Lauren & Ben :: Rancho Valencia :: Rancho Santa Fe

There’s truly no better job in the world than being a San Diego based wedding photographer.  This beautiful city of ours has some of the best people and wedding venues in the country.  One of those wedding venues is the always exquisite Rancho Valencia Resort.  This gorgeous property sits back in the countryside of Rancho Santa Fe and offers some of the best service, ambiance, and prestige in all of San Diego.  

I met Lauren and Ben at my office in La Jolla after several people had recommend us to photograph their wedding.  They lived in Chicago and had decided to have their wedding in San Diego.  When I first chatted with them I instantly knew I was going to love them.  They had a fantastic energy and the love they shared for one another was extremely evident.  They talked to me about their vision for the day and how excited they were for the wedding.

The big day was here! I walked into the bridal suite and gave Lauren a big hug.  She was just finishing up her makeup and everything was looking great!  I have to tell you, I’ve walked into hundreds of bridal suites over the years of photographing weddings and never have I seen such a calm and relaxed group of ladies.  It was a party!  Everyone was having a great time, popping champagne, telling stories, it just the way it should be.

Lauren got into her wedding dress and couldn’t have looked anymore beautiful.  The intricate design, along with the the cut of the dress was perfect for her.  Soon she was down the isle, walking towards the love of her life.  It was a beautiful ceremony and you could tell by the end everyone was ready to party and celebrate, but first we needed to photograph their couples photos.  

The best part about the Rancho Valencia is that anywhere you go on the property is gorgeous.  We went over to the spa where they had a beautiful meditation garden.  The zen pond soon became an interesting area to shoot and to my surprise Lauren and Ben jumped on to a little island in the middle of it.  You have to see those photos below. 

The reception was a party.  Lauren and Ben’s family and friends danced the evening away and were celebrating the day to the fullest. They were a fantastic group of people.  At the end of the night I really wanted to get them some photos in front of the iconic tree located outside the main lobby.  We brought the lights out front and finished the night off with some beautiful images in front of that old lit up tree.  

Lauren and Ben, thank you so much for allowing us to capture your beautiful day.  You two were so fun to work with and I sincerely wish the best for you and your families!

Melanie & Alex :: The Villa :: San Juan Capistrano

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Mel and Alex now for several years.  I’ve shot a couple of their friends weddings and over the last year we’ve become friends ourselves.  Needless to say when they asked me to photograph their San Juan Capistrano Wedding at The Villa I was beyond excited!  Excited because they were getting married, but also because I couldn’t wait to get them so beautiful images from the wedding.  I’m always trying to show off to my buddies.  ;)

Do you know that saying “ It’s good luck if it rains on your wedding day”, well if thats true then Mel and Alex have the best luck out there.  We didn’t let it bother us too much and to be honest the cloud cover provided some very soft and defused lighting which we took full advantage of.

The wedding went off without a hitch!  The day was filled with beautiful moments and great laughs.  I was so happy for them!  Congratulations Mel and Alex!! You two are the best!

Erin & Matt :: The U.S. Grant Hotel :: San Diego Ca

The U.S. Grant is one of my favorite places to photograph weddings in downtown San Diego.  Naturally I was so excited when Erin and Matt asked me to photograph their wedding.  When I first met with them at my office in La Jolla I instantly liked them. The had such warm comfort with each other and I knew that familiarity would produce great images.

It was a beautiful San Diego day!  A few clouds in sky with 72 degrees as a high in the forecast.   When I arrived at the U.S. Grant’s presidential suite, Erin was just finishing up her hair and makeup.  She looked perfect.  Now came the dress!  Erin had ordered a stunning, custom Berta Bridal wedding dress.  The amount of detail and craftsmanship that was put in to this dress only further solidified Berta’s reputation with me.  A one of a kind dress!

The ceremony took place in the Crystal Ball at the U.S. Grant.  Candles illuminatedthe isle as Erin’s father walked her closer to the man she was about to marry.  After the ceremony we took them out into the city for their portraits. They were so natural together!  I rarely even had to direct them, instead I just turned them lose andwe captured candid and organic moments until the sun had set over the bay.

It’s weddings like this that inspire and motivate me. Erin and Matt, I wish you all the happiness and success in the world.  Thank you so much for letting my team and I be a part of such a memorable day in your lives!

