When married couple Vanessa and Gemma, who live together in San Francisco, returned from their destination wedding in Costa Rica, they opted for an urban city wedding shoot with photographer Marissa Solini.

They made their way around town, dressed in their own wedding dresses worn earlier in the year, by BHLDN and each held bouquets that were put together by Marissa, made with flowers from Trader Joe’s grocery shop. While Clarion Alley provided the perfect mural backdrop, the day wouldn’t have been complete with some ice-cream from Cream and some shots around the Castro District.

DWH: Tell us the love story.

V: We are both nurses and both from the New Orleans area – we met at work on a cardiac unit, then I transferred down to the ER, then she followed me there soon after! We are ER nurses and work at the same hospital and have the same schedule also – most people ask if we get tired of being together all the time, but luckily that hasn’t happened yet – we’re still each other’s favourite person to be with all the time.

G & V: We became girlfriends April 1, 2013. Got engaged April 2016, got married April 2018 – so total of 5 years.

V: Gemma was my first girlfriend, but I found myself feeling so much different than I have with anyone else. When we started seeing each other, we would hang out and “go on an adventure”, as we called it, and never stopped.

We were always together and haven’t spent many days apart in the last 5 years. Love blindsided me, but in the best way, it also felt like it had always been there with her – I can’t really remember any specific moment when I was like “wow this is it” – I just kind of fell into it, and it felt like home.

G: I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Vanessa very early on in our relationship. I asked her to go on an adventure with me one day. Our first date was an adventure through the French Quarter, bar hopping…someone might have gotten a tattoo.

Then the next day I came over to her cute little shotgun house to hang out. Went down the street and laid out on a blanket on Bayou St.John. We couldn’t stop looking and smiling at each other. We couldn’t stop holding and caressing each other. I had never felt this type of happiness before. That’s the moment I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.

That one random adventure through the French Quarter turned into the adventure of a lifetime.

DWH: Tell us about the proposal.

V: We had known very early on that we were going to marry each other, but I guess we were both holding out for the other to propose!

Gemma officially proposed to me on an island off the coast of the Philippines – with all of our best friends present, it was the most dreamy paradise, she did good!

A few months later I “proposed” so I could give her a ring too – during one of our engagement photo shoots – so we have a fun picture of that as well.

“Vanessa is intelligent and the most beautiful person I have ever met. She completely lights up the room where ever she goes. She motivates and inspires and she’s also super fit and sexy which is also a plus :)” 


DWH: How perfect! And, the wedding?

G & V: We may be biased, but we believe our wedding was incredible! We had a relatively small destination wedding in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, about 42 guests total.

We rented a huge villa on the beach and stayed there with our friends and family for a week. We had the ceremony at a hotel on the beach, it was supposed to be on the sand by the water, but it ended up raining! I was discouraged about the rain at first, but it turned out to be so lovely anyway.

We literally danced the night away with all of our favourite friends and family members, there was so much love in the air.

I can genuinely say it was the best day of my life. We, and everyone there, had a blast!

“Gemma has a heart of GOLD – she is truly beautiful inside and out, and always has good intentions for everyone – I admire her sweet and generous spirit – and she’s also an excellent cuddler – which is a perk”


DWH: Aside from the wedding, what has been one of the most memorable things you have done together?

V: There was a recent volcanic eruption in Guatemala in June, and my heart felt heavy for the people there, so I immediately started researching organisations doing work there and ways we could help.

I came across a trip being organised by International Medical Relief – they were putting together a disaster medical relief team for the victims and families of those affected by the volcano. I said; let’s go, and Gemma immediately agreed. I love that about her, always on board with my whims, and always has a heart in the right place.

We had already had a week scheduled off for San Francisco pride, so we used that off time to go to Guatemala for a week instead. It was an interesting and rewarding experience. I fell in love with the people of Guatemala and left a piece of my heart there – lifting up prayers for them still.

Medical care is very scarce in the country, especially for the poor, so we were able to be a part of a really great team, bringing basic medical care and education to remote villages.

Photography Marissa Solini