My Own Crook Point Wedding

My Own Crook Point Wedding

(Updated on 02/17/2020) You guys, I got married!! On July 13, 2019, I married the love of my life, Mikael, on a cliff overlooking the ocean on the South Oregon Coast. After being a wedding photographer for 10 years and photographing around 200 weddings, I finally got to experience my own. It was a whirlwind, and you can bet that I have SO. MUCH. TO. SAY.

Thus, this is a long blog post. I’m sorry. But, it’s full of wedding insight and inspiration (I’m looking at you future brides and grooms!). AND it has a ton of personal anecdotes and silly photos (for you, friends and family!) Feel free to use the table of contents above to go to a specific section! Please note that all these photos were taken by our amazing wedding photographer Catalina Jean!

Want more? My favorite wedding blog, Junebug Weddings, published our wedding on their site! You can check that out here!

Why I choose Crook Point

Our first real lesson in wedding planning was this: sometimes the thing you want isn’t ACTUALLY what you want.

I dreamt about marrying Mikael on my parent’s private mountaintop (look and see for yourself, it’s gorgeous) for as long as we’d been together. We booked our photographer Catalina and our wedding planners Kim and Katelyn and set a date. Then Kim came down to see the property. We were all in for a real shock.

“Katy, you can’t have the wedding you want here,” Kim told me. It would be too expensive, too logistically challenging, the location wouldn’t hold the number of people I wanted to invite, and it would likely damage my relationship with my parents. OH, and it would be a DIY nightmare with SO much labor. Kudos to Kim for being real with me. This was NOT an easy thing to tell a bride. I really respect her for this though!!

I cried. It was tough for me to let go of the idea in my head. But you know what, I’m really, really glad I did. Because finding Crook Point was the best possible thing.

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About Crook Point, a South Oregon Coast wedding venue.

When I started looking for a wedding venue, I knew we wanted several things:

  • A destination wedding weekend
  • Somewhere with stunning natural beauty
  • A place that didn't feel overdone that I hadn't been to a million times already.
  • Somewhere near water so we could do some sort of water activity with friends
  • A place allowing 150+ guests
  • Somewhere that friends could stay nearby or camp.

I found Crook Point buried on page 7 of Here Comes the Guide while searching for outdoor Oregon wedding venues.

I immediately knew three things. It was a brand new venue that had only just started doing weddings. Their property looked astoundingly beautiful. It was exactly what I had been looking for. In the forest AND next to the ocean?! Done deal.

When people asked “where are you getting married,” I would respond with “I found this crazy venue that’s basically a meadow in a forest, surrounded by ferns, but also on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Oh and there’s an arch rock right out at sea. Yeah. Oh, and they have beach houses with hot tubs. And our friends can camp too.”

At this point, the person usually looked at me with their mouth open like… “Wait, what.”

Crook Point is just plain magical. It’s in between Gold Beach and Brookings, about 30 miles from the California border. It’s named after the family who owns it. The Crooks first came to Oregon in 1852 on horseback as pioneers, so they have owned this section of Oregon coastline for SIX generations! The houses are available for rent year-round and were lovingly built and designed by the family as well. I absolutely loved getting to know Kathleen and her brother James when they showed us around. And I cannot wait to return to rent the houses for anniversaries in our future!

My reasons to have a destination wedding

One of the main reasons I choose Crook Point was because I wanted a destination wedding weekend. Why? There are a lot of reasons. I actually wrote a whole blog post about it! But here’s a quick summary.

Most weddings are less than 8 hours long. Usually like 4-5. There are VERY few opportunities to talk with guests. I knew that the wedding weekend would go by way too fast. And I wanted as much quality time with my friends, family, and Mikael as possible. I didn’t want people to come for a few hours and leave. I wanted multiple chances to spend time with them outdoors.

Mikael and I both adore being outdoors, camping, rafting, and spending time at the beach (literally our first kiss ever happened when we were on a camping trip with friends). So, we wanted to incorporate as much of the beauty of Oregon, the coast, and the forest into our wedding weekend. I went barefoot for a portion of the wedding, and it was incredibly grounding for me. We also started the weekend off with a jet boat trip up the Rogue River (Mikael has rafted it since he was a child so it’s an extremely special place for him), as well as a welcome party on the beach with a bonfire, pizza, and beer instead of a traditional rehearsal dinner. We loved how much time we got to spend outdoors over the weekend, and we were so lucky to have absolutely perfect Oregon weather too.

