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 on Earth could I have done to deserve such an amazing couple in Kaira + Dave?
I first met them last year at The Big Fake Wedding in Seattle; I learned at their reception that it was Kaira’s sister, Audra, who had encouraged them to go in an attempt to get them to start planning… because she’s a great MOH! I heard from them a few months later about their wedding photography and got more and more excited as their plans came to life.
Before we get to the wedding photography you must know more about these two love birds. 1. They met at a week-long Latvian retreat in Malibu, CA that peaked with a NYE party in LA. Kaira was there with Audra and they both joked that their Mom had sent them on this trip to meet single Latvian men. Kaira and Dave participated in a cooking class together and kissed on the stroke of midnight to bring in the new year. There was just one problem; Dave lived in Florida and Kaira lived in Pennsylvania. They both made trips to visit each month as their relationship got more serious, and when Dave moved to Seattle for grad school he invited Kaira to come with him. Awwwwwww. 2. On Valentine’s Day 2015 Dave surprised Kaira with a trip to Hawaii (totally not jealous). After a day of exploring the big island Dave proposed while they watched the sunset AND an active volcano. 3. The whole wedding was in Latvian, with some of it repeated in English, overlooking the Olympic Sculpture Park and Puget Sound. 4. They had wedding pie… because they’re awesome! 5. Latvians know how to daaaaance. No joke the dance floor was full for like 4 straight hours. Even the bartenders were dancing while pouring cocktails. Dave + Kaira wanted a live band for their reception, so naturally Dave called the Hard Rock Cafe and asked them who they liked for cover bands. The HRC told them to hire The Slacks and now I want them at every single wedding I photograph for the rest of my life.
Here’s what Kaira + Dave had to say about their wedding day:
What was your favorite part of your wedding day?
Kaira: I loved seeing Dave at the end of the aisle as I walked in! After that, dancing to the band at the reception. Also, Dave’s impromptu performance of the Pixies “Here Comes Your Man” was pretty awesome.
Dave: For me, my favorite part was the first look and also dancing to some amazing music at the reception. Watching Kaira walk down the aisle was something of a “life moment” for me that I’ll never forget.
Kaira and Dave: Basically everything, the whole day was perfect!
What are you most looking forward to in married life?
Kaira and Dave: We’re very happy to be done with wedding planning! We look forward to building our lives together as a team: traveling together, hopefully one day owning a home together, and possibly starting a family.
What advice to do you have for others?
Relationship advice: We say “I love you” to each other a lot and try not to take ourselves too seriously.
Wedding advice: Creating a dedicated wedding email account that we both had access to was a huge help. We also used Trello for to-do lists and the seating arrangement. Make sure to give yourself a few days off after the wedding to recover from “post-wedding amnesia.” Just 3 days after the wedding, Dave already lost (and found!) his wedding ring and we both feel very scatterbrained after being so organized all weekend. Go with your gut when it comes to vendors and partners. Everyone we worked with had a great vibe and it showed in how smoothly our wedding went. There were no last-minute surprises!
Enough talk… let’s see some photos!!!
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.
Jessie & Michael had a beautiful DIY wedding over looking the Pacific and Three Arch Rocks in Oceanside, Oregon on an overcast afternoon in July.
Utilizing a small community center with an adjacent lawn and patio for the day’s activities the newly weds craved an intimate, low key wedding filled with celebration and laughter. Every element had a personal meaning for their relationship as it existed and for their future adventures to come. Jessie wore a locket with photographs of her grandparents inside, along with the family diamonds that were set into her engagement ring and a pair of earrings. They passed around their wedding bands for the guests to hold and put their love and positive energy into before exchanging them. Michael’s Mother read a poem by E.E. Cummings during the ceremony, while Jessie’s Mother did all the floral arrangements. My personal favorite was the Hemlock tree. Maid of Honor, Kimberly, shared information about the significance of the tree (did you know that the Hemlock carries both male and female cones?) while Jessie and Michael added soil from their respective hometowns. They were surrounded by friends and family – laughing, happy crying, playing lawn games, blowing bubbles, eating, drinking, dancing, smiling, and later… playing with sparklers on the beach.
I asked Jessie and Michael to share some of their thoughts and advice from their experience planning and hosting this wonderful weekend, as well as on being a really AMAZING couple.
1. What was your favorite part of the wedding day?
Jessie: My favorite part of our wedding day has to be seeing how excited and happy Michael was to see me at our first look. I could tell he was nervous just by the way he was standing with his back to me, and then when he turned around, his jaw dropped. I felt like a beautiful flower.
