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  • Everyone has a blog nowadays.

    ...so THANK YOU for sparing a minute of your life and coming by to check out mine. It's truly an honor! Whether you're a friend, a photography buff, an old (or new!) client or a bride looking for a photographer - welcome and come back often. I'm happy to make your acquaintance.

    ~ Auey

    Most commonly asked question, "How do you pronounce your name?" Think Maui, without the M. Or, "It's Auey, like I have an owee." (boo boo, ouchie, auey ~ I'll be reduced to a scab soon).

The Story of Two Brides: Rosslyn and Laura | Half Moon Bay wedding

When Rosslyn and Laura met me to discuss their wedding plans, I was initially struck with Rosslyn’s name because I’m a Northern Exposure fan. (Am I showing my age?) I loved that little 90s dramedy to death! It was about a quirky little Alaskan town called Cicely, which got its name from its two lesbian founders—Cicely and her beloved partner, Roslyn.

Now you know why I’m bringing up an old TV show!

Anyway, the real Rosslyn wasn’t dressed in a stuffy pioneer outfit for her wedding. She and Laura declared they weren’t the bridal types, but I didn’t let that fool me. They both made stunning brides! But I knew what they meant, they definitely were not your typical girly-girl brides. Their wedding was full of meaningful details and touches that made it truly unique.

Homemade pies, baked earlier that day by the bride’s friends.
Guests were asked to write in these wedding day journals, each asking a poignant question about love and marriage.
So many friends turned out to witness Rosslyn and Laura’s beautiful beachside wedding at Half Moon Bay. With their sisters at their side, the happy couple exchanged lovely vows at La Costanera Restaurant at the Montara State Beach.
A moment with the uber talented floral designer Melanie Tom. Rosslyn and Laura designed each other’s bouquet. 
Chefs at La Costanera heating things up in the kitchen.
At one point, Rosslyn and Laura went to the shore to have a prayerful moment by themselves. But this spontaneously turned into an awesome group shot when the whole wedding party decided to walk to the shore, too. Everyone just wanted to show their love and support for the couple!

Rosslyn and Laura’s wedding was held a few weeks before the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was overturned, so that made the ceremony especially touching. For those who don’t know about it, the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA legally paves the way for same sex marriages.

I love that Rosslyn and Laura didn’t care about legalities or wait for the outcome of the case. They love each other so much they just wanted to announce it to the world, and their “screw the rules” attitude is heartwarming. Rules can be changed all the time but love is forever. And forever should start whenever you want it to.

One highlight of the evening was a the mariachi band performance, which was a surprise for Rosslyn’s sister who celebrated her birthday a few days earlier. 

I had packed up my gear after a long day of shooting. I looked back at the beach one last time and saw a few of Rosslyn and Laura’s guests trekking down to the beach. I grabbed this one last snapshot of myself (ok, shadow of me) as they waved good-bye and walked away. Perfect day, perfect ending.
Ceremony / Reception Site: La Costanera
Floral Design: Melanie Tom
Photo Booth: Photo-matica

Shuva Rahim - Beautiful wedding, beautiful couple! Great job, Auey!!

A Beautiful Southeast Asian Union: Gail and Lawlun

I shot Gail and Lawlun’s engagement photos last September, so when their big day finally arrived I was excited to document this life-changing event. I love it when a couple is just so perfectly matched that it shows up in their eyes and their body language. Everyone in their families and in the entourage could feel this loving energy and when this happens… the photos just sing to me!

There were so many adorable Asian details before and after the ceremony. I’ve talked about the Filipino money dance before, but I’ve never mentioned the meaning of some of the traditional symbols used in many weddings in the Philippines. Couples usually light a unity candle together, to signify the merging of their families. Later on, a white veil and a cord is wrapped around their shoulders as a symbol of the unbreakable bond of marriage.

Lastly, the bride receives an arrhae—gold or silver coins presented in a beautiful box—from her groom. While some people insist that this final symbol traces back to when women had a bride-price (yikes!) I refuse to believe this. I’m a romantic so I think it represents the future prosperity of the couple.

Lawlun’s pride in his Chinese heritage was represented with a lovely tea ceremony right before the reception. Lawlun and Gail knelt in front of his parents and the other senior members of the family and offered tea. After each cup was drained, gifts of jewelry and lucky envelopes were bestowed on the newlyweds.

Talking about these traditions make it seem that the wedding was oh-so-serious, but really, that’s not the case! The entire day was filled with laughter and fun. One of my favorite shots was of the little girl who caught the bouquet. She had real catching chops. And I could not help but grin whenever the bridesmaids kept photo-bombing shots whenever they could.

I’m really pleased with how my photos came out and I hope Gail and Lawlun will love them too.

The filipino tradition of exchanging coins, the placing of the veil and cord was honoured during Gail and Lawlun’s church ceremony.

I love doing getting ready shots but try very much to avoid the usual cliches. This spontaneous one of Gail in her Monique Lhullier gown, surrounded by her best friend and favorite cousin, made me especially sentimental though. Traditional bridal photos will never grow old.  I imagine Gail looking at this photo 40 years from now and it seem timeless.

And then again, here’s Gail in a spontaneous giggle. It’s so her.

We dropped by the Japanese Tea Garden in San Mateo Central Garden. The lighting gods were with us that day. 

A quick diversion before the reception had us do the traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony. Here’s the couple paying tribute to Gail’s parents.

The adorable photo booth was designed by Lawlun’s personal friend. DIY at it’s finest!

A perfect closed-eyes moment during their first dance.

