My Favorite Spokane Area Venues

My Favorite Spokane Area Venues

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!

Cannons Edge
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.

Cannon's Edge Greenbluff Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyCannons Edge Greenbluff // Emily Wenzel Photography

Arbor Crest
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!

Winery Wedding Spokane // Emily Wenzel PhotographyArbor Crest Winery Wedding Spokane // Emily Wenzel Photography

Commellini Estate
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.

Commellini Estate Spokane Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyCommellini Estate Spokane Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

Aspen Grove
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.

Bohemian Wedding Style // Emily Wenzel PhotographyOutdoor Adventure Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

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

August Recap Post

August Recap Post

Our anniversary is this weekend, and the last week of August marked the start of about six straight weeks of crazy around here. But August was surprisingly easy going, and full of snuggles and family time. It was great to get a little break from work, and to spend time with my favorite people!

1.  I’ve been looking for a new hobby, so I tried cross stitch. It was pretty fun! I’ve got an embroidery kit waiting for me to start next, but they didn’t include any instructions! Anyone have advice on how to embroider?

2. Our wildbird sling is currently hanging out with a friend, but before it left, we got some extra snuggles in it. I can’t wait to get it back soon! It’s the perfect fall color.

3.  Little miss started regularly going to her nanny in August, which has been a godsend for all of us. I was able to get in and out of the post office without tears and without too many delays. The first day I dropped her off, I felt SO SO weird!

Behind the Scenes - August // Emily Wenzel Photography

4.  Shadow had a little growth, and so when he got it removed, it was cone of shame for a few days. He wasn’t impressed with it. Luckily, the growth wasn’t cancerous or anything, and he’s still doing great.

5. Lola likes to lay down on Shadow’s toys or bones, and then just stare him down. She’s kind of a punk like that. Shadow used to get in big trouble when he’d bother her, so now he just lays there and gets right up in her face! He’ll slowly inch his way closer until she gets annoyed and leaves. He’s still hopeful that they’ll be BFFs, but Lola likes to keep him hanging.

6. Most afternoons, H comes home and we go for a family walk, but when the weather was too hot or too smokey, we try to have some family hang time. On this day though, I had to get a little work done. The view from my desk is pretty distracting though. I love watching these two play and read together!

Behind the Scenes - August // Emily Wenzel Photography

7. We finally got to try out swinging! It was a huge success, and she usually giggles and kicks her legs the whole time she’s in the swing. Of course, she was distracted by a couple dogs when I took this photo. We’ve been trying to walk through the park on our evening walks and stop for a little swing session. Shadow plays in the splash pad, or stares longingly at the squirrels while N swings.

8. We didn’t do anything big for my birthday, but we grabbed dinner at South Perry Pizza and made sure to get a couple selfies afterwards on the back patio. Thirty has been pretty awesome so far, and I’m so lucky to have these two beautiful people in my life.

9. My mom’s birthday is a few days after mine, so we spent some time picking out the perfect recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks. We went with the marble cake, which was perfection.

Behind the Scenes - August // Emily Wenzel Photography

10. Nanny time means I get a chance to get out to a coffeeshop sometimes and do work alone and in peace. It also means I work 1000x faster than I ever thought I could. I’m amazed at how much I can get done during a nap or the afternoons when little miss is at the nanny.

11. On the way back from visiting my parents at their place for my mom’s birthday, we stopped for a break at the rest area. Someone wanted some snuggles…

12. …but then decided she wanted down to practice walking through the grass. Slow down, kiddo! I’m not quite ready for you to walk yet! At least my wrap makes a good scarf too?

Behind the Scenes - August // Emily Wenzel Photography

13. When you get a package in the mail, but the paper it’s packed it in more fun than the gift.

14. Once upon a time, the skies were blue, the weather was perfect, and we went walking around Manito. That hasn’t happened in a while, though. September has been kind of lame.

15. Post-wedding reflection selfie at the Davenport hotel. Every time I shoot a wedding there, I find a new little spot to shoot in!

Behind the Scenes - August // Emily Wenzel Photography

16. These two drinking at the Lantern. On our way back from dinner there, we ran into my old German professor and a college friends’ mom having drinks at the brewery. South Perry, where it can take you 30 minutes to walk 3 blocks. We wouldn’t have it any other way, we love this neighborhood.

17. Practicing her standing skills at the window while waiting for Papa to come home from work.

18. Random neighborhood kitty who decided to take up residence on my front porch. She then moved to the back yard and harassed our dog through the fence. Don’t worry, she was reunited with her people shortly after – and Shadow was very confused by this bold kitty!

Behind the Scenes - August // Emily Wenzel Photography

What to Wear for Family Photos

What to Wear for Family Photos

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.

What to wear for Photos // Emily Wenzel Photography

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.

Spokane Engagement Photographer // Emily Wenzel Photography

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.

Spokane Lifestyle Family Photographer // Emily Wenzel Photography

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.

Spokane Fall Mini Sessions // Emily Wenzel Photography

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 EglyFamily photos by April Egly Photography.

