I’m a wedding & elopement photographer for laid back couples that value the idea of being married more than just having a party. They want photos that show their true selves and represent their love of nature, and prefer to be more natural than overly posed.
I first met Melina & Michael at a coffee shop in Bend. They had just driven down from Tacoma, WA where they lived to meet with me and check out Bend. Neither of them had ever even been to Bend before, but a Google search of waterfalls in Oregon landed them here, as they wanted an intimate Oregon waterfall wedding. After chatting with them for about an hour, it was absolutely clear we were a great fit for each other. Both love dogs, nature, beards, beer and the PNW culture! I was so excited to work with them and help them plan their intimate Oregon waterfall wedding. I helped scout out some waterfalls in the area, as they weren’t able to do that from their home in WA and they settled on Sahalie Falls.
It was a gorgeous, sunny Central Oregon morning when Gwen & I arrived at the Airbnb where Melina & Michael would be getting ready along with their family. I absolutely love how these two chose to spend their day with only their family for the ceremony, and a few of their closest friends for the reception. The family all gathered around the kitchen, relaxing before they did the drive to Sahalie Falls. Melina & Michael each got ready in separate rooms and then had their first look outside on the beautifully manicured lawn in front of a grove of aspen trees.
Melina & Michael were ready to do their first look, a few formal portraits and then family portraits before we made the drive to Sahalie Falls for their intimate Oregon waterfall wedding!
Now that the first look was out of the way, I did a few formal bridal portraits, while Gwen captured some lovely groom portraits before we moved on to the couple’s formal portrait session.
Since the parking lot at Sahalie Falls is incredibly small, and I would be hanging with the couple after the ceremony anyhow, they decided to just ride with me to their wedding. Gwen was awesome and snapped a few photos of the two of them in their wedding garb sitting in the back seat of my car. Good thing I cleaned it out the day before!
The lush, mossy, wet landscape required a bit of work to navigate, but these two were game to scramble down a muddy trail a bit to get an absolutely stunning photo of them with Sahalie Falls!
We headed to The Brickhouse in Bend, to gather for a wonderful dinner with Melina & Michael’s family and a few of their closest friends from Washington. Delicious appetizers and cocktails were served as everyone gathered to chat. The marriage license was signed and these two were officially a Mr. & Mrs. now!
Downtown Bend on a beautifully warm, summer weekend is bustling. I love that Gwen was able to capture these behind the scenes photos of us walking and working around all the people. It’s always fun to see everyone’s reaction to a stunning bride and groom on their wedding day!
One of my favorite things about an intimate wedding is that I’m often treated just like a guest! Although, I do have to say that I, in general, have the most amazing clients who treat me so well. Melina & Michael, and their whole family, insisted that my second photographer, Gwen, and I, sit down with them at their table, put down our cameras and order anything we wanted off the menu. We chatted, I heard wonderful stories about these two, and I feel as though we were old friends. It’s moments like these that I am so grateful for the work I do.
Melina & Michael’s intimate Oregon waterfall wedding was exactly as they dreamed it would be. They wanted to focus on their union and their closest family and friends, all of who made the trip to Bend to celebrate with these two beautiful souls! It was a day filled with love, laughter, tears and romance. I feel grateful to have played a small part in their story. Sentimental weddings are absolutely my jam and I couldn’t have picked two better people to spend the day with! I wish you both a lifetime of love and happiness.
Thanks to these amazing vendors who helped make their dream day possible!
Dress: Stella York by Essense of Australia
Dress Shop: New Beginnings Bridal
Suit: Men’s Warehouse
Hair: Susan Harmon at Azura Studio
Rings: Hers- LaMore Design ; His- Staghead Designs
Flowers: Donner Flower Shop
Food/Bar Service: Brickhouse
Cake: The Cake Lady
Ceremony Venue: Sahalie Falls
Photographer: Erica Swantek Photography
Second Photographer: Gwen Shoemaker
Hey, I’m Erica a sentimental Bend wedding photographer for free-spirited and natural couples that love celebrating outdoors! I am based in Oregon but always willing to travel for your dream wedding. I am booking for 2018 and would love to chat with you if you are getting married this year. Drop me a note and let’s set up a coffee or happy hour meeting to talk!
If you love intimate weddings like I do, be sure to read about Kat & Walker’s gorgeous Sparks Lake wedding too!
Such amazing locations! That forest was a dream and I loved the alley shot by the restaurant at the reception.
What a fun day! SO refreshing to be outside in nature for your wedding celebration!
It sure is. It was a super fun day!
The dress is phenomenal, the location for couple’s portraits is out of this world and their bold colors rock!