Adventure Wedding Photographer

35 Ideas to Make Your Wedding Day Unique | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Customize your day, make it fun! Here are some ideas to make your wedding day unique!


1. Pay homage to the important details of your relationship… state you met, restaurant from your first date, favorite activity to do together etc by decorating your reception or cocktail hour space with details of these places.

2. Avoid some of the pre-ceremony jitters by getting ready together. Laugh and spend the morning with your love, then help each other get dressed. More fun, less stress.

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3. Go paperless! Send out electronic invites or use embroidered hankies or cloth for napkins, menus and invites.

4. Choose a colorful dress and have your bridesmaids wear white.

5. Select mixed gender bridal parties. Man of Honor and Groomsmaid have a nice ring to them!

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6. Opt for a non-traditional bouquet. Feather, greens, pine cones and dried flowers are all beautiful and unique. See some ideas for epic and non-traditional bouquets HERE.

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7. Instead of the traditional unity ceremony with sand or candles build or buy a clock and start the time on it during your ceremony. This idea is different and you can display the clock in your home.

8. Don’t let mom feel left out! Have both your parents walk you down the aisle. You can also have someone very special like Grandma or your bestie do this!

9. Skip the bridal party introductions and go right to dinner! This gives you more time with your guests and everyone is ready to eat by then anyway.

10. Instead of a head table for the wedding party, set up round or square tables in the middle of your guests. Head tables put the wedding party on display while they eat!

11. Decorate your tables with small custom items rather than large floral arrangements. Tall vases block views of the other side of the table and limit conversation between table mates.

12. Instead of having everyone line up for posed family photos, schedule 20 or so minutes to socialize with them. Laugh, tell stories, hug, pray… and have your photographer capture these interactions without the pressure of posed photos.

13. During cocktail hour support local businesses and show off your city by setting up tasting stations with local cuisine. Seafood if you live near the water, appetizers with fresh veggies if you live in farm country etc.

14. Toss out the idea of doing a garter and bouquet toss and replace them with a fun game that includes all your guests, instead of just the single ones.

15. Who says the flower girl has to be a young girl? Anyone can be a flower girl, so designate your granny, bestie or even your college roomie!

16. Set up a confetti bar and let your guests custom make little bags of confetti to throw. Dried or fresh flowers, flower petals, herbs, leaves, leaf confetti are just some ideas of what to include. Think biodegradable for easy cleanup!

17. Guest books usually end up in a box in storage, never to be seen again. Instead of a traditional book choose a more useful item like a wall hanging, picture or wooden puzzle to be signed.

18. Instead of offering your guests small trinkets for coming to your wedding, make a donation to your favorite charity in their name.

19. Create a scavenger hunt of items that can be found at the wedding. This allows your guests to interact more on your big day and have some fun!

20. Send a map and a list of “must do’s” for your city to your guests that are coming from out of town. This extra step will make your guests feel welcome and help them see your city.

21. Custom wine bottle labels are a great way to add a unique touch to your big day and the bottles can be saved as souvenirs by guests.

22. Have your best friends or parents create a trivia quiz about you two. This can be light and fun and get guests laughing.

23. Create a circular ceremony location with curved rows of chairs that go nearly all around except for a path to get to and from the center.. This way guests can view the ceremony better and you will be surrounded by your loved ones, literally. LOL.

24. Instead of a traditional cake or cupcakes, have a ice cream or sno-cone bar for guests to indulge in.

25. Another idea for dessert is to have a “family recipes” theme and serve desserts that are important and familiar to you. Display the story and importance of each dish and set out copies of the recipes for your guests.

26. Write a sweet message to groom on the bottom of his dress shoe. This will be a cute little surprise for him when he is getting ready!

27. Skip the buffet and go for a family style meal. It’s more personable an intimate.

28. Stack piles of cheese, olives, crackers, jam and other finger foods on large wood slabs as a unique way to display your hors d'oeuvres rather than on separate plates.

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29. Instead of tossing your bouquet to a crowd of single women call on one woman that has made a positive impact on your life and celebrate her with a few words and giving her your bouquet.

30. Serve featured cocktails! Each of you can choose your favorite drink and those will be featured as the special cocktails of the night.

31. Make each of your guests feel special with a DIY flower bar. Provide flowers, pins, ribbons and basic instructions to make corsages and boutonniere and let your guests make their own custom pieces to wear.

