French Wedding Inspiration at Kestrel Park

Coming soon to Wedding Sparrow.

This French-inspired romantic Santa Ynez wedding at Kestrel Park was filled with intricate details and the perfect color palette. The soft peach tones and dusty blues were sprinkled with pops of lavender and pink, which added to the romantic and whimsical feel of the day. Designed by Kaleb Norman James for the Le Collectif Workshop, with host photographers Amanda K Photography and Maria Lamb, every detail was styled to perfection.

The invitation suite by Grey and Cake set the tone for the day. The entire suite was packaged in a dusty blue parcel box with a gold wax stamp and pale pink address card, all wrapped in natural twine.

The reception table was set with four stand-alone centerpieces. Each centerpiece was created using several types of roses, included Koko Loco, Distant Drums, Amnesia, and Cafe Latte. Branches of lilac accented each arrangement, creating an asymmetrical aesthetic that gave the centerpieces character and a romantic feel. The table chairs were inspired by the golden age of French furniture design and featured soft peach velvet and silver-studded upholstery.

The ceremony was set in the sycamore grove. The ceremony chairs mimicked those of french cafes and were draped in jasmine vines. The altar featured two large arrangements with a variety of roses, orange and yellow ranunculuses, branches of lilac, and several types of greenery, mirroring the centerpieces from the reception table.

The bride’s dress was designed by Alexandra Grecco and had delicate floral appliques from top to bottom. The groom’s herringbone jacket was a perfect complement to the herringbone brick pattern on the front of the Kestrel Park mansion.

The cake was embellished with sculpted edible flowers and petals that paid homage to the florals of the day.

At the end of the day, the bride and groom rode off in a vintage 1958 Porsche Speedster that had been adorned with gift boxes wrapped in oversized satin ribbons.

Surrounded by golden hills, the grounds of Kestrel Park were the perfect setting for this romantic wedding.

Photographer: Janine Licare
Film Lab: Richard Photo Lab
Stylist / Planner: Kaleb Norman James
Floral Designer: Kaleb Norman James
Dress Designer: Alexandra Grecco
Rentals: Theoni
Accessories: All About Romance
Venue: Kestrel Park
Cake Designer: Lele Patisserie
Hair & Make-up Artist: Jen Lagers

Photography Hosts: Maria Lamb & Amanda K Photography

Workshop: Le Collectif

Videography: Our Story Creative

Invitation and Paper Goods: Grey and Cake

Styling Surfaces:  Locust Collection

Shoes: Bella Belle

Getaway Car: Santa Barbara Speedster

Janine LicareComment
Intimate All-White Summer Wedding at Meadowood Napa Valley

This Meadowood Napa Valley wedding was an intimate 50 person celebration in the middle of Summer. The guests wore all-white, played croquet, and brunched under a canopy of vines at tables resembling Japanese mirror ponds.

The bride’s ceremony gown was designed by Oscar de la Renta and featured a stunning floral lace with 3D appliques - a perfect fit for an outdoor wedding. Her bouquet was made of nothing but stephanotis. Her bridal clutch featured white ostrich feathers which added to her classic, yet slightly edgy, look. Her second dress was a strapless sheath which she later accessorized with a wide-brimmed sun hat to keep her cool in the almost 100-degree heat.

The greenery ceremony hoop crated a minimalistic yet elevated design. At the base of each row of the wooden cross-back chairs was an arrangement of green hydrangeas. The three flower girls wore matching dresses with tulle layered skirts, and the ring bearers wore white suits with matching boater hats.

The reception space was a tunnel of greenery that was designed and built exclusively for this wedding. Underneath it, sat two long tables, that instead of having a solid surface, were each a pond of water, adorned with marble place settings and hydroponic centerpieces. The water was so smooth and glassy that it reflected the canopy overhead.

Come brunch time, the food was an event in itself and each course came with its own wine pairing. The first course was made of two parts: the Meadowood Garden, an edible garden in a glass, and Toro Tartare topped with caviar and gold leaf. The Toro Tartare was served over a glass fishbowl, inside each and every single one was a swimming Betta fish. The bride’s bowl was the only one that featured a white Betta. The fish were all later gifted to members of the staff to take home to their families. This course was paired with a 2015 Matthiasson Ribolla Gialla.

The next course was a three-part entrée. It was served on 5-foot wooden planks that each held entrées for four guests. Each guest was served King Salmon with béarnaise, Kobe Beef with edamame puree, and Maitake mushrooms with piquillo. This course was paired with a 2008 Promontory, Napa Valley. Cake and pastries were served with Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé.

Since it was almost 100 degrees that day, the bride ended the brunch and cooled off with her guests by running through the sprinklers on a lawn nearby.

Janine Licare
Morgan & Justin | Park Winters, CA

The best way to describe Morgan and Justin's wedding is a simple and clean aesthetic with pops of glam. Towards the beginning of planning, Morgan was taken with the color "Cinnamon Rose", and based the majority of her design off of ways to incorporate this color seamlessly throughout the day.

Their wedding took place at Park Winters, a country-side Victorian mansion built outside of Sacramento, California in 1865. The property is filled with lush rose gardens, winding paths through canopies of trees, and lots of other locations that were all perfect for their portraits.

As part of her pops of glam, Morgan had two pairs of sparkly shoes. Silver glitter cross-strap stilettos for the ceremony and reception and rose gold sneakers with pink satin ribbon laces, both designed by Kate Spade. She had two pieces of heirloom jewelry that belong to her grandmother attached to the ribbon on her bouquet: a diamond rectangular broach and a tennis bracelet with sapphires and diamonds set in yellow gold.