Our welcome party on the beach at Crook Point

Pizza. Beer. S’ mores. Everyone was invited. It wasn’t fancy. It felt like camping. This was how we started the weekend, and I loved every minute of it. I’ve been to lots of beautiful rehearsal dinners, but none of them ever felt like “us.” This was totally true to Mikael and me.

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You might recognize this dog from this wedding! My past clients Ashley and Andrey were able to come to our wedding and they brought Mischka! I was so thrilled! ![Crook Point Wedding_0222](Crook Point Wedding_0222.jpg)

Shoutout to Hilde for coming all the way from South Africa to be at our wedding!! You might rememember her from my blog posts of her with her boyfriend in Stellenbosch or at a South African vineyard. Or seen photos of her from our trip to Chicago or when we first met at Heck Yeah Photo Camp!

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Fun fact: I photographed all three of these dude’s weddings haha. Brandon’s in Portland. Matt’s in Cuba, and Andy’s on San Juan Island

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Our non-traditional wedding day

As a wedding photographer myself, I’ve seen a ton of weddings that feel rushed and fly by way too quickly. When designing our day, we created a laid-back timeline that started at 3pm and went until midnight. We had not one, but TWO cocktail hours, and took all our group photos before the wedding even started. You can read more about my approach and different ways to create non-traditional wedding timelines here!

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The Invitations

I designed our invites myself using Canva! Then I got them printed through PaperJam PDX, this incredible local print shop in Portland. I was able to use scans of my own watercolor bird paintings (check out more on my artist page here) as a theme on our invitations and throughout our wedding!

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Our Rings

Mikael proposed to me in Guatemala in February 2018 with this incredible, one-of-a-kind Alexis Russell triangle ring. I am SO obsessed with her jewelry. Mikael knows I love the color yellow and my favorite shapes are triangles, so he hit the nail on the head with this ring. I love the unique color of the yellow diamond SO much too!

For my wedding band, we got a custom stacking band with small black diamonds and one salt and pepper diamond. And Mikael also got an Alexis Russell ring with a triangle cutout to remind him of me!

I personally love that triangles signify change (delta) and strength. Our officiant and close friend Jenny also used the three sides of the triangle to represent the three parts of devotion: love, loyalty, and enthusiasm.

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Getting ready photos of Mikael and the groomsmen

I believe that both partners at weddings are equally important, and as such, deserve equally awesome getting ready photos! A lot of couples will skimp on photography time and only get pictures of the girls getting ready, but I will tell you right now that I am SO happy to have these photos of Mikael! I love the shots of Mikael tying all the guys’ bow-ties, hanging out with my dad, and drinking his favorite beer, Miller Lite. It was so fun to look through these and catch a glimpse of his morning without me!

I also LOVED his penguin socks (a gift from my mom!) and his teal Indochino suit) SO much.

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My decision to do my own makeup

One question I get ALL the time is whether or not you have to hire a makeup artist for your wedding or photoshoot. My answer? It depends. Do you want to feel pampered? Get a makeup artist. Do you like to be in absolute control of what you look like? Do it yourself. Do you feel nervous or unconfident about doing makeup? Get an artist. Do you like how your regular makeup looks and you want to look like yourself? Do it yourself.

For me personally, I know some AMAZING makeup artists (cough cough Cassandra Kennedy cough cough), but I also knew that bringing them ALL the way down to the South Oregon coast would be expensive. I reached out to Cassandra, and she reminded me that I’m pretty dang good at doing my makeup already, and her vote of confidence was all I needed. I put my money and time into Sephora and Youtube tutorials and created a bold eye/bold lip combo that was entirely me.

My hairstylist Caity gave me a perfect pixie cut a week before the wedding, so my hair was easy and took less than 5 minutes. I wore a headband that I actually made myself and cost less than $10. I bought the sequins from Mill End Store and attached it with wire to fit my head. Ta-da!

I bought my lace bodysuit and lace robe on Amazon a few weeks before the wedding. It was borderline risque, BUT it made me feel gorgeous and sexy, so whatever! I am literally OBSESSED with the photos Catalina got of me in this outfit in the light patch. It was such a fun, creative moment. My bridesmaid and BFF Marcela helped us by holding my robe up to the light for one of the shots, so the pattern could fall on my face. It was such a goofy, photographer moment that set the stage for a great day.

