From a Bride’s Lens – Choosing a Wedding Venue

The venue is probably the most important aspect of your wedding day. It sets the stage for the celebration and allows your family and friends to glimpse in at you and your partner’s personal life a little and start to truly understand you both.  It also allows for out of town relatives and friends to visit your hometown and your hood. Here’s a little about our adventure in the venue choosing process.

After Evan’s unforgettable and meaningful proposal on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, we started chatting about our dreams and ideas for our wedding day.  I knew I wanted to be married in a spot that was surrounded by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, which is why I moved here 7 years ago and love it more and more each day. Evan is originally from Montana and grew up in and on the mountains. His one request was that there was a view of Mt. Hood at our wedding venue. Luckily I had heard rave reviews about Mt. Hood Organic Farms and I loved its glorious beauty and that it’s all inclusive for us. They have an incredible farm to table in-house caterer, a day-of coordinator (although I do recommend full-service as well, more on this later!) and all the tables. chairs, linens and everything else you need on site. Also, since I haven’t photographed a wedding here yet, I like that the venue has it’s original meaning to us as our wedding venue.

But… To be honest, all in all, it could have been easier. Our venue decision might have been one of the more stressful things about the wedding planning process thus far. The distance between the small city of Mt. Hood and Portland is a solid hour and a half. The big question became whether to host the pre and post festivities, including the rehearsal dinner and picnic, in Portland or Hood River with a lot of pros and cons on each side. It sort of sounded like Hood River, Portland, Hood River, Portland, for a few weeks… The airport location, the cost of hotels, the transportation needed, it all became a factor.

Ultimately we decided to host the weekend in Portland because it’s home to us, and then transport guests to and from Hood River on the day of the wedding. We have a ton of family and friends from our college towns , Ann Arbor and Missoula, family in Montana, Michigan and Florida and a bridesmaid coming in from Asheville, TN. This is exactly why we chose the venue we did, to take every moment of our wedding weekend and give our nearest and dearest an incredible tour of this great city and its surrounding beauty. A few large nice busses will drive guests through the majesty of the Columbia River Gorge, complete with a stop at Multnomah Falls and onto our venue overlooking the mountain majesty. Compete with a welcome BBQ picnic at the beautiful, Mt. Tabor Park, I think we made the BEST decision and I’m so excited to see it all come together.

Documenting dozens of weddings in and around Oregon, I have been so inspired by many of the locations I’ve been to and photographed, from the top of Mt. Hood in the snow, to dining under the canopy of old growth forests to capturing sunset over grapevines in the valley.  My wedding vision of an eclectic garden party in the mountains came together from documenting unforgettable moments in majestic places and I’m so thrilled to share these moments with you. Please feel free to click on any image to lead you to more images from that wedding.



Love the organic elegance from Evan and Suzy’s orchid garden wedding in Pacifica, California.

The view from Gorge Crest is beyond compare and guests tend to hang out and just gaze in awe!

Fresh apples in autumn make for a natural backdrop of beauty

Monica and Ian’s funky, yet elegant reception space at Eco Trust makes for a unique and unexpected wedding venue.

Erika and James had a clean and modern reception at the Blue Hour restaurant in the Pearl.

Light filled rooms of understated tables and modern chairs make me happy. I love how clean and sophisticated it is.

Allison and Jeremy’s wedding at Langdon Farms had that easy-going yet classy vibe that I love.

A picnic wedding in the woods. April and Sam share a bite under a wooden pavilion at Oxbow park.

Courtney and Pete had a friend’s gorgeous backyard in the woods for their ceremony. I love all the trees and their friendly entrance!

Outdoor ceremonies are great but it’s nice to have a bit of privacy around the guests so they can hear the vows and feel connected. Also, it protects from gawkers and any ambient noise.

Croquet! We definitely want lawn games during cocktail hour for guest to chill, sip and snack surrounded by the beauty of the trees and mountains.

I love the idea of relaxed yet fancy weddings. Simple long tables with ivory linens are gathered for a family style meal at Oxbow Park. Remember to click on each image to see more from that wedding!

