Snowy frontier to sunny beach: Leslie and Jared’s dream wedding

Snowy frontier to sunny beach: Leslie and Jared’s dream wedding

Looking for Alaska San Deigo

I’ve got another amazing love story for you: Leslie and Jared, the soul mates from Alaska that wanted their dream wedding in sunny San Diego, surrounded by their kids, family, and friends. From what started as an algorithm-spurred brunch followed by a romantic pawn shop peruse, these two found the perfect partner within each other, and after building a life together equipped with laughter, children, and sleep, these two just finished throwing the wedding of their dreams at the Prado at Balboa Park.

Skiing+napping+sarcasm=the ultimate love spark.

Leslie and Jared filled me in on their favorite things to do together, which easily explains how much fun they were to work with! They thrive on laughing with one another, combining parenting forces, skiing, hiking, biking, and other cool Alaskan outdoorsy stuff. Oh, and they are both proven sarcasm experts.

Bringing Alaska to San Diego

Jared and Leslie dined at the precise restaurant that they visited on their first fancy date. Jared had so much more than a Groupon in his pocket: he popped the question to Leslie! From there, the duo set out to orchestrate the wedding of their dreams. Fun fact: destiny would have it that their daughter be born exactly five years after the proposal! And, they blew themselves and their guests away by bringing elements of Alaska to the breathtakingly historic Balboa Park and by having an interactive celebration for every single guest, especially their kids, to participate in. Bonus fact: these two were married January 11, 2020 - marking their six-year anniversary! 

Leslie and Jared got ready and had their very sweet first look at the US Grant. Leslie even got to have a first look with her boys! The famiy-centric wedding focused on fun and play, while staying classy and graceful. Bliss Events‘ Ashley coordinated a jaw-dropping environment for the bride and groom, with notes of deep rasberry reds mixed with greens and other earthy tones based off the natural beauty of Alaska. To include their family spirit at the wedding, Jared and Leslie made sure their kids as well as their other guests played important, real roles throughout their celebration.  And, if you ask any of the younger guests of the wedding, those hula hoops, games, face painting and that play area made for a great party scene!

This happy couple’s story was so much fun to learn about, and what a sweet, creative wedding I was able to witness. To Leslie and Jared, congratulations you two! Wishing you and the kiddos many naps, laughs, and powdery ski trips for many years to come.

Five New, Original Location Ideas for Your Next Event

Five New, Original Location Ideas for Your Next Event

“Location, location, location,” - real estate agents everywhere.

And yet, the saying still holds true: location is extremely important to where you’re having your next big event. Whether it be a first or 60th birthday party, a wedding, modeling head shots, a company event, a performance, or anything in between, finding the perfect place to host your event can be tricky without knowing the right places, people, and websites to look. A simple web search of your desired event location will most likely bring up popular event spots. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a safe guess that your desired date might be booked, that it will be crowded with people not in your party, and that there won’t be enough parking for everyone.

Whenever I work with clients who rent a private space to call their own, I always notice the freedom they enjoy, the privacy and the relaxed atmosphere that they get to soak in for themselves. Imagine you have an entire place reserved in your name to host that surprise party, or that corporate event, or an upcoming graduation photo shoot, for the hours you need it, on the date(s) you want, with only the people you want there with you! Enter Peerspace: basically, the Airbnb of meeting and event space rentals.

Using Peerspace‘s search results, here are five quick event location ideas that are unique, personal, and completely yours for your next event, whatever and whenever that may be. Happy location finding!

1. A getaway equipped with everything needed for the perfect house party.

Sometimes, having a party in a cozy chateau is the perfect place for a family get-together. It’s a chance to turn a professionally designed and well-kept house into yours, with those renovations you’ve always dreamed of, without the worry of having to move anything or clean up too much.

Peerspace examples:

- La Jolla Country Casa Event Space

– Versatile Beachside House - Lifestyle and Products- Great Lighting, Spacious, Custom Designed

2. An estate for bringing your guests and you together in an intimate, unique setting with no other distractions.

These types of rentals are especially popular for weddings, where an immaculate estate is available for everything a bride and groom may need. Estates provide a private environment where couples can get ready onsite, walk to their ceremony and their reception, and enjoy the estate as if it was their own.

Peerspace examples:

- Spacious Villa with Breathtaking Views for Events, Meetings, Photo Shoots!

– Country Elegance on Hilltop with majestic 360 views. Spectacular outdoor spaces

3. An outdoor space that can handle the band, the fans, and the drum solo!

For musicians looking to hold a private party for themselves and their biggest fans, renting a private space to hold a concert is a great way to add hype and exclusiveness to the event. It also allows for the band to play without any permits, interruptions, permissions from the city, etc., since, the space is entirely theirs to do what they please with it!