Michael: My favorite part of the day was the first look, I was so stunned I forgot to breath for a few seconds and almost fell over.
2. What are you most looking forward to in married life?
Jessie: Relaxing into our partnership. This has been, and will continue to be, a year of a lot of changes and hard work. We have done really well weathering the stress, decisions, and grunt labor together. Now I’m glad to see our hard work pay off, and spend some time just being still and breathing. Honeymoon!
Michael: I’m looking forward to all the fun stuff we’ll get to do together, buying a house, starting a family and having the best garden ever.
3. What advice would you like to share with others?
Jessie: Really appreciate your partner and all of the things that make them great. Then tell them. Often. Be supportive and kind when things are tough. Don’t give advice unless it is asked for. Keep good wine on hand. Wedding planning is really hard. Things will fall through, you will cry and be disappointed… And then you’ll fix it–together. That is the important part: together. Make choices that are impactful and represent you as a couple. When I met Michael, and decided I really liked him, I often repeated to myself: “be more awesome”, in an attempt to keep his interest. Sounds cliche, I know, but it reminded me to put my best self forward at all times. I still say that to myself if I’m feeling discouraged or challenged.
Michael: For wedding planning, make a list and get started early. You’ll have less stress that way. For your relationship don’t force anything and just be yourself. And for tacos, home made is the best, slow simmer the chicken for 5 hours and add lots of spicy peppers.
Thank you to the Kneisler and Palmer/Miner families for helping Jessie & Michael coordinate this wonderful day!
P.S. The cake had a little accident, but that didn’t stop anyone from enjoying it. …you’ll see. 😉
Haley & Kaden, with their families, hosted a beautiful wedding over the 4th of July weekend in Lamar, MO.
The original plan was for it to be a classic summer backyard wedding with poolside reception, but the persistent thunderstorms and rain, forced them to relocate to their home church and local reception hall just a week before the big day. Fortunately both these buildings are air condition which kept everyone comfortable since it was also hot and humid. …yuck. Also fortunately we got a break in the weather just long enough for the swampy conditions to subside so that we could use the nearby running path for their portraits. The theme quickly changed over from backyard chic to small town elegance with a red, white, and blue color palate. I have never seen so many personalized details – Haley & Kaden made sure to make their wedding completely their own.
Thank you to all the friends and family that made this wonderful day possible.
Brace yourselves people, because this wedding is full of color, sequins, pom-poms, paper flowers, amazing food, DIY projects, and toooooons of love!!!
I first met Greg + Rosie over skype to discuss wedding details and planning for their Memorial Day Weekend fiesta themed wedding in Southern Oregon. Rosie’s littles, Blaise and Ruby, joined the conversation briefly, mostly just to see what the grown-ups were up to and show me some cool toys they were playing with. I could instantly see the deep love they have for each other and the love that would bring them all together as a family. I got to meet up with them for an engagement session at Lithia Park in Ashland last fall and all of my lovey dovey suspicions were confirmed.
Fast forward to the end of May and I travel down a dirt “road” to arrive at Buckhorn Springs. It’s really not that far from Downtown Ashland, but it feels completely remote and cell service is spotty. This actually helps the venue that predominantly functions as a yoga retreat …you almost have no choice but to unplug from the outside world and enjoy the sounds of the creek and wind in the trees. Fun fact: Looooooooong ago people would come to Buckhorn Springs to take carbon dioxide vapor baths from the natural CO2 spring in the creek. They would lower everything but their heads down into a vapor pit and take in all its healing properties. Not sure if CO2 vapor baths actually have healing properties, but there’s a small, now closed, building across the bridge for just that purpose. The venue also hosts a main lodge, several small cabins, and a large house that Greg + Rosie’s friends and family stayed in over the long weekend complete with nightly gatherings around the fire.
The morning of the wedding began with a yummy breakfast followed by a lady’s yoga session and blessing way for Rosie. If you have the space and the time on your wedding day I highly recommend it; it set a wonderful mood and pace for the rest of the day. After a quick lunch Greg + Rosie separated and started to get themselves ready. It was only a couple of hours later that they came back together for their first look, but the high emotions of the day fed their mutual anticipation to see each other. We explored the property and took every opportunity to slow it down, let them enjoy each others’ company, cuddle, and feel celebrated. After a quick-ish round of family portraits Rosie + Greg hid themselves away to collect their thoughts, feels, and prepare for the ceremony in the Dodecagon building. Family and friends removed their shoes and blessed the wedding rings as they entered the space. <3
Greg and Blaise walked from their creekside cabin first, followed shortly by Rosie and Ruby. Vows were exchanged in turn; Ruby did her best to hold still while Blaise tired to look tough standing next to Greg. After vows Rosie + Greg also shared vows with their children as they all stood in a family circle – they were given necklaces with “love you to the moon” charms. Once the kids were settled with Grandma and Grandpa it was time for Greg + Rosie to exchange the rings that had been heavily blessed by everyone in the room. A strong 5-mississippi kiss ended the ceremony and they exited together with their faces glowing with happiness!
