I once overheard a woman angrily talking with her friends about her son’s wedding photographer wanting to do an engagement session and how she believed that it was “just one more place for them to gouge us!” Needless to say it took a lot of self control to not correct this woman with the much more probable reasons they wanted to do an engagement session… and inform her that her bitching was ruining my self-care manicure. But it got me thinking about the reasons that I encourage my couples to take advantage of my complimentary engagement sessions and how to put that into words that even a penny-pincher would agree with.
I’d like to use my session with Robin & Russ as my example…
These two have been together for over 5 years and their wedding is actually this weekend! All the same I asked them to meet me for a mini engagement session at a nearby natural area at every photographer’s favorite time – golden hour (the hour before sunset). Robin & Russ didn’t neeeeed engagement portraits; they wouldn’t be used to announce their intentions, for save-the-date cards, a wedding website, invitations, or for wedding day decor. <<< Which are all very common and great reasons to do an engagement session by the way. Instead this session was more tactical, this was our opportunity to work together before the wedding and give all of us a chance to experience how each other worked.
Examples of questions that I would like answers to before the big day: What are their bad photo habits? Do they tilt their heads a lot? Can they give me a natural smile? How do they interact with each other? Are they blinkers? Is there anything they’re self-conscious about? Do they know how to ignore the camera? How much direction do they need? Is their chemistry visual or verbal?
Examples of seeds I want to plant in my couple’s brain before the big day: Chin down and forward. Thumbs in pockets. Dropping the hip to the back. Level out the head. V shape. Walking sloooooowly. Hold your bouquet low. Ignore the camera. Laugh to smile.
Robin is the magic behind Desert Rose Bridal Styling and I can’t wait to see how gorgeous their wedding turns out!!!
Remember that time when Central Oregon was heavy with wildfire smoke… yea, we all do.
Fortunately for Alison & Austin the Millie Fire didn’t advance far enough to put a damper on their wedding day at Five Pine Lodge in Sisters, Oregon. The air was still scratchy and it “looked like” a thick overcast or fog was looming in the sky, if it wasn’t for the plenty high temps and red glowing sun you’d almost believe it.
Both having Oregon roots, Alison & Austin chose Central Oregon for their ceremony with their love of the outdoors, mountains, and our favorite… beer! They also enjoy “good tv”, eating amazing food, and fun music. In fact their first dates included the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Fransisco and a Stanford vs. OSU football game. “I can’t believe we rooted for Stanford!”, said Alison. Lol! Speaking of fun music, a friend of Alison’s from high school was their live band – professional honky tonk one man show!!! It was glorious.
My favorite parts of the day: Alison’s Trample the Patriarchy unicorn tank top and GORGEOUS blue & gold wedding dress <3, them both working so hard to keep it together during their vows… even though I insisted that they let it out and cry, those custom riiiiiings, forgoing cake for dessert and having Addy Mac’s ice cream instead!
Here’s what they had to say about their special day:
1. What was your favorite part of the day?
Alison: My favorite part of the day was walking into the wedding venue after the ceremony and greeting all of our guests. It’s a really rare thing to be in a large crowd of people where everyone you see is not only someone you know, but also someone you really like! On top of that, I knew that each one of my guests had made a lot of effort to travel to the wedding venue just to show their support for me and Austin. So each time I said hi to a different person, I was overwhelmed with the love their presence suggested and how much each person clearly cared about me. I was left with a very full heart after having everybody I care most about in one place at one time!
Austin: Seeing Alison for the first time and being absolutely blown away! Also the combination of Alison / her amazing dress / the FivePine landscape / the smoky alien sun just made for an incredible scene.
2. What are you most looking forward to in married life?
Alison: I’m most looking forward to seeing how Austin and I change and grow together over the years. We’ve known each other for five years now, and every single year we grow up a little bit and also grow a little bit closer. We challenge each other to be kind, thoughtful, and empathetic people not only towards others, but also to each other and to ourselves. Now that our lives are officially entwined, I hope our insight and care will lead to an even deeper relationship that allows us to support each other through whatever obstacles lie ahead.
Austin: Hanging out with my best friend every day and knowing we get to do that for the rest of our lives!!
3. What advice would you like to share with others?
Alison: My advice for wedding planning is to hire good people (like Amanda!) who clearly know what they are doing and really know the whole process. Then, give them a little guidance on the vision, hand them a check, and let them take over the rest. I had an amazing time on my wedding day and wasn’t stressed during the planning process because I didn’t go insane over every tiny little detail. There were still inane details for which I was the one that eventually had to make the decision, like what color pens I wanted for my guest book and how to display the seating charts. In those cases, I spent a short while looking at options, and then just made a decision, ordered the necessary things from Amazon, and then crossed that action item off my list. You can spend forever optimizing, but in the end, what people really remember about the wedding is how much fun everyone had! No matter how beautiful your seating chart is, people won’t be talking about it for years to come like they will be talking about the smile on your face.