Overlooking the vineyards, the dinner tables at Hawks View Cellars make for a beautiful reception location. The white chairs and linens are classic and comfortable yet stylish.

The Columbia Gorge is one of our favorite hiking and camping spots. We will be providing transportation to and from our wedding and this is the view from the bus!

Earthy and romantic, I love the branches and fruit trees adoring the ceremony and reception space at Medicine Creek Winery.

Cocktail hour at Stargazer farm in July. Erin and Dylan’s wedding was easy-going, darling and inspired by nature.

Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland is a magical oasis of trees, lagoons, flowers and fish and allows for guests to explore the gardens without being too far from the party.

Becky and Scott’s wedding was simple yet fancy at Leach Botanical Garden. This place is one of my favorite spots for an intimate wedding.

Having a spot to sleep after the party is awesome if it’s AT the party! The tent area at Stargazer Farms was a hit and both families and couples alike stayed under the stars. Our after-party will take place at at campground only 5 minutes from our venue.

The sophisticated, yet charming reception space at Roche Harbor Resort is a great canvas for fun and unforgettable decor.

The alpine glow on the top of Mt. Hood is a stunning backdrop at Sarah and Will’s Timberline wedding.

The tented reception area at Abernethy center has that classic European black and white checkered floor that I love!

Dinner and dancing with this view is relaxing and unforgettable! I love Mt. Hood!

An evening stroll through the gardens at Kate and Brandon’s home wedding made for some romantic images and memories.

The Langdon Farms barn party under the stars! The warm summer nights allow guests to wander and mingle on the lawn.


Jessica Hill PhotographyFrom a Bride’s Lens – Choosing a Wedding Venue

Margaret Drake and Harrison
St. Johns Bridge Engagement and Family Photos

When I met Margaret and Drake, I could tell how much love they shared with each other and with Harrison. Margaret and Drake are a fun-loving and kind couple with great creativity and big hearts. We wanted to create creative and timeless images both together, and with the raddest 14 year old ever, Harrison. St. John’s Bridge and the Eastbank Esplanade lended stunning backdrops with incredible light for their shoot and I love these photos. We had a blast and even their cute pups, Lucky and Ruby, had fun! Thank you M+D+H! SO excited to photograph their elegant and woodsy wedding in July.

Jessica Hill PhotographyMargaret Drake and Harrison | St. Johns Bridge Engagement and Family Photos

From a Bride’s Lens: My own wedding experience!

– The Love Story-

It was a warm August night and I was excited to see my dear friend, Kirstie and meet up at an industry event at the Elysian Ballroom. With a black pencil skirt and a peplum top and heels, I felt happy and excited to have a night out in the middle of a busy wedding season. We had a great dinner and a blast at the Elysian Ballroom open house. Kirstie and I felt (and looked) like we were on a set of Mad Men at the stunning venue!

Kirstie was texting a friend of hers that night who was already at Ron Toms. I was just going to head home, but she convinced me to hop across the bridge to one of my favorite bars. I was thinking I would just stop by for one drink and be on my way. She was grabbing a spot in line at the bar, as I made a dash to the bathroom line, which was particularly long for a Thursday night. Waiting and realizing my heels were killing me, I hear a friendly, yet confident question lean my way; “Hi, how has your night been?”

I turned around to look in the direction of his voice, and then our eyes met and I felt an immediate sense of connection, like a bolt of lightening and a beautiful smile came across both of our faces. I was staring into the eyes of an intelligent, creative, kind and gorgeous man and the butterflies were on. We started chatting and when my turn came, I scrambled into the bathroom and screamed a little. I was glowing and beaming and I had to remind myself to breathe! I had never experienced “love at first sight” before and even questioned if it existed, but after meeting Evan in line for the bathroom of all places, I know it does.

Our wedding will be at Mt. Hood Organic Farms on Sunday, September 28, 2014 and I am still screaming a little through every step in the process of this incredible journey of being a bride. Sometimes screaming out of stress and frustration and sometimes it’s pure happiness and excitement.  I truly had no idea how layered and complex the wedding planning process was before now.