Lawlun made his traditional family-introduction speech, with the aid of a translator for the Chinese-speaking guests. I sense something was lost in translation, judging from the laughter of the guests. I love the diversity of cultures in weddings like these. It gives me more reason to be thankful I live in the Bay Area!

What do you think I am? Made of money?

Keep your eyes on that little girl! She’s vicious!

Gail’s dad, living it up.

Say queso!

Gail and Lawlun insisted we take this photo and I’m glad they did. To the right of the photo is my friend-associate photographer-right arm Kinsley Wong. I always forget to take a photo with the bride and groom and I am thinking from now onwards, I should. Even for a day, I become part of their circle of family and friends. And I feel tremendously blessed to be included.

 

French-Filipino Fusion Wedding for Ken and Emily | SF Bay Area Weddings

Oh là là! Ay yay yay!

This recent May wedding was by far…one of the best times I’ve had on the job. I met L.A. based Emily and Ken, through the bride’s cousin who somehow knew of me, and was acting as go-between for the wedding planning. And when I met them in person, I knew immediately  that they were “my peeps.” Both pretty laid-back and chill, Ken and Emily wanted a wedding that reflected they valued most in life: family. With that in mind, their wedding was a true celebration of the two families united to form a big old mass of happy people, bond by love, marriage and shared genetic make-up.

Emily shared her passion for travel and France through the lovely crafted details, strewn throughout the wedding. From the custom made passport invitation, the Eiffel tower of macaroons, on-site crepe bar and whimsical french luggage…each detail was meticulously designed and thoughtfully placed.

While the wedding was French by design, it was definitely Filipino in nature. The wedding started off with a traditional Catholic mass at Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park. It was followed by a hotel reception at the Marriott Hotel in San Mateo, abound with food, libations and laughter. And sticking to Filipino tradition, the guests came ready with their dancing shoes (and wads of cash!) to participate the traditional Curacha wedding dance. Most people are familiar with the Filipino version of the money dance. The Curacha (also spelled kuratsa) dance is from the Visayan region of the Philippines and I can only describe it as playful, slightly flirty and definitely fun. The Curacha is a traditional courtship dance, in which couples mimmick the motions of mating birds. At the wedding, Emily and Ken danced the prosperity portion of the dance, in which money is thrown on a blanket. The cash is later offered to the bride as as symbol of the groom’s devotion to take care of the family. It was BLAST to watch and photograph.

Thank you Emily and Ken for sharing your wedding day with me. I’d do it all over again!

And finally…to cap it off, the slideshow! Viva l’amour! Mabuhay ang bagong kasal!

Emily + Ken from Auey Santos on Vimeo.

Church: Church of the Nativity, Menlo Park CA
Venue: San Mateo Marriott, San Mateo CA
Hair and Make-up: Jira of Wow Pretty 
Event Design: Jenny Do of 1000 Fine Events
Photo Booth: Tiffany Walker/Matt Walker of YouBooth
Mararoons: Natalie Wong of Sugarie
Crepe Bar: Emile Goguely of Cool Crepes
Flowers:  Phuong Nguyen and  Janice Spuller
DJs: Abraham Salamanca & Nicholas Mondero

 

Now Booking Summer Mini-Sessions!

During the summer a familiar ritual occurs: I make elaborate plans go to the beach, maybe clean-up the house for a garage sale or two… and I always end up doing something unexpected, like planting new flowers in my front lawn or reading the latest bestseller on my e-reader.

Summer always seems to be the time when things go awry in the most serendipitous ways. It’s difficult to stick to a regimented plan when the weather is warm and the body is just crying out to out outside and play. 

That’s why I decided to schedule some summer family mini-sessions. These shoots are quick, painless, and always a lot of fun. I love to capture the summer light as it falls where it may.

So far, I’m scheduling two meet-ups for the family mini-sessions: June 22 for Oakland/East Bay and June 29 for San Francisco.

Package A – $250 for a 30-minute shoot, inclusive of five high resolution images.

Package B – $500 for a one-hour shoot, inclusive of all high resolution images. Recommended for families!

For more details or questions, don’t hesitate to give me a call or email me at info@photograffiti.net.

Bridal Inspiration: Hollywood Glam Wedding at the Fox Theater

 

A film theatre as a reception venue?! With scores of hotels and resorts to choose from, a film theatre isn’t the first venue that springs to the minds of engaged couples planning their fantasy wedding. Yet once this offbeat choice captures the imagination, like a good movie, it will simply not let go. There’s nothing more glamorous and glitzy than Hollywood, and it is the secret dream of many women to be the leads in their own romantic comedy.

To help stroke the fancies of star-struck brides, I got together with many of my friends in the industry to hold a wedding photography showcase at the Fox Theater in Redwood City to show exactly how it can be done. The styled shoot was graced with two models, two gowns, and a host of beautiful accessories and accents.

The details for memorable receptions included flower arrangements by Seasonal Celebrations and make-up and hair by Jenn and Michaela of Super! Makeup and Hair Artistry.  The talented  Giao Nguyen designed the old-school glam hairpieces that perfectly matched the gowns provided by Nouvelle Bridal Boutique.  The linens and settings were provided by Blue Water Party Rentals. The 20s inspired stationary was crafted by Brenna Catalano of BC Design Studio. Lighting design was by LD Alliance.

The shoot was hectic but it was an incredible experience to work alongside my colleagues and come up with a beautiful spread that highlights the possibilities of this emerging, unconventional event location. Special shout-outs to Sarah Ward of Sarah Ward Events and Laurie of Seasonal Celebrations,  it wouldn’t have been a success without you.

 

 

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