When Q&S first contacted me about their Brazilian Room wedding, I have to admit I was pretty excited and hoped so hard that they’d book me as their wedding photographer!
We chatted on the phone and they told me their plans. They had in mind a December brunch reception at Brazilian Room. The venue is located in Tilden Park. It’s part of the East Bay Regional Park District.
The Brazilian Room is a unique venue, with loads of natural light, pretty outside space and a secluded location that’s still super easy to get to.
I had been aware of this place for a long time, eyeing photos since forever. But this was the first wedding I’d shot at this iconic East Bay parks venue.
I enjoyed this place so much, the sweet wedding couple and their fun guests. Shoutout to the great vendor team including the excellent Miraglia Catering. Hope to be back there again!
About the wedding couple
Q&S are the sweetest pair.
They met at UC Berkeley, they were in the same student group.
They got to know each other through mutual friends and were on Rally Committee together – the organization that “is charged with the protection and guardianship of the Spirit and Traditions of the University of California”. (Source: Callink Berkeley)
About a year before the wedding, Q proposed to S. It’s a little unconventional for the girl to propose to the guy, some might say. But that’s these two all over.
They’d been in New Jersey at S’s parents’ place for the occasion of S’s parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. All the talk was about marriage, and S was having none of it. So naturally, on the plane back to California, Q proposed!
Planning their Brazilian Room wedding
They got to work planning their day in fits and starts (which is often how wedding planning works out). They first secured the venue and catering several months before the big day, but left other vendors until about a month before.
As they met at Cal Berkeley, the choice of location was just so perfect!
They first picked their date. As they wanted to time the Brazilian Room reception with their 5-year dating anniversary, that part was easy.
From that, they worked backward to find a City Hall date a few days before where they could tie the knot officially.
During the planning process, they came to deepen their relationship, discover more about each other and figure out their values.
Planning a wedding isn’t easy. But during the process they realized that they have full confidence and trust in each other, to come out of disagreements with a united front.
They understood that they value and respect each other’s opinions very much.
The couple realized that they prioritize family (and chosen family). During the planning, they understood that the wedding is an occasion for the guests to enjoy, more than anything else.
Their friends and family played such pivotal roles getting them to where they are in their lives and their relationship.
There are all kinds of pressures, including familial and cultural, that come out during wedding planning. The process was a test of knowing when to budge and when to stand firm.
The couple’s other wedding events
I was SO happy to photograph that merry event just a few days beforehand.
For their City Hall civil ceremony, they invited just parents (with one not being able to make it due to illness) plus the one sibling they had between them – so it was a very intimate affair.
As family & friends are so important to these two, they wanted to do something that involved more than only closest fam.
Just 2 days after their Brazilian Room wedding, Q&S flew to India for another wedding reception with S’s family there! Right on!
Yet another example of couples doing things in a way that feels uniquely authentic to them. Love it!
Order of events at Brazilian Room wedding
My photo coverage at this event was only 3.5 hours, something I’m able to offer during my off-season!
As their guests arrived, Q&S greeted them and we grabbed some casual ‘grip n’ grins’. Everyone looked SO happy and genuinely thrilled. I asked a few friends to give the couple an extra big squeeze or hug, haha!
Q&S welcomed everyone in, and invited them to begin serving themselves.
BUT there was a slight snafu on the day of this wedding. I say ‘slight’ because they handled it with such grace, you wouldn’t think anything was amiss.
There had been a huge storm and torrential rain in the days leading up to the wedding. And it’d taken out the power. That’s right, Q&S had no electrical power for their wedding.
Luckily, Miraglia could still serve the food without a hitch as it was all powered with gas. And also luckily, the power came back on about three-quarters of the way through the wedding. PHEW!!
Anyway, straight after the meal, Q&S invited special friends up to share, in the couple’s words, “stories and memories” about them, rather than toasts.
During the reception, various friends, former roommates and others from Cal shared stories from student days. It was touching to hear how much their friends love them. Their pals spoke highly about how the couple had helped them selflessly during times of need.
Shortly after, Q&S turned to each other and recited their wedding vows. Personal vows aren’t permitted at City Hall civil ceremonies. These were absolutely perfect moments.
And yes, there were tears!
I won’t tell you which one of them cried… but you can tell from the photos!
After the tear-jerking, casual vow exchange, it turned into a dance party! The timing was perfect as the power had just come back on.
