I met Leah and Hans at the My Montana Wedding Expo and Style show this past January and they booked me on the spot. They were planning a "backyard wedding" at some property of family friends on Halfmoon Lake just a hop, skip, and a jump from Glacier National Park in West Glacier.
After a quick "fake first look" with the best man standing in for the bride, and then a real first look we hopped into cars and headed into and around Glacier for the wedding party photos before returning to the ceremony and reception location for the remainder of the night.
One thing I always tell my wedding couples is that no matter how far out you begin planning, the wedding day will arrive before you know it. Time seems to accelerate the closer the big day comes. Lindsay and Brady's wedding was no exception. They booked my photography services 19 months ago, way back in 2021. Fast forward to the summer of this year and here we are!
This was such a fun and unique wedding, as just about everyone in the wedding both wedding parties and the bride and groom more or less grew up together. There's something really cool when everyone has that shared history together that makes the wedding day really intimate even though there are around 200 people there.
I had my true kick-off to my 2023 wedding season this past week out at Star Meadows Ranch outside Whitefish. It was so great to share that kick-off with Krissy, Todd, and their friends and family. It was almost more like a summer camp outing—though with a more formal dress code than your typical summer camp—than a big fancy wedding but it had all the elements you might want.
Your best friends standing up with you? Check. Surrounded by family? Check. Flower girl and ring bearer? Check. A Jello shot bearer... wait what?
A few weeks ago I got a text from my friend Katie with An Epic Elopement to see if I was available on a Tuesday for a quick elopement in West Glacier. As it turned out I was available and was happy to jump at the chance to once again work with her to document a lovely couple's nuptials.
Why only two weeks in advance? Well, Carly and Steve just happened to be in the area helping some friends move to the Flathead Valley, and decided they'd go ahead and get married while they were here. They've been together for years and engaged for several of those years. After getting engaged people would ask Steve when the wedding was and he would respond "Tuesday." Turns out, he's been telling the truth all this time.
We met up at the old Belton Bridge outside Glacier National Park for a sweet ceremony, celebrated with tequila shots afterward, and then headed into Apgar Village just inside the park for some portraits on the shores of Lake McDonald.
I don't want this post about Leila & Jay's wedding to sound like a paid promotion for another business that is completely unrelated to photography, but that is actually how I first met Jay. He runs Rocky Mountain Power Systems here in the Flathead Valley and was responsible for selling and installing an on-demand power generator at my house. And what I didn't know at the time was I'd actually met his mom through My Montana Wedding when I first joined the association.
Fast-forward a couple of months after his initial consultation visit to my house but I run into him at Kaite & Beau's wedding at Diamond B Weddings because—surprise!—Katie is Jay's youngest sister!
Then a few months ago I get a call from Jay saying he's found the love of his life and he's going to be getting married in January for a winter wedding. Naturally, I was more than happy to oblige, even with the stress of working in front of one of the Valley's long-established photographers Joanna Adams who was in the wedding as the Aunt of Leila.
I was fortunate to meet Taylar at Jared at the My Montana Wedding Expo & Style show this past January and was so honored to be included in their lovely fall wedding at Jewel Basin Weddings. They invited their closest friends and family for a lovely evening that felt more like a family reunion or a backyard get-together among friends. It is one of my biggest honors to be included in such gatherings, and record them for posterity.
Weddings are like snowflakes in that no two are exactly alike. But you can expect them to be amazing in their own way. Julia & Javi's wedding at Abbott Valley Homestead in Martin City was in fact incredible, but not in any of the ways anyone expected it to be.
Sustained heavy rain storms seem to be a rarity here in Northwest Montana, especially towards the end of August. When thick dark clouds loomed nearby I assured Julia that while yes the storm looks bad, it's unlikely that it'll last very long. Boy was I wrong. Once it began raining that Saturday, it kept raining. It would stop for a few minutes, and then rain hard again. It really seemed like we'd get a nice break in the weather, just long enough to get the ceremony in which was to take place in a beautiful open field.
Alas, as soon as everyone got into place to begin the ceremony, the skies opened up, and it began just absolutely pouring rain. Everyone involved made the difficult call to move the ceremony under the covered barn back to the reception site. Was it what anyone had initially planned? Absolutely not, but there was something truly special about everyone crowded under the old barn, sitting around the couple as they exchanged their vows.
After the ceremony, we got a wonderful reprieve when the clouds parted, the sun came out and we had a beautiful evening for the formal portraits and dinner. But once dinner ended the skies once again opened up to another downpour. Everyone huddled under the barn again and it turned into a Brooklyn basement party as the couple's musically inclined guests performed songs written for the occasion and covers of songs important to their relationship. And despite the hundred-plus people in attendance, it felt so intimate and special, it was such a humbling moment to be a part of.
Caitlynn and Josh planned the perfect little intimate micro-wedding at Summit Mountain Lodge and Steakhouse in East Glacier. Purely family and the humble wedding vendors who were invited to take part such as myself, we were treated to the sweetest little ceremony, a lovely dinner, and fantastic music to close out the night.
They still really wanted some epic portraits in Glacier National Park as part of a "day after" adventure portrait session. The thing about Glacier though, is that in May, not very much of the park is typically accessible. So right away we made plans to meet up later in the summer to capture the amazing mountain portraits they wanted. Thankfully, we experienced a relatively smoke-free in August, and everything from the sky to the wildlife performed beautifully for their portraits.
Editors Note: The header image above ended up on the cover of the 2023 My Montana Wedding magazine. You can read it online here, or pick it up for free at any number of locations here in the Flathead Valley.
When you get a call from your friend Sarah Harding to see if you're available on a weekday for an hour for a sweet elopement in the park, you don't say no. Bonus points for the couple wanting to include the Jeep they've been driving across the country.
Susan and Steve were visiting from Lousianna and while they were still going to have a big party for friends and family back home, they thought "why not do something intimate with just the two of us?" And I couldn't agree more. It was super low-stress, we chatted about life and Jeeps, and Sarah and I got to be part of something extremely special.