Alyssa & Tanner :: Bel Air Bay Club :: Malibu, CA

I’m always telling people that I get the most wonderful couples in this industry.  Alyssa and Tanner were no exception. These two wonderful people truly deserved each other and I was honored to be a part of this momentous day.  Their beautiful seaside wedding at the Bel Air Bay Club in Malibu was stunning.  A perfect vista of the Pacific Ocean with the Santa Monica Mountains behind us.  A one of a kind venue to celebrate this timeless ritual we call marriage.  Enjoy the beautiful story told through my camera of Alyssa and Tanners wedding day.

San Diego's Best Engagement Session Locations

Congratulations!! Chances are you’re engaged and here to find out where my favorite spots for engagement photos are in San Diego.  I’ve been photographing weddings here in San Diego for over 8 years and one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is “ where should we have our engagement photos taken”.  Being born and raised in San Diego, I know that this county is vast with beautiful architecture, stunning beaches, and breathtaking vistas.  From our almost perfect weather year round, San Diego is truly America’s most beautiful city.  

So here is my top 8 engagement session locations in San Diego. Not in any particular order, just 8 locations that photograph well and produce beautiful results.

 

The La Jolla Beaches

La Jolla or “ the Jewel “ in Spanish, is know for it’s beautiful hilly terrain and 7 miles of unsurpassed coastline.  This exquisite coastline is undoubtably home to some of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego if not the state.  Almost any beach in La Jolla will provide you with the perfect backdrop to your engagement photos.

 

The San Diego County fair in Del Mar

Now I’m not normally one to promote locations that are seasonal or that only run for a certain amount of time but, if the stars align and you can plan to have your engagement session durning the days of June 2nd and July 4th then you may want to consider the San Diego County fair.  It’s funny, typically you would want to steer clear of anywhere that has a ton ofpeople for your engagement session, but here at the fair, the more the merrier.  The candid approach that I took for this couple worked out very well with this hectic fair background.

 

Downtown San Diego

Downtown San Diego is a great location for your engagement photos.  If you’re looking for that architecture or urban feel than downtown could be the place for you.  What I suggest is to just park somewhere near East Village or the convention center and work your way around.  You’ll surly run into some beautiful paths, buildings, and may even get some photos with our red trolleys in the back ground.  Heck, if you know the right people you could even end up on the top of a skyscraper for sunset.  :)

 

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a 1200 acre park thats sits just north of downtown and looks over the beautiful San Diego skyline.  The park is lavish with open space areas, greenbelts, gardens, walking paths and historical buildings that have mostly become museums.  The buildings have a Spanish Colonial revival architectural style with some hints of Mission revival scattered about.  There really isn’t any bad areas to take a photo in Balboa Park and this makes it a popular attraction to visitors.  It’s a spectacular place full of diverse backdrops and architecture.  You could easily spend the entire day there and not see all that the park has to offer.

 

The Laguna mountains

Maybe your not really a beach person.  You may prefer pine trees to palm tress and meadows to concrete.  Somewhere with mountain peaks take the place of downtown skyscrapers, well I have the place for you!  About an hour east of San Diego lies the beautiful Laguna mountain range.  With elevations hitting upwards of 6,000 feet, these mountains provide a lovely contrast to the more commonly known beach scape of San Diego.  Up here you’ll find beautiful lakes, green meadows and forests of pine trees.  Beautiful little towns are buried up in these mountains like Julian and Cuyamaca,  offering a quint and country feel to your engagement photos.

 

Coronado Island

Coronado Island, which really isn’t an island at all, more like a peninsula with an island on the end of it, is home to one of the largest Navy bases in the western United States.  It’s also home to the beautiful island Village of Coronado. It’s a vast array of beaches and of course home to the historic Hotel del Coronado. Coronado also offers some charming mid-century colonial and Spanish style architecture and beautiful views of the downtown San Diego skyline.  Another wonderful place for an engagement session.

