Ben & Ellen got married at Portland’s Immaculate Heart Catholic Church, possibly the cutest Catholic church I’ve ever seen! Here’s some sneak peeks of their ceremony. Photos of their reception at Melody Ballroom to come soon!
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Mai Duong is a Portland wedding photographer, also based in the San Francisco, Northern California area. She is available for weddings in the United States and Europe. MaiCamera Photography focuses on photographic storytelling by capturing natural moments. For booking inquires or more information about wedding photography in the Portland area and beyond, please contact Mai.
Sunny Day, Purple Flowers, and Elegant Palace. Those were the three dream components that William and Tran wanted for their pre-wedding shoot. They dreamed up a portrait session of bright sunny beaches, guitar serenades, fun dates, purple flowers, and romantic evening palaces. Amazingly enough, we got them all. We drove away from rainy Portland, exited the forest, and found a sunny Cannon Beach waiting for us! Along the drive back, we stopped at field covered with purple flowers, and ended at the Sentinel Hotel (formerly known as the Governor Hotel), who were really, really generous and kind to let us come shoot in their empty reception halls.
Pete, Niamh, and I had the awesome plan of using one of the mornings or evenings during a climbing trip in Red Rocks to do their engagement session. After one day of climbing at Red Rocks I thought to myself… that engagement session was not going to happen. To bring them so close to awesome climbing, and not let them climb? That’d be impossible.
So this is how we spent their engagement photo session:
I’d say that was time well spent 🙂
Giant trees, a view of Mt. Hood, and an upbeat couple, what more could I ask for? A couple years ago, for Aemi and Daniel’s engagement session, we visited Mt. Tabor park. We went all over the place, I couldn’t get enough of it. The sky was clear and offered us a fantastic view of Mt. Hood, allowing me to take one of my favorite engagement photos, even 2 years later.
Photographing and assisting for other photographers is one of my favorite methods of learning. All the workshops, books, and online resources don’t compare to working along side your peers. Every photographer has their own methods, their own style, and their own personalities. In 2012, I second shot/assisted for several different photographers, and I found myself not learning things about photography, but learning things about myself.
The biggest lessons I learned:
1. I am enthusiastic.
It may sound weird that I figured out my personality while assisting other photographers, but it’s true. I realized I couldn’t be calm and sarcastic (and twice-my size). It just didn’t work. I’m small, hyper, and easily excited. But, I can aspire to create as amazing photographs as others.
2. It’s okay that I’m enthusiastic.
While working with another photographer, he told me his exuberance and volume (think booming voice) were a few of his strengths. I thought to myself… ding ding ding! Enthusiasm is a strength, and I’ve learned to embrace it.
Nate showed me that it’s okay to be enthusiastic.
3. I love to know my couples.
As a second photographer, you don’t communicate with the bride and groom beforehand, which means you don’t get to know them. This aspect of second shooting has often been the most difficult for me. While traveling to a wedding, a photographer shared some background of the couple whose wedding we were photographing. I soaked it all in.
4. I am detail oriented.
Some photographers have all the information, such as schedule, wedding details, and family photo list. I thrive on those lists. Other photographers don’t need the details and let the day unfold. They even perform the family photos without a list. Amazing.
A game I play is to try and get different angles for the photographer. Here, Stephen was down below on the other side of the couple.
5. Everyone shoots differently.
I love to use artificial light. Whenever there is an opportunity to observe photographers using flash, I study them up. And so far? Everyone has different gear and different methods. When it comes to how people move, where people stand, what angles they like, everyone is different. There’s no need to try and do something exactly like someone else. Do what makes sense to you.
Nate asked me to shoot wide here, so I did. Sometimes I get asked to shoot nothing but telephoto, sometimes wide, it all depends on what the photographer wants.
To the photographers who I assisted in 2012, thank you for letting me study you.
