Mark Hopkins InterContinental Hotel San Francisco Wedding: Alyson + Max

If you haven’t been to the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco, then you MUST go. I had the pleasure of shooting a wedding here recently, and can’t believe I had forgotten how incredibly gorgeous this hotel is. They seriously don’t make buildings like this anymore. If you can appreciate art and architecture, it’s a must see. And even if you don’t, you will appreciate the amazing views from the Top of the Mark Lounge at the top.

Max and Alyson were the lucky, and incredibly cute, couple to be wed at this palatial venue. Alyson is this wonderful mix of cute, warm & fuzzy, and saucy. As soon as I met her, I felt incredibly at ease….her whole presence was really wonderful to be around, and made photographing her a joyful experience.

Max, the lucky groom, was just as great. A warm, welcoming smile, friendly eyes, and such a gracious and helpful nature. Wow. This couple embodied all the greatest qualities you could hope for.

To make my day even better, they were super FUN to be around. Laughing, joking, smiling. Taking everything in stride. So incredibly friendly. Max and Alyson are obviously special people, as evidenced by the family and friends that attended the wedding. I can honestly say, each and every guest I met was just so incredibly warm, welcoming and friendly. What a blessing to have such a great group of family and friends!

This wedding was not only fun and gorgeous to photograph, but I actually felt like a guest…..a friend who just happened to have a couple really big cameras around my neck all day! 😉

So, thanks SO much Max and Alyson for putting on such a wonderful event, and for allowing me the honor of photographing your important day. I hope it is just one of many incredible days on your journey together!

Here’s a teaser. More on the blog soon….stay tuned!

I’m a nerd when it comes to learning about the history of San Francisco, so I researched the history of the Mark Hopkins. Turns out it has a wonderfully rich story, and it’s no wonder so many important folks, from celebrities to dignitaries, make this their first choice when visiting San Francisco.

If you wanna know more about the Mark Hopkins InterContinental read the excerpt below from the Intercontinental website. I’ve also included links at the very end so that you can contact them for your next stay in San Francisco. Believe me, after you read the excerpt and see the images, there will be no other place you’d want to stay!

“The Mark Hopkins Hotel opened on December 4, 1926. Located at One Nob Hill (California and Mason Street), the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco stands tall at the crest of Nob Hill, several hundred feet above San Francisco’s downtown business and shopping district.  The 19-story hotel’s architecture is a combination of French chateau and Spanish Renaissance, embellished with elaborate terracotta ornament.  Because the hotel consists of a tall central tower and two wings outstretched like arms, the rooms offer spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, the city, the surrounding hills and the ocean.

Of these homes on Nob Hill built by such magnates as Stanford, Crocker, and Huntington, none was grander than the gabled Victorian mansion of Mark Hopkins, a founder of the Central Pacific Railroad.  Hopkins’ wife, Mary, was given free reign in the mansion’s design which included: a built-in pipe organ, oak paneling inlaid with ebony, and several-story-tall entry hall/art gallery.

Mark Hopkins died just before completion of the grandiose structure.  In 1878 his widow moved into the multi-turreted $3 million Gothic castle built entirely of redwood.  Several years later, Mary Hopkins moved to the East Cost and married Edward Searles, her interior designer and junior by 30 years. After Mary Hopkins death in 1891, Edward Searles donated the long-unoccupied Nob Hill mansion to the San Francisco Art Association, which converted the building into classrooms, studios, and galleries.

The mansion burned in the fire, which followed the 1906 earthquake, and only the hillside property’s mammoth granite retaining wall remained.  One night in 1910, mining engineer George D. Smith and a friend were strolling past the modest Art Association building when he said, “Someday, I’m going to build a hotel there.”

At once, the hotel became a leading social center of San Francisco.  In the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s, the glamorous Peacock Court hosted such memorable dance bands as Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Anson “Dancin’ -with-Anson” Weeks, Xavier Cugat, plus the era’s top supper club entertainers like Betty Grable, Dorothy Lamour, Rudy Valley, Hildegarde, Dorothy “The Broadway Hillbilly” Shay, and exotic Peruvian songbird Yma Sumac.  The banquet rooms were filled with debutante balls, wedding receptions, and glittering dinners, sometimes served on the hotel’s 24 -carat gold dinner service.

The Mark Hopkins’ guests included US. Presidents, statesman, international royalty, and Hollywood celebrities.  Twenties and thirties film idol John Barrymore was a frequent guest.  His pet monkey, Clementine, was less welcome at the hotel after she climbed the curtains in Barrymore’s suite, shredding the brocade as she went.

In 1939 hotel owner George D. Smith created a sensation at The Mark Hopkins Hotel when he converted the 11-room penthouse on the hotel’s 19th floor into a glass-walled cocktail lounge featuring a 360-degree view of San Francisco.  This became known as the Top of The Mark.

Although Smith later told friends he wasn’t sure that people would ride an elevator 19 stories just to enjoy a drink and the view, the Top Of The Mark was an immediate hit after it opened on May 11, 1939.  That year, San Franciscans and visitors alike flocked there to view the twinkling lights of the Golden Gate Bridge International Exposition on Treasure Island.

During the Second World War, The Top of the Mark was a favorite spot for Pacific-bound servicemen to enjoy their last liberty before shipping out.  As the ships left the Golden Gate, anxious wives and sweethearts often gathered in the Northwest corner to watch the departure, earning that section the nickname, “Weepers’ Corner”.

After the Second World War, The Mark Hopkins remained one of San Francisco’s most fashionable sites for dancing and supper club entertainment, debutante balls, weddings, and banquets. Its guests included the leading statesmen, royalty, and celebrities such as Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Prince Philip of Great Britain, Queen Juliana of Holland, Emperor Hailie Selassie, ElizabethTaylor, Elvis Presley, Judy Garland, Michael Jackson (who required a personal chef to prepare his vegetarian meals) and The Rolling Stones (who took two entire floors for themselves and their entourage).

During his 1961 visit to America, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev stayed in the Mark Hopkins’ 17th floor Presidential suite.  For the duration of his visit, the suite boasted a one-button black telephone with a direct line to The Kremlin and Russian security guards that periodically paced the rooms with Geiger counters looking for any sources of radiation.

In 1973, Inter-Continental Hotels Corporation, commenced a painstaking several-year renovation of The Mark Hopkins.  This project included the restoration of the landmark facade and its elaborate ornamentation, redecoration of the lobby and all public rooms, redecoration of all guest rooms, and installation or upgrading of all mechanical and safety systems.

In 1987, a 10 million renovation gave The Mark a new, fresh look.  All 391 guestrooms and suites were remodeled in the neoclassic style employing custom designed furnishings and plush fabrics.  Also included were the Lobby, Lower Bar Lounge, and the Nob Hill Restaurant.

During 1995 the Mark unveiled the historic renovation of The Peacock Court and Room of the Dons. Highlighted by a dazzling display of intricate colors and design, the Peacock Court’s impressive ceiling holds its esteemed place as the focal point of the ballroom.

During the summer of 1996, The Mark Hopkins redesigned it’s legendary “room with a view”, The Top of the Mark. San Francisco’s famous sky lounge made its reopening debut in the fall, after a three month, 1.5 million-dollar renovation. The change was significant. The bar, once located as a focal point of the room, has been moved to a corner over looking the Golden Gate Bridge. An elevated mahogany dance floor surrounded by conversational seating, featuring comfortable modern sofas, classic settees, and upholstered chairs with “Bay Area Legends” signature plaques, has replaced this. Alabaster and sculptured metal chandeliers; Italian banisters, beveled mirrors wall and European-style plaster prepare this lounge for the next century.

In 1997, understanding the needs of the discerning business traveler, the Mark Hopkins launches 22 guest “Business Rooms” and a Business Center. Rooms were designed to include a combination printer/fax/copier, large surface desk, ergonomic work chairs, halogen lighting, and multi- line telephones with voice mail services and data port. The Business Center provides secretarial and copying services, computer stations with Internet capability, supplies, and delivery/telecommunication services.

During 1998, adding to the numerous other environmental programs that the Mark Hopkins and Inter-Continental Hotels & Resorts have initiated over the years, the Mark becomes the first major luxury hotel in San Francisco to offer a charging station for electric cars. The electric vehicle-charging unit is located in the hotel garage and available 24 hours a day.

A multi-million dollar restoration was completed in 2002, with restorations enhancing the hotel’s original character of old-world luxury and style, with new-world amenities and services.

Mark Hopkins InterContinental
999 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 392-3434