Last year, I got an email from Leslie along the lines of this: We’re flying up to the Gorge for the Dave Matthew’s concert, and we want to elope. We live in Florida, and we don’t know much about the area, but we want beautiful photos.
You know how much I love the Gorge, and I was thrilled to photograph Leslie & Drew’s elopement at Cave B Winery and Inn. They camped at the concert, and walked over to the winery to elope. We spent an hour taking photos all over the grounds, drinking a couple glasses of wine (them, not me. I’m going to have to stop by there for a glass now that I’m not pregnant!) and admiring the views. As the sun started to set, they got married under the grapes at the Piazza, and we took a few more golden hour photos before they went back to the Gorge for a concert.
Boom. Elopements are the best, I want more of them in my life.
Special shout out to Esther at Special Touch Florist, here in Spokane. She and Leslie coordinated on the flowers, and then I brought them with me to the elopement! 🙂
You confess to me the first time we talk that you’re nervous about having your photos taken. You haven’t had photos taken since high school, and now you’re getting married, post college. Or maybe it was your wedding, that was just a few years ago. Well, the kids are in elementary school now, so maybe more like a decade ago? You lament that there are so few photos of you as a family. Maybe you did them with your newborn – the first one – but not since then. I get it. Life happened, and somehow you woke up one day and years had passed since you had professional photos taken of your family.
You think I’m just saying that, but no, I really get it. I started my marriage with great intentions of doing photos every year. And for the first couple years, we did a good job of getting those photos done. But then, life happened. We moved, we bought a house, we adopted a dog. Days turned into months, which turned into years. And then I got pregnant, and I got my butt in gear. We did maternity photos, photos I’ll cherish forever. But now I’ve blinked and my baby is six months old. [No really, I only blinked. It can’t have been six months already.] I want real photos of the three of us. Right now. At this stage where she snuggles her head into my shoulder when she’s tired. Where she’s almost sitting. Where she’s full of giggles and smiles.
Maybe your kids are grown and gone. When’s the last time you did a big family photo, huh?
This has been on my mind for a while, the way we stop taking photos. But last year, my family got some news that really shook me. The big dreaded “cancer” snuck into our lives. Thankfully, it was caught early, and after a very successful surgery, we’re nearly a year out and that sneaky word has no place in our family. But I realized this week – when the last time I got good photos of my family – my parents and siblings and all of us – together? Besides that one I did a couple years ago at Thanksgiving? It’s been a long time. Too long. What if things hadn’t gone so well for us? Oof.
[And yes, this news came while I was pregnant. I cried buckets of tears. But things are so much better now.]
I know my excuses – I have nothing to wear, I’m busy, I can take them myself. You just want to go to the gym, lose five pounds, grow your hair out, wait til your kid isn’t a Tasmanian devil 24/7… Ladies and gents, I’ve heard them all. And while I say these are excuses, they are also facts of life. The things that make us these people right now.
Take a moment and look around you. This moment, this time in your life – when your babies are this size and your spouse looks so dang fine – it’s fleeting. So schedule that session sooner, not later. Because someday when they’re grown and gone, I want you to have beautiful photos to look back on. The kind of photos you hang on your wall, not just the ones on your camera roll.
Maybe standing in a park in your best clothes isn’t your thing. Or your kid’s thing. I get that – I totally do. Let’s do something together! We’ll go for a hike, pick some berries at Greenbluff, or make cookies in your kitchen. This doesn’t work for mini sessions, but in home lifestyle sessions are fantastic. Your family is comfortable, your photos reflect your crazy, beautiful, messy, happy life as it is right now. And bonus: I come to you, so if a shoe gets lost or clothes get dirty, it’s okay. You’ve got more in the closet (or the laundry basket). <3
Between traveling most of the month, and recovering from traveling, I didn’t get April’s recap post up. So now I’m looking back at all these photos and I can’t believe that April was SO long ago. Ack! It’s June, and we’ve had really summer-like days lately. So crazy!
1. I started off the month with my first wedding after having N. Oh man, I was freaking out. I was so nervous – it’d been so long since I’d photographed a wedding, and I was worried how N would take it. She’s really only been away from me for a couple hours, and I was gone for a whole day (I think it was 11 hours). But! Cecily & Ted’s wedding was wonderful, and as you can see, she napped like a champ for her papa. [Sleep sack, bassinet]
2. I took N over to my parents’ place for a couple days for some quality grandma and grandpa time, and we went over to IKEA with my mom too. It was our first solo trip (further than over to Couer d’Alene) and she was a rockstar. We’ve had a few solo mama/baby nights since she was born.
3. We cut down the giant maple in our backyard, and Shadow thought the wood was a playground for him! One of our neighbors took most of the wood for his fireplace, and a few friends grabbed some too. Our yard looks so different now. We are going to put in another tree or two next spring, we just have to decide what we’re planting (I’m leaning towards plum and peach trees). Any thoughts??
