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.
John & Chanel discovered me through the Cascades Wedding Show last January. It was actually Chanel’s mother who went and she passed along all the vendor info to them, as they weren’t able to attend. They contacted me a few months later and were planning a winter woodland wedding in Bend in November. Chanel is from Bend, but moved away for college where she met the love of her life, John. They both recently finished grad school and are living and working in WA for the University as researchers. They are also both members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and wanted to marry at Chanel’s home church here in Bend. As avid outdoor lovers, they still wanted to incorporate the outdoors, both through portraits but also in the theme. Chanel did an amazing job coming up with a winter woodland wedding and John even cut and collected the birch trees they used to decorate the space. The transformed the sanctuary of the Bend SDA’s church into a beautiful winter scene!
The day started with Chanel and her mother getting their hair and makeup done at Headlines Salon. This is always a fun time for mother & daughter to just relax a little before the chaos of the big day!
As hair and makeup was finishing up, I headed to the Bend SDA church to meet with John and the guys, as they hung out and prepared for John’s big day.
I also began capturing all of Chanel’s details, including her dress, veil, shoes and jewelry. Chanel also gifted all her bridesmaids custom embroidered robes with their initials. As my second photographer and I were working on the dress, Chanel’s gorgeous flowers arrived.
After Chanel got into her dress and got her veil situated, it was time for the first look. My second photographer, Michelle, took John outside to the spot where the first look was taking place. Little did I know, until I got the photos back, that John found a Burger King crown and decided he had to wear it. Michelle looked up and caught this moment. Seriously, John is a funny guy and I am pretty sure these two are in for a lifetime of laughter and smiles!
After the first look, I took some beautiful bridal portraits of Chanel in the open space surrounding the church. We then had some time for a few more couple’s portraits before moving on to the wedding party. This was a big wedding party but they were so easy to work with and loved having fun together!
We decided to move to the front of the building for the rest of the formals as the sun was really bright and the wind was picking up. I love how the windows created a beautiful backdrop.
Next, we did all the family portraits for John & Chanel’s winter woodland wedding before the ceremony began. It’s so nice when the timeline allows this, as after the ceremony, the family can enjoy a cocktail hour while the bride and groom get to take more gorgeous portraits without feeling pressure to get all the family photos in after the ceremony.
Then it was time for the wedding party to head inside, as the ceremony was getting ready to begin. Chanel and John did such an amazing job creating the perfect winter woodland wedding theme, filling the sanctuary with Christmas trees, birch stumps, twinkle lights and they even had a screen with snow falling. They brought the atmosphere of winter, indoors, so beautifully. The flower girls even dropped snowflakes instead of flower petals!
After Chanel & John exchanged their vows and rings, they lit their unity candle and two of Chanel’s bridesmaids played a beautiful song on cello and piano. I love when couples incorporate music into their ceremony, as music is something that really resonates with me. After the unity candle lighting, Chanel and John sealed the deal with a kiss! These two are so in love and I just love how you can see that!
After the ceremony, I took Chanel and John out for a few more portraits while their guests enjoyed hot cocoa and cider. The perfect warm drink to enjoy for a winter woodland wedding!
It was time to head back inside to enjoy their guests and the beautiful winter woodland wedding reception. The room was decorated with more trees with beautiful twinkle lights, candles, snowflakes and a gorgeous cake with the cutest little topper they had custom made. It really represents Chanel & John and their love for the outdoors and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest!
After a delicious dinner, it was time for some beautiful toasts to the bride & groom, followed by cutting of the cake, the bouquet & garter toss and finally, the couples first dance.
The night was coming to a close and it was time to send these two off. The DJ organized a tunnel of hands created by Chanel & John’s guests that they walked through to their exit. It was super sweet to see all their guests say goodbye in such a fun way!
Chanel & John had a beautiful day, creating a gorgeous winter woodland wedding at their church in Bend. I was honored to be a part of their special day and I wish them both a lifetime of happiness. The love these two have for each other is so evident, and the day was filled with sentimental details that make my heart happy!
Thanks to these amazing vendors for making their day even more beautiful!
Photographer: Erica Swantek Photography
Second Photographer: Michelle Bauer Photography
Venue: Bend Seventh Day Adventist Church
Dress, Bridesmaid dresses and suits: The Bridal Suite & Special Occasion
Flowers: Donner Flower Shop
Catering: Tate & Tate Catering
Cake: The Cake Lady
Hair: Headlines on Newport
Makeup: Makeup by Kimberly
Entertainment: DJ Matt Kaufman, Mr. Music DJ Service
Tables/Linens: Northwest Laundry Service
Favors: Etched in Time, LLC
Hi, I’m Erica, a sentimental wedding photographer for free-spirited, natural couples that love celebrating outdoors! If you are getting married, I would love to talk. I am currently booking 2017 weddings. Hit that contact button or send me an email.
What a unique ceremony backdrop! great job with the details!
Great work! I love their first dance and all the detail shots!
Thank you, Valeria!
That first look is wonderful! And I love their winter wonderland decor!
Thank you, Melissa!