Engagement Photos and the Venue Hunt

It sounds like a super lame book title, I know. “Engagement Photos and the Venue Hunt.” It’s been pretty exciting around here though.

A quick update on the wedding planning, it’s going VERY slow. After our September engagement, we jetted off to spend a week in Germany, and shortly after we visited Zach’s family down in Austin, Texas for Thanksgiving. Then, a few weeks after we got back we packed up the clothes, the cookware, the furniture, the dog and the cat and moved our happy asses back to Kansas City. Oh, and we started a podcast. So, you can probably see why there hasn’t been much advancement in the wedding planning process. We’ve been, uh, busy.

Listen to our podcast, “Bar Hoppin’ and House Shoppin'”

But, I do want to share a couple of updates on our “progress”. And then maybe dig into some of the other elements listed above at another time.

First, engagement photos. Zach and I weren’t really thinking we needed engagement photos. First, MONEY. Holy crap, a good photographer comes with a price tag. And hey, I know that good pictures are WORTH it, but I definitely wanted to save money and just get a great photographer for the actual wedding. Looking at you, Elise Abigail Photography. (well, I really hope. once we get a wedding date I guess we can talk more about that.) Second, I really couldn’t see us doing cheesy prom poses together in a field. It’s just really not our style. But, I am a sucker for online contests, so I eventually put our name in for a Free Engagement Photo Session with Canyon and Pine Photography. Ya never know, right?

Fast forward a few days. DM from Emma with Canyon and Pine saying that the couple that won hadn’t responded and the timeframe was quick – so could we meet them at Channel Islands National Park the following weekend?

Duh, yes. Zach and I never turn down an opportunity to explore something new.

Channel Islands National Park is a series of islands only accessible by boat, off the coast of Southern California (Santa Barbara and Ventura are the closest access points!). We scheduled a “ferry” from Ventura to Santa Cruz Island (the largest of the Channel Islands) through Island Packers and booked our campsite. Yes, you heard me, campsite. There is no lodging, electricity or running water on the Channel Islands. You have to pack-in and pack-out all of your camping gear. Thankfully, the lower campground is only about .25 mile from the “beach” where the boat drops you off, and it’s a flat hike in. Also thankfully, we were only staying one night.

For the photoshoot, Emma had requested that I wear a white flowy dress – and her idea was SPOT ON. I don’t own any white flowy dresses, and I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on something I wouldn’t wear again, so I headed over to Amazon. I ordered several (read, 6) flowy dresses of various colors including white off of Amazon for around $25 a piece. They arrived just before I jetted off to Buffalo, New York for a quick work trip. I modeled them all in our living room, picked a white one with sleeves and red flowers and sent the rest back to Amazon. Score!

You can buy it too!



Shop Affordable Engagement Photo Dress

Fast forward a few more days. The plan is for me to fly back into Fresno from Buffalo, and for Zach and I to drive the 4 hours down to Ventura the following afternoon. When I got a call saying I was going to miss my connection in New Jersey – and that I wouldn’t be able to get back into Fresno until late the following evening (meaning I’d miss our engagement photoshoot!) – my glowing and wonderful coworker re-routed me into Los Angeles. Great! One little problem. My luggage was packed for a work trip in Buffalo, and now I’m in Los Angeles heading to the islands for the weekend. Amazingly, Zach was a fantastic sport about packing all of the little things I thought I’d need for our photoshoot and camping. (This guy! I should probably marry him or something.) Not only that, he left super early in the morning to pick me in Los Angeles and hang out with me before our ferry ride the following morning!

On the way to the islands, we got some quality time with a playful pod of dolphins and Zach got terribly seasick. It was a gorgeous hour-ish ride.

On the island we did the typical camping things like set up the tent, eat pre-made sammies and get ready for a photo shoot. The sea salt air was really working against me as I tried to tame my frizzy crimpy hair and applied my make up in the front-facing camera of my phone. Zach primping in his phone as well.

And guys, we did a little bit of hiking. In our cute clothes, and at sunset. It was more than perfect. Check it out…

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Not bad, right? The dress basically did all the work. And the island foxes, so cute.

On to [what we’ve done] for the venue hunt! Basically, I’ve been RACKING my brain on what we should do for this. We have family and friends all over this country. My darling parents drove to Eureka Springs one weekend and checked out the Crescent Hotel for us. (Remember, we were still in CA at that time!) They are SO thorough. They took videos and pictures of everything I had questions about. AND they snagged brochures. They packed everything up in a nice package, brochures, SD card, pricing lists, etc. and mailed it over to me. It’s a beautiful place, guys. First, Eureka Springs is a very cool, somewhat undiscovered, highly underrated place to visit. Second, the Crescent Hotel has opportunities for weddings of all sizes, a full-service spa, guest rooms (obviously), food, etc. Definitely a contender.

So, when we were in Austin, we scheduled to see another venue – The Mayfield House Park and Nature Preserve. It was darling but doesn’t allow amplified music, which for Zach and me is a deal-breaker. But, the women who gave us a tour had the great idea to show us another venue that does allow amplified music – The Zilker Park Clubhouse. It’s definitely a contender once we figure out where the heck we want to tie the knot.

And that’s about as far as we’ve gotten on the venue hunt.

This is what we are looking for – hit me up in the comments if you know of a place that might be a good fit for us!

  • Great views (mountains, preferably)
  • Inexpensive
  • Close to a hotel
  • Within 30-45 min from a good airport
  • Allows amplified music
  • Fits approx 100 guests
  • Bonus if it supplies great tables and chairs!

And one last thing that we’ve done to keep the wedding excitement going, even amidst all this other chaos, is attend the first ever Unbridled Show, sponsored by the Pitch, which was a good time.

And that’s the update!

Shop Affordable Engagement Photo Dress


2 thoughts on “Engagement Photos and the Venue Hunt

  1. I also got engaged in September and have been enduring the venue hunt! It drives me nuts that places don’t advertise their prices online… Good luck!

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