Wedding planning can be an overwhelming feat but my goal as a wedding photographer is to make the experience of wedding photo/video as stress free and fun as possible.
A wedding guide for PNW couples who want to prioritize the candids, the fun, and the authentic
It's natural to have a lot of questions and not know where to start when it comes to planning out your wedding day. Then when you add the wedding photos on top of that - well, it can feel like a lot to say the least.
That's why I put together this quick and dirty wedding guide for couples getting married in the Pacific Northwest in 2024 and 2025. This is for the couples who want to prioritize candid wedding photos, authenticity over tradition, and staying present on their wedding day.
What can you expect from this guide?
10 suggestions for a fun, intimate, and magical wedding day. This covers advice on everything from the weather to the timeline to the photos themselves.
My wedding photography style and background. Let's be honest, my photo style and strategy isn't for everyone. Some couples want a highly structured, posed and scripted event. That's why transparency is key when picking a wedding photographer, and the more you know about me and my documentary and candid wedding photo style, the better idea you'll have if we're the right fit.
Wedding photo packages and rates. Budget is an essential part of the decision making process and I'm always happy to work with clients to craft the perfect wedding photo package you love. But I also offer 3 standard wedding photo packages for varying budgets, timing, and deliverables.
Optional add-ons and extras. The polaroids are 100% worth it IMO if that's something your wedding photographer offers.
Booking info. Ready to take the next step? Download the guide for all the deets
Ready to dive even deeper into your magical PNW wedding day planning?
Let's break down the major decisions that go into planning your wedding day - from budget to venue to season to unique ideas to make your day extra special.
Let's kick off with one of the most important elements of wedding planning: budget.
Regardless of your budget, the first thing you'll need to determine is actually priority. In other words, where do you want to put the majority of your budget when it comes to push and shove?
I would recommend starting out by naming 1-3 top priorities for your wedding day and allotting about 80% of your total budget toward those top items. Naturally certain things will be more expensive than others (venue, photo/video, and flowers can all wrack up a big bill to name a few) - but identifying the top priorities will help you figure out if you want to swing for the bigger venue of your dreams and scale back on florals or go with a backyard wedding but ball out on the decor.
Wedding photography pricing in the PNW can range from $2-$4k on the lower end, $5k-$9k in the mid range and $10k+ for luxury events.
If you decide professional wedding photography is on your list of priorities, you'll want to figure out where you fall in the $2k-$10k+ range and start your search accordingly. You don't want to fall in love with a photographer who's way out of your budget - trust me I've seen many a newlywed heartache over this. Don't waste your time. Know your budget.
Wedding photographers will almost always have payment plans that allow you to space out the investment. My policy is to require $1k up front to secure the day and the rest of payment is due upon completion of the deliverables. This gives couples a lot of time to pay the full amount between the time of booking and several weeks after the wedding date. Be up front about your budget and ask about payment plans with your potential photographers.
Once you have your budget set you'll start to have a better idea what time of year is best to get married in the PNW. I think it's important to determine budget first because many venues will be booked out or more expensive during certain times of the year. Or if you're planning your own backyard wedding you'll probably want to wait for the drier months unless you have a solid indoor options as well. If you're planning a Portland waterfall elopement or coast celebration, you'll want to look into the dates that are open to the public and when it's most crowded.
The truth is there's no really bad time to get married in the PNW. Even in the rainy months, the lush green scenery of Oregon and Washington make for gorgeous atmospheric photos. But there are definite pros and cons to getting married during each season of the PNW:
Spring: Spring in the PNW brings blooming flowers, vibrant greenery, and mild temperatures. However, it can also be unpredictable, with occasional rain showers and fluctuating weather patterns. But if you're looking for colors and lush foliage, spring is where it's at - or should I say when it's at.
Summer: Summer is the most popular time for weddings in the PNW, thanks to long daylight hours, warm temperatures, and clear skies. It's the perfect season for outdoor celebrations, beachfront ceremonies, and mountaintop weddings. That can also make it the most competitive time to book venues and the more expensive months for lots of vendors. There's also the risk of heatwaves, especially in recent years, so look into shaded areas, fans, or air conditioning for summer months, just in case your wedding ends up being a 100 degree day.