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Why I chose my wedding dress

I was NOT one of those brides who was excited to go dress shopping. I hate shopping. I waited almost an entire YEAR after getting engaged to even start looking for a dress. I was nervous and had to drink lots of rosé to make the experience more comfortable.

I shopped at BHLDN, The English Department, and A & Bé Bridal. The experience went better than I had hoped, and it was more fun than I expected. I wanted to get something long-sleeved and modern, but as my bestie aptly pointed out, “Katy, maybe it’s like Harry Potter. You don’t choose the dress. The dress chooses you.”

I didn’t even want to try on this Calla Blanche dress. Cap-sleeves? Hell no. But then I did anyway. And the lace pattern looked like feathers. And the cap-sleeves actually weren’t half bad. And I looked like a forest-fairy. I didn’t want to take it off. The decision was made. It was completely different than I expected, but at the same time, entirely right. The girls at A & Bae were super supportive too and I was so happy to buy it from them!

I lost about 17 pounds using Noom before the wedding, and my best friend’s mom Colette Dieringer helped me alter the dress to fit perfectly. She also made my veil!

I didn’t want to wear significant heels or anything fancy, so I was thrilled when I discovered these cute AND comfy Old Navy shoes! The mustard color was exactly what I wanted, and they were super easy to walk in on grass. I did take them off and go barefoot for a while too though!

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Why we did a first look

Mikael and I decided to see each other before our wedding ceremony because we wanted to maximize our time together and with our guests. We knew we wanted to take ALL the formal group photos before the wedding started so we could just enjoy ourselves for the rest of the day. I am SO GLAD we did this. It made everything so easy, relaxed, fun, and stress-free. You can read more about why first looks are AWESOME on this blog post here!

Storytime. I’m definitely guilty of making my couples walk a long way to their first look locations. So when Catalina decided to do our first look on the beach, ACROSS A SMALL RIVER, I was like “oh, this is karma.” My BFF Marcela helped me carry my dress all the way down the huge hill, and helped me ford the creek successfully. I was laughing so hard.

I knew I wanted to be emotional and cry a lot on our wedding day, but the first look just wasn’t like that for us! I think I was giddy with excitement and bouncing up and down because I had never seen Mikael in his wedding suit before. I was WAY too happy to cry at that moment. It was like excited-happy, not tearful-happy. Which is okay! You don’t have to cry! He didn’t, I didn’t. It was still extraordinary. And as soon as we saw each other, a cheer erupted from the hillside! Apparently, our wedding party watched our first look from a distant beach house. It felt totally private at the moment, but it was so cool to hear everyone cheer afterward!

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How we picked our colors and wedding party attire

The color scheme for our wedding was reflective of all my favorite colors (and admittedly, my own branding on this website lol). But it was also influenced heavily by Mikael and his unique ideas for his groomsmen. Mikael collects vintage Pendleton blankets, as well as plaid vintage Pendleton jackets. He approached me one day with the idea of having all his groomsmen wear Pendleton jackets, and I said, “why not?” However, after a little more thinking, I decided it made more sense for only half of them to wear plaid, so the groomsmen didn’t look TOO much like lumberjacks. The colorful bow-ties (Mikael’s favorite) elevated the look, so it wasn’t too casual.

From there, we came up with a mix and match color scheme that was focused on mustard yellow, burnt orange, dark teal, wine red, forest green, gray, and tan. It was like an autumnal rainbow, and I was so happy how it came together. We repeated the colors throughout the wedding, in the bridesmaids’ outfits, the florals, the handmade place cards, seating chart, and the fun triangle curtain I made for the lounge area.

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Family photos

We made a list of family photos and had all our family arrive before the scheduled start time for the wedding. This allowed us to get pictures will everyone without it eating into our cocktail hours!

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The reasons behind our wedding decor

Our wedding was playful, bold, eclectic, welcoming, and colorful. Every single part of the weekend was extremely us, and I’m so happy we got to put so much of ourselves into every little detail.