Her gown was a design by Sarah Seven and featured a stunning long sleeve, deep-v, lace bodice, with a sleek skirt with a train. She gifted her bridesmaids matching satin and lace blush robes for them to wear while they got ready together. She gifted her mom a satin blue robe with a floral pattern. The bridesmaids' dresses were floor length gowns in Cinnamon Rose. Her bouquet also had touches of Cinnamon Rose colored flowers and included garden roses, ranunculuses, and pops of eucalyptus.

They did their first look by the main fountain on the property in an area that was surrounded by lush trees, right next to the Victorian house.

Their ceremony was set in front of a 60-foot Oak tree. The flower girls walked down the aisle with an oversized balloon filled with pink and gold confetti. Indi, Morgan and Justin's dog, was also an integral part of the ceremony.

The reception was set in front of the historic barn on the property. The dark wood cross-back chairs perfectly complimented the fall foliage of the trees nearby. The overall aesthetic of the reception was clean and simple, with bright white linens and eucalyptus runners adorned with peach roses and other florals. The table numbers were made of circular mirrors with calligraphed etchings of the number. Their sweetheart table had its own eucalyptus runner that was placed atop a rose gold sequin linen. They had rose gold goblets on their table for wine and engraved crystal champagne glasses with each of their names and the wedding date. They had two signature cocktails: the San Francisco Delight (for where they fell in love) and the Pebble Beach Treat (for where he proposed). The guest favors were little jars of honey, a nod to Justin's last name, Hunnicutt, and Morgan's new name.

We took their sunset portraits all around the property, by the rose gardens, the winding lavender paths, on the road in front of the property, etc.

The reception took place inside the barn, where they had cake and danced the night away.

Janine Licare
Art Nouveau Inspired Parisian Elopement | Paris, France

Featured on 100 Layer Cake.

At some point in time, any girl may dream of getting married in Paris. Nothing is more romantic than the idea of jetting off to France in the spring with your loved one, spontaneously getting lost in the winding streets, dining in eclectic cafes, and saying your vows in the City of Lights. Although these are all moments, they become memories that fuel a desire to return to Paris after having left. Hemingway said it best when he wrote: “Paris is a city, yes, but also an experience that one holds onto long after one’s Parisian visit has ended.”

The Art Nouveau movement was at the heart of the inspiration for the shoot. Considered a style of modern art and architecture, it’s best known for promoting art and design as a part of everyday life. Art Nouveau upholds that no object is too utilitarian to be beautiful. This is exemplified in Laure Lalliard’s floral designs and styling of the day. From the floral embellishments on the high-top bar stools and the mini-floral arrangements adorning each wine glass, to the highly elaborate mosaics covering the cafe walls from floor to ceiling, every detail was purposeful and embodied this stylistic ideal.

This elopement shoot took place at a Parisian cafe in the 1st Arrondissement called Poulette, known for its light and airy architecture and Art Nouveau signature aesthetic. The tile work served as a perfect starting point for the color inspiration for the shoot. All across the walls, you’ll see muted greens and yellows with pops of living coral and periwinkle. Laure embraced these colors when designing the tablescape and selecting the florals for the day. She used sweet peas, hellebores, clematis, several varieties of ranunculuses (including cappuccino - very appropriate for a cafe elopement), anemones, sweet violet, Iceland poppies, and eucalyptus.

The highly-embellished custom invitation suite from Atelier Prezburger added a touch of sophistication with the beautiful hand-drawn monograms in a shade of teal that perfectly complimented the groom’s suit jacket. The handwritten love letter was a romantic addition to the suite.

Instead of opting for your typical bouquet, Laure wanted to create something unique that would match the personality and aesthetic of this fashion-forward bride. She designed an arrangement more closely resembling a high-fashion couture handbag than a bouquet, with a gold hoop handle and asymmetrical composition for a modern touch. She also perfectly framed one of the mosaics with hanging floral arrangements made of eucalyptus and a variety of these fresh blooms. She took an asymmetric approach to this design as well and chose florals that would blend seamlessly into the tile, making it appear as though it was part of the mosaic.

The table places were set with chargers that complemented the sweet violets and eucalyptus, coral napkins that matched the mosaic, gold cutlery, and charcoal blue ceramic plates, all set along the high-top bar of the cafe. This setup up feels most authentic to the Art Noveau inspiration and what a real Parisian elopement would look like: minimalistic but inspired and purposeful.

The bride’s edgy and eclectic style is exemplified in the two dresses she wore. The first, a Viktor and Rolf gown with a dramatic, over-sized bow on the back. The second, a stunning Sylwia Kopczynska two-piece ensemble, feature a lace long sleeve top with matching lace bottom and an overskirt with layers upon layers of tulle. This outfit took a more playful approach to couture for this fashion-forward bride. As for jewelry, she wore long gold-treaded earrings with multi-colored stones. Instead of opting for a single ring, she wore five stackables - each ring slightly different from the next. The Mrs. Box provided five velvet ring boxes, one for each ring. Her glamorous white stilettos had a modern feel with the lace-up front and satin body. The illusion lace added a romantic touch. Matching her edge, the groom wore a teal suit jacket with a monochromatic tie, shirt, pocket square, and pants.

For the portraits, we started in the cafe, which embodies the side of Paris that is more spontaneous than the typical Parisian romance.  We then explored the winding streets of the 2nd Arrondissement, keeping true to the authentic Parisian ideals that inspired the shoot.

Janine Licare
Payal & Vince | Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Featured on Martha Stewart Weddings.

Payal and Vince's wedding took place over 3 days in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico over Thanksgiving weekend. When it came to planning their wedding, they were set on putting their own spin on tradition and opted for a fusion of cultures and blending of traditions, integrating their Indian Heritage and American lifestyle with Mexican wedding customs. 

