My Birthday Soiree | Julia’s at the Berkeley City Club

This has been a really incredible whirlwind of a birthday weekend. On Saturday, I had this wonderful little birthday dinner at the Berkeley City Club. Sunday, my friend Jiongyi made gumbo from scratch for me (it was amazing, and he had never had gumbo or even read a recipe for it– he just read the Wikipedia article.) Monday, I launched my to fund it as a book… Tuesday, my actual birthday, I had a second, smaller birthday dinner with a couple friends, and as of right now, Wednesday morning, is already fully funded!!

I have the most amazing community of friends. Thank you ALL for making this birthday an unforgettable one. In a couple hours, I’m taking off for a month of consecutive trips to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Japan, and Taiwan. I feel undeservedly, outrageously lucky to be living this life, and I am so grateful to all of my friends and supporters who have made it all possible.

As for the post below, I just wanted to share a few images from my birthday soiree– a wonderful dinner with a few of my friends at the brand new restaurant Julia’s¬†at the Berkeley City Club.

The Berkeley City Club is a really interesting and beautiful multipurpose building. Its architecture is gorgeous and historic, designed by famed architect Julia Morgan. It is now a permanent residence, a public hotel, a private club, and of course, a wedding venue. Only in the last couple months have they now added restaurant to the mix.

I love the Berkeley City Club– I first encountered it when I shot a wedding there in 2010, and I have now photographed five different shoots there. They’ve always been so wonderful to with, so when I thought about where I could host my birthday dinner, I thought their brand new, little-known restaurant might be the perfect place to do it.

I DIY’d some little favors that doubled as place settings for my friends. I made all of these paper bags… from butcher paper. They’re each slightly different in size and shape! I wish I had stopped to do a tutorial, but alas… you just get to see the final products.

The flowers were already a part of the restaurant decor! The Berkeley City Club has a florist who supplies all the florals for them regularly.

I did all the calligraphy with a regular felt tip permanent marker and just drew in the extra line thicknesses. Inside the bags are assorted chocolates.

If this all looks suspiciously like a wedding, well… what can I say? I am a wedding photographer, having a birthday party at a wedding venue. =)

Before my friends arrived, I snuck up to the upper floors for a peek at the beautiful sunset from one of my favorite roof terraces.

The Berkeley City Club is only a couple blocks from Berkeley’s main campus– there’s the Campanile!


And then it was time to head down for some Happy Hour cocktails… from here on the photos are much more sparse– this is what happens when you’re too busy catching up with your friends to stop and take pictures.

We had a wonderful prix fixe menu provided by chef Alaun Grimaud.

Great food,

great company! (We look like we’re taking old-school family portraits.)

And just as we were about to head out, the Berkeley City Club surprised me with a little birthday treat! It was so incredibly sweet of them to throw this in!

Everyone got a little taste.

And then we went to Yogurtland, because it’s only half a mile away! And yes, this is me we’re talking about. =)

Many, many thanks to all of the staff at the Berkeley City Club who made our experience at Julia’s such an amazing one! And of course, thank you to all of my amazing friends who came out to celebrate. It was so wonderful to spend some time with you all! Thanks also to all my other friends who have sent me your birthday wishes from near and far! And finally, thank you to everyone who has backed the … I am so humbled by the incredible show of support, and I can’t wait for what’s next!