Paolo + Nick | Elegant Palace of Fine Arts destination wedding

June 1, 2019
sweet gay couple getting married at palace of fine arts portrait session

Happy Pride month, everyone! Kicking off my Pride 2019 with photographs from same-sex San Francisco wedding. Enjoy learning about this awesome couple, Paolo and Nick.


This destination wedding at the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco was what dreams are made of.

Though their wedding was uber elegant and stylish, Paolo and Nick are not the types to take themselves too seriously, and their laid-back though formal wedding was the perfect representation of their unique personalities and the inspiring relationship they have built.

dramatic wedding photography with huge tree and tiny LGBTQ+ couple in black and white

The story

Paolo and Nick first met through mutual friends at a party in 2006. They have been practically inseparable ever since. 

Soon after they met, they started building a life together, building a home and traveling the world. One of their first trips together included a stop in San Francisco, laying the ground for their future wedding venue.

The story of what led them to their wedding started while on the train from Marseilles to Paris. They had made plans to meet up with friends during their first afternoon in the city, when Nick had to excuse himself to meet up with his uncle.

Paolo first got annoyed at the sudden change in plan, but later found a way to capitalize on their temporary separation. When they met up later that afternoon, they decided to have a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower with friends from the Philippines and the US who had also traveled to the city.

After the picnic, and under the guise of having a couple’s photo taken by the towering Parisian monument, Paolo got on one knee and asked Nick to marry him. With the cheers of their friends and onlookers in the background, Nick said yes.

The couple looked through all their options, and came back to San Francisco as their winning choice.

They could legally get married there, it was accessible to family and friends, and having been one of their first trips as a couple, held significance and nostalgia for them.

They gave themselves almost two years to plan the wedding, because of the distance, and the commitment of time and resources needed for their friends and family to make it.

wedding ceremony set up at palace of fine arts san francisco


Paolo and Nick arrived from the Philippines with around 60 of their closest friends & family.

A select portion of the crew already lived in the States, but a huge majority made the trip especially to see Paolo & Nick – who are so well loved – tie the knot amid the grandeur and elegance of the Palace.

The decision to get married in the United States was a bittersweet one. At the current time, same sex marriage isn’t recognized in the Philippines.

Though their marriage will not be seen for what it is when they return home, they not only wanted the experience of a wedding, but also having their marriage officially recognized by the laws of the country in which they wed.

I’m so happy and proud that it’s as easy as that for non-residents of the US to get married here in California.

That (and the awesome weather, even for this early February wedding!) makes California an amazing place to either elope with just you and your boo, or hold a destination wedding with a good number of guests.

Paolo made a special trip to the Bay Area a few months before the wedding to meet as many vendors as he could and to spend time with family who lives here.

We met up at Arthur Mac’s in Oakland over wings & ice tea. Paolo excitedly told me his vision for the day – including having all guests dressed in black and white with the grooms being the only pop of color – and I immediately knew this was going to be a special wedding.

He filled me in on the subject of Nick, his husband-to-be. The things that they enjoy, the way things are at home in Manila.

He also told me about his own interest in photography and burgeoning biz! Paolo was looking for a photographer to document and pre- and post-ceremony happenings, formal guest portraits and of course, everyone’s favorite – the couples pictures. Eeek, so exciting!

close ups from wedding ceremony at san francisco palace of fine arts lgbt wedding

The wedding

The couple’s color scheme was so striking and added to the elegant, classy but at the same time super relaxed vibe. Think ‘dancing down the red carpet’.

While the guests dutifully stuck to the black and white theme, Nick was in a bluish dusty green and Paolo wore a deep burgundy color. Beautifully understated and a nice twist on the way white is normally done at a wedding.

Even the bouquets carried by the female attendants were utterly unique and minimalist, just a single black and a white calla lily.

The relaxed time we spent wandering around the Palace grounds and then hopping over the road to the Golden Gate Bridge and the marina, was a portrait session I’ll never forget.

The light was stunning and we incorporated a wide variety of backdrops including boats, houses, a plain concrete wall, flowers & foliage and of course the bridge. All this in a short space of time. One of my fave pics we just took in the Palace parking lot because #sunflare.

This wedding was full of so much pure joy, fun and excitement with the most refreshing blend of lavish style and utterly unpretentious attitude. This was one of the truest representation of values that I’ve ever seen at a wedding.

It was moving, personal, funny, poignant, inspiring, beautiful, tear-jerking and heart-warming. Congrats, Paolo & Nick! // Soon to be featured on A Practical Wedding.

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Vendor love //

Venue Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco
Coordination Tim Parafina
Rentals All Season Event Rentals
Floral design Kimberly Shultz
Outfits Suit it Up Manila
Rings Diamond Fire
Officiant Maria Aboitiz
Entertainment Amethyst Trio
Invitations Print Cafe
Video Gerard Navarro
Transportation Metropolitan Shuttle


san francisco city hall wedding photographer

Zoe Larkin is a San Francisco-based wedding photographer & fine art graduate originally from London. She specializes in photographing intimate weddings for joyful, free-thinking couples all over California. Zoe creates raw, personal images that evoke a range of emotions, combining documentary photography with a stylized edge. Her work has been published on Offbeat Bride, Equally Wed, Catalyst Wed Co, Love Inc Mag among others. She adores simplicity, kindness & Earl Grey. Zoe is an equality-minded vendor that celebrates diversity in all its forms. Read more about Zoe here