5 Essentials to a Rustic Wedding in the Pacific Northwest

Venue:  Kelley Farm

Guest post by: Darya Kuksenko of AKP Bridal

Your man gets down on one knee and pops the question somewhere at a viewpoint you hiked to. The ring is everything you’ve dreamed off and you finally get to use that ‘wedding’ board that you’ve started on Pinterest back when you were in high school.  You are beyond excited and itching to get started planning your big day. You know one thing for sure— you want a rustic wedding. Living in the mountainous Pacific Northwest, you really want to highlight the beauty of where you’re from. Something homey and family oriented, with nature as your backdrop and a relaxed atmosphere. People wearing comfortable shoes, laughing and having a good time celebrating your love story. You have a clear vision but you don’t know where to start to make it a reality. Just the thought of planning the most important day of your life overwhelms you. 

       Let me tell you that you are not alone. Most brides feel anxious at the beginning of their wedding planning process. We’re here to give you a place to start. A tangible beginning to get your ideas rolling, and hopefully, aide in your process of planning your dream wedding in the gorgeous evergreen home of ours.

        I would like to give you five essentials that gives a wedding that rustic feel that you might be dreaming of.

Five ways to accent the beauty around 

  1. Cozy Venue

      Whether your wedding is in the hottest part of the summer or in the dead of winter, your venue stages the mood. Choosing something with a wooden interior, will engulf your guests into a feeling of comfort and home. A log wood cabin. Or homestead on a farm. A large barn that can be decked out in string lights and filled with music. Chose a place that is ‘close to the earth’. A place that has trees and open space and maybe even some animals. A venue where people will feel a connection to nature. This sets the scene for you to celebrate your love in a relaxed, family oriented atmosphere.

2. The Right Playlist

         Whether or not you hire a DJ or a band, or simply create a playlist, the music you choose will layer on that rustic feel on your special day. When guests arrive to the party and hear the southern brawl of Kenneth Chesney of the smooth and easy voice of Nora Jones, they will instantly feel the comfort and energy of a rustic wedding. Be strategic about your music choices. Think about the mood each song brings to the celebration.

Venue:  Zephry Lodge

3. Lighting

        One of the most signature elements of a rustic wedding is string lights. Hung from the ceiling, from the trees, back and forth on the patio, or where ever there is open space. String lights create a glow that reflects off the glasses and candles and creates a warmth and homey feeling to the party that is hard to create with anything else. So hang those lights everywhere. They are your biggest coziness factor. You can’t go wrong with something that has such big effect, for such little money.

Venue:  Zephyr Lodge

4. Wooden Decor

      Invest into wooden customized wedding signs that say “Welcome” and “Reception This Way” and other personalized messages. Wooden table numbers and “Mrs and Mr” engraved pieces. Wood personalized with beautiful calligraphy, stylishly placed all around your venue adds beautifully to the rustic feel. Wooden chairs and wooden cake stands highlight the earthy tones and gives a personal touch that looks very aesthetically pleasing and pairs perfectly with the rustic style. 

5. Food

        With food, there are so many ways you could go. A barbecue or an elegant roast beef dinner. Whatever menu you chose, it ought to be one that is hearty and filling. Comforting and hot. It should make the guests feel like they’ve come home on a Sunday evening to mom’s house. Make a buffet style meal and heap is with steaming goodness. There’s nothing that makes one feel happier and ready to dance than a full stomach of the most delicious comfort foods mom used to cook. Be intentional with flavors. 

Aim for these five big features, and you’ll have a real start on planning your dream rustic wedding. The rest are details that add fun and depth to the overall mood of your special day.

welcome sign.jpg

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Tone It Up In Tiny Steps

Every bride wants to look her best on her wedding day.  But most of the affianced are so busy, working out comes last on their list of “must do’s” for the day.  You meant to workout out, you really did, but there are so many things that you’d rather do than sweat for the dress.  The good news is, there are little things you can do to give yourself a little boost without packing your gym bag.  You can take 30 seconds here, 5 minutes there and before you know it, you’re feeling (and seeing!) the change!

If you’re looking to tone up before the big day, I’ve got you, girl!

Tone it up for your wedding.png

Sexy, Sleek Arms

With the enormous popularity of strapless dresses, toning up your arms is a must.  Here are a few simple moves you can do anytime.

Arm Circles: Shoulders, Back, Triceps, Biceps

Stand with your feet hip width, and your arms stretched to your sides.  Simply make 20 small circles backward, about the size of a grapefruit, then do the same forwards.  When you’re ready to push yourself harder, add a 2-3-pound weight in each hand.   

Shoulder Press: Shoulders, Triceps

Standing with feet under your hips, bring your weights up to your shoulders, with your elbows pointed out.  Raise your weights straight up, and bring back down.  Repeat 20 times; as you get stronger, increase your weights.  Resistance bands also work well, here. 

Tricep Push-Back, Triceps

No one actually likes working their triceps.  It’s such an unforgiving, tiny muscle, but when you’ve got them…you flaunt them.  Grab a light weight, stand with knees gently bent.  Lean over slightly, and bring the weights up to your pits, almost as if you were doing a curl.  Now, extend your arms back, lifting your arms straight behind you.  Return to the curl and repeat 20 times.  

Baby’s Got Back

If you sit at a desk all day, odds are your booty isn’t quite as, let us say, plump as it used to be.  It happens, but you can do something about it.


An easy and equipment free option that burns calories without really going out of your way.  Take them two at a time, take them instead of the elevator, just take them.


No weights needed, gravity will do it for you.  Try two different versions.  The classic squat: Standing with your knees just wider than hip width, squat down, keeping your back straight, until your knees are at a 90-degree angle.  Stand up straight and repeat 20 times.  Sumo squat: with your feet spread slightly wider than before, turn your feet out.  Keeping your knees over your feet, squat down again to a 90-degree angle. Repeat as before.  The first squat will work your largest booty muscle; the second will work the small muscle on the sides.