 

Torrey Pines State Preserve and Beach

Torrey Pines State Preserve is definitely one of the more unique beaches in San Diego.  There’s 2 main parts to the preserve.  The lower part which is all beautiful beaches butted up to high cliffs, and the top section which sits high above atop of the cliffs. It’s riddled with some of the best seaside hiking trails, canyons, and vistas in California.  It’s a wonderful setting for those who love nature and the ocean.  The two different levels gives you the most wonderful contrast in looks and feel.  I always suggest doing a wardrobe change in-between.

 

Sunset Cliffs

Sunset cliffs has always been a special place to me.  I have always found this strip of steep seaside cliffs so alluring.  Maybe because it’s so different than the other beaches in San Diego.  At Sunset cliffs you’ll more likely be standing on top of the cliffs than down with your toes in the sand.  The view from the top of the cliffs is outstanding and it’s one of the views in San Diego that makes me remember how big the world is.  It’s a magical place at sunset!  

Gianna & Jordan :: Founders Chapel // Farmer & the Seahorse :: La Jolla CA

I absolutely LOVED working with Jordan, Gianna and their families. This was such a special day and I had an amazing time documenting it for them. The entire day was a beautiful celebration followed by a legendary party!

Imagine walking into the Founders Chapel at USD and seeing everyone adorned in white! Over 250 guests dressed in all white by the request of the bride and groom. It was definitely magical. The ceremony was so beautiful and captured the love of Jordan and Gianna. Shortly after, we found ourselves at Farmer and the Seahorse ( a Brian Malarkey restaurant located in La Jolla). 

As the night sky fell, the reception began to glow .The entire scene was lit by string lights and candles. The reception kept with the entire white theme. I was able to witnessa very special moment between the father of the bride and his beloved daughter. This father had been taking accordion lessons to prepare for the most special day of his daughters life. It was quite a touching performance! 

The guests danced the night away to the music of a live band. Everyone was on their feet until the very end. This was truly one of the most fun weddings that I have been a part of! Thank you so much for allowing me the honor of celebrating with you two. It was such an incredible day!

 

Leah and Joe :: Maderas Country Club :: San Diego Ca

Leah and Joe are one of those couples that everyone loves.  From the moment I had met with them I knew I wanted to be a part of their special day!  I was lucky enough to spend sometime with them during their engagement session prior to the wedding.  We all packed into our cars and headed an hour east to the Laguna mountain range just east of San Diego.  I really got a chance to get to know them on that trip.  I find when I’m able to build a relationship with my couples it translates into their photos and provides a relaxed and uniquely authentic mood in the photography.

From that day I photographed their engagement session time had seemed to fast forward and now the day was here.  All those preparations and countless hours of planning had now culminated into this one day. 

It was a relaxed and exciting mood as I walked into the bridal house on the Madera’s Country Club property. Leah and her bridesmaids were enjoying champagne and coffee, laughing and preparing for the day ahead.  A wonderful and appropriate combination if you ask me.    

Soon after Leah’s dress went on we out the door and heading over for their first look.  Leah slowly approached Joe and tapped him from behind on the shoulder.  Joe turned and saw his beautiful bride before him.  This is always such a moving experience for couples.  The moment when you first see each other on your wedding day.

The day went forward perfectly and right before the sunset I snuck the couple out for some beautiful portraits.  The lighting was magical and it was nice just to have a few minutes to capture what this day was really all about; the love between two people.

Leah and Joe, I wish you both years and years of love, laughter and success in anything you do.  Thank you so much for letting me be part of such a beautiful day in your lives.

Glaiza & Brandon :: Natural History Museum :: San Diego Ca

I remember first meeting with Glaiza and Brandon about their wedding.  They had this wonderful wholesomeness about them.  They told me that after the Catholic ceremony their reception would be held at the San Diego Natural History Museum.  This was a first time for me at this venue.  It had been years since I had been to the museum and I was excited to photograph a wedding there knowing all of the opportunity the venue had in store.

I walked into the bridal suite at the Manchester Grande Hyatt and was greeted by a calm, yet exciting mood.  Glaiza had her family and bridesmaids there helping make sure that every detail was in order.  She laughed and giggled with a glass of champagne in her hand as I’m sure she wasn’t very use to people taking photos of her while having her makeup applied.  The dress went on with jewelry and shoes to follow.  She looked beautiful and I knew Brandon was going to be blown away when he sees her walking down that isle.

