Elopements are sooooooooooo good!!!
Darlene + Joel had been engaged for awhile, and were in no particular hurry to have a ceremony. They wanted to focus on other things like moving to Bend, buying a house, building Darlene’s business, and trying to start a family. They knew they didn’t want a big wedding and the more they thought about it eloping really felt like the right thing to do. …especially after they modeled for me last fall. 😉 On a soggy day at the end of March I met them, along with Joel’s brother Jesse and his husband Jai, at Silver Falls State Park just east of Salem. I was hoping that the rain would have deterred people, but the parking lot was crowded with tourists that wanted to see the main South Falls. Darlene looked BEAUTIFUL with a tiny baby bump (it’s a girl!) and DIY bouquet of lilies and rosemary. Everyone carefully walked down the muddy path, making sure not to step on Darlene’s dress, and gathered at the base of the falls on the far side of its misty pool. Jesse was the official ring bearer, while Jai officiated a perfectly written ceremony – smart guy even laminated the paper. After some portraits on the bridge we made our way back up the path, accepting congratulations along the way, and enjoying some bubbly at one of the park’s many picnic tables.
A very tasty lunch and cake awaited us at The Wild Pear in Downtown Salem. …I had the banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich).
Q1: What was your favorite part of the day?
Darlene: My favorite part of the day was saying our vows down by the waterfall. The rest of the world faded and it was the two of us in this beautiful setting. It was surreal and yet my senses were heightened at the same time. I loved the vows that Jai wrote for us and they fit us so well.
Joel: The getting married part. Having my brother there and my bro-in-law marry us was really special.
Q2: What are you most looking forward to in married life?
Darlene: Because we’ve been together for awhile, and acted like we were married anyways, I think I’m just looking forward to a continuation of that and entering the next phase of our lives together and seeing what parenthood will be like. I feel like we are on the same team and here to support each other through that, so I can’t wait to see how we both grow and evolve as we start our family.
Joel: Building our lives together and going on adventures.
Q3: What advice do you have for others?
Darlene: For weddings – Focus on the day being about the both of you, not worried about making the other happy or getting what you want, but making the wedding and celebration be an expression of your relationship together. Have it be totally “you” and don’t worry about what everyone else typically does – just do what feels right for the two of you. For relationships – listen to each other and truly honor where the other person is coming from, or what they need. It won’t always line up with what you need, and there will be compromise, but acknowledging each other goes a long way.
Nicole and Michael planned for an intimate wedding ceremony with witnesses and Nicole’s boys in the woods at Mt. Pisgah. Unfortunately March in the Willamette Valley is unpredictable and it did nothing but pour and pour the days leading up to their wedding. The Plan B location was the historic house at Wayne Morris Ranch, which also gave them some wiggle room and they invited their immediate family to join them.
Apparently Michael is a big fan of proposing to Nicole… the first time was at the beach. Michael had been playing catch with her boys in the water and he ran up the sand, planted one knee, and told her that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, “Will you marry me?” Nicole thought he was messing with her, “Are you joking?!” So Michael tried again… “Will you marry me?” She said yes, but that didn’t stop him from proposing again and again.
I’ve proposed a few more times since then. At home with the ring, at Crater Lake on New Year’s Day, on the Mediterranean Sea in France, and a few other times. Thankfully she never said no.
After their ceremony everyone made their way to the Oregon Electric Station for a yummy dinner with more friends and family. The evening was full of laughter, celebration, photo-boothing, and a few tears. These two are living proof that LOVE makes a family… and family is one place these two will never be lacking!!!
What do you do when you’re not really into the idea of planning a big wedding? You elope!
…but first you have to get engaged. Last spring J+A took a vacation to Hawaii (jealous) and as you might expect wanted to do some exploring. They started on a short side-trip on their way to Hana to a quite little town; as they walked down the dilapidated road they found a beautiful secluded beach. They sat there watching the waves crash on the rocks when Aaron took Jessica’s hand, knelt down on one knee, and asked her to marry him! In her own words [she] was not expecting this! …ummm I’m pretty sure that’s the idea. lol!
