It’s hard to believe, but Rachael and Steven’s wedding in August was our first one to take place in the outdoor amphitheater at the Washington State History Museum in seven years! The weddings we’ve had at WSHM since our first one in 2005 were all indoors during the rainy season. As you’ll see a bit later, wedding ceremonies look really cool in this big concrete bowl, surrounded by WSHM, Union Station and Museum of Glass … but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here!
Instead, let’s start with two detail photos, both taken in one of the big windows in the top-floor conference room at the Washington State History Museum, where Rachael and her girls got ready. The first is of her sunflower bouquet, the second of her wedding dress hanging in the window, which is backlighting it, causing the embroidery detail to pop out.
Rachael bound the two wedding rings with ribbon onto her father’s well-worn Bible, which their ring bearer held during the wedding ceremony.
Meanwhile, Steven and his guys were hanging out in an adjacent room. Here, he’s taking a shot of mouthwash as a groomsman adjusts his collar.
On to Rachael and Steven’s emotional first look out in front of the Washington State History Museum’s main entrance. We always like to have these first looks, aka reveals, when the bride and groom are seeing each other before the ceremony. They’re quick and easy to set up, and make for a good photo op — a better one, in fact, than when they see each other for the first time at the start of the wedding ceremony. I wrote more on this topic in a Focal Point blog post, First looks and around-the-corner visits.
After the first look, we launched right into bride and groom portraits, starting right there at the History Museum.
Then we headed over to the Hot Shop Cone at the Museum of Glass for the next few photos. Funny fact: They weren’t alone in all these photos. I had to edit out some unwitting, unmoving sightseers in Photoshop later.
Back at the History Museum, we were actually running ahead of schedule (how often does that happen at a wedding!) so we had a little extra time to create some cool wedding party portraits. Here are four of them. I started with a traditional pose, which I photographed both tight for the wedding party to fill the frame (not pictured) and wide to show off some architecture (the first photo below). The second photo is a nifty variation that we use a lot, simply pulling the bride and groom (and in this case the flower girl and ring bearer) forward from the rest of the wedding party. The third is a scattered groupings pose in the outdoor amphitheater, and the fourth is a receding line pose with girl-boy-girl-boy arrangement on one of the nearby concrete ramps. All shot in under 15 minutes!
Two candids of the guys hanging out, and of Rachael hugging her mom, in front of the museum shortly before the start of the wedding ceremony.
A wedding processional at the Washington State History Museum usually involves a lot of stairs. Fortunately, the staircases are grand, curving, architectural beauties! Here, Rachael and her bridesmaids prepare to head down an interior staircase, then Rachael’s mom escorts her down the outdoor staircase leading to the wedding ceremony at the bottom of the amphitheater.
I really like photographing wedding ceremonies in this amphitheater! The amphitheater bowl is surrounded by very cool, uniquely Tacoma architecture, including historic Union Station next door and the Museum of Glass across the freeway, not to mention the History Museum itself. A wraparound balcony provides some interesting perspectives, including from directly above the ceremony. I always shoot that one quickly to minimize any distraction my presence might cause.
I like to start with overviews during the slow first half of a wedding ceremony, so that I can switch to tighter shots during the action later — the vows, ring exchange and first kiss.
The flower girl is actually Rachael and Steven’s daughter Peyton — they’ve been dating a long time, obviously! Pretty Peyton teared up during their ring exchange, and I captured several priceless photos of her, including this next photo, which is easily one of my favorites of the year.
I have something special planned for the other great photos with Peyton at the end of the wedding ceremony. Come back in a few days to see a special feature here on the Wallflower Blog on flower girls and ring bearers! I’ve already selected the photos, it’s going to be awesome.
Cute cake toppers! Although cake smashing was threatened, Rachael and Steven behaved in the end.
The Washington State History Museum is such a vertically vast space! The floor plan isn’t particularly big, but the ceilings soar so high, it took my ultra-wide-angle fisheye lens to capture this floor-to-ceiling view of Rachael and Steven’s first dance.
I think the shadows are the best part of this photo of Rachael twirling Peyton, late in the reception.
Congrats Rachael, Steven and Peyton! Don’t forget to check back for our upcoming feature of flower girls and ring bearers, you’re going to love it. If you’d like to see photos from more weddings at WSHM, you can find them here with the Venues: Tacoma Area: Washington State History Museum category, in the WSHM gallery of Tacoma’s Top Wedding Venues, and best yet, in our Washington State History Museum Weddings online portfolio.