Chris of Becerra Photography
Craig of Mitchelldyer Photography
Dy of D. Leng Photography
Heather of Espana Photography
Nate of License to Still
Stephen of Remembrance Photography
Tara of Tara Francis Photography
Golden hour, rock blessing ceremony, enthusiastic newlyweds. What an awesome way to celebrate a wedding, with a beautiful fall day. Hannah and Seth were married at McMenamin’s Edgefield. It was the last beautiful fall weekend, while the grapes were still unharvested, and before the downpour took away the autumn leaves. I’m so glad we were able to get plenty of portraits all over the property. We scheduled some time for a first look prior to the ceremony, as well as a bonus portrait session during the “golden hour.”
The ceremony was so fantastic! Hannah and Seth were married in the ballroom by the Rev. Steve Sharp (of A Beautiful Ceremony NW)
In addition to the fantastic words by the officiant (that Rev. Steve Sharp is good), Hannah and Seth also chose to do a Blessing Stone Ceremony and speak their own vows.
After the ceremony, there was a break as the room switched over, so we snagged that free time to get some portraits of the bride and groom around the property. I must say this, newlyweds are the best, and these two were spectacularly awesome.
Sometimes, things just click. For example, Hannah and Seth’s wedding colors were brown and orange, and so much around us was glowing orange (the leaves, the sunset, the candles). McMenamin’s Edgefield seemed to have decorated their entire property just for the couple.
I have to add, the toasts were pretty fantastic. Childhood dreams of adoption from the bride’s twin sister, hilarious stories of the Groom’s adventures, all awesome.
At the end of the wedding, the bride’s father came up to me and told me I was the most energetic photographer he’d ever seen. Hooray! Although, I think it helps having an awesome and enthusiastic crowd!
Amy and Ben had an outdoor wedding on the amazing property of Rogue Farms Micro Hopyard. Their ceremony was sweet and full of laughs, my favorite kind! There were all sorts of sounds to be heard during the ceremony. The bride’s father played guitar during their communion and marriage license signing. There were hilarious moments as turkeys and chickens wandered towards the bride and groom, squawking and crowing. The friends and family all came together and offered so much help for the bride and groom. The food was a deelish potluck, and I loved, LOVED, the potato salad. Loved it. It was all I ate.
Amy and Ben opted to do a first look! They first saw each other in the aisles of the hop yards. Amy and I were both so glad that Rogue Farms hadn’t harvested all the hops yet! They left a sweet patch unharvested (just for us, I like to think!). I loved the privacy it gave them (allowing me to hide behind hops and let them be).
Wedding Crashers! There were some pretty rowdy turkeys at this wedding.
The bride and groom took communion during the ceremony.
During the communion and the marriage license signing, the bride’s father performed “I Loved Her First”, and I still get chills when I see the photos and hear his amazing voice.
SURPRISE! It’sa Mario!
Mario got the princess!!
After the lunch, while guests mingled and played lawn games (or, well, hung out in the shade with some Rogue beers), the newlywed couple and I went around the property to take some portraits.
While it’s hard to beat a first look in the hopyards, photos in a hazelnut orchard are pretty fantastic and a dream come true for me (fact: I love photos in orchards. It was my #1 goal for 2012 to take as many photos as people would let me in orchards).
Amy’s always asking Ben to pinky swear, so we took a different kind of ring shot to remember that 🙂
Loved. Her. Dress.
At the end of the wedding, they exited to bubbles!!
A gorgeous day, family all around you, and bubbles! Great way to end a wedding.
AND…. I have to give a second shout out to Aunt Tresa’s delicious potato salad!! Yum, yum, yum!
Chris and Susan had an amazing wedding at the River Ridge Ranch in Springville, CA. As the bride’s sister humorously pointed out during her speech, the Ranch is a gorgeous, eco-friendly property to which we all flew and drove hours to attend the wedding. 🙂 Family and longtime friends came from all over (including Bridesmaid/Sister of the Bride who brought her family all the way from Italy!) to attend, and the couple used as many opportunities to include them in their wedding. Children were all invited for a children’s parade at the beginning of the ceremony, while also given the gift of RED converse shoes! Friends were included to perform readings, and the Bride’s childhood friend performed violin. It was a whole weekend event at the Ranch with many activities planned for the guests who made it out.