Peerspace example:

Barrio Logan indoor/outdoor event space

4. A space dedicated to targeting your customer base.

Good entrepreneurs know their customers; what their audience looks like, does for a living, does in their free time, and what their pain points are. If you’re a business owner reading this, renting a space to market a product or service in a location that captures your targeted audience’s attention will not only get your brand noticed, but will also help you stand out from your competitors, too.

Peerspace examples:

– Smart & Sleek Conference Boardroom - Edison

- Light and Bright Yoga Studio

– Artistic Urban Gym

5. A garden flourishing with the most beautiful greenery you never knew existed.

Gardens are an attraction as well as a location, and from a photographer’s perspective, they are particularly gorgeous in the background of a headshot or grad photo. To create an entirely different environment filled with living, growing flora, booking a garden as your next event location will be as exotic as it will be breathtaking.

Peerspace example:

Canyon Perched A-Frame Home & Art Studio

Great Pictures Lead to Great Publications: San Diego Spotlights Brant Bender Photography’s Star Clients!

Great Pictures Lead to Great Publications: San Diego Spotlights Brant Bender Photography’s Star Clients!

A wedding so beautiful, it had to be shared with all of San Diego.

On October 6, 2018, I was lucky enough to capture all-star couple William and Richard’s whimsical wedding that took over San Diego’s famous and jaw-dropping historical landmark, Prado at Balboa Park. Inspired by the World’s Fair that took place at San Diego in 1916, their wedding featured coattails, top hats, bow ties, and happy-go-lucky dancing and fun.

I worked with Richard and William on their engagement shoot and wedding photos, where I learned about how they met, the spark between them, and what they envisioned as their perfect wedding day. I can confirm their (en)vision came true; the wedding was seamless and stunning, where every photo I took, candid or formal, included a huge smile or a teary grin (huge kudos to the master of wedding planning, Courtney at Breezy Day Weddings!) Their captivating love story and wedding served as inspiration for couples brainstorming their very own creative, unique, story-telling wedding that would take place in the San Diego area.

San Diego Style Weddings, a local magazine that shares the best resources for all things weddings, provides readers southern-California-specific tips, vendors, services, and inspiration, from engagement to post-wedding. S.D.S.W. picked up Richard’s and William’s wedding photos and included them in their December 2019-January 2020 issue. Check out page 118 to see how Richard and William celebrated a stunning World’s Fair Wedding together with their guests and loved ones at the iconic Prado!

Seeing these photos and their wedding story in S.D.S.W. fills me with so much happiness. I remember taking those photos with Richard and William, and I remember loving to capture them and their guests on the happiest day of their lives in one of the most beautiful buildings in Southern California. Working with them was a highlight in my career so far, and to see them bring inspiration to all of San Diego reminds me of how proud I am to be their wedding photographer! Congratulations once again to William and Richard, I can’t wait to see what you both accomplish together - and how you inspire others together - next.

Elegant Simplicity: Malihe & Amine’s Intimate Church + Country Club Wedding

Elegant Simplicity: Malihe & Amine’s Intimate Church + Country Club Wedding

Elegant, sacred, and intimate.

Those three adjectives come to mind when I reminisce about Malihe and Amine’s recent wedding day. These two envisioned an elegant and simple wedding and reception surrounded by the love of their friends and family, and their wedding knocked it out of the park, or should I say, country club.

Over 150 guests joined Malihe and Amine at the St. Therese of Carmel Catholic Church to witness their eloquent wedding ceremony. The two’s exchanging of vows under their faith meant so much more than words can say, to themselves, to their church, and to their loved ones. From the church, guests and the wedding party headed over to the Del Mar Country Club for a tasteful, spark-filled, romantic reception with the bride and groom. The night included unique elements like a drum line entrance, live music, belly dancers, and a sparkler tunnel! Ivory, blush, and notes of gold wedding colors brought an extra warmth and end-of-summer crispness to the aura of the reception, too. It was a sweet close to the day full of connecting with loved ones, dancing, and of course, looking forward to the exciting future ahead for Amine and Malihe.

This wedding had a couple of noteworthy hires that completely blew away the happy couple, their guests, and myself with their phenomenal talent in giving the bride and groom exactly what they asked for. The two’s wedding planner, Gisele Chalhoub, did a second-to-none job of coordinating the timeless and tight-knit wedding that Amine and Malihe dreamed about. Their all-star, award-winning band, Republic of Music, ignited the night and connected with the audience in a way that got everyone dancing and sparked fun and joy for every guest.

To Malihe and Amine: congratulations to you both, I’m so excited for your next chapter of life together, of which I am positive will be filled with love, friends, and family! You are both perfect for each other, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you two.

