Wedding Planning Timeline | Wedding Resource | Olympia Wedding Photographer

So you're getting married! Congrats. Wedding planning can feel overwhelming but good wedding planning is necessary to make your big day run smoothly.

There is so much to do! How do you know all the steps if you've never planned a wedding before?? First step... get a solid wedding planning guide and a wedding checklist. Second step, BREATHE! A planning guide can't do the work for you but it can help you stay organized. Step three, get to work planning your dream wedding!

Attached is a guide to give you an idea of the steps required to plan a wedding, as well as the recommended timeline for each. You can download your PDF copy HERE.

Also get your free Wedding Essentials Checklist HERE.

Happy planning!


9-24 Months Before Wedding

  • Get engaged
  • Insure engagement ring
  • Create or buy a wedding folder or binder
  • Pick a date
  • Determine your budget
  • Choose best people
  • Choose your wedding party
  • Finalize wedding theme/colors/style
  • List family traditions to include
  • Start a guest list
  • Hire a planner (not necessary but super helpful!)
  • Research Vendors - Venue, Photographer, Videographer, Cake, Caterer, Florist, Hair and Makeup, Limo Service. (Looking for vendors? See Preferred Vendors List HERE)
  • Book Officiant or designate someone special to officiate your wedding
  • Tour potential venues (Keep in mind that popular venues fill up quickly. You may have to plan further out if you have your heart set on a very popular one.)
  • Interview potential Photographers and Videographers
  • Book Ceremony Venue
  • Book Reception Venue (if different)
  • Book Photographer
  • Submit engagement announcement to newspaper
  • Take a break from all the work and celebrate your love! Throw an engagement party!

8 Months Before Wedding

  • Book entertainment (DJ, Band etc)
  • Interview more vendors (Caterer, Florist, Hair and Makeup, Limo Service)
  • Choose a dress (Make it fun, bring your bridal party and some champagne and make a day of it)
  • Reserve lodging for your out of town guests (Find hotel/cottages/B&B’s near your reception location)
  • Register for wedding gifts (Pick 2-3 places to register and have fun with it!)
  • Launch a wedding website for your friends and family to follow and get info (you can post your registries here, post important information, and display your engagement photos and SO much more. Check out Zola, Appy Couple, Wix, Squarespace)
  • Send Save-the-date cards

6 Months Before Wedding

  • Take engagement photos
  • Purchase Invitations (Hire a calligrapher, make them yourself or order online)
  • Start planning honeymoon
  • Select bridesmaids dresses
  • Book any further necessities for the big day (lights, porta potties, seating etc)
  • Book a Florist (Need ides for in season flowers during your wedding? Check out the SLOW Flowers Movement.
  • Book Transportation
  • Start putting together a day-of timeline (your wedding coordinator and photographer can help you with this!)

4-5 Months Before Wedding

  • Schedule rehearsal
  • Book rehearsal dinner venue
  • Finalize and send wedding invitations (include RSVP)
  • Order cake
  • Your Maid of Honor should start planning your bridal shower!
  • Dress fitting #1
  • Buy wedding shoes and accessories
  • Book hair and makeup artist(s)
  • Write out a tentative playlist, you can keep adding ideas over the next few months.
  • Book Honeymoon (Don’t forget to book a house sitter/dog sitter/ baby sitter)

3 Months Before Wedding

  • Finalize food and drink menus
  • Order favors
  • List who is making toasts
  • Ponder readings and vows
  • Buy your undergarments
  • Order menus
  • Order wedding programs
  • Shop for wedding bands (you’ll need time to order, size and engrave)
  • Finalize decoration details (floral arrangements, centerpieces etc)
  • Finalize events schedule
  • Send schedule to your vendors
  • Bridal Shower
  • Shop for a wedding gift for your groom
  • Book a bridal boudoir … leave time to have the photos returned and order products for your honey (surprise him with an amazing and sexy wedding gift)

2 Months Before Wedding

  • Touch base with all your vendors
  • Do a trial run for hair and makeup
  • Meet with your photographer to walk through your expectations
  • Finalize playlist with DJ (if you’re unsure how to start such a task than try creating ‘must play’ and ‘do not play’ lists)
  • Submit wedding announcement to newspaper
  • Order or make your decorations (throw a party for your bridal party and put them all together. A little pizza, wine and lots of laughter is the way to go)
  • Reserve Tuxedo
  • Book wedding night accommodations
  • Order a guest book
  • Arrange for a pet/baby sitter for the day and night of if needed
  • Purchase a reception dress if you plan to change out of your wedding dress

