

Alicia & Toño's Wedding at the Berkeley Brazillian Room by Sonya Yruel

Getting Ready Venue:  Claremont Hotel, Berkeley
Wedding Venue:  Brazillian Room, Berkeley
Coordinator:  Sarah Perna
Hair Stylist:  Corrina Hernandez
Make-up Artist:  Angela Womack
Florist:  Kirk Wilder
Catering:  The Arlington
Cake:  Allison Murray
DJ:  Jonathan Chapin
Limo:  On Demand Transportation

Treasure Island Wedding by Sonya Yruel

Kendra and Adam's wedding was a little bit jazzy Art Deco, old and new San Francisco, with touches of Kendra's crocheting! They wed under a family huppa at the

Treasure Island Chapel

, and celebrated at

The Winery

. After dancing up a storm to a live jazz band, they shared their dessert of delicious

Dynamo Donuts.

These two are so in love and they truly personalized their wedding; it was so fun to photograph!

Alicia & Toño's Engagement Session in The Haight & Baker Beach by Sonya Yruel

Happy Valentine's Day! I recently photographed these two lovebirds for their engagement session in the classic and colorful San Francisco neighborhood, The Haight. Then at sunset we zipped over to Baker Beach. I'm excited to photograph their wedding later this year!

 How they met:

Though Toño had had his eye on Alicia for months before, they officially met at a Halloween party in which Alicia was dressed as a space invader, complete with rocket ship and helmet; and Toño was dressed as himself.  The party was packed, and Alicia was in full swing on the dance floor, but the moment Toño walked in, it was as though the music halted and the sea of people parted between the two of them.  She stopped dancing and lifted her arm to wave to him.  He grinned and waved back.  They felt drawn together as if by some invisible force that night.  Even though they had never met, they felt as if they'd known each other for years.  They talked and talked, and just couldn't stop finding more and more things they had in common and loved about one another.  Alicia was forced to peel herself away to play host, but throughout the night, they always ended up back together.  They realize now, 2 1/2 years later, that the feeling they both got that night was love at first sight.  Though they waited to tell each other until later, that spark just couldn't be missed, and they each agreed that they both truly fell in love the moment they met.  And needless to say, each Halloween since that day, the two have come up with Halloween costumes together that continue to get more creative and silly each year!

Shahla & Carloss Wedding at the Purple Orchid, Livermore California by Sonya Yruel

Shahla and Carlos met while salsa dancing, and needless to say, their First Dance pretty much rocked everyone's socks off! They picked a beautiful hidden gem of Livermore to celebrate their wedding, The Purple Orchid. It was a beautiful day, filled with lots of love and happy new beginnings.
 A letter from Carlos to Shahla, the morning of their wedding.

 The first look...

  Remembering Carlos' father and the sand ceremony uniting their new family.

 The beautiful olive orchard.

Vendor Credits:
Venue:  The Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort & Spa
Photography:  Sonya Yruel
Caterer:  Bon Vivant
Make-up:  Vy from Exquisite Faces
Hair:  Bina Morris
Floral Design:  Moriah Harris
DJ:  Spencer Sutherland
Cake:  Cake Delight

Rustic Coastal Mendocino Wedding by Sonya Yruel

Ashley and Andrew met while working in Afghanistan and have traveled all over the globe. Since they love the outdoors, they chose a hidden gem of northern California:  the rugged coastline of Mendocino. Their ceremony was held in the Cypress Grove, right at the very edge of the bluffs, overlooking the crashing waves. Family and friends gathered in a tight-knit circle as both the bride and groom's fathers shared the officiating.
The celebration afterwards was held at one of my favorite California venues, Spring Ranch Barn, where the rustic decor of the old 1840 hay barn and all its antique knick knacks mixed with the elegance of wildflowers and lace. Some of my favorite details were the mix of antique chairs, the bride's floral crown in lieu of a traditional bouquet, and the couple's exquisite letter-pressed stationary. The party went late into the night and I love it when both young and old kick up their heels!
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Bride's Dress:  Jenny Packham
Brides's Shoes:  Yves Saint Laurent
Hair & Makeup:  Mendocino Beauty
Florist:  La Fleuriste
Stationary:  Tiny Pine Press
Rentals:  Wine Country Party Rentals
Vintage Chair Rentals:  Mendocino Floral Design
Catering:  Jessica Lasky Catering
Desserts: Franny's Cup & Saucer
Band:  The Sour Mash Hug Band
Photography & Photo Lounge:  Sonya Yruel Photography
Second Photography & Assistance:  Catherine Nguyen
Event Planning: Alison Events

