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

Tips for Clients — How to Talk About Privacy // Emily Wenzel Photography

Tips for Clients — How to Talk About Privacy // Emily Wenzel Photography

I know that planning a wedding is a crazy experience. You’re expected to flawlessly throw the largest, most complicated party of your lives, while not knowing anything about the inner workings of weddings before the day you got engaged. I started this series because I wanted to provide a way for brides and grooms to navigate the system with ease and clarity. A way to answer some of those questions you’re dying to ask, but don’t know how to ask them. Got a topic you’d like me to talk about? Post a comment on any Tips for Clients post, and I’ll add it to my list! xoxo, E.

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Cataldo Mission Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

It feels like everyone is on the internet, and all over the internet. My grandma has a Facebook page (she never posts anything), and my friend’s dog has his own Instagram (he’s quite the star), so how do you – politely – tell your wedding professionals that, for whatever reason, you’d like to keep your wedding off of social media, or the internet in general. Maybe you’ve had issues with someone online in the past, your job requires you to keep a low profile, or you’re just a private person.

I’ll talk about photographers the most today, because I can speak from experience here, but I imagine most of these tips and tactics will work with all your wedding providers.

A few things to remember:

  1. Be honest with your wedding professionals from the beginning. Be very clear about what you are and are not comfortable with. If you come back later with requests, there can be confusion.
  2. Read the contract! My contract has a fairly conservative model release, which says I can use your images on my website, and for my advertising, but check the contract for each provider. No one has the same contract, and you may need to ask for clarification or changes. No contract? Stay away.
  3. Be aware that, if you’re very private, you may have to say goodbye to wedding professionals you wanted to work with. Showing our real weddings (for any wedding professional) is how we book more weddings. Some wedding professionals will charge you more, in order to counter that lost revenue, some will just decide not to take you on as a client. Don’t take it personally. If you never want a single image from your wedding or engagement session to be seen on the internet, you need to be clear with all your wedding professionals.
  4. Be consistent. If your photographer isn’t supposed to post on Facebook, tell that to your venue, florist, caterer, etc, too. Nothing irks me more than respecting a client’s wishes, only to see another professional posting images in the same arenas where I was asked not to post.
  5. Know what you’re asking for. I had someone come to me once, wanting “all the copyrights” to the images. That’s something I don’t give, because I reserve the right to edit images later, and they are my art. If I gave my clients the copyright to their images, legally, I wouldn’t be allowed to even edit the images, or post them to their galleries. That’s a bit silly, isn’t it? Instead, my clients get printing rights, which means they can print their photos for personal use, and I still get to edit them and make them beautiful. By the way, the client that wanted “all the copyrights” to his images? He really just wanted to be able to print them. :)

 

Ruby Engagement Ring // Emily Wenzel Photography

First, take the time to make a plan. You need to know what you’re okay with having online, and what you’re not okay with. Maybe it’s okay that your wedding professionals use your photos on their website, but you don’t want them on social media. Maybe you’re okay with photos that don’t show your faces. Or with the photos being used, as long as they don’t have your names. Maybe you’re okay with having your photos shared, but you want to respect your guests’ privacy. It’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for, so that you can clearly talk about this with your wedding providers.

One couple I had was very private about social media. They were okay with me posting things on my website, but they didn’t want me to submit their wedding to any blogs, or to post details about their wedding on social media. The couple above asked me not to use their names or faces online. So I nicknamed them “Kate & Leo“, and we  were still able to submit both their wedding and engagement session to Apple Brides, and keep their privacy. One couple asked me to keep the photos with PDA to a minimum, as one had a very professional job.

Winthrop Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

As I said earlier, privacy is a huge issue for people, and I know that! I choose to put myself, my work, and my life out there, but not everyone does. My husband is an incredibly private person, and I do my best to respect that. You should have wedding professionals who respect your privacy, but you also need to remember that our portfolios are an important part of bringing in clients – that’s often how you found us!

Got a question you’d like answered? Feel free to post it below, or find me on Facebook or Instagram!