Susan did an amazing job scouring Etsy shops for wedding decorations. Everything was given great thought to being eco conscious and personal. Pebbles that reminded the Bride of summer holidays at Plymouth Beach with her family were used as buttons and adorned the crane garlands. Songs were carefully selected, as well as readings for the ceremony. Susan’s earring and bracelet were gifts from her sisters.
In honor of the groom’s partial Japanese and Mexican heritage, Susan incorporated two elements: the Mexican Wedding Lasso, and lest we forget, the biggest theme being Cranes. During their bicoastal engagement the bride decided to fold 1000 origami cranes, a task called Sembazuru. Legend states that if you fold 1000 cranes, you are granted one wish. In ancient Japan, a bride-to-be would perform Sembazuru to have a long and prosperous marriage. Susan folded 1001, an extra for good luck! But, she didn’t stop there. Each of her bridesmaids were given necklaces with little crane pendants. The children’s parade kicked off the ceremony with each child hanging an origami crane at the altar. Crane stamps adorned much of their stationary. Paper crane garlands hung around the reception space and at the altar.
The wedding was fun, and the family and friends were fantastic. The food was good (thanks to Castillo BBQ and Catering), kids ran around freely, and as the sun went down, everyone gathered around the huge fire pit for warmth, smores, and good conversation. It was a great wedding.
I loved the origami crane stamps!
The bride’s dress, as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses, the mother of the bride’s tunic, and wedding party’s ties were all made by Yvonne Chu of Kimera Design, while the wedding party’s vests were made by Audrey King of FrenchKnotWeddings.
Mexican Wedding Lasso
It was hard to see their through the wedding lasso for the ring exchange!
The bride surprised the groom with a special outfit change…
and a matching tie!
Confession, macarons are one of my favorite desserts to have while visiting my family in France.
1000 cranes, proper Sembazuru style, from NineVoltHeart
Pink origami crane garland in honor of those affected by breast cancer
Vases designed by the Groom’s cousin filled with cranes, tortoises, pine, bamboo, and cherry tree blossoms
Origami cranes and roses on sticks from Meiorigami
Crane garlands made from pages of Tolkein’s The Hobbit from SmilesFromMe
Colored marshmallows from HaveItConfections!
Renee and Hector were married at the Augustina Lutheran Church in Portland, OR. In honor of her mother’s heritage, the bride chose to incorporate some Native American Wedding traditions: sage smudging and the blanket ceremony.
Sage smudge wands were walked throughout the church. The purpose of the burning sage was to cleanse the church as well as everyone present. As the smoke rose, it took with it any negative energies.
You know I love organs!
Renee and Hector presented their parents with a gift of a vase and a blanket.
Wedding Blanket Ceremony
The bride and groom were wrapped together under one beautiful blanket to symbolize their union.
It was actually pretty hot inside the church, so to stand tight together wrapped in a think blanket was warming things up even more. They had a good laugh about it 🙂
In addition to the Native American ceremony, they recited vows and exchanged rings.
Now, I know this post was about their ceremony, but I have to add two more of my favorites 🙂
After the wedding, they headed to McMenamins Crystal Ballroom for their reception, which included a Mariachi Band!
Lastly, a portrait of the beautiful bride!
Ashley of Stargazer Weddings put together an amazing styled wedding shoot at Chatoe Rogue in Independence, OR. The theme was “All Things Oregon” and she did a fantastic job incorporating all the specialities Oregon has to offer.
To incorporate Oregon’s pride as a great microbrew and wine country, wine barrels were used as tables to host the cakes, party favors, and ceremony centerpieces. The wedding colors were green (for the color of Oregon’s landscape) and grey (for the color of Oregon’s skies – ha!), with burlap and jute to complement the colors.
Stumptown Coffee and Oregon Oak Seeds were given out as wedding favors.
DIY wine bottles were customized for the bride and groom. AEL Design designed the labels, along with all other print designs at this wedding, and Maryhill Winery had them printed and assembled on wine bottles.
The pair on the left are sisters, and the pair on the right have been childhood bff’s.
Can you tell?
Hillary is so gorgeous! I love how she just glowed in the light.