Jessica + Aaron wanted something low-key and scenic for their ceremony to stay in line with their overall personalities and love of the outdoors. They invited Aaron’s brother and a few close friends to be witnesses and officiate – they spent the weekend cooking, playing games, and enjoying the fresh powder. I loved how personal they made everything, while still keeping it very simple, proving that meaningful is always better than basically anything else. Instead of rings they chose to tie a knot using two colors of climbing rope – because they’re the adventurous type – and picked a knot that each piece played an equal role in its formation and strength. They shared vows that focused on loving each other for who they are as individuals as well as supporting growth and deepening their relationship. Though I have to say that my favorite part was that everyone was wearing snowshoes or yaktrax, oh yeah AND that we celebrated with rootbeer floats at the local diner after the ceremony!!! …because that’s how we role in Central Oregon.
Q: What was your favorite part of the day?
Jessica: My favorite part of the day was spending time with everyone and feeling an overwhelming sense of joy that was present in every moment. From cooking breakfast, to getting ready, to the drive over, the ceremony itself and the celebration after. It wasn’t stressful or rushed at all. We all just had time to be together and enjoy each others companionship.
Q: What are you most looking forward to?
Jessica: I am looking forward to sharing more adventures together, to being beside each other through life’s difficulties, and to celebrate the good things that happen every day.
Q: What advice do you have for others?
Jessica: Advice is to keep things simple and personal. Once planning my wedding became about making it a special day for me and Aaron, and not worrying about the “norms” or what other people would like, I was able to relax and I actually was excited about the process. Hunting down each element of my wedding outfit, developing the knot-tying ceremony, and scouting the perfect location for our ceremony with Aaron were all fun parts of the pre-wedding process. It was kind of crazy how quickly the ceremony buzzed by, and thinking how much time and energy was put into crafting that 5 or 10 minutes of scripted behavior. Being surrounded by the right people in an inspiring place made it easy for the rest of the day unfold. And having [Amanda] there to help guide us through the day was invaluable so she could capture all the special moments that we’ll now have to remember forever in photos. That took a lot of planning and thought off of my plate.
Venue // Fort Rock State Park
Photography // Amanda Photographic
Floral // Summer Robbins Flowers
Literally everything else // DIY
What can I say about Danna + Uriah?
These two are crazy stupid in love, super cool rockers, and have excellent taste in champagne!
I met up with Danna a couple weeks before their elopement date to get to know her and work on a logistical plan for their day. It was going to be a simple day with all the best visual elements of a full wedding; she had a cocktail length beaded dress (YASSSS!!!) and flowers from Summer Robbins, while Uriah had a gray suit and would be sporting his vans (Perfect!). They reserved a cabin at Brasada Ranch just outside Bend where they would have their sunset ceremony and we planned to take all their photos around the property before hand. Everything went according to plan except for one teensy thing… it snowed like 2 feet just days before! This elopement just turned into a winter wonderland of freezing amazingness!!!
Danna + Uriah met at a local bar when he put her favorite band, Clutch, on the jukebox. “You don’t even know who that is!”, shouted Danna. “Yea, I do!”, he replied and proceeded to put every single Clutch song into the cue and sang ALL of them with her. Awwwwww! The next night Uriah made her dinner – chicken and kale – and it was looooove. But Danna was moving to Costa Rica, so they spent every available waking moment together. After awhile in Costa Rica Uriah reached out asking her to come back and immediately whisked her off to Mexico for a sunny vacay where he proposed.
I am so excited for these two! They share such a wonderful love of adventure, life, and of course each other.
Dress & Hair Comb | Bella Bride Bend, Or
Menswear | Revolvr Bend, Or
Location | Open Space in Sisters, Or
When I look into your eyes / It’s like watching the night sky / Or a beautiful sunrise / Well, there’s so much they hold / And just like them old stars / I see that you’ve come so far / To be right where you are / How old is your soul?