4. N started sleeping in her crib in April. And I didn’t sleep for a couple nights. We’d had her in our room in her bassinet (which has been, hands down, the best thing we got for a baby. We love this thing!). When she took her first nap in the crib, Shadow didn’t know what to do. He’s been sleeping on a dog bed in our room, and has been napping with her about 75% of the time. So now, he sleeps on the landing outside her room, or at night, sometimes sleeps on the rug in there, instead of on his bed.
5. Trying to write emails with a little kid is kinda like this. Naps are unpredictable, and so sometimes I pull her into my lap so I can try and finish one last email. 😀
6. I was playing the piano for N, and she started fussing from her seat. When I picked her up, she immediately reached for the piano and started pressing keys. She adores music!
1. We got a little rash guard for N for summer swimming (and we went in Germany too), since she’s got such fair skin. H burns really easily, and so as cute as those baby swimsuits are, I didn’t want to take any chances. Both of these are from Primary.com, which is one of my favorite places to shop for N.
2. All packed up and ready to head to Germany! Is there any interest in me writing a post about traveling with a baby, and how we did it? Let me know!
3. Feeling so very mom and quite German, strolling around Nymphenburg Park on a sunny day in Munich.
4. Last year, I had H snap a photo of me in Athens in front of some gorgeous flowers. I was just a few weeks pregnant with N at the time, and it was one of the few days were I didn’t feel sick. This year, we snapped a bunch of photos in front of some lilacs at Nymphemburg. I still need to send off the film ones, but I love this little family selfie of ours.
5. I took N’s 5 month photos on her quilt before we left, but I wanted to snap a couple on the actual date while we were in Germany. H grabbed this behind the scenes photo of me being a total “momtographer”. I took them on film, so who knows if they’ll turn out! She’s a total wiggle worm right now, so I could see them being a total blur. 😉
6. Normally, when we go to Germany, we stay just with family and we’re always in the same places. But this time, we wanted to take a couple days away and go somewhere on our own. I decided I wanted to see what “real” Bavaria looked like, because I love Leavenworth, so I found us this AirBnB in Schwangau, which is where Neuschwanstein is. We didn’t make it to Neuschwanstein, but the view from both the balconies was pretty stellar.
7. The view from the other balcony. We walked from this little village to another little village and had cake one day, and took the long way back along one of the lakes while N slept in her stroller. I didn’t take a photo of the cake, but it was AMAZING.
8. We picked up this “cuddle book” in Germany for N, and it’s quickly becoming one of her favorite things. I’m hoping she loves books as much as I do.
9. Cheeks. Such good cheeks.
10. We did a lot of traveling in May, and I was always impressed by how well N did. Sure, she had meltdowns. But don’t we all have meltdowns when we’re tired and in a foreign country?
11. Baby toes!
12. Lola got this new cat condo thing a while back, and has completely ignored it until recently. Now she sleeps in it – surrounded by all her toys – all the time.
And that was it! May was a great month, we had a total blast traveling (uh, we went to Seattle too. I’m not sure why I don’t have photos of that?) with N. But I’m also glad to be home for a while. I missed my pillow!!
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.
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.
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!
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!
N was less than 24 hours old, and we were alone in our room at the hospital. H had gone home to check on the pets, and after a night of constant checks, the room was finally peaceful. I reached over to grab my camera, and I snapped a few dozen photos of her. Brand new.
It’s hard to describe how I feel when I have a camera in my hands. Things are more clear, focused. All the noise falls away, and I’m left with just the images I want to create. The artist and her canvas. From the moment I realized I was actually in labor, I felt like I was sprinting toward the finish line in a race. N didn’t just show up two weeks early, she came roaring into this world in a whirlwind that left my head spinning for weeks. But for a few short minutes, I was able to focus on her tiny fingers, her eyelashes, her little dimples.
She’s a giant now, compared to that day. And the list of things she’s taught me in the past four months would fill a novel. I thought this transition to motherhood, to working at home with a baby, would be all about showing myself grace. I was wrong. Oh, I’ve had to show myself plenty of grace, it’s true. But N has taught me that being present is the most important thing. I can write emails while she naps, or check my Instagram feed after she goes to bed at night, but these precious moments with her? They’re flying by. So I set my phone down, and I look in her eyes. I snuggle her close when she needs me. I’m trying to live each moment as it is. I’m trying to extend that presence to all aspects of my life. To focus on my meals when I’m eating. To listen to people when they’re speaking. To be present in all aspects of life.
Everything is different now. It’s messier, more exhausting, and yet, it’s exactly the same. The days blur together in an endless parade of giggles and emails and laundry. The giggles are new, but the endless emails and laundry have always been here. We’ve gone to IKEA, H has taken a business trip without us, and N’s been to three states (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho). She’s got her passport, and is preparing for her first trip to Germany.
In some ways, the busy nature of having her has helped me. I’m more focused. I tend to waste less time on social media, because I have things to get done. I’m behind on getting my garden planted, but hey, we got some April snow, so it was kind of a blessing. I may not be multitasking as much, but I’m a boss at prioritizing and getting things done. I’m finding a new balance in 2017.
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.
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.
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?
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.