A Berkeley Wedding Photo Story

Claremont Hotel & Ascension Cathedral & Berkeley City Club

Milly and Drew's Oakland Wedding and Berkeley City Club Reception

I’m so thrilled to share this incredible Berkeley and Oakland wedding photo story. We were blessed with the great fortune of having three amazing wedding venues for this multicultural Greek Orthodox and Ethiopian wedding. Getting ready took place at the luxury hotel, The Claremont Club & Spa in Berkeley, California. The Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony was at the amazing Ascension Cathedral in the Oakland hills with full views of the entire SF Bay Area. And the wedding reception was hosted by the classy Berkeley City Club – a historic hotel and wedding venue designed by renowned architect, Julia Morgan. 

(This is Part 2 in a three part series about a multicultural SF Bay Area wedding. Part 2 includes the Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony and reception. Go back and see Part 1Urban Engagement Shoot in San Francisco. Or skip ahead to Part 3, Traditional Ethiopian Wedding Ceremony Photos.)

I first met Milly and Drew at the Berkeley City Club about a year before their wedding weekend. We sipped a cup of coffee in the library room, enchanted by the allure of Julia Morgan’s architecture, and we chatted about Milly and Drew’s wedding plans. I asked them what they wanted from their wedding photography. And the answer I received put a smile on my face. 

They told me about how they had looked through “literally hundreds of wedding photographers websites” and were really frustrated by how “cliche and cookie cutter” things are in the wedding photo world. Milly and Drew told me about their family roots and how their celebration would include a multicultural wedding combining a Greek Orthodox ceremony, a western style wedding reception, and then a traditional Ethiopian wedding ceremony the following day. They explained that they wanted wedding photography that would be truly genuine and real and always remind them of “what it felt like to be in the moment with all of our friends and family” on their wedding weekend. I knew immediately that we were a great match to create a wedding photo story together. I hope you enjoy the photo story (below).

Claremont Hotel Berkeley Wedding | Getting Ready

We started the wedding day with Milly and Drew and their wedding party getting ready at the luxurious Claremont Club and Spa (a Fairmont Hotel) in the Berkeley Hills (photos below). The Claremont hotel is a fabulous wedding venue and they have gorgeous rooms for getting ready that have excellent natural light and can accomodate large wedding parties. From the start of the wedding day, I knew the entire experience photographing with Milly and Drew was going to be special. Milly and her bridesmaids were inspiring. It was obvious from the moment I walked into the bridal suite that they shared a special friendship and connection. The same was true for Drew and his groomsmen. As a visual storyteller and wedding photographer I always feel so lucky to be invited into my wedding client’s inner circle of friends and family to document these special and beautiful moments.  

“We literally looked through hundreds of wedding photographers websites and we were increasingly frustrated at how cliche and cookie cutter everything in the wedding industry is. Then we found Drew Bird's website and immediately fell in love with the energy and individuality of his photography. We are so happy to have worked with Drew Bird for our wedding photography. He took the time to get to know us and our story and the photos really reflect that.”

–  Milly & Drew

Getting ready for our wedding at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley was such a good choice. The rooms are spacious and the wedding photos with our bridesmaids and groomsmen are real and vibrant and capture the feeling so well.

Ascension Cathedral Greek Orthodox Wedding Ceremony

After getting ready at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, we ventured across town for the wedding ceremony. The Ascension Cathedral sits on a perch in the Oakland Hills with an incredible view of Oakland, the Bay Bridge, and the San Francisco Bay Area beyond. Milly and Drew had a full Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony and mass inside of this beautiful church. If you’ve ever been inside the Ascension Cathedral, you’ll know that it’s a very dark space. There is not very much natural light at all and flash is not allowed. My team and I have incredible high end photo equipment and have developed some photography techniques that allow us to create stunning images in very low light settings. The Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony was really beautiful – here are a few images:

“We love the photos. The photography tells the story of our wedding weekend. This is exactly what we wanted. You captured so many funny, quirky, beautiful moments with us and our family and friends. We must have looked through the online gallery ten times and kept finding new favorites. And the portraits of us around the Berkeley City Club are stunning. That black and white in the stairway - WOW!!! Thank you for documenting our wedding with such love and craftsmanship.”

–  Milly & Drew

Berkeley City Club Wedding Reception

The Berkeley City Club is one of our favorite East Bay wedding venues. Designed and built in the 1920s by renowned architect Julia Morgan, this hotel and wedding venue is filled with arched doorways and windows, ornate ceiling designs, lush interior garden spaces, and a gorgeous art deco grand ballroom for wedding receptions. Upon our arrival at the Berkeley City Club we took some time to do a creative portrait session with Milly & Drew. While most of the photos we create for any wedding are natural, unscripted, and real moments – we always plan creative portrait sessions with our clients. The Berkeley City Club has so many visually interesting spaces, it’s really a dreamscape for creative wedding photographers. See a few images from our portrait adventure and then the Berkeley wedding reception below:

“My team and I love Berkeley City Club weddings. As professional photographers, Julia Morgan's architecture is inspiring and gorgeous. We have photographed dozens of weddings at the Berkeley City Club. This experience has enabled our team to understand how to get great images in the subtle and tricky low lighting. We also know all the best angles and locations for amazing wedding photos.”

–  Drew Bird | Oakland and Berkeley Wedding Photographer

“Drew! Your photos from this wedding reception on the terrace at the Berkeley City Club are so alive with energy. You seem to capture such authentic moments. We always know the photos are going to be great when you and your team are photographers. Thanks so much for sharing the wedding photos with us.”

–  Madison A. | Director of Sales and Marketing, Berkeley City Club

First dance in a fancy ballroom. Berkeley City Club wedding photos by Drew Bird.

“The Berkeley City Club is one of our favorite wedding venues in the East Bay. It's classy, the architecture is incredible, and their wedding and events team is so great to work with.”

–  Drew Bird | Oakland and Berkeley Wedding Photographer

Getting Ready: Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel. Berkeley, California. 
Wedding Ceremony: Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Oakland, California
Wedding Reception: Berkeley City Club. Berkeley, California.

This is Part 2 in a three part series about a multicultural SF Bay Area wedding. Part 2 includes the Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony and reception. Go back and see Part 1Urban Engagement Shoot in San Francisco. Or skip ahead to Part 3, Traditional Ethiopian Wedding Ceremony Photos.

Drew Bird is recognized as one of the top 20 wedding photographers in California and one of the top 100 Destination Wedding Photographers in the world by the Wedding Photojournalist Association. He is currently based in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area and creates wedding photography stories for clients throughout the SF Bay Area & California and destination wedding photography stories for clients world-wide. Get in touch with Drew.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments