I originally met Michael and Shannon when I was hired to photograph Michael’s Lake Tahoe wedding proposal. Michael had been nervous about the logistics of the proposal. He was traveling to Tahoe with Shannon and a few of their friends (who were obviously in on the secret). I suggested that they charter a private boat from my friends at Tahoe Tastings for a cruise to Emerald Bay and I would be on board as “crew.” The proposal went off absolutely perfectly, complete with a beach full of cheering tourists for them. When they started planning their Deer Park Villa wedding, they reached out to me (which is always an honor) and I was absolutely thrilled to see them again and be a part of their day.

Propose in emerald bay
Propose at Lake tahoe

Michael and Shannon absolutely crushed their venue choice. Seriously – if what you wanted was a Nestldown wedding but it’s out of your price range, then you should consider a Deer Park Villa wedding instead. It’s tucked away in the middle of the charming af small town of Fairfax, CA. If you haven’t been to Fairfax, then put it on your list: it’s a sleeper small town that’s a perfect weekend getaway just steps from San Francisco.  Located in Marin County, Fairfax is a small town that is known for its laid-back vibe. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, an art lover, or just love a relaxed pace of life for your weekend adventures, Fairfax nails it.

I’ve been photographing weddings for over 10 years.  That’s more than 250 weddings y’all.  And I must say, a Deer Park Villa wedding is pretty damn perfect. It’s an incredibly memorable venue – complete with a red wood grove, very comfortable getting ready rooms, outdoor and indoor bars and an interior great room perfect for a dance floor.  Ceremonies are held on a pavilion flanked by a redwood grove and this photographer is here to tell you that holding your wedding in the shade of trees is ALWAYS a good idea.  Beautiful backdrop (check). Flattering natural light (check). Shade from elements of sun in the summer (check). Natural wind blocking (check).

When I finally delivered Michael and Shannon’s Deer Park Villa wedding gallery to them, Michael told me that it it “felt like a friend” had captured their wedding. “You caught the moments a close friend would have caught for me.” What a wonderful compliment that is. To be honest though, it wasn’t hard because their friends are hilarious, gregarious and welcoming. Their guests were full of laughter the entire evening and their dance floor went off so hard they practically hot-boxed themselves into the venue.

This Deer Park Villa wedding gallery owes a special gigantic thank you to my friend Duy Ho, who stepped in to come lend a hand less than an hour before the event when I made a mistake.  Michael and Shannon held their wedding on a Thursday afternoon in October.  They had only hired me for a few hours (and y’all, I promise you can get a LOT done in only a few hours) and I didn’t make the correct notes in my spreadsheet when I entered it.  About an hour before their event, I opened their contract up to verify the venue address and went “OH SHIT – they contracted me for a second!” That I didn’t have arranged. I am fully of the mindset that there are no real problems in life, only solutions, so I started problem solving. I have a really amazing and trustworthy group of photographers in almost every city in America thanks to Fearless Photographers and Duy stepped in to come second for me.

I could have very easily photographed Michael and Shannon’s Deer Park Villa wedding solo. I could have very easily not admitted my mistake. But I think we learn best when we not only admit our mistakes, but own up to them with honesty, integrity and humility.  I’m a big believer in personal responsibility and I’m fairly certain that while this mistake didn’t go down in my list of wedding nightmares (my most common one being that I’m double booked), I want to make sure that a similar mistake doesn’t happen in the future.

Venue: Deer Park Villa | Planning and Coordination: Riley Reece Events | Florist: The Wild Bunch | Bakery: Live Love Bake | Catering: Ray’s Catering | DJ: Runaway DJ | Wedding Attire: Men’s Warehouse, Diamond Bridal | Hair & Makeup: Jasmine Chen | Rentals: Premier Event Rentals

Things to do in Fairfax, CA

Fairfax, California is a small town located in Marin County, north of San Francisco. It is known for its small-town charm, outdoor recreation opportunities, and vibrant arts and music scene. Here are some ideas for things to do in Fairfax:

  • Explore the outdoors: Fairfax is surrounded by beautiful parks and natural areas, including Mount Tamalpais State Park, the Marin Headlands, and Point Reyes National Seashore. You can hike, bike, or take a leisurely stroll through these areas and enjoy the stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and the surrounding mountains.
  • Visit the Fairfax Farmer’s Market: The Fairfax Farmer’s Market takes place every Sunday and offers a wide variety of locally grown produce, artisanal foods, and handmade crafts. It’s a great place to find unique gifts and support local businesses.
  • Check out the art scene: Fairfax is home to a number of galleries and studios featuring the work of local artists. You can visit the Fairfax Art Walk, which takes place on the first Friday of every month, and explore the town’s creative side.
  • Go shopping: Fairfax has a number of independent boutiques and stores offering everything from clothing and accessories to gifts and home decor. You can also visit the Fairfax Lumber Company, a historic lumber yard that has been converted into a shopping and dining destination.
  • Enjoy the local music scene: Fairfax is known for its lively music scene, and there are many live music venues in town where you can catch a show. The Fairfax Pavilion, for example, hosts concerts and events year-round.
  • Take a wine tasting tour: The Marin County Wine Trail is home to a number of small, family-owned wineries that offer tastings and tours. You can visit a few of these wineries to sample their wines and learn more about the local wine industry.