Well, I won’t give up on us / Even if the skies get rough / I’m giving you all my love / I’m still looking up
And when you’re needing your space / To do some navigating / I’ll be here patiently waiting / To see what you find
‘Cause even the stars they burn / Some even fall to the earth / We’ve got a lot to learn / God knows we’re worth it / No, I won’t give up
I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily / I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make / Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use / The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake / And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend / For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn / We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in / I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not, and who I am
I won’t give up on us / Even if the skies get rough / I’m giving you all my love / I’m still looking up, I’m still looking up.
Well, I won’t give up on us / God knows I’m tough enough / We’ve got a lot to learn / God knows we’re worth it / I won’t give up on us / Even if the skies get rough / I’m giving you all my love / I’m still looking up – Jason Mraz
Edith & Cody planned a secret vow renewal while they would be on a family vacation at Whistler.
The original plan was to do everything at the Top Of The World, but when we went to buy our tickets for the lift to the top the entire mountain was clouded in with zero visibility. That was basically the theme of all the planning… plans go horribly wrong and we find an equally beautiful solution. For months I was the only other person who knew about the vow renewal so Edith and I would regularly text and talk about plans, new plans, and new new plans. When the Top Of The World vision was off the table I saw Edith’s heart sink. The ticket gal suggested we check out Alta Lake just down the road and even showed us some photos of the area. As we walked back to the car I saw Cody take Edith’s hand to comfort her; it was a subtle reminder of the trials that they’ve overcome during their marriage and that it was their love and commitment that saw them through.
It was such an honor to be there with the two of them as they spoke about the adventures they’d already had and made promises for the future. I couldn’t be more proud of Edith and Cody, the family they’ve built, the grace that leads their lives, and the inspiration they’ve been to me.
What’s the deal with engagement sessions?
First a story: Once, while getting a manicure, I over-heard a very disgruntled woman talking to her friends about how ridiculous engagement portraits were and how obviously the photographer was just gouging them (parents of the bride) for more money. She was really upset and it literally took all of my self control not to say anything to her. I knew that no matter how calmly, eloquently, or excitedly I explained the many benefits of having an engagement session that she would hold to her opinion. So instead I sat there, letting my hands soak in pretty smelling water, and really reflected on why I love engagement sessions so much. I encourage all of my couples to also book an engagement session with me when we first sit down over coffee or skype to talk about their wedding photography. Some couples already know that they want one, while others need a bit more convincing. …recall that I said encourage, not force, not demand, not guilt trip.
Here are the reasons that I encourage all of my couples to book an engagement portrait session:
- It gives me an opportunity to learn how you respond to the camera before your wedding day. Believe it or not people can get weird the second a camera comes out. Known as “camera awareness” and my mortal enemy, the concept is pretty straight-forward in that people can become awkward when they anticipate being photographed. An engagement session helps us break down that awareness so that you can get into the moment with your special person. It’s also really helpful for me to see how you naturally interact with each other, how you smile, if you’re a blinker, or maybe you have some bad selfie habits. These are all things that I really should know before one of the most important photographed days of your lives together.
- Learning vocabulary. An engagement session is measurably more casual than our portrait time on your wedding day. This makes it a great opportunity to learn some vocabulary and posing basics so that things can go more smoothly when we’re more pressed for time and everyone is full of wedding adrenaline. V-shape, turtle, compress, and “give me your chin” are concepts that I want to sit in your brain and turn into natural muscle memory.
- It’s an opportunity for you to give me feedback. Many couples have never had professional portraits taken before so they really aren’t sure what they want or how they work best with a photographer. All the pinterest boards in the world aren’t as good as actually experiencing something; this holds true for portrait photography. Too much direction, not enough direction; more candids, more formals, you see where I’m going. Again, this is feedback and expectations that we want communicated before your wedding.
- They’re fun! …and useful. An engagement session is your opportunity to tell your friends, family, and guests all about yourselves as a couple. Where you live, where you met, where you got engaged, what you like to do together, how you get all googly-eyed and silly when they look at you, express your style and interests, and maybe show off the fur babies. I tell my couples to think of these sessions as a date for three… you’re going on a date and I’m there to be your visual voice. Engagement sessions also offer visual variety and an important time stamp to mark the season and changes that will occur over the course of your engagement. Thinking about using a photo for your save the dates? Boom! Want to string up photos of the two of you, that aren’t just selfies, at your wedding reception? Bam! Gramma been wanting a portrait of her favorite grandbaby and bae? Done!