There were a bunch of cakes from Marion of Myriad Cake Design. My personal favorite was the gray cake with tree decorations, how perfect for an “All Things Oregon” themed wedding!
Willaby’s Catering offered an amazing food spread which included Salmon, yummm!
There were two reception venues designed. One was outdoor with many green accents, with table centerpieces designed by Denice of Distinctive Designs. I really liked the lambs ear. It feels super soft, and, get this, it really does feel like petting a lambs’ ear.
On the table was a real moss table liner, along with compostable bamboo plates. The plates are sturdy, and after the wedding, you can compost them!
The second reception was indoor in a fantastic barn. It was definitely big enough to host large weddings.
I couldn’t get enough of the twilight sky streaming through the walls of the barn.
The walls of the barn were decorated with picture frames of the couple. I can’t get over all the simple great ideas Ashley had come up with.
After taking a couple portraits around Chatoe Rogue, we headed to a hazelnut orchard! Could it be? My dream come true??
This awesome pair put up with my excitement (and tree climbing) to let me take some photos that I’ve been always wanting to try.
I set up my flash to be off camera in a tree, with the hopes of using artificial light in a way that looked like sunlight.
I think it turned out alright. What do you think?
TJ just *shrugs*
A gorgeous home on a gorgeous day, Jared and Shawna were married at her parents’ (amazing) property in Washington. They’ve been living in Australia (Jared is a pro mountain biker there – how cool is that!), so it was really great to see everyone flock into the Northwest to see two get married. After the sun went down, there was plenty of dancing and a fire pit for everything to hang around. We were all pretty sad to see the night end (they almost extended the wedding at the last minute!), but at least we got to send them off with sparklers!
Catering was done by Voila Catering. It was served family style (my favorite!) and had… roasted potatoes! Deelish.
In combination with the orange flowers and orange accents, they also used feathers in the bouquets, boutonnieres, and decorations. It was a great idea for their outdoor summer weddings.
Getting ready for Jared and Shawna’s sparkler exit
Hmm… how to put an awesome wedding into words. Natasha and Marc had one of the most personal and unique weddings I’ve ever been to. Everything in their wedding was there for a reason, and nearly everything was done or improved on by them. They were married in McMinnville (a mini destination wedding for the travel-loving couple). Marc’s brother was the officiant for their ceremony, and everyone stood close and around them as they were married in McMinnville’s City Park. Afterwards, we all walked through McMinnville in a procession towards McMenamins’ Hotel Oregon for the reception. There was an antique car show that day, so visitors were sitting along the street to watch the cars go by… and also hoop and holler for the new bride and groom :).
Fun fact about the couple, they met on a greyhound bus! So, naturally, they decided to tie the rings to a toy greyhound bus for the ring bearer.
The wedding colors were magenta, and Natasha did a great job of adding magenta touches everywhere. There were magenta flowers, magenta parasols, and even magenta socks for Marc.
Natasha and Marc opted to do a First Look.
Marc used that opportunity to share a story about a guy wouldn’t let him use the billiards table for a quick pre-wedding game, and instead challenged the groom to a game. Here he’s proudly sharing how he had just come from kicking the guy’s a** in pool. Love it.
They had the poem “Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog” by Taylor Mali as a reading. They weren’t able to bring their dog to the wedding, so this is how they were able to include her 🙂
Natasha and Marc made all the name cards and decorations themselves. Tables were labeled with destinations the couple had traveled to, with centerpiece collages of photos from their travels.
Marc and Natasha had homemade pies instead of cakes because they like pie, and their cake toppers were accented with magenta nail polish to go with the wedding colors.
As a gift on their wedding day, Marc bought Natasha earrings. Very sweet, this couple 🙂
They hired the Pagan Jug Band, because who doesn’t like jug bands??
Jesse is a friend, yeah, I know he’s been a good friend of mine. Jesse is a good friend from college, and I was so (SO) excited to attend his wedding. (I may have mentioned it a zillion times to him) I met Emily in May 2010, after Jesse, insisted (demanded) that I meet his future wife. A few months later, I bugged him about getting engaged so he could invite me to his wedding, and he laughed it off. That weekend, he proposed. Yeah, I have that effect on people. Just kidding, it was a proposal long in the making. A year later, I got to watch them promise to love each other and cheer each other on (Emily is a cheerleader) for the rest of their lives. And yeah, I was super excited. The wedding was a blast filed with old friends, silly photo booths, and dancing (thanks to the open bar). Oh, and we definitely rocked out to Jesse’s Girl.