I have been obsessed with the Danish concept of Hygge ever since I first learned about it. It’s meaning isn’t easily translatable to English, but the closest definition that makes sense to me is “cozy togetherness.” Hygge is staying at a cabin with friends. It’s drinking wine together around a campfire. It’s warm blankets, good conversation, candlelight, and laughter. It’s an environment that feels welcoming and safe with a few people you love.

When we started planning our wedding, I wanted the entire day to have a hygge element to it. I wanted it to be beautiful, but more importantly, fun, welcoming, inviting, and cozy. I wanted the event to inspire and foster connections between new friends and old.

Our home is full of tall bookshelves, patterned blankets, eclectic art, indoor plants, and warm lamp lighting. I’m admittedly a Cancer and a little bit of a homebody, and I LOVE hosting house parties, both huge and intimate. When it came to planning our wedding I wanted to bring that sense of our hygge home to our entire wedding weekend. I wanted our guests to feel loved and welcome, and for the whole day to be relaxed, not rushed. Just like showing up at one of our house parties and hanging out until late in the night.

The lounge areas at our wedding incorporated many items from our own living room to really bring this sense of “home” to our venue. It made me so happy to see people relaxing and feeling comfortable in those welcoming spaces. I had items like my mom’s vintage foot-locker from college, blankets we bought in Guatemala where Mikael proposed to me, jars of rocks we collected in Iceland together, a globe that I’ve had since I was a kid that always inspired my love of travel, and even a pair of hand-me-down binoculars and bird books for people to use if they wanted. It was so us.

As a kid, my family would always eat dinner outdoors in the summer, lingering in the evening light with delicious food and silly conversation. I wanted our wedding to feel this way too. A long leisurely, family-style outdoor dinner that felt welcoming and communal. We rented long wooden tables from The Party Place PDX with playful silverware and white chairs. Tracy, with Woodland Floral, made the most stunning table arrangements and curly willow ceremony arch. I loved the whimsical floral design and the way she used quirky flowers and shapes in her loose, natural bouquets. It really complimented the venue without over-shadowing the natural beauty that already existed.

A big part of our wedding decor was also inspired by our shared love of birdwatching. We’ve traveled the world together to see birds, and I wanted to incorporate that into our playful outdoor wedding. My bird tattoos (by Parker Benyoun - her work is AMAZING) and dress played a part in this. The lace looked like feathers and, that’s one reason I bought it! Mikael also wore penguin socks (his favorite bird) that were a gift from my mom.

When I’m not taking photos, I love to paint, so as our wedding favors we gave each guest a print of one of my bird paintings. We also incorporated our love of birding into our seating chart, with a playful “spot your seat” sign, as well as our invitations.

The triangle curtain in our lounge area was a last-minute DIY project that I had a lot of help with (thankfully!!) but it really tied the color scheme together and offered another playful element that felt fun, inviting, and unique. I felt like I couldn’t have my art background and not attempt at least one semi-insane craft project, so the triangle curtain came into existence. I’m also just generally obsessed with triangles (just look at my website haha), and Mikael and I also have triangle wedding rings from Alexis Russell, so it brought all of those themes together in a really cool way.

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About our pre-wedding cocktail hour

Mikael and I decided to scrap tradition and hang out with our guests BEFORE our wedding ceremony! Gasp! Yes, everyone saw me in my dress. No, it didn’t ruin anything. It made it exponentially better. I never had to hide away and wait for things to start. Instead, I immediately got to start drinking margaritas, eating cheese, and hugging all the people I love. Instead of them seeing my dress in a dramatic entrance, they got to see it up close while hugging me. It was SO fun. People were tipsy when the ceremony started, and we had a full TWO hours to hang out with everyone beforehand. I am so grateful for this time and these memories!

We got really positive feedback from all our guests about doing this - they said it was such a fun way to start the wedding without waiting for food or drinks. I know it seems like a scary tradition to break, BUT I highly recommend doing something like this if you can! You can read more about ideas like this on this post here!

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Our friend Stephen made us Corn Hole as a wedding gift! So perfect!

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My bridesmaid Brittany and her fiance Nate are getting married this weekend! Remember when I took their stunning engagement photos at Panther Creek Falls?!

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My friend Laurel came all the way from Amsterdam to be there! And Aleks came from Boston I was so honored!

