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Can I just first start by saying, how many chances do you get to shoot a Catholic Church wedding and move about freely with flash, and lighting etc. etc. etc?! This #TraditionalWedding in the #StPetersChurch in #TheDallesOregon was absolutely nothing short of a once in a lifetime, dream come true to shoot! I couldn't even believe my own eyes the entire time it was happening!
Beth and Igor were not the average couple either. Their story wasn’t the typical long-term relationship turned marriage proposal and I think that’s one of the many aspects of this day that just made it so magical. Beth and Igor met on the FaceBook Dating App during the COVID19 shutdowns and stay at home orders. They’re both deeply religious people and hold their relationship with God very close to their heart. As Beth’s sister tells the story, they were organizing a Zoom meeting bible study one week during the height of the Pandemic when Beth piped up during prayer requests and exclaimed that she would ‘like to go on a date’, to everyone’s humor. A few weeks later she upped the stakes when she, quite seriously, expressed in a prayer request moment that she would like to find a husband. Everyone laughed of course, but a few weeks later she met Igor online and they were literally, a match made in the stars. Less than a year later they were engaged to be married. Igor proposed to Beth on a hike in the #columbiarivergorge, something they’re both very passionate about, and before he could even finish asking, she was excitedly yelling yes with tear filled eyes. The rest is history!
My personal favorite part about their wedding day was the opportunity to photograph so many sentimental pieces of Beth’s life in her hometown that were incorporated into every stage of the day. She got ready in her childhood home so when I was photographing the details of her two wedding dresses, I was drawn to the upstairs hallway of her parents tiny, ranch style dalles home. I hadn’t been up there yet, but Beth’s family holds family tradition and sentimental dates very near and dear to their heart.
As I was walking up the stairs of their house I instantly was overwhelmed by a sense of excitement when I came around the corner of the top of the stairs and noticed their hallway was covered in old pictures of family members who were either still alive, but much older, or no longer with them. Just passed this beautiful picture covered wall was the open door to Beth’s childhood bedroom. I had to take advantage of this, so I hung her dress on the doorpost of her bedroom and photographed at an angle that captured her bedroom, wedding dress and all the pictures on the wall in a single shot. I wanted to take a picture of both dresses in this space so I hung her other dress on the track lights connected to the ceiling above the stars and angled my lens at a downward angle so that you could see the dress in the middle, both her bedroom door behind the dress and the door that led to the downstairs living space beneath the dress. The lighting above the dress was so warm and cast beautiful shadows in all the right places to really evoke the emotion of the space.
Obviously, my work with the #weddingdress detail wasn’t finished. I wanted to capture both dresses together, so I hung both dresses side by side out front of her parents’ home. Their front porch was like something you would see in a 90’s romantic comedy movie so this was a must have shot. I was able to highlight the dresses hanging on the front porch of her parents’ house, her childhood home, while capturing the entire front of the home. The edited images turned out so much more amazing than I could have ever even imagined!
Moving onto detail shots at the home, where Beth was getting ready, there was soooo many aspects of her life to capture and incorporate. Beth is an avid artist, a marathon runner, has two childhood dogs that were present during the getting ready process, so naturally I wanted to capture all these things. I went al little crazy with the ring details because I couldn’t make up my mind on how exactly I wanted to capture it. First, I took it outside where she was putting together her floral arrangements for the wedding, which btw she did herself (like superwoman status much?!?!) and I captured her ring sitting on the cute little outdoor firepit chairs her parents had in the backyard, surrounded by the floral details of her Boquete. Then I made sure to head inside and incorporate her painting easel she had set up where she was painting an oil painting of the #ColumbiaRiver for a friend.
The day was going by so quickly I had to remind myself that I can’t just spend all day photographing details, so I moved onto other aspects and started napping away at pictures of Beth getting ready with her sister, mother, and closest friend. These shots were just so adorable in the dining room of her parents’ house!
At around 2pm I headed over to snag some shots of the guys and meet up with the bridal party at the church. Beth + Igor did a private first look behind the church and it wasn’t a super teary eyed, emotional experience like most of them have been in my experience with weddings, but OH.MY.LORD. did sparks fly or what?! I don’t think it could get any steamier with the way Igor was looking at his soon to be wife. Seriously the chemistry was explosive in this moment, I could have melted.
For #bridalportraits we kind of walked around the Dalles to a few close by locations, but my personal favorite was the black and gray doors of a real estate building across the street from the church. I loved the #modern look of the doors with windows behind them and the way it played off Igor’s naturally ‘suave’ appearance. He has some graying going on in the front of his hair and it is a total vibe. These two are like, a movie star couple, but not famous I kid you not!
We also did some bridals inside the church, along with bridal party and family shots. THE LIGHTING in here was not ideal, but with some off camera flash and the #GODAXAD200 we made magic! My personal favorite brainchild of all the bridals was upstairs in the balcony where I positioned Beth and Igor against the organ pipes in a spicy pose and then had them do something similar on the railing of the balcony so that you could see the entire church setting and catholic décor/marble moldings behind them. These shots were seriously TO DIE FOR.
