Olympia's Valley Estate, Petaluma, California

“I blacked out during the vows, but I heard they went really well.” – Jill

Ha! But it’s true – it can be really weird being up there, in front of everyone, especially if you’re someone who’s normally behind the scenes like Jill is. Jill is a photographer who works with National Geographic shooting travel guidebooks and leading student expeditions where she teaches travel photography to high-school students. She has lead trips to places such as Iceland, Barcelona, Prague, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Mark has an equally interesting job, working with Zoox, an autonomous (self-driving) car startup.

It was during Jill’s first National Geographic guidebook shoot, in Sydney, Australia, that Mark pinged her through the dating site OK Cupid. She told him, “Well, I’m interested, but I’ll be gone for the next month. So I guess if you’re still single when I get back, we can go out.” But Mark insisted they start talking while she was on her trip. So they started with three nonvideo Skype calls, and hit it off right away. After three calls, they turned on the video. And after that, they talked every day while she was in Sydney. “It was such a nice part of the day, to be able to talk to this stranger.”

When they finally got to meet in person back in San Francisco, Mark asked Jill to be his girlfriend, and she said yes.

When they first saw the serene, idyllic Olympia’s Valley Estate, they knew they had found the place where they would marry. The farm was founded in 1905, and is still owned by the same family, and is still a working dairy farm and apple orchard. “We drove up this deserted road, and I thought ‘Where are we?!’ Then we got there and I thought, “I love it,” Jill said.

The day was full of emotion and fun. Even though Jill doesn’t remember actually saying her vows, she and Mark wrote their own, which brought a lot of tears out of both them and their guests. Afterward, more tears (and laughs) during the speeches, some serious dance moves by their guests, and a sentimental moment of Mark singing to Jill, which lead to them singing together on stage.

It was the kind of day everyone wants to have – a beautiful location, emotion that comes from the deepest, most authentic places, and the best party of your life – even if you don’t remember it all. But hey, that’s what the photos are for.

Authored by: Photographed by: MauricioCategory:  WeddingsDestination:  Petaluma, CaliforniaSetting:  Barn WeddingType:  Jewish WeddingVenue:  Olympia's Valley Estate