Christina and Chris’ San Diego Zoo Safari Park Dream Wedding

Christina and Chris’ San Diego Zoo Safari Park Dream Wedding

The dream wedding of adventurers

Have you ever met a couple that perfectly defines the word “adventure”? Christina and Chris are the modern-day nature heroes we dreamed about being as kids–this dynamic duo has traveled the world researching animals and making exciting discoveries, and they also currently teach future scientists/nature lovers about the intoxicatingly interesting world of snakes and reptiles. Moreover, their movie-worthy love story sparked from venom extraction best practices, and their wedding served as a testament to their wildly amazing personalities.


A love story extracted from venom

Flash back to 2016 in Australia, where Christina was a student gaining as much knowledge as possible, and Chris was known as “Venom Santa” to universities in the area, both passionate about wildlife conservation, met for the first time to go over some pipette-tip extraction techniques on snakes. The two hit it off with out-bush tales, Death Adder deep-dives, and many other adventurous topics, but after the training was concluded, Christina and Chris split ways. Some months later, they met again, where even more sparks flew. This time, the chemistry between them was obvious, where every spare minute was spent getting to know as much about each other as possible.

Then, the look happened: Christina caught Chris looking at her in a new way–one that meant something much deeper than friendship. Since then, their relationship blossomed into an unbreakable bond. And to think that it all started over snake venom: these two invented a new definition for intoxicating!

The wedding of their dreams

I was lucky enough to photograph these two, who flew all the way from Australia to enjoy a one-of-a-kind destination wedding at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. There seemed no better venue than the Safari Park for Christina and Chris, as their big day was surrounded by freely ranging wild animals and gorgeous scenery.

The wedding focused on the fun and intimate relationship between Christina and Chris. Watching their friends and family gather together to celebrate their love was a huge joy for all those that attended, including me! Their light baby blue complimentary colors blended well with the jungle-like greens of the Safari Park. And, of course, there were elements of danger to the wedding, including a majestic cheetah and (VERY) large snake as special guests.


Here’s to changing the world

To Christina and Chris: your career paths, your love story, and yourselves are so inspiring and influential; I’m so honored to have gotten to know you both and and captured your special day. It is a true gift to make people think differently about how we perceive the world around us, and you both share that gift through your work with venom, snakes, and wildlife. I can’t wait to see what comes next for you two, I can easily guess that whatever it is, it will be very exciting!

And a special “roar” (I’m loving the adventurous theme here, everyone!) to the mother of the bride–we took an action shot together; it was an amazing experience to share such a special moment with the family! Get a sneak–no, snake peak, into their gorgeous wedding with some pictures below. Congrats again, Christina and Chris!

The Ultimate loophole to themed weddings, just ask Daniel and Michael

The Ultimate loophole to themed weddings, just ask Daniel and Michael

Themed weddings can be so much fun to photograph, and even more fun to attend. If done right, themes are the fibers of a wedding that connect people to your wedding experience by immersing your guests in a memorable, joyous celebration. But themes can come at a price, both financially and emotionally, for couples when budgets topple or when venues use strict policies that prevent planners from going all out with a desired wedding theme.

Daniel and Michael, our heroes (and the power couple) of this story, found the ultimate loophole of themed weddings: leveraging the wedding venue their theme. By choosing the San Diego Safari Park as their wedding venue, Daniel and Michael not only gave an unforgettable and breathtaking experience to their guests, but also saved big on time, energy, and cash spent pinpointing specific decor and elements that would have been costly to purchase and set up.

So how did they actually pull off this big secret to a flawless themed wedding? It really only took two major considerations.

1. They remembered their biggest moments together.

Michael and Daniel’s first date was at…you guessed it, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. From there, their relationship blossomed into what is now a blissful partnership that will only continue to grow for the rest of their lives. Their story began as a true adventure, surrounded by wild animals and an exotic environment. Their wedding would convey that sense of fun and spark that Michael and Daniel share to this day.

2. Their wedding location was an experience first, venue second.

In selecting a zoo as their wedding venue, Daniel and Michael didn’t need to seek out any extra decor to add to their wedding experience–it was already all around them! From the building architecture to majestic giraffes and rhinos baring witness to their ceremony, this couple had a more authentic and detailed theme than what would have been mocked up at a different venue location. On top of it all, no extra money or effort was spent to recreate what was already embedded within the safari park.

Daniel and Michael pulled off a truly amazing themed wedding. If you’re looking to plan a themed wedding, start looking at the most cherished memories you and your partner share together. From there, find a place that really speaks to you both. It doesn’t need to be a cookie-cutter wedding venue; it just needs to bring a smile and a warm memory to both of you.

And to Daniel and Michael, congratulations to both of you, wishing you many years of love and adventure to come!

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