Booty Kicks

Booty kicks work the last part of your booty that will give you that extra lift.  Rest on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.  From here lift your right leg until it is level with your torso, keeping it bent at all times at 90-degrees.  Repeat 20 times and then repeat with the other leg.  If you find this too easy, place a 3-5 pound weight behind your knee, and lift as before.  You’ll be on your way to a Sir-Mix-A-Lot approved booty in no time!


You may not be showing off your abs on your wedding day, but most honeymoons involve a bathing suit, so toning up that core is still a priority.


No doubt you’ve done these, and they still hold up.  If you haven’t, you hold your body in a straight line, as if you were doing a push-up, but on your elbows.  Here are some variations to change it up a bit, generally speaking, hold these for 30 seconds:

  • Half-plank: Same as a full plank but with your knees down. Which is good if you are starting out.  It’s better to have proper posture than to compromise it and not work the right muscle. 

  • Side-plank: Get in push-up position.  Holding your body straight, shift all your weight to your right leg and right arm, turning your body to face open.  If this move is too much, you can drop your knee or your elbow. 

  • Planks with drops: Get in full-plank position and hold for 10 seconds.  Drop your weight to the ground, rest 3 seconds then go back to plank. Repeat three times.

Weighted Obliques

Grab something heavy, whatever you have on hand (10 lbs+).  Standing straight up, hold the weight in your right hand at your hip.  Gently allow the weight to pull your torso down sideways, then use your core to stand up straight again.  You should feel this one in your side.  Do 15 reps per side.

Squeeze It

A solid move that doesn’t require you even to get up (win!).  Sit with your best posture.  Draw your navel to your spine and hold for 5 seconds at a time.  Release, and repeat.  As you are able, hold for longer periods of time.  This will also be a fantastic one to keep in mind if you have babies.  Traditional ab moves can be bad for your abdominal muscles while they recover if you end up with Diastasis Recti.  But that’s a conversation for another time.

Long, Lean Legs

Can’t forget about the legs!  They will probably be hidden under your dress, but you have to have some strength to rock those Jimmy Choo’s all night long. I love all of these because you can do them at your desk, and usually holding onto your chair for support.   Absolutely can’t stop reading that report, that’s fine because you won’t be jumping up and down or anything crazy like that.

Parallel Thigh Work

Hold onto your chair, feet forward and under your hips.  Raise your heels up and bend your knees while keeping your torso straight up.  You should feel the burn in your quads as you go down and release as you stand.  Repeat for 1 minute.

Leg Lifts

Think of every ballet warm-up scene you’ve ever seen.  It’s that move, and it’s an oldie but a goodie.  Standing holding your support, stand in first position (heels together with a slight turn-out).  Lift your right leg, keeping it straight and turned out, as high as you can.  Lower, and repeat.  You can also change it up by pulsing instead of lowering all the way.  Change it up by doing the same move but by bringing your leg back.  You’ll feel this one in your hip flexors.


Just like the first move I mentioned, this uses tiny movements for big results.  Take the same position as the leg lifts (first position), but this time, only lift your leg up a little. Make tiny circles with your feet forward, then switch sides.  You can do the same movement but to the side for slightly different muscle development.

 idaho Wedding Photographer, Zephyr Lodge, Liberty Lake, Marcella, Luxury Wedding Photography, Glamorous Wedding, Stunning Details, Destination Wedding Photography, PNW Wedding Photography, PNW, Athletic Bride, Unique Wedding Dresses, Live bands, Authentic Photography, Fine Art Weddings

It doesn’t take a gym membership to tighten up your muscles before the big day.  It just takes a moment here and there, whenever you can find it.  Which, truthfully, is sometimes all the time we have.  Go tone up, you busy girl!

Guest Guide to Seattle

Seattle Wedding guest Guide

Seattle really has it all.  Big city attractions, gorgeous views  of the sound, majestic Mt. Rainier, super fresh seafood, and of course, the Space Needle.  It’s no wonder you decided to get married here.  The wedding venues are dreamy, the background is idyllic, and the airport is international.  Okay, that last one may not have been the reason, but you can’t argue it’s nice to be so close to it when it’s time to fly off to your honeymoon in Fiji.  It will be something your guests love, though.  And speaking of guests, why not help them have an even better time while they’re here for your wedding by giving them a little “must see” guide to Seattle?  With so much to do, it can be too much to consider, so I broke it down to my favorites for you.  Let’s chat about what to see, what to do and definitely where to chow down.


What to Do in Seattle

Seattle has a little something for everyone.  Yes, it’s a huge metropolitan, but it’s also nestled smack dab between Mt. Rainer and the Puget Sound.  Serious shopper or avid outdoors person, I gotcha.  

The Space Needle

Let’s just talk about the obvious one.  Even if you only know about it because of Grey’s Anatomy or Frasier, it’s made the Seattle skyline one of the most recognizable in the world.  You don’t have to go up to the top if you don’t want to, it’s still pretty impressive from below.  But, it’s an impressive way to view the city.  Your guests can even choose to grab a bite at SkyCity, the restaurant that spins.  I can’t think of too many restaurants that offer that kind of experience.  

Click here to view wedding photos at the space needle!

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market had to make the list.  I think right after The Space Needle, this is the second most iconic stop.  How many markets do you get to watch a fish fly through the air whenever it’s ordered?  Plus, your guests can buy super fresh seafood and have it shipped home right when they order it.  The fish couldn’t be fresher, and the produce selection is fabulous.  I suggest maybe even stop in before your “I do’s” to pick up a little fresh fruit or beer to enjoy back at the hotel instead of stopping by the grocery store.  The Market has several floors and is impossible to park near, so make sure they’re fine walking a few blocks to get there.

To view wedding photos at pike place market, click here, here and here!


The Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight is a fantastic stop for guests of all ages.  History buffs will love the Military History exhibits, featuring planes from both world wars, Vietnam and more.  Thrill seekers can even take guided flight tours in a WWII Bomber or Fighter aircraft.  Those who’d rather keep their feet on solid ground can enjoy a flight simulator or simply have a seat in the pilot seat of a commercial liner.  The museum is gigantic, so have your guests check out the website and the exhibit listings beforehand to plan out their visit a bit.