1 Months Before Wedding

  • Party time! Relax and enjoy your bachelorette party!
  • Gather RSVP’s, call those you haven’t heard from
  • Finalize guest list
  • Get your marriage license
  • Send out rehearsal dinner invites
  • Dress fitting #2 (You can also schedule one the week before you wedding just in case and then cancel if not needed)
  • Provide tentative head count to caterer
  • Stock the bar
  • Make final payments to vendors
  • Provide address to transportation vendor and all vendors that will be on-site on the big day
  • Assign seating for your guests
  • Create or purchase seating cards
  • Purchase bridesmaids gifts
  • Finalize Vows
  • Designate one person to gather family for family portraits
  • Have your hair cut and dyed
  • Pack your Emergency Bridal Kit
  • Prep thank you cards for guests you know are attending (hey, you can do it while you relax and watch TV at night and it’s less to do after!)
  • Find something new, something old, something borrowed and something blue

1 Week Before Wedding

  • Delegate small wedding tasks
  • Send timeline to friends, family, vendors and important people
  • Pick up your dress (final fitting too if you scheduled that)
  • Check in with vendors
  • Ensure photographer has family list for shot list
  • Set aside checks for vendors (final payments and tips)
  • Get a manicure/pedicure and facial/spa treatment
  • Get a massage! RELAX, all the planning will be over soon and you’ll be enjoying the fruits of all your labor
  • Provide final guest list/ head count to the caterer and venue staff
  • Break in your wedding shoes (to avoid blisters on your wedding day!!)
  • Pack for your wedding night (include water and snacks)
  • Pack for your honeymoon
  • Get the rings cleaned
  • Rehearsal and Rehearsal dinner

Wedding Day

  • Delegate small wedding tasks
  • Distribute wedding timeline
  • Get ready
  • RELAX! …. And enjoy your day
  • Get married!

After the Wedding

  • Honeymoon of course!!!
  • Send thank you notes to guests and vendors
  • Clean and store your wedding dress and veil
  • Preserve Bouquet
  • Return tux
  • Return any rentals
  • Name change paperwork
  • New driver’s license with your new name
  • Update your name with all bills, clubs, work etc
  • Change insurance policies to include spouse
  • Look over registries to make sure you received everything
  • Enjoy life as a married couple!



Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Wedding Essentials Checklist | Wedding Resource | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Hello! Congrats on your engagement! Your wedding day will be one of the most memorable days of your life but it's going to take some planning to get there. After all, if you've never planned a wedding how do you know everything you'll need to do?? This is a simple checklist to keep track of the tasks that need to be completed before your big day. So don't let it scare you! Take charge, start planning and have fun with it!

Browse below then download you PDF copy HERE.

Wedding Essentials Checklist


  • Insure ring
  • Set wedding date
  • Throw an engagement party
  • Get engagement photos done


  • Wedding dress
  • Dress bag
  • Alterations
  • Wedding Shoes
  • Backup flats
  • Veil/tiara/headpiece
  • Garter
  • Reception dress
  • Reception Shoes
  • Undergarments (bra, corset, slip, nylons, panties)
  • Getting ready robe for bride or Button up shirt (So you don’t mess up your hair)
  • Earrings
  • Necklace
  • Hair accessories
  • Something old
  • Something new
  • Something borrowed
  • Something blue
  • Departure outfit
  • Groom's Tuxedo
  • Tie
  • Tie clip
  • Cufflinks
  • Vest
  • Suspenders
  • Belt
  • Shoes
  • Watch
  • Getting Ready Robes
  • Bridesmaids dresses
  • Flower girls dresses
  • Ring Bearer tuxedos
  • Groomsmen tuxedos
  • Groomsmen shoes

Rehearsal Dinner

  • Venue
  • Caterer
  • Bartender
  • Liquor/beer/wine
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • Decorations
  • Music
  • Parking
  • Dishes/glassware/silverware
  • Linens
  • Food
  • Servers
  • Signature drink