Venue + Catering // Buckhorn Springs
Dress // Aidan Mattox
Suit // Men’s Wearhouse
Photography // Amanda Photographic
Second Photographer // Stevi Sayler
Everything Else // DIY
I still have a few dates available for October-December 2016. Contact me for booking details and …tell me your love story!
Last year I had the very good fortune to work with a new (to me) photographer as her second shooter. Even though I’d obviously prefer to book my own weddings to photograph I really enjoy second shooting, especially when I get to work with friends, at new locations, and/or with AWESOME Oceanside, California photographers like Heather Vallentyne Moreau of Vallentyne Photography. PS I’m super jealous of her name!
Her couple, Anne Leigh + Jonathan, were having their destination wedding in Pacific City, Oregon where the bride’s family lives (again, jealous) with the reception at the ever popular Pelican Brewery + Pub. While Pacific City has its share of tourists, it actually doesn’t for how completely beautiful it is. Since it’s not right on Hwy 101 I think a lot of people drive right by not knowing what they’re missing – like THE DUNE, or one of Oregon’s Haystack Rocks, a very tasty cream ale, and rolling ocean view meadows on the cliffs above. One challenge with working at the coast is that the wind can be a bit strong as can the light… if you happen to get a sunny day. However this can also be an opportunity to try some new locations, poses, and work some serious action/drama/emotion into the photography.
Anna Leigh + Jonathan were surrounded by their family and friends while they said their vows over the Pacific Ocean. Deer munched on grass just out of sight in the tall grass, and the sun warmed everyone as it gently came through the trees. Kids and grown-ups alike played in the sand just off the brewery patio, and A+J danced on the beach as the sun went down. Congratulations!!!
Sometimes you plan a spring wedding and really just hope that the typical Pacific Northwest rainy weather takes a break to give you a beautiful “Fantasy Spring” day. Well Alison + Chris got just such a day for their I Do’s at the McMenamins Kennedy School in NE Portland in mid-March. The skies were blue, the cherry trees and honeysuckles in full fragrant bloom, and everyone was in a twitterpated mood.
Alison + Chris met during grad school in Georgia, for Masters of education in student affairs and counseling. They displayed their love of their various Alma Maters – where they had either attended or worked – by having each of the reception tables labeled with a university and mascot. They even had one of their grad school professors officiate their ceremony! After a long distance period Chris finally joined her in Seattle and after just a week proposed at Gas Works Park. “…We had decided that it would be our city to finally settle down in and stop doing long distance. It was perfect! Now we go back and picnic there.”
Even though they [still] live in Seattle they’ve always had a fondness for Portland and decided it would be the perfect destination to start the next chapter together.
What was your favorite part of the day?
Our two favorite parts of the whole day were the toasts (so funny, loving, sentimental, and perfectly us) and then just being surrounded by so many loved ones. More than half the people present had to get on a plane to be there and it means the world to us. We’ve moved around so much, and we come from opposite sides of the country, so it was just amazing to have all that love in one room.
What are you most looking forward to?
We are most looking forward to many many years of adventures together. We love to travel and explore new cities and cultures, and we wouldn’t want to do it with anyone but each other. I am a planner and Chris is a lets just see what happens kind of guy, we balance each other out so well.
Planning + Coordination // Liz of Soleil Bliss
Ceremony Music + DJ // Nate with John Ross Music
Floral // Flowers Washougasl
Venue + Catering // McMenamins Kennedy School
Photography // Amanda Photographic
Planning a wedding? Let’s get coffee and gush over details and the vision you have for your special day! Contact me for a consult, info, and booking. …tell me your love story.
A few weeks ago I blogged about working in Phoenix for The Big Fake Wedding (BFW), now it’s time to show off the Seattle show. Unfortunately this was the event where I broke my ankle last fall… sigh. Before we get into all the pretty photos let’s recap so that ya’ll remember what BFW is and why it’s so awesome.
Last year I had the wonderful opportunity to work with the team the organizes BFW series all over the US. I applied to photograph the Phoenix and Seattle shows and couldn’t be happier with my experience working at both events. The vendor teams totally brought their A-game and I’m crazy in love with the concept behind the BFW…
Complete with a cocktail-style dinner, an emotional vow renewal ceremony and a dance-party reception, The Big Fake Wedding has become a killer alternative to a bridal show. The hand-selected vendors perform their services as they would at a real wedding, and the “wedding guests” (brides-to-be!) get to hear the music, taste the cakes, and smell the flowers… while enjoying a night of great food, dancing and surprises.