Kerry Park

Probably the best way to see the Seattle skyline on land, Kerry Park is a perfect spot to feel like you’re escaping the city but still enjoying it.  Grab a cup of coffee from Starbucks or any one of our million other coffee shops and enjoy the breath of fresh air.  Seattleites do love their coffee, that stereotype is 100% accurate, by the way. 

Made Famous by Hollywood

You know that houseboat that Tom Hanks lived in in “Sleepless in Seattle”?  It is still in the harbor.  And that super cool paint ball park in “10 Things I Hate About You,” that’s actually called Gas Works Park.  Keep in mind though; you can’t really play paintball there.  Bummer, I know.  Lastly, while not quite as iconic as “The Painted Ladies” of San Francisco, any fan of the early 90’s movie “Singles” would appreciate a stop by the Coryell Court Apartments in Capital Hill.  

Honorable Mentions

We can take the water for granted, but a boat ride around the harbor is a cool way to see the city, and something out-of-town guests probably don’t get to do at home.  There are dozens of options out there; kid-friendly, booze cruises you name it.  Woodland Park Zoo is lovely and sometimes your guest needs to tire their kiddo’s out before expecting them to sit still while you pronounce your love to your fiancé.  Pioneer Square is fun for those who want to meander, as is Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum.  Have a preteen/teenager/music buff guest?  Direct them to an afternoon at MoPop (formerly the EMP).  

Where to Eat

Seattle is a foodie paradise.  Super fresh seafood, diverse culture and a love of the freshest ingredients, it’s pretty hard to go wrong.  It’d be impossible to define the “best” restaurants the city can offer, but here are who lead the pack.


This Seattle landmark, owned by brothers Brian and Mark Canlis, has remained a thriving restaurant for over 66 years.  Canlis isn’t your casual, jeans and a sweater dinner spot.  This fine-dining restaurant calls for fine-dining attire, but the menu and wine list won’t have you minding the extra effort.  The kitchen is lead by James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the year finalist Brady Williams who delivers perfectly balanced, enticing dishes course after course.  The wine list has been carefully crafted by Advanced Sommelier Nelson Daquip, recognized by Seattle Magazine in 2008 as the City’s Best Sommelier.  Their 4-course dinners start at $125, making it a perfect celebration destination.

View photos from a Canlis wedding here!

The Walrus and The Carpenter

If a more laid-back, lively spot is what your guests want with the freshest oysters, this oyster bar in the Ballard neighborhood is a winner.  There’s more than just seafood on the menu, but with I don’t see the need to walk into an oyster bar and NOT order something from the ocean.  Fried oysters, salmon rillettes, scallops crudo, fried cod collars…you can’t go wrong. 

Little Water Cantina

Seattle may not scream “come here for great Mexican food,” but you can.  Little Water Cantina offers a fantastic and fresh menu along with a stunning view of Lake Union.  The patio can’t be reserved, but definitely try to get a seat out there.  As for what to eat, you will be hard-pressed to find a better ceviche, and the tacos Pescado (I like Baja style) are dang near perfect.

Seattle Deli

Ask ten people where to get the best banh mi’s in town, and you’ll get ten different answers.  Seattle Deli is my favorite though.  Terrible parking spaces, no proper website, no flashy signs, simply dang good Vietnamese sandwiches.  Call ahead and make it a lunch date at Kerry Park, they usually sell out of their bbq pork banh mi (best one in my opinion) by 2 p.m.  


It wouldn’t be a Seattle trip without grabbing some Dick’s.  Any true Seattleite can tell you their perfect Dick’s combo, and your guests will love being in on one of our worst kept best secrets.  1 a.m. burgers after a night of dancing, drinking, and celebrating your nuptials?  Yes, please!

Wherever your guests end up enjoying their time away from the ceremony, Seattle has plenty to keep them busy.  Giving your guests a little guidance will have them remembering your wedding weekend affectionately and make them sure to want to visit again.

Check out these downtown Seattle Weddings:


More Wedding Planning tips

Tips and Tricks on the Makings of a Good Mother-of-the-Groom Speech

Last summer, my brother tied the knot and I heard the BEST mother of the groom speech. As a wedding photographer, I’ve heard MANY speeches. Thank god, I’ve never had to give one myself because the thought of writing one gives me the heeby jeebies. After hearing my moms funny/tear jerking/passionate/captivating mother of the groom toast, I knew she needed to pass out her tricks to everyone on my blog. So brides & grooms, feel free to send this link to your mamas. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it! <3

lairmont manor wedding

Tips and Tricks on the Makings of a Good Mother-of-the-Groom Speech

1.  Time is crucial; keep it to about 5 minutes.

2.  Keep the structure of your speech focused and don't lose it.

a.  Introduction - voicing appreciation for your guests celebrating the newlyweds, etc.

b.  Best part - words about your son.  This should take 2 minutes max.  Spend thought and time planning just the right words to say about your son.

c.  Money in the bank - sweet words about the bride; equal time - 2 minutes. : )   If you for some reason, can't think of enough good things to say about the bride - then move on to speaking of the couple.  Generally, when speaking about the couple, you need to focus on the story. While you are talking about their story, you should focus on saying how important it was for these lovebirds to meet and join destinies. It is almost certain that all family members and other guests will be looking forward to hear your short version of how your son met his bride and how they ended up taking their relationship to the ultimate level.

d. Use quotes (salient or otherwise).

e. Close the structure of the speech with a toast.

3.  Practice your speech.  I started a month ahead of time and recorded it into my smart phone recorder. Then on my lunch time walks I practiced and memorizing it.  I practiced on my husband, girlfriends and other family members.

4.  When you deliver your speech, force yourself to pause throughout your speech while looking slowly around at the attendees and show your joy (the easy part : )

Her toast from my brothers wedding at lairmont manor.