Q&S were fortunately able to share their photo slideshow via the big projector.
When the guys got it working, that elicited some great reactions.
They joked that they are 5 guys with Master’s Degrees in electronic engineering… Yet the Brazilian Room’s projector eluded them.
S’s dad spotted a break in the rain – and we were elated! As I was busy photographing the dancefloor, I hadn’t noticed. Kudos to him!
We immediately headed outside and did an impromptu, 10-minute shoot in the light drizzle.
Q&S were very game and I’m so glad! These natural light portraits were the best! This terrace area is typically where outdoor ceremonies at the Brazilian Room take place.
Keep scrolling to see what it looks like!
You can check out more photos of full weddings at the Brazilian Room here.
Benefits of a brunch wedding at Brazilian Room
This was a Sunday morning wedding. What are Sunday weddings made for? BRUNCH. When I heard this was going to be a brunch wedding, I did a little happy dance.
Why? Because of pancakes, waffles, bacon, eggs benedict and coffee, of course!
Brunch weddings are an excellent choice for winter weddings. When the light starts fading by 4.30pm, you won’t get great pictures as you would with natural light. All your evening pictures will either be lit by flash or be dark and grainy.
The best time for soft, beautiful, flattering natural light? Morning!
If you’re budget-conscious or want to minimize rowdiness from your crowd, morning weddings also mean less alcohol consumption!
For wedding receptions like this one with a lot of babies & toddlers present, morning can be a sensible choice. All the tots were awake, having fun and not grumpy!
Q wore a gorgeous sage green dress that she picked up at Anthropologie’s label, BHLDN for the Brazilian Room wedding. It’s a great choice for quality and a range of styles with a down-to-earth price tag.
It complimented her coloring so well, and she looked amazingly comfortable and beautiful in it!
With the soft fog and rain melting into the distant trees, it created a naturally ethereal color palette that complimented the dress and the eucalyptus table dressing beautifully.
For the City Hall wedding Q had another gorgeous wedding dress! She wore a vintage wedding dress that was 65 years old. It was worn by her grandmother, mother and aunt on their wedding days.
Q’s family worked very hard on DIYing much of the signage, table toppers, centerpieces, and display tables. Q’s mom shared the story of the chutney that was made as wedding favors.
Rather than jam or jelly which has become a popular DIY wedding favor, chutney was a nod to Q’s Indian heritage. It also is a combination of flavors – some sweet, some not-so-sweet – an encapsulation of marriage, in a jar.
The couple commemorated their meaningful wedding date with a beautiful hand-made sign that guests saw when they walked into the Brazilian Room.
There were lovely carrot cupcakes were made by Miraglia and set up in a fab display.
Unique features of The Brazilian Room for weddings
What makes the Brazilian Room so special? It’s owned by the East Bay Regional Park District, and has a pretty interesting history!
The building was a gift to the authority from the Brazilian government and uses special hardwood paneling with wood from Brazil including Imbuya and Jacaranda.
But honestly, from a photography point of view I was most excited about the light in this building!
The floor-to-ceiling windows along two sides of the room are breathtaking. The mostly white ceilings are basically a photographer’s dream. The black rafters add interest.
What’s more, the view is of the beautiful trees of Tilden Park. They seem to go on for as far as the eye can see.
It makes the venue a great East Bay indoor-outdoor wedding space. On a rainy day like this one, there are no worries at all.
With a pretty good seating capacity of 150 (and standing capacity of 225), combined indoor-outdoor, it is a practical as well as versatile choice.
It’s a very cost-effective venue, which is one of the many reasons it’s so popular. During the months of November to March, and on Sundays, rates are even more favorable.
At the time of writing, I can see the Sunday morning off-season rate starts at a little over $2,000 for a 7-hour rental (with each additional hour at $300).
They have deals for different times of the day, week and year depending on what you’d like and for how long. Plus, if you’re an Alameda/ Contra Costa County resident, there are more discounts.
I recommend checking the most up to date rental pricing info here, which is liable to change over time. Check the ‘Rental Fees’ section.
To wrap up!
Suffice it to say, I fell in love with the Brazilian Room and this couple! There were so many smiles, laughs and such genuine emotion that was a dream to photograph. Congrats, Q&S!
Looking for a photographer to capture your Brazilian Room wedding? I’d be honored! Find out more at the links below.