Intimate wedding planning tips from a wedding photographer & bride.

This is Pt 2 of the 2 part series, Planning an Intimate Pacific Northwest Wedding, If you haven’t yet, please read pt. 1 of the series by clicking the link. In Pt. 1, I shared how my experience as a bride has informed my work as a Portland wedding photographer. I also discussed how my husband and I designed an intimate wedding day that truly reflected us as a couple,  lastly, I gave advice on how to plan your wedding schedule to prepare for the unexpected. When intimate wedding planning, these factors are super important. In Pt 2, I’ll discuss how you can stretch your wedding budget to prioritize what matters most on your wedding day. Thank you for reading!

Beautiful analogue wedding details and how to prioritize your wedding budget.

Prioritize Your Budget

Many people choose to keep their wedding smaller due to budget constraints. Deciding on, and sticking to an intimate wedding budget is a challenge, but it can absolutely be done. Andrew and I didn’t have much money to spend on our wedding, so we sat down and listed our priorities early on to get the most out of the money we did have. After all, beginning our life together stressed out about money did not sound appealing.

We chose to have our wedding at the beginning of March because it’s still cold and wet out, definitely not peak wedding season in the Pacific Northwest. This allowed us to save on lodging for our guests, and make a large dinner reservation at our favorite local restaurant instead of renting out a whole restaurant or hiring a caterer for our reception.

Photography was a high priority for us and we dedicated a chunk of our budget accordingly. It was important to us to hire a Pacific Northwest wedding photographer because we knew she would be prepared for whatever the weather decided to do that day. We chose our wedding photographer to suit our personalities and tastes; it was just an added bonus that she’s one of our favorite people. In the end, we knew that the photographs she took would reflect who we are and preserve our memories for a lifetime. We didn’t want to forget any of it!

Intimate wedding planning tips from a Portland, Oregon bride and wedding photographer.

Hmmm, what else?

  • We chose not to decorate a damn thing.
  • We skipped traditional cake and dances.
  • I made my own bouquet and made Andrew’s boutonnière to match with flowers from a local Portland boutique called The Meadow.
  • I kept my wedding attire costs down by ordering an “alternative” wedding dress from BHLDN, purchasing some boots I found on sale at a local shop, and wearing my own lingerie.
  • Andrew didn’t keep his wedding attire costs down… but damn did he look good!
Family observing a wedding ceremony on the Washington coast.

People Matter

We limited our guest list, and made sure that we spent time with everyone who attended our wedding, but the one thing I would have done differently on our wedding day is to ask for more photographs of our family and friends.

Looking back on the day, I don’t think I quite recognized that our wedding day was the one day that all of our favorite people would be in the same place at the same time; I could never have too many photographs of that. As the bride, I was busy getting ready, having my photos taken, getting hitched, and making sure to say hello to everyone and make them feel welcome. From my vantage point, I didn’t get to see what everyone was doing while I was away from them and I really wish we would have had more time together.

There are a few ways we could have ended the day with more photos of our family and friends.

A bride (and wedding photographer) and groom tie the knot while holding a crystal in the woods.
A bride greeting her wedding guests with hugs.

We could have hired a 2nd shooter.

Though our wedding was very small, a 2nd shooter would have been able to capture bunches of friends and family candids while our main photographer was busy following us around.

We could have asked for more photos.

Even as a wedding photographer, I didn’t think to do this until it was too late! In retrospect, I would have loved an individual portrait of every person at our wedding. There were only 32 people and, although this isn’t the most fun job for a photographer, if it was planned it into the day, it would have made a great addition to the wedding album.

We could have extended our wedding.

As in, we could have made our wedding a weekend long experience! This is my favorite of all the options, although it would have thrown our budget out the window. Had we planned our wedding to be a weekend long event, we would have had more time to spend with our people and we would have had a lot more opportunities to photograph everyone together.

A group photo from an intimate Pacific Northwest wedding.

Plan An Escape

Even a little one.

It’s no secret that weddings are a lot of work, even intimate wedding planning can leave you and everyone else involved completely exhausted. After our wedding day, Andrew and I planned a couple extra days off from work, but we didn’t take the time to go on a honeymoon or even a mini- moon. I really wish we had! After planning, executing, traveling, and attending to the needs of our guests, we were totally drained. It would have been amazing to take a couple of days away from home to be with my new husband.

In lieu of taking our honeymoon immediately after our wedding, Andrew and I decided to escape to Mexico for two weeks on our one year anniversary. This allowed us to save up enough cash and time off from work to take the extended vacation we really wanted. Many margaritas, naps, tacos, and mini adventures were had. It was a dream well worth repeating!

A bride loving on her groom on the beach.


Experiencing a wedding through the eyes of a bride taught me a lot about what is most important. I am so thankful for the day I shared with my husband, family, and friends; anything I would change about the day, simply informs my work as a wedding photographer and the advice I give to brides.

I hope that my tips for intimate wedding planning in Portland help you think ahead, make the most of the time you spend with your loved ones, budget according to your priorities, and design a day that truly reflects you as a couple.

A bride and groom holding hands on the beach in Washington.

Location: Sou’Wester Lodge in Seaview, Washington
Reception: Pickled Fish
Photographer: Shannon Rosan
Officiant: Milan Rosan
MUA: Cassandra Blyth
Bridal Attire: BHLDN & Xtabay
Groom’s Attire: JCrew & The Haberdashery

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