Three Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know // Tips for Clients

Three Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know // Tips for Clients

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!!

Priest Lake Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

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.

Spokane Catholic Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

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:

“Hi Emily,
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.
Past Client”

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. :)

Spokane Church Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

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.

My Favorite Eastern Washington Wedding Venues // Methow Valley & Columbia Basin Wedding Photographer

My Favorite Eastern Washington Wedding Venues // Methow Valley & Columbia Basin Wedding Photographer

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.

Wedding Ceremony by Columbia River at Cave B Winery // Emily Wenzel PhotographyInterracial Couple at Cave B Winery Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyEastern Washington Elopement at Cave B Inn Winery // Emily Wenzel Photography

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!!

Couple Kissing at Sunset at Mazama Ranch House Methow Valley // Emily Wenzel PhotographyMazama Ranch House Destination Wedding PhotographerWedding Couple in a field Mazama Ranch House

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.

Spring Creek Destination WeddingWinthrop Destination Wedding PhotographyMethow Valley Destination Wedding

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?

Yakima Valley Winery Wedding VenueYakima valley Country Wedding Yakima Valley Wedding Couple


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]

Walla Walla
Foundry Vineyards (I was here for a private dinner, and it is STUNNING)
Marcus Whitman Hotel

The Methow Valley
Freestone Inn
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
Moore Mansion
Tagaris Winery
Terra Blanca

The Capitol Theater
River Ridge Golf Course
Yakima Valley Museum

Chelan, Leavenworth, & Roslyn
Sleeping Lady Resort
Suncadia Resort
Swiftwater Cellars

My Favorite Coeur d’Alene and North Idaho Wedding Venues // Coeur d’Alene Wedding Photography

My Favorite Coeur d’Alene and North Idaho Wedding Venues // Coeur d’Alene Wedding Photography

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!

Private Residences
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!

Coeur d'Alene Lake Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyCoeur d'Alene Lake Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyCoeur d'Alene Lake Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

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.

Hayden Lake Country Club Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyHayden Lake Country Club Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

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.

Post Falls Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyPost Falls Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

Rider Ranch
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.

Rider Ranch Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyRider Ranch Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography


Other Venues:
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

[Listed alphabetically]

Not set on North Idaho? Check out my downtown Spokane venue list and greater Spokane area venue list too.

How to Elope in Washington State — Tips for Clients // Spokane Elopement Photography

How to Elope in Washington State — Tips for Clients // Spokane Elopement Photography

As a follow up to my post a couple weeks ago about eloping in Idaho, I wanted to share my tips for eloping in Washington. Unfortunately, it takes a bit more planning and coordinating to elope in Washington, but it can still be done.

Washington Elopement Photographer // Emily Wenzel Photography

How to Elope in Washington State

Getting a marriage license in Washington doesn’t require a blood test, but it does require you to wait three days. Which is a bit of a bummer. However, like Leslie & Drew, who eloped here, you can request an application by mail. The King County Marriage License page has the most comprehensive information on applying by mail for a Washington marriage license.

If you want to get married over the weekend in Washington state, you’ll need to pick up your license on a Thursday (for Saturday) or a Friday (for Sunday). So if you get into town early on a Friday, you can get married on Sunday.  You can find the Spokane County information page right here, but it’s not very helpful.

Elope at Sunset in Washington // Emily Wenzel Photography

The other big difference between an Idaho and Washington elopement is that you need two witnesses for any marriage in Washington. That means that you need to have at least three people in attendance (two witnesses and your officiant). There are a couple ways you can make sure to have those witnesses: you can bring two people with you, or you can have your officiant and photographer make sure one of them brings another person along to sign. I’ve signed as a witness before, and it’s always an honor to do so!

Cave B Winery Wedding Elopement // Emily Wenzel Photography

Now that you’ve gotten your license and found a couple witnesses, it’s time to find a place to get married. There are elopement packages at a lot of smaller venues in Washington, just like in Idaho. Leslie & Drew got married at Cave B Winery in Quincy. Another dreamy location would be Treehouse Point, in Issaquah. There are of course, dozens of beautiful locations in the outdoors too. You could get married up at Mt. Spokane, or perhaps on the beach at Alki in Seattle. Maybe hop out to one of the San Juan Islands? I put together a list of perfect AirBnbs for eloping. Or just for a weekend getaway.

And that’s it! Get a marriage license, wait three days, grab two people and an officiant, and boom!

How to Elope in (North) Idaho — Tips for Clients // Coeur d’Alene Elopement Photography

How to Elope in (North) Idaho — Tips for Clients // Coeur d’Alene Elopement Photography

A couple years ago, I started getting a lot more inquiries to photograph small weddings. Intimate weddings, I called them. I started shooting weddings with less than 50 guests. Then, I was getting inquiries for weddings with less than 25 guests. And now, I occasionally get to shoot an elopement or two in the Inland Northwest. A lot of people have told me that they can’t find much information on how to elope locally, usually it’s for an Las Vegas or NYC elopement. So, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned, and hopefully you can plan the wedding or elopement of your dreams with lots less stress! Win. :)

How to Elope in North Idaho // Emily Wenzel Photography

How to Elope in (North) Idaho.

Eloping in Idaho is, in a few ways, a lot easier than eloping in Washington. First of all, there is no waiting period to get your Idaho marriage license. That means you could walk in there this morning, and get married this afternoon. Bam! Just that easy. Second, unlike Washington, which requires two witnesses to a marriage, Idaho only requires the officiant’s signature, so you can get married with no guests, just your officiant – and photographer! – in attendance. Here’s the Kootenai County marriage information page. Their office is in Coeur d’Alene — and yes, they’re even open on Saturdays.

Coeur d'Alene Resort Wedding Photographer // Emily Wenzel Photography

Now that you’ve decided to elope in Idaho, and figured out how to get your marriage license, it’s time to decide where to get married. You could call a court judge, and get married at the courthouse, but there are so many beautiful places in Idaho to get married. When Sara & Joel decided to elope in Idaho last year, and rented a cabin on Hauser Lake for a long weekend, and brought their sweet pups along! In doing a quick search, I found so many cute places on AirBnB, that I made a list. I love this yurt in the mountains near Sandpoint! If you’re local, maybe consider getting married at home. How sweet would it be to say you got married in your own backyard? But, if you’re like me, and your backyard isn’t exactly picturesque, you could choose a beautiful park, like the City Park in Coeur d’Alene. If the lake isn’t exactly your thing, why not hike up a trail at Q’emiln Park in Post Falls and get married in the woods?

Elope in North Idaho // Emily Wenzel Photography

Or, maybe my favorite, splurge on a couple fancy nights at a boutique hotel (like the Blackwell Hotel in Coeur d’Alene) and elope there! Many of the hotels have small elopement packages. The bonus of booking a package at one of the hotels? They often take care of details like an officiant, and give you extra perks like a massage or breakfast in bed. Both of those things sound amazing to me! :)

Lastly, once you’ve decided to elope, get in touch! Weekday elopement coverage starts at just $700 right now, and is the perfect way to share your wedding with all those friends and family who won’t be with you on the day of your wedding. I’m happy to recommend locations, officiants, and other vendors – like a florist! – to make your intimate wedding feel as special as it is.

Cave B Winery George Washington Elopement // Emily Wenzel Photography