Getting Ready

Find a Makeup Artist


  • Officiant
  • Marriage paperwork (bring on day of)
  • Alter/aisle decorations
  • Guest book + pen
  • Pillow or ring box for ring bearer
  • Basket for flower girls petals
  • Aisle runner
  • Ushers
  • Transportation to reception if at different location
  • DJ
  • Playlist

Find a Venue


  • Venue
  • Table decorations
  • Venue decorations
  • Sign
  • Cake table decorations
  • Guest book table decorations
  • Card box
  • Guest book + pen
  • Photobooth
  • Caterer/food
  • Signature drink
  • Dishes, glasses, silverware
  • Toasting glasses
  • Napkins
  • Table Clothes
  • Menu
  • Cake
  • Cake Knife
  • Plates and silverware for cake
  • Musician or DJ
  • Playlist
  • Bar Tender
  • Liquor/beer/wine
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • Appetizers for cocktail hour
  • Chairs
  • Tables
  • Parking
  • Bubbles/rice/sparklers
  • Transportations
  • Designated person to round up family for family portraits

Find a DJ


    • Wedding band
    • Groom’s ring
    • Engraving
    • Sizing
    • Insurance
    • Pre-wedding cleaning


    • Bridal bouquet
    • Floral headpiece
    • Toss bouquet
    • Wedding party bouquets
    • Groom boutonniere
    • Groomsmen’s boutonnieres
    • Mother of the bride corsage
    • Mother of the groom corsage
    • Father of the bride boutonniere
    • Father of the groom boutonniere
    • Grandparent’s corsages/boutonnieres
    • Special guests corsages/boutonnieres
    • Petals for flower girls
    • Table center pieces
    • Arch decorations
    • Flowers for cake
    • Decorations for aisle

    Find a florist


    • Announcements
    • Save-the-dates
    • Invitations
    • Envelopes
    • Stamps
    • RSVP cards
    • Address Labels
    • Maps/direction cards
    • Registry cards
    • Wedding programs
    • Calligrapher
    • Newspaper announcement
    • Thank you cards
    • Rehearsal dinner invitations
    • Bachelor/Bachelorette party invitations

    Find a Calligrapher

    Gifts & Favors

    • Thank your or reminder token for your guests to take home. Handmade or store bought (optional)
    • Gift for groom from bride
    • Gift for bride from groom
    • Bridal party gifts
    • Groomsmen’s gifts
    • Flower girl gift
    • Ring bearer gift

    Find Gifts


    Discuss below details and expectations with your photographer

    • Engagement portraits
    • Bridal Boudoir portraits - Set up a bridal boudoir party with your bridesmaids. Super fun day and you can get an album for a wedding gift for your fiance
    • Getting ready
    • First look - Decide if you want to stick with tradition or do a first look. Ask your photographer if you aren’t sure
    • Bridal portraits - List several important shots
    • Family portraits - Who is important and specific group shots if you have a preference
    • Ceremony portraits
    • Reception photos
    • Bridal Session
    • Albums, canvases + prints - Think wedding thank you gifts, wall art and heirloom albums

    Discuss wedding day details and expectations with videographer

    Find the Perfect Photographer


    • Plane tickets
    • Hotel
    • Rental Car
    • Entertainment
    • Lingerie
    • Appropriate clothing


    • Apply for marriage certificate
    • Wedding planner
    • Hotel for out of town guests
    • Printed copies of wedding day timeline












    Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

    Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

    Emergency Wedding Kit Checklist | Wedding Resource | Olympia Wedding Photographer

    Calling all brides and bridesmaids! 

    Wedding days are a mix of beauty and chaos. The day where all the hard work and planning comes together for a memorable and glorious event! 

    Back to the chaos part....with the events of the day relying on so many little details to come together correctly, it is really important to cover your bases to ensure it will all run smoothly. An emergency wedding kit will do just that. Instead of stressing last minute about forgotten or lost items, breathe easy and save the day! 

    As a wedding photographer I've seen these kits come in handy time after time, in fact I carry some of these items with me to every wedding. I recommend packing your kit one month before the wedding so you aren't worrying about it last minute. Many of the below items you may have already siting around your house!

    If you think of an item you don't see on the list, CONTACT ME and let me know!

    See list below and download your PDF Emergency Wedding Kit Checklist HERE

    Olympia Wedding Photographer

    Emergency Wedding Kit Checklist

    • Tissues
    • Boutonniere pins
    • Safety pins
    • Sewing Kit
    • Crochet hook (for buttoning up dresses with ease)
    • Scissors
    • Baby Wipes
    • Eyelash glue
    • Mascara
    • Blotting paper
    • Clear Nail Polish
    • Nail File
    • Nail Clipper
    • Tweezers
    • Razor
    • Chapstick
    • Mirror
    • Mints/Gum
    • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
    • Floss
    • Mouthwash
    • Tylenol
    • Tums
    • Decongestant
    • Benedryl
    • Cough Drops
    • First aid kid
    • Band aid/Moleskin
    • Bobby pins
    • Hair Tie
    • Hairspray
    • Hairbrush
    • Q-Tips
    • Lotion
    • Sunscreen
    • Extra earring backs
    • Deodorant (spray so you can share)
    • Baby Powder
    • Eye drops
    • Tampons
    • Pads
    • Phone charger
    • Batteries
    • Lint Roller
    • Stain remover pen
    • Granola Bar/Dried Fruit/Nuts
    • Energy drink
    • Water
    • Mini Bottles
    • Post-It Notes
    • Pen
    • Sharpie
    • Ziplock bags
    • Double stick tape
    • Duct tape
    • Super glue
    • Cash (think vending machine or tips for staff)
    • Portable radio/MP3 player
    • Lighter
    • Flip flops
    • Trash bags
    • Straws
    • Washcloth
    • White chalk
    • Swiss Army Knife
    • Bottle Opener
    • Static cling spray
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Umbrella
    • Emergency Phone Numbers
    • Bug repellant
    • Extension Cord




    Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagramand check out our Pinterest page!

    Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

    Danny + Marcos' Pioneer Square Engagement | Seattle Wedding Photographer

    I can't believe Danny + Marcos' wedding is only TWO days away! So exciting! 

    Danny + Marcos chose to do their engagement session at Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle because they have had many adventures in and around the area. They were preparing to move to the Midwest so why not capture some memories of a familiar and happy place!

    Danny + Marcos were referred to me by a mutual friend,  Rebecca (thanks girl!) and I'm so glad they were! Individually they are both amazing humans; smart, funny, kind, successful, humble. Together they are magic! One thing that I love about photographing couples is being able to see, hear and feel the connection they have and Danny + Marcos did NOT disappoint! 

    The way they looked at each if no one else existed...

    The little gestures of love as they emotionally checked in with the other...

    The happiness that radiated from them as they talked about their upcoming nuptials and thought about spending the rest of their lives together... 

    I live to tell love stories through my photography and they have quite a wonderful tale to tell. I can't wait to join them on their big day and capture all the little moments that will make their wedding both amazing and memorable. Danny + Marcos, there will be many adventures in your future. May the love you share be the grandest of them all.

    I'll end here with a few of my favorite quotes about love...

     “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu

    “In a sea of people, my eyes will always search for you.” — Unknown



    Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

    Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

    8 Reasons You Should Plan a Bridal Session | Olympia Wedding Photographer

    A bridal session is where just you, or you and your love and your photographer schedule a day after your wedding to get back in your wedding getup and have a fun and romantic portrait session at whatever amazing destination your little hearts desire. Beautiful photos of just you two to celebrate your new lives together.

    Why should you do a bridal session?? Here are a few good reasons to consider...

    8. There is a special destination that is important to you both that you want to have photos taken at

    Do you have a certain destination that holds a special place in your heart? Is where you met or had your first date precious to you? Or maybe it's where he (or she, let's be real it's 2017!) proposed? Wherever that one special spot is it's time to solidify those memories with a fun and romantic bridal session. You'll end up with beautiful portraits of you and your love looking your best with the added bonus of all the pleasant memories that will come flooding back every time you look and are reminded of the memories you shared there. What better way to document the story of your love!

    7. There is an EPIC location that you need beautiful images at to decorate your house

    The snowy peaks of Mt. Rainier, the blue waters of Diablo Lake, A lighthouse on Friday Harbor...the jagged cliffs of Ireland, clear blue water and the sandy beaches of Hawaii. Can you picture the romantic images of you too embracing in one of these scenes? The wind blowing through your hair and your dress swaying as you walk hand and hand with your love. Can't imagine it? Let me help you CREATE it. Where is YOUR epic location? ....and when do we leave? :)

    6. Gift

    We all have that one friend, or family member, that had modest nuptials but still dreams of a perfect white wedding. Although the events of that day can't be modified, an amazing new memory can be added. Give the gift of a memorable and adventurous bridal session. A simple but elegant dress, slacks and a button up shirt, a tie and a floral bouquet - the list is minimal to create these one of a kind experiences that will last a lifetime.

    5. Anniversary celebration

    Are you celebrating your very first wedding anniversary? How about your tenth? 50th?? What better way to renew your love for each other than a stunning bridal session at that one location you keep meaning to visit.... break out your wedding dress or find a beautiful dress that suits your current style and start planning your anniversary bridal session!

    Published in Bellissima Bridal Issue No. 30 (October 2017)

    4. You ran out of time to get enough on your actual wedding day

    Wedding days are always busy and packed full of stuff that needs to get done. Many times makeup and hair can run over, people get held up and arrive late etc. For whatever the reason, if your big day was crunched for time and you didn't get as many portraits as you wanted than a bridal session is a great idea for you!

    3. You weren't happy with the ones from your wedding day

    Did rain spoil your big day? That doesn't happen in the PNW. No, never!! HAHA. But if it does and you didn't get those dreamy outdoor portraits you picture hanging above your mantle than consider a bridal session.

    2. You didn't get a big "official" wedding

    Did you say 'I do' at the courthouse or have a small backyard wedding and didn't get those epic portraits you've always dreamed about? This is the PERFECT reason to schedule a bridal session! You get a sweet, decently priced ceremony and a once in a lifetime experience with a bridal portrait adventure. 

    1. You want to spend more time with your friends and family on your wedding day

    I offer this reason because it happened to me. Friends and family came from all over the world to watch us say 'I do' and then immediately after we rushed off for photos. Then there were speeches, cake, dancing and by then people were starting to head home. I felt like I missed out on time with friends and family that I hardly get to see. If I got to do it all over again, I would break tradition and plan a bridal session! After the ceremony I'd attend cocktail hour and catch up with all my people!!

    Besides, lets be real. The exhaustion level on a wedding day is real so take some stress out of it! If your wedding runs late and you don't get enough bridal images, if you want to spend more time with your family on your big day or if you simply want your bridal images to be somewhere amazing... whatever your reason a bridal session is definitely a new tradition worth considering.




    Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

    Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

    BabeSeattle: Styled Halloween Themed Wedding | Olympia Wedding Photographer

    Here are a few of my favorite images from a fun Halloween themed styled wedding I did withsome super fun and talented photographers! Feels good to let loose and be creative.

    What are your Halloween plans??

    Got an idea for a fun or creative styled wedding?? Message me!!

    Models: Kari Rae, Andy Rodriguez, Chalayia Fuller

    Hair + Makeup: Urbanista Weddings
    Florals: Busara Floral
    Rentals: Balancing Balloons
    Invitation Suite: Ink+Sable
    Desserts: Scarlet Nantes

    Coordinators: Beginning and End Photography, Jackie Rose Photography




    Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

    Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

    Morgan Family Capitol Building Session | Olympia Portrait Photographer

    As a wedding photographer I don't photograph as many family as I used too since my summer and fall are busy catching "I do's." BUT when I do get to squeeze one in I remember how fun they can be.

    This is the Morgan Family's second time having their family portrait's taken with me and it was really fun to see how much the girls had grown up. Not to mention the addition of a little, chubby-cheeked and smiley brother! So much can change in two years!! We hammed it up, danced and played and had a blast exploring the Capitol Building! What a great setting and an amazing family.

    OF COURSE now I'm going to sneak my favorite quote about families in here... not that it pertains to this family cause I don't think I've met their 'nut' yet but when I think of it relative to my family it makes me giggle!

    “Families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts.” - Unknown

    ...... side note...... if you are the 'nut' do you know it?? If you read this and think "no, not my family - we are 'nut' free" could that mean that YOU are the 'nut'? Anyway, I find it pretty humorous and it also reminds me how much I love my family, 'nuts' and all.


    People, and family, change over time and it's great to have images to hold side my side to not only remember fond moments that have passed but also to see all the changes that may not be as obvious because you see people every day. A solid reminder not to take any moment, phase - good or bad- or person for granite.

