Styled Shoot | Testarossa Winery

The LGBTQ community is underrepresented in wedding industry media. Sources like Pinterest, wedding blogs, and Instagram provide inspiration for couples planning their wedding, but they predominantly feature straight couples. When I attended a wedding conference last year, one of the sessions focused on wedding etiquette and advertising towards LGBTQ couples. I wondered, “Why do we need to treat these weddings differently?”

Rhiannon and I met through my husband and have known each other the past year. She and her partner, Ashley, have been together for over 10 years. Now in their 30s, they’ve thought about tying the knot. They embraced the shoot, seeing it not only as a fun day together, but also as an opportunity to represent the LGBTQ community. When asked how she felt, Ashley said, “I saw the woman I met when were were in our late teens, and the butterflies of young love overwhelmed me. It’s wonderful and powerful to be with someone throughout your transitional and ambitious 20s, and see your other-half meet and exceed their life and career goals by 30.”

Love transcends gender and orientation, and these photos provide a glimpse into that. But there’s still work to be done in shifting perceptions and attitudes towards LGBTQ relationships. “There’s been progress in featuring LGBTQ individuals across different media avenues, but it still generates discussion when you see a gay couple featured in a commercial. Our hope is that one day it doesn’t.”  

With tears of happiness and gratitude in their eyes, I could tell Rhiannon and Ashley were made for each other. But for the same reasons their relationship is unique, it also demonstrates what’s overlooked when people qualify their relationship with a label. “Often, same-sex couples are referred to as gay or lesbian couples, but we’re just couples.” People should recognize that love is love—regardless of gender and orientation.

We're featured on H&H Weddings today! Check out their feature post here. And don't forget to check out more photos from this shoot in my gallery.

John Defiora Photography  |  Testarossa Winery  |  Kristine Tsai Wedding Planning
Jeanne Eckard  |  Makeup by Quis  |  Thy Dinh Bridal Hair and Makeup  |  Ju.Lee Collection
Borrowing Magnolia  |  Emily Yik  |  Friedasophie  |  Swagpie Design  |  La Tavola
Chick Design Boutique  |  I Scream for Icing Cookies  |  Oh Na La

Styled Shoot | 16th Street Train Station Behind the Scenes

Back in February, I put together a styled shoot at the abandoned 16th Street Train Station in Oakland, CA. It was featured on Swooned Magazine on Thursday (yay!). Check out their wonderful blog feature here. Today I'm sharing some inspiration behind the shoot. 

The Leading Man

I must’ve been binging on James Bond movies because my first inspiration was Daniel Craig jumping into a moving train and adjusting his cuff. Grooms are usually stereotyped as second-in-command cast members relative to their brides. What if we amped up the groom's portrayal and made them equally strong and independent partners? To pull this off, I needed the guy to embody equal parts charm, polish, and grit. Before I knew it, my Pinterest board was covered with some timelessly sexy leading men—Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, David Beckham, and Steve McQueen.

The Leading Woman

In the latest Bond films, the leading woman is an equal to the man. She's independent, elegant, and confident. To complement this role, I wanted a dress that could serve double-duty as a wedding dress or black-tie-event evening gown. With the help of Amber at Kinsley James, we selected the Colmar dress from the Anne Barge Spring 2016 Black Label collection. This dress hit all the marks with its elegant front, sensual open back, and long sleeves. To create a second look for this shoot, we brought out the Cognac and its elaborate beaded bodice and plunging neckline. Combined with different hair and makeup, we created a contrasting—yet complementary—look for the bride. 

Behind the Scenes: Dress selection at Kinsley James

The Venue

In a personalized nod to the groom in this photoshoot, I thought about finding a race track to set the scene for his car—a classic 1984 Porsche. Whether it be Bond, Steve McQueen, or Paul Newman, cars are synonymous with many leading men who inspired the look for the groom. But then I stumbled on the 16th Street Train Station and saw an awesome opportunity to do a unconventional styled shoot at a historic landmark. Photos online showed warm golden hour light shining through the arched windows. This early 20th-century elegance was counterbalanced by the grit and graffiti throughout the venue. As soon as I saw the station, I thought, “Jason—he's the perfect photographer! He’d create magic here.” 