Tiburon's China Cabin - A Parisian Jazz Wedding by Sonya Yruel

Their 1 year anniversary having recently passed, I wanted to share one of my favorite 2012 weddings. Laura and Taylor were married last June at Old St. Hilary's, a little chapel sitting on top of a grassy hill in Tiburon. Then the couple was whisked off in a vintage Rolls Royce to their reception at China Cabin, which was once an officer's saloon on a ship during the Victorian era. Their sweet, jazzy wedding was a delight to photograph:  classic, elegant, and with just the right touches without being overdone. Fork and Spoon Productions made sure everything went smoothly and provided delicious catering. Studio Choo created all the stunning floral design, and for the dessert, delicious little Miette cakes. Everyone danced the night away to the Gaucho Gypsy Band and the soulful vocals of Kelly Price.

Featured in Flower Magazine, Summer 2013.
Laura and Taylor's wedding was also featured on Snippet & Ink!

Karina & Fernando Married at City Hall, San Francisco. January 11, 2013 by Sonya Yruel

Karina and Fernando met at a Karoke bar and were introduced by a mutual friend. Later Fernando proposed to Karina in Long Beach, while on a gondola ride. When he opened the box, the ring almost fell out into the water below! "We chose the SF City Hall not only because of its charm, but because of all the history behind it and we wanted to be part of that history beginning our own story as a couple there."

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Lauren + Ray's Wedding at Silver Lake by Sonya Yruel

Sitting high at 7200 ft in the Sierra Nevada mountains is the fantastically rustic Plasse's Resort. This relatively unknown place (and those who know it would prefer to keep it that way) has stunning views of Silver Lake and Thunder Mountain, the latter of which looks remarkably like a sleeping dragon when the shadows grow long at dusk. Blooming lavender and redwoods were in abundance and so were the happy spirits from everyone who attended this destination wedding. Lauren's family has a long history and love of Silver Lake, so it only seemed natural to be the perfect setting for her and Ray's wedding on July 14, 2012.

Jaci + Kyle's San Francisco Engagement Session by Sonya Yruel

Jaci and Kyle are getting married on Treasure Island this year, but for their engagement session we hopped all over San Francisco for some of their favorite spots. Jaci is friendly, energetic, and Kyle is a true gentleman and has a great sense of humor. They compliment each other so well!

 The "barn" in Haight/Hayes Valley, and Golden Gate Park.

La Cafe Du Soleil in the Lower Haight has a great neighborhood vibe and was hosting a jazzy band when we came for a glass of wine.

While the food truck craze has picked up in the past few years, El Tonayense has been around SF for 15 years, and is one of Jaci and Kyle's favorites. I'm getting a craving for tacos right now...

Published in Destination I Do Magazine, Christina + Rabbit's Las Vegas Wedding! by Sonya Yruel

The latest issue of Destination I Do magazine just hit newstands! The magazine covers destination weddings, and published one of the most unique weddings I photographed last year. Christina and Rabbit's Wedding on 09.10.11. 

The couple held their ceremony at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel, and instead of the bride traditionally walking down the aisle with her father, their guests waited inside the chapel and watched in amazement as the large chapel doors were flung open amidst flashing disco lights and fog. Christina and her father rolled down the aisle in full style:  inside a pink convertible classic Cadillac, driven by none other, Elvis the King.
After the ceremony, everyone gathered outside, facing the chapel's large blinking sign "Christina + Rabbit," and released yellow balloons against the bright blue sky. Fan programs designed by Yelley.
The Las Vegas desert provided a stunning backdrop for portraits at sunset. The surprise guests were 6 live rabbits (in homage to Rabbit, the groom's name and the Year of the Rabbit), and a pig (Christina's favorite animal).
Off to party at the Palms for the reception!
All the floral arrangements were created by the bride's stepmother, Lori McNeill, who was once a florist, and created these arrangements by a special request from the bride. Cake by Caked Las Vegas. Cake topper by Dandelion.
The photo booth was in full swing with Elvis-themed props and a polaroid camera for them to snap their own photos and add them to the guest book.
Christina's father, John McNeill, custom built this sign that shined down on the reception.
Everyone danced the night away into the wee hours, in true Vegas fashion. Just as the reception concluded, drops of rain fell and then a beautiful thunder and lighting storm began!