Tips for Clients — Why Family Photos Matter // Emily Wenzel Photography

Tips for Clients — Why Family Photos Matter // Emily Wenzel Photography

I know that planning a wedding is a crazy experience. You’re expected to flawlessly throw the largest, most complicated party of your lives, while not knowing anything about the inner workings of weddings before the day you got engaged. I started this series because I wanted to provide a way for brides and grooms to navigate the system with ease and clarity. A way to answer some of those questions you’re dying to ask, but don’t know how to ask them. Got a topic you’d like me to talk about? Post a comment on any Tips for Clients post, and I’ll add it to my list! xoxo, E.

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Seattle Wedding Photography

Can we talk about family photos? I want to come out and say how much I love them, even though they’re not dramatic or “blog worthy”. A lot of photographers don’t talk about them, and we don’t usually blog them. They’re not documentary, they can’t be made into something epic and wonderful, there usually aren’t rainbows or sunsets, or impromptu moments, because toddlers and 85 year old grandmothers don’t wait around for lighting and multiple takes. Although, I’ve seen laughter and tears, beautiful moments and wonderful stories come up during family photos.

Why don’t we like them? It’s hard to get all your family members together, they’re often done quickly, and most couples don’t want to do them anymore. Is this because we’re not blogging them? Is it because they remind us of the old wedding photos, where all you had were a couple posed images? I don’t know. Unlike details and dresses, they can’t be replicated, so most wedding blogs don’t want anything to do with them. And it’s true that my parents’ wedding album has a bunch of posed photos in it, but there are also beautiful candid shots. Plus, it’s those family photos that brought everyone to tears at my parents’ 30th anniversary party. Why? Because in those photos are my grandparents, and my uncle. People we love so very much, but who are no long with us.

Why Family Photos Matter // Emily Wenzel Photography

But they are so very important. The majority of my husband’s family lives overseas. So, those family photos with his grandparents and aunts and uncles? Priceless. That’s the last time all our family has been together. Over four years. Even with our trips to visit them, we haven’t had them all together since our wedding.

Even if your family all live in the same town, even if you see them every week for a family dinner, these photos are important. You don’t know how life will change, you don’t know who will move, or leave. These are a beautiful snapshot of your family at that point in time. They may not be the most special photos today, or next week. But in five years, ten years, or twenty, those will be the ones you love the most.

Small Wedding Greenbluff // Emily Wenzel Photography

I strongly, strongly, encourage you to take the time to do family photos. I am a master at getting them done as painlessly and quickly as possible. And, if you’re like Erin & Andrew, and you have a smaller wedding, I suggest doing a huge, entire group, photo. I’ve done these with groups of up to 120 people. We usually do one where everyone is smiling at me, and then one like this. Because shouldn’t everyone have a photo of their wedding guests cheering for them on the wedding day?

Look at all that love and joy. Don’t you want this too?

 

Frequently Asked Questions (Part I) // Spokane Wedding Photographer

Frequently Asked Questions (Part I) // Spokane Wedding Photographer

I know that planning a wedding is a crazy experience. You’re expected to flawlessly throw the largest, most complicated party of your lives, while not knowing anything about the inner workings of weddings before the day you got engaged. I started this series because I wanted to provide a way for brides and grooms to navigate the system with ease and clarity. A way to answer some of those questions you’re dying to ask, but don’t know how to ask them. Got a topic you’d like me to talk about? Post a comment on any Tips for Clients post, and I’ll add it to my list! xoxo, E.

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Hey my lovelies!

It’s October – wait, what?! – and I’m starting to have time to work on the things I put on my to-do list back in the spring. Things that aren’t shooting and editing weddings, or meeting with my couples. It’s been an awesome summer, but I always look forward to the fall too. It’s time to recharge, for me to look back and look forward, and maybe even make it to the gym. ;)

One of the things I’ve wanted to do is start an ongoing series with some questions I get occasionally. Not so that you stop asking them, but so that you’ve got another resource. Honestly, there are no stupid questions, and I love being a resource to my couples as they plan their wedding. You’re, most likely, only going to do this once, but I’m at a dozen or more weddings every year.

Fall Wedding Photography // Emily Wenzel Photography

– How much photography time do I really need? Are you just trying to sell me more?

