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I think it’s pretty apparent that I love photographing weddings on the beach! I’ve photographed hundreds of beach weddings all over the Monterey Bay and consider myself very knowledgable on the subject. I was really happy when my sister inlaw, Claire, called to tell me that she and her fiance had decided to make it official and have their wedding here in Santa Cruz! Since they were travelling here from the central valley with their closest friends and family, she wanted my advice on planning the perfect Santa Cruz destination wedding. I was even happier that they listened to my expert opinion!

santa cruz beach wedding

The first thing I suggested is to get married in the late afternoon or at sunset. Weddings on the beach during the middle of the day can be very bright causing people to squint. Not only is the sun bright but there is also reflective light from the sand. Since they wanted to celebrate all weekend the second thing I suggested is that they get married on Friday. This way they could relax and enjoy the weekend with their guests before they went on their honeymoon. I also told her that the best weather here on the Northern Coast is in late Fall and we scored a beautiful weekend on the first Friday in November. Thank you Mother Nature!

Dream Inn Santa Cruz

I also suggested that they stay at the Dream Inn because I love the light and decor at this beachfront hotel. Plus, there is so much to do and see right around the hotel. I also love their restaurant, Aquarius. Awesome food and an amazing view.

pretty flowers for the alter area

 My mother inlaw and sister inlaw are also in the wedding business. For over 20 years their dress shop, Earth Angel, has been catering to brides and weddings. One thing I’ve learned from them is you can’t skimp on flowers! They were very happy with my colleague and good friend Lezlie with Grand Design floral.

santa cruz beach wedding

santa cruz beach wedding

A family portrait on the beach. That’s me standing next to the Groom, Kory, aka my new brother inlaw! Thank you, Celeste, my second shooter, for taking this photo. For some reason I’m always missing from these photo opps!

Shadowbrook wedding reception

The reception was held at Shadowbrook in Capitola. I love to wine and dine here!! I’ve photographed many weddings at this fine establishment. I was happy when Claire chose this venue after visiting a few other places I suggested. We ended the night by launching chinese lanterns. They were completely biodegradable and the perfect way to end the evening.  Click here to see more images.  Click here for information on permits and marriage license in Santa Cruz county. Congratulations Kory & Claire!

If you are planning a beach wedding in Santa Cruz, give me a call 831-325-4183. I can refer you to a local wedding planner or answer any questions you might have. Planning to elope in this area? Check out this link.

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Snuggled in the hills between Salinas and Monterey is the lovely wedding venue Pasadera Country Club. I love the old world charm at this hacienda styled venue. It was the perfect location for Adam & Jessica’s wedding!

monterey wedding photographer

pasadera wedding

happy couple at Pasadera

Pasadera wedding

I really like the gold accents in the diningroom. Red roses and gold charger plates make for a simple and elegant wedding reception.

If you are planning a wedding at Pasadera or another venue in the Monterey Bay area, give me a call! Rebecca Stark 831-325-4183 or email me rebecca@rebeccastarkphotography.com

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I recently photographed the Synergy 2013 Spring collection. (Synergy’s lines of dresses, skirts and yoga wear are just gorgeous, as you can see from the 2012 catalog I helped with last year.) For six days I had the opportunity to work with a group of energetic women just bursting with creative ideas! With Halloween just a few weeks away, they were talking about making costumes from some of the Synergy pieces, and I knew I had to photograph the results. Laurel, the store manager, created the costumes; Lorene with Stylist with a Flair did the hair and makeup and a few of the sales associates were the models.

cemetery photo shootSo on a dark and stormy night we headed over to Evergreen Cemetery near Costco to begin our shoot. I’ve done other sessions at this Civil War-era cemetery, and I love the way the photos turned out. Talk about a dramatic setting!

looking for clues

She’s watching the detectives … or maybe they’re watching her! A black cotton jacket and some accessories complete this stylish detective costume. A black cotton jacket and some accessories complete this detective costume.

lil red riding hood costume

The sun set fast and we ended up at a pumpkin patch on Post Street. Matt, the pumpkin farmer, was kind enough to turn on some floodlights and let us run around his pumpkin patch. If you’re looking for pumpkins, go check out the 15 different pumpkin varieties at Matt’s homegrown pumpkin patch!


  A great fitting little black dress, a cape, some boots and fangs, and Jessica is ready to scare a couple of trick-or-treaters!

Check out Synergy’s 2 Santa Cruz locations or online.

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If you’ve ever thought about getting married on the beach in Santa Cruz, you might want to consider the fabulous weather we have in the fall. When the rest of the nation is pulling out their sweaters, we here on the Central Coast are heading to the beach! Case in point: this lovely September wedding at the stylish, retro Dream Inn.

Dream Inn wedding

santa cruz bride

Santa Cruz beach wedding

This couple had their ceremony at Cowell’s Beach, right in front of the hotel. This is a great beach to get married on! It’s centrally located and has a sweeping view of the bay, the wharf and the Boardwalk. Palm trees and clear blue skies, anyone?

wedding couple on Cowell

Congratulations, Victor & Heather!!!

couple in lobby of the Dream Inn

The lobby of the Dream Inn is colorful and inviting—an ideal place for candid shots like this one.

santa cruz weddingJust after the wedding we took the short quarter-mile drive from the Dream Inn to Lighthouse Field, another Santa Cruz coastal landmark. I love the dramatic look of the cypress trees there. And in the September light, the golden field practically glows. You can’t buy light like that!

wedding day photos

wedding on the beach

Just across from Lighthouse Field is the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, a gem of a museum in a tiny lighthouse. I am a big fan of weathered brick, and the combination of all those reds and the bright teal accents make for a really striking portrait.

beach wedding

couple dancing at Dream Inn

If you are planning a beach wedding in the Monterey or Santa Cruz area, give me a call! I have years of experience shooting weddings on the Monterey Bay, and I can be a great sounding board for your ideas on a truly dreamy oceanfront wedding. Rebecca Stark (831) 325-4183. Other vendors who made this wedding so special were Aurora from the Dream Inn, Lezlie Johnson with Monterey Event Flowers (don’t you just love Heather’s white orchid bouquet) and Lorene Stewart the Stylist with a Flair 831-239-6427 .



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There are several reasons why one of my favorite wedding venues on Monterey Bay is the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz.

the bride and groom on the beach at Cocoanut Grove

Reason No. 1 is that really laid-back and playful couples seem to get married here. Matt and Erica definitely fit that description! I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that these two have been together since high school. They are such an easygoing and fun couple to be around. It’s so cool to grow up with your spouse when you have that kind of relationship!

wedding photos

 Another thing I like about Cocoanut Grove is that there are so many fun places to take couples during the portrait walk—which is perfectly fitting for a historic amusement park! Here the newlyweds sit in a pedicab across the street from a rustic hotel. Check out this past wedding for more portrait spots.

wedding photos cocoanut grove

I also like the personalized marquee at the Cocoanut Grove. All couples get to see their names on display on this lovely bright sign with the elegant lettering. It just adds to the special excitement of having a wedding at such a beloved historical venue.

If you are thinking of getting married at Cocoanut Grove, give me a call at 831-325-4183! I have photographed many weddings and portraits at the Boardwalk and have many more samples to share.

Click here to see a slideshow from this wedding.

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