It’s been a long while since I did any Tips for Clients posts and I’ve missed them. Have you? I thought I’d tackle a big one this time – things your photographer wants you to know, and maybe has even told you, but seem to be hard for non-photographers to get. I’m focusing mostly on weddings here, but a lot of this applies to my Spokane portrait photography clients too, so even if you’re not engaged or planning a wedding – read this!!
1. We want you to print your photos
Ya’ll. Digital is amazing, but I can’t tell you how much it breaks my heart to hear people say that they got married a year or five or ten years ago and they don’t have any prints. Digital photography has been an amazing accomplishment, and I love that it gives me the ability to affordably shoot so many more images for my clients, and to send them flying around the world via the internet. But at the same time, it’s not fun to pass down digital files, and in this age of Marie Konda and KonMari-ing everything, one thing we seem to neglect is our digital clutter. So, please, print your photos. Choose five or ten and stick them up on your fridge. Find an awesome frame or three and take a few into work. Pick out that one WHOA shot that we got of you two heading off into newlywed bliss and blow it up and stick it up on your wall. Design an album. I don’t care if you got married last year or two decades ago. You want an album? Let’s design that. I can even do the design work and you can order it from one of the consumer labs I recommend if a heirloom album isn’t in your budget. But please, find a way to make it fit your budget. They’re so good.
2. And to back them up so they don’t get lost
Each year, I get an email or two from past clients that sound something like this:
I know it’s been a while since my wedding, I hope you’re doing well. Uh…we (moved/cleaned/reorganized/decided to finally print a photo/our computer died) and we can’t find our photos! I’m sobbing right now and I really hope that you have our gallery somewhere because I’m heartbroken.
Ya’ll. Do not be this client. And if you are, pray that your photographer is as obsessive as I am about back ups and has copies of your photos archived where they are accessible. Because this goes hand in hand with the first thing we want you to know. If you’ve got some prints or an album, you’ve got something left if your photographer for some reason doesn’t have your digital files still. And most of us have in our contracts that we’re not obligated to keep our archives. Most of us are also absolutely neurotic about making sure your photos get to you safely, so we’ve got you covered. But seriously. If you have a digital download of your gallery, download the images to your harddrive and also back them up online. I like Dropbox and Google Drive personally, but a lot of people love Amazon’s storage options too. If you have a USB drive or CD – download them to you computer and do the same thing. And then order some prints. :)
3. Most importantly, we want you to love yourself and get photos taken
Nothing breaks my heart more than showing up on a wedding day to a fretful bride or groom who pulls me aside and tells me how they don’t like a part of their body, how they tried losing weight but they didn’t hit their goal before the wedding, or how they really don’t love the way they look in photos, so ‘I’m sorry if I hate all of them, it’s not your fault.’
This is so much deeper than just getting your photos taken, but let me tell you this. As a photographer, I do my best to show you how beautiful you are. Especially on your wedding day (or right after having a baby), it can be hard. Emotions are high, you’re worried about how you look, and you have worked so hard for this day. But please, even if you’re terrible at backing up your photos or printing them out, please please please, listen to this. Love yourself. Get the photos taken. Enjoy your laughter, your tears, and your moments. They don’t happen again. They can’t be re-lived. And the photos will be so precious to you and your family years and years from now. And while you may have shown up on your wedding day worried about your flabby arms or the nose you’ve never loved, twenty or thirty years from your wedding day, you’re going to smile softly and think Dang. I was a total babe. Why didn’t I appreciate it more?
So please, love yourself. Enjoy the process of being photographed, and know that I deliver only images that show real emotion, real love, and real beauty. So if you’re looking at a photo I delivered and you think to yourself, but Emily! I can see my double chin. I want you to also look at the love shining in your eyes, and the joy radiating from your entire being on the day your marriage began.
And! If you’ve been recently married, please remember to get photos of the two of you and then any other family members who join you in life. Especially if it’s been ten or twenty years since you got married. Celebrate those year. Celebrate the life you’re living. Someday, you’ll want those memories to look back on.
That’s it, friends. Those are the things I want you to know more than anything. There’s a lot of other things I meant to say, but somehow, when it came down to it, the three things I really want you to know are to embrace the moments, back up your photos, and print them out so you can enjoy them.
When you’re planning a wedding in a more rural area – basically any area that isn’t a major city center – it’s hard to find information on venues and vendors online. You’ll find listings for vendors in major cities – I’m looking at you Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia – on national websites, but it’s hard to find them for areas like Spokane, much less the Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, Yakima, or the Methow Valley and Winthrop.
