Katie & Cliff’s magical forest wedding

Katie and Cliff are such a lovely, genuine couple. When Oriana and I met up with them at their house for their engagement session, they were instantly warm and inviting, giving us a list of Bay Area restaurant recommendations and fresh fruit picked from their small backyard fruit trees.

We knew that their wedding was going to be a good one, but we were blown away by what we actually experienced. This was, no joke, the most magical wedding I’ve shot yet. The trees, the lights, the copious amounts of love and friendship… everything glowed in a way that I’ve only seen in Hayao Miyazaki movies.


Let’s start from the beginning: meeting up and getting ready at their hotel.

This was where we planned to do our “first look” and a few couples portrait shots. We looked around — it was such a small, corporate sort of place, cramped, grey, stodgy… but Oriana and I staked out a few corners and got to work.

Then it was time to head out to their stunning location for their wedding ceremony: Saratoga Springs. Lots of trees, sunbeams, and string lights, and dinner served from a giant firepit (!); all of these elements providing us beautiful color and light for our photos.

We drove there in the same car:


All of their family and friends gathered at the venue at the same time, so everyone could lend a hand with setting up decorations and table settings. The groom’s sister made all the flower arrangements and decorations by herself, which I found very impressive!

We headed into the forest for some private time for the couple before the ceremony, taking advantage of the late-afternoon sunlight:

Wow wow wow is all I can say. Holy cow. I am so glad we scheduled this time to wander in the woods before the ceremony. Not only did these photos turn out beautiful, but our quiet photo session also gave Katie and Cliff a moment to reset, reflect, and recharge in the middle of a hectic day. When they came back out of the woods, they were relaxed and ready to head into their wedding ceremony with positive, loving energy.

Here’s their wonderful, short little (no phones!) wedding ceremony, complete with the most adorable flower girl:

And then it was time to eat barbecued meat, get lots of hugs, make lots of toasts, and dance into the wee hours of the night:

This was one of my favorite weddings ever. There were a lot of beautiful little details — glasses, rings, the painstakingly crafted decorations, Katie’s gorgeous ethereal wedding gown and dapper coordinated bowties —but what I loved most of all was the copious amounts of love and joy. Katie and Cliff are clearly surrounded by a tight-knit community of family and friends, and everyone here united in a shared love of this couple, and a love of each other. Aunts and uncles danced with old college friends. Brothers and nieces hugged all the babies. Grandmas and moms clinked glasses with colleagues. No one seemed self-conscious; everyone was deeply truly happy, celebrating without a care in the world.

I can’t think of anything better!