- Establishing trust and confidence.There’s one thing that makes any given portrait look a million times better… confidence. Unfortunately we live in a really critical culture where everyone is a hot mess for the internet to poke at your insecurities. 🙁 I’m going to do everything in my natural super powers to make you look your very best. Posing, lighting, helping choose outfits, etc I want you to feel great while you’re having your portraits taken and I want you to trust that I have my eyes on everything. I have a very light hand in my post-processing, I’d much rather fix something in person than in photoshop. Pro-tip: It’s software, not magic. I had an engagement session last summer that turned out beeeeeautifully! I found out later that they whole time the bride-to-be was reminding herself that her BFF’s engagement and wedding photography that I did the year before turned out great and to trust me. “She knows what she’s doing, she knows what she’s doing…” because lemme tell ya sometimes the things we need to do to make something look great, don’t feel great. 3D humans vs. 2D photography. Of course she looooooved her portraits and now she knows from her own experiences that she can fully trust me and she will look beautifully confident on her wedding day!
Where do I begin with these two?
Hillary (HK) and Josh stole my heart the moment I met them. I had actually seen HK around Corvallis the last few years at various events, but honestly she seemed waaaaay too cool and I was intimidated by her awesomeness. Josh had moved to the Willamette Valley at the same time Hillary did, but since I don’t run marathons or do triathlons I guess I didn’t really have a way to bump into him. …Hillary should have though, but she didn’t until last year when Josh was in one of the fitness classes that she was teaching at OSU. You can read more about their adorable beginnings on my post with their engagement session photography.
HK & Josh planned a small ceremony and reception at one of their favorite places – Historic Soap Creek Schoolhouse. This is a popular stop for runners and cyclists who are playing nearby on the Lewisburg Saddle or in Peavy Arboretum/MacDonald Forest. It was actually one of the things they discovered they had in common, so it only made sense to celebrate their love at a place they now enjoy together. Speaking of their obsession with fitness, HK actually had to buy a new outfit the day before her wedding because her shoulders and upper back had gotten too muscular to fit into her original dress. I kept texting her to stop lifting things… she would hear none of it. Almost every aspect of their day was handmade/DIY crafted by themselves or their community – Vegan treats, decorations galore, bouquet, boutonniere (I actually made it that morning and was super proud of how it turned out), cake, table settings, party favors, floral arrangements, and more!
They started the day with a trip to the local farmers’ market to get flowers for the bouquet, reception tables, and school house steps. The Saturday market in Corvallis is crazy town, so we left as quickly as we could to start work on the reception location – LUC restaurant. Everything was coming together so beautifully, and the day had only just begun!
I met up with HK at Epic Day Spa for hair & make up while Josh was getting ready back at their house in the country. I was immediately blown away by her bold eye make up and salon curls… she is my ultimate Bad Bitch Bride. Once everyone was ready to go we met at the schoolhouse to begin with a first look and move into some portraits. It was a perfect day outside, even though the ground was a little soggy and soft from recent rains. Tears… so many tears filled the first look and I knew that happy crying would be the theme of the day. I wasn’t wrong. Every time a new guest arrived they were greeted by smiles and watery eyes. Neither Josh or Hillary made it more than 3 steps into their processional before they started crying and not one of their guests made it through the ceremony without wiping their eyes. A total of 28 people watched as HK’s brother, Sean, played the violin, poems were read, and rings were exchanged. Hillary’s Grandmother, Pauline aka Bubbie, was the guest of honor and glowed with pride as she watched her youngest granddaughter say her vows and each of them stomp on a glass to honor HK’s Jewish heritage. Her Grandmother also gifted them her 25th anniversary ring – which HK was veeeeeery protective of and I can honestly say suits her so well.
After a mini champagne reception at the school house everyone made their way back into Corvallis for a delicious dinner at LUC.
