My friend Terin is one crafty lady, and I don’t mean like a fox. She’s so crafty that she and some of her best girlfriends host weekly craft nights. They make, build and design things I wouldn’t even start to dream of. Like quilts. I’m pretty sure that’s a thing they’ve done that I don’t do. I don’t even bother with a crafting club. I straight up just go to Girls’ Drinking Club. In fact, I’ve previously vowed to drink more wine just so that I have more corks to give to Jenna Palacio to craft me a wine cork wreath. Moral of this story: Terin is a master crafter and she killed it at the DIY wedding. Terin: 1. Lauren: 0.
When Terin started planning her wedding to another one of my good friends, Adam, she had the help of her family and friends to transform what is normally a bland looking cafeteria room at a local state park into the place of her dreams. I was blown away by how they managed to turn Turtle Rock Park into a lush, intimate oasis. It was nothing short of incredible.
Almost everything at Adam and Terin’s gorgeous Turtle Rock Park wedding was DIY: her sister made hundreds of tiny cheesecake cupcakes, she wore a reconstructed version of her mother’s wedding dress, they invented, built or designed all the table decor and screens for the ceiling, her mom made their bouquets, they created all the table runners and centerpieces themselves. Seriously.
Adam and Terin were wed at an hilarity filled ceremony, peppered with tears and sentimentality, at a private estate at the edge of the Sierra Nevadas, overlooking the Nevada valley. On our way there, they wanted to highlight all the scenery our backyard offers us, so the wedding party stopped in Hope Valley for photos. The party got wild and went late into the night thanks to the boys at Liquid Craft mobile bartending and Dylan with Lake Tahoe DJ. Adam is apparently also creative: he wrote Terin a song. And then he sung it. In front of everyone. Meanwhile, everyone cried and laughed and then cried and laughed and then realized that Adam ruined weddings forever for all of their future because no one can top that. Adam: 1. Everyone else: 0.
Venue: Private Estate and Turtle Rock Park | Day of Coordinator: Shana Conway Schmidt | Mobile Bar: Liquid Craft | DJ: Lake Tahoe DJ | Bakery: Corie King (sister of the bride) | Catering: Stephen Moise | Bridesmaid Attire: Azazie | Groom’s Apparel: Amazon | Hair and Makeup: Katie White at Tahoe Salon Be | Rentals: Camelot Rentals | Second Photographer: Red, White and Brian Walker
Morgan and Vittawat met in high school. Yes. That still happens. Flash forward ten years and they are both in advanced academia, living apart and engaged. This summer, Morgan was working and studying in Sacramento while Vittawat was still in their hometown in Reno. When we started talking about possibilities for portrait locations, I was quick to suggest a Sutter Creek engagement session. I had been following them on instagram for awhile and knew that they both loved wine, the outdoors and exploring as much as I did. It was also equal distance between all of us, which made it convenient for Vittawat to get to as a weekend getaway with Morgan.
It was partially a selfish request – I LOVE Sutter Creek. I had been eyeing it as a portrait location forever. My best friend’s parents live in the nearby town of Plymouth and some of my favorite clients ever (ahem, Jack and Kyle, as well as, Kerri and David) were wed there. It’s my home away from home and one of the places in the world I feel most comfortable. Wine, country and golden light – what’s not to love?
There are more of my favorite images from Morgan and Vittawat’s Sutter Creek engagement session after the jump. Here are some travel suggestions if you would like to visit the area yourself.
STAY: While the area has no limit to the kitchy bed and breakfasts’ available for the traveler that loves doilies and gardens, there are quite a few adorable boutique hotels here now as well.
- The Hanford House Inn is my personal favorite for staying directly in
the downtown of Sutter Creek. Downtown is a relative term: there’s one adorably quaint and walkable mainstreet. Don’t let the tiny town fool you though – what it lacks in size, it makes up for in friendliness and charm and it has everything you would need within your reach: wine tasting rooms, a gourmet cheese shop, and a provisional general store. Hanford House delivers warm fresh scones to your front door every morning and offers free wine tasting in the lobby every evening.
- Is there anything more adorable than a boutique hotel named Rest? The answer is no. Obviously. Rest is only 20 minutes away from Sutter Creek in Plymouth, CA and it happens to be located within walking distance to my favorite restaurant, Taste, in the area.
- The Union Pub and Inn in nearby Volcano only offers four rooms over an exceptional restaurant, which happens to be owned by the same owners as Taste. It’s been a longtime dream of mine to get a crew of people together to rent out the entire lodge one weekend for a getaway.
EAT: it’s a sad state of affairs when you think the food in the foothills is better than the food at home, but it’s true. I would drive two hours to eat at any of these restaurants!
- Taste has been awarded up and down every list imaginable that involves food and wine and for good reason. I jump at any chance to eat there. I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve been served and more often than not the meals come with a surprise delightful twist. I’m a huge fan of their Monday Night Supper menu, which offers a first, main, and dessert course at a pre-fixe price along with wine pairings.
