Photographer Spotlight: Jesse Leake

2015.05.18 Cuba Trip 2015.05.18 Cuba Trip
There’s no question that wedding days are incredibly beautiful. From the glowing bride and grinning groom to the flower-laden altar and impeccably set tables, there’s something gorgeous, emotional, and meaningful around every turn. It’s a feeling you’ll want to capture forever, and there’s no better way to do that than by hiring a truly talented photographer. One of our favorites? Jesse Leake. He’s been shooting weddings for almost 15 years, and is an expert at capturing those moments and details you’ll always remember.

Where are you based? I’m based in San Francisco. 

Why did you become a photographer? I’ve always loved taking pictures of the people and places in my life. After spending time traveling abroad and taking pictures during my journeys, I got a lot of positive feedback from others about my work. That inspired me to take my photography to the next level.

What do you love about it? With a camera in hand, I am totally immersed in the moment and encouraged to look for meaning and beauty in life.

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What makes your approach to shooting a wedding different? I approach a wedding as an open observer, there to seek out and document the beauty and feeling of the day in a natural way. I am sensitive to respecting the feelings and nature of my clients.

What medium do you work in? I shoot both with film and digitally. 

When did you start photographing weddings? I started shooting weddings in 2001. While in college, I spent my summers as a wedding videographer. At one of those weddings, I met Los Angeles-based photographer Joe Buissink. Watching him work, I was impressed by his easy-going nature and ability to capture candid moments. Later that night, I looked up his website and the inspiration for my career was born.

What is your favorite moment to photograph at a wedding? I enjoy all of it, but If I had to choose, I would say the couple’s portraits. I enjoy the collaborative process of working closely with my clients, implementing my creative vision and bringing out their natural beauty.

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What is your favorite location to shoot on the West Coast? Can’t beat the Napa Valley – Beaulieu Vineyard in Napa and Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel are a few favorites.

Is there a type of wedding that you’ve never shot that you would love to shoot? I’d love to go to Europe and shoot a wedding in Italy or France.

Aside from weddings, what else do you like to photograph? I spend most winters doing travel photography, and am excited about my recent partnership with Pottery Barn, where my work is now available for purchase.

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What inspires you? Location, beauty and people inspire me.

What do you like to do when you’re not photographing? I love getting dinner with friends, doing yoga, antiquing, snowboarding, and traveling. 

What’s a fun fact about you that your clients might not know? I’m a juicer. Green juice is my coffee, and what you’ll find in my bag on wedding days.

What do you wish couples knew before hiring a wedding photographer? Take the time to get to know the photographer you want to hire. How much experience do they have? Are they good-natured? Is their work consistent? How good are they in low light? Are they passionate? Be sure to ask to see a full album or gallery from one wedding, not just a “best of” gallery. 


What should couples know and be prepared with when they meet with you for the first time? Before meeting me, they should have a date and venue decided. They should have an idea of their photography budget and be familiar with my work.

How to Word Wedding Invitations

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Invitation by 48 Savvy Sailors, Photo by Elizabeth Messina

While your first thought when it comes to your wedding invitation might be what it will look like, what it says is just as important. The etiquette behind wording an invitation depends on a whole list of details, from who’s hosting (read: paying) to whether the ceremony is religious or secular to whether your parents are divorced and remarried. Who knew?

Thankfully, we’ve got the fabulous team over at Hello!Lucky to help you navigate all the options. Here are six of the most common variations, but if these don’t quite fit your situation, you can find even more in my All the Essentials Wedding Planner!

Who’s Hosting: The Bride’s Parents
Style: Formal
The Ceremony: Religious
The Reception: Separate Location

Mr. and Mrs. James Marshall
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

Joan Evelyn
Adam James Walker

Saturday, the twenty-second of June
two thousand fourteen
at half past four in the afternoon

The First Presbyterian Church
1333 3rd Street
Cumberland Island, Georgia

and afterward at a reception
Greyfield Inn
4048 Bright Highway
Cumberland Island, Georgia

Who’s Hosting: The Bride’s Parents
Style: Formal
The Ceremony: Secular
The Reception: Same Location

Mr. and Mrs. James Marshall
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter

Joan Evelyn
Adam James Walker

Saturday, the twenty-second of June
two thousand fourteen
at half past four in the afternoon

Greyfield Inn
4048 Bright Highway
Cumberland Island, Georgia

Reception to follow

Who’s Hosting: The Bride’s Parents
Style: Informal
The Ceremony: Secular
The Reception: Same Location

Mr. and Mrs. James Marshall
invite you to share in the celebration
of the marriage of their daughter

Joan Evelyn
Adam James Walker

Saturday, the twenty-second of June
two thousand fourteen
at half past four in the afternoon

Greyfield Inn
4048 Bright Highway
Cumberland Island, Georgia

Dinner and dancing to follow

Who’s Hosting: The Couple
Style: Formal
The Ceremony: Secular
The Reception: Same Location

Joan Evelyn Marshall
Adam James Walker

invite you with great pleasure
to celebrate their marriage

Saturday, the twenty-second of June
two thousand fourteen
at half past four in the afternoon

Greyfield Inn
4048 Bright Highway
Cumberland Island, Georgia

Reception to follow

Who’s Hosting: The Couple
Style: Casual
The Ceremony: Secular
The Reception: Same Location

Together with their parents
Joan Evelyn Marshall
Adam James Walker

invite you to share in the joy
of their wedding day

Saturday, the twenty-second of June
two thousand fourteen
at half past four in the afternoon

Greyfield Inn
4048 Bright Highway
Cumberland Island, Georgia

Dinner and dancing to follow

Who’s Hosting: Same Sex Couple
Style: Formal
The Ceremony: Secular
The Reception: Same Location
(Note: Most sample wording can be adapted to same sex marriages.)

Patrick Edward McClellan
Adam James Walker

invite you to share our joy
and support our love
as we are united in
the commitment of marriage

Saturday, the twenty-second of June
two thousand fourteen
at half past four in the afternoon

Greyfield Inn
4048 Bright Highway
Cumberland Island, Georgia

Dinner and dancing to follow

Vendor Spotlight: LOHO Bride


If you follow us on Instagram, chances are you caught LOHO Bride’s takeover back in April. But we couldn’t get enough of this super-chill bohemian bridal salon in San Francisco, so we sat down with owner Christy to chat about her wedding dress-shopping philosophy, what trends she can’t wait to see transition from the runway to the aisle, and what it means to be a bride who’s in a League Of Her Own.


What inspired you to create LOHO Bride?

5 years ago, I had a crazy wedding season (9 weddings in 8 months!), and became fascinated with the ritual. I’d never fantasized about getting married, but it made me wonder where someone like me would go for a chilled-out, non-traditional bridal experience.

Over a glass of wine, my previous partner (Brittany Castanos of Daughters of Simone) and I joked about the subject, did some research, and started reconstructing and modernizing vintage bridal gowns for women looking for something one-of-a-kind — that’s how Daughters of Simone was born! Brittany transformed the brand into a made-to-order line (that I’m thrilled to carry at LOHO Bride!), but I was still caught up on creating an experience for this niche group of women who often had to forfeit the salon experience in order to stay true to their aesthetic. So I opened LOHO Bride to create a place where the bride I was imagining, inspired by my friends, can come and find a gown and a comfortable experience that fits her personality.

What makes the LOHO Bride experience different from a traditional bridal salon?

Our focus is the personal experience, so the 1-hour private fittings in our studio are extremely tailored to our brides — it’s important that we know who they are before they step through our doors, because we want them to feel as comfortable as possible during what could be a very stressful process. The goal is to make dress shopping a fun, light-hearted part of wedding planning! As long as they leave feeling good and relaxed, we’ve done our job. That will likely involve champagne and a customized playlist, but only if that’s their preference, of course!



How have you combined a more fashion-forward boutique with the process of shopping for a wedding dress?

We’ve been able to combine the two by committing to who our bride is. We keep our selection edited and tightly curated with the new-age bride in mind, which means she doesn’t have to comb through traditional styles trying to find what she’s looking for. She has an appreciation for the right cuts, fashion-forward designs, rich materials, and something that makes her feel completely her own. She doesn’t let convention get in the way of the look she wants to exude on her wedding day. Authenticity means everything to her, so we keep that attitude while we’re curating our selection.

What can a bride expect when she visits your boutique?

Our brides can expect one-on-one attention, privacy for her group, personal touches, and honest styling expertise. Many brides say that they feel as if they’re playing dress up in their friend’s apartment, which is exactly what we’re going for! We aim to guide them in a supportive way — no pushiness, mindful feedback and the willingness to help them find the right gown for them, even if it means recommending another store who might have what they’re looking for.



What are three things a bride should keep in mind when she’s shopping for a wedding gown?

  1. Love your body and stay true to what flatters you the best. It’s easy to fall in love with a dress from a picture, but you have to ask yourself if the style of the dress highlights all of your most beautiful features. It’s a tough realization at times, but you’ll appreciate it when you see yourself in photos!
  2. Try to avoid bringing too many opinions with you. It breaks our heart when we see a group tear down a bride’s confidence, or kills the vision/vibe the bride is going for. Bring friends or family members who know your style and who respect that this is your day and your time to shine. Stand your ground!
  3. Don’t forget to enjoy the process! We get it — the wedding industry can be pushy. It’s easy to get pressured into making decisions and spending loads of money, and it can leave you feeling downright confused. We like to remind brides that they’re throwing a big, raging party with their all-time favorite people in the world. Relax and enjoy the ride! We hope that the LOHO experience we provide our brides can remind them of this and keep them centered.

What should a bride have with her while she’s shopping?

Good, positive energy ready to pour into the experience, an open mind, and nude undergarments. If you have these three things, we should be golden!

loho_lookbook_edit_2_1097.jpg - Rue de Seine Gown, Heart of Gold headpiece

loho_lookbook_edit_2_1073.jpg - Houghton Gown, Heart of Gold headpiece

loho_lookbook_edit_2_1106.jpg - Houghton Jumper, Bliss Lau Body Chain

Which trends or details have been most popular? Is there a style that you’ve been surprised to see take off?

Forever and ever, I think the low, open back is going to be popular. Who doesn’t love a sexy back coming down the aisle? And off-the-shoulder styles have been glorious options for a bride who wants to show off her collar bones, but doesn’t want to wear strapless.

As for a surprising style — I think the reign of the two-piece has been shocking, but now that I’ve seen it on so many women, I get why it’s popular! High waisted skirts are insanely flattering and the separates look is super inventive and playful — it allows brides to create their own look through layering and mixing textures.

What are some new trends that you’re excited to have in the shop?

Thanks to Solange, the cape has been asked about and we’re excited to have one coming to the shop soon! Dramatic sleeves are also really catching our attention this season, so we’ve picked up some Stevie Nicks inspired sleeves. Last, we’re loving illusion gowns this season, and have recently thrown a few into the mix too!


Do you have a favorite gown or trend in your boutique right now? Why do you love it?

I can honestly say that I’ve only personally tried on one gown myself and it’s the “Gamila” gown by Houghton. It’s an off the shoulder style, 6-ply silk gown, with cape-like sleeves. I could envision Carolyn Bessette wearing it on the red carpet. I love that it makes a modern, edgy statement, but is still so elegant and timeless. On the dance floor, the sleeves would have such killer movement, which is a major bonus in my book! All in all, it has all the elements and personality that I love about a great dress. It’s especially cool to see the brides who have purchased it evoke a similar feeling once they have it on.

How can brides incorporate ready-to-wear and runway trends into their bridal look?

I think that the rehearsal dinner is a fun opportunity to shake things up with a favorite ready-to-wear look. Accessories and layering can be added to a more timeless gown to give the bride’s look a current feel. And so many runway trends make their way into bridal these days anyway, that I think they’re naturally intertwined.

Is there a venue or location where you’d love to be a wedding guest? What would you love to see a bride wear down the aisle there?

I’ve fallen in love with this wedding venue in Bali called the Bambu Indah. It would pair so perfectly with our Bo&Luca ISRA gown and I would die to see it all come to life!

loho_lookbook_edit_2_1102.jpg - Bo and Luca Gown

What’s a fact about you or LOHO Bride that your clients might not know?

Many clients might not know that I came from a tech background and was working in mobile advertising up until a month before we opened! I’m a big advocate of exploring being an entrepreneur while still having a day job; take the leap of faith when the time is right. I was fortunate enough to get a small business loan through the SBA, but it took years of juggling both my business idea for LOHO and having to pay my expensive San Francisco bills!

Venue Spotlight: McEvoy Ranch


McEvoy Ranch is one of our favorite hidden treasures in the San Francisco area. The winery and olive oil farm are absolutely gorgeous and totally charming, so we were thrilled when they decided to start hosting more events on the property and asked our sister company Event Space Consulting to help them spread the word (and invited us to tag along!).

We worked with their team to select the best areas for private events on the property, ranging from The Mill to the Poplar Alley to The Greenhouse, then teamed up with Natalie Bowen Designs and Bright Event Rentals to come up with a vision and transform the ranch for a photo shoot with photographer Thayer Allyson Gowdy.

The results? Welcoming, cozy, and incredibly chic vignettes that embody McEvoy Ranch’s vibe and brand, something we hope will inspire clients for years to come!















Instagram Takeovers, Wanderlust Edition


We’ve had a serious case of wanderlust lately, and our is no exception! Some of our favorite vendors have taken over our account over the past few months, filling it up with beautiful pictures of amazing locations near and far.

Archive Mexico took us to their home of Riviera Maya, filling the frame with some of the amazing pieces available to rent for your own celebration. We wish every rental came with sand between your toes and an ocean view!





Images via Instagram, courtesy of Archive Mexico

The Venue Report gave us the inside scoop on hot new venues around the world, from the private courtyard at San Francisco’s The Cheese School to Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives. And we’ve officially added Nicaragua to our dream destination list–let us know if you’re heading that way and have something to celebrate!




Images via Instagram, courtesy of The Venue Report

Once you’ve said “I do” and are ready for a little one-on-one relaxation, Ever After Honeymoons has you covered. Katie stopped by our Instagram page to share some of her favorite global locales, whether you’re looking for a helicopter tour over Queenstown, New Zealand, or sun and sand in St. Barths. Or there’s always dramatic views and elephant rides in Bali!






Images via Instagram, courtesy of Ever After Honeymoons

Are you ready to hop on a plane yet? Because we sure are!

La Cocina 10th Anniversary Gala

La Cocina is a cause very near and dear to our hearts. For the past three years, we’ve worked on designing their annual gala and this year marks the 10th anniversary! The May 11th event promises to be a good one with a dinner featuring Traci Des Jardins, Gabriela Cámara of Mexico City’s Contramar, Karen Taylor of El Molino Central Sonoma, and more, all in honor of the “dama” of Mexican cuisine, Diana Kennedy.

They’re down to a handful of tickets for the cocktail hour so we urge you to head on over here to get yours now! It’s not to be missed!




Vendor Spotlight: Stag Dining

We caught up with Stag Dining this week and got a fun glimpse into the world of catering. Stag never fails to bring a fun touch of edginess and we love them for it! And their dream meal? Amazing….sign us up!




Where are you based? San Francisco, CA




What do you specialize in? Creative Catering & Beverage Catering



How did you get started?
As a Supper Club, in 2010 Throwing underground dinner parties with our favorite Winemakers, brewers and bartenders



What inspires you/your work?
Nature first and foremost. We also believe that there is a unique power in connecting people through culinary experiences & events. Often times, the event that we are producing is the first opportunity for our guests to step away from their highly connected and device-filled schedule and allows them the opportunity to relax and connect socially in an authentic way.



What’s a fun fact about you that clients may not know?
We started making wine last year. We partnered up with our good friends from Bodkin Wines for a beautiful rosé we call Deerblood and Derby Meritage Red. The fruit is from Sonoma County from some small family farms and is tasting quite lovely. We have always been about collaboration so when the opportunity arose to create food-friendly wines with one of the most up and coming winemakers in Sonoma we jumped at the opportunity.



What is one of your favorite venues to work in and why?
Our Russian River outpost, The Rio Theater in Monte Rio, Sonoma. It’s a slice right out of of Wes Anderson’s imagination on the sunny sandy banks of the Russian River.



Do you see any trends happening in the catering industry?
Away with the white tablecloths! The Craft-Casual approach that is dominating the hospitality scene in restaurants, bars & hotels, is something we are are applying to the mobile landscape (catering and beverage catering).



What’s a dish or meal that you would love to put together if you were given free reign at an event?
Take over a seated section at a major league baseball stadium, serve 9 courses of gourmet-inspired take on baseball food during a game… an event within an event!


Tell us the best way to reach you and check out your work.
Instagram: @stagdining

Hotel du Cap Wedding

Happy Valentines Day!  We’re hopeless romantics to the very end so can’t help but love February.

To celebrate, we’re showing you the wedding of Emily + Kent – it doesn’t get much more romantic than this! With blue skies, oodles of blush and ivory roses, and just the right amount of sparkle, this wedding perfectly captured the dreamy l’amour of Antibes which is located in the south of France. The beautiful Hotel du Cap was the perfect spot for this wedding as you will see. They topped the night off with their first dance to Chris Martin’s “Yellow,” sung by the man himself!  Photos by Elizabeth Messina







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Join us for a Book Reading!

Our go-to officiant, Lisa Francesca, just published a book to help anyone needing guidance to officiate a wedding. It’s just the manual we’ve been looking for and we recommend it to all our couples who are having a friend or family member officiate their wedding so be sure to check it out if this sounds like you!

Next week, Alison and Lisa are teaming up for an event at Books Inc on February 19 at 7pm. Swing by for a fun book reading and opportunity to meet these two women in the know!


MV weddings

In the Press: Our very own Alison gets married!

It’s an exciting day here in the office! As you may or may not know, Alison was married this past February and today, all the gorgeous details are featured on Martha Stewart Weddings online and on newsstands December 29th! It’s always an honor to be published in MSW but it’s a whole new level of special when the wedding is our main gal’s.

Run to newsstands to get your copy, or, if you can’t wait, click on over to MSW to read the full write-up…including Alison + Markus’ “how they met” story! It’s a good one, promise!

In even more good news, Martha Stewart Weddings has also voted us as as a Top Planner in the United States and has shared Alison’s 12 Tips for a Stress-free Wedding.






























top planner


12 tips


Event Planning & Design Alison Events//Photographer: Elizabeth Messina // Videographer: Elysium Productions // Venue: Manka’s Boathouse  // Floral and Production: Brown Paper Design //  Cake: Perfect Endings // Tabletop Rentals: Casa de Perrin // Rentals: Classic Party Rental // Linens: La Tavola Linens // Music: Elan Artists // Paper Materials: Charlotte Osterman // Calligraphy: Michele Papineau // Officiant: Lisa Francesca //