Austin: For the wedding: Make it your own day – don’t be bound by traditions that you think are important to other people. Make your OWN traditions that reflect your values and what has brought you together as a couple. Everyone will recognize the authenticity and embrace it (otherwise why are they at your wedding?!?)
Venue & Catering // Five Pine Lodge & Conference Center Photographer & Photo-Booth // Amanda Photographic Florals // Woodland Floral HMUA // Makeup Mafia Dessert // Addy Mac’s Ice Cream Second Photographer // Andrew Paul Photography Assistant // Sara Mansfield Ceremony Music // Sam Saunders (Alison’s Brother) Reception Music // Mario Carboni “The Honky Tonk Rebel” Custom Rings // Waylon Rhoads Dress & Suit // Nordstrom
Could these two be any more adorable?
I didn’t think it was possible for them to be any cuter than they already were at their engagement session at Forest Park back in March, but they really upped their googly eyes game for their wedding day! Hannah and Nathan were celebrated by their friends and family at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church outside Portland in mid-August, followed by a tented garden reception at the McMenamins Cornelius Roadhouse. The entire day was filled with happiness, signing, memories, and a few surprises.
My top three moments of the day: 1. Hannah’s mom, Erin, seeing her daughter at the hotel and immediately bursting into (happy) tears. Besides that Hannah was a stunning bride, she was also wearing several pieces of heirloom jewelry from her grandparents and a garter made from part of Erin’s wedding dress. 2. The first look! Always a favorite. 3. Nathan’s sister and cousins surprising them with a group rendition of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” … all the guests joined in of course.
I love sharing the couple’s perspective on my blog so here some words from Hannah and Nathan…
1. What was your favorite part of the day?
H: I think my favorite part was actually saying the vows. Looking at Nathan and making that promise to him was by far the most meaningful moment that I will always remember.
N: There was a moment, as my parents introduced/recognized my grandparents, that I made perhaps the most meaningful eye contact I’ve ever made with another person, with my grandfather. Other than that, my favorite part was probably going around the tables and talking to everyone.
2. What are you most looking forward to in married life?
H: It’s really nice to always have a person to come home to. So much about the future is uncertain, but being married, I can count on this awesome person to always be a part of my life.
N: Not living alone/having someone to do something with during the week.
3. What advice would you like to share with others?
H: Whenever I got stressed out about wedding planning, I would try and remind myself that the important thing is the marriage. Not the wedding. The wedding is really just a big party. Technically, it’s optional. Whatever happens with the wedding, we are still going to get married, and that’s what matters.
N: 6 month engagement was fast, but definitely worth it. My advice to all my friends who are engaged or nearly is to try for a faster rather than slower engagement.
Venue // Prince of Peace Lutheran Church & McMenamins Cornelius Roadhouse Photography // Amanda Photographic Second Shooter // Stevi Sayler Bride & Bridesmaids Dresses // David’s Bridal Menswear // Mens Wearhouse HMUA // Bella Salon Floral // My Belle Blossoms Catering & Bartending // McMenamins Cornelius Roadhouse Officiant // Pastor Butch Olsen Papergoods // Emily Klammer Decor //DIY
Jeff and Amy have quite the love story…
It all started waaaaay back in 1997. Amy was blissful 19 year old working at BoA as a drive-up teller and Jeff was already sporting is own construction business so he was a regular at Amy’s window. One day she “happened to remembered” Jeff’s phone number from his checks and decided to give him a call. …crickets for 4 days. In her own words she was mortified and thought about how she could never show her face again. Lol! Teenagers can be so dramatic. Jeff called on the fourth day with a perfectly legit excuse; he was out skiing and had just gotten the message. Keep in mind this is 1997 and cell phones were not a thing yet. I remember there being car phones but only rich people or people who lived in the middle of nowhere had them. They had their first date at Applebee’s and 20 years later it was their wedding day!
Ok now time for the proposal story… also super cute.
Amy was home chillaxing when Jeff arrived home and scooped up their pug, Ryder, to “trim his nails in the garage.” He told Amy not to come in the garage because it would excite Ryder and we all know how tricky it can be to trim doggy nails. Jeff put a black shirt on their dog that said, ” Amy will you marry me? p.s. Ryder thinks you should.” When he let their pooch back in the house he immediately jumped on Amy’s lap; she read the shirt as Jeff approached her with a big bouquet of flowers and proposed on one knee. Awwwww!!! Then he spoiled her all day with shopping and dinner at their favorite restaurant. Good work Jeff!
