I’ve been shooting weddings for quite some time and you know which weddings are the highlight of my career? The ones where couples create an experience for those lucky people attending their celebration. And I’m not talking about just the expensive food or luxury venue kind of experience. What I am talking about is something that will make their circle of close friends even closer. And one way to do it is to invite everyone to go with you far, far away.

Do you know how many times I’ve heard from the couples who are having traditional weddings but who told me about their initial plans to get married in Tuscany or in France, etc.? Many, many times. And you know what usually kills these plans? The planning process itself. At some point, they realize that it is simply not possible. In addition to the financial aspect, getting the right people to the opposite part of the globe is a tremendous task. And those who can, potentially have 200 plus local guests. These couples are the first to scrap the idea since most of their guests won’t be able to make the trip. Jobs, kids, plans … you name it.

But even if you manage to get all these folks on board, securing venues, getting the right vendors, booking flights, hotels, and activities it becomes a full-time job. So how many can really pull this off? Very few really.

My job as a photographer to create art and the location should not be a top priority. I’ve had couples who spent hundreds of thousands on their wedding and I had a couple who got married in my backyard and their only expense was me. But, guilty as charged, I do get excited when something new and exciting and, yes, challenging comes my way. And it happened the moment I first spoke with Nastya.

When she told me about her Thailand wedding I got excited but was pretty pessimistic (read above) since I knew that the odds of her pulling this off were against her. But the more time we spent on it, I started to think that this was actually going to happen. Now, looking back and more importantly knowing Nastya better, I am not sure why I thought the Thailand wedding wouldn’t happen. Nastya is an energetic person with a huge heart that has room for love for all the people beyond her inner circle.

Kanoa. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to chat with him about the wedding too much. But I know for sure that without his blessing this destination wedding would not have happened. Kanoa is a busy man with a full-time job and another full-time job as a bar owner. And yet he was ready to go along with Nastya’s plan. He even agreed to hire me instead of hiring a local Thai photographer for a tiny fraction of the cost. Most guys wouldn’t do that because it doesn’t make sense. Kanoa did it.

They had a ceremony in a beautiful “little” resort they rented on AirBNB and were able to fit their entire family there. The rest of us stayed nearby.

When I get a call from a couple that planning to get married in Fairmont I am all ears. When I hear it will be a Persian wedding, I am intrigued. When bride mentions two separate sets of friends whose weddings I’ve photographed before, I get excited. And when that bride tells me that they already decided on their photographer… well… I am not sure I have the right words for this feeling. They booked me without looking at anyone else.

I am well aware that I am surrounded by good photographers so very few couples would give up their right to shop around. But that is exactly what Maryam and Ashkan did not do. When something like this happens I get nervous: what if my style is not exactly what they want? What if they are putting too much trust in me without doing their homework? These and other questions came to mind. I can’t believe I still get nerviness after 15 years of photographing weddings.

Most of my couples run a pretty serious research when hiring a wedding photographer. I had couples told me more than once that they have met with at least 5-6 photographers, I once heard nine meetings. And these are just meetings. Imagine all the online research that goes into it. So when bride that met five other photographers hires me, I am pretty calm: I know that they are familiar with my style. I might have other concerns but mainly related to logistics.

I covered Persian weddings before. And let me tell you: you should have Persian friends and get yourself invited into one of these. There wasn’t a single moment when the dance floor wasn’t packed. And I’ve seen Russian, Indian and Jewish weddings so I can compare. Persian weddings are crazy! And dance floor packed by all generations and for all night!

To me it’s like a photographer’s paradise: wherever you point your camera, there is something to capture! And it’s not just action but family love! Someone hugs or kisses someone, people look at each other like they have known each other their entire life. And in the middle of all this the Bride and the Groom. And me….

They first met in 2007 when they were both freshly single and neither was ready for a relationship. She and Ashkan have a bunch of fun just going about their everyday life. On their sort-of first date which was on her birthday, Ashkan left his car lights on so they returned to his car which, by then, had a dead battery. Maryam had to shuttle him back and forth to get his battery jumped. Pretty good excuse to see her again…

Ashkan planned a proposal with a limousine to take them to a cute boutique restaurant in San Francisco. Maryam, however, was nervous (Yeah… aren’t you supposed to keep limos out of proposals, Ashkan?). Well, as soon as their salad was served she said, “Give it to me already!”…

A destination wedding was their first thought but it wasn’t long until they realized that the complexity and the many unpredictable elements made it too stressful. Since they had met and dated in San Francisco, they decided to marry in their favorite city. Nine months of stressful wedding planning led up to their beautiful wedding at the Fairmont in the City. They were surrounded by the love of family and friends.