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Where to have your Crook Point wedding ceremony

We did our ceremony a little differently than other Crook Point couples. Most people point their ceremony STRAIGHT out at the ocean, with the arch rock directly behind them. I get it. It’s gorgeous. But you know what? The lighting from that angle is HORRIBLE. You are shaded and partially backlit, and the background will be totally blown out in all your photos because the ocean is so bright. It’s just not flattering. So we turned our ceremony about 90 degrees north, and put our arch in between two trees instead. I use the app called Sun Seeker to plan this out in advance, so I knew exactly where the sun would be filtering through the trees at 5pm. The result? Gorgeous ceremony photos, even lighting, and you can see our expressions. Perfect. If you are getting married, I highly recommend using this app and planning your wedding with the sun behind you! Your photographer will thank you!

About our ceremony

Our wedding ceremony was probably my favorite party of our day. I cried walking down the aisle with both my parents, seeing everyone I love looking at me with teary eyes, and Mikael standing there so handsomely in his teal suit. I was worried that everyone seeing us before the ceremony would somehow take away from the gravitas of the event; it didn’t. Everyone was crying. Everyone was present. It was perfect.

We wrote our own vows, and our mutual best friend Jenny married us. She’s known Mikael longer than I have, and I actually photographed HER wedding several years ago too! She did an incredible job creating a ceremony that was highly personalized to us. Marcela also read our favorite Rupi Kaur poem that we have framed in our bedroom to see daily.

As we were reading our vows, one of our all-time favorite birds, an Osprey, was calling to us in the distance. After the sudden death of one of my best friends a few months earlier, I was hoping she would send me some sort of sign on my wedding day that she was there with us. The Osprey was that sign. I couldn’t believe that our favorite bird (literally tattooed on my arm) was calling as we were professing our vows to one another. It was so perfect and so memorable.

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After the ceremony, Mikael surprised me by revealing the inner lining of his suit jacket. He got it custom made through Indochino with the quote “let’s set it on fire” from the Rupi Kaur poem read during our ceremony!! Plus it had a galaxy print to show off his quirky, techno-loving party side haha. So fun!

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There was this moment after the ceremony when a quick conversation went down between my dad and Mikael. “So can I call you dad now?” Mikael asked. “It’s still Geoff,” my dad replied, more harshly than Mikael anticipated. He burst into laughter. Catalina got the perfect shot haha.

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We snuck away with Catalina for a few portraits following our ceremony. I always love to pull my couples out for a few minutes at this time, and I was grateful we got to do the same! It was so nice to pause, breathe, and take everything in for a few minutes with just Mikael.

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We also had a SECOND cocktail hour following the ceremony. This one included tons of cocktail shrimp - Mikael’s favorite snack. I’m pretty sure we didn’t get any photos of this because he ate 40 of them. Not sure he was hungry for dinner after, but he sure was happy.

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Of course, we had to get an obligatory “work photo” with all the wedding photographers who attended (including Catalina!). I felt so lucky to have Marcela, Robert J Hill, Alfred Tang, Kai Hayashi, Peter Chee, Madye and Taylor, and Hilde Franzsen with us! Asking them to take a weekend away from shooting their own weddings (lol sorry Catalina), was a lot, and I’m so grateful they could be there!

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Surprising our guests with love notes

In the spirit of hygge and making everyone feel welcome, I decided to be an insane person and write notes to literally every single one of our wedding guests. I found these beautiful cards online with a colorful feather design, and we surprised our guests with a handwritten love note - hidden under their bird painting until they sat down to eat. This was one of the most challenging things leading up to the wedding because the letters took a LONG time to write, but it was also one of the most rewarding parts of the entire day. So many people came up to us in tears after reading what we wrote to them. It was really remarkable to express our gratitude for everyone in attendance and share why they were important to us. Having recently lost a close friend, I wanted to make sure everyone in my life knew exactly how much I loved them and how they meant to me. The process of writing them also helped put us into a really fantastic gratitude mindset going into the weekend. We were truly able to reflect on why we were so excited to have everyone there.

Also, quick PSA to anyone else who wants to do this - don’t wait until the last minute. I procrastinated on this project and ended up writing the cards the same week as the wedding. Aka spending hours stressed that I wouldn’t finish in time haha. I don’t regret writing them - just wish I started a LOT sooner hahaha. It put a lot of unnecessary stress on Mikael and I that week haha.