    Second side not of today's blog, I'm happy to see how much growth there is in my photography skills too .... so SO much can change in two years!

    Thank you Morgan family for trusting me to capture your family portraits not once but twice! I hope we can enjoy each other's growth again!

    Olympia Portrait Photographer
    Fox-Morgan Family (24).JPG



    Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

    Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

    Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer | Olympia Wedding Photographer Resource

    Hi Friends,

    Are you ready to meet with potential wedding photographers but unsure of what to ask them?

    Your wedding day is very important and many moments will happen that you can't get back. Hiring a competent and experienced wedding photographer to capture all those little moments is a decision you'll never regret!

    So, before you hire just any photographer.. get to know them, their style and their business ethics. Below is a guide to get you started in the interviewing process (a PDF version is also available so take it with you to your meetings! Download Below)

    Tacoma Wedding Photographer

    Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

    Basic Questions

    Tacoma Wedding Photographer
    1. Do you have my date available? NOTE: If the answer is ‘No’ then skip to the ‘Unavailable’ section at the very bottom.
    2. How long have you been in business?
    3. How many weddings have you shot? Have you done any similar to mine?
    4. Have you shot at my venue before? If not will you scout it ahead of time?
    5. Do you specialize in weddings? NOTE: Hiring someone that specializes in wedding photography is important because of the nature of the event. You can’t get those moments back or get a redo!
    6. How would you describe your photography style (e.g. traditional, photojournalistic, creative)? 
    7. What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other photographers?
    8. Do you have a portfolio I can review? Are all of the images yours, and is the work recent?
    9. What type of equipment do you use?
    10. Do you shoot in color and black & white? NOTE: Now is a good time to express your preference!
    11. Can I give you a list of specific shots we would like done?
    12. Can you put together a slideshow of the engagement session (along with other photos the couple provides) and show it during the cocktail hour? 
    13. Will you follow a shot list? Or do you prefer to have free reign to capture the festivities how you see fit?
    14. How long after the wedding do we get to see the photos?
    15. What information do you need from me before the wedding day?
    16. May I have a list of references?
    17. Are you the photographer who will shoot my wedding? If so, will you have any assistants with you on that day? What about a second shooter?
    18. What about backup equipment? Do you have or will you rent spare equipment if your main gear fails? What about a backup plan if you are unable to shoot my wedding for some reason?
    19. If my wedding site is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover?
    20. Are you photographing any other events on the same day as mine?
    21. How will you (and any of your representatives) be dressed? 
    22. Is it okay if other (non-professional) people take photos while you're taking photos?
    23. What time will you arrive at the site and for how long will you shoot?
    24. If my event lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge?
    Tacoma Wedding Photographer

    Contracts, Policies, Legalities

    1. What are the steps that need to be done to secure you as our wedding photographer?
    2. Will I be able to see your contract ahead of time so I have time to go through it?
    3. How much of a deposit do you require and when is it due?
    4. Do you offer a payment plan?
    5. What is your refund/cancellation policy?
    6. Do you have liability insurance?
    7. Do you have a current business license? 

    Questions to Ask Yourself

    1. Do I feel a connection with this photographer? Are our personalities a good match?
    2. Does this photographer’s work match my ideal wedding photography style?
    3. Do our communication styles match?
    4. Has this photographer listened well and addressed all my concerns?
    5. Is this Photographer as awesome as I am?


    1. If you aren’t available to shoot my wedding can you recommend someone with a similar style, experience and price range?

    Download a PDF version HERE



    Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

    Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

    "She's the one with the elephant logo"

    Hi! I'm the photographer with the elephant you guessed I get that often.

    As a photographer, our logo also known as a "brand" is like our label. It tells you, our clients, a little bit about us with just one little image. An elephant may be a bit strange for a brand, but I feel that it truly fits me and show who I am and and how I want to represent my business.

    Travel back in time with me and I'll tell you about where my love with elephants started.

    My first encounter with an elephant was when I was about three years old, my daddy took me to the circus in my hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska. Elephants are pretty large creatures, especially compared to a little girl but I had no fear. I was so curious and fascinated that I wasn't scared to interact with them. I reached out to my new friend, lettuce in hand, and instead of a little tickle from him trunk when he grabbed the lettuce (which I surely expected) I got quite the surprise! My tiny little hand inadvertently, or purposely who knows, went into the elephants trunk. Back out it came, slightly slimier then it entered. Not long after my dad gave me a yellow elephant stuffed animal, that I named Sabrina, and she became my fave. I still have her, although she's in need of a few surgeries to get her healthy again. That is just where it begun...

