Romantic Styled Elopement at Smith Rock

Every photographer has a place that they dream of working at someday.

Maybe it’s a fancy hotel or resort, maybe it’s a foreign country (Thailand, Morocco, Italy please), or a place with sentimental meaning. For me that place was close to home, and even closer when we made the move over the mountains to Bend – Smith Rock State Park.

I had never been to this Oregon gem until we moved to Central Oregon. Now I can’t seem to stop showing up and suggesting it to clients. The landscape is dramatic and beautiful. A rock climbers paradise, it’s also perfect hikers, bird watching, sunsets, and of course photography. When I decided to do a series of micro styled shoots during the off season I wanted to be there while there was still a little snow to give the rock formations some additional definition and deter the hundreds of people that visit the park on any given day.  The snow came, and came, and came, and then it wasn’t funny anymore because it just wouldn’t stop. Shoots were pushed back so that models could safely travel and vendors could get supplies delivered. For this shoot we ended up losing the snow, but don’t worry it was plenty cold by the end of the day when the wind started to pick up with cold air from the mountains.

Melinda and Brandon are a beautiful couple that were perfect for any styled shoot… mostly because they’re crazy stupid in love with each other. We put Melinda in a two-piece dress with a large skirt to start and changed into a long formal gown with illusion cutouts for a less bridal look at the end. Brandon rocked a rich jewel toned outfit with a funfetti shirt and a pair of hiking boots… duh Smith Rock. We worked and laughed and worked until we were all too cold and hungry to continue.

Now I have to find another dream location. I’m open to suggestions…

Photography // Amanda Photographic

Floral Crown // Summer Robbins Flowers

Dresses // Bella Brides

Menswear // Revolvr

HMUA // Desert Rose Bridal Styling

Tiffany + Josh | Music Infused Wedding at the Holocene

Hip Portland Oregon Bride and Groom Walking Down the Sidewalk Together

OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!! This wedding we so amazing and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!!!

First let me say that it was a privilege to be included in their wedding planning and celebration. I’ve known Josh since high school and we have several mutual friends, most of whom worked at his Dad’s burger joint Paul’s Place (BEST EVER!!!). I used to be more excited/flattered when people I had no connection to wanted me to photograph their wedding, but now I’m equally excited when a friend asks because they enjoy my work, appreciate my value, and in this case wanted to keep the vendor list as personal as possible. As I grow in my profession and friends scatter over the country it is a rare and special day when we can all come together to celebrate and support one of our own in a new and beautiful chapter.

Josh and Tiffany met through their mutual love of The Beatles and vegan food. Their first date was at a neighborhood pub, The Triple Nickel, which boasts 38 beers on tap, giant jenga, and a jukebox… how could it be anything but true love?!?! Fast forward a couple years and Josh found the perfect ring – a simple  silver band with a wrapped infinity symbol – and proposed shortly before they went to see Paul McCartney in concert. “Of course she said yes, and of course the show was amazing. One of the best days of my life!” said Josh. Later while they were adventuring in Mexico City they found a hammered brass band for Josh and appropriately haggled on the price. Lol!

We started the day at Tiffany and Josh’s house in SE Portland they way they start most mornings; with coffee, planning, and snuggling their two kitties. After waaay too much coffee Tiffany and her Mom went to a nearby salon, while Josh packed up a couple cars with wedding stuff and headed to the Holocene to start setting up. It was all hands on deck the first half of the day with friends and family eagerly contributing. Naturally their wedding was heavily focused on music and overall guest comfort. The officiant, Adam, was a long time friend/former roommate was the first of Josh’s friends to get to know Tiffany. Being a witness to the fullness of their relationship allowed Adam to deliver a deeply personal ceremony. Between Adam’s carefully chosen words, a reading by Josh’s Uncle, and a handful of exceptional toasts everybody was in tears at some point during the evening. After an… enthusiastic kiss Tiffany and Josh retreated to his ready-room to sign paperwork and take a few minutes to really take in everything that just happened. Tasty vegan tacos, cupcakes, and dancing were easily the highlights of the reception!

Let’s see what Tiffany and Josh thought of their day…

Q1: What was your favorite part of the day?

Josh: The first look was pretty great. Tiffany looked amazing, and with the experience being more private, the memory is probably better preserved in my mind than it would have been in the intense blur of the ceremony.  It’s impossible to pick just one favorite part of such a fantastic day—so honorable mention goes to the music we compiled (partly from soliciting guest suggestions), bringing so many friends and family together, and especially seeing Tiffany feeling so happy and beautiful and having the best day of her life.

