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Folksonomy > pacific oaks vineyard estate
February 19th, 2010

This post is Part 3 of a 4-part series. Read Part 1Read Part 2 – Read Part 3 – Read Part 4

Pacific Oaks Vineyard Estate is an ideal location for weddings. You really have to see it to understand. You’d also have to meet Judy, the owner, who is very sweet and easy to work with. She is at least half of what makes the location so ideal. Her husband is a Southerner (like me, he is from South Carolina) and the property is a blend of California natural beauty and Southern architectural charm.

There’s a vineyard, of course, that slopes down a hill to catch the light of the setting sun in quite a romantic way. It’s a real functioning vineyard with a small winery attached to it; at our initial tour of the place, Judy gave us each a sample bottle of her wine. (I drank it with my sister Esther later that evening. It was delicious.) Behind the main house is a ceremony garden with a lush green lawn, and in front of it, huge oak trees and redwood benches. The two large decks are ideal for gathering people and staging events like cake-cutting, bouquet-tossing, and the like. A cheerfully yellow guest room is provided for brides to use in getting ready, mere steps away from the entrance to the ceremony garden. The property is immaculately kept and lovingly tended, and everything is laid out to make the logistics of a wedding day simpler and smoother.

The interior space is not available for weddings, but we got to see it when we scoped out the location. That pool house is amazing! I must say it would be pretty great to get married in that pool. I’d make all the guests take their places in rows in the shallow end, and I’d float down the aisle to the deep end on an inflatable giraffe. We’d make use of the great acoustics in that room by shouting our vows at top volume. Somebody (the aforementioned very talented musician sister Esther?) would cannonball into the pool and then play love songs on the panflute. It would be magical.

But this isn’t about me and my fictional love story, it’s about Jill and Chase and their very real one. They timed their ceremony perfectly. The golden hour was almost upon us when the ceremony ended and we started walking around taking portraits. At Pacific Oaks there are lots of intimate little nooks, great for posing and even better for kissing. We encouraged Jill and Chase to take full advantage of this.

We were pleasantly surprised to encounter some friendly young chickens in the vineyard. Chickens again! One of our favorite wedding shots of all time involves chickens; you can see it in this earlier post. These chickens must be treated well and given everything a chicken could ask for in this life. They followed us around and seemed to want us to pick them up. One of them did try to steal Jill’s ring, but who could blame the chicken? It’s a nice ring!

February 15th, 2010

This post is Part 2 of a 4-part series. Read Part 1 – Read Part 2 – Read Part 3Read Part 4

I’ve had many chances by now to witness the phenomenon of the nervous bride. I always imagined the nervousness came from the public nature of the ceremony, from knowing how many people will be watching her walk down the aisle, speak her vows, manage her dress/veil/shoes/hair/makeup/jewelry situation. That’s what I’d be nervous about, anyway. But what if there are no guests? Does a bride still get nervous before the wedding?

If Jill is any indication of what brides do, then the answer is definitely yes. Despite the fact that there were only four people watching her get married, despite her high level of comfort with all of those people, Jill was quite jittery before the ceremony. So jittery that Jill G. (the stylist) and I had to coax her out of the door towards the altar, where Chase was waiting patiently. He, of course, knew exactly how Jill would react to the walk down the aisle, and had the perfect encouraging smile on his face to draw her to where he stood under the canopy. By the time she got there, Jill was confident and laughing.

Why the nerves? Without firsthand experience, I can’t say for sure, but I think it might be that whole making-a-lifetime-commitment thing, guests or no guests. That’s a very big deal even when it’s not done in front of a crowd. Or maybe it’s the feeling that comes from suddenly realizing just how far the current of love has carried you. All the way to this moment, to these promises, to a point you didn’t think of reaching when you were first swept off of your feet by that wave.

It’s a very solemn and serious thing, this matrimony stuff, which made it extra funny when the ring got dropped before the ceremony could even start, and everyone under the canopy had to get down on the ground to search for it under the flower petals.

The vows for this ceremony were sweet, written by Jill and Chase themselves, and they integrated beautifully with the words of the officiant, Dr. Carrell Zaehn. You can find out more about Dr. Carrell here. The vows describe their love better than I ever could, and I was touched as I watched them say the words to each other from my vantage point under the canopy, a mere three feet away from them. It’s rare to have an opportunity to shoot a bride and groom at such close range. Patrick shot from the balcony that looked over the ceremony garden. Such opportunities are less rare for him. Give that guy a hill or a balcony or a rickety wooden thing to stand on while he takes pictures, and he’s right at home.

And now it’s time to let the photos tell the story. Tune in tomorrow for Part 3! For more about Pacific Oaks Vineyard Estate, click here.