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Why we had a family-style dinner

I wanted our wedding to look and feel beautiful, but it was important to me that the entire event was approachable, not upscale, and pretentious. Mikael and I are pretty casual people (note the photos of us drinking Miller Lite), so finding a right blend between relaxed yet professional was important to us.

One way we accomplished this was by serving tacos family style instead of some other fancy plated type of dinner. Mikael and I adore spicy Mexican food and eat it more than any other cuisine. His family has been eating at El Guadalajara, a local Mexican restaurant in his home town of North Bend, for many years, and we were thrilled to have their delicious food at our wedding. The owner took such good care of us, and the dinner tasted SO good without seeming in any way pretentious.

I was also adamant about serving a meal family-style because I think buffets take WAY too long for everyone to get their food, and there’s this disjointed feeling where half the people are sitting, and the other half are in line. I wanted everyone to relax, laugh, eat, and enjoy a meal together, which is why family-style made the most sense to me! You can read more about different meal styles and how it impacts your wedding on this blog post here!

I surprised Mikael when we sat down to eat and gave a welcome toast thanking everyone! He’s more introverted than I am, so he was glad he didn’t have to do this. He was also pleased and surprised because I spent half the speech thanking HIM for all his hard work! He did soooo much to make our wedding happen (hanging lights, buying food, testing margarita recipes, making a run-book, etc.), and I was honestly a little spoiled by his hard work. He knew I was obsessed with weddings and he wanted to give me the wedding of my dreams. He did. I am the luckiest.

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The Toasts

One of my ONLY regrets from our wedding is that I didn’t ask anyone to take a cell phone video of the toasts so I could listen to them again later! Make sure you assign someone this job! I love our photos, but it would have been so lovely to hear their words again too!

My friend Aleks gave a speech made up of bits and pieces from texts he had exchanged with our mutual friend Cissey who passed away in March. They were going to attend the wedding together and had been texting about how much they loved Mikael. My heart hurts.

My twin sisters gave a toast that made me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants. Marcela spoke about being our roommate, and Sam talked about being our “pseudo” 4th roommate since he crashes on our couch so often. Mikael’s sister and my dad said some short and sweet words to us too. Kudos to my Dad for making a “live long and prosper” Star Trek reference as well. Nice.

Toasts were another time of day when I expected to cry a lot and then didn’t. I’m going to remind you that it’s okay to feel however you are feeling. I was laughing too hard and enjoying the moment too much to cry, even though I wanted to. And that is totally fine!

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About our dessert

My bridesmaid Michelle Duncan has her own baking company called More Chocolate LLC, and she made our cutting cake and cupcakes! They were delicious, and everyone ate ALL of them.

My mom Susan loves baking too, so she made all our other desserts - fudge, peanut butter bars, rum cake, cookies, etc.

Our cake topper was actually purchased from a little store in Iceland when Mikael and I visited back in April 2015! The dolls have been sitting on a bookshelf since then until I realized they would be PERFECT for this! I originally was going to do something bird-themed, but I liked this even more haha.

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Sunset Portraits at Samuel H Boardman Scenic Area

One of the benefits of Crook Point is that it is literally only a 5-minute drive to Samuel H Boardman Scenic Area. We budgeted 30 minutes to take sunset photos at this beautiful spot down the road while all our guests devoured the dessert. It was fantastic to break away from everything together; Mikael found it very energizing, and we were both obsessed with how pretty these photos turned out!!

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The First Dances

We returned from sunset photos, and I went straight into my first dance with my dad. I tried to surprise him with a cute song he used to sing to me when I was a baby… but he didn’t even recognize it or remember it… fail. But it was still fun.

Our friends David and Marcela gave Mikael’s mom a shot of Mezcal right before her first dance with him, so she was having a GREAT time on the dancefloor. Their dance was adorable.

Mikael and I danced last (because we wanted to get everyone on the dance floor right away after), and it was magical. We choose “I’ll follow you into the dark” by Death Cab for Cutie because it’s a song we always sing out loud together. We sang it while we danced, and I was shocked to notice that all of our guests were singing it with us!! That moment, singing our favorite song, dancing, and listening to the voices of all our loved ones singing it with us, was one of my all-time favorites from the day.

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Our late-night dance party in the forest

“It’s like we are in da clerb! But in da forest!” - said my drunk friend Madye during our dance party.