- You can’t suggest the Union Pub and Inn without including them on the eat recommendation list as well. Their inventive seasonal menu changes frequently and it’s incredibly charming to sit on the patio and wine and dine on a warm summer night.
- Element is housed in the lobby of the Hanford House Inn and it’s my go-to brunch spot in the area. Their daily egg specials always make your menu decisions incredibly difficult.
- Yorba offers small lot, premium bold wines from the Amador area. Their tasting room is directly next door to the Hanford House Inn and their Shake Ridge Red is not to be missed.
- Terre Rouge and Easton offers a wide selection of variety of everything Plymouth has to offer. Their tasting room is unpresumptuous and their selection outstanding. I love everything they offer (which is why I’m a wine club member) but their barbaras and zins really stand out for me.
- Helwig Winery is worth a stop for a picnic lunch just for the incredible view of their beautiful grounds, as well as a bottle of their bubbly rose.
- I love C.G. Di Arie for their inventiveness and spunk. I became enamored with them after meeting the owner, Chaim Gur-Arieh, a few years back. It helps that they are NPR under-writers also. Chaim was born in Istanbul, Turkey but immigrated to Israel as a teenager. He has a PHD in food science and spent a number of years working to engineer the flavors and consistency behind some of America’s most beloved products (Hidden Valley Ranch! Captain Crunch!). His energy, enthusiasm and quirkiness won me over and this bleeds into his wines. Their gallery collections offer something unique to the area: inventive heavy blends using grapes like the touriga.
Cedarville Vineyard is one of my favorite wineries of Fairplay. Cedarville, owned by the amazing husband and wife duo of Jonathan Lachs and Susan Marks, is sustainably and organically farmed. They have amazing underground caves they designed to store wine, feature owl boxes to assist with pest control, and use rotating grasses, weeds and other crops under the vines to help keep soil healthy and pests to a minimum. Jonathan and Susan were looking for a slew of marketing photos to have at their disposal for the vineyard. It didn’t take much convincing (or any at all) to get me and some of my favorite people to the vineyard for a tour, a wine tasting, a picnic spread and some wandering among the vines.
Cedarville Vineyard is located in Somerset, CA and welcomes visitors for tours, tasting, and sales by appointment only. You can either email or call 530-620-9463 to set up an appointment. You won’t regret it and tell them I sent you!
This could also be titled: the Sutro Baths Engagement Session that almost wasn’t.
Carolyn, Robert and I met for some delicious cocktails and apps at Outerlands which serves delicious food sustainably sourced from local resources. It was a beautiful afternoon, sunny and warm, and we got to know each other, and their adorable pup, Khaleesi. Things did not go quite as planned, however, when we left, because all the sudden we realized that no one had a car key. Cue some scrambling on the street corner, some back and forth back to the restaurant, and some uncertainty as to the fate of the afternoon. Turns out, the key was in the car door and thankfully both it, and the car, were still there!
The Sutro Baths are a really incredible space that I had been wanting to photograph at for quite some time. Adolph Sutro developed the baths in Baths in 1894 but they were unfortunately never commercially viable. At one point, his family turned them into an ice skating rink. Eventually, there were plans to tear them down and build condos, but thankfully those plans never came to fruition. They were destroyed by a fire in 1966 and in the next decade they were adopted into the recreational area they are now apart of. In the evening at sunset, the baths are filled with folks watching the sunset, hiking, and tons of photographers and their clients taking advantage of the awesome and unique area.
Caitlin met me when she was a bridesmaid in a Lake Tahoe Golf Course wedding that I photographed for two of my most favorite clients to date! Caitlin, Marcus, Christina and Jose all share a similar friend group and based on Christina and Jose’s wedding, I knew that their Lucie Stern Center wedding was guaranteed to be a raucous wild dance party. They did not disappoint!
Their wedding was filled with wonderful surprises: a farm-to-table caterer with fun small plate food stations, a crying flower girl (who doesn’t love that?), and instead of the standard religious or literary reading, a friend read the lyrics of a rap song during the ceremony, a nod to Caitlin and Marcus’ shared love of both rap and their sense of humor. They had lawn games in the community center plaza, a photo booth (of course!) on the prints of which I managed to spell both a name wrong and get the date wrong (if you don’t know, it’s 2016, not 2017) (they forgave me), and overall, a wild booze-filled party of the best kind. The dance floor was packed from the moment they kicked it off.
Venue: Lucie Stern Community Center | Invitations: Wood & Water Paper | Florist: White Oak Flower Shoppe | Catering: The Green Grocer | DJ: Terry Cole of The Spinheads | Bride’s Attire: Trudy’s Bridal | Hair and Makeup: The Blushing Bombshell | Bridesmaid Attire: Weddington Way | Groom’s Attire: Nordstrom | Rentals: The Green Grocer