This is a fantastic question! Honestly, it depends on two things: your budget and your wedding. I’m not big on sales at all, and some of my couples can attest to my talking them into less time. Honestly, it’s much better to have me around for fewer, more awesome, hours than have me in the way while the hair stylist is curling your hair. Honest.

I always recommend checking out this guide on picking your photography package that I put together, so that you can get an idea of what is the “most common” use of time during a wedding day. The majority of my couples go with 7 hours of coverage, because it’s going to get you all the highlights without breaking the bank. But I often sit down with my couples when we meet, and we talk about their photography priorities. I’ve shot small, backyard weddings in only two hours, and spent more than nine hours at other weddings. I want to make sure that you don’t feel rushed, and that we capture all those moments that you’re going to cherish. If that means I hang out with you while you get your hair done, or your partner plays pool, then that’s what we do. Or if it means we take a bunch of time to drive all over for portraits, we can do that too!

Couple's Winter Shoot // Emily Wenzel Photography

– Is this really your full time job?

Yup! I know it doesn’t seem like photographing weddings all summer long is enough to keep me busy year round, and it’s true that I have a little more free time in the winter than in the summer, but it’s a full time job! There’s a lot of stuff that comes along with owning a business that isn’t photographer. Which sometimes is lame, but I kind of enjoy it too? I know, I’m crazy! Right now, there’s a stack of paperwork waiting for me to file, but I just haven’t had time to do so. There are always blog posts to write and emails to send and projects that I’m dreaming of getting to. There’s marketing to research and a wedding show to plan for. There’s always at least five things on my to do list that never seem to get done, and to me, that feels like the definition of full-time work. It’s not the highest paying job out there, and I could make more money working elsewhere, but I love what I do and don’t plan to change anything any time soon!

Behind the Scenes // Emily Wenzel Photography

– What kind of cameras do you have?

Big, heavy, expensive, ones! :) Haha. Whenever H looks at my tax paperwork, he wants to know why I need such expensive cameras. Because they’re shiny! In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter which brand of cameras I use, just that they’re not going to break, and that I have a backup, but for the photography geeks out there…I shoot with two Canon 5D Mark IIIs. That’s pretty much top of the line (yeah, there’s a newer camera out there, no I don’t plan to upgrade), they’re great cameras, and there are two big reasons I love these particular cameras. First, they’re awesome in low light, which is great for churches and barns and those late night moments. Second, they’ve got two memory cards. This is the real reason I upgraded! I am paranoid about losing photos, so each photo I take is saved on two memory cards at the same time (ahhh, technology!) so from the very moment I take your photo, I have a backup. They’re then transferred to two hard drives (one on my computer, one backup) so that nothing should happen to your memories.

 

What other random things would you like to know – about photography? weddings? business? Ask away!

 

Last set of photos of me by the lovely & talented Kate Ford.

 

Tips for Clients — Picking Your Photography Package

Tips for Clients — Picking Your Photography Package

This post was originally post here, on Apple Brides. I’m reposting it today – with a few updates – so that everyone who visits my site has a chance to see it as well as part of my Tips for Clients series.

I know that planning a wedding is a crazy experience. You’re expected to flawlessly throw the largest, most complicated party of your lives, while not knowing anything about the inner workings of weddings before the day you got engaged. I started this series because I wanted to provide a way for brides and grooms to navigate the system with ease and clarity. A way to answer some of those questions you’re dying to ask, but don’t know how to ask them. Got a topic you’d like me to talk about? Post a comment on any Tips for Clients post, and I’ll add it to my list! xoxo, E.

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You’ve survived the first few weeks (or months) of being engaged. You’ve made some of the big photography decisions, but now you’re overwhelmed by what comes next. You’ve contacted a few photographers and are looking at their packages. Now comes the hardest part of picking a wedding photographer: picking your photography package.

When I got married four years ago, I had the craziest spreadsheets. So, I’m going to spare you the angst of doing this on your own, and lend you some of my hard-earned expertise.

Here’s what I wish someone had shared with me: there is no perfect timeline. There are a lot of variables to consider. Unless you’ve decided on a photographer who only offers all-day coverage, you’re going to have to pick a package length. And it’s not easy to do, especially when you’re so far out from the wedding day. Things change. I’ve broken down some common timelines for you at the end of the post, but here are a few points to consider when planning your timeline.

