Suleen & Sam | Malibu Rocky Oaks Elopement

High in the hills, overlooking Malibu, the four of us marveled at our surroundings. What a stunning place to be wed. None of us were from the area– the three of them having come from Chicago and me from the Bay Area– but so many threads had pulled together for us to be there in that perfect moment.

It wasn’t that long ago that Ray had messaged his friend Suleen on Instagram, asking if she might be interested in meeting his cousin Sam. Suleen agreed, and though it took several months for Suleen and Sam to actually meet, once they did, the relationship deepened very quickly. In truth, they credit their mothers in heaven for arranging the whole thing.

Suleen had just lost her mother to a difficult battle with cancer last year, and it was one of the main reasons she couldn’t imagine wanting to have a big, traditional wedding– without her mother. So when she and Sam began discussing marriage, they started thinking they would just elope, perhaps getting married locally in Chicago. She reached out to me, a friend from college, floating various ideas that might involve them meeting me to do an engagement session in the Bay Area, or me going to photographing a reception party in Chicago…

Then, one day, Suleen came across a video from this venue — Malibu Rocky Oaks — and a new idea was planted. She worried it was too impractical, but it was Sam who encouraged them to play out the idea. When they found out that Ray, the one who introduced them, would be in LA for work this week, the whole thing snapped into place. Ray would officiate, this would be the venue, and I would fly down from San Francisco to join them in documenting the whole thing.

Congratulations, Suleen and Sam! And beautiful job officiating, Ray. What a joy to be there with you all on this special day.

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco and eager to travel anywhere photography will take her. She combines a “fine art” aesthetic, with a photojournalistic approach to beautifully and intuitively capture the moments of a wedding day. She loves a simple elopement as much as an elaborate party, as long as it’s personal and thoughtfully designed. View more of her work at