On their wedding day, they wore two separate custom outfits. Instead of wearing the traditional red to her ceremony, Payal chose to wear green in a custom lehenga by Sabya Sachi, designed and made in India. Her veil had large red roses that perfectly complimented the green. Vince wore a hand-printed sherwani with custom made gold shoes and a necklace adorned with hundreds of pearls. 

The wedding venue, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, naturally grows Pampas grass all around the property, so it was also used to decorate the ceremony and reception space. As with a typical Indian wedding day, the events were split up between morning and night. Their ceremony took place at 10:00am. Leading up to it was the Baarat, where Vince traveled to the ceremony site on a white horse. Guests danced to the beat of the Dhol (drum) and were led from the Baarat to their seats by the Dhol performer.

At the ceremony, the Mandap was decorated with bright roses, orange mums, pampas grass, and Mexican tin stars. The bridesmaids (and bridesman!) wore shades of mauve that were a perfect compliment to the warm tones of the hotel. The deeper tones perfectly matched the mauve roses in Payal's bouquet. 

During the cocktail hour, guests were offered a choice between 4 types of Tequila at the Tequila Shot bar. Guests mingled on the patio in front of the tent, sporting their own outfit changes. The cocktail hour had a lounge area for seating and Mexican inspired hors d'oeuvres, such as mini tacos to go with the tequila. 

For the reception, Vince and Payal changed into their second outfit. He wore a velvet tuxedo and she wore a beautiful red outfit with detailed beading throughout. Hundreds of Mexican tin stars were hung from the 40-foot tent which gave the reception an elevated yet whimsical feel. The centerpiece of the reception was a fountain made of hundreds of roses and pampas grass. Each guests' plate featured a custom hand-painted tile with their name on it. Off in the distance, the guests had a perfect view of the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. 
Payal and Vince entered their reception with fireworks - a special touch that set the tone for the fun events ahead. Throughout the evening, they sat on a throne surrounded by arrangements of roses that appeared to be bursting with pampas grass (a nod to the fireworks during their Grand Entrance). From here on out, they enjoyed performances by many guests, including younger cousins and other family members. Their first dance was a medley of the Narcos theme song and Nat King Cole's "Love". They took 7 dances lessons and performed it perfectly.

Janine Licare
My Biggest Tips for Photographers Traveling to A Destination Wedding

When I first started photographing destination weddings and engagement sessions abroad, I had so many questions and didn’t know who to ask. Most of what I know now I figured out on my own or by picking up little tidbits here and there from other photographers. I’ve had a few friends lately asking for tips for traveling to destination photo shoots (weddings, engagements, etc.) so I decided to put it all down in writing for anyone who’s currently struggling with those same questions.

1. What camera gear should I take when flying to a destination wedding? 

Choosing what gear to bring to a destination wedding is tricky because packing everything into carry-on bags (I only ever travel with carry-on, further down I explain why) limits what you can bring. It forces you to cut down to the essentials and get crafty with how you shoot a wedding day (goodbye 70-200mm, and macro lens). Not everyone will approve, but I am not above buying camera gear from reputable sellers on Amazon. Below I’ve included Amazon associate links to my gear and some of the sellers I bought it from. I shoot both film and digital, so I always bring both. When traveling internationally for weddings, this is the gear I always have with me:

I pack all of this into my ThinkTank carry-on (goes into the overhead bin) and Longchamp Le Pliage Expandable (although I never expand it because when expanded it doesn’t count as a “personal item”). This bag is, however, the only bag I’ve found that both fits under the seat in front of me AND has room for my Simply Rooted styling surfaces.

Now that I’ve mentioned by two bags, I should note that I prefer to split my gear between these two bags instead of packing it all into my ThinkTank. I’ll pack my Contax 645 and D810, 35mm and 50mm in my ThinkTank, but I’ll carry my D850 and 85mm, film and light meter in my “personal item” bag. Not only does this help evenly distribute the weight but it also splits my gear so that should one of my two bags get inspected upon landing in my destination country at immigration, having less gear in each makes me look more like a photography hobbyist than a professional photographer traveling to a foreign country for work without a work visa. Some countries care more about this than others but I tend to air on the safe side. Also, I simply cannot lift my full ThinkTank with all of my gear in it into the overhead bin by myself. I then split my clothing between these two bags, and that’s it. I pack exceptionally light. The fewer items of clothing I bring the more room for gear I have.

2. Is it ok to check camera gear?

NEVER check your gear or anything that you’ll need on the wedding day. Your gear is extremely fragile and when it’s checked, you have absolutely no control over how it’s treated. You also run the risk of your bag getting lost. I once carried all of my essentials on board (camera bodies, film, lenses, etc.) but checked my extra batteries, chargers, and styling pieces. My bag didn’t make the connection, got lost, and ended up in London instead of France. Fortunately, since I flew in a several days before the wedding, I was able to pick my bag up at the airport the day after I arrived and still had two days to spare before I needed it. Because I flew in so early, I also would have had time to find the closest camera store if I’d had to. 

3. Can film go through TSA x-ray scan machines?

If you shoot hybrid and you can avoid it, don’t travel with film stocks over 400. Some airports are really wonderful about hand checking your film at TSA (CDG in Paris) but others will absolutely refuse no matter what (OPO in Portugal), and at other airports it just depends on who you get at TSA (SFO is hit or miss). When you travel with a 400 stock film (Portra 400 for me), you can usually feel pretty safe if they make you scan your film. That being said, I do always ask if my film can be hand-checked versus scanned. When asking your TSA officer, kill them with kindness. Being nice goes a long way. 

From what I’ve read, the damage that x-ray scanners cause builds up over the number of times it’s scanned and accumulates. I try to never scan Portra 400 more than 2-4 times, but my film has come out the other side of 4 scans unscathed. Scan at your own risk.

That being said, I have had Portra 800 survive scanners but the level of stress from the moment it goes through that scanner until when I get my scans back (sometimes up to a week), isn’t worth it. 

4. When should I plan on arriving?

When flying internationally to a destination wedding, plan on arriving in that country at least 1-3 days early. You want to make sure that, should your flight get delayed and you miss your connection (or should your flight get cancelled!) there are several other flights that will still get you to your wedding on time. 

Boarding tip:

I always make sure I’m in an early boarding group so I never run the risk of my bag being gate-checked. For Alaska Airlines, this means booking a seat towards the back of the plane (they board from back to front). For United, this either means booking a window seat (they board windows before aisles) or upgrading to Priority Boarding (this can cost as little at $15 and is well worth it). On a trip to France for a wedding I was photographing last year, for my connection in Frankfurt, I had a later boarding group and the airline made me gate-check my bag. I was able to take all my gear out of my camera bag, divide it between myself and my second shooter, and carry it onboard. I was lucky I had a second flying with me though. That’s not always the case.

Another small tip: I learned this tip at WPPI a few years back but completely forget who I learned it from. If it was you and you’re reading this, please tell me so I can credit you for it! If you’re able to arrange this ahead of time, ask your couple to “invite” you to the wedding. Having a formal invitation with your name on it, from what I’ve heard, can be helpful should you get questioned upon arriving (at customs or immigration). Technically, at this point, your clients are your friends, so you can say you’re traveling to photograph a friend’s wedding and you have your invitation to prove it. I’ve never had to show an invitation before, but when I have one I feel a little bit better going into it.

This one here is my last and possibly BIGGEST tip! If you don’t already have it and you plan on flying to weddings, get Global Entry and TSA Pre (they come as a package deal). I cannot recommend it enough. Having to take out all of your camera gear at TSA is a total drag. Here’s the link to apply. Note, Global Entry only works upon entry to the US and TSA Pre is only valid in (most) American airports. It’s still well worth it. 

If you have any questions that I didn’t answer, please reach out through my Contact page or email me at Excited to hear from you!

Janine Licare
Kristina & Peter | The Barn at Tyge Williams

Featured on Carats & Cake and Trendy Bride Magazine.

Kristina and Peter’s wedding took place at The Barn at Tyge Williams in Sonoma Valley, California. They started their day by getting ready at Carneros Resort and Spa. Carneros is surrounded by rolling hills and views of vineyards for miles. Kristina and Peter both knew that when it came time for portraits, they wanted to include this scenery in the images.

Kristina spent her morning getting ready in one of the Sycamore cottages. The cottage had two suites attached by a shared backyard. This space was the perfect location to photograph her BHLDN wedding dress and all her details. Kristina's bouquet was made of white peonies, white ranunculus, several varieties of white roses, and lily of the valley. Lily & Mint (her florist) provided some additional loose florals for me to use when styling their rings, invitations, and her shoes. 

We took portraits all around the Carneros property, starting around the guest cottages and then moving towards the vineyards and rolling hills at the back of the resort. From here, we went to The Barn at Tyge Williams, their wedding venue, for photos in the actual vineyards!

Their ceremony was set to take place in front of the lake, right next to the willow tree. Their wooden arch had beautiful arrangements of white florals and greenery. Kristina and Peter were led into the ceremony by the cutest flower girls wearing floral crowns and matching white dresses. The ring bearer, Kristina's nephew, wore the cutest blue suspends with a matching blue bowtie. At the end of the ceremony, as Kristina and Peter were walking back up the aisle, they paused at the end to take a photo with all of their guests. We planned this photo well in advance and it most definitely involved a 10-foot ladder. 

The cocktail hour setup involved a hanging brass chandelier, high cross-back wooden bar stools, and blue denim linens. During cocktail hour, outside of the barn, they had a game of corn hole, each platform painted with each of their alma maters: UCLA and Notre Dame. 

Their reception was set up with four long farm tables, each one with seating for up to 40 guests. The tables were set with white linens and runners made of greenery and candles. Before moving to the dancefloor, Peter sabered a champagne bottle! It was the perfect end to a wonderful day and the beginning of a fun night of dancing with family and friends.

Dress: BHLDN
Music: Denon & Doyle
Catering: Ramekins Sonoma
Invitations: Minted
Engagement ring: Tiffany & Co.

Molly & Ross | Napa Valley, CA

Coming soon to Grey Likes Weddings.

Molly and Ross' wedding took place amongst the beautiful vineyards of Napa Valley, California, but at heart, this wedding was as Southern as can be. Molly is originally from Bunkie, Louisiana, so it was important to her that southern traditions make into their wedding day. Between the Second Line, the church choir, the large bridal party (28 including the bride and groom!), and Molly's bridals, this wedding was full of Southern touches.

Molly started the day by getting ready at Silverado Resort with her 12 bridesmaids (plus 2 junior bridesmaids)! While they were all having their hair and makeup done, they gave her the sweetest gift - a photo album with special memories from each of them. The photos of Molly opening this gift are some of my favorites from the day. The bridesmaids' dresses were a mix of different styles all created in the same fabric and color by Monique Lhuillier. The soft mauve was a perfect compliment to the whites and greens in their bouquets. Even Stella, the flower girl, wore a dress in the same color. Molly’s bouquet featured an assortment of greenery and white florals. It was full to the brim of beautiful white peonies.

One southern tradition that we don't see much in California (but now I wish we did!) is Bridals, where the bride does portraits before the wedding day. I took portraits of Molly in her wedding gown, with her bouquet full of white peonies, and hair and makeup done, weeks before the wedding. Since we did them in advance, Butter, their golden retriever, even got to be in a few.