This wouldn't have been possible without the help of all the awesome vendors who pitched in. Liza did beautiful editorial-style hair and makeup (as evidenced in her smokey eye results). Jeanne had the idea to do black and white floral arrangements, and she delivered with the most elegant bridal bouquet. All the vendors nailed it when interpreting my vision for this shoot and I'm so happy with how everything turned out! And special thanks to our friends Guilherme and Shabnam for being great partners in making this a reality (it helps to have a cute romantic couple). 

Of course, what you see above are just the end result. There was a lot of hard work from everyone involved, so here are some behind-the-scenes photos that reveal bits of our journey. Be sure to check out Swooned’s feature as well as my gallery for the photos! I’m hoping one day I’ll get to do a full wedding here. It’s officially on my bucket list.

Jubi and Wayne | Stanford University

When I first met Jubi and Wayne, I knew they'd be easy to work with. They were decisive, great with communication, and wanted to throw a big party. 

Jubi and Wayne got married at the magnificent Stanford Memorial Church. Memorial Church ceremonies, run by the fantastic church staff, are traditional, complete with organ played classical music. Very fitting for such a sacred venue. 

The couple held their reception at the Stanford Faculty Club and that was a party to remember. From beautiful purple satin linens to a beautifully thought through Parisian theme, not a single detail was out of place. My team and I loved the macaron tower (which we had to figure out how to stack!), and I loved watching Jubi's father dance to Michael Jackson during the centerpiece game. 


My cousin and her fiancé tied the knot in NYC on September 24, 2015. The same day the Pope was in town. I knew they had been engaged for awhile but never heard anything about wedding plans. I found out when their photographer posted a few photos from their wedding day on Facebook.

This one left me speechless. It perfectly captures the meaning of marriage, love, and what matters most. 

Story behind the image: Lucky 13… This one image says so much to me. Lynda & Chris decided to have a small civil...

Posted by Jeff Tisman Photography on Friday, September 25, 2015

I love weddings (hence the job...), but this was perfect for Lynda & Chris. I can't wait for them to visit California so we can catch up. Congrats! 

Wedding Show Reflections

Coming from an engineering field, actively advertising and networking new to me when jumping into the wedding industry. Balancing cost and potential rewards is a challenge small businesses constantly face. Up until this year, I never thought about taking part in a wedding show. But the philosophy of The Big Fake Wedding made me take the leap.

Each vendor at The Big Fake Wedding has a small table to showcase their company. I made a long list of things I wanted to display (and buy...) and eventually had to force myself to cut the list in half. Aside from marketing material (new business cards, and business info), we had to think about things like freebees and giveaways, and general table décor!

As the day-of coordinator, I designed the sendoff for the couple based on the theme of the event. My ideas went from fountain fireworks to cable cars and pedicabs to confetti cannons. It's fun to think big until you think about budget. When I finally decided to throw flowers, this led me into the world of flowers. After selecting, trimming, and keeping alive over 160 flowers, this sendoff and it worked exactly as I had hoped. I love the resulting photos and video footage! What made it even better was that guests took the flowers home! My assistant and I were standing by to pick up all the beaten flowers, but there was no need! I guess they held up pretty well after being tossed around a few times! 

Love is the answer, and you know that for sure
Love is a flower, you got to let it grow.
— John Lennon

Photo credits (left to right, top to bottom): (1) Weddings by Sunnyside, (2) (3) (4) Kristine Tsai, (5) Weddings by Sunnyside, (6) Cameron Ingalls

When I signed up for The Big Fake Wedding, I thought preparations would not be as busy as my typical wedding day preparations. Of course I was wrong and it was equally busy. But instead of writing emails, finalizing timelines, and tweaking setup lists, I was sorting out floral orders, running to craft stores, and going on late night Target runs. It was almost like planning my own wedding again, but not. 

Fortunately, this was one wedding where I didn’t need to be in three places at once. Instead, I spent my time congratulating newly engaged couples, chatting with couples that were planning their wedding, and meeting moms, sisters, and best friends who were helping with wedding plans. I love hearing couples talk about their upcoming wedding and I love seeing happy couples looking forward to celebrating their marriage with friends and family. It makes all the craziness (for both the show and the wedding day) totally worth it.