Tiffany: The day was just amazing, so deciding on one favorite is very difficult for someone who has problems making decisions.  I would have to agree with Josh and pick the first look.  It was a very emotional moment for me and having that be private is something I’d highly recommend.  Plus Josh looked smoking in his three piece suit.  In addition to the first look, I’d add the love that we felt throughout every moment in the day.  Having so many friends and family take time out of their lives to celebrate us was something that still fills my heart with joy.

 

Q2: What are you most looking forward to in married life?

Tiffany: I’m looking forward to Josh being my date for life.  I love thinking about the local and the foreign dates that we will get to go on together.  He is usually up for any of the bizarre things that I ask him to do – walk seven miles for a meal, go see some weird time based art, act goofy, or try an absurd food combination.  He also doesn’t tease me too much when I back out of something that scares me.  I love him for those things. I also look forward to the new vegan foods that we will try all over the world.  I can’t wait to eat weird fruit!!!

Josh: Traveling together! We’ve already had adventures in Canada and Mexico, and the goal is to shoot for one big trip per year. Tiffany is a great traveling companion, we complement each other well as a team, and we both love long exhausting days exploring cities on foot. I got a big wall map with pins for her last birthday, and I look forward to filling it with pins and memories!

 

Q3: What advice do you have for others?

Josh: Get friends involved to play roles in the wedding or help with prep! It’s a great way to spend quality hangout time with people you don’t get to see much, offset some of the stress, and fill the event with love. We had close friends acting as officiant, M.C., design consultant, and even photographer 🙂 The fact that most of my friends have known Amanda for years helped make a lot of guests comfortable with the camera. Of course, you should hire her too because she’s incredible at this, but even better, make friends with her and then hire her! (I second this!)

Tiffany: I second Josh’s advice to include friends and family in your day.  It helped to add to the love and community that we felt and that others felt too.  I will never be able to thank those involved enough – this includes Amanda!!! (Awwww thanks guys!) Also, it was really important for us to keep the wedding budget reasonable.  We were able to do that by picking the three things that were the most important to us – venue, food/drink, and photography – and spending our money there.  In all other areas, we made financial cuts or did the work ourselves.  It really made the day special and is allowing us to take the honeymoon of our dreams – Bali.

VENUE + BAR // Holocene
PHOTOGRAPHY // Amanda Photographic
CATERING // Mi Mero Mole
DESSERTS // Back to Eden
BUD VASES // Elaine’s Peony Gardens
DRESS // BHLDN
SUIT // Kenneth Cole
INVITATIONS // Paperless Post
OFFICIANT // Adam Lisser

HMUA // Gamine Studio

Snowy Winter Styled Bridal Shoot

It was so cold. Like so cold it took me until June to thaw out enough to blog about this shoot.

But seriously this shoot was an undertaking that required all of our skills, ideas, and fast thinking. Cars got stuck in the snow, flowers were frozen, and there was a frost bite scare after I worked for hours without being able to feel my feet. In the end it was all worth the discomfort. …hot toddies helped.

Thank you to Robin Schneider of Desert Rose Bridal Styling for her vision and coordination of this shoot.

Photography // Amanda Photographic

HMUA // Desert Rose Bridal Styling

Rentals // Peanut’s Gallery

Dessert // Dreamin Desserts

Venue // Healing Reins Therapeutic Riding Center

Floral // Hart Floral

Dress // Helen Manuell Bridal Couture

Jewelry // Citrine Bling

Model // Rachel Schneider

Hannah + Nathan | Rainy Engagement at Forest Park

This has been one of the wettest years on record for the Pacific Northwest. Yep, it’s been soggy out there.

But that never stops an Oregonian couple from getting out there for a set of romantic adventure portraits… we’re a hearty bunch.

Hannah + Nathan have known each other since they were little and in the the Heart of the Valley Children’s Choir together. They also attended the same high school, but didn’t start dating until Nathan returned from a study abroad year in Europe. It was immediately a long distance relationship as Hannah headed off to college at Western Washington in Bellingham. Upon graduation Hannah returned to Corvallis, and even though it was still long distance the distance was shorter. Let’s hear about the proposal…

On a weekend when I came up to Portland, Nathan suggested we go out to lunch at Pine State Biscuits. So delicious! Afterward, we went to Forest Park for a short hike. We go on hikes all the time, so I had no idea we was about to propose! When we got back to the clearing where we started, we sat on a picnic bench to talk for a bit. We were reminiscing about our relationship when he pulled out a ring box and got down on one knee!!! I said yes, of course. That evening, he took me to a fancy dinner fundraiser for his choir, so it was a really fun and special day.