The ceremony took place at Mont La Salle Chapel, which was originally designed to fuse Spanish Romanesque and Mission-style architecture. You can see this in the red tile roof and classic adobe designs. The interior of the chapel had high ceilings throughout and a balcony at the back, which was the perfect spot for the choir that surprised them at the end of the ceremony by serenading them as they exited.

After the ceremony, guests were ushered to the cocktail hour where they could choose between two signature cocktails, one of which was the "Salty Butter Dog" (vodka, grapefruit, and sea salt), the cutest way to include Butter in the festivities. The name cards were perfectly set in a bed of dried lavender. 

Planned by Cole Drake Events, the reception design was absolutely flawless. It took place in what felt like a classic Spanish plaza, surrounded by arched corridors and elongated breezeways. It began with a Second Line, where a brass band led the choir from the church into the reception space to kick off the celebration. The reception decor was classic and elegant, with cafe lights, white florals and lots of greenery. It featured one long farm table for the wedding party and their plus ones (a 50 person table!) and several round tables for all the guests. The long farm table featured runners made of greenery and candles where the round tables had centerpieces made of peonies. Instead of table numbers, the tables were named after cities that were meaningful to Molly and Ross, including Bunkie (where she's from), San Francisco, and Rome, to name a few. The wooden cross-back chairs added a minimalistic touch and helped emphasize the lush tree in the middle of the courtyard. The gold buttons on their cake mimicked the buttons on the back of Molly's dress.

Their sunset portraits were taken in two locations. The first was in a Redwood Grove on the property (per Ross' request), and the second was at the vineyard right next to it (per Molly's request). In these photos, you can see the chapel where they had their ceremony far off in the distance.

Their live band featured three lead singers and various brass instruments, which truly set the mood for an incredible dance party. I'd never seen a dance floor as lively this one. Because of fire hazards, sparklers typically aren't allowed in Napa, so at the end of the night, Molly and Ross exited their wedding in the best way possible: with a silver streamer exit so dense that they got tied up and couldn't exit at all.

Hair and Makeup: Flower and Gold
Cake: Elegant Cheesecakes
Band: Wine Country Entertainment
Bridesmaid dresses: Monique Lhuillier
Rentals: Classic Party Rentals

Janine Licare
Alyssa & Nick | Claremont, CA

Featured on Carats & Cake.

When Alyssa and I first met to discuss her wedding, she told me that she envisioned the reception taking place under a canopy of lights, and wanted to incorporate oranges into the decor. She accomplished both of these and her wedding was a dream come true.

This Southern California wedding was also filled with pops of bright colors, so you'll see coral and bright pinks in the bouquets and the cake. Alyssa's dress featured the most stunning beading by Hayley Paige. She knew she wanted something unique and found it with this dress. We did their first look on Pomona campus, Nick's alma mater, and strolled the tree-lined streets for their portraits. 

The ceremony took place at Claremont Presbyterian Church. Her father engineered and built the floral hoop that hung in the church at the altar. One of the sweetest moments during the ceremony was when Alyssa started to tear up during their vows and Nick surprised her with a handkerchief he brought with him just for that purpose. He also surprised her with an early kiss during the ceremony! 

The reception took place under a canopy of cafe lights strung from the Grecian Columns of Bridges Hall of Music. Nick's mom's dog couldn't make it, so they named their signature cocktail after her, The Fizzy Izzy. 

During a trip they took to Europe together towards the beginning of their relationship, Alyssa bought a bottle of red wine, a Chateau du Tertre, Margaux, 2006. She held onto it with hopes of saving it for their (eventual) wedding day. They finally got to drink the wine they'd been holding onto for so many years. 

All of these details were so special, stunning and unique that it’s hard to pinpoint one as a favorite. When that’s how you feel walking away from a wedding, you know it was a good one.

Janine Licare
Mika & Rafai | The Ranch at Laguna Beach

As seen on Style Me Pretty.

Mika and Rafai's story is unique and one beyond borders. They met in middle school while living in Japan (his mother is Japanese and his dad is from Trinidad, and her father is Chinese/Japanese and her mother is from the US). While they were friends (or "frenemies," according to Mika) throughout middle/high school and college, they didn't start officially dating until after college when they both ended up in LA. Shortly after, they did long distance during her Fulbright in China, so their wedding had a combination of various cultural traditions and unique nods to their heritage.

Mika loves earth tones, so you'll see lots of greens, whites, and neutral colors throughout the day. Their entire wedding was set in the canyon at The Ranch at Laguna Beach and incorporated lots of natural elements into the aesthetic. The ceremony took place under a beautiful grove that added to the rustic elements of their wedding. Their adopted pup, Taro, was an important part of the day as well. He and Rafai wore matching bowties.

Her bouquet was was whimsical and wild, chock-full of white and gold cosmos, brown lisianthuses, ferns, and jasmine vines, wrapped in the prettiest honey silk ribbon made by Tono & Co.

Her dress had layers upon layers of tulle that took on a life of its own when the wind picked up in the evening. When it came to footwear though, Mika prioritized comfort and chose her favorite Soludos as her wedding shoes.

For the reception, she changed into a 70s inspired jumpsuit and, along with their entire bridal party, entered Soul Train style. Shortly after, they did a traditional Sake Breaking ceremony. Every guest received their own wooden sake masu (sake box) with "Mika & Rafai 7-7-18" engraved into each of them, and were poured sake to cheers with the bride and groom.

The wedding cake was a perfect compliment to the bright red sake barrel. It even closely resembled a Japanese Mirror Glaze cake, another nod to their shared heritage.

Dress: Les Habitudes
Music: Vox DJs
Groom’s Attire: Burberry
Groom’s shoes: Del Toro
Engagement ring: Nadine Ghosn

Cake: Artelice Patisserie
Film Scans: Richard Photo Lab
Bride’s shoes: Soludos

Janine Licare
Sharon & Andrew | Rodeo Beach Engagement Session

Sharon and Andrew’s engagement session was at Rodeo Beach in Sausalito, California. Their wedding is this Saturday, so I figured there’s no better time to share these photos than now!

