Star Wars Winery Wedding
This couple had a winery wedding with a Star Wars theme (and a little bit of Star Trek).
Located near a famous wine town, this spectacular venue was host to one of the most unique same-sex weddings I've ever photographed.
Although winery towns are perhaps best known for being featured in films like Sideways, I think that this incredible Star Wars wedding along with my work as a wedding photographer may make it famous for an entirely different reason.
Top 5 Reasons Why This Wedding Was Awesome
Here are the top 5 reasons why this wedding was awesome.
- Darth Vader's heavy breathing sounds super romantic during wedding ceremonies.
- The ceremony processional music was John Williams' The Imperial March, also known as Darth Vader's Theme.
- Guests heard the uplifting Throne Room / End Title music from Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV) during the wedding recessional.
- Wookies at a wedding are more fun than Klingons.
- Jar Jar Binks couldn't attend.
How It Happened
When I ushered this couple into my studio they loved the Star Wars cosplayer photos displayed in my small gallery. And when we were all seated in my presentation theater, Ace remarked on the Darth Vader and Stormtrooper helmets that are displayed at the back of the room.
It came as no surprise for me to find out that they're both huge science fiction fans. During our getting-to-know-you conversation, I jokingly suggested that I could certainly arrange for those Star Wars characters to appear at their wedding if they were really such super-fans of science fiction.
And with that suggestion, their wedding plan pivoted to a Star Wars chic wedding theme featuring both the Rebel Alliance and the Empire.
The Wedding Venue
The couple selected a winery as their outdoor venue because it was affordable, boasted spectacular natural scenery, and had a destination wedding feel while still being close enough to large cities and downtown to allow guests to arrive and then drive home on the same day if desired.
Most of all, they wanted an intimate wedding where everyone had lots of fun (and lots of alcohol for those folks who weren't driving). In their own words, they wanted to host a wedding where guests would leave their event, go home, and say to everyone they met, "I've never had that much fun at any other wedding."
The Star Wars characters you’ll see in this album are members of the 501st Legion, a worldwide Star Wars costuming organization comprised of and operated by Star Wars fans. While the 501st Legion is not sponsored by Lucasfilm Ltd. or Disney, the organization is Lucasfilm's preferred Imperial costuming group.
All of the costumes are screen-accurate which means that they are almost exact duplicates of what has appeared in the Star Wars films.
Every costume took countless hours to assemble and most cost each maker thousands of dollars in time and materials. Formed in 1997, the 501st Legion has over 8,000 active members worldwide and is active in over 50 countries and on 6 continents.
Donating to Charity
In keeping with the traditions of this famous costuming group, the couple provided a generous donation to Starlight Children’s Foundation on behalf of the 501st Legion and then asked for volunteers—naming their top six favorite costumed characters.
This was a difficult ask because of the characters they selected, but given their generous donation and since I've worked with many of the 501st members in the past, we were able to pull all of those folks together to make this couple's dream a reality.
Although having a wedding with a Star Wars theme is not necessarily new in the world of themed weddings, I'm not aware of any wedding similar to this one that also featured so many different Star Wars characters that were integrated so seamlessly into an otherwise chic ceremony and reception.
The characters that you’ll see introduced in this album include Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, Captain Rex , and two Stormtroopers. These characters were portrayed by 501st members Trevor Sovine, Chris Cecil, Scott Allen, Kit Sovine, Michael Bender, Drew Hannah, and Omar Perez respectively.
And I'd like to thank all of them personally for their amazing participation and everything that they do for the charities they support!
Star Trek + Star Wars
In addition to the Star Wars influences at this wedding, if you look closely in the photos, you'll also see several Star Trek references. And that's because while Ace is a huge Star Wars fan, Linda identifies herself as a Trekkie (who also loves Star Wars).
Her favorite series is Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) and her favorite character is Jean Luc Picard. Although I should also mention that we all also love George Takei both for his portrayal of Sulu and for his lovely personality and stance on human rights. Linda loves Star Trek because it portrays a world of equality, fairness, and justice where any challenge can be overcome with effort.
Ace is the die-hard Star Wars fan and their favorite character is Captain Rex, a clone trooper who appears in the animated television series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. They also loves Anakin Skywalker before he was turned to the dark side of the force. Ace's favorite film (apologetically) is Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones — minus any scenes that include Jar Jar Binks.
The Wedding Vendors
The event designer and coordinator for the event was the amazing Nam Lam, Linda's dress (Noelle) and veil were by Vera Wang of Beverly Hills, Linda's shoes were Yves Saint Laurent (Classic Tribute 105 Sandal) from Neiman Marcus, Ace's custom suit was from b.spoke and included a custom Stormtrooper liner designed by Heather Cassils with shoes from Prada of Beverly Hills.
Florals were provided by Lotus & Lily Floral, catering was provided by Modern Art Catering, desserts were provided by Decadence Fine Cakes & Confections, hair & makeup was provided by [redacted by request], the DJ was DJ Keelez, and the Officiant was Julianna Parr.
Stationery letterpress was provided by Panorama Press with illustrations by Heather Cassils, layout by Cathy Davies, and logo by Delphine Lin, the shuttle transportation was provided by Jump On The School Bus, and the wedding venue was the Sunstone Winery in Santa Ynez.
My second photographer for the day was commercial food photographer Vanessa Stump. She is my right hand and she has been working at my side photographing weddings for 7+ years. In addition to supplementing my coverage of the event, she provided most of the décor and details photos you'll see in this wedding album.
But that's not all! My good friend, mentor, and world-renowned wedding photographer Jerry Ghionis also joined us on the wedding day. He loves Star Wars almost as much as I do and I was thrilled he could make it out to help photograph the festivities.
As my friends, colleagues, and Facebook friends all know, I’m a strong proponent of marriage equality and LGBTQ rights.
And so to have the honor of photographing this incredible same-sex wedding where two incredibly special people were able to legally commit to each other in front of their friends and family is nothing short of amazing.
To add to this privilege was the fact that I was also able to "get my geek on" at the same time. And that was nothing short of extraordinary.
Answering the Question
Although I’m honored by the opportunity to photograph every wedding, I hope that my other clients will forgive me when I say that this event was my favorite wedding of the year.
And given the huge cast of characters present, I’m going to be presumptuous and claim that this was also the best Star Wars wedding of all time.
P.S. If you loved this album and you love Star Wars, you may also enjoy taking a look at my award-winning Star Wars Engagement Album.