The ceremony took place at undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Catholic Churches in San Diego; the Immaculate at the University of San Diego.  Family and friends filled the pews to witness the beginning of something special in the lives of two amazing people. 

Off we were to the Natural History Museum.  I walked through the doors and couldn’t believe the transformation of the venue.  Dinosaurs were next to the cake table, fossils were flirting with bouquets of flowers, it was something to see.  The celebration went late into the night as Glaiza and Brandon’s guest danced and rejoiced. 

Glaiza and Brandon, I feel so honored that you allowed me to be part of such a special day in your lives.  I wish you all the happiness in the world!  

Lani & Darren :: Martin Johnson House :: La Jolla, Ca

Lani and Darren were a little bit of a mystery to me before their engagement session.  I knew Lani had a deep love and respect for the ocean and it’s vast array of life. When we first we concepting her engagement session she asked me if we could start at the Scripps Birch aquarium then head down to Blacks Beach for the remainder of the shoot.  I was surprised, Blacks Beach is not a beach you just dive up to.  The remote beach is in an isolated cove and requires a quarter mile trek through sharp rocks, ever-changing tides and swells.  If you time the tide wrong, you’ll most likely being swimming back home.  Never the less this was what they wanted and I was excited at the chance to shoot at what is no doubt one of San Diego’s loveliest and remote beaches.

The beautiful and natural interaction that Lani and Darren had made for stunning photos.  I rarely had to pose them and really just photographed organic moments that happened naturally.  I enjoyed working with them that day and really got a sense of who they were and what they meant to each other.

Now here we are on their wedding day.  Sitting on top of the steep La Jolla cliffs, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, stands the Martin Johnson House.  A quaint, cottage style home nestled between 100-year-old cypress trees.    Built in 1916, the house was originally used as a home for the Scripps Institute’s professors and their families.  This one of a kind wedding venue has some of the best ocean views in San Diego.

Lani and Darren’s day was perfect.  From their ceremony to the reception, it couldn’t have gone any better.  I left the wedding that night feeling truly honored to have been part of such a great story.  Two amazing people who compliment each other fall in love.

Lani and Darren, I hope you both have a life time of beautiful memories!  Thank you so much for letting me be a part of such a special day in your lives.

Liz & Michael :: U.S. Grant Wedding :: San Diego Ca

Liz and Michael are one of those couples that you know you're going to become friends with after the wedding.  Ever since I photographed their engagement session I have just enjoyed hanging out with them.  They’re easy going, funny, and LOVE Disneyland!  I knew their wedding was going to be something fun and special!

For me to write about it just won’t give it justice.  Thankfully I’m a photographer and not a writer because if there wasn’t a bunch of awesome photos below I know most of you would have already left by now.  J

The day started out exactly where it would end, at the historical U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego.  I have to tell you this, I have never in my 350 + weddings walked into such a calm bridal suite.  Liz and her bridesmaids were laughing and sipping on champagne while getting ready in their gorgeous presidential suite.  If there wasn’t a beautiful white, wedding dress hanging in front of a window I would have thought they were all getting ready for a fabulous gala.

Off we were on an Old Town Trolley headed for the Founders Chapel at the University of San Diego.  The beautiful Catholic Church is one of my favorites in San Diego.  I guess it’s the rich, elegant feel of the church that always draws me in.  After the ceremony we found some secluded courtyards outside of the church and took full advantage of them for photos.  We had the Trolley take us over to Balboa Park where we really concentrated on Liz and Mike’s bridal portraits.  The beautiful Spanish inspired architecture provided us a perfect backdrop to the photos. 

When we arrived back at the U.S. Grant I was blown away on how Amy and her team at First Comes Love had transformed the Celestial ballroom.  It was spectacular!  As guest greeted themselves into room the first thing they would see is a magnificent wedding cake adorn with white orchids and blush garden roses.  Elaine and her team at Sweets Cheeks Baking Company had truly outdone themselves on this regal and sweet creation. 

The evening went along perfectly.  Guest danced and celebrated while Earl with My DJ’s kept the dance floor full.  The day was a beautiful success and I was so grateful and honored to be a part of it. 

Liz and Mike, I wish you two a lifetime of happiness and success!  Thank you for letting us be a part of such a momentous day in your history!  Congratulation!!