So, here are a few of my favorite venues in Eastern Washington that I’ve worked at before. I’m also including a list of places I haven’t worked, but – hint, hint! – I would love to be your wedding photographer there. Contact me to find out if I’m available for your wedding date. I know that planning a wedding in a smaller town can be hard (we did it back in 2011!), so I’m always happy to pass along recommendations for other vendors I love.
Cave B Inn & Winery
I feel like I could write a love letter to Cave B Inn, and it would never say all the things I want to say about this gorgeous venue. Not only is the view out of this world, but the food is amazing and the staff are wonderful at taking care of their couples. When I photographed Jen & Chris’s wedding there last July, they were happy to share tips on little spots for photos that we may not have known about – since I’d never been there. Even though part of the Cave B was closed off during Leslie & Drew’s destination elopement (because of this little group called the Dave Mathews Band playing at the Gorge), they let us know where we could go and were so happy for us all. Someday, I’m going to go there for a night off and eat at the gorgeous restaurant and stay in one of the yurts! It’s an easy drive from Seattle or Spokane, and since there are plenty of accommodations on site, you don’t have to worry about where your guests will stay after the wedding.
Mazama Ranch House
The first time I drove up to Mazama, I fell in love. And each time that I have a wedding in the Methow Valley, I fall a little more in love with this beautiful slice of our state. Some day, I may just decide to stay and never leave! The Mazama Ranch House has a beautiful barn and – like Cave B Inn – rooms on site. These kind of locations are perfect for smaller, destination weddings. You could get married here in the snow, but I’ve only photographed Mazama weddings in the summer and fall. The Mazama Ranch house has the most wonderful red barn I’ve ever seen, and getting married here is just like getting married at a cabin in the woods. Someone, please book me for a winter wedding up here!!
Spring Creek Ranch
My other favorite Methow Valley venue is in the larger town of Winthrop (Mazama is a hamlet, or maybe a village). Spring Creek Ranch has a beautiful old home, a gorgeous location with views of town, and while it feels secluded, it’s right at the end of Winthrop. Less than 5 minutes from the downtown area and you can walk there over a stunning foot bridge. Unlike the more cabin-like feel of the Mazama Ranch House, Spring Creek Ranch is more like getting married at your grandma’s beautiful old house, surrounded by the most stunning scenery. The Methow Valley is a small community, but don’t think that because it’s small, they can’t throw an epic wedding. They can – and do – host multiple weddings in the Methow Valley each weekend. The vendor who work in the Methow are amazing, and they love showing off their part of the world.
Fontaine Estates Winery
Oh, Fontaine Estates. This sweet little winery is tucked away in Yakima, and while their website isn’t very great right now, their Facebook page is updated often. Or you could check out one of the adorable weddings I photographed at Fontaine Estates. I love that this space is so flexible. You can have a country wedding or a simple and classic teacher inspired wedding (complete with lunch trays) in the same space. It’s a perfect blank slate, but in a way that doesn’t take too much work to make it look stunning. Does that make sense?
Other venues in Eastern Washington
If none of these venues feel like the place you want to get married, maybe one of these other venues will be the place for you and your fiance. [listed alphabetically]
Foundry Vineyards (I was here for a private dinner, and it is STUNNING)
Marcus Whitman Hotel
The Methow Valley
Mazama Country Inn (I haven’t photographed a wedding here, but I’ve stayed here twice, and I really like it)
Sun Mountain Lodge
The Tri-Cities & Benton City
Belle Fiore Gardens
J. Bookwalter Winery
The Capitol Theater
River Ridge Golf Course
Yakima Valley Museum
Chelan, Leavenworth, & Roslyn
Sleeping Lady Resort
When I first started making this list, I have to admit, I struggled a bit. I’ve photographed more than a few weddings in North Idaho, but many of them have been at private residences – homes that belong to the bride or groom, a family member, or something found through a vacation rental site. Here are my favorite North Idaho venues that I’ve shot at, and a list at the bottom of a few places I haven’t shot at, but would be great places to consider!