32 Set up a table full of items to entertain your smallest of guests. Games, puzzles, bubbles, coloring sheets and kid-friendly snacks are all ideas you can stock your kids table with.

33. People love options! A fully stocked champagne, bloody mary or sangria bar can be an amazing and fun addition to your wedding! For champagne you can include berries, flavored syrups and cotton candy. For bloody mary’s stock it with olives, celery, A1, shrimp, pickled beans and hot sauce. For sangria you can have cut fruit such as apples, oranges or limes.

34. Surprise your guests with and end of night food truck. Offer a few of your favorite foods to fill their belly’s and soak up any of the… uh..um, … liquid … sloshing around in their stomachs.

35. On a smaller scale, as the night is winding down offer a ‘midnight snack’ to your guests. Cookies and milk or hot cocoa are great ideas!

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XOXO,

Sarah

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

Becky + Stu's Ocean Shores Wedding | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Getting married on a Washington beach in October when it will surely rain?? Sure, let’s do this!

The grey, cloud-filled skies formed the perfect stormy yet serene backdrop for Becky + Stu’s Ocean Shores nuptials. Cold and wind aside I loved every minute! I did however decide that I need an umbrella hat since I can’t carry an umbrella and both cameras at the same time!! That’s probably super nerdy but it’s totally going on my Christmas list!

Becky + Stu are a super laid-back, fun couple and I seriously spent the entire day smiling and laughing. Becky has this raw and authentic smile that just reveals what a genuine person she is. You can’t help but smile back, no matter you mood. Stu is witty and laughs with his whole being. It is easy to see why these two are drawn to each other and such a perfect match! Side note, Becky + Stu work with Oysters, check out the handmade Oyster cake topper, so unique!

After the ceremony the wedding party popped a few bottles of Champagne and toasted to the lovers! Soaked from head to toe we all headed back to the Inn to change clothes and then kick off cocktail hour. The Reception was held in a room in the Inn and was decorated in a beach theme with blue lights lighting up the walls, driftwood decorations and pictures of their travels on each table. Becky + Stu handmade candles, coated in sand as their wedding guest gifts! So thoughtful and different!

This was one of the most unique and fun weddings of my 2018 season and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it. Such a lovely couple, so many smiles and a fabulous, moody beach ceremony!

Congrats Becky + Stu!

Ocean Shores, I can’t wait to see you again!


Venue: Shilo Inns Ocean Shores

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XOXO,

Sarah

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

Ashley + Codey's Trinity Tree Farm Wedding | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Ashley + Codey tied the knot on a beautiful but typical Pacific Northwest fall day in September. Although there was the occasional sprinkle, the rain held off during the ceremony and during all the pictures! Thank you Mother Nature, we appreciate you!

The day started off pretty relaxed as Ashley and Codey each got ready with their closest friends and family. Fun toasts, wedding party presents and lots of laughter were highlights that morning, along with a game or two of pool, of course. I’m fairly certain that Codey didn’t stop smiling all day! Ashley is stunning to begin with but also Sorrida Salon did such an amazing job on her hair and make-up that I walked right by her! Ashley, you are gorgeous and looked like you belonged in a high-end bridal magazine!

Let’s take a moment to talk about the venue too, The Lodge at Trinity Tree Farm. What a GORGEOUS venue!!! I loved that it was clean, modern, well-lit, and convenient. The layout is great and there are excellent spots for formal photos on site as well. One of my favorite parts of the venue is that it is a Christmas tree farm…… so trees! The perfectly aligned rows of trees and the quaint gravel driveway that winds through the trees are excellent for beautiful bride and groom photos (and my OCD). Let’s be real with such a gorgeous couple and such an amazing location I could have spent hours exploring and taking pictures of them in the trees! A Pacific Northwest wedding photographer’s dream! Getting Married at Trinity Tree Farm?? Hiiiiiire me, pleeeease and let’s go play in the trees!

Wedding Planner / Day of Coordinator: Colleen Stanton

Florist: Down to Earth Flowers

Cake/Desserts: Mike’s Amazing Cakes

DJ/Band: DJ Daron

Hair + Makeup: Sorrida Salon

Wedding Dress: Made With Love (Stevie)

Wedding Party's Dresses: Show Me Your Mumu

Shoes: Badgley Mischka

Jewelry/Rings: Robbins Brothers’

Suits + Ties: The Black Tux (Hugo Boss)

Catering: The Tall Chef

Venue: Trinity Tree Farm

Second Shooter: Alexis Rae Photography

XOXO,

Sarah

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

Adventure Portrait Sessions: What They Are and Why You NEED One! | Olympia Wedding Photographer

What is an adventure portrait Session?