Anyone who knows Kris, knows he is a journaler.  For years he has been doing “Morning Pages”, filling countless moleskin books with his thoughts, dreams and visions.  He is my philosopher-son.  It shows in his music, how he lives his life, and how he treats people – in a deep & thoughtful way.  When you are with him, you know he sees you – by the depth of his gaze and thoughtful presence.  This is one of Kris many gifts.  People are important to Kris and he prioritizes his time with them.

The written word is powerful to Kris – as well as journaling & writing music, he has also always been a list-maker.  Before smart phones, Kris’ spaces and places were littered with scraps of paper with lists of…

• things he wanted to accomplish that day

• future ideas he wanted to implement

• people he needed to connect with

Part of this practice was born from a family trait of forgetfulness… but also as a mother I preached the belief that “Your Word is Your Wand” – what you speak, you bring about – and the written word is timeless and not so easily forgotten : )

And so, it’s not surprising in February of 2003 that Kris shared a list with me… “What I want in the girl I marry.”

• I want someone who is willing to work through any problem and make good decisions on what is right and wrong.  Someone who is willing to compromise, see it from the other person’s view & look at the big picture.

• The woman I marry must not only be caring, but kind.  This woman should be someone who cares about others and when it comes down to it, is respectful of my decisions and way of doing things.  This person can still be a character, but underneath has that sincerity that makes me love her.

• I will marry a girl that has attitude and spunk.  The girl I marry will be sassy and fun.  I want to marry someone who knows how to have a good time or be a home body.  This person will be as versatile as me in that department and will do what she wants and feel confident about it, while respecting my intentions and feelings.

• I want to marry a person who is intelligent.  I don’t mean just book smarts, but emotionally and socially intelligent.  I know that when I talk to this person or have a question about something, that between the two of us we can come up with an answer.  Someone who knows enough about herself and the world, that she has great advice and is there when I need a shoulder to cry on.  Someone I can talk about anything with (like Matt dogg).

• I will marry the girl that makes you double take or catches your attention in a room for a split second.  Her overall persona is that of a confident woman who walks into a room knowing what is going to happen, what she wants and how to get there.  Confidence is key in the girl I pursue.  With this confidence she will have a sense of style that shows her confidence.  The way she dresses, walks and acts creates that persona adding to who she is and what she stands for.

• I will marry a woman that takes my breath away, with chemistry and wit.  When I am around her I feel that pull, that passion, creating even more appreciation for how incredible she is.  I will marry a woman with gorgeous eyes and soft lips.  I will marry a woman that cares about how she looks but doesn’t obsess over it.  I will marry a woman that is beautiful on the inside and outside.

When I look into this person’s eyes, I will feel like I have succeeded and am ready to take the next step in my life.  This person I will do anything for.

Wow - Your word is your wand indeed - Word made flesh?

Alex, you are the woman Kris has been waiting for.  We love you and are so thankful that you also chose Kris.

Let’s raise a toast to Kris and Alex and send them for forth with our blessing to make more magic."

More Wedding Planning Tips:

Your wedding photos could be a disaster if...

“All It takes to get good photos is a good camera…my cousin can do it, she just picked up a new camera from Costco”.png

Your wedding photos could be a disaster if your photographer doesn't carry backup gear.**

**The B. Jones Photography team ALWAYS carry's backup gear.


Here's a little behind the scenes into a few real weddings that could have RUINED my business.

I remember the exact moment my camera stopped working the first time— I was photographing the bridal party in a field of long grass in 95 degree weather. We had just started doing bridal party photos and I could tell everyone was uncomfortable standing in this itchy grass. But the lightening was perfect and they had just walked 5 min to the minute of this field at sunset because it would make the bride happy. Welp, 2 poses into the bridesmaid photos, my camera screen died and refused to power back on. I tried taking the battery out and in but nothing changed. Thankfully, I had a backup camera body in my gear bag. I told the bridal party that my second shooter would be taking over for a few minutes and sprinted the 5 min up the hill to the reception venue where my backup gear sat. I grabbed the backup camera, swapped my camera cards, abandoned my dead camera and windedly jogged back to the field to finish out portraits. The bride and groom were none the wiser and we were able to keep photographing their day thanks to my talented second shooter and my backup camera. 


I was sufficiently freaked out after this instance and promptly sent out my camera to be repaired and ordered a new camera body. 


Ironically, the following season, my camera body also died during bridesmaid photos. 😅 What the heck yo?! This time, I was prepared and had my backup camera body steps away from where we were shooting. We rolled on with the rest of the day and the couple still has no idea what went down. 


This time, I was able to get my camera body repaired by ended up having to rent a backup camera body for the 3 weddings I had booked for the following 9 days. (Ie: $$$$$)


Unfortunately, I’ve also been unlucky with lens.  About once a season, one of my lenses also seems to kick the bucket. Causes of death include: camera bag falling on concrete, kiddos pulling mommies camera off the kitchen counter and the worst of all— unknown causes. 


I’m going to get preachy for a hot second. A wedding cannot be ‘redone.’ Wedding photos are a once in a lifetime experience and a heirloom that lasts over a lifetime. It’s my job as a professional wedding photographer to safe guard every aspect of your wedding photos— which means carrying backup gear just in case. I’ve lost 2 cameras and 3 lenses over the course of 3 years. Most of these occurrences were during real weddings. It’s stressful folks but these occurrences won’t compromise my brides/grooms photos because I always carry backup gear. 

Questions to ask your Wedding Photographer

Questions to ask your Wedding Photographer

What style(s) do you specialize in?
My aesthetic is bright & airy, inspired by Fuji film and filled with authentic emotion.

Will the photos be retouched and color balanced? Is that done before I see the proofs?
I hand edit all the images before delivery. It’s all part of the luxury experience I provide. 

Tips for Planning a Wedding in The San Juan Islands: Part One

Tips for Planning a Wedding in The San Juan Islands: Part One

As a Bellingham native and a devoted PNW’n’er, the San Juan Islands are basically my backyard. After many years of family vacations & destination weddings on Orcas, San Juan & Lopez Island — I’m a pro at getting the best deals on places to stay and navigating the ferry system. I know the best places to get married on the islands and I have a list of adventures/booze/bites that’ll make you want to visit each island at least once! 

Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress in (Greater) Seattle

B. Jones Photography
B. Jones Photography

There is nothing more personal to a bride on her wedding day, than the dress she’s picked to wear.  The dress that makes you feel fantastic, look stunning and is forever immortalized in your wedding pictures.  You know the dress as soon as you put it on, it’s just a matter of finding it.  I’ve gathered five of my absolute favorite dress shops in Seattle that you should definitely stop by on your search for THE dress.  In no particular order…

MeaMarie Bridal Altelier

30 Lake Shore Plaza 

Kirkland, WA 98033


      MeaMarie Bridal Altelier is a must have in my top five.  Proudly boasting as Seattle’s Premier Couture Bridal Experience, MeaMarie has the class and style to back it up.   Run by Rachelle Witt and Mea Mendez, MeaMarie carries some of the most gorgeous wedding dresses I’ve ever head to good fortune of photographing.  With decades of experience between the ladies, Rachelle and Mea have taken a private-suite and transformed it into an experience in and of itself.  

     “My love for bridal started over 20 years ago.  I had a strong passion with playing dress up and was mesmerized by beautiful gowns. When we purchase dresses from designers from all over the world, we don’t just see dresses we see the art and design of that dress.”-Mea

      Looking through the walls of gorgeous dresses you can take your pick of designers, from Eve of Milady, Cristiano Lucci, Pedram Couture, and Anny Lin, just to name a few.  If you are looking for that fairytale wedding dress, MeaMarie needs to be on your short-list.  MeaMarie is by appointment only, which means you will get their undivided attention, and you can give your undivided attention to finding that perfect dress.

Dress range: $2000-$10000;

most range between $2500-$5000


Alicia’s Bridal & The Formal House Tuxedos

1400 N State St, Ste 102

Bellingham, WA 98225


     My top five list would be completely amiss without including my favorite Bellingham based bridal shop.  After all, Alicia’s is where I knew I had to shop when it was time for me to pick the dress I’d been dreaming about since I was a little girl, and where I really started in the industry.  A family-owned business for over 60 years, Alicia’s wide selection of designers, not only in dresses, but tux’s as well, makes it a top contender in the industry.  Pam Reed and her team of bridal consultants have all the know-how of a big city bridal shop, with a small-town feel.  

     “I love what I do…working with the brides, hearing their vision for the wedding and making it all happen! Over the past 30 years I’ve formed such close bonds with our designers and our brides.  We honestly love what we do, and just want our brides to feel the same way about us!”

     To top it off they support on of my favorite designers, and Bellingham local, Heidi Hull who designs absolutely stunning, one-of-a-kind jewelry, accessories and veils.  Alicia’s also has a fantastic outlet right next door if you’re on a more modest budget!  So, take a trip up north, check out the city of subdued excitement (oh, Bellingham, nothing but love for ya) and check out Alicia’s!  And by the way, no appointment needed!

Dress range: $700-$2800;

most range between $1400-$1800



1212 First Street

Snohomish, WA 98290


Celebrating their 10th year in business this year, LaineeMeg is an Instagram worthy bridal studio located in the Historic Snohomish Shopping District.  Ladies, it is a must-see.  Seriously, grab your girls, grab you Mom and plan a girl’s day in Snohomish because you are going to need to grab lunch after to GUSH about how much you love LaineeMeg.  Aside from carrying gowns from top designers, LaineeMeg boasts their own line, Ma Nani Anake, which is designed by studio owner, Zerlinda and her fabulous team.  These ladies are going to make you feel like you found a part of your family you hadn’t realized you were missing.  Their passion to make your experience as perfect as it can be is evident from the moment you walk in.  

“We believe in honesty, kindness and want you to leave feeling like you have made new friends! My favorite part of what we do is when a bride leaves having found the perfect dress, gives me a hug, and says she loved the experience, us, and most importantly, her dress.”-Zerlinda

The store is by appointment only, so be sure to plan ahead and reserve your private bridal suite.

Dresses start at $1100



90 Madison St. Seattle, WA 98104


      If you are looking for a custom gown, come to Cicada.  I’m talking, you’ve created a vision board and aren’t sure how to put it into words kind of custom gown…Jen and Elizabeth are who you need.  These ladies know how to decipher your hard to express ideas and transform them into THAT dress.  Of course, you can also book an appointment, take a look at their sample dresses and get started there as well.  Either way, all you need to do is be honest and they’ve got you, girl!  Cicada offers you the flexibility to have complete creative freedom, and you can rest assured that you’ll have a one-of-a-kind gown on your big day.  

Dress range: $2000-$5000, depending on fabric type, amount, design time etc.

($10 3-hour valet parking available through Alexis Hotel next door)


The Dress Theory

1423 N 45th St.

Seattle, WA 98103


     Last, but definitely not least, we have to talk about The Dress Theory.  Their site boasts that their dresses (or maybe their brides?) are “commanding, comfortable, & very, very cool.”  Either way, I couldn’t agree more.  This isn’t the store you go to for that “classic” gown.  This is the store you go to for a romantic, free-spirited, fashion-forward, classy yet bohemian gown.  Yes, I’m aware there are a lot of adjectives going on there, but you have to trust me, their dresses encapsulate them all.  The Seattle location is one of three sister-owned locations (San Diego and Nashville being the other) by Camille & Summer Wynn.  These ladies have traveled far and wide to find the absolute best of the best when it comes to designers, and it shows.  If you are looking for a timeless dress, make an appointment at The Dress Theory.  They won’t disappoint.

Dress range: $2000-$8000; most range between $2500-$4500

Wedding Photography: You Get What You Pay For

Wedding Photography: You Get What You Pay For

“You want to charge how much?”

“You seriously charge that much just to show up and take photos?”