These are my favorite memories from the wedding. First up: after their vows, they lit their family unity candle. In the left photo, they had to relight the candle because it had blown out when they blew out their family candles (thus the laughing). In the right photo, first family prayer!
Hugging the parents.
The party favors/seat assignments were lollipops! Sadly, my lollipop was cleared off with the dinner plates.
For the cocktail hour, Jesse and Emily had his and her drinks. Jesse, for his cuban background, had mojitos, and Emily, for her Chinese background, had lychee martinis. I fueled up on the lychee martinis, gotta represent Asians, right?
And the appetizers! My (obvious) favorites were the french fries with his & her dipping sauces (again, one Cuban spiced and another Asian spiced) and Emily’s request… oysters!!
They had a fun entrance where they danced in and walked through an “archway” made by the wedding party.
Late into the night, after dessert, they brought out Klondike bars! There were so many options, I wanted them all.
We bid farewell (sorta, we hung around long enough to see the couple return from their getaway) with a sparkler exit.
Lastly, before all the sparklers were used up, we tried our hand at spelling out Jesse and Emily’s name.
I met up with Tracey and Kevin to shoot an engagement session, and they asked me if they could bring their puppy. Um, I believe my response was, “Yes, please!” So, please meet Rogue. She’s adorable, hyper, and can’t be kept away from her parents unless you like the sound of barking and yelping. She also gives lots of kisses :).
Adam and Erin were married at Horning’s Hideout in North Plains, OR. It was a hot day, but the ceremony was shaded by tall trees and cooled by a creek running along the side. The wedding was decorated with forest details and the food was delicious. I was thinking about the rib roast every day for, no exaggeration, over a month. In fact my mouth is watering thinking about it now.
Erin and Adam opted to do a First Look!
The details they put into everything was impressive. The theme was “wild bird nests” so there was moss, log rings, and bark.
They also had printed photos of themselves to hang around.
The ceremony took place surrounded by tall trees, and you could hear the creek’s water running alongside the site.
The reception tables were decorated with birdhouses and herbs.
The food was deelish!
Rib roast… drooling. It was the best I’ve ever had. I want more.
Shot with Eric from BriteFoto Wedding Photography!
Dana and Ben, at the Resort on the Mountain for their 10-10-10 weekend wedding.
Nicole and Curtis’ wedding was, for lack of a better word, awesome. A large wedding, all the tables in McMenamins’ gymnasium were filled, and it was easy to see how happy and excited *everyone* was to see the the two married. Maya, their daughter a.k.a. adorable flower girl, sorta stole the show with her, for lack of a better word, adorableness. Everyone was in good spirits, and never have I seen foam swords and dart guns (for the adults!) shooting across the dance floor. Awesome wedding.
Since Curtis and Nicole weren’t very traditional, and to make the wedding day flow better, Nicole and Curtis opted to do a first look.
I think we were all surprised by how emotional the first look was for them.
So, because they opted to do the first look, we were able to spend a good amount of time taking portraits and group photos before the ceremony, without any rush. Everyone gave Curtis a hard time for never smiling with his teeth, but I think he has a really cool (teethless) smile.
Behind me, the bridal party is heckling Curtis to “smile with your teeth!”
Maya, their adorable daughter did not want to pose for pictures… until she realized how FUN mommy’s dress was to play with.
Did I mention she sorta stole the show?
Surely you’ve picked up on this by now, but this wedding was all smiles.
Hanging out in the hallways of McMenamin’s Kennedy School.
The Kennedy School’s gymnasium is a pretty cool venue for a wedding reception.