Their wedding was held at Three Strands Farm outside Lebanon – surrounded by tall trees, friends, and family.
According to Amy choosing her bridesmaids was one of the hardest things she’s ever done. I guess having a million best friends is a good problem to have. 🙂 Her Uncle Pat officiated the ceremony with sincerity and humor – his specialty. My favorite part was their 4 year old nephew walking down the aisle with his twin sister holding a sign that said, “After 20 years are you sure?” Lol!
Less talking, more photography! #keepcalmandcurryon
Venue // Three Strands Farm
DJ + Lights // Apogee Events
Dresses // David’s Bridal
Suits // Men’s Warehouse
Videographer // Alicia Scherer
I’ve been waiting all year for this wedding!!!
Mo & Stacey are two of the most genuine people I’ve had the good fortune to meet since moving to Bend. We hit it off immediately over pints of cider and gushing about wedding plans, snowy adventures, and their dog Georgia. We started our photo-relationship with their engagement session at Edison Sno-Park just outside Bend, which contrasts so beautifully with their summer forest wedding at Horse Creek Lodge in McKenzie Bridge.
The day started like any other… with a mountain bike ride. A dozen or so wedding guests joined them for a few “laps” around a forested trail system near the lodge while designated friends and family continued set up for the ceremony and reception later that afternoon. Both Mo and Stacey agreed that it was a great way to get some energy out while spending time with friends. I’ve seen morning yoga sessions, river floating, fishing trips, and hikes as well.
They got ready together while guests began to filter in and enjoy the teahouse tipi, lawn games, photo-booth, and scenery. When it was time for the service to begin the guests made their way down a wooded path with photos of the brides on either side; they were greeted by a sage smudging before entering the clearing. Both Mo and Stacey were walked part way down the aisle by their parents and Georgia; after a family hug the parents found their seats at the front while Stacey & Mo high-fived their way down the aisle – their roomie, Alicia, played her guitar and sang for the processional. A close friend Jenni officiated the ceremony while radiating love and joy over them; another friend John Paul made their rings and passed them between guests for blessings. Thoughtful vows were exchanged that were serious with a pinch of humor followed by placing a ring on the other’s finger. Another friend, Beth, read an original poem that she wrote for their wedding that left everyone who wasn’t already crying in tears. …this was my FAVORITE part. 🙂
I asked Stacey & Mo what they thought about their special day. Here’s what they had to say:
What was your favorite part of the day?
Mo: The Ceremony. Stacey doing 15 push ups in a wedding dress. (it totally happened!)
Stacey: The Ceremony- looking out at all the smiles and the teary faces of our most favorite people….and sharing the most pivotal experience of my life with all of them. All of the hugs!
What are you most looking forward to in married life?
Mo: More adventures!
Stacey: Not planning another wedding. (lol!)
Soapbox: In some of our initial emails it was brought to my attention that planning a wedding and attempting to hire vendors was a bit of a daunting task. Each time Mo would email a potential vendor she would have to preface it with the fact that she and Stacey are a same-sex couple hoping to work with them. Fortunately there are sites like A Bicycle Built For Two – a LGBT/Queer wedding website – which is where they found me. It hadn’t occurred to me (privilege) that one aspect of wedding planning/vendor hiring that could be particularly stressful for queer couples is coming-out over and over and over again to strangers via email. Is this person LGBT friendly? Friendly vs. Affirming? etc. In our current climate being part of the LGBT community is hard enough. Planning a wedding is hard enough. Doing both probably feels impossible sometimes. …which to me is complete crap! Nobody should feel sadness, fear, pain, or loss because of who they love. If you are fortunate enough to love and be loved by another human being hold on to it with everything you have. …and give a big middle finger to anyone who tries to take that away from you. Mo & Stacey: I adore you both, your love for adventure, your fierce commitment to your community, and the work you both do. Thank you for letting me celebrate you!!!
Venue // Horse Creek Lodge
Rings // John Paul Designs
Catering // El Sancho
Music // Cascade Crescendo
Photography // Amanda Photographic
Everything Else // DIY
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. -Marcel Proust
Samara + Brett classic, beautiful, and intimate wedding at The Ainsworth House & Garden outside Portland was everything they’d dreamed it would be.
They each spent the morning with their respective bridesmaids and groomsmen at a nearby hotel, before making the short but sometimes time consuming trip to their venue. Everything was ready for them upon arrival and the garden was in full bloom. After exchanging gifts through Samara’s dual Matrons of Honor it was time for the bride to have a first look; first with her Dad, then with her groom. The entire day from beginning to end was full of happy tears and plenty of laughter; munching and sipping; hand holding and butt grabbing. Did I mention yet that Samara is a triathlete? …and that Brett loooooves motorcycles? Let’s just say that their guest list included some really adventurous folks.