An adventure portrait session is a great way to capture images of you and your babe while exploring the great Pacific Northwest. An adventure session throws traditional portrait locations to the wind in exchange for ones that are a bit more wild, natural and epic. They tend to be way more fun… and maybe a bit muddier!

Who is an adventure portrait session for?

Nature lovers, free-spirits and the adventurous at heart. If a bit of a drive or a hike doesn’t scare you then an adventure portrait session is for you! While adventure session are perfect for lovers and elopements, they are also great for senior sessions, bridal sessions and boudoir. So hike up your skirt and let’s go!

How much does an adventure session cost?

Price depends on the location you select as well as time needed for the adventure, see pricing HERE.

Things to consider when planning an adventure portrait session.

  • Time - How long will it take to drive to your desired location? If there is a hike, how long will it take?

  • Location - What sort of background appeals to you? Woods, mountains, water? All of them?? Maybe there is a place that has special memories for you?

  • When to schedule - This depends on your location…. places like Mt. Rainier close when there is snow but others like Gold Creek Pond are amazing in the winter! Also consider fall as a great time to book due to the auburn foliage, it’s pretty magical! Winter session can be foggy, snowy and majestic but there is a higher chance of rain…be prepared to shoot in the rain or reschedule.

  • Clothing - Select two or three outfits that don’t clash with the scenery. After all the view is why we are there! Think simple patterns, solid colors and fun hats. Bring or wear sensible shoes. Bring towels and a change of clothes in case you get wet.

  • Props - Best to keep it basic out in the wilderness but a cute little picnic, a bottle of champagne or a cozy blanket can all be great additions to your session.

  • Snacks- Exploring is hard work and we may build up an appetite! Bring plenty of food and water for our adventure.

Where are some great locations to do an adventure portrait session?

The possibilities are endless!

Below are just a few localish locations for an adventure portrait session. If you have another idea I'd love to go explore with you! I'm open to non-local adventure too, message me and let's start exploring!

Ask about session discounts on my bucket list/favorite locations!

  • Ruby Beach

  • Rattlesnake Ledge

  • Cannon Beach

  • Leavenworth

Mt. Rainier

See more of Mt. Rainier


Lake Cushman

See More Lake Cushman


Rattlesnake Lake

See more of Rattlesnake Lake


Franklin Falls

See more of Franklin Falls


Gold Creek Pond


Deception Pass

See more of Deception Pass


Cannon Beach

See more of Cannon Beach


Manchester State Park


See more of Manchester State Park

Vantage

See more of Vantage, WA

Group Senior Shoot

For portrait location ideas closer to Olympia check out 10 Great Portrait Locations Near Olympia

XOXO,

Sarah

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

Kenzi's Vintage Glam Bridal Portraits | Olympia Wedding Photographer

XOXO,

Sarah

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

Lindsay + Nick's Salish Lodge Wedding | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Venue: Salish Lodge

Make-up: Allison Peck

Hair: Emma Williams of Sweet Lips Hair

Wedding Dress: Casablanca from Weddings With Joy

Groom's Suit: Nordstrom

Bridesmaids Dresses: Azazie

Jewelry: Ken Walker Jewelers, Stella & Dot

Bridal Shoes: Nina

Officiant: Miguel Standerry

Wedding Coordinator: Michelle Murphy

Florist: Elle’s Floral Ingenuity

Entertainment: The Nines!

Second Shooter: Entwined Portraits

 

XOXO,

Sarah

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

Ingrid + Dan's Ballard Bay Club Wedding | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Ingrid + Dan tied the knot this summer in a lovely outdoor ceremony at the Ballard Bay Club. Surrounded by friends, family and beautiful weather the day was simply amazing!

The morning of the wedding, both Ingrid and Dan got ready with a handful of their closest friends. It was all laughs and smiles (and yummy snacks) as we prepared for the big day. We then met at the Ballard Locks for the first look. There happened to be a concert happening but we found a private little spot in the woods for Ingrid + Dan’s intimate first glance at each other.

