justin & kim’s petting zoo wedding at the reptacular ranch in sylmar, ca

part one: the secret agent engagement

Justin and Kim had a wild wedding… and I do mean that almost literally. When I met with them, I could tell this was a very unique couple: they’re both witty, nerdy, crazy about animals, and work in media/journalism. For their engagement session, they wanted something totally different from the average “kissing in a forest” type of engagement photos; they told me they were picturing a “secret agent” themed phootshoot. “Like James Bond.” Well, of course I’d be down to do that! It took some crafty guerrilla shooting across various DTLA rooftops to get these shots: 

part two: the vietnamese tea ceremony

Then, there came the two-part wedding: first, a traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony, complete with traditional áo dài and khăn đóng. They rented an AirBnB for the weekend, which served as a great home base for both families and provided a nice homey setting for the tea ceremony.

part three: the wedding ceremony with four-legged friends

Then, the main event: an American wedding ceremony held at the Reptacular Ranch in Sylmar, CA. (By the way: the folks at the Ranch were very fun to work with, if you’re looking for a unique venue!) Why did Justin and Kim decide to get married at a petting zoo? Well, like I said, they love animals… particularly llamas. And they actually finagled some of the ranch’s llamas to walk down the aisle with them, too!


During cocktail hour, everyone got to take a break and pet all the animals: goats, dogs, horses, llamas, and the star of cocktail hour, a “beer burro” who walked around offering people cold bottles of Corona. Seriously.

Besides the wackiness of the petting zoo, the Ranch is actually set in a beautiful little foresty canyon area. So after guests socialized with the animals at cocktail hour, everyone got to sit back and enjoy the summer breeze and gorgeous light filtered through the trees.


Justin and Kim were brimming with happiness right after their ceremony, which made our couple portrait session such a joy to shoot:


… and the love just kept overflowing, even as the sun set and the sunny ranch grew dark. String lights illuminated the scene. Music filled the air. We all ate big slices of pie for dessert and danced into the night.

All in all: a wonderful offbeat day for a wonderful offbeat couple.