Jane & Mike :: Paradise Point Resort :: San Diego California

Not only a perfect day but an awesome couple!  I got to spend a bit of time with Jane and Mike before their wedding and really enjoyed hanging out and chatting with them.  For their engagement session we drove 3 hours out to the Anza Borrego desert and I learned a lot about each of them and why they are so great together.  It was a great time and the photos were epic! You can see their engagement session in the dessert here. 

Fast forward a few months and now we’re at the gorgeous Paradise Point Resort.  A lovely island resort just outside of the downtown area of San Diego.  It’s surrounded by the beautiful and calm waters of Mission bay and if you just woke up there you’d think  you were on some tropical island in the South Pacific.   

The day went by so quick and soon the party was off and running.  Guest enjoyed themselves as Jane owned the dance floor all night long.  I can’t recall another wedding were a bride danced that much!  You rocked it Jane!!

Jane and Mike, I wish you both so many wonderful years of love and happiness!  It was a true pleasure being part of your amazing day!

 

Tania & Scott :: The Rancho Bernardo Inn :: Rancho Bernardo, Ca

I just loved working with Tania and Scott!  Ever since I first met with them I knew they would be a fun and rewarding couple to work with.  We started off their beautiful day at the Rancho Bernardo Inn where they were both preparing for the day ahead.  Tania looked absolutely amazing as her bridesmaids and family made sure every detail was perfect. 

Shortly after we were off to St Gregory the Great Catholic Church.  The ceremony was beautiful in this gorgeous Catholic church. The couple did not have a first look so you can imagine the joy and love on Scott’s face and his soon to be wife walked down the isle with her dad.  There were so many precious moments during the ceremony. 

After the family photos we were off and heading back to the Rancho Bernardo Inn for the reception.  On our way to cocktail hour we stopped and found a beautiful little courtyard perfectly backlit by the warm sun.  We grabbed Tania and Scott and took full advantage of the gorgeous light. 

The evening went on just as it should and before we knew day had turned into night and the celebration was well on it’s way.  Tania and Scott’s family and friends packed the dance floor and the energy was electric!  It was just how this monumental should be, a beautiful celebration of two peoples love and the joining of two families.

Tania and Scott, you two were such a pleasure to work with!  I truly enjoyed being a part of your special day and wish all the happiness in the world.

Kristy & Joey :: San Diego County Fair Engagement :: Del Mar, Ca

I've known Kristy for about 5 years and needless to say I was ecstatic when she called me last week and told me she got engaged!  Kristy already had amazing ideas for her engagement session and wanted it photographed at the San Diego County fair.  The only issue was that the fair ends July 4th so of course I rearranged my schedule to get her in.  I think I was just as excited as she was for this shoot.  I've never shot an engagement session at the fair but I was totally pumped for it.  As soon as I met Joey and knew that this was going to be a great shoot.  He had a great energy and positive attitude.  Above all I could immediately see that they were madly in love!  This is Kristy and Joey's engagement story! Enjoy!

Rosie & Damian :: The Sheraton :: San Diego, Ca

I really do get the most wonderful couples in all the world.  Even at almost 50 weddings a year I still seem to get excited and anxious before each wedding I photograph.  Maybe it’s because each wedding is so different and unique, or maybe it’s because my couples are so awesome and I want to make sure they get the most amazing pictures ever.   Whatever it might be, I’ll keep putting tons of love in to my photos so that my clients and their families can enjoy these memories for decades to come.

And speaking of love, can we talk about Rosie and Damian’s wedding! Talk about a fun and beautiful couple, Rosie and Damian were all around great people with just amazing personalities.  I just love the way their photos turned out!! 

We started off at Rosie’s family's home where her mom and sister were making sure every detail was nothing less than perfect.  Their gorgeous ceremony took place at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Little Italy and was presided over by long time priest, Father Louis.

After the beautiful mass when made our way over to the Sheraton for the reception.  I knew it was going to be a party as soon as I walked in the ballroom.  Rosie and Damian’s family and friends were ready to start dancing and partying this night away.  It was an epic evening and I was truly happy to be a part of this momentous day in their lives.  

Congratulations Rosie and Damian!  You two deserve each other and I wish you a life full of love and happiness!