Weddings like this remind me why I left an 8 year career doing phlebotomy to take a leap of faith and follow my true passion! This Wedding at The Grove in Occidental was so beautiful in so many ways!
I was lucky enough to meet Nicole and Kevin through our mutual friend Merwyn, who also happens to be one of the first brave families who let me test out my skills when I started my photography business “for real” 4 years ago. These two are so awesome together! Kevin has such a great sense of humor, and Nicole is so sweet and seriously so beautiful!
So, a little back story for how even more special this day was- most are aware of the fires that hit Sonoma County HARD a few weeks ago. Kevin and Nicole live in the heart of one of the majorly hit areas of Santa Rosa, Coffey Park. They had to evacuate early with barely any warning. I remember after the devastation hit, thinking about them both. Knowing that in the midst of all this chaos, trying to think about their last few weeks of wedding planning. I was so happy to hear that Nicole’s wedding dress was not at their home (which thankfully is still standing). I know it sounds silly to worry about a wedding dress when your whole home and life is at risk, but I also knew that was just one more thing to have to possibly replace.
My second shooter Jana was chatting with Kevin and they both realized they lived in Coffey Park, just a few blocks from each other. I really feel the sense of community, and I am so proud to be a resident of Sonoma County!
The day of the wedding was beautiful. The sun was shining bright and I felt so much peace as I drove the scenic back roads out to Occidental. Everyone was so excited! It was so refreshing after the last few weeks of sadness to see and feel the love this couple has for each other, their friends and family, and their community.
Something else special was that this wedding had so many DIY elements! In Nicole’s words, planning and executing her wedding was “a labor of love”. And you could tell. She took a floral arranging class with her Mom and Mother-in-law and they made all the florals! Nicole’s bouquet was incredible! I’m a flower junkie to begin with, so I was in heaven!
The ceremony was such a nice reflection of them as a couple. I shot their engagement session, and they both shared that they loved being outdoors with their dogs (hiking, going on adventures in nature), and so it was so fitting for them to say their vows among the redwoods!
And let’s talk about Union Hotel! Such a great venue, and amazing food! The moment I arrived, I felt like family. I actually went back a few days ago for date night with my husband and he joked that he felt like we were celebrities!
My favorite part of the evening was during the first dances. They asked if any father/daughter or mother/son combos were in attendance to join them on the dance floor. It was so special to see how many families there were! My favorite was watching the father of the bride dancing with the bride and his other daughter (Nicole’s sister and maid of honor). That man’s heart was definitely full! And let’s not forget that Kevin has some mad break dancing skills!
It was an honor documenting your love, enjoy your honeymoon guys!
Venue and Catering: The Grove at Occidental Union Hotel
Hair: Katie from Bella Moda Salon
Makeup: Stefanie Fritz Makeup Artistry
Dress: Monique Ihuillier
Cake: Whole Foods, DIY decorations
DJ: Nick with Full Spectrum Entertainment