I want to share it all with you; the ups, the downs, the little details, my dress woes, DIY invites and more. I realize I have a lot of knowledge to share in the wedding world, as I’ve documented over 400 unique couples at this point. I’ve seen perfect brides have a complete meltdown, I’ve seen a missing groom, (yeah, he never showed…) I’ve seen huge families tear up with complete joy together and I’ve been a witness to a few elopements. One thing remains though; it’s just one day.

I want to welcome you to my world of wedding planning from a bride’s lens. Stay tuned, this is sure to be an interesting few months!

From the industry event, the same night I met Evan! Kirstie is one of my four bridesmaids!

My first time snowboarding and I only fell 200 times!

Guests at a family wedding.

Triple Falls hike!

Jessica Hill PhotographyFrom a Bride’s Lens: My own wedding experience!

Alice and Scott’s Maternity Session

Alice, Scott and I have known each other now for over three years now. I first got to know them when they hired me to photograph their wedding in 2011. We had a really amazing time at their engagement session in the Pearl district and then their wedding was beyond glorious at Bridal Veil Lakes. I still have a copy of their wedding album in my studio! When they told me they were expecting, I was so excited and even more so with the idea of photographing their maternity session. I’m not sure about you, but I have some bad memories associated to the typical 1980’s maternity sessions. (i.e. black and white photos and some sarongs and awkward posing. and I been on a mission to change that. I love the idea of going in nature and having it be more of an organic and artistic. I just had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Henry and he’s absolutely perfect! It’s my true happiness to be documenting these life-changing moments for such a kind, loving and down to earth couple and their new family. Life is wonderful.


Jessica Hill PhotographyAlice and Scott’s Maternity Session

Lucy and Tim
A Multnomah Village and Waterfront Engagement

Lucy and Tim have a beautiful energy together. Their fun and exuberant love is contagious! Their cute pup tagged along for our first location around their neighborhood in Multnomah Village and finished the shoot around the waterfront and on the Broadway Bridge around dusk with some incredible light. I’m so excited to be documenting their first steps together as husband and wife in September!

Jessica Hill PhotographyLucy and Tim | A Multnomah Village and Waterfront Engagement

April and Justin’s Album

April and Justin’s square 12*12” album is a thing of beauty. It’s so timeless, elegant, yet approachable at the same time. It’s a black and brown leather that’s worn in but clean and goes great with their Medicine Creek Vineyard wedding.

Jessica Hill PhotographyApril and Justin’s Album

Love Wins! Oregon United for Marriage at the Melody

Last week, a historic event happened in Oregon. Oregon announced that same-sex couples can legally marry! I have always felt that marriage and love is not a privilege kept only for those who have a traditional relationship, but a right for everyone to love and marry whom they choose. I was honored to volunteer at the Melody Ballroom last week on Monday, May 19th, 2014 with Oregon United for Marriage, a wonderful organization that has worked really hard to change the way marriage is viewed in Oregon and beyond. Honoring same-sex couples in marriage strengthens our community, our state and the nation. I witnessed and documented over 10 weddings and thousands of couples who have been together for, sometimes, decades waiting for Oregon to finally recognize them as a married couple. I was humbled and honored, brought to tears, laughed until my face hurt and danced in celebration. Thank you Oregon. Love Wins!

Jessica Hill PhotographyLove Wins! Oregon United for Marriage at the Melody

Baby Gender Reveal Party!

I was so excited to photograph baby Marek’s gender reveal party recently! Many couples cut into a cake and it’s pink inside if it’s a girl, and blue if it’s a boy! I figured that momma-to-be Liz, a professional baker herself, with her own book out on, would have the gender cake of the century! I was quite pleasantly surprised with the vintage hot air balloon theme and the basket pull! Dan and Liz were grinning ear to ear when the pink confetti showered them and everyone pronounced “It’s a Girl!” Baby Avalon is due this summer and her story is a long and miraculous one. I’m so happy for Liz and Dan and baby Avalon and their families! What a wonderful party!

Jessica Hill PhotographyBaby Gender Reveal Party!