When a photographer, a planner, a cake artist and two hair and make up artists leave Seattle to shoot an epic elopement in Las Vegas! - Day 1

Four months ago we were hanging out in wedding photographer Carley's kitchen prepping for a Valentine elopement session on Fox Island when she showed us a picture of Seven Magic Mountains, a place she'd passed last time she was in Nevada. I was immediately awestruck and decreed that we HAD to go shoot there! Shyn of Pacific Brides had been planning a trip to Vegas with fellow Seattle wedding make up artist LiSun Goh so we decided then and there we'd make it happen. I immediately went into planning overdrive and designed this mood board.

vegas shoot.001.jpeg

What I love so much about Seven Magic Mountains is the juxtaposition of the barren desert landscape and the boldy colored neon rocks. They look so out of place and the contrast is so awe inspiring. I LOVE desert shoots but often they tend to have very brown tones and I wanted to create something with a slightly rocky, 80's neon vibe that you wouldn't necessarily expect to see in the desert, giving the shoot the same contrast and unexpected feel as the art that inspired it. I am a huge fan of 90's Tarantino movie True Romance and wanted to give the shoot a sun kissed dreamy feel with some badass and romantic Clarence & Alabama vibes. If you don't know what I'm talking about go watch that movie now!! It's amazing!

I posted the mood board on my IG stories looking for models and within about 30 seconds, Steph, who had modeled for me in my Mount Rainier shoot messaged me. Since I ADORE her and Kevin it was a no brainer! They can perfectly switch from sultry and modelesque to playful and romantic in a flash. They're pretty much the perfect styled shoot models and they're also a blast to hang out with! When they're not modeling for Bridal shoots, Kevin is a Sommelier at the prestigious Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix, AZ and Steph is a sports journalist. They're getting married, for real, in October so they're going to be well practiced when it comes to getting pictures done!

My friend and frequent collaborator Amber Markland of Sift & Gather jumped at the chance to come with us and with that, we all booked our flights, secured an Airbnb and started counting down the days!

I found a Vegas rentals company willing to collaborate with us, and a huge thank you to Marissa of RSVP Party Rentals for being so lovely and easy to work with, and Jenna, from Elite Floral Events, a wedding florist, originally from Portland but now living in Vegas, for creating some floral beauty for us. When Daughters of Simone agreed to lend us a bridal gown for this shoot, basically all my dreams came true!

Everything went swimmingly until a week before, the stationer dropped out, so I was pretty over the moon when Seattle wedding calligrapher Bailey of Love Fern Design stepped in and created the dreamiest stationery suite for us that perfectly matched the mood board.

So....imagine my devastation when I got to Carley's house on Monday and realized the stationery was still sitting on my desk at home! There was no time to go back but my lovely husband said he'd overnight it to me... just the beginning of a very long UPS saga that I still can't really think about without wanting a stiff drink!!

Anyway, I temporarily relaxed on the stationery front and Amber, Carley and I, ordered our first Mimosa and all was well with the world! Our dreams of sitting together and swigging prosecco the whole flight were dashed when a couple politely declined to swap places because they wanted to sit together. So we watched with some amusement as they proceeded to completely ignore each other for the entire flight!

We made it our Airbnb without any drama but arrived to find our models missing, a strange man in one of the bathrooms, and one less bedroom than advertised! Well.... it is Vegas! Fortunately the mysteries were quickly resolved... and the explanation not nearly as intriguing as it sounds! I'll spare you the boring details!

We spent the afternoon picking up the flowers, rentals, alcohol supply (critical) and headed back to the apartment with our recovered models to get them ready. Shyn created the most gorgeous slicked back look for Steph that made me think of those cool chicks from the iconic 80's Robert Palmer video, Addicted to Love. Li Sun created a dramatic smokey eye and bold lip that perfectly completed the look. Kev had some underwear challenges with the pink suit and much hilarity ensued... probably the most times I've heard the word penis used within a 10 minute duration! 

Once the penis issue was resolved (sorry not sorry, Kev) we all just kind of stared open mouthed at them in their final look. They just looked so damn cool, instantly iconic. Seeing it all come together was so exciting. 

Our Day 1 shoot location was the Fun City Motel, an online search had told us to only go there if we didn't value our safety, so it was with mild trepidation that we headed down there! It was certainly the definition of seedy Vegas motel but with a vintage Americana vibe that redeemed it! The golden hour light was perfect, the wedding chapel was perfect, Carley killed it and Steph and Kevin brought the fire!

We shooted until the sun declared it a wrap, and then headed back to our apartment, which suddenly felt a LOT less seedy!

We celebrated with wine and watched Amber frost the cake. It was a pretty mesmerizing experience seeing a cake artist at work. The second best part? Late night snacking on the discarded pieces of cake and leftover frosting! Trust me when I say that cake tasted as good as it looked!

After realizing we needed to be up at 4.30 we eventually hit the sack at about 12.30, exhausted but super excited for Day 2 and our trip to Seven Magic Mountains... Check back for part 2, in the meantime here's a little sneak peek of how part 1 turned out...

Iconic Vegas wedding at Fun City Motel
Iconic vegas wedding at Chapel of the Bells