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We’ve been looking forward to Agata and Ilya’s destination wedding at the beautiful Hans Fahden for a long time. They’re from Chicago and save for a meeting with them at our home studio one evening we’ve only had a chance to get to know them over the phone. Ilya is from Ukraine and Agata is from Polland and interestingly enough they grew up only a few hundred miles away from each other. Coincidentally, their families just happened to relocate to U.S. on the same exact date. And year.

Driving up to Calistoga on their wedding day we didn’t know what type of weather to expect – it’s been so unusually unpredictable lately. It seemed that the closer we got to Calistoga the gloomier it was becoming. And then finally, just before we turned into the wedding venue it actually started to rain. We’ve photographed weddings at Hans Fahden before and we know that it’s a venue made for beautiful outdoor ceremonies. It was time for some improvisation and some thinking that was definitely outside the box :)

We found Agata in the bridal room, not a bit upset, laughing about how they chose Calistoga over Chicago because the weather in Chicago can be so unpredictable. We loved her and Ilya’s positive attitudes and knew that we were absolutely going to be able to make the best of it.

Hans Fahden is a gorgeous venue with an incredibly lush garden and an actual cave for the receptions. Every time we’ve photographed there we’ve taken portraits in the garden area, but because it was raining we needed to use every dry spot we could find (even though it meant that the dry spot was only big enough for the bride and groom!) We had to think quick and get inventive, but it’s surprising what’s possible when you have enough time and a brave and trusting bride and groom :)

At the end of the day the skies parted and I don’t think the rain took away from this celebration one bit. Check out some of our favorites:

Hans Fahden wedding photographer


It’s truly a pleasure to be a photographer at a wedding at Hans Fahden Vineyards – the grounds are always gorgeous, rain or shine, and photo opportunities are everywhere.

Hans Fahden Vineyard scenery


Two of my favorite details of the day: Agata’s wonderful pink Louboutins and their hand-made super cute cake topper:

Wedding details at Hans Fahden Vineyard


Getting ready:

Bride getting ready at Hans Fahden


Agata and Ilya’s first look:

Couple seeing each other for the first time at Hans Fahden Vineyard


Quick portrait of the beautiful bride:

Portrait of a bride in Hans Fahden bridal room


Loved these simple and colorful bridesmaids bouquets by Verde Flowers:

Verde Flowers wedding bouquets


Love this rainy portrait – these two really didn’t care about the weather!

Rainy day portrait at Hans Fahden


One of my favorites from the day:

Wedding day portrait at Hans Fahden


Verde Flowers bridal bouquet at Hans Fahden


Hans Fahden has this beautiful overgrown pond that looks like it’s from a fairy tale. As soon as the rain stopped we jumped at the opportunity to run all around the property for fun portraits:

Hans Fahden wedding photography


OK, this one of our very favorites from the entire day. We knew that Agata and Ilya want to have a wide angle landscape picture of them in the vineyards and we found this beautiful hill prior to the start of the wedding. We were all excited about it, but when it started to rain we lost hope – the hill required quite a hike through tall grass and prickly bushes to get to it. Imagine our surprise when Agata said she is still up for creating this picture! Thank you Agata for being so brave, it was so worth it!

Bride and groom portrait at Hans Fahden Vineyard


Hiking through the tall wet grass:

Hans Fahden wedding photo


Wedding portrait in lush garden of Hans Fahden Vineyard


Rain on a wedding day in Hans Fahden


The rings!

Wedding rings photography


Loved shooting portraits inside of the cave:

Wedding portrait in the cave of Hans Fahden Vineyard


A great moment during the Ketubah signing:

Ketubah signing at Hans Fahden


Their first dance:
Dancing at Hans Fahden


Agata’s dad gave a very nice and hilarious toast during the reception:

Hans Fahden cave wedding reception


Love this picture of Agata’s dad performing for everyone during the reception:

Calistoga wedding reception


The beautiful pond on the property:

Water lilies at Hans Fahden Vineyard garden


Beautiful pond at Hans Fahden Vineyard garden


Couldn’t end this post without a behind-the-scenes image that Mike got – Ilya’s caring the bouquet and me trying to keep Agata’s dress off the ground and off the wet grass:

Behind the scenes at the wedding in Water lilies at Hans Fahden


All the wonderful vendors of the day:

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Hans Fahden Vineyards
Hair & Makeup: Salon 360
Florals: Verde Flowers
Catering: Wine Valley Catering
Wedding Cake: Sweetie Pies
Officiant: Rabbi Gershon & Fr. Dowling


To view other gorgeous Hans Fahden Vineyard weddings photographed by Choco Studio visit:

Hans Fahden Vineyard Spring Wedding Photos
Hans Fahden Vineyard Summer Wedding Photos

8 Comments June 7, 2011
posted in: Weddings

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Mike and Nat are a husband and wife photography team based in San Francisco Bay Area. Their relaxed style allows them to capture authentic moments while creating a stress-free experience. Choco Studio photographs weddings throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including Napa, Sonoma, Carmel, and Monterey.