That summed it up well. We had a VERY unique wedding DJ experience. We hired Casey Vann with Pure Pulse Entertainment, and he gave us a dance party like I had never seen before. Was it what I expected? No. Was it better than what I had imagined? Yes.

Casey has like 20 years of experience as a club DJ, and this was one of his first-ever weddings. He played from our playlists all day, and that was great, but once the dance party started, he went down this epic rabbit hole of house music, and it was INTENSE. Like whoa. It was not what I was expecting, but I also couldn’t stop smiling or dancing, and I was having the best time. Then I looked over at Mikael, my EDM-loving, techno-obsessed husband, and he was smiling ear to ear. We danced for three straight hours. At one point, he mixed the Stranger Things soundtrack into another track, and I lost my mind. It was like a professional DJ set, not just wedding music. I’m sure not everyone loved it - but we did. And the dance party did not stop or die down ONCE. So epic. Moral of the story: if you like house music or EDM, hire Casey asap.

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Remember this adorable photoshoot I did with Melissa and her fiancé James?!

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I love this drunk dancing photo of Dylan almost as much as I loved photographing him with his cats and his fiancé in March!

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This lovely lady in the orange jacket is the one who made all our cupcakes!! Remember when I photographed her Portland wedding at Laurelhurst Club?! SO FUN!

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This gal Kelsey came all the way from North Carolina to be at our wedding! Remember when I took adorable in-home photos of her out there?

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Late-night Nachos

Our wedding day was 9 hours long, so we just kept feeding people over and over again. At 10:30pm, we surprised everyone with late-night nachos - Mikael’s all-time favorite food. We also had hot Cheetos and onion dip; staples at all our house parties. It was very us. And it was gone very quickly haha.

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I did this incredible year-long mentorship program with the photographer below, Robert J Hill. It was SO fun to see him and his wife Emily at our wedding! We ended up on the beach later having a 2am bonfire with them! I never would have expected that!

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Cuban Cigars

Remember that one time Mikael and I went to Cuba and photographed our friends Matt and Amanda’s elopement? Oh yeah, we bought a TON of Cuban cigars while we were there. Because duh. And then smoked them at our wedding. And everyone got VERY messed up, but it was great.

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Why your wedding photographer should stay late

When we got our wedding photos back, one of the things that surprised me the most was how much I freaking LOVED the drunk dancing photos of our friends. I laughed so hard. They made me SO happy to look through. I was not anticipating how much joy they would bring me!

A lot of times I tell couples they don’t NEED that much late-night coverage. That once you have a few dancing photos, you are fine, and you don’t need 3 hours of it. Well, living this first hand changed my mind a bit.

Catalina stayed LATE. She was out there on the dance floor busting moves, smoking cigars, and getting lit with the rest of us (as she should, she’s our friend too haha). The photos she took during this time of night make me so insanely happy. My parents danced to hip hop and EDM until midnight. My uncle danced with us. My sister smoked a cigar (which she never does!!) and my photography mentor got turnt with his wife. It was so fun to see everyone in my life let their hair down and dance, and these photos have a lot more meaning to me than I expected. So - lesson learned. Don’t take dancing photos for granted.

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This moment on the couch is one of my favorites. When I went to OSU, we had a couch in our kitchen and we would all pile on it at the end of our house parties, exactly like this. It was an accidental re-creation of those moments and it made me so happy!

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Casey, our DJ, graciously stepped aside and let our good friend Michael Harrison play a 30 minute hiphop/throwback set at the end of the night! Michael brought a USB with all the music he used at our house parties over the years. It was awesome and he did a great job.

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This might be my all time favorite photo of my parents. EVER.

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My wedding advice for couples

Don’t procrastinate.

I waited until the last minute to do a LOT of things, and it made me wayyy more stressed than I needed to be. I made the triangle curtain and wrote all the cards the week of the wedding, and we should have done that WAY sooner haha.

Don’t be afraid to ask your community for help.

It’s really special if you can have your friends help in ways that are profoundly personalized and fit with their personalities and skillsets. I loved that our groomsman Sam made our beer, a bridesmaid, and my mom made our dessert, another bridesmaid married us, and another one helped style our decor. If people are passionate about a specific thing, they will be so much more happy to help out, AND it will be so much more meaningful in the end.

Feel free to ditch traditions and do what you love.

