This time of year is bustling with Christmas parties, baking cookies, gift giving… and engagements!  Multiple studies have shown that December is the most popular month for proposals.  Sentiment is in the air, and the season of gift giving is not only romantic but a fitting time to start planning a wedding.  But not that you’re a fiance, you likely have 6-9 months before tying the knot.  No matter how you slice it, there is a lot of wedding planning to do!

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On the cusp of Christmas eve, I wanted to share my best wedding planning tips for bride getting married in and around Portland, Oregon.   I’ve been in the wedding industry for half a decade now, and I hope these thoughts will be beneficial for newly engaged brides!

Before all else, determine your date and venue.

Meeting and interviewing wedding vendors takes a lot of time and energy, and you’ll likely benefit from securing your wedding date prior to meeting with another vendor who may not be available for your big day!  The look and feel of your venue will also influence the overall vibe of your wedding- and that sets the tone for everything from the choice of your dress to the floral arrangements you go with.  Venues typically require a down payment and signed contract to book the day.  At this point, brides with longer engagements may have snagged many Saturday options.  Get creative with the day of the week you get married on- summer days are long and lend to fun evening celebrations.

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Think about what represents your relationship.

This is something I wish I would have taken more time to do before my own wedding!  Rather than getting overwhelmed with color schemes, floral options, and what style of dress you should have, spend a few minutes sitting down and writing out what it is that truly represents you and your fiance.  Do you spend an incredible amount of time hiking?  A mountain top elopement with your closest friends and family might fit your personalities best.  Are you two all about being with friends and family?  Creating an evening of fun and community may be ideal.  If you love the countryside, a vineyard in the valley might add the perfect view for your ceremony.  Narrow your options down based on what you both love, not on current wedding trends.

Take heed of the weather.

When planning a Portland wedding, we know that rain is a factor in venue and date choice.  What happens if it is to rain on your late July wedding day?  Will you go with the “flow”?  Or do you want to have a venue that provides all inclusive indoor options?  I’ve seen many brides have guest umbrellas at the ready, and I even photographed this beautiful fall wedding in torrential downpour at the Mt. Tabor Wedding tree (see below).  It ended up being a unique, fun and memorable experience.  No matter what you decide, giving a little thought to the weather is an Oregon girls duty.

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Book your photographer once you’ve secured your wedding venue and date.

You’ll want to get that engagement session on the calendar as soon as possible!  Photographs from your engagement session can take anywhere from 3-4 weeks to be processed.  Aim to have your engagement photographs in your hands by mid March so that you can include them in your wedding invitations, if you desire.  Luckily, Oregon has many amazing spots that start showing hints of spring as early as mid February.

Create a Budget

Budget- a word we all love to loathe.  In reality though, having a healthy and itemized budget for your wedding will allow you to prioritize what is best for you, and avoid unnecessary spending on things that don’t matter to you as a couple.  If quality photography that allows you to reminisce in an authentic way for years to come is important to you, set your budget accordingly.  If food and having the party of a life time is important to you, set a large budget for catering and alcohol.   There is no “right” way to budget for your wedding- but sitting down and creating a plan that optimizes what is important to you and your fiance is hugely beneficial.

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Explore the creative vendor options that Portland offers. 

We are so lucky to live in an area that is just thriving with creativity.  We have wonderfully talented wedding designers, planners, florists, calligraphers, and dress designers right here in our own city!  Planning a beautifully inspired and creative wedding could not get any easier than in Portland!  Take your time and be sure to explore multiple options as you build your wedding vendor team.  Ask the vendors you do hire what other vendors they recommend.  You’ll soon have a team of wedding professionals who can bring your dreams to life.

Breath life into your DIY ideas.

I am all about thoughtfully curated DIY ideas.  I’ve seen brides create stunning hand written seating charts, gorgeous paper backdrops, and elements of nature into their own wedding days.  Know the limits of what you have time for and what you need to outsource, and plan a few nights of wedding creativity with your girlfriends or family. And if DIY isn’t your thing- use that time to find the perfect creative vendor who can help you out.

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Relax and have fun.

Hindsight is 20-20, isn’t it?  If I could go back in time, I would slow down and enjoy the wedding process more.  Finding the right dress is a once in a lifetime feeling, as are so many aspects of wedding planning.  Go to brunch with your mom, chat about your dreams, record your progress, and remember that in the end your wedding represents your marriage- which is so much bigger than one single day.

If you’ve read this article and found it helpful, I’d love to hear from you!  Feel free to get email me at jamie@jamieraephoto.com and let me know how planning your Portland wedding is going and how I can help!

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Portland Wedding Photographers- How to find the Right Fit

As a wedding photographer, I will admit- my industry is crazy saturated!  I was at the dentist for a check in recently, and I noticed my dental assistant had on a shiny new engagement ring.  She had been engaged for about 3 months, and I asked her how her wedding photographer search was going.  She had already booked an incredible photographer, but she confided in me that the process was a bit overwhelming.  portland wedding photographers 2With all of the options out there, I totally sympathize with her.  Photographers with varying skill level, experience, different styles, and vastly different editing techniques have flooded the Oregon market.  It can be overwhelming trying to figure out who you’d like to hire, and most importantly, what style best fits your personality.

When you think about it, choosing your wedding photographer is a very important decision.  These images are a reflection of the most important day of your life, and they will be heirlooms for generations to come. (No pressure, right!).  You want to make sure that you choose a photographer whose work you love now– and that you will continue to love for years to come.

