The Wallflower Photography Blog


Portrait of bride and groom at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium with Sumatran tiger behind, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Yeah, that’s an endangered Sumatran tiger roaring at the four of us — Shannon and Chris in front of the lens, Laura and I behind — during our pre-wedding portrait tour of the Asian Forest Sanctuary and South Pacific Aquarium at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. It was pretty cool.

Portrait of bride and groom watching shark at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

We’ve photographed so many weddings and portrait sessions at Point Defiance Park, but this was our first wedding at the PDZA. Not surprisingly, we found it’s a blast photographing at the zoo! Tigers and sharks make for some really fun and unique imagery, but aside from the animals, the zoo’s landscape is lovely and there’s the potential for great photos everywhere you look.

Portrait of bride and groom in small alcove in South Pacific aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Portrait of bride and groom in front of a red fence at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Photo of bride and groom walking down path in Asian Forest Sanctuary at Point Defiance Zoo, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Shannon and Chris sure followed a meandering path to matrimony! In the late 1980s, they dated as seniors in high school — in fact, their prom photo was on display at the reception. But they parted ways at graduation as Chris’ military family moved and Shannon left for college, then later got married and had two girls.

Remaining friends, the two kept in occasional touch with an phone call every other year or so. Years passed by, and then in 2007, Chris ran into Shannon’s dad at a Mariners game. Some time later, he was inspired to give Shannon a call. Her response: accusations of scheming with her parents! As it turns out, Shannon had recently divorced.

Shannon and Chris restarted their relationship as friends, but as time went on, deeper emotions surfaced. This summer, 23 years after their senior prom, they finally tied the knot. Great story, isn’t it? But there’s more …

About a week before the wedding, Shannon’s dad got into a serious motorcycle accident that prevented him from attending the wedding. Shannon’s brother Kevin walked her down the aisle instead, and gave everyone a good laugh by whipping out a giant cutout of her dad’s face, complete with band-aid!

Photo of bride and her brother processing into wedding at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Photo of bride laughing as her brother reveals a large photo cutout of their father's face while processing into wedding at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Photo of bride and her brother processing into wedding at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium with a large photo cutout of their father's face, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Photo of groom watching bride and her brother at start of wedding ceremony at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

As Kevin gives Shannon away in the next photo, you can her brother-in-law Nico holding up a phone. It’s connected to her dad’s phone via FaceTime so he could watch the wedding from his hospital bed.

Photo of bride's brother kissing her at start of wedding ceremony at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

The wedding ceremony took place on PDZA’s Pacific Rim Plaza, which is right inside the main gates. It’s big and open and has a great view. In fact, it might have the best view of Mt. Rainier of any wedding venue in Tacoma.

Photo of wedding ceremony at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, with Mount Rainier in the background, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Photo of bride and bridesmaids during wedding ceremony at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

After the ceremony, a two-man Mariachi band led wedding guests down to the Asian Forest Sanctuary, where a handler put on a show by tossing the tiger scraps of meat. Chris’ mom even sung along with the band for a short time!

Photo of two-man Mariachi band leading guests from wedding ceremony to cocktail hour at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Photo of Mariachi singer with groom's mother during wedding cocktail hour at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Photo of kids looking at Bengal tiger during wedding cocktail hour at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Photo of Bengal tiger taken during wedding cocktail hour at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Meanwhile, the wedding party reconvened in the carousel room for a breather — and a couple fun portraits among the merry-go-round animals.

Portrait of wedding party on carousel at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Portrait of bride and groom on carousel at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

What’s more romantic than the Lover’s Tub?

Portrait of bride and groom on Lover's Tub at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

And there’s that mountain I mentioned earlier.

Portrait of bride and groom at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium with Mount Rainier behind, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

While all this was going on, catering staff transformed the Pacific Rim Plaza into a reception setup, and everyone enjoyed a lovely sunset as they ate dinner and watched Chris and Shannon’s first dance.

Photo of wedding reception on the Pacific Rim Plaza at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Photo of Mount Rainier at sunset as seen from the Pacific Rim Plaza at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Photo of bride and groom's first dance on the Pacific Rim Plaza at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium at sunset, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Black and white photo of bride and groom's first dance at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Shannon and her brother having a video chat with their dad.

Photo of bride and her brother talking to their father in the hospital from a wedding reception at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Once night falls, it’s DARK on that plaza, as you can see in the next photo.

Photo of wedding reception on the Pacific Rim Plaza at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium at night, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Being so dark, the shutter speed for this photo of the cupcake stand and mini wedding cake was 1.6 seconds to capture enough light. (That’s really long.)

Detail photo of wedding cake and cupcakes at a wedding reception at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, by Tacoma wedding photographer Wallflower Photography

Congrats Shannon and Chris!

3 Responses to “Shannon and Chris’ wedding: Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Tacoma”

  1. iMMA keith

    It was a very lovely wedding, Chris and Shannon look very happy as they ought to be. the picture of the cupcakes is neat . I enjoyed looking at the photos.

  2. Melissa

    Hi,

    I may get a client who is having her wedding done at the Point Defiance Zoo. I love the surroundings!!! I was wondering what tips you could possibly provide for the shots in the aquarium area.

    It would be easy to get dramatic light/ silhouettes. But How do you light the bride and groom so well without directing the flash at them? Did you use an external flash/ TTL? I am guessing you would have to shoot the light upwards. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Great photos by the way!

  3. Scott Schoeggl

    Hi Melissa, thanks for stopping by! The PDZA is a fun place for a wedding — and the aquariums are one of the hardest places to shoot in, anywhere. I did use external flash for those two photos that I bounced up and behind me into the rock ceiling, combined with exposing for the aquarium. I’m sure the ceiling absorbed a significant amount of that bounced light, so you might have to increase the power, but you don’t want the bride and groom to be too brightly lit, anyway. Better to keep these aquarium photos dark and moody, I think. Good luck!

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