July Recap Post

July Recap Post

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I’m hoping to take a few minutes to reflect back on the last year, but first I wanted to get this post up! With the heat wave in July, we didn’t get much done. Basically, just tried to survive and then it got smokey and I gave up on blogging.

1. This beautiful PN Wovens wrap is our favorite thing right now. N has been getting better with the back carries, and after I was gone at Maranda & CJ’s wedding at the end of June, she wanted lots of snuggles. Boom.
2. This picture cracks me up, because she loves strawberries. They’re probably her favorite food right now. I don’t blame her! We speak two languages at home – German and English – and so we’ve got baby books in both languages. This one *might* be helping me improve my German too. [And yes, that’s a 10lb weight in the background. We use it to prop the door closed/open at times. Old house problems, my friends.]

Baby wrapping and German language learning // Spokane family photography

3. Another wedding, another afternoon of pumping. The ladies at Commellini Estate were super sweet and found me a private space to pump, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to die in the 102 degree heat. I guess the pump was cooler than snuggling my little lady? I’m really thankful the weather has gotten better.
4. “The girl with the wooden phone.” N loves to chew on this little wooden phone from Haba.

Pumping wedding photographer and baby wooden phone // Spokane lifestyle photography

5. We went down to Portland mid-month, since H had a conference and I needed a smazak. Especially since Tabor is changing owners soon, I needed to say goodbye to my favorite Czech couple in Portland. While killing time with N, we wandered over to the Portland Art Museum, and listened to a guy play a piano for a while.

Portland Art Museum // Portland Wedding Photography

6. One of my favorite pieces of street art in Portland, it’s by the Portland Art Museum.
7. Have baby, will travel. N loves hotel life — it’s probably all the bed snuggles and the hotel pool. 🙂
8. Home again, and just starting to fit into 9-12 month clothing. She’s excited to wear this cute outfit that her German auntie gave her when we visited in May.

Traveling with a baby // Adventure parenting

9. July was a month of naps. This guy was napping hardcore in the middle of the living room after a couple days at boarding while we were in Portland.
10. N has been rolling over and quasi-crawling in her crib for a few weeks now. Which is great, except she was having a hard time going down for naps. When she went from chatting like crazy to silent the other day, I poked my head in to check on her and found this. [She normally sleeps on her side.]

adopt don't shop // babies napping

And like that, July was a wrap!

June Recap Post

June Recap Post

I’m having a moment where I can’t believe that it’s July, that this week marks four years since we moved back to Spokane, and that June is long gone.

We took it pretty easy in June, and did a lot of hanging out around the house, soaking up the nice weather, and going for walks. I’ve been trying to use my phone less, so I don’t have as many photos, but I did find a few for our recap.

1. I was scrolling through my phone early in the month, and saw the photo I’d taken with N when she was just three weeks old, so I decided to replicate it. I’m even wearing a similar outfit (an Everlane tee and black running pants. Basically, my work from home uniform).
2. We started practicing our back carry in June, and are now regularly back carrying. On Sunday, we went up to Eleven Acres farm on Greenbluff, and picked raspberries, while baby wearing. I seriously don’t know how we would have done it otherwise!

Personal Post - June Recap // Emily Wenzel Photography

3. Continuing our theme of recreating photos from December: on the day that N was born, I spent the morning at the car dealership. I took a photo in the full length mirror in their bathroom. So, when I got my oil changed the day before N’s half birthday, we recreated the photo.
4. Cloth diapers make for fun little bums under summer dresses!

Personal Post - June Recap // Emily Wenzel Photography

5. Lola has been getting a bit tired of having her tail snagged by tiny little baby hands. [N loves our pets. She squeals with joy when she sees them.] so she took to hiding on some of the blankets I had tucked on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. Poor kitty.
6. Shadow, on the other hand, thinks that this whole food thing is the greatest. He’s more than happy to help clean the floor up after dinner. Lately though, N has gotten better about not throwing all her food on the floor, which has made him a bit sad.

Personal Post - June Recap // Emily Wenzel Photography

7. We’ve been hitting up Manito on the regular lately with some friends for stroller walks, and the fresh air has been good for both of us. N naps most of the time, and I get to chat with friends. Win!
8. I’m ever so thankful for venue owners who let me show up early and give me a quiet space to pump. Not every part of motherhood has been fabulous, but I’m so grateful my body has been able to nourish this tiny human for so long!

Personal Post - June Recap // Emily Wenzel Photography

And just like that, it’s July!

My Favorite Downtown Spokane Wedding Venues

My Favorite Downtown Spokane Wedding Venues

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.

Historic Davenport Hotel Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyHindu Christian Indian Wedding Spokane // Emily Wenzel Photography

Manito Park
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!

Duncan Gardens Manito Park Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyManito Park Spokane Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

Barrister Winery
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.

Barrister Winery Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyBarrister Winery Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

Gonzaga UniversitySt. 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.

Gonzaga University St Aloysius Spokane Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyGonzaga University Hemmingson Center Spokane Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

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.

Nectar Catering Wedding // Emily Wenzel PhotographyNectar Catering Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

Riverside Place
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!

Riverside Place Wedding Spokane // Emily Wenzel PhotographyRiverside Place Wedding Spokane // Emily Wenzel Photography

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.