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.

Photos for Right Now

Photos for Right Now

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.

Spokane Engagement Session with Kids // Emily Wenzel Photography

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.]

Spokane Family Photographer // Emily Wenzel Photography

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.

Spokane Lifestyle Family Photographer // Emily Wenzel Photography

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


How to Elope in Washington State

How to Elope in Washington State

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

How to Elope in (North) Idaho

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