    When I was 16 I traveled to Thailand on vacation and not only did I get to feed and play with the elephants but I got to ride one!! One little baby even picked me up when I was trying to get a photo with it! So fun.... want more stories?? Let's get coffee and chat!

    I do have quite a few positive memories with elephants and it is part of the reason why I love them. But I also connect with them on another level. Although I am not Buddhist, I have much respect for spirituality and have a fascination with the concepts behind Buddhism. The elephant is strongly connected with Buddha and symbolizes power, wisdom, strength, protection of the home, fertility and good luck. An elephant trunk facing upward is a sign of good luck, hence the elephant in my logo! So... isn't an elephant a perfect fit for the logo of a wedding photographer??? Me, especially.

    ***TIP*** Scroll all the way down to see some nice little gems from my childhood. If you need a good laugh you won't want to miss them!


    Olympia Wedding Photographer

    Sarah Gonia Photography Logo designed with and created by Wild Hyacinth Design Studio.

    Olympia Wedding Photographer
    Chiang Mai, Thailand circa 1999

    Chiang Mai, Thailand circa 1999




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    Kelly + Robert Historic Bigelow House Elopement | Olympia Wedding Photographer

    This day was so amazing, I don't even know where to start!

    Kelly and Robert eloped at Robert's family's homestead in downtown Olympia, The Bigelow House. The Bigelow House, also known as Daniel R. Bigelow House or The Bigelow House Museum is run by a non-profit focused on preserving history and they have done JUST THAT with all the renovations they have completed. The Bigelow House is the oldest residence in Olympia and even neater yet, one of the oldest structures in the PNW. The amount of history that has been preserved in this house absolutely took my breathe away. Even Robert, the great Grandson of Daniel and Ann Elizabeth Bigelow, was speechless as he moved throughout the house. Most of the rooms looked just like he remembered as a child and as we toured the house he told story after story of his families legacy and his childhood memories. By the end of the day I felt as I was a part of the history of this great house as well.

    The beautiful bride, Kelly, selected a champagne dress that had a vintage feel and seemed to fit the venue, and the day, SO perfectly. Kelly topped off her look with a gorgeous Victorian necklace and earrings, a delicate and simple bouquet of dried wildflowers and her heart on her sleeve. I could feel how important this day, the history of the house, and her groom were to her. Another detail that stands out in my mind is a tiny picture of Robert's Great-Grandfather fastened to the base of Kelly's wedding bouquet. His presence was important in so many ways and most importantly because Kelly + Robert chose the day of their union with purpose. June 18th, 1854 was Robert's great-grandfather and great-grandmother's wedding anniversary! What a great way to honor family with 163 years of history mixed in there!

    Kelly + Robert, I am beyond honored to have been there to capture your big day. The history that surrounds you and your family is enchanting and the thought that went into the details of your elopement is heartfelt. This day will forever remain in my mind and in my heart. Congrats you two!

    A bazillian thanks to my awesome second shooter, Samantha Ek of Picturesque Art Photography.

    Kelly + Robert's pictures tell the story of their big day, and so much more, so I'll quit yammering and let them tell it....

    Bigelow House Museum Elopement | Olympia Wedding Photographer
    Bigelow House Museum Elopement | Olympia Wedding Photographer


    Kelly + Robert's wedding is featured on the fabulous wedding site, Borrowed & Blue. Check it out!



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    Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

    Craddock Family Pt. Defiance Portraits | Tacoma Portrait Photographer

    It's July and I love July for many of them being the rose gardens at Pt. Defiance Park! The floral arch is more spectacular this year than past years because the roses have really filled in and the center divider is complete and fully planted. Just look at those dark greens and brilliant pinks, they make an excellent background for families, seniors, maternities or nearly any type of portrait session. It even gives off a dreamy, romantic feel which is perfect for engagement or bridal photos. If I could pick one place to bloom all year, this surely would be it.

