After I visited Ralston Hall Mansion for the first time, I was so struck by its posh interior and surroundings, that I immediately had to look up the history of the place. In a place as suburban as Belmont, the Mansion was an incongruity. Turns out that it was constructed in the style of an Italianate Villa, with a ‘steamboat gothic’ interior, and that it was a project of California financier William Chapman Ralston. An early painting depicts the 80 plus-room Mansion nestled in a completely bucolic setting – the empty, agrarian peninsula. The high society wedding of the Ralston Hall’s subsequent owner’s daughter to a British nobleman was held there over a century ago.
Planning Your Wedding at Ralston Hall Mansion
After its day in the sun as a posh estate of the San Francisco elite, the Mansion went through several lives, with the most recent incarnation being the College of Notre Dame. The place is now a mix between an opulent party venue and an administrative building. As you try to find your way around the building, the myriad staircases and hallways can be confusing.
The nice thing is that the buildings daily functions are properly sequestered to the upstairs area, and the only time you’ll really bump into them is when you ascend to the Bride’s Room.
Ralston is conveniently located: it’s easily accessible from all points in the Bay Area, and several churches and synagogues are a short drive away.
The other nice thing about Ralston is how self-contained the property is. A Ralston Hall Mansion wedding offers an evening of elegant fantasy, and although you’ll have to drive past suburban shopping centers and gas stations to get there, once you enter the courtyard, it’s easy to forget where you are.
If you choose this stunning location, it’s my job as your photographer to ensure that your Ralston Hall wedding photos capture every detail.
The Staircase and Balconies
On the way down from your preparations in the Bride’s Room, you’ll pass through the grand staircase and the balconies. This is one of the most interesting parts of the building, and there are ample opportunities for timeless, elegant photographs. Pose on the balconies, lounge on the rich furniture, let yourselves be reflected in the antique mirrors. The beautiful light coming from the large window above the staircase is perfect for photographs.
Before your reception here dazzles the guests, we’ll incorporate the unique flooring, mirrors, chandeliers and general opulence of the ballroom in our photographs. There’s also a grand piano and some interesting nooks that are perfect for pictures. All in all, the ballroom will make your Ralston Hall wedding photography unforgettable.
It’s important to take advantage of the courtyard in the daylight. The late afternoon, with the sun low in the sky is absolutely the best time to take photographs here. The expansive verdant lawn, the fountain, the building’s façade, and the 150-year old bamboo trees all add a unique flair to the photographs. A veritable European estate smack in the middle of the San Francisco Bay Area, the courtyard and the Mansion make Ralston Hall wedding pictures instantly recognizable.