I’m delighted to share with you this Palace of Fine Arts wedding! This San Francisco wedding venue is an absolute favorite of mine. It combines formal elegance with an outdoor vibe, nature and a convenient location. It was also featured on the rad wedding mag, A Practical Wedding!

Kicking off my Pride 2019 with photos from this epic wedding of Paolo and Nick at the Palace of Fine Arts.

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Don’t forget to read my FULL guide to getting married at the Palace of Fine Arts, linked below!

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Background of this LGBTQ+ wedding couple

Paolo and Nick’s destination wedding in San Francisco is what wedding photographer dreams are made of!

Though their wedding was uber elegant and stylish, Paolo and Nick are not the types to take themselves too seriously. They combined goofiness with the formal style of wedding they went with. As you can probably tell from the pictures the couple is SUPER laid back.

The wedding was the perfect representation of their inspiring values, unique personalities, and strong relationship.

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding San Francisco huge tree and tiny wedding couple in black and white

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, making a home and traveling the world.

One of their first trips together included a stop in San Francisco. Though they didn’t know it then, it would be the inspiration for their future wedding venue.

The wedding couple’s proposal story

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 Paris, 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. Friends from the Philippines and the US who were visiting would be joining them.

After the picnic, and under the guise of having a romantic 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! #engayged

Shortly after, the couple reviewed their options, and came back to San Francisco as their winning choice.

For them, it was the place they could legally get married. Not only that but it was accessible to family and friends, who made trips from Asia and the East Coast.

Also having been one of their first trips as a couple, San Francisco held significance and nostalgia for them.

It also has been a battleground for LGBTQ+ rights over the decades, so San Francisco ticked many boxes.

wedding ceremony set up at palace of fine arts wedding san francisco

Planning their San Francisco destination wedding

They gave themselves almost two years to plan the wedding. Even being a relatively small wedding it was no small undertaking.

Logistics were complex because of the distance. And it would take a huge commitment of time and resources for their friends and family also. 

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

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A select portion of the crew already lived in the States, but a huge majority made the trip especially. Friends and family moved heaven and earth to see them 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 is not recognized in the Philippines.

Though their marriage will not be seen for what it is when they return home, they wanted the wedding experience!

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Not only that but they wanted their marriage to be 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 marry in California.

That makes California an amazing place for both an elopement or a destination wedding.

So, they narrowed down San Francisco but why the Palace of Fine Arts for their wedding? Originally Paolo had wanted to wed in San Francisco City Hall – it was actually how he found me, as I work there a ton!

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After looking more closely at the options and offerings, he and Nick decided the Palace of Fine Arts was a better choice. It’s a little more private and has the benefit of being en plein air.

Meeting up before the wedding

Paolo made a special trip to the Bay Area a few months before the wedding to meet with vendors and see family. 

We met up at Arthur Mac’s in Oakland over wings & ice tea. 

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Paolo excitedly told me his vision for the day and I immediately knew this was going to be a special wedding. The guests would wear only black and white! The grooms were the only pop of color in their jewel-tone suits. 

He also told me about his own interest in photography and burgeoning photography business.

Paolo was looking for a photographer to document and pre- and post-ceremony happenings, formal guest portraits and of course portraits of him and his love.

I SO encourage a face-to-face meeting before booking your wedding photographer! It can make all the difference knowing that you’ve chosen someone you vibe with.

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

The Palace of Fine Arts wedding

The couple’s color scheme was so striking! It really added to the elegant, classy vibe. But so relaxed. Think ‘dancing down the red carpet’.

While the guests dutifully stuck to the black and white theme, Nick was in a dusty bluish-green and Paolo wore a deep burgundy color. Beautifully understated and a nice twist on the way “wedding white”!

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

We spent a relaxed time wandering around the Palace of Fine Arts grounds and then hopping over the road to the Golden Gate Bridge and the marina. 

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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. One of my fave pics we just took in the Palace parking lot because there was amazing sunflare!

This wedding was full of so much pure joy, fun and excitement! It had the most refreshing blend of lavish style and utterly unpretentious attitude.

This was one of the truest representations of values that I’ve ever seen at a wedding.

It was moving, funny, inspiring, tear-jerking and heart-warming. Congrats, Paolo & Nick! 

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Palace of Fine Arts history

Did you know The Palace of Fine Arts was originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in order to exhibit works of art presented there?

It also was designed to prove to the world that San Francisco could rise from the ashes of the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire.

It was rebuilt in 1965 from more permanent materials, and a full renovation of the manmade lagoon and walkways. But it almost never made it that far!

It would have been demolished at the end of the exposition 9 months later, after 18 million people went to visit (20 times the population of San Francisco at the time)!

Fortunately for us, the Palace lived on — saved by the Palace Preservation League, founded by Phoebe Apperson Hearst while the fair was still in progress.

This wedding was featured on A Practical Wedding! Zoe Larkin Photography is featured on A Practical Wedding - Palace of Fine Arts wedding photosIf you’re planning a wedding at the beautiful San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts get in touch! It’s a fave spot of mine. I recommend the Palace of Fine Arts for both weddings and engagements – or even as a portrait venue for after your San Francisco City Hall ceremony.

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Don’t forget to save this pin to your wedding planning Pinterest board!

This couple held a destination wedding in San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts, organized from the Philippines! Featured on A Practical Wedding, these grooms spent two years planning their San Francisco wedding. With a budget of $15k, they managed to have the wedding of their dreams. In their country same-sex marriage is not recognized, so Paolo and Nick tied the knot in gay-friendly San Francisco, California | #lgbtq #samesexwedding #sanfranciscowedding #sanfrancisco | Zoe Larkin Photography

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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 PH
Video Gerard Navarro
Transportation Metropolitan Shuttle

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LGBTQ+ Palace of Fine Arts wedding photos, San Francisco

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