The color palette of gray, cream, and Tiffany blue was perfectly elegant for the formal garden setting.
When asked what their favorite parts of the day where this is what Samara + Brett had to say…
When you’ve booked a wedding in September, but the couple lives in Oakland, you take any opportunity you can to get together.
Such was the case with Alison and Austin. On one of their final wedding planning visits to Bend we met up for a morning engagement session out in the desert with a beautiful view of the Three Sisters. While they both have Oregon roots they managed to find each other in San Fransisco…
I had a friend my freshman year of college who ended up being Austin’s roommate years down the line. The friend visited San Fransisco and got all his friends together, so Austin and I met that evening, but we were both involved with other people. It wasn’t until 6 months later that Austin sent out a message to everyone about a bar night. I had just gotten off of the swing shift, so I stopped by after midnight when everyone was gone, except Austin. So we hung out then and started dating…
…We’d been dating since 2012, but had only lived in the same city for 7 months. I’d moved across the bay for a PhD (Physics), and Austin eventually moved to Boston for a 2-year MBA. After he graduated, he moved back to California, and we were soon pretty sure that this was meant to be. We decided to announce our engagement in front of my family, over the holiday season. So the day before we went […] and found me a tiny ring and we told only family over a champagne toast!
They are sweet, funny, waaaaaay smarter than me, and I am so excited for their wedding at Five Pine Lodge this fall!!!
Second Shooting for Stevi Sayler Photoraphy
Two words: BREAKFAST WEDDING…
It was a double-header weekend in Southern Oregon as Stevi and I second’ed for each other on back-to-back weddings. My wedding with Rosie + Greg at Buckhorn Springs was first with a full fiesta theme at the rustic yoga retreat lodge. After most of the dancing died down I turned in so that I could be at the historic Ashland Springs Hotel downtown for Jenna + Andrew’s elegant breakfast wedding bright and early. Admittedly we were both really excited by the concept of a morning wedding. The breeze was still cool, we had Lithia Park to ourselves, and the breakfast buffet was delicious. Their ceremony was held at the enclosed patio garden under a rose pergola in full bloom; literally surrounded by their loved ones Jenna + Andrew said I do.
I hope there are more breakfast weddings in my future. ::wink wink::
A few years ago I had the very good fortune to meet Allison, owner and designer at The Nature of Isa. I was instantly drawn to her sense of style, texture, lines, contrast, flow, shape, color, and form. I got an opportunity to work with her on a styled boho glam wedding in September 2014 that was published later that year in a UK-based blog (no big deal). Ever since that collaboration I’ve wanted to do an entire shoot that was focused on the custom variety that she offers in her dresses. I saw her again at the Luxe Bridal Show in Portland in February 2015 and we decided that in the spring we were going to rock this project! Yes, it was happening! I emailed Allison to get the concept fleshed out a month-ish later only to learn that she found out after the show that she had leukemia. WHAT?!?! The project was put on hold while Allison fought the good fight and her community rallied around her for the next several months.
Fast forward to December 2016: I reach out to her again and not only has she been in remission but she’s been designing new dresses and wanted to revive the project. Yay!!! After some exchanges we settled on May 20th 2017… it was the perfect day.
Thank you to everyone that helped bring this concept to life, especially my 3 models who all drove over from the Willamette Valley to participate.
Photography // Amanda Photographic
Dresses // Nature of Isa
HMUA // Wren & Wild
Jewelry // Junction.Co
Second shooting for Stevi Sayler Photography
One area of being a small business owner in a highly competitive field is knowing that you won’t always win. …sometimes your photo-BFF will win and hire you as her second. Stevi and I each, along with a handful of other photographers, met with Azita + Evan while they were planning their wedding about being their photographer. For myself I met them at Off The Waffle in Eugene and we talked for like a million hours. There was so much laughter and connection; I thought for sure that I landed the job. Then I found out that they’d also met with Stevi and were having trouble choosing between the two of us. Now you might think that this would set off our inner competitive natures, but we were both so excited for each other and decided that either way we would hire each other so we could both be there.
It was a soggy afternoon in May, but Azita + Evan had all their little ducks in a row including a tent for the patio ceremony. Everything had a movie element from the red carpet and velvet ropes, to the romance movie cover table numbers complete with Azita + Evan photoshopped in as the main characters. lol! Azita danced her way up to Evan after walking down the aisle with the Dads inspiring everyone in the wedding party to start dancing. Yes! My favorite part of the whole day was the sheer amount of laughter over the course of the day! So. Much. Laughing!