We decided to use their engagement location – Forest Park – for their portraits because it reflects their interests of hiking and being outdoors. It was soggy and getting colder by the minute, but that just prompts more hugging and snuggling so that works for me. They were absolute troopers and even ventured out onto a mossy fallen log! I’m so excited to photograph their wedding this summer in Portland and wish them a very musical future. 🙂

Darlene & Joel | Elopement at Silver Falls State Park

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.

Joel: Do what’s right for you. Don’t live your life for others.

Nicole + Michael | Intimate Spring Wedding at Wayne Morris Ranch

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!!!

Ally + Patrick | Winter Wedding at Green Villa Barn


Tiffany blue and silver sequins covered the floor under the bare edison bulbs at Green Villa Barn just outside Independence, Oregon.

There aren’t many indoor venues outside Portland for winter weddings, but Ally + Patrick created an elegant space for their friends and family to celebrate their union. The weather was off and on all day with wind, dark clouds, sunshine, and rain… you really never know what you’re going to get at the end of February in the valley.

Ally’s bridal room was in full hustle-mode with all five bridesmaids doing hair and makeup at once. Mimosas were plentiful as was laughter and tears, smiles and hugs. The girls were all sporting leopard print robes with their hair in curlers when they gave Ally their gift to her: A book full of cards, photos, notes, memories, and love. Ally held it together remarkably well until she got to a photo of her Grandma and the tears wouldn’t stop for a solid five minutes. That’s what happens when you have two bestie MOHs! The guys arrived later and immediately took advantage of the foosball table upstairs before getting ready. In typical groom style Patrick and his groomsmen were casual, low-maintenance, and obviously hiding their giddy excitement for upcoming festivities.

Every wedding has elements that are specific and unique to the couple; Patrick’s boutonniere carried a charm necklace with photos of his mother’s parents, while Ally’s bouquet had a necklace with both a chicken and hummingbird charm tied around the stems.  The opportunity to include a piece of your family and wear it on you is such a special practice that brings even deeper meaning to a day already full of joy.

 

Q1: What was your favorite part of the day?

Ally: My favorite part of the day was seeing everyone dressed all snazzy and supporting us. Also marrying my best friend, of course.

Patrick: My favorite part of the day was dancing in front of my friends and family with my wife.

 

Q2: What are you most looking forward to in married life?

Ally: I’m looking forward to lots of adventures.

Patrick: Setting and achieving goals together. Starting a family together.

 

Q3: What advice do you have for others?

Ally: My advice for wedding planning is don’t sweat the little stuff and enjoy the process!

Patrick: Support the bride because lots of pressure and things going on that week of.

 

 

Mo + Stacey | Snowy Adventure Engagement Session

When you meet a couple as adventurous as Stacey + Mo you obviously have to go on a snowy adventure engagement session with their pup Georgia.

We headed out to Edison Snow Park near Mt. Bachelor after more than two months of serious snow fall. Even though most folks in the Central Oregon were over the snow by the new year, we were ready for more fun, post-holing, and snowball fights. We even found an igloo!!! The sun was shining, but you could see the snow clouds that encased Mt Bachelor and occasionally sent a flurry of snow our way. Georgia was having lots of fun running around and having snowballs thrown for her, but she couldn’t understand why we would stop for several minutes at a time for some lovey dovey photos. “Come on guys! There’s more snow up the trail!!!”

Before heading back for lunch we warmed up on the gate of the truck with some hot tea. …woulda been the 40oz of hot chocolate that I brought, but Mo + Stacey were on a no sugar cleanse. Which sounds like the saddest type of cleanse on the planet, but hey whatever you need to do to feel tip-top is good by me.

I can’t wait for their wedding this July on the McKenzie River …with silent disco. Yes, this is happening.

Jessica + Aaron | Snowy Elopement at Fort Rock

Snowy Winter Elopement at Fort Rock Central Oregon

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

Andrea + David | Winter Wedding Par-tay at Flinn Block Hall

Andrea + David (Ox) have the kind of love story that you read about in fairy tales.