“All It takes to get good photos is a good camera…my cousin can do it, she just picked up a new camera from Costco”

*Cue eyeroll*

Talking the Talk (Engagement Ring Style)

Talking the Talk (Engagement Ring Style)

POP QUIZ! Tell me the 4 Cs! Okay, you may know all of those, most ready to be engaged person does…but does your significant other?  They really should.  Unless your love plans on popping the question with a family heirloom, or you two are planning on tattoo rings (you do you!) then you should know how to speak the engagement ring lingo.  An engagement ring can be a HUGE investment; months of salary saved up.  You don’t want to have buyer’s remorse because you didn’t do your research, so consider this your engagement ring class: Ring Speak 101.  By the way, those 4 Cs are cut, color, clarity, and carat. Okay, let’s dive in.

Football Wedding & Engagement Inspo


Plenty of time to do a little wedding planning before the game -- Check out my tips for magazine worthy engagement photos!

Pet Wedding Inspiration | "Our Humans are Getting Married!"

From Bridal Consultant --> Bride --> Wedding Photographer - I'm wedding obsessed!

I've been obsessed with weddings & LOVE & pretty bridal details since waaaay before I became a wedding photographer.


Things I've learned along my journey:

As a Bridal Consultant at Alicias Bridal

Seattle Wedding Photographer | snohomish wedding photographer |
  • Order the gown in the size you measure for, even if you plan to lose weight! It's SOOOO much easier to alter a gown smaller, it's A LOT harder to let it out. Often times, there is only an inch or so of seam to let out on a gown. 
  • Bring 1-2 people gown shopping. Too many opinions will make the experience stressful and it's often hard to decide when you have to factor in so many voices. 

As a Bride: 

  • Hire a day of coordinator. She took care of EVERY detail on the wedding day and I got to be blissfully unaware of any issues. <3
  • Do as many photos as you can BEFORE the ceremony. Our day felt relaxed & carefree because we didn't have to cram all our photos into the 1 hr between the ceremony & reception. 
  • During our cocktail hour, we opted to spend 20 min together on the beach sipping drinks and just reveling in the magic of being freshly married. It was one of the best parts of our wedding day. My advice: if you can, take a few minutes to be together without cameras or guests.

As a Wedding Photographer: 

  • Once you book your photographer, ask them to create a timeline for you. Having a timeline at the beginning of your planning process makes your wedding vision tangible. Being able to share this timeline with all your wedding vendors at the beginning makes the whole process run smoother and ensures everyone is on the same page. 
  • Go all out for your engagement photos! Buy the longest/most fabulous gown you can afford and get your hair & makeup professionally done! These photos are going to be displayed in your home for a lifetime....and all over social media. Get dolled up, jus' sayin'.

Nudge, Nudge! I'm ready for you to propose.

Nudge, Nudge!  I'm ready for you to propose.

Take the hint; I’m ready for you to propose!

For the Quick-Plan Summer Bride...

For the Quick-Plan Summer Bride...

Planning a summer wedding -- eek, it's 2018 and time to get serious. Here's some advice from a seasoned pro, Rachel of Manette Gracie Events.

Best White Tent Wedding Venues in the PNW

There's something about a big white tent that just says "WEDDING."

Confession: When I got married in 2012 at Semiahmoo Resort, my favorite things about the venue were the chiffon lined tent & the great view. This got me thinking, surely there are other brides who dream of a white tent wedding. So here's a list of my favorite white tent weddings to provide a little inspo for you!

(In no particular order. Just like a mom, I love all my brides the same.)

Hire out or DIY? | Wedding Planning Tips

B. Jones Photography - Hire out or DIY. www.bjonesphotos.com

There is a saying:

"You can have things fast, good, or cheap: pick two."

  • You can get something fast and cheap, but the quality isn’t going to be good.
  • You can get something fast and good, but it won’t be cheap.
  • You can get something good and cheap, but you won’t get it fast.

Of course, in the ideal situation, you’d get all three, but that’s just not how it works.  So, you have to find the balance so you can spend the money on the things you can’t do yourself, and shell out for the other things that really should be left to the professionals.

Hire a Professional for…

The Music

It is totally fine to play DJ for your engagement party, a road trip, and your office work party, but leave it to a professional when it comes to your wedding and reception.  You’ll get the opportunity to chat with your DJ or band beforehand, and make sure that they are going to play the kind of music (and special songs) that you want to hear.  Besides that, they’ll be gauging the mood of you and your guests and tailoring the songs to keep the party going.  

The Photography

Everybody has a camera these days.  Not everyone really knows how to use it. Your photographs should tell the story of your wedding day, and they are what you are going to have for the rest of your life to remember the day.  Obviously, you can’t really do this one yourself, but this should be one you hire professionally.  A hobby photographer probably won’t be prepared for how quick paced and stressful getting the perfect shots can be.  After all, there are no “do-overs”!

The Bouquet & Flowers

Colonial Styled Shoot

This one, I go back and forth on.  If you are planning a very small wedding, then maybe you could tackle this one on your own.  I’m talking 5 centerpieces, a bouquet and a boutonniere.  Anything bigger than that, do yourself a favor and hire out.  Flowers require careful handling, temperature control and must be made within a couple days of the wedding.  You’re going to have plenty of last minute things to take care of, don’t make this one.  


Lighting can so easily be put on the back-burner and forgotten about until you remember that your wedding may start with the sun out, but by 11 p.m. you have to light that reception up!  Ask any photographer, and they’ll tell you how important good lighting is.  If you hire a wedding coordinator, or use an inclusive venue, odds are this is already being taken care of/considered, but be sure to bring it up, either way.  

Stylist for You & Your Wedding Party

Colonial Styled Shoot

Unless you are super confident in your hair and makeup abilities, and those of your party, hire this out.  Hair stylists know that you expect your style to last through the ceremony and all through the celebrations.  They won’t leave you with wilting curls and pins popping out.  And wedding makeup isn’t the same as your everyday/weekend style.  Make-up artists know you are getting this done to 1) look gorgeous, but 2) look gorgeous in your photographs.  They’re trained in accentuating your features to make them POP in photos.  And, you won’t have to be super concerned with smudges and smears, because they’re using the best, long-lasting product.  Besides, wouldn’t you rather have your party drinking mimosas instead of tiring out their arms with curling and pinning?  One definitely sounds better than the other to me.