We didn’t do a bouquet toss or garter toss because we didn’t want to make our single friends feel bad or in any way singled out at the wedding. It seemed wrong. We also hung out with our guests BEFORE the ceremony, and everyone saw me in my dress. So what? They were all stoked, and I got to spend WAY more time with everyone! We also didn’t do a traditional sit-down wedding rehearsal. No chairs - just pizza, beer, wine, and s’ mores on the beach with a bonfire, blankets and camp chairs. It ended up being SO fun and felt like we were on a camping trip with all our loved ones for the evening. We didn’t limit the guest list either - anyone in town already was welcome.

Hire a wedding planner.

Kim and Katelyn from Your Perfect Bridesmaid kept me sane through this entire process, and they made everything run SO smoothly behind the scenes at our wedding. I would hire them over and over again. I know a lot of couples don’t think they need a planner - but it seriously helps SO much and takes all the stress away on the day-of. I

Don’t check out the next morning.

We had to check out of our rental house by 11am the day after our wedding. We also had to pack ALL our wedding rentals into a truck by noon. It was stressful, we were super hungover, and packing was challenging AF. In hindsight, we should have rented the house one extra day, so we could just chill and not have to worry about cleaning up/checking out/doing a ton of extra work when we were insanely sleep-deprived. We also forget to book the Airbnb for the first night of our mini honeymoon and ended up staying in a cheap hotel instead. Stay an extra night after your wedding and save all this stress haha.

It’s okay not to go right into an epic crazy honeymoon right away.

You can do a chill mini-honeymoon first and then your “real” honeymoon later on. We went to our family cottage in California so we could get away from it all in a way that was extremely easy and relaxing. I can’t imagine being as sleep-deprived as we were and attempting to board a plane to Vietnam right away.

Set your expectations upfront

Our wedding day was literally the happiest day of my entire life. But I was a ball of stress and no-sleep leading up to it. However, after attending MANY weddings over the years, I had been working hard at setting my wedding-day expectations ahead of time to make sure I was happy and enjoying myself. I’ve seen so many couples spend their days stressed or anxious, and I did NOT want that to be me. As soon as I woke up that day, I knew things were out of my hands, and I was on a roller coaster that wasn’t stopping. I enjoyed every minute of the day, and it actually didn’t go by in a blur at all! It felt long! With our drawn-out timeline and my constant effort to stay present, I really was able to spend the whole day happy, smiling, and connected with Mikael. It was incredible.

Our Vendors

Photography: Catalina Jean Venue and rental houses: Crook Point Flowers: Woodland Floral Planners: Your Perfect Bridesmaid Dinner: El Guadalajara in North Bend Serving staff: Curry Fair Friends DJ: Casey Vann with Pure Pulse Entertainment Dress: L’amour by Calla Blanche, Marcy Dress LA7271, purchased at A and Bae Bridal in Portland Late night dress: purchased at Buffalo Exchange in Portland Dress Alterations and veil: Colette Dieringer Headband: made by the Katy, purchased material at the Mill End Store Veil: Material bought at Mill End Store, made by Colette Fur: vintage mink stole borrowed from Katy’s grandmother Allegra Nails: Best Nails on Powell Eyelashes + facial: Sweet Saffron Natural Skincare Bride’s tattoos: Parker Benyoun Bride’s haircut: Caity Hubert at Strut Salon Suit: Indochino Bow ties: The Tie Bar Groomsmen attire: Vintage Pendleton Jackets and other jackets found on ebay by Mikael Tailoring: Most of the groomsmen jackets were tailored by Mikael’s fave Portland tailor, “Mike” the Tailor Beer: Rogue Brewing and home-brew by groomsmen Sam Briggs Wine: Naked Wines Dessert: Cake and Cupcakes by Michelle Duncan of More Chocolate LLC Cookies and Candy: by Katy’s mom Susan Stone Rentals: The Party Place PDX Rings: Alexis Russell Invitations: designed by Katy using Canva, printed through PaperJamPDX Calligraphy: Place Cards by Candice Abdou chalkboard signs written by Hilde Franzsen - other printed signs made by Katy using Canva Officiant: bridesmaid and best friend Jenny Volbeda Guestbook: made through Artifact Uprising Lounge area styling: Jessica Marshall Triangle curtain: DIY by Katy and friends Vintage couches and lounge furniture rentals: Crook Point

Want to know more?