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.
Kat & I met over a Skype call about 6 weeks prior to her intimate outdoor Oregon wedding at Sparks Lake. She told me that she was currently finishing up medical school in New York, in the middle of a big move to start her residency, and after much thought, she and Walker, her fiance, decided to move their wedding up a year. They had planned to marry back east with a big wedding celebration, but decided that family and just being married was most important, so they instead chose an intimate outdoor wedding in the mountains surrounding Bend, Oregon, Walker’s hometown. They decided Sparks Lake provided the perfect location for their small wedding, and on Monday, July 18, Walker and Kat said their vows amongst only the closest family. There was truly something special about this wedding for me. I love that they chose to do things their way.
I arrived at the condo Kat was staying in at Mt. Bachelor Village with her parents, two sisters and brother. They had a beautiful view of the Deschutes River from the condo’s patio. The weather was a bit unpredictable that day and actually threatened to move the entire ceremony to an indoor location in town, but Walker and his brothers were up at Sparks Lake scoping the scene out and setting up chairs, and giving up to date weather reports via text to Kat. They decided to take a chance and just go for it, as they really wanted that intimate outdoor Oregon wedding they were dreaming of. As Kat’s hair and makeup were finishing up, I took some detail photos of their rings, bouquets and Kat’s dress. Then, it was time for her to get ready.
Kat’s sisters helped her button her beautiful dress and tie the sash around her waist, as the afternoon light was filling the room. These moments between sisters are so precious, and sometimes rare. The smiles they exchange, the look of adoration, it really makes my heart melt. I have two sisters also, so it’s hard for me to not get a bit emotional when I get to experience this again.
As Kat puts the finishing touches on with her earrings and a spray of perfume, her mother pins her father’s boutonniere on and her sister pins on her brother’s boutonniere. I quickly bonded over the Polish roots I share with this family, who emigrated from Poland. They were so full of love and so welcoming of me into their space.
Kat, her sisters and I headed outside the condo for some bridal and bridesmaid portraits. The views overlooking the Deschutes River right on the edge of the property were just too good to not use! We also had the added bonus of cloud cover, creating beautiful soft light that was so fitting for the color of Kat and her sisters’ dresses. Truly, Bend has some amazing scenery!
After the portraits it’s time to head up the mountain to Sparks Lake, the venue for this intimate outdoor Oregon wedding. When we arrive, Walker and his brothers have everything set up and they escort the family to the secluded spot along the banks of Sparks Lake where the ceremony will take place. A two piece band with a fiddle and guitar is set up to create the perfect music for them. Finally, the ceremony and wedding of their dreams is about to begin!
Kat’s father waits with her to bring her down the trail and walk her out along the beach. It’s a bit of a steep trail, but Kat rocks it in the heels she wore! As Kat and her father walk down the trail, they are met by her sister, who helps her with her dress, making sure her beautiful train is trailing her perfectly. Walker and Kat chose to see each other for the first time as she walked down the aisle, and the look he had for his soon to be wife was nothing but adoration and love.
Kat and Walker are greeted by their very closest family, saying their vows overlooking Sparks Lake and the beautiful Cascade Mountains. The day couldn’t have been more perfect for an intimate outdoor Oregon wedding!
As the ceremony is over, embraces are exchanged with family and champagne is waiting to toast the newly married couple! The day turned out to be absolutely perfect and the family enjoyed the beautiful outdoors while celebrating an amazing union between two wonderful people.
After the celebratory toast, I gathered everyone for the formal photos before we sent them down the mountain the restaurant for cocktails and happy hour, so that I could have time with Kat & Walker alone for their formal portraits. At last, these two are together as husband and wife. The love they shared was truly special and it’s those quiet moments, when family is all gone, that you can really see the connection. Sparks were flying and it wasn’t just because we were at Sparks Lake!
Finally, formal portraits were done and it was time for us to head to the Blacksmith Restaurant, where the family was gathered for an intimate dinner with the bride and groom. A special menu was created for the wedding and a beautiful cake decorated with fresh flowers waited for the guests to enjoy. I stayed for a short time, before dinner arrived, and then left the party to continue in privacy. I had a wonderful time getting to know this sweet couple and I was honored they chose me to photograph their intimate outdoor Oregon wedding.
Kat & Walker, I wish you a lifetime of happiness! Your wedding was truly as beautiful as the two of you. In a word, thank you!
Photography: Erica Swantek Photography
Hair & Makup: Hair by Bridgit
Dress: BHLDN by Anthropologie
Bridesmaid Dresses: Dluga Sukienka Koronkowa
Suit: Groom’s own
Shoes: Kelly & Katie
Flowers: Wild Flowers of Oregon
Officiant: Groom’s Uncle
Ceremony Music: Fiddleplay
Lodging: Mt. Bachelor Village
Cake: Faith & Flour Baking
Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas
Hi, I’m Erica, a sentimental wedding photographer that loves working with free-spirited and natural couples that want to marry in the outdoors. I’m now accepting 2017 weddings and would love to talk to you if you are getting married next year. Drop me a note and let’s chat!