    With their daughter's recent first birthday and the full bloom of this arch, The Craddock's family portrait session couldn't have been more perfectly planned. This adorable little family was so fun to work with and I am super happy that they booked me. Not only were they great to work with but their little girl is just a month younger than mine and it was sweet to see the similarities in their development. Final note on the arch picture.....isn't that little pink floral dress PERFECT!!! 

    Well, believe it or not the stunning floral arch was NOT the highlight of the session! There are two things about this session that will always stand out in my mind, the first being the interactions between these three. They are so affectionate, kind and caring towards each other and there is definitely no shortage of love. When families are relaxed and happy is when I am able to capture the most candid, beautiful moments but it may take some people awhile to warm up in front of the camera (which is OK!) The Craddock's were such a sweet and fun little family unit that not much warm up time was needed before they were laughing and playing with their daughter. I seriously LOVE to capture those interactions and the raw, genuine emotion that happens during them.

    Ok, now for my favorite highlight of the session (and no it's no the blizzard I had after)! Like my daughter this little one hadn't yet taken her first steps nor stood unassisted - yet with the magic of the park and our cheers to guide her she stood for the fist time on her own. I'm pretty sure I teared up several times watching this milestone through my lens. Not only did she stand but she then squatted, maintained her balance and then stood again...several times!! It's moments like this that make me realize how important family and milestone portraits are. After time memories will fade but a photo capturing a moment like that will live forever.



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    Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

    10 Tips to Prepare for Your Maternity Portrait Session

    1. Plan your session well in advance. We recommend that you have your maternity photos taken between 27 an 34 weeks. Every woman, and every pregnancy is different, but ideally you want your belly to be distinctly showing yet you don't want to be so far along that your are uncomfortable and miserable. Between the 27th and 34th week most women have a distinguishable, and beautifully round belly but haven't started to experience the swelling and weight gain that is typical of the end of pregnancy. Keep an eye on your body and if you are showing early (are you having multiples?!?) then we can definitely discuss scheduling your session sooner.
    2. Plan your session on a day you won't have to rush. Your maternity session will take between one and two hours depending on the package you have chosen and if you have an event to get to right after you will be checking the time over and over and not having fun. Maternity sessions capture such a magical time in a woman's life and the experience should be fun and relaxing. My specialty is capturing those candid moments where you are relaxed and wearing your true emotions, if you are rushed with other events on your mind then it will show.
    3. Bring your loved ones! Your significant other, older siblings and even the grandma to be are all great additions to these memories. Not only will they help you relax and enjoy your session but the photos will be extra special and a great memory for you, them and your child.
    4. Mentally prepare for your session. You may be in a tight fitting dress or a dress where your belly is exposed and many pregnant women feel self-conscious about their changing bodies. Change of shape, swelling or extra weight and stretch marks are all normal parts of pregnancy and deserve to be documented! Love your body and own it - it is working hard to create and house a tiny life so it deserves to be celebrated. If you are uncomfortable it will show in your images, just relax and try to remember that not only is this a special time that needs to be documented but that it will eventually pass and believe it or not you may miss it.....
    5. Tight clothing can leave marks on your belly so skip them for a few hours before your session.
    6. Wear Comfortable Clothes that show off your belly. After all that is why you're having your photos taken!
    7. Bring nude underwear! I know this sounds weird but we have a closet full of maternity dresses available to our clients and if you decide there is one you love you'll need those nude underwear.
    8. Bring some props, one or two special items to customize your maternity session and document those special items for your baby's baby book. 
    9. Show up well rested and hydrated. I know, I know .. easy for the non-pregnant woman to say and after three pregnancies I know how hard it is to get sleep but try your best to get some extra rest before you shoot. Pregnant women have a beautiful glow to their skin and adequate sleep and staying hydrated will ensure you and your skin look amazing!!!
    10. Lotion! Speaking of skin...dry scaly skin is a NORMAL side effect of pregnancy. Slather up before your session to add to that glow we discussed.

    Bonus Tip: RELAX!!! Relax and have fun. Pregnancy is such a special time in life and creating positive memories during it will enhance your experience. Relax.... and let's do this, let's create something epic that you can't wait to hang on your wall!

    Rattlesnake Lake Maternity | North Bend Maternity Photographer

    YES! Maternity boudoir and milk baths are an option! Book a traditional session, book a boudoir session or ask about the special for booking both together!



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    Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful