Let’s say you want to plan the most gorgeous and fun wedding you can dream up, a day where you get all your friends and family together for a touching ceremony and a super fun party, the kind of day that everyone will remember and talk about for years. Let’s also say, just for the sake of argument, that you have no idea how to go about doing this. Well, let me humbly suggest that you use Monica & Kyle’s Olympia’s Valley Estate wedding as a template, because they threw one of the most amazing weddings I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing.
Let’s start with the venue, Olympia’s Valley Estate in Petaluma. A working farm with an elegant Victorian home for getting ready and a huge wooden barn for the reception. Those two elements would be enough to send me to photo location heaven, but that’s not all. They have a vintage car. A hammock. Willow trees. Old wooden buildings. A pond, with a dock and a canoe. Rolling hills with roaming cows. And many other locations that we didn’t even have time to explore.
I mean, look at the image at the top of this blog post: A bride and groom in a canoe on a pond at sunset … are you kidding me?
And it’s not just any couple that would agree to step into a canoe in their wedding outfits during the middle of their reception. But Monica & Kyle are super adventurous, and were totally game to paddle around the pond. And also to get into a hammock, while my superstar associate photographer Conner Jay climbed a tree to shoot down at them.
Monica & Kyle also planned a great surprise for all their friends — a performance by a cover band that they love, the Fog City Swampers. And if things weren’t fun enough before that, when the band started playing, things got crazy fun. I’m the kind of photographer who likes it when receptions get a little raucous, so when I found myself surrounded by sweaty sing-alongs and shirtless shenanigans, I couldn’t stop smiling. Let’s just say that these folks know how to party.
Monica & Kyle truly put together an event that reflected them as a couple — from the giant wedding party that included so many of their friends, to the details like the Notre Dame athletics-inspired “Marry Like a Champion Today” sign that hung above the reception.
There’s a huge selection of my favorite photos in the gallery below.