Weddings

Palm Springs Wedding Photography at Korakia Pensione

Ashley & Josh

Ashley & Josh celebrated their wedding with a weekend get away to the charming and rustic Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs. They reserved all 28 villas for guests to enjoy an entire weekend of poolside fun. Their wedding took place on the festive Mexican heritage day, Cinco de Mayo.

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Touches of Mexican decor in honor of the holiday were sprinkled throughout the villa. The pink sombrero (pictured above) belonged to Ashley since she was a little girl.

groomsmen party in pool at destination wedding palm springs

Destination weddings really are a great way to spend quality time with family and friends. Josh and his rowdy bunch of boys played horseshoes and hung out at the pool while Ashley and the girls relaxed in their gorgeous suite.

 

The light at the boutique hotel is heavenly. It bounces everywhere, is backlit and dramatic! We did an amazing sexy session of Ashley in the suite. The chiaro scuro light in the restroom of the Orchard House suite is similar to a renaissance painting. We did stunning portraits of Ashley near the copper clawfoot tub. She hadn’t gotten her hair or makeup done yet but her natural beauty shined. We can’t show those here though (sorry i’m a tease).

bride getting ready shot by palm springs wedding photographer heather van gaale
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Ashley wore an elegant ivory dress with spaghetti straps and a small train.  Over it was a classy white lace kimono belted with a beautiful ribbon. Her bridesmaids choose their own cocktail dresses staying within the nude/gold color palette.beautiful bridal portrait black and white beauty headshot close upbrides maids laughing candid photojournalism heather van gaale

hip groomsmen hang out on striped chairs in palm springs

The guys were also very stylish! I loved the simple gray suits paired with black ties; very Palm Springs. Love them hanging out on the striped chaises.

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The couple saw each other prior to saying their vows. The “first look” is always one of my favorite moments to capture.
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The party was starting!  Rather than doing a bunch of staged portraits we shot the family formals loosely and did mostly candids before the guests began arriving.creative palm springs photography groomsmen heather van gaalebest wedding photographer heather van gaalefun family photos at korakia wedding by photographer heather van gaale

Prior to the ceremony, Ashley was tucked away from sight in anticipation of her grand entrance. This is always a great moment for candids with dad.
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I adore the way they look at each other; every time seems like the first.

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Increasing in popularity amongst brides and grooms is having the honor of a close friend marry them.  The guests love it because its personable and sweet.  I love it because it adds a nice touch for the photos. Rather than having a stranger be center stage for all the wedding vow pics, a dear friend enhances the image. It is quite easy to become an ordained minister or wedding officiant. Check with your county clerk for guidelines.
korakia wedding palm springs heather van gaale

The courtyard at the Korakia Pensione features a magnificent moroccan door and is overflowing with hot pink bougainvillea. It really is a photographers dream. There is also a gentle sound of splashing water from the tranquil  fountain, which kept the little ringbearer busy during the ceremony (above right). Notice how the back lit water drops sparkle as they gently fall.

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bride and groom kiss rustic korakiaAfter the ceremony we did a few pics of Ashley & Josh as newlyweds then they were off to enjoy their Cinco de Mayo cocktail hour with mariachis and margaritas. mexico wedding ideas mariachi bride groom palm springs destinationwedding reception palm springs destination photographer

mariachi wedding reception with ring bearer by heather van gaaleEvent planners Celebrations of Joy!  kept things on schedule and did all the beautiful decor, allowing the bride to enjoy her day. Cathy and Dorry are based in Palm Springs and specialize in event design and destination weddings.

Palm Springs hippest restaurant Lulu, catered a wonderful dinner for the casual but elegant family style seating. They were meticulous on attention to detail. Love them!korakia wedding reception with succulent centerpiecespalm springs wedding ideas succulents flower center pieces korakia

The candle lit dark wood tables  contrasted well with the stark white flowers,plates and glassware. The succulent and cactus center pieces were a diy project by Ashley and her friends. Succulents are a perfect alternative to floral centerpieces. They are totally hip and they don’t falter in the hot desert sun . They looked clean and modern planted in white geometric pots with crushed white rocks on top.
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Over the Rainbow Cupcakes and Deserts provided the over-the-top delicious deserts. The chocolate peanut butter salty caramel cupcakes were  equally delicious and photogenic.
palm springs wedding reception

Im all about shooting fashion and portraits and setting the stage,but its the candid moments that I really love. Ashley and Josh’s reception started at dusk beginning with their first dance and heart warming series of toasts.

bride and groom share their first dance at korakia in palm springsKorakia is a quiet boutique hotel in a charming neighborhood. Loud music isn’t allowed. Acoustic guitar was played by Rons Garage Band and a few talented guests during dinner and dances.

