wedding style

The Trees, Occidental Styled Shoot


For this spring-inspired styled shoot, vendors from the Sonoma County Wedding Collective came together to showcase their offbeat, artisan talents, with Nicki Wolfe Events + Spaces at the helm. The shoot stepped away from overplayed Spring trends, with the mood set by Northern California redwoods at The Trees in Occidental. From the beginning, we held tight to the idea of Woodsy California meets upstate New York, with our inspirational yet imaginary image of a couple of romantic cool kids taking over the family summer Cabin; coming in an dusting off the winter and ushering in the spring...

The unique venue features a 1950’s guesthouse designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright protege — the perfect setting for a romantic, hip couple with artistic style. Upon arrival, guests are welcomed by a lounge area with an unforgettable whiskey bar, appetizers, and refreshments in the courtyard. The house’s vintage dining room sets the scene for an intimate post-ceremony dinner. Dessert is enjoyed around the warm fireplace.


Juxtaposition and contrasting elements was the driving theme that ran through the entire shoot. Each element was weighed against the ideas of:  old + new, hard + soft, dark + light, youth + wisdom. We really focused on placing the freshness of spring against the vintage + lovingly worn elements in the house and the verdant forest beyond.  Luscious greens and indigo blues were played against gold & brass accents and delicate spring flora. The day's shoot was a race against the rain, and when it started to really come down, we altered bits of the plan and played more with the cozy vibe than was our initial intention. And just like a real wedding day, it was perfect, with everything turning out just the way it was meant to be. 


In Praise of the Wedding Gown with Sleeves

Louise Brooks, as always, a model for elegance and good taste.

We here at the Sonoma County Wedding Collective have decided to start regularly posting helpful advice for folks who are planning weddings, in Sonoma County as well as in other places. And now that it's my turn, there is something I need to get off my chest.

Ladies, this is your photographer speaking. 

In the name of all that is gorgeous and practical, I beg you to reject the nefarious international conspiracy that promotes sleeveless & strapless wedding gowns. 

Now, it's true some people look great in sleeveless gowns, particularly my wonderful past clients who have worn them.  And, if you have already bought one of these confections, I am sure you will look great in it (or at least... I, as your photographer, will make it so!) But the truth is, tube tops are not very flattering for most people, and the strapless wedding gown is, I'm sorry to say, essentially a glorified tube top.

But even if you are one of those people with amazing armpits (whatever that might mean to you! ... let's reject conventional standards of beauty here), I ask you to consider whether you will want to be grabbing your neckline with both hands throughout your whole wedding and hiking up your dress as it keeps scootching down throughout the night.  Because that is what happens.  I have thrown away hundreds of photographs depicting this gesture and no, I am not tasteless enough to post them.

On the flip side, let's consider the beautiful and myriad options for gown necklines. From a photographer's point of view, a neckline is like a wonderful frame for the face and neck. And one must have sleeves (or at least straps) to have a neckline. 

Below Louise Brooks, I've posted some examples of fantastic gowns (and brides) from past weddings I've shot, plus a couple of styled shoots.  If you want to see more images of these lovely creatures, you can: try Louise Brooks' Wedding Style Inspiration, Amy & ChristopherLiz & Jeff, and of course our Fall Inspiration shoot which is all over the SCWC website.

It's all part of my international conspiracy to improve the lives and photos of brides everywhere.

Sleeves... huzzah!

xoxo, Sara