They met in college while studying abroad in Berlin. David is from Boston and was attending college in Maine; while Andrea is from Oregon and was attending college in Los Angeles. …talk about the stars aligning. Upon returning to the states they each finished their programs while dating long distance. After graduation they both moved to the Bay Area before heading east for NYC – can you image planning a wedding in Oregon when you live in New York?!?! David proposed on a Friday at the park near their apartment before embarking on a dinner and city strolling filled evening.

When you’re planning a wedding 3,000 miles away from where you live it’s important to work closely with those that live near your wedding location. Andrea’s mom assembled a family work party to get Flinn Block Hall ready the day before and morning of the wedding. I was amazed at how seamlessly everything came together and impressed by how elegant and pacific northwest inspired everything looked. The decorative sprigs on each napkin were my favorite – bay leaf and rosemary. Everything had purpose and meaning like the table filled with portraits of couples from both of their families. The day was sunny, but cold… like 15 degrees kind of cold. Despite the occasional freezing gust of wind Andrea, David, and their wedding party were troopers enough to agree to outdoor photography. Hey, at least the ground was frozen solid and not muddy…

As is my new-ish habit I asked Andrea + David for their perspectives on their wedding day with a few questions:

What was your favorite part of your wedding day?

David: My favorite part of the wedding day was seeing Andrea come down the aisle with her parents.  When everybody stood up and turned to look at her, it was a really special moment and one that I’m glad to take with me.

Andrea: Of course it’s so hard to break down such an intense and emotional and beautiful day and say what my favorite parts were. I think my top three moments, where I felt the most overwhelming love and emotion, were: 1) The first look! It was SO exciting and joyful to finally reconnect with David again after a morning apart, and to see how amazing he looked in his suit 😉 2) Walking into the ceremony with my parents. The moment we walked into the room, I knew it was going to be such an emotionally intense experience, and it just got more so the closer we got to all our friends and family. Seeing the love on everyone’s faces as we walked down the aisle, and being supported on either side by my wonderful parents was overwhelmingly beautiful. 3) The toasts! Each of them was so heartfelt, and being able to sit next to my new husband while we laughed and cried (happy tears) together was pure joy.

What are you most looking forward to in married life?

David: I’m most excited to have a partner in crime that I can always to to lean on, and celebrate the ups and downs for life with.  Sounds corny but it’s true.  Also, in the more near-term, we’re going to take our first world voyage together to Europe — to England to see my relatives who couldn’t make it to Oregon, Berlin because that’s where we met, and Paris (because we’re married and it’s romantic, duh).

Andrea: I am looking forward to continuing to make a beautiful life, home, and partnership together. I am so excited for the tangible and intangible ways that our love and relationship will deepen and expand now that we have made this formal, public commitment to one another. I look forward to continuing to learn about David, about myself, and about love through our years together, and to be able to share those years with our family and friends.

What advice to do you have for others?

David: My advice for others on their wedding day: let go of the stress!  There’s so much that goes into planning your wedding day and you always want to be perfect.  But letting go of the stress of having *everything* happening really lets you enjoy your big day.  It’s amazing to realize the room is full of people that are rooting for you and are so happy to be there, so just open up and enjoy the day as it comes.

Andrea: Enjoy the wedding planning process! The wedding day is beautiful and joyful, but it is only one day, and it goes by quickly. So be intentional and present in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the wedding, as those are very much a part of the event as well. Be grateful for the opportunity to take on such a fun and fulfilling project with your dearest loved ones (fiancé, parents, in-laws, grandparents, friends, etc.), and cherish the quality time that it brings to you. Yes, there are stressful moments, but if you keep the big picture in mind, I think it can be such a rewarding experience, and one to look back on fondly.

Aren’t these two seriously the most adorable flower girls ever?!?! Flower Grandmas for the win!

 

#1 Grandson!!

 

Bridesmaid, Amy, saw one of her idols at the wedding Harley Jane Kozak (Andrea’s aunt) and made sure to have me on standby when she went up to say hello.

 

Venue // Flinn Block Hall   Decor // MoB – DIY   Catering // Valley Catering   Cake // Andrea – THE BRIDE!   Dress // BHLDN   Bridesmaid’s Shalls // Downtown Austin   Suit // Suit Supply   Groom + Groomsmen’s Ties // Hobo Ties   Rings // Brilliant Earth & Blue Nile   Flowers // Market of Choice   Invitations // Etsy   Programs // Ari Vance-Borland