San Francisco has no shortage of beautiful locations for engagement sessions: Sutro Baths, Golden Gate Park, Lands End, Baker Beach, Marshall’s Beach, to name a few. For this one though, it was exciting to explore outside the city, past the Marin Headlands but before hitting Muir Woods. I always ask my couples if there are locations that are meaningful to them and we usually choose spots based off of that. If they’re torn, I ask them if there’s a particular vibe they’re going for or a feeling they want for their photos. From that I’m able to recommend various spot throughout San Francisco or in the surrounding area.

Sharon had been to this exact location for a company retreat not long before, so she knew exactly where she wanted to photograph her engagement session. We started on the beach where she wore the cutest red, off-the shoulder dress. I loved the contrast of her red dress with the rocky scenery. Sharon and Andrew were both so adventurous and were so eager and excited to climb the rocks and play in the water. Even though it wasn’t sunset yet, the sun had already set past the cliff on the far right side of the beach, so we had the most beautiful sunset-esque light.

For their second location, we followed a path up a hill that took us to a tree tunnel and then to the side of the bluffs. Sharon’s light green dress was a perfect compliment to the golden grass. The sun from up here was quite different and dramatic, which fit perfectly with the dramatic landscape and view.

Photographing Sharon and Andrew’s engagement session was a blast. I know their wedding is going to be even more incredible and I can’t wait.

Are you interested in doing your engagement session at Rodeo Beach? Reach out through my Contact page! Can’t wait to be in touch!

Janine Licare
3 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing your Wedding Photographer

Choosing a wedding photographer can feel like one of the biggest decisions you’ll make for your wedding. There are so many photographers out there, how do you pick the right one? Here are three tips to help guide you through the process:

1. Know what your style is: To put it plainly, do you like “light & airy” photos or “dark & moody” ones? I might get some flak for this one, but thinking about photography from this perspective might be the easiest way for you, as someone searching for a wedding photographer, to discern between what you like and what you don’t. As you're browsing different photographers, should that be through Instagram, Pinterest, Google searches or wedding blogs, you may start to notice these two overarching photography trends in the wedding industry. Once you know which style you're most attracted to, it should help you narrow your search for your own photographer. Now that you've settled on a style and you're choosing between a few different photographers, which are standing out to you the most? Do you like their work? Does your heart flutter when you're looking at their photos on Instagram? Can you envision yourself and your groom in one of those photos? 

2. Ask to see an entire wedding gallery: Instagram is a highlight reel. You're seeing the best of the best and not much else. You're typically seeing Bride and Groom portraits, pretty details, ring shots, reception spaces, the best candids, and all the photos you're most likely to "double-tap". This makes sense, though. Why would you "like" a large family portrait of a family you've never met? Would you stop scrolling to look at a photo of someone you don’t know laughing during a speech? As important as those images are to those who attended that particular wedding, there's a reason they don't make it to Instagram for the masses to see. However, when choosing your photographer, it's crucial to know how they capture those less-instagramable parts of the wedding day. Those family portraits, candids of guests, and dance floor photos actually do matter. You need to make sure you're aware of how your photographer captures the entire wedding day, from beginning to end. I recommend you ask to see an entire wedding gallery (all 700+ photos), from a single day, to get the most accurate overall picture of what your own photos will look like. 

3. Would you road trip with them? Ok, I get that a road trip is excessive, but it’s important to keep in mind that you spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than you do with anyone else, even each other! My time with the couple begins several hours before the ceremony. I'm with you as you're having your hair and makeup done, as you're getting dressed, during your First Look, sunset photos, and I'll still be by your side during your cake cutting and bouquet toss. Make sure your photographer is someone you'd enjoy spending time with on a day other than your wedding, whether it be to grab a cup of coffee, an evening glass of wine, or your Engagement Session! Even though you share a professional relationship, it's important that there be a level of trust and comfort that extends beyond that. You want to feel at ease, comfortable, and be able to let loose when you’re with them.

Have any other questions about choosing your wedding photographer? Reach out through my Contact page! I can’t wait to hear from you.


Janine Licare
Madison & Rivers | Charleston, South Carolina

Photographing this beautiful inspiration shoot made me feel like I was stepping into a chapter from a Victorian romance novel. The scene set amidst the cascading Spanish moss of modern-day Charleston. The vibrant colors of Madison’s bouquet popped against the shades of greenery that surrounded her and Rivers. Her romantic makeup and hair perfectly complemented the stunning Alexandra Grecco gown, and her Bella Belle shoes further amplified the romantic sentiment, the gold lace resembling Victorian fabrics that are no longer made. Step into the past with this shoot and experience how this old time period can be a perfect fit for the modern bride.

Beautifully designed for the Michael and Carina Workshop, every detail was styled to perfection by East Made Event Company. Emily Artistry did a stunning job with Madison’s hair and makeup and the floral arrangements by La Fleur du Jour were flawless and a perfect complement to the venue, RiverOaks Charleston (see all vendor credits at the end of the post).

See this shoot featured on 100 Layer Cake and Port and Union!

Vendor Credits:

Photography: Janine Licare Photography / Venue: RiverOaks Charleston / Creative Direction: East Made Event Company / Workshop Host: Michael and Carina / Florals: La Fleur du Jour / Hair & Makeup: Emily Artistry / Calligraphy: Maurelle Calligraphy / Cake: Wildflour Pastry / Dishes: Chris Targoni Clay / Ribbons: Frou Frou Chic & East Coast Trimming /Dress: Alexandra Grecco / Ring: Susie Saltzman / Earrings: BHLDN / Shoes: Bella Belle Shoes / Models: Madison Schaffer & Rivers Atkinson of TouT Models / Film Lab: Richard Photo Lab

Janine Licare
Melody & Michael | San Francisco City Hall Wedding

Melody and Michael will be having their dream wedding at Hotel La Marois in Paris this December. However, as with most of my destination wedding couples, a civil ceremony in the U.S. is usually also required. Luckily for these two, San Francisco City Hall is one of the most beautiful buildings in San Fransisco. The stunning Beaux-Arts architecture is breathtaking, and the sandstone interior makes you glow during your Portraits. It’s always a dream to photograph a San Francisco City Hall wedding.

We met for their portraits at 9:30am. Fridays tend to be busy days for weddings at City Hall, so the earlier you start, the fewer strangers in the background of your photos. As soon as they walked in, Melody’s sophisticated and elegant white cape wedding dress immediately took my breath away. Her whole look reminded me of something straight out of by a 1940s Hollywood movie. Her hair was side swept with soft glam curls and her makeup was elegant and understated. Michael looked so dapper with is coat and pocket square. We started the shoot on the 4th floor and worked our way down. The top floor is my favorite for portraits. The lighting is always spectacular and the view of the inside of rest of building is awe-inspiring from so high up. We then moved to the 3rd floor, which has the prettiest windows and balconies, as you’ll see below. The ceremony itself took place under the Rotunda at the top of the grand staircase. The Rotunda itself feels so romantic once you’re under it, the perfect spot for “I do’s”.

I can’t wait to celebrate with these two and photograph their winter wedding in Paris in just a few month!

Are you having a San Francisco City Hall wedding? Reach out through my Contact page! Can’t wait to be in touch!

Janine Licare
Should You Do A First Look?

This is a question I get from a lot of my couples. Tradition tells us that "it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding," but this is one tradition that I've seen slowly creeping into oblivion (along with the one that says the Father of the Bride is the only one who can walk the bride down the aisle).  As the wedding industry becomes more progressive, old traditions are taking on new forms or are being left out of weddings entirely (goodbye, garter toss). Here's what you need to know about the First Look:

What's a First Look?

A First Look is where the bride and groom schedule a time to see each other before the ceremony. This is usually after she's had her hair and makeup done and is completely dressed (gown, earrings, shoes, the whole 9 yards), as is he. They are seeing each other in their wedding attire for the first time. 

Why do a First Look?

Wedding days are chaotic. As soon as the ceremony is over, you'll be surrounded by your friends and family through the end of the night. I'm not kidding. Chances of you having a moment alone together are slim to none. First Looks give the two of you a chance to be alone together and celebrate your wedding day before the chaos begins. 


What does this mean for photos?

From a more logistical standpoint, First Looks make a lot of sense. You get to be photographed in a beautiful and completely candid moment, without the time constraint of needing to get back to the reception for dinner or toasts. Usually, right after the First Look is when we'll photograph your portraits. Together, we'll explore your venue and photograph the two of you alone. This can add up to 40 minutes of creative photo time (lots of candids and fun moments) on your wedding day.


Does it affect my guests?

Only in the best way. Doing a First Look also allows you the option to take your Bridal Party photos and Immediate Family portraits before the wedding as well. This means that you'll actually get to spend your Cocktail Hour with your guests. Usually, when couples opt out of a First Look, Portraits of the Bride and Groom, Bridal Party photos, and Immediate Family portraits are done after the ceremony, during the cocktail hour. This means two things:

  1. We have only one hour to photograph: the two of you alone, your entire bridal party, and all of your family photos (immediate and extended). This likely means 15 minutes of Bride and Groom photos, 10 minutes of Bridal Party photos, and 15 minutes of Family Portraits (and that's assuming everything and everyone is running on schedule).

  2. You won't get the chance to spend all that much time with your guests on your wedding day: As soon as the reception begins, your guests are ushered to their table, you to yours, dinner begins, toasts begin, dancing begins, etc. Sometimes, cocktail hours are your best shot at getting to celebrate with all the people you invited to your wedding! Take advantage of it!

"But will it still be special when I do walk down the aisle?"

Absolutely! When you start walking down the aisle and you and your soon-to-be-spouse lock eyes, nothing else will matter (it sounds cheesy but it's totally true). The moment is here. Whether or not you did a First Look won't even cross your mind. 

If you're torn between doing a First Look or not, save the veil for the ceremony! Wearing a veil can completely change your entire bridal look! It'll be like your First Look all over again. 



"I'm still feeling like I don't want to do a First Look..."

That's totally fine! Whatever you decide, I will make it work. It's your wedding day!


Are you doing a First Look? Did this post help you decide whether to do one or not? Let me know below! If you have additional First Look questions, feel free to comment, reach out through my Contact page or email me at

Janine Licare
Morgan & Justin | Carmel, California

Last year, Justin took Morgan on a weekend trip to Carmel, California. They explored 17-mile-drive and when they got to the Lone Cypress, he proposed and asked her to be his forever. When Morgan and I were discussing locations to do their engagement session, 17-mile-drive was a must. The California coast has so much to offer, and this 17-mile stretch includes Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, Monterrey, and Carmel-by-the-Sea. It has so much variety within a short driving distance and I knew it would have everything we wanted for their engagement photo shoot. 

We started their session at Pescadero Point. It had the perfect combination of ocean views, walkable paths, and dramatic boulders. Our second stop was at the Lone Cypress, where Justin proposed. Since we shot their Engagement Session on a weekday, we had the entire lookout all to ourselves. Our last and final stop we timed perfectly with sunset. Their dog, Indi, joined us for the end of it. At this point, it was getting colder and colder by the minute, so the blanket they brought (and intended to sit on) came in exceptionally handy to keep them warm. Indi looked like she'd never been happier and that, combined with the beautiful sunset at Seal Rock Beach, was the perfect end to an amazing session.  

Janine Licare
4 Things to Tell Your Photographer Before Your Wedding Day

I've learned a lot about weddings. I consider myself to have a wealth of wedding knowledge and am always happy to share what I've learned with clients and even non-clients! However, there are always a few things I won't know until you tell me. Here are 4 of those things:

1. Do you have a side: This one sounds silly, and it may not apply to you, but it's very real for some people. If you have a side (or angle) that you prefer to be photographed from, tell your photographer. For example, if you really don't like how you look when photographed from your left side and you haven't told your photographer, speak up! We can't read your mind. And if, while your photographer is photographing you and it's clear they've forgotten, speak up again! Occasionally, we'll have to photograph you from the other side for various reasons, but make sure we're aware of your preference. 


2. Family situations: This one can be uncomfortable, but it is so important that we, as photographers, know if there's any family drama or unusual circumstances that may influence the way we photograph certain situations. If your parents are divorced and are not amicable, tell us so we don't accidentally ask them to stand next to each other during family portraits! If your grandpa recently passed away and your grandma's been lonely, let us know so we can be extra kind! If you have a family member that's sick, make sure we know so we can take more photos of them than we otherwise would. I know this is all very intimate information, but hopefully you've booked a photographer that you feel comfortable sharing these tidbits of your life with. It'll make things easier for you on the wedding day and you'll be happier with the photos later. 

3. Is there anything special you want photographed: On a wedding day, we're focusing on capturing every single special moment and detail. However, there are certain things that we won't be aware of until you tell us, and if you don't, we might miss it. Some examples of this include: your wedding date embroidered on the inside of your dress, engravings on the inside of your rings, special details that you put a lot of thought into (ie: your table numbers, escort cards or any DIY decor that have a personal touch), the initials on the handkerchief that belonged to your grandmother, the groomsmen's matching socks, that one yellow rose in your bouquet that's there because it was your grandfather's favorite flower. If there's anything that you can think of that's meaningful to you in one way or the other, please tell us ahead of time. I always carry around a printed list of these things with me on your wedding day. By telling us ahead of time, we can both be sure that the things that are most important to you will be photographed. 


4. A very detailed list of every single family photo you'll want: I always have my clients give me a very detailed list of ever single family photo they'll want taken on their wedding day, including their names and relationship to you. Photos on the list can be as small as "bride and mom" and as large as you and your entire maternal family. It can be easy to forget to include someone in family photos on your wedding day, so by creating a list ahead of time, you can make sure you don't forget anyone. This is another thing that I print out ahead of time and carry around with me on your wedding day. This way, I won't need to ask you any questions about who you want in what photo. The family portrait process becomes extremely efficient, which helps make the most of you and your guests' time.


Is there something else you feel is important to tell your photographer before your wedding day? Was this list helpful? Let me know below! If you have additional questions about what you should tell your photographer before your wedding day, reach out through my Contact page or email me directly at I'm always happy to answer any questions that come my way!

Janine LicareComment
5 Ways to Prepare for Your City Hall Wedding | San Francisco, CA

Congratulations! You're engaged and you've decided to get married at City Hall! City Hall is one of my favorite wedding venues in San Francisco to photograph couples. The architecture is stunning and the light is unbeatable - there's nowhere quite like it. Now that you've decided to get married there and you've reserved a date, you're probably wondering, now what?


1. Book your photographer: The first thing you're going to want to do is book your photographer (and I'm not just saying that because I'm a wedding photographer). You can only reserve your date 3 months out, but photographers may book-up way before then, so reach out to a San Francisco-based wedding photographer (wink*Janine Licare Photography*wink) as soon as you have chosen a date to get the ball rolling.

2. Decide who you want there: Will it be just the two of you? Will you have friends and family? This will help your photographer guide you in the right direction in terms of the amount of coverage you'll want. I've photographed several City Hall weddings where it's just been the three of us. I've also photographed many ceremonies where guest numbers have ranged from 2 to 15+. If you do decide to have a sizable guest party, keep in mind that this may influence your photography timeline. 


3. Dress for the occasion: It's your wedding day! You deserve to feel and look beautiful. I always recommend you have your hair and makeup done (Benefit and DryBar are great options) or do it yourself! And don't forget to wear a wedding dress - whether your style is boho, classic, modern, or even Hollywood glam, wear something that will feel special. And make sure your groom matches your look. If you're more of a boho bride, you might not want him in a tux.

4. Get a bouquet: Having a bouquet on your City Hall wedding day will certainly make you look and feel more bridal. It adds an extra element to your overall look and is a beautiful addition to your photos, and let's be honest, it gives you something to do with your hands. Since you likely won't be having a reception with centerpieces, garlands, or other floral decors, having a bouquet is your way to express your personality and personal style. Farmgirl Flowers makes beautiful ones, but I've had several brides make their own and they've turned out beautifully as well. You can stop by your local market (or even Trader Joe's) and pick an assortment of flowers to create your own floral arrangement. If you do choose to design and build your own, there are tons of tutorial online on how to do so. Make sure you do it the day of your wedding though, the last thing you'll want is a wilted bouquet. 


5. Plan to take photos at a second location: As much as I love City Hall, there's something truly special about going to a second location with your photographer to take additional photos. Right after your ceremony, you'll both already look fantastic, why not take a few more photos at some of your favorite San Francisco spots? A few of my favorites are Sutro Baths, Lands End, and Lover's Lane.


This list could be endless, but for now I feel 5 is a good number. If you have unanswered questions about how to prepare for your wedding at San Francisco City Hall, feel free to comment below, email me, or reach out through my Contact page on my website! 

Janine LicareComment