The wedding itself was so dreamy. Beth and the bridal party walked down the aisle between traditional church pews. I was able to post up on the stage at the perfect spot to capture her reaction coming down the aisle as well as Igor’s and then during the vows I was able to stand up behind them on the stage to get the view of what their family and friends looked like watching them Vow their love for one another. Beth’s father officiated the ceremony, which made for a unique vibe of the wedding, and the kiss, oh my lord, the kiss. I was able to capture their kiss with the entire attendance of the wedding behind them!
After the ceremony the bridal party caravanned to a local #lavenderfield for the #reception. It was the cutest little venue that had never hosted a wedding before this. So that was a treat for sure! The settings for the reception were super simple but so beautiful. It was like two different weddings in one. Beth and Igor arrived to the reception after everyone else because she had to change dresses.She also changed her full, traditional updo, to a half up-half down look and I was honestly shook at how amazing it looked!
The reception was amazing, so many details to run around and capture, my heart could have flown away if I let it. Igor’s grandmother made traditional Russian pastries that we got to try, and they were so soft and amazing!!! And they looked amazing to boot. Macaroons, cream horns and another ‘wafer’ type pastry that I can never remember the name of (it looks like a layered wafer cake with this kind of yummy, creamy syrup between the layers, if you know what it’s called, please tell me in the comments because I’m lost). They also had a cheese and meet spread for Hors d’oeuvres that was so amazing. I’m a sucker for anything with meat and cheese or ‘charcuterie’ as it’s called (when I was growing up in an Italian household, we just called this snack time lol but apparently, it’s a fad now). This was paired with a mini bar with lavender lemonade, (HOW PNW CAN YOU GET?!?!) they spritzed it up with some champagne for the adults and sparkling water for the non-alcohol age consuming crowd.
There were a few sweet tradition moments for Igor and Beth during the reception. They started the dances way later than they planned and there was almost no light for the photography, so we went full flash baby. The exit was a whirlwind of adrenaline as the second photographer had to leave shortly before the dances or dancefloor activities started. I think the part that emotionally stuck out to me the most was the best man speech. Total tear jerker for sure!!!!
Catering: Rooted in The Dalles Catering https://www.rootedeventco.com
Cake: Rooted in The Dalles Catering https://www.rootedeventco.com
Wedding Ceremony Venue: St.Peters Church Historical Landmark https://oldstpeterslandmark.org
Reception Venue: Private Venue.
Tips for Planning a Traditional Church Wedding
When planning a traditional church wedding, it’s no secret that there are some inevitable hiccups bridal parties, and photographers run into. One of the most obvious is that many traditional churches of certain denominations do not allow photographers to move freely throughout the sanctuary, since it is a holy place. This is a huge problem for being able to get advantageous wedding ceremony pictures. Not only this, but they do not allow flash photography of any kind within the sanctuary, which can be a huge hurdle for wedding ceremony photography. If you are wanting to book a traditional wedding ceremony in a church with a high vaulted ceiling and beautiful moldings, I highly recommend finding a beautiful historical landmark in an area near you, that does not have as many restrictions as a catholic church. Of course, if you are a catholic and the catholic wedding tradition is what is important to you, find a photographer who is experienced in shooting catholic church weddings and has many years of trial and error behind them in navigating the restrictions of a catholic church sanctuary.
A Short History:
The St. peters Landmark in The Dalles, Oregon, was constructed in 1897 and was dedicated to the catholic church on St. Patrick’s Day in 1898. Due to rapid growth over the next 70 years, in 1970 the Monsignor of the church made the decision to tear the church down, sell the bricks and put the money towards the new church that was being constructed with more space for a larger congregation. Due to the historical significance and beauty of the site, a few local citizens pooled all their efforts together and raised $25,000 (asking price of the church at the time) to rescue the building. Since then, the church has been repaired by donations of the community. Saved from extreme weather damage of the harsh Columbia river gorge, and had numerous stained glass windows replaced to preserve its beauty and elegance.
Old. St. Peters Landmark Availability:
St. Peters Landmark hosts all kinds of events from local get togethers, to concerts to weddings. At only $500 for a 5.5-hour window of time, they are an extremely affordable option for anyone on a tighter wedding budget, without having to skimp on the beauty and elegance of the venue! You can find more information on how to book this venue at the link below! If you are in the Dalles or anywhere in Oregon really, this is a fantastic option for anyone wanting that traditional church wedding without the restrictions!
Bridal Portrait Locations:
Although quite small, the church has several gorgeous backdrops for bridal portraits.
1. In front of the church on the steps.
2. In the balcony, against the railing with the pews and sanctuary behind the couple.
3. Next to the pipes of the organ with the organ pipes as a backdrop
4. On the stairs leading up to the balcony
5. On the stage in front of the stained-glass windows.
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