Since I am a photographer, I’d love to share with you a few insights that will help you know if you’ve found the one:

  1.  You feel comfortable in your meetings and emails.  This is my number one tip and it is SO important.  Your wedding photographer is not just another vendor.  You will be spending more time around your wedding photographer on your wedding day than anyone else!  It sounds crazy, but if you think about it, they are there for every special moment-from getting ready to sendoff and everything in between.  You want to ensure that you can laugh… and even cry around this person without feeling uncomfortable or awkward.  Use your intuition- you should be able to pick up right away if your personalities mesh.
  2. You love their work.  And I don’t just mean the highlight reel on instagram.  Ask to see a couple of galleries, and make sure you fully understand their unique shooting and editing style.  While there are similarities, every wedding photographer truly has their own artistic voice.  Be sure you love everything about what they do- from their engagement session to their reception galleries.
  3. You can trust them.  This one may seem obvious, but I have heard countless horror stories about brides who have never received their images from their photographer!  I know that most established photographer businesses would never do this, but there are also a lot of scam artists in this world.  Make sure to read up on some social proof (like wedding wire) to see what past brides are saying, and ensure that this professional has a track record of amazing customer service and a wonderful product.

If you keep these 3 tips in mind as you search through the countless options of Portland Wedding Photographers, I think you’ll find that the best fit for you will quickly become apparent.  Unlike your florist or cake baker, remember that this is the one vendor you hire whose work you’ll cherish and use for years and years to come, and a little research will go a long way in ensuring you receive images you love.

Thank you to Asphalt Paving Atlanta for sponsoring this post!

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The 2017 wedding season is fast approaching and I wanted to do a blogpost featuring some of the best Oregon wedding venues for brides still on the search for the perfect location!  While we have a wonderful selection of beautiful locations here in the Northwest to choose from, keep in mind that venues book up fast, and you’ll want to plan your wedding date anywhere from one year to 18 months in advance.  For those of us who love a short engagement season(my husband and I did this), a year and a half to book a venue might sound crazy.  For shorter engagement schedules- try getting creative with your wedding date, planning an elopement, or doing a weekday or Sunday wedding (Saturdays tend to be the most in demand day to book).

Here are a few venues that I absolutely LOVE shooting at, and a few venues that I have not shot that are on my “bucket list” for 2017.  I’m sharing a few photos from most of these venues, links to blogposts when I can, and most importantly the reasons why I think they are so amazing! If you end up booking one of these venues, or are already planning your day there, please contact me for a special booking bonus. 

The Oregon Garden Resort

The Oregon Garden Resort features whimsical garden paths, beautiful old oak trees, and a unique reception bosque with “floating trees”.  I have shot multiple weddings at this venue and each one has been memorable and different.  A few reasons to love this venue for photography:  there are countless varied locations for beautiful photography in the gardens, the staff is amazing to work with and will lend us a golf course to quickly get to and from locations, and the ceremony site photographs so beautifully that it doesn’t have a lot of need for extra work or elaborate details.  In addition, you can have your bridal party and guests stay at the resort, if you so desire!

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Barn Kestrel

Have you seen this beautiful wedding I recently featured at Barn Kestrel?  I love this venue for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the history of both the historic working barn and the Queen Anne Victorian house is intriguing… I always love a venue with a little history!  Secondly, there are several amazing options for your ceremony to take place (I love how Lauren and Andrew got married under a beautiful maple tree).  And lastly, the interior of the house lends itself to beautiful detail shots and pretty bridal portraits.

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The Tin Roof Barn

The Tin Roof Barn is a new White Salmon River Valley venue (I am actually cheating with this venue as it technically in Washington… but it would be very do-able for an Oregon bride!).  The barn is gorgeous, with antique table settings for dinner and a collection of antique chairs for your dinner event.  And the views… the evening views and soft light at this venue are just to die for!

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Zenith Vineyard

If you love breath taking views overlooking the Willamette valley as much as I do, you must check out Zenith Vineyard, located just outside of Salem, Oregon.  Zenith Vineyard has one of the best backdrops I have seen for a wedding ceremony.  In addition to this, they have an amazing, sprawling vineyard with ample room for photography (as well as horses!).

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The Old Schoolhouse

The Old Schoolhouse is a charming new venue located outside of Newberg, Oregon. Like Barn Kestrel it is a historic site, having been built in the 1920’s and used as a community center and a school.  There are so many options for taking this venue and customizing it into a unique day personalized to your needs— and this venue is great in summer OR winter.  I have had brides get ready at the lovely Allison Inn Resort just up the street, a perfect fit!

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A few additional venues that I would love to shoot at in 2017:

I’d love to shoot an intimate wedding at the gorgeous Deepwood Museum and Gardens in Salem, Oregon.

I love vineyards and would be honored to document your day at Vista Hills Vineyard and Winery.

Mt. Hood Organic Farms is a little bit of Oregon paradise and it would be a dream to photograph your event there.

Red Ridge Farms has been on my bucket list and I would love to capture your romantic day there.

If you are planning a romantic backdrop reminiscent of European taste, Villa Catalina Cellars is gorgeous and I’d love to join you there!

Leach Botanical Gardens – If you couldn’t tell, I have this “thing” for lovely outdoor venues!  Leach Botanical Gardens has alluring charm and whimsy and is referred to as Portland’s secret garden.  I’d love to photograph your event here!

In addition to these lovely venues, some of the best Oregon weddings I have attended have been on private property (we have so much variety in Oregon!).  I’d also love to be considered for any unique+creative small weddings at spaces that may not typically be considered as wedding events.  I’d also especially love to hear about your private estate weddings in the Gorge or in and around Bend, Oregon.

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Whatever your dreams and hopes are for your wedding day, I’d love to hear the details!  Feel free to contact me through my contact form, or email me at jamie@jamieraephoto.com.

This feature on our best Oregon wedding venues is part of a series of tips for brides in and around Portland, Oregon who are looking for tips for planning their special day.  Please check back to the blog for continued posts in this bridal series!

 

 

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