This was my second of three (so far) tiny weddings this year and I have to say that I’m becoming a huge fan! The couple get to enjoy their day and guests more, can focus on quality details, and the size helps slooooooow down the day. All of these are excellent things to consider because let me tell you, wedding day blur/amnesia is a real thing. I’m absolutely not saying that you shouldn’t have 150–300 people at your wedding if that’s what you want. If having all of your family, new and old friends, and colleagues at your wedding is the most important thing to you then you should definitely definitely do that. …but man, I’m really liking these tiny weddings.
Congratulations to Hillary & Josh! Here’s to many many many years of friendship and wedded bliss…
Hillary has started a new fitness program specifically geared towards engaged couples – Shreddin’ for the Weddin’. Looooooooove it!!! You can follow her on instagram (@oregonbridalfitness).
I have a few more available dates for the 2016 calendar, and 2017 is starting to fill up! Contact me TODAY and we can gush over wedding details over coffee or skype. …tell me your love story.
>><<< Vendor Love >>><<<
Photography // Amanda Photographic
Venue // Historic Soap Creek School House
Reception // LUC
Floral // DIY – Farmers’ Market
Decor & Papergoods // DIY
HMUA // Miranda – Epic Day Spa
HK Outfit // Mod Pod
HK Crown // Ruby & Cordelia’s – Etsy
Josh Suit // Nordstrom
Cake // DIY
The story goes that Andrew + Ashley decided that, after what many would consider a lifetime’s worth of adventures together, that it was time to get married. …seriously though, they’ve been to like half a dozen plus countries, challenge each other, work together, have a fur baby, and just opened a chiropractic clinic together. Sheesh! Anyway they decided that they wanted to elope. After participating in a stylized elopement at the end of last year and consulting with the coordinator, Abby of AE Creative, on a real elopement they realized that they would still need witnesses and couldn’t have only an officiant.
Ashley: I asked my Mom to be my witness!
Andrew: Well then I’ll ask my Mom to be my witness! …hmmm I can’t invite my Mom and not my Dad.
Ashley: I also want my brother to be there.
Andrew: It wouldn’t feel right to not invite my brothers too. I mean they live IN Bend…
Both: …this is turning into a wedding. Ok, immediate family only.
Family is very important to both Ashley + Andrew, but so is being super chill and actually getting to spend lots of time with said family.
So with they help of AE Creative they planned an intimate family wedding at the Triple D Ranch, where they all stayed for the weekend, with minimal fuss. Abby brought in Foxtail Bakeshop, Summer Robbins Flowers, Cascade Catering, and The Broomsmen to make the day beautiful, delicious, and worry-free. Andrew’s brother, Phil (The Original Broomsmen), built a simple arbor to be decorated with foraged Juniper branches, feathers, and dream catchers (made by AE Creative) for their ceremony backdrop. Foxtail Bakeshop took advantage of the small cake and full creative license to hand paint flowers and texture on the frosting (“We never get to paint on cake!”). AE Creative also had a lot freedom for the dinner table set up and designed a venue appropriate, Central Oregon based, colorful tablescape with personalized place setting for each of the 17 people in attendance. Summer Robbins crafted a stunning bouquet with seasonal blooms, foraged elements, and a palate that was perfect for this winter wedding. Lastly, Andrew had his friend and fellow fly-fisherman tie a fly boutonniere for each of his three brothers and his Dad.
During their tear-jerking ceremony, officiated by Andrew’s brother, surrounded by their family, it started to sprinkle just a little bit… which actually fit the scene perfectly. After exchanging rings and vows, a kiss, and a wedding-dream-catcher-rocket everyone moved inside to enjoy a roaring fire, s’mores, photo slide-show, and a very VERY very yummy dinner.
…ok that’s enough from me. Let’s see the photos!!!
Coordination + Decor + Invitations // AE Creative
Venue // Triple D Ranch
Bride’s Dress // Free People
Groom’s Attire // Revolvr Menswear
Catering // Cascade Catering
Floral // Summer Robbins Flowers
Cake // Foxtail Bakeshop
Setup + Cleanup // The Broomsmen
Photography // Amanda Photographic