LGBT Wedding Spokane // Emily Wenzel Photography

  1. The Wedding Party. Are you having a large wedding party? It’s best to plan extra time if you’ve got more than 2 people standing next to you.
  2. Location, Location, Location. Having your wedding ceremony and reception in different places? Getting ready at a third location? If you plan on having a photographer travel from location to location, plan for extra time. Getting around in a wedding dress, with an entourage, takes a little more time than normal.
  3. The Family Photos. I strongly encourage my couples to do family photos. Grandma is going to want them on her wall. Talk to your photographer about their approach to family formals. If you’ve got a large family, you need to know that can take about 5 minutes to get each group of people organized and photographed.
  4. The Ceremony. Are you planning a religious or secular ceremony? A full, Catholic mass can take upwards of an hour to perform. A secular ceremony can be done in as little as 20 minutes. My shortest wedding ceremony to date? Five minutes. The longest? Over an hour.
  5. Chronically Late Syndrome. We all know at least a few people who are chronically late. Plan on starting your ceremony 10-15 minutes after the announced time. People might not have planned on the traffic, or finding parking. And if you know someone in your wedding party (or your fiancé) is chronically late, consider giving them a schedule with earlier times on it.
  6. What You Want. In the end, you can throw my timelines out the window and go with what you want. Maybe you’re planning a big wedding, but only want a few photos. Maybe you’re planning a little wedding, but want the whole day covered. It’s your party; you can do what you want to.

Methow Valley Mazama Ranch House Wedding // Emily Wenzel Photography

5-6 HOURS OF WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
I usually only recommend this package for small weddings of less than 50 people or backyard weddings.  Your ceremony needs to be short and sweet in order for this package to work, and you won’t get much of the reception covered. For even less photography time, I recommend talking to a photographer about a custom package, like my elopement packages.

30-45: couples’ portraits
30 min: wedding party photos
30 min: ceremony
30 min: family formals
60 min: cocktail hour
60 min: dinner/lunch
60-90 min: reception (toasts, cake, dancing)

 

7-8 HOURS OF WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
This package is best for weddings of about 80-100 people, in one location, with a secular ceremony. This package is perfect for most weddings, and it’s currently my most popular one.

45-60 min: getting ready
45 min: first look, couples’ portraits
45 min: wedding party photos
45 min: ceremony
30-45 min: family formals
60 min: cocktail hour
60 min: dinner/lunch
1.5-2 hours: reception (toasts, cake, dancing)

Catholic Church Wedding Seattle // Emily Wenzel Photography

9-10 HOURS OF WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
For longer weddings, or if you want just a little more time to relax and not rush, this is perfect. You’ll have time for everything in the 7 hour package, but with a little more breathing room, so the day won’t feel rushed. It’s great for weddings with a religious ceremony, and perfect if you have to travel between venues.

1-2 hours: getting ready
1 hour: first look, couples’ portraits
1 hour: wedding party photos
1 hour:: ceremony
1 hour: family formals
1 hour: cocktail hour
1 hour: dinner
2 hours: reception (toasts, cake, dancing)

 

ALL DAY  WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
If you’re having a large wedding of more than 200 guests, using more than two locations, or just want every moment of the wedding day covered, this is what you’re looking for. If having a photographer to join you from the moment your day starts till the moment it ends sounds perfect, this is the package for you.

2 hours: getting ready
2 hours: first look, couples’ portraits
1 hour: wedding party photos
1 hour: ceremony
1 hour: family formals
1 hour: cocktail hour
1 hour: dinner/lunch
2-3 hours: reception (toasts, cake, dancing)

July Wedding Deer Park // Emily Wenzel Photography

If you’re still struggling with coming up with a timeline, let’s talk about this when we meet for coffee or drinks! I like to help my couples come up with a rough timeline early on, in order to avoid confusion and stress. It’s nice to have an idea of how the day will play out, and I feel like that puts you at ease. If you’re still unsure, it’s really easy to change your photography package before the wedding, and add that extra time if you want it.  Have more questions? Click the contact us link above or drop me a note in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear from you!