I was worried that it would be strange or competitive working with other photographers that weren’t working for me, but the other photo teams were just as excited as I was to participate in an event that fosters community over competition. We helped each other when needed, made sure that each other got time with all the bridal details, and even took a couple photos of each other working. Overall I’m going with “Magical” for my description.
When Whitney went to visit her brother in San Diego, who knew that she would fall in love with his roommate?! The only problem was that she lived across the country in Orlando. Garrett asked if he could come out to visit her, and she said no, but he booked a flight anyway. He came out, spent a week with Whitney and her family, and then what happened next is a direct quote from Garrett (because it’s just too sweet not to share verbatim). “After the best week of my life, I was all in and knew I would marry her someday.” Aw, shucks. By the end of the trip, Garrett asked Whitney’s dad if he could move to Orlando to date her, and a year later he proposed on the dock where they sat that first week and fell in love.
What is the best date you have ever had? From her: My favorite date we’ve ever had was our first one. I was in San Diego for the weekend and he told me he was picking me up to watch the sunrise. He got me at 4:30 am, we got some coffee, and went to Torrey Pines and climbed a lifeguard stand while we waited for it. The conversation was great so the sun was pretty much up by the time we realized – the sun doesn’t “rise” on the west coast. It was definitely behind us. He still gets made fun of for that.
What is the most awesome thing about your marriage? From him: The most awesome thing about our marriage has been the constant growing of “in loveness” that we have felt for one another. It feels like through each season of life we have come to we become better friends and more united.
One of the things that completely sold me on working with the teams at The Big Fake Wedding is their commitment to promoting healthy, happy, and lasting marriages; not just inspiring people to live out their wedding day fantasies. It would be so easy for them to say “Great, thanks for coming, good luck with that whole being together forever thing.” I believe that as a professional who witnesses dozens of weddings each year and who works to build a relationship with each of my wedding couples, that it is so important for me (and my fellow creative vendors) to encourage those couples in their marriages. One of the ways that I believe I can do this professionally is to give their wedding photography my full attention, deepest care, as well as being a calm and confident fixture on what can be a very stressful day. My wedding day goal: Bride-chilla. …not Bride-zilla.
Now you might be asking, “Why would you want to photograph an event in Seattle? You’re an Oregon photographer!”
Well let’s just say that while I LOOOOOOVE OREGON and would never dream of living anywhere else; I also love working in new places, I love to travel, and I love Seattle – The Emerald City. While Seattle has the same general “wedding season” as the rest of the PNW it has some pretty fantastic urban scenery. I also serve Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Montana, and Colorado.
Sometimes you elope because your fiance is getting sent out on his THIRD deployment… then your families really want you to have a second wedding where they can participate, attend, and celebrate with you.
That’s just what happened to Amy + Michael over the course of the last couple years.
We started the day at the McMenamins Kennedy School on Portland’s East Side where the whole wedding party was staying for the weekend. It was hair and make-up for Amy and her sister (MOH), and beer while playing pool and cards against humanity for Michael and his guys. I was really excited to get to explore the Kennedy School, McMenamins properties always have something special happening and this one is no exception.
Amy + Michael didn’t want to see each other before their ceremony, even though they were technically already married and she wore her dress to their elopement, to help make the this wedding extra special. My second and I scouted a really cool location in the one the bars where they could both be in a photo without being able to see each other. Score! We moved everyone over to Bridgeport Brewery in the Pearl District for the ceremony, reception, and formal portraits.
Rather than attempt to flip a room while everyone is trying to enjoy cocktail hour – inside the same room – Amy + Michael opt’ed to have everyone already seated at the dinner tables for the ceremony. *Smart!* The same officiant that married them for their elopement was available to marry them again for their second ceremony. Awww.
It was a beautiful night of love, laughter, beer, and dancing. Congratulations to Amy + Michael!!!
I know that a lot of folks have seen this particular photo on my social media, but it’s too good to not share again. I broke my ankle in early October and was still stuck in my walking boot for Amy + Michael’s wedding. My lovely second shooter grabbed this shot while I was working on finishing up family portraits. #photoglife
Amanda Photographic is available throughout the Pacific Northwest and American Southwest for weddings big and small. I would be happy to discuss details with your via coffee or Skype and hear all about your wedding day vision. …tell me your love story. Contact me today!