For everything from a lakeside elopement to a backyard bash for 100 guests, private residences in North Idaho – including Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint – are easy to find and great places to get married. It gives you the cozy feeling of an at home wedding without the stress of maintaining your own gardens. While finding a place may be difficult – and you’ll want to clear hosting a party with the owners before you book – it can be the perfect venue for a smaller wedding. Plus, you get all the joy of having a lake cabin for a few days! I do usually recommend hiring a planner for a backyard wedding, especially if you’re having more than a handful of guests! There are a lot of moving parts involved, and you don’t want to be the one they call when the toilet backs up. I might be gushing a bit, but private residence weddings are some of my favorite. I’m biased, because we had our own wedding at a private residence!
Hayden Lake Country Club
Up until we did our winter inspired styled shoot there last fall, I didn’t know much about the Hayden Lake Country Club. I’d seen a few photos of it, but I hadn’t heard much about them. About 3 seconds after I arrived, I was completely in love. Not only is view of Hayden Lake stunning, the grounds and the club are beautiful too. Have a small intimate wedding on the deck and use the indoor space with the fireplace for a shoulder season or winter wedding. Seriously, the fireplace is so dang dreamy, imagine a winter wedding with a ceremony in front of it! Or maybe you’d prefer a large, outdoor wedding with a tent on the lawn? They do that too. The views of Hayden Lake are beautiful, and the staff are wonderful. They were so kind and helpful with our shoot — even having us stop to feed us a fantastic lunch.
Red Lion: Templins Post Falls
I’d like to think that the Red Lion in Post Falls is one of the best kept lake and riverside secrets in weddings. They’ve got a beach right on the Spokane River, a lovely hotel, and affordable prices. The don’t do many weddings, but if you’re on a tighter budget and dreaming of a lakeside or beach wedding, this would be the perfect venue! There is a beautiful, shaded, space next to the beach where you can have a wonderful reception, and if you want – rent a few stand up paddle boards and paddle off into the sunset. Not only that, you’re getting all the benefits of having a wedding at a hotel – catering in house, and places to sleep on site – with the bonus of having a gorgeous lake (errr, riverfront) wedding just steps away. Worried about other guests and boaters showing up? Don’t! They close the beach for private events.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been out to Rider Ranch, but it’s a great little-known wedding venue just east of Coeur d’Alene. It’s one of the most stunning venues I’ve been to in North Idaho, and even though it’s not on a lake – shocking, given how many we have in North Idaho – it’s a beautiful space. You’ll get this great, blank slate of a venue, with the most beautiful scenery, and you’re only a few minutes from downtown Coeur d’Alene! As much as I love all of our lakes and rivers, I personally am just as much in love with the mountains. This beautiful working ranch is the place to go if you want a little bit of a country feel without having a big, red, barn.
As I’ve said a dozen times before, I haven’t shot at every venue around. Here are a few other great venues in North Idaho. If you’re considering one of these locations, and looking for a photographer, I’d love to hear from you!
— The Blackwell Hotel
— Coeur d’Alene Casino & Resort
— Elkins Resort
— Schweitzer Mountain Resort
— Talus Rock
— The White House
Not set on North Idaho? Check out my downtown Spokane venue list and greater Spokane area venue list too.
A few weeks ago, I shared a list of my favorite downtown Spokane wedding venues, which ranged from big ballrooms to intimate parks. Today, I wanted to share my favorite greater Spokane area venues. I started out with some Washington and some Idaho venues, but my list got too long, so I’ll be back with a North Idaho post and an Eastern Washington post, because you can’t make me choose just a few!
First up, my favorite venue on Greenbluff. There are plenty of venues on Greenbluff, and so many of them are wonderful. But I really love Cannons Edge. Besides the stunning view from the ceremony location, and the absolutely lovely venue owner, the fact that there are dozens of sweet little spots for photos, I love that it’s a beautifully natural venue, like the kind of garden you dream of having. I love it so much, I’d move in if they would let me — I even volunteered to water the plants! Alas, I’ll have to settle for photographing weddings here.
It wouldn’t be a Spokane area venue post without a winery, so let me just say that I love Arbor Crest for many of the same reasons that I love Cannons Edge. It’s close to downtown, but feels miles away, and it’s got so many little spots to take photos, so you’ll never have to worry about having the same images as every other couple who got married there. The staff at Arbor Crest take wonderful care of their couples, and they partner with some great caterers to make sure your day runs smoothly!
I don’t know where to start when I talk about Commellini. The staff there will take fabulous care of you and your guests, their chefs will cook you a meal that you’ll dream about for years to come (ask Laura & John for confirmation on that), and your guests will talk about what a beautiful place you picked for your wedding. My only complaint about Commellini is that they are up north, and I live on the South Hill! Oh, and that they don’t cook for me every night. But that’s probably a good thing.