After the first look and family and wedding party portraits we headed over to the main venue for the Ketubah signing. Ingrid + Dan found the MOST amazing Ketubah on Etsy, isn’t it amazing?!?! What a beautiful collision of tradition and modern art.

The ceremony went off without a hitch and the Rabbi Aaron kept the atmosphere light and fun. (Side note, if you need a Rabbi, check him out - he’s great!)

One nice thing about having a wedding at the Ballard Bay Club is that the ceremony, cocktail hour location and dinner area is all together. There is an outdoor patio area as well for those who prefer to be outside. Such a beautiful space!

The whole day was just lovely! Also, I’d like to give a shout out to Anne Marie Jostol, she just does florals as a hobby but holy cow did she do an amazing job. I was baffled when I found out she didn’t have a Wedding florals business cause she should!

First Look Location: The Ballard Locks

Venue: Ballard Bay Club

Wedding Coordinator: Bridget Boggiano of The Plan Wedding Planning & Design

Bride Makeup: Emily Oliver Beauty

Bridesmaid's Makeup: Robertmakesfaces

Hair: Jess Sandiforth

Wedding Shoes: Badgley Mischka

Bridesmaids Dresses: Azazie

Cake: Morfey's Cake

Invitations: Minted.

Personalized Cutting Board: Blushing Bull Branding + Design

Bride Ring: Ben Bridge

Florist: Ann Marie Jostol

Rabbi: Aaron Meyer

Band: Blue Wave Band

Second Shooter: Tammy Dalquist Photography

XOXO,

Sarah

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

Jenny's Bridal Portraits | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Jenny's bridal portraits were taken in a swanky loft in downtown Seattle and it was a perfect location for them! The vintage loft was full of character, deep neutral colors and rich textures that really brought some personality and depth to the photos. One wall of the quaint and charming space was knee to ceiling windows with long, sheer, white curtains that softened the light as it shown through the windows. These curtains also served as a visual warden, intercepting the view of the outside world and helping maintain the vintage feel of the loft. A few times throughout this beautiful vintage bridal session I stopped and looked around, feelings of being in a different era lingered over me. As I blinked myself back to 2018, I saw endless opportunities for amazing images!! 

Ladies and gents - are you wondering what bridal portraits are? Are you wondering why you should plan a bridal portraits session? Check out my blog post '8 Reasons You Should Plan a Bridal Session' for some answers! Also, scroll down past all the images of the lovely Jenny for a peek into some other bridal portraits. Indoor, outdoor - even bridal boudoir is an option!! So much fun and a great way to capture some beautiful portraits surrounding such a memorable, once in a lifetime, event!

For more information or to book your own session, contact me today!

Happy Thursday, friends!

Bride: Jenny

HMUA: Pacific Brides

Dress: Edith Elan

Flowers: Sublime Stems

Super special 'Thanks' to all the vendors who came together to pull off this stunning bridal session, especially to the planners Beginning and End Photography and Kendall Lauren Photography

XOXO,

Sarah

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

Alicia + Brock's Rattlesnake Lake Couples Session | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Adventure! One of my favorite type of sessions to capture is an adventure session. An adventure session is where we pick a location that is amazing, epic, gorgeous, breathe taking, memorable or all of the above and put you in it. This type of session is great to capture a location that has fond memories or just to capture the PNW in general. Most types of session can be done as an adventure session, which is a great alternative to session at a local park or urban setting.

We chose to do Alicia + Brock's adventurous couples session at Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend. It had been a while since I had shot there so I was pretty excited. We got a beautiful day that was warm and sunny so we shot in the evening and utilized the beautiful soft light of golden hour.

Alicia is such a sweet person, so positive and happy. She was constantly laughing and smiling, which is contagious! Brock is the strong and silent type, his serious face is pensive and you can just tell he is taking everything in. Both Alicia + Brock are artists and are so expressive in their own ways. Their personalities compliment each other and aren't unlike the Chinese Yin + Yang principles that represent the universe. 

Alicia + Brock even got SUPER brave at the end of our session and climbed into the chilly lake for some super sexy couples photos. I guess I can't say much since I shot from a dry and warm rock a few steps from shore but in my opinion it was totally worth braving the cold water for these fun and playful photos! HAHA!

