There is an almost magical feeling to seeing an empty venue hours before the main event. I walked through Preservation Park, the gorgeous morning light streaming through the trees and gracing the charming Victorian houses. The space was quiet, the rows of white chairs already set in anticipation of the event to come.
A few blocks east, Melissa was getting ready in the bridal suite. A beautiful rounded balcony offered great views over Old Oakland and into Chinatown. Laughter and smiles filled the room, the excitement building before the main event. The transformation was taking place as all of the details came together in this day built on friends, family, and love.
The wedding was Japanese, Scottish, and Jewish, and just as magical as it sounds. From the thousand paper cranes and breaking of the glass to the kilt-wearing men bearing swords, it was a uniquely personal celebration of Melissa and Nori, their backgrounds coming together into the new family they were building together.
Many thanks to Melissa and Nori for letting us in on a beautiful experience!
As the women got ready in the hotel, the men walked into Oakland Chinatown to pick up Vietnamese sandwiches for lunch.
A great look into the guys’ world from my amazing second shooter Christopher Mackessy.
Melissa is so naturally beautiful getting into her dress with help from her mother and bridesmaid.
I absolutely loved the bouquets, especially the unexpected pops of black from the “chocolate cosmos” flowers in the arrangement. All of the bouquets and boutonnieres were impeccably done by Laura Miller Design in Oakland.
Melissa’s beautiful hair flower was purchased from etsy, and it’s a great backdrop for the elegant rings.
Back over at Preservation Park, the men take a break from setup with downtown Oakland peeking through the palm trees.
Melissa and Nori opted to do a “first look,” where they saw each other before the ceremony. I love when couples do this, because it allows for such special time between them, and it also allows more time for portraits and a more relaxed timeline.
Look at that stunning bride! Love the touch of lens flare too.
The lovely ladies.
Here begins the ceremony details, these shot by Christopher. The trellis is decorated with one thousand paper cranes. Each invitation was sent out with a piece of paper and instructions, and guests mailed their cranes back with their RSVP cards. All of the paper cranes will be donated to the Crane Chandelier Project for cancer research. To the right, the sake bottle and dishes for the sake ceremony.
The processional began with a bagpiper leading the way. Kilts were all over the ceremony, with all the Scottish men including Melissa’s father wearing them.
I always love seeing the emotions of the day play out. Melissa was really not expecting to cry, but she was adorable laughing and trying to wave away the tears!
On the left, Melissa’s grandfather and father read Jewish blessings, and on the right, Nori’s mom (right) and her friend sing a Japanese lullaby.
Finally, Mazel tov to the breaking of the glass! Melissa accidentally stomped on Nori’s foot, but they had a good laugh about it.
And they processed back down the aisle to a canopy of swords! These men were decked out in full traditional tartan regalia, animal furs and all.
Another wonderful shot by Christopher. The wine glasses were sculptural! Catering by Blue Heron.
Love the small beads of detailing on the cake, custom made by Nora del Chamberlin.
Just as the street lamps went on, we grabbed a couple more shots of Nori and Melissa.
Thank you both again for such a fun and special day. I wish you both the very best back in Connecticut!
Venue: Preservation Park, Oakland, California
Hair: Judy Anderson
Makeup: Stephanie Perez
Caterer: Blue Heron Catering, Oakland
Florist: Laura Miller Design, Oakland
Cake: Nora del Chamberlin, Custom Cakes, Berkeley, 510.526.8732
Bagpiper: Donna Willy
Officiant: family friend
DJ: Denon & Doyle
Photographer: Anna Wu Photography with second shooter Christopher Mackessy
I love having a second shooter with me, and Christopher has been the best! Here are a couple behind the scenes shots that I don’t normally get otherwise. Here’s Melissa with her bridesmaid Jyoti, while Regina stands by for her turn.
And the full lineup of boys, while Melissa flees the scene.
And because I didn’t include it above, here’s the shot of all those handome men!