Bartenders & Food

Most venues require you use a hired bartender, but even if you are just having beer and wine, hire someone who is going to tend the bar and keep things from getting crazy.  You’ll make things far easier for your guests.  And while it can be done by the occasional professional chef or via potluck, the food should be left up to the people who do this for a living.  Besides, the cost of the catering will include clean-up, because who wants to deal with that?

DIY for…

The Favors

Colonial Styled Shoot

Favors are generally something you can tackle far in advance, which makes it a perfect DIY project.  Even if you aren’t making the favors 100% yourself, you can order supplies and assemble them at home, adding a slight personalization.  Your guests won’t get to preoccupied with the favor, it’s the thought that counts.


I know, I know.  Earlier I told you to have all your flowers done professionally.  Here’s a caveat.  Your centerpieces don’t have to be FRESH flowers.  Heck, they don’t have to be flowers at all.  This is a great DIY project you can knock out what ahead of time, too.  


You know those chalkboard signs saying, “Mr. & Mrs.” and “Pick a Seat, Not a Side”, they aren’t all that hard to make. If your handwriting leaves something to be desired, I bet one of your bridesmaids/mother/cousin has gorgeous handwriting and would LOVE to help you with this.  Or, you can even buy framed glass and the materials to etch a phrase, psalm, or little something lovely onto it yourself.  This IS something you could have done professionally, but it’s also something that doesn’t have to be perfect.  


Tread lightly, I don’t mean all of it.  You have to be one AMBITIOUS bride or groom to take on all of the décor on your own (planners and rental companies are your BFF’s here).  That doesn’t mean you can’t pick and choose according to your talents and time.  Pick a few things you can do with confidence.  Maybe it’s a photo tree of you and your love, or place cards, or paper lanterns that you hang from the trees at your reception.   Adding your personal touch and style to your celebration will be noticed by your guests, and will set your wedding apart. 

At the end of the day, remember that weddings are a lot of work, but worth it.  Tackle what you can, and invest in the hard stuff.  And even though you are paying for their services, the professionals want your day to be everything you’ve dreamed it to be. Let them carry the weight and trust that they have your back.  Happy planning!

Winter is Coming (Cozy Cabins to Honeymoon in PNW) 

It’s undeniable that summer is the most popular wedding season.  The sunny days and warm nights make it an easy choice for a couple who wants to celebrate outside and leave the coats at home.  But, there’s something so magical about Winter.  The snow, the twinkling lights, the hot cider, and the constant desire to cuddle up with your love with wool socks and heavy blankets in front of a warm fire.  And now I have a serious craving for cider, be right back.

Okay, cider acquired.  What makes Winter even more romantic? A wedding, of course.  And after you’re wed, it’s time to go on that honeymoon!  Sure, you might be tempted to book a flight to some sunny beach far away…but what if you embraced the cold instead?  We undoubtedly live in one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world.  Why not stay local, save the airfare, and spoil yourself in creature comforts? I found some of the best cozy cabins here in the PNW that are going to make you want to hole up with your love and forget the world.  That’s what your honeymoon is supposed to be all about, right?  Get ready to pack your gloves, your favorite oversized sweatshirt, a few bottles of bubbly, and get your hibernation on!

Washington Cabins

Canyon Falls Cabin

Located just 4 minutes out of Granite Falls, and about an hour out of Seattle, this cozy cabin is just big enough that you won’t feel like you’re stepping on each other, but small enough to feel intimate.  Set up with a hot tub right on the deck overlooking the river, you and your love can still enjoy the outdoors while staying toasty warm.  When you are ready to come inside, the cabin has two fireplaces, one on each floor, and a jet tub in the bathroom just begging for bubbles and champagne.  Once you’re ready to venture out, Stevens Pass is a mere 90 minutes away for some excellent skiing and snowboarding.  And one of my favorite features? The Canyon Falls Cabin is pet-friendly!

Adorable A-Frame

I LOVE a nice A-frame cabin, and this one doesn’t disappoint!  Just walking up to this cabin, and seeing the tall, beautiful windows that basically take up the entire front wall, you’re going to start trying to figure out how you can add a couple more days to your winter escape.  The owners have decked out the interior with a classy modern aesthetic, which breaks up the hardwood perfectly.  And can we talk about that shower?!  This cabin is also pet-friendly, and it has an enclosed porch, so your sweet fur-child can be outside without the fear of them running off.  This one lands you closer to Bellingham, and 25 minutes from Mt. Baker.  Pretty much one of the most gorgeous places you can ever be in the winter.

Oregon Cabins

1920’s Mt. Hood Cabin

There is just something about this cabin that makes me feel like I’ve stepped into a chapter of The Great Gatsby.  The cabin is loaded with old-school charm, but updated beautifully with all the modern amenities.  Tall windows overlooking the Sandy River let in plenty of natural light (and fantastic views) while the huge living room fireplace will keep you toasty and warm.  Located in Mt. Hood Village, this is an outdoor lover’s paradise, and an inside dwellers hideaway.  

Riviera Des Chutes Cabin

Looking for something that feels like you are completely secluded while actually being fairly close to town?  This cabin sits just 37 minutes from Mt. Bachelor, and about 35 minutes to the foodie paradise that is Bend, OR.  This cozy A-frame cabin comes totally loaded with all the amenities, including a big deck and hot tub.  The upstairs loft includes a private en-suite bath, and an easy to manage electric fireplace downstairs.  You can spend your days skiing and your nights spoiling yourselves on all Bend has to offer.  It’s hard to beat that combo!

Idaho Cabins

Luxurious Log Cabin

Rattlesnake Ledge

This log cabin is a bit bigger than the others so far (it can sleep 7!) but the main floor is to die for.  The owner’s get that it’s all in the details.  The sunken-floor living room has a huge couch with plenty of room for the two to relax, or you can jump in the hot tub to unwind.  Located just two minutes from the Shore Lodge, you can choose to mingle with other winter loving honeymooners, or you can head into town.  McCall is a gorgeous and quaint town to visit before you retreat to your escape from it all.