Everyone has something that makes them unique, and one of the many things at this wedding, was the engraving on Curtis’ ring! Initially, the tennis fan in me got really excited with the notion that they were tennis fans. But their story is WAY better. Inside his ring, it said”tennis”, which was Nicole’s early way of saying “I love you” to Curtis. For those who don’t know tennis scoring, “love” is how you say zero. So, there’s “love” in tennis.
Oh, and the cake toppers! Bobble head bride and groom that looks eerily like them. Curtis’ bobble head is even smiling without showing his teeth!
While Curtis and his Mom had their Mother & Son dance, Maya walked onto the dance floor asking to join. Like I said, she’s adorable.
One guess as to what dance these boys are doing.
If you guessed “Jump On It as done on Fresh Prince of Bel Air” you’d be correct!
Fun fact, the groomsman who caught the garter is actually getting married next May!
And as I mentioned, dart guns for the grown ups!
And for Maya too 🙂
The weather started out with an occasional drizzle, as everyone arrived to the Ainsworth House and Gardens. Seats were wiped down and umbrellas were handed out. The ceremony began and the rain picked up. Jane and James received shelter from the rain thanks to the huge tree they were married under (me not so much). 10 minutes later, they were announced husband and wife and it started to pour. They laughed as they rushed down the aisle, with an umbrella following them, and the rest of us (myself included) umbrella-less folk rushed for shelter. In those 10 minutes, we had all gotten past the point of soaked that it was hard not to laugh at ourselves. I looked like I had jumped in a pool and had forgotten that I was still dressed. Later in the afternoon, the skies cleared completely and the sun came out. Much to Jane and James’ delight, we were able to take a group photo of all the wedding guests in the front lawn of the Ainsworth House. And, much to my delight, we were able to take couples’ portraits around the beautiful venue at sunset.
Jane made all the flower arrangements herself! And her mom added all the pretty details to her dress. Very talented people in this group!
I’m not sure which coat I like more. The pretty pink one, or the full length jacket.
Fun fact: James works as a chef at Wasabi, in Beaverton, and his restaurant catered the dinner… which means there was yummy sushi!
The rain cleared and the clouds parted, leaving the outdoors rich in color. We dragged the entire party outside for a big group photo. FUN!
Afterwards, with the weather clearing up, we were able to take portraits among the Ainsworth gardens.
They were too cute during this time.
And lastly, to end it on a fun note:
Jane and James had their Chinese Marriage Ceremony at James’ family home in Beaverton, OR. While Jane waited patiently in the bedroom, James stood outside the house in the rain, requesting permission to enter. Per Chinese tradition, he was required to offer gifts and promises in order to see his bride. Bringing flowers, shoes, and red envelopes of money, he promised to take care of Jane (and do all the housework and make all the dinners). When Jane’s family and friends finally relented and offered their blessings, the couple served tea to relatives in return for gifts and marriage advice.
“Come on guys, let me in. It’s raining out here!”
James was told to kneel before Jane as he made promises towards their future.
James struggled a bit with the shoe straps – to the amusement of Jane and everyone watching.
Jane’s parents, so relaxed!
And one of the best parts of Asian weddings: the food!!
Aemi and Daniel were married last weekend at the Church of Korean Martyrs in Portland, OR. Here’s a sneak peek from the wedding!
Stephanie and Dustin had their engagement session at McMenamin’s Edgefield. Fun fact: Dustin is a total golfer. Their wedding is going to be on a golf course AND he proposed to Stephanie on a golf course! They were on a vacation, when Dustin snuck the ring box inside the hole in one of greens. When asked to put the flag back in, Stephanie quickly placed it back without looking, prompting Dustin to mention that “there looked like was something inside there.” Obviously, she assumed it was a giant bug. He insisted she look again, and there was the proposal. A clever and creative engagement idea, Dustin!
The daffodils were in full bloom, so when we came upon them by chance on our way to the golf course, we grabbed some shots.
And, for total fun we had them do some cheesy “teach golf aka flirt” shots because you know she needed help with a putt that close.
Sneak peek of photos from Renee and Hector’s wedding ceremony at the amazing Augustana Lutheran Church
Jared and Shawna were married last weekend at Shawna’s (amazing) family home. Here’s a sneak peek of photos!
Can you say: Rawr?