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night photo of outdoor reception during full moon at korakia palm springs

The 10 o’clock curfew quickly approached as guest mingled by the fire pits under the largest full moon of the season. Being a destination wedding and Cinco de Mayo, Josh and Ashley rented  a private room at the local bar Sammy G’s to keep the party going.

Sammy G’s is walking distance from the hotel so we headed over there for some outrageous fun. Before leaving I grabbed this shot of the energetic ring bearer not quite ready to leave his mommy’s side.

non traditional wedding photographer heather van gaale

Partying in the reserved room at Sammy G’s (a dive bar) was super fun. Ashley let her hair down and  still looked beautiful after a long day. Josh is an 80s hair cover band so the photos were getting really crazy. I love Josh and Ashley because they understand photography. They have a great appreciation for art and wanted me to capture the gamut from beautiful to the absurd.

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I was digging on the guests getting crazy and grabbed a paparazzi style photo of one of the groomsmen (below).

WEDDING CRASHERS!

Although we had signs that this was a private event, there seemed to be a lot of strangers coming into the room. Not just any strangers, strange strangers. Extremely unusual looking people. Josh and Ashley really love photography so don’t let it be a surprise that the couple pictures below are two of their favorites (lol). We blew one up as art for their wall. There were atleast a dozen crashers and we have photos of all them in weird moments.
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Ashley is so naturally beautiful. Its a hilarious combination to see her paired with the the tacky party crashers.

 

Vendors:

first dance lessons by San Diego based Farrah Valdez 

event planning by Celebrations of Joy!

palm springs restaraunt and catering by Lulu

boutique hotel and wedding venue Korakia Pensione

desert and cupcakes by chef Roman Blas from Over the Rainbow Cupcakes and Desert

 

Non traditional wedding at Ponte Winery Temecula California

                                                                                           Brian & Gina

As a vintage lover myself I seem to get a lot of vintage inspired weddings. Brides that have a love for vintage also love classic photography. Gina and I were a great match because I too prefer to stay away from current trends and special effects to keep the photos timeless and not dated. Wedding photos are unlike pictures in a magazine that are only seen for the current month; they are heirlooms that are viewed for generations. They can be classic but still portray a sense of place and emotion.off beat bride has non traditional wedding

When I photographed Gina & Brian’s wedding I used a mix of film and digital cameras to achieve a classic and up-to-date coverage. I also shot a lot of black & white images to interpret the retro styling that was the theme of her wedding.

Gina wore a short cocktail length dress reminiscent of the 50’s by Dolly Couture. Dolly Couture specializes in vintage style gowns for the bride that wants to be unique. She paired it with a black sash,black velvet platforms  and a classic bird cage veil from Dolly Couture as well.

San Diego based makeup artist Tara Roller completed the look for all the girls with red lips,defined brows,and black liner. Not only did she have a true understanding of how to achieve an authentic 50s look, she was very professional,timely and an absolute doll.

wedding ideas groom attire with skinny ties and classic suits for a vintage reservoir dogs vibeFor Brian’s look to compliment Gina’s non traditional gown he wore a black suit with flat front trousers and a skinny tie as opposed to the traditional tux. I think they look fabulous. Brian pulls off the classic mobster look well!! The suits were from Friar Tux.

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non traditional wedding groomsmen ideas with suits and skinny tiesSeeing each other prior to the wedding can be memorable. Pictured above is Brian on the way to see his bride for the first time that day while she anxiously awaits out of his view.

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off beat bride has retro styling and wears mid length dress and black shoes The wedding colors were a timeless black & white with dramatic splashes of red. Wine country florist Fifi from Finicky Flowers designed a dramatic bouquet  with deep red roses. The roses where highlighted with crystals in the center and black ostrich feathers that added a modern flair.

Many California weddings go by so quickly that seeing each other prior gives the bride and groom more time to enjoy their day together along with friends and family.

non traditional wedding family photosNon traditional brides such as Gina understand that wedding planning doesn’t have rules, only traditions. The non traditional bride does what she believes suits her best and creates new traditions. Gina had her best friend/maid-of-honor  walk her down the isle. I love the bff energy and excitement on their faces.

 

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All the bridesmaids looked sexy and classic with their not-just-for-wedding mid length wiggle dresses from StopStaring.com. They were form fitting and super flattering making the wedding party photos so fun to shoot as each girl channeled her inner pin-up.

non traditional wedding with 55 chevy and retro bridesmaids dresses shot by artistic photographer heather van gaale temecularetro wedding ideas bridesmaids and pin up hairstyles ideasNo extra stretch limos here! A vintage style wedding calls for a red 55 chevy!!  Friends Laura and Todd Shobert that were in the wedding party brought theirs along for the day. We had a blast taking pictures with it! I behaved and didnt ask anyone to sit on the hood.