Fall: Fall in the PNW is a photographer's dream, with crisp air, changing foliage, and stunning autumn colors. It's ideal for couples seeking a cozy and romantic atmosphere, whether amidst the golden hues of vineyards or the rustic charm of forest retreats. Fall is great in the PNW because the mild temps and gorgeous fall leaves can easily last into November. Not convinced? Peep this Wes Anderson inspired engagement shoot on film to convince you fall is the best season for a PNW photoshoot.
Winter: While winters in the PNW can be chilly and rainy, they also offer a unique and enchanting backdrop for weddings. Think snow-capped mountains, cozy indoor celebrations, and holiday-inspired décor. I love a winter wedding in the PNW because places are a lot less crowded and there's nothing that says romance like a rain-soaked make out moment.
Now you can start honing in on the perfect wedding venue. There are countless wedding venues in Portland and Seattle and the greater PNW but here are just a few of my favs:
PORTLAND WEDDING VENUES
Hoyt Arboretum Wedding: Perfect for couples looking for an intimate venue on a budget with a forest backdrop within the Portland city limits. Check, check, check, check! For well under $1000 you can have all-day access to a covered pavilion under the gorgeous Portland forest for up to 100 guests. There is a lottery you'll need to enter to reserve specific dates so plan ahead for this highly coveted budget location.
The Sentinel: Nestled in the heart of downtown Portland, The Sentinel is a historic hotel that exudes timeless elegance and sophistication. With its grand ballroom adorned with crystal chandeliers and ornate details, it offers a luxurious setting for couples seeking a touch of glamour on their wedding day. The hotel also features a stunning rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city skyline, perfect for outdoor ceremonies or cocktail receptions under the stars.
The Aerie at Eagle Landing: Perched atop a scenic hillside overlooking the Willamette Valley, The Aerie at Eagle Landing offers a picturesque setting for couples seeking a romantic and rustic wedding experience. With its lush greenery, tranquil ponds, and cascading waterfalls, this venue provides a serene backdrop for outdoor ceremonies and receptions. The Aerie's rustic-chic event spaces, including a charming barn and elegant ballroom, can accommodate weddings of all sizes, from intimate gatherings to grand affairs.
Amidst the excitement of your PNW wedding day, it's important to stay present and savor every moment:
Practice Mindfulness: Take moments throughout the day to pause, breathe, and fully immerse yourself in the experience.
Delegate Responsibilities: Trust your vendors, planners, and loved ones to handle logistics while you focus on being present with your partner.
Schedule Intimate Moments: Plan private moments together to reflect, connect, and soak in the significance of the day.
By staying mindful and present, you'll create lasting memories that go beyond the photographs.
Picture-Perfect Memories: Working with Your Wedding Photographer
Collaborating effectively with your wedding photographer is key to capturing picture-perfect memories. Open communication and collaboration will ensure a seamless and stress-free photography experience on your wedding day.
Communicate Your Vision: Clearly communicate your vision, preferences, and expectations with your photographer from the outset.
Trust Their Expertise: Trust your photographer's creative direction and expertise in capturing candid moments and emotions.
Collaborate on Shot Lists: Work together to create a shot list that includes must-have photos and special moments you want to capture.
Crafting Your Photography Package: A Guide to Coverage and Must-Have Shots
By customizing your photography package to suit your needs and preferences, you'll ensure that every moment of your PNW wedding is beautifully documented. When crafting your photography package, consider the following factors:
Coverage Hours: Determine the ideal number of hours of photo coverage based on your timeline and the key moments you want to capture.
Additional Services: Explore options for engagement sessions, albums, prints, and other add-ons to enhance your photography package. Some PNW photographers will also offer engagement photography packages on film and digital as part of their wedding bundles.
Must-Have Shots: Discuss with your photographer the must-have photos that are important to you, whether it's candid moments, family portraits, or detail shots.
I'm a candid and documentary-style wedding photographer based in Portland, OR. I love capturing non-traditional wedding ceremonies and creating wedding photos that tell a story. My background is in photojournalism and I take that experience documenting events into every wedding I shoot.