Kayla finds Kiko not only tall, dark, and handsome but also incredibly intelligent. For a quiet guy, he outdid himself when they closed the restaurant on their first date after seven hours of getting to know each other. She says he’s full of heart, compassionate, patient, and kind. Kayla says he’s also a goof ball but I am not sure about that part. Or perhaps I left too early to witness it.

Kiko is just as wild about Kayla. He says, “Kayla is nothing short of amazing … the years we’ve spent together have been the best of my life and it’s all because of her … she’s got beauty, smarts, kindness, humility, and compassion”—to name a few of her wonderful traits. He feels, “… blessed that she’ll be by my side from this day forward.”

I never met Kayla before the wedding. Our entire communication was via emails but it didn’t take me more than 5 minutes to realize that Kiko is right: she is very special. I can spot this pretty quick. How? – Do you ask? By the way, people look at her. That’s how. Oh (almost forgot) and later on I got an email from Ritz Carlton. They want her wedding to be submitted to magazines. And if Ritz wants photos featured, the bride MUST be special. Also, if you want to see more photos of their wedding, check out Borrowed and Blue. They have a larger collection.

On the night they got engaged, the earth rocked. Literally. Returning to their bungalow at Los Carneros after a day touring wineries in Napa Valley, Kiko proposed to Kayla in his typical, quiet manner. No one would have known that he had had the engagement ring in his pocket all day. He’d arranged for a car to pick them up and take them to dinner. When they returned, there was a path of rose petals in their bungalow, the fire was lit, and the champagne was poured. A proposal day couldn’t have gone more smoothly. That is until a 6.0 earthquake rocked them awake at 3 a.m. and they were pretty much at the epicenter. It’s tempting to add a cliche phrase here, but I won’t.


The ceremony, Old St. Mary’s Cathedral. Reception, Ritz Carlton. Flowers, Michael Daigan. DJ Scott Campbell (DJCAMS). Videography, Kindlewood Films. Transportation, Classic Cable Cars.

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When do you know that he’s the “one?”

Susan knew that Christopher was the one only a few weeks after they met. They were still just casually dating when Susan found herself with a serious illness. Christopher dropped everything and stayed by her bedside, nursing her until she was back to health.

Chris first met Susan at a girls-only wine tasting with 17 women in attendance. Although he says it was an accident and that he didn’t know it was girls-only, he also didn’t leave. He stayed the entire evening. Just Chris, seventeen women, and lots of wine. What a brilliant mistake!

Chris knew how to set a memorable scene for his proposal too. He drew a bath for Susan to relax in. With their new dog at his side, Chris got down on bended knee and proposed. Of all the situations that women guess that their love will propose, we’re pretty sure that relaxing in the bathtub isn’t foremost in their mind.

Their wedding was just like their relationship filled with passion, fun, and of course, a sprinkling of whimsy.

Venue and event planning, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards. Wedding dress, Glamour Closet. Groomswomen’s attire and bridesmaids’ dresses: David’s Bridal. Groom’s attire, Men’s Wearhouse. Groomsmen’s attire, The Black Tux. Cinematography, NorCal Filmworks. DJ, Denon & Doyle. Invitations, Minted. Rentals, Bright Rentals. Catering, Broadway Catering. Wedding cake, Sift Dessert Bar. Photography, IQphoto (Alex). Flowers, Sonoma Flowers. Special thanks to Loic from Loic Photo for helping Alex!

Earlier last month we’ve received the news that we were chosen among the top ten studios in the world by a community with over 40,000 participating photographers from across 100 countries. Its always exciting to be recognized as one of the best wedding photographers by the industry top editors. To qualify for a competition, studio must have 50+ weddings published by independent print or online magazines within a single year. Studios with highest publishing rate win.


Sagar is a wise man! He began courting Sheena, and for a good fair stretch of time, before Sheena even knew about it.

He was one year ahead of Sheena in dentistry school at NYU. They ran into each other frequently but were just friendly acquaintances. Toward the end of that year while both working the admissions clinic, Sagar gave Sheena patients, patients he himself needed to graduate. Ahh! That was a sweet move!

Fast forward a year. Sagar had graduated and Sheena was in her fourth and final year. They met for dinner to catch up with each other. Sheena was distressed that Sagar insisted on picking up the check. She was a professional woman and had just as much right to pay the bill as he did. Unless, that is, Sagar considered this their first date and Sheena was completely unaware. That’s kind of how it was.

While Sagar’s dental residency was in New York, Sheena’s was in Chicago. They knew they wanted to pursue a relationship and had to start out with a Chicago to New York commute. That wasn’t nearly good enough. Only five months later Sagar picked up and moved to Chicago.

They are both very close to their families. As Sheena’s residency came to a close, they wanted to visit both of their families. Her’s was in Los Altos, California, and his was in Nashville, Tennessee. More flying! They began to plan a visit to her family in California. But there was a fair bit of trouble gathering the family together. Her parents had guests and they planned to be in Yosemite. Sheena’s sister, Malee, planned on traveling to India.

A plan came together to hire a boat for a tour on Lake Michigan. Sagar pretended that he was unhappy about it. They brought along a photographer. Just as some cheesy photos à la Titanic were being taken, Sagar began talking about their wonderful journey together and how much he loved her. Sheena thought to herself, He should save these words for his proposal! Before she knew it he was down on one knee.

They wanted to share happy surprise this with their families, the families who “weren’t available” that weekend. One by one, family members appeared from below decks. It had taken quite a few detours to hide them away but it was worth every bit of trouble, creating an unforgettable proposal for Sheena and Sagar.

And on we go to the wedding. If you like three-day family celebrations, religious ritual as well as just plain fun, have a lot of stamina, and appreciate a grand spectacle, an Indian wedding is in order.

For Sheena’s Mehndi–decorating hands and feet with ornate designs in henna–her parents transformed the foyer of their beautiful home into a dreamy spot fit for a princess. Friends and family got to visit and share in this part of the celebration.

While neither of Sheena nor Sagar are Sikh, the Sindhi people follow Guru Nanak.Sheena’s parents were married in a Gurdwara in India. They chose to have their ceremony at the San Jose Sikh Gurdwara, which is located on the top of a hill and has an amazing view of the Bay Area. On the day of their ceremony they had spectacular weather, nearly 80 degrees warmer than it was in “Chiberia,” also known as Chicago, that day.

Sagar’s Baraat, his entrance procession on a white mare, was extremely fun and unique too. His friends planned it perfectly and made it a charasmatic and one-of-a-kind event. Even the bride’s side joined in on the fun!

After their beautiful ceremony at the Gurdwara in San Jose, the Sangeet–the after party–moved to The San Mateo Marriott. Their beautiful sisters emceed the perfect night of entertainment, raas, decorated food, dessert, and drinks!

And the wedding still wasn’t over! The reception moved across the Bay to Danville at the Blackhawk Auto Museum. Keeping with the theme of the tremendous amount of flying they had undertaken in their relationship, they danced to Michael Bublé’s, “Come Fly With Me.”

Sheena and Sagar are extremely grateful for all of their friends and family, many of whom flew in for their celebration, and all of the wonderful professionals who made their wedding a celebration to remember.

Photography, IQphoto. Videography, IQvideography. Photobooth, Mementostrip.Celebrant, San Jose Sikh Gurdwara. Sangeet, San Mateo Marriott Hotel. Reception, Blackhawk Automotive Museum. Baraat ceremony dhol, Lal Singh Bhatti. Baraat ceremony horse, Buzzards Roost Ranch.

Mehndi by Keyuris, Ravie Kattaura. Mehndi and ceremony hair and makeup, Suniti Chandani. Sangeet and reception hair and makeup, Christal Caladaio.

Sangeet food, Madhuban.Reception food, Tandoori Notes. Reception desserts, Not Just Cheesecakes.

Wedding coordinator, Ajooba Events. Decoration, Ajooba Events and SB Arts. Lighting, Oakland Audio Visual. Sangeet and reception DJ, Bitzy.