By far and away, the furthest from Spokane in this list, it’s still worth the drive up to this Deer Park wedding venue. In fact, I like to consider this venue one of the hidden gems of Spokane venues. It’s a beautiful, large venue, and not many people seem to know about it! A beautiful outdoor space, and a wonderful covered reception space – great for those hot days when your guests need shade – this venue will take your breath away. There are plenty of little spaces to explore, turtles to befriend in the pond, and Raina will help your day run so smoothly.
Other Greater Spokane Area Venues I Love:
I haven’t had a chance to shoot at every Spokane area venue (haha!), so I wanted to toss out some more places that might be a good fit (hey, hire me to photograph your wedding at them, okay?) for you.
— Belles on the Bluff
— Beacon Hill Events & Catering
— Lavender Manor
— Zephyr Lodge
Last week, I talked about my fall mini sessions. I know a few people from my mailing list said they want to do photos, but are so overwhelmed with what to wear. I completely understand! We had our family photos done in July, and I was so overwhelmed by what to wear – and I’m the expert. I realized, I could talk about outfits for hours, but I wanted to give you a quick and basic breakdown. My goal is to make this easier – not harder – for you. At the end of the post, I’ll share one of our family photos!!
1. DO NOT leave your outfits until the last minute. You’ll want plenty of time to shop (in stores or in your closet) and make sure that you’re not doing laundry at 11pm the night before your 8am session (like I did), because the outfit you want your husband to wear is dirty (because you didn’t tell him not to wear it that week). Give yourself plenty of time to plan, so it doesn’t stress you out. Because stress isn’t what you want to be wearing to your photo session.
2. Start with your own outfit. I’ll be honest, I find it the hardest to dress myself. It’s easy for me to pick out clothes for my husband and babe, but when I look at my own closet, I turn into a blubbering idiot, crying in the corner. So, start with your own outfit, and build everything else around that. For us, I knew I wanted photos of me wearing my babe, so I started out by laying out the the ring sling I was considering, and picked a dress that went with it. My ring sling is a mix of greens, whites, and blues, so I went with a coral and white striped dress for me. Normally, I’d encourage you to add some accessories, but I’m not a big jewelry person (and little miss is at the pulling stage) so I kept it simple this time. Remember: You want to feel comfortable in what you’re wearing. The dress I chose for our session is one I’ve worn dozens of times. I’ve worn it to shoot weddings, and to climb mountains in Greece. I love it, I know I look amazing in it, and that made me feel good being in front of the camera.
3. Mix, match, and layer. Long gone are the days of everyone in blue jeans and white tees. While some photographers like you stick to neutrals, I prefer when my clients use pattern and color! Stick with a color palette – for us, that was blue, green, and coral – but mixed it up the colors and each of us wore more than one color. In the image up top, you’ll see that Alyssa & family wore maroon, grey, and white for their family photos last fall. She even rocked a little touch of sequin gold – which I loved – and they were all in rich colors with lots of texture. Right above this, you’ll see that Misha is wearing a red sweater, and Tony’s plaid shirt has a similar hue of red running through it at their winter engagement session.
4. Pay attention to when and where you’re doing family photos. If you’re doing family photos outside in the winter, you’re going to want bright, bold colors. They’re going to pop when everything else is kind of bleak. Spring makes me think of soft pastels, summer has rich and vibrant colors, and fall is all about those jewel tones. For us, we did our photos down by the river, and I knew the blues would look great with that, and that they would be more casual. Want to wear something glam? Talk to your photographer about a downtown location, not a field or a forest. For a newborn or at home lifestyle session? Wear more neutrals and let your surroundings – or kids – shine.
5. Wear something you love. I know I mentioned this above, but it needs to be repeated. Wear something you feel good in. Not just you, but everyone in the session. Because it’s hard to be nervous in your favorite shirt. If you don’t ever wear dresses or skirts, don’t pick your photo session to be the day you decide to wear them. You’ll feel awkward – not glamorous.
Lastly, if you’re not sure — just ask me! I love to help my couples and families find outfits that make them feel amazing. I want you to love your photos 100%, and that starts with loving how you look in the photos.
Family photos by April Egly Photography.
I’m going to confess that I took the easy* way out when we got married, and we decided to host our wedding at a family member’s house. It was lovely, and everything I’ve ever dreamed of, but after four years back in Eastern Washington (no, I can’t believe it), I wonder what it would have been like to get married at one of my favorite area venues. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of photographing weddings all over the Pacific Northwest. When I jotted down this list, I knew I’d have to split them up into multiple posts.