The wedding and reception was at the gorgeous Ponte Winery in Temecula, California. Ponte winery is super photogenic. Every corner provides a photo op. I love the cypress trees,hedges and rose gardens. The vine covered bridal room is also incredible for photos!!

The reception was held in the barrel room & coordinated by the fabulous DJ’s Steppin Out-In-Style. The DJ’s were a brides and photographers dream. I love DJ’s that keep the guests entertained and follow the pace  of the crowd all the while keeping me posted of important events!

The cake,which I crave when not shooting weddings, was from Jodees Bakery . It was a beautiful classic style with no adornment except a crisp black ribbon,red flowers and a sparkly monogram P on top.

non traditional wedding at winery in temecula california

 

Vintage retro wedding Riverside, California

 

1940’s summer bbq vintage themed wedding of two childhood sweethearts!

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This vintage inspired diy wedding took place in the bride and grooms backyard in Riverside. The atmosphere and casual dress were perfect for the record breaking humidity and heat in the middle of August. It was a hometown country affair jamboree where the groomsmen wore red suspenders and  played the banjo during the vows.

I loved the brides red bird cage veil with her pin-up style red lips. She wore a knee length dress with a break away train that was simply removed at the reception. Her vintage inspired dress had big pockets on each side and  a red gingham belt to compliment the theme.

The tables were adorned with hollowed watermelons filled with water and dahlias. The bales of hay and peanuts spread throughout the yard completed the casual vibe.

To capture the vintage look of this wedding I shot with 2 old canon film cameras and a polaroid. I also shot some with Sam (my magic Samsung cell phone) as well as a canon 5d.

 

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a romantic kiss before a drive in the brides classic car

 

vintage 40s inspired wedding photography

 

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diy wedding photoand the two became one…

Pechanga wedding Karen & Charlie

Karen & Charlies’ wedding at Journey’s Pechanga Resort & Casino

Temecula, California

this is my first blog post of a wedding!  there were many interesting things about karen & charlie i thought theirs would be the perfect wedding to begin blogging with. first of all, when i met them and saw how much they loved each other i was convinced there is no “appropriate” age to get married and couldn’t wait to photograph this adorable couple. i absolutely loved karen’s enthusiasm in planning the wedding and equally loved her creativity in incorporating their personalities with design elements.

charlie is quite the entertainer & owned many radio stations back in the day. they made the k-luv sign in honor of his passion. the red light even turns on & blinks!

karen aka mrs oz to her elementary school students, wore “red ruby slippers” for her dancing shoes at the reception.

fifi from finicky flowers in murrieta designed the flowers for the wedding. aside from being a talented florist, she is a die hard romantic! all the extra cute details she did made me say “awwwwwww”.  pictured above is one of her striking arrangements featuring exotic white orchids, yellow roses & brilliant peacock feathers overflowing from a rustic copper pedestal.

the wedding took place indoors at the magnificent journey’s golf clubhouse at pechanga casino. the decor there is earthy meets modern rustic. by using natural elements of fire, water, earth & sky native traditions are woven together to create a compelling atmosphere.

karen & charlie’s wedding took place indoors overlooking the golfcourse, sacred oaks and rocky hillside. typically rain panics the bride, but the sixty foot windows flooded the venue with the raddest natural light & the stormy sky became a magical backdrop in the cozy clubhouse.

they wrote their own vows and told each other they were very hip.sundance chief & well known spiritual advisor john funmaker performed a  native marriage blessing.  sacred traditions have been passed down for over 1000 years from the original lakota people. it is important to have the 5 elements present as well as the young & old. the 5 elements are the necessities of life & the young & old represent the transition to the spirit world. the bride & grooms hands were tied together symbolizing their  unbreakable bond. then they were covered with a blanket as they were cleansed with the burning of sage.

the color yellow was carefully chosen by the bride & groom. charlie’s pet name for karen is sunshine; so they adorned the place in a cheerful sunny palette of golds. usually a color scheme chosen only for a summer or fall wedding, the unexpected yellow provided a welcoming warmth for a wintery day.

karen & charlie love to dance & have a good time. pictured above is karen groovin’ with her ruby slippers on. if you look closely you can see the yellow petals referencing the yellow brick road.

after the toast they told a wonderful story on how they discovered temecula and of their love for the valley. on the cake, provided by jodee’s bakery, was a wine country motif and the k-luv tower as an artistic touch.

the couple was so sweet they invited all the vendors to stay for dinner as their guests.

the reception was filled with family & long time friends. karen’s maid of honor was the maid of honor in her first wedding in 1965!! and charlie’s best man was the best man in his wedding  in 1963!!