Charming 1940’s Cabin on the Lake

Built in the 1940’s but completely restored, this cabin on the south end of Hayden Lake has kept lots of its original charm while getting some modern updates here and there.  A king size master bed looks out onto the spectacular views of the lake, and the living room comes complete with a big pellet fireplace and a nice sized flat screen for cozy nights in.  On the deck, a fire pit and chair set invite you to grab a bottle of vino and warm your toes while enjoying the views.  You’ll be just outside of Coeur d’Alene, so going to the store for a bite is absolutely an option.

After all the stress and work that you put into your wedding, it’s worth it to consider if a cabin retreat is just what you need.  These cabins let you get away from it all.  Dreamy, romantic, cozy, and secluded.  If that’s how you’d like to describe your honeymoon, then it’s the cabin life for you.

Winter Cabin Honeymoon

Why I think you should do ‘The First Look’

Why I think you should do ‘The First Look’

"Should I do a first look?"

I hope you do! 

Wedding Budget Breakdown

Lairmont Manor Wedding

Now that you’ve shown off your dazzling new ring to anyone and everyone, it’s time for some real talk.  Weddings aren’t cheap. The dress, the tux, the food, the wine, the venues, the staff; it adds up.  Once you’ve sat down with your fiancé, and chatted with any parents who are willing to hand over some dough, it’s time to look at your budget.  Knowing how much you can spend is Step 1.  Step 2, is figuring out how much of that cash goes where.  Time to break down your budget.  

Venues & Food

You need a place to get married, and possibly another venue for your reception.  Then there is all the food you are having catered, your dream cake and all the rental equipment for your big party.  Stay with me here, that’s going to account for 50% of your budget.  Seriously? Seriously.  It seems like a lot, but let’s break it down a bit further. 

Venues can be quite expensive and with good reason.  You require a beautiful space, and there is almost surely going to be high demand.  Realistically, you need to book them at least nine months out, because I assure you, you aren’t the only bride vying for that Saturday in July.  High demand means high cost, and they’re in the wedding business, too!

Then you have to feed your fabulous guests.  Even if you pick a relatively inexpensive caterer, the cost to feed even 50 guests can make you gasp.  The thing to remember is that you aren’t just paying for the food cost.  You are paying for the food, the preparation, the delivery and usually the staff to serve it, along with cleanup.  Then there is your cake.  The more elaborate the cake, the more expensive it’ll be.  And again, you’re paying for all the work that goes into it, plus things like cake toppers and cake stands.

Lastly, you’re going to be renting more than you realize.  It’s not just chairs, tables, and an archway; you could be renting things like centerpieces, linen, cutlery, silverware, lighting, tents and lots of décor.  Be straightforward with yourself (or your planner) here, so this stuff can be set aside early.

Photography & Videography

Now, not everyone gets both a photographer and a videographer, but either way, you’re budget here is right around 12%.  The reason you should be giving it this much of your budget is simple.  When the day is done, and all the thank you cards are sent out, your photographs and videos are the best way to relive your best day.  On the hard days and the great, your photographs are going to be there to remind you of just how in love you were that day.

Touchy-feelies aside, this usually includes your engagement session, prints and often an album.  So, you go on your honeymoon, and your photographer gets to work putting together your memories.  Keep in mind; not all photographers offer album packages (but, I do!)

Flowers & Decorations

Flowers can be crazy expensive.  It’s not without good reason, but unless you’re planning on carnations and baby’s breath, assume that this will be a heavy hitter.  Depending on your style and location, decorations and lighting will roll into this, too.  Your budget here: 8%.


I suggest setting aside about 10% for this one.  The thing is, the cost of your planner will be determined by a few things. 1) Wedding Coordinator vs. Day of Planner.  The Day of Planner can be up to 25% of the price but is mostly only there to help you on the big day.  2) Planner vs. No Planner.  Are you pulling off a DIY wedding? Then your 10% gets to go somewhere else. 3) Venue-required Planner.  Some venues require you to book their planner, so again, that budget is kind of getting rolled into the cost of the venue.  

The Wild Card Costs

These last costs should take up the rest of your budget, and in my opinion (aside from the wedding bands, perhaps) they should get consideration lastly. So your last 12% should be going to your: 

  • Wedding Bands (4%): Think about this one early.  Try some bands on early, because as soon as you fall in love with a style, it’s going to be hard to choose a different one.  Find the one you love, keep it around 4% and adjust your other wild-card costs accordingly.
  • Invitations/stationary (2%): Are you hiring a calligrapher? Having your photo printed on the invites? Going the E-card route?  There are so many options these days for style, format, and delivery.  That 2% could be easily spent or not at all.
  • Officiant (2%):  Officiants can be a good friend who got ordained online, your church leader or someone simply from an online search.  The costs vary.  However, even if you have a friend who is willing to marry you, you should offer them a little something.  And if cash feels weird, just make it a thoughtful gift.
  • Transportation (2%): Unless you are driving yourself to your hotel that night, you need to fork over some cash for a car service.  Unless you are having a dry wedding, it’s smart to let someone else get behind the wheel.  Who wants to worry about that?  Another popular option is to ask your Best Man, but again, no DUIs!
  • Favors/gifts (1%):  The favors and gifts are mostly gestures of gratitude, so don’t blow too much of your budget here.  Of course, a nice groom’s gift is always nice.

Keep in mind that this is just a guideline.  How you actually breakdown your wedding budget is entirely up to you!  

Delille Cellars- Design &amp; Florals by AlexisMarie Events

$50,000 Wedding Budget Example

Venue, Food & Rentals $25,000

Photography $6,000

Wedding Attire, Hair & Beauty $4,000

Flowers & Décor $3,500

Wedding Planner $5,000

Music $1,500

Invitations & Stationary $1,000

Officiant $1,000

Transportation $1,000

Rings $1500

Favors & Gifts $500