First up! My favorite Spokane wedding venues that are within 15 minutes of downtown.
The Davenport Hotels
Let’s get the most obvious location out of the way first. The Davenport Hotels are a Spokane classic, and even though I’ve only photographed weddings at the Historic Davenport, the newer Grand Hotel is stunning too. What I love about the Davenport is that it’s a beautiful blank slate, and it’s perfect if you’re planning your wedding from out of town, and they can handle any size wedding at almost any time of the day. Brunch wedding with a morning ceremony? No problem! Huge Bollywood style, Hindu-Christian wedding that doesn’t end for day? No problem! [For reference, the second photo is the Isabella Ballroom. It’s amazing what you can do with this space!] Not into getting married at the Historic Davenport Hotel or the Grand Hotel? Stay there with your wedding party! It is a wonderful place to get ready, and if the weather isn’t great, you’ve got a beautiful space to do your getting ready photos and first look.
On the complete other end of the spectrum, there is Manito Park. You’ll still need to find a reception space, sure, but for small weddings, nothing really beats getting married at one of Spokane’s parks. It’s perfect for small weddings, like Delta & Ricky’s Duncan Gardens not-quite-elopement wedding. One of the things I love most about a park wedding is that you’ll be able to come back whenever you want to your ceremony site. Imagine having a picnic at the spot where you got married on your anniversary? How fun!
This may be my new favorite Spokane wedding venue, especially after Misha & Tony’s beautiful Barrister Winery wedding last summer! What I love most about this space is that it’s got everything you want in a winery wedding venue, but it’s downtown! You’ve got a gorgeous outdoor space for the ceremony, and a perfect inside space for the reception (and the ceremony, if the weather is bad). The food – from Beacon Hill Events – is amazing, and the wine barrel room is a beautiful spot to take photos. Plus, it goes without saying that their wine is pretty amazing too. :) And, should that not be enough to sway you towards having your wedding at Barrister, there are tons of fun little photo spots nearby too.
Gonzaga University – St. Aloysius, the Hemmingson Center
I would be a terrible Gonzaga alum if I didn’t have Gonzaga University’s new Hemmingson Center, and the two beautiful chapels – St. Aloysius, and the Student Chapel. I haven’t had a chance to photograph a wedding at the Hemmingson Center yet, but I did photograph an event there last fall and it was stunning. If you’re looking to have a Catholic wedding ceremony in Spokane, it’s hard to find a more beautiful spot. What I love about Gonzaga…well, I love a lot of things about Gonzaga…is that you’ve got everything close by, the parking situation is easy (not something that is simple in or near downtown Spokane), and it’s gorgeous. There are tons of little spots around campus for photos, and even though I went to Gonzaga for four years, I’m still finding new little nooks and crannies when I visit. Not to mention, the catering at Gonzaga is top notch.
Nectar Catering & Events
Nectar has had a bit of a remodel since I photographed Dan & Danielle’s intimate wine bar wedding a couple years ago, and I need to go back and see what they’ve done. No matter what, it’s a great space for a small wedding, and has such beautiful details, like these gorgeous brick walls and wine barrels. Josh is amazing, and I really loved working with all the staff at Nectar. Stop by for wine tasting or lunch. In fact, now that I know they do lunch…I might have to stop by and grab lunch with a friend this summer.
A few years ago, I went to a grand reopening at Riverside Place, and then didn’t make it over there again until last summer, when I had the chance to second shoot a wedding for April Egly. I had forgotten what a beautiful (and huge!) space it is. The views from the Falls Suite are top notch, especially because there is a great balcony, so you don’t have to peek at them through a window, you can stand out there and see them! Plus, they have such fun rooms all throughout the building. It’s a total maze, and I would have gotten lost more than once, if it wasn’t for the amazing staff there who directed me to all the fun little spots like marble hallways and old theaters. I’d move into this space if they would let me!
Other Downtown Venues I Love:
I haven’t had a chance to shoot at every downtown Spokane venue, so I wanted to toss out some more places that might be a good fit (hey, hire me to photograph your wedding at them, okay?) for you.
— The Spokane Club
— Fox Theater
— Glover Mansion
— The Convention Center
*not easy. In fact, there were many times that we regretted it, because it is so stressful to host your own wedding. If you do a backyard wedding in the Spokane area, I highly recommend hiring a planner.