This blog really makes me realize how much I love doing adventure sessions! So, stay tuned for a blog on Adventure Portrait Sessions coming soon...!!

 

Also, check out the amazing necklace Alicia is wearing. It has the prettiest little moonstone hanging from the moon. It was the perfect accessory for her low-v cut dresses.

Moon + Moonstone Necklace: Ethereal Earth Gifts

Dresses: Forever 21

XOXO,

Sarah

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

Kenzi + Daniel's Lake Cushman Engagement Session | Olympia Wedding Photographer

In search of adventure and some epic beautiful scenery Kenzi, Daniel and I chose Lake Cushman as the destination for their adventurous couples session. We also threw around a few other ideas for beautiful "PNWesty" locations but in the end this quaint little lake, full of serenity and character, really drew us in and made the decision for us.  

When I first heard that rain was forecasted for our portrait session day I nearly cried! We had so carefully selected that day, working around everyone's schedules, and spent time determining location, wardrobe and snacks! I was sad but determined to shoot no matter the weather. Luckily, Kenzi + Daniel are adventurous souls and were fully on board. Instead of rain we ran into the most delicious weather! A layer of white cotton candy fog hung over the lake and mingled in the trees. To my delight it was was the most perfect weather to help set the mood for this romantic couples session. 

The day of the shoot was relaxing, exciting and so much fun! We met in the afternoon and headed out to Lake Cushman together so we could explore and find these amazing places. We definitely had a full car with two car seats (sans babies), three adults, a picnic basket, food, 3+ blankets, multiple changes of clothes, camera gear, a guitar and some light hearted chatter. Kenzi + Daniel are so easy going though, it was just as fun getting to know them as it was exploring. 

This sweet couple has been together for five years and they have three amazing children. They enjoy spending time with family and friends, being outdoors and of course they love being in front of the camera.... which is fantastic because their connection is unreal and they are so fun to work with! Anytime, friends! I look forward to when we meet again. 

Make-up: Ronny Marcella

Moon/Moonstone Jewelry: Amber Corp

XOXO,

Sarah

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

Lindsay + Nick Downtown Olympia Engagement | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Seventeen.

Seventeen is the number of days until these two lovies exchange 'I do's.'

When Lindsay and I first talked about location for her and Nick's downtown Olympia engagement session I was thinking Percival Landing and I was stoked! I've shot there multiple times and it's always a lot of fun and there are so many places to wander and get variety. Then she suggested a little marina and I got even MORE excited! Boats, beach and a new location... yes please!!

Although the weather report threatened rain, the only thing we got was some serious wind and some magnificent sun! We arrived a bit before golden hour so we could walk around and scout and eventually we wandered down to a little beach with sun gleaming through the pillars that held up a cute little building and I quickly 'b-lined' straight there! I couldn't believe how beautiful the light was streaming in behind them! It was the perfect fiery glow. It was a fully luminous and magical view! After the beach we took a few photos with their wild but loving fur-babies and then we ventured down to the docks where the light was softer and cooler. We had a beautiful view of the sound and all the clean white boats that lined the docs! Definitely a beautiful location for engagement photos!

Seventeen.

Seventeen days until Lindsay + Nick's beautiful PNW wedding... in which there will be an EPIC waterfall. If you know me then you how much I love waterfalls! *jumps up and down like a giggling maniac, clapping hands and cheering*

Seventeen and counting down.

Side Note: To capture such amazing love stories, like Lindsay + Nick, is truly what makes being a PNW wedding photographer such an amazing job.... well, let's be real - love stories AND waterfalls.

Side Side Note:... who is coming back with me to shoot at this dock / beach again??? I am just in love with this light and location!

XOXO,

Sarah

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

Brenda + Sal's Cannon Beach Wedding Portraits | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Let's talk about Brenda + Sal's STUNNING bridal session at Cannon Beach! That light! That view! That bouquet! That gorgeous couple! This session is truly a PNW Wedding Photographer's dream come true!

Brenda + Sal have been married for a few years but planned this gorgeous bridal session in their last days in the PNW before moving home to Arizona. Such a great reminder of their time in the Pacific Northwest and a great little weekend adventure for their little family of three!

If these amazing pictures don't speak for themselves and you are wondering why you should do a bridal session, check out  8 Reasons You Should Plan a Bridal Session!

Flower: A Moment in Time Floral Design

XOXO,

Sarah

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