One of the many fine things about a Sonoma County wedding is the natural backdrop making the event – and its photography - all that more beautiful. Whatever your preference is – the ocean, mountaintop redwood forests, lavish gardens, vineyards or rustic farms, it can be found in all its glory in Wine Country.
Given our unique landscape, sometimes much of this magic can be found in a single location, offering a photographer a virtual treasure chest of options. A wedding can be shot to look as if the happy couple took a pre-honeymoon trip of a lifetime, all on single day.
At Bay Hill Mansion in Bodega Bay, for example, it’s the best of many worlds. Overlooking the grand Pacific coast, the luxury bed and breakfast offers ocean views from nearly every room, and from its deck and gazebo.
Yet set as it is at the base of Mt. Roscoe, the Queen Anne Victorian is also framed by a lush, green forest, nested among gracious manicured gardens, within a short drive of acclaimed vineyards and wineries, and neighbor to many family-owned heritage farms. And because of the mansion’s generous set-up, it’s a photographer’s dream even past the wedding, for bachelor and bachelorette parties, portraits of the wedding party pre-ceremony, the reception, and perhaps a following morning brunch catered by the inn.
Owners Chris and Gina White find that many couples particularly enjoy beach weddings, right at the base of their property with the pounding surf and sunsets lending extra drama.
Because the Mansion is so private, many couples rent the entire property over several days, with five en-suite guest rooms to host the wedding party and/or family. With a salon, dining room, den, balcony, decks, and garden walkway, there’s plenty of space for people to stretch out, and set up romantic and playful photo sessions.
A photographer can tag along for bonding activities like pilates and yoga classes, croquet, badminton, volleyball, spa treatments, and perhaps cooking dinner – the inn boasts a large commercial kitchen which you’re free to use, or you can let the inn’s staff take care of your grocery shopping, meals, the housekeeping and your group's activities schedule.
And certainly, don’t miss catching the fun of primping and preparing on the big day itself. All the photos can be used as favors for the bridal party (print a few gorgeous portraits for framing), plus as thank you follow-ups to the guests, after the photographer captures the revelers having a wonderful time at such a scenic reception.
For the most successful photography, wedding couples should remember to keep everything personal, and a real reflection of themselves. The Mansion is dog friendly, so don’t forget to include Fido and Rover in the action. The wedding party dogs will enjoy a photo shoot of their own on the beach.
Bay Hill Mansion, 3919 Bay Hill Road, Bodega Bay
Need help planning a wedding in Sonoma County? Get free assistance from Sonoma County Tourism here.
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet