Some of our favorite photos taken at a recent wedding at Heartland Ranch in Graham, WA. We love this venue, not just because of the great locations for photos, but the friendly staff really go out of their way to help out.
At Firstlight Photography we get invited to photograph amazing weddings, but this Valentine’s Day we experienced a first. We felt like Charlie peeling back that golden ticket and gaining entrance to the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. Theo Chocolate was giving away a wedding to be set INSIDE the historic factory. A pop-up elopement on Valentine’s Day – and we were able to photograph this one-of-a-kind wedding!
We got in touch with the Drew Zandonella-Stannard, the Marketing Manager at Theo Chocolate, and asked her just how this genius plot was developed.
Was this the first wedding at Theo?
“We’ve had many proposals and a few weddings inside the factory, but this was the very first wedding giveaway we’ve done on Facebook especially for our fans. And it definitely was the first wedding to take place on Valentine’s Day and on our factory floor, no less!”
What was the inspiration for the Feb 14th wedding giveaway?
“At Theo, we believe in celebrating love in all its many forms. We wanted to do something different and fun for our social media fans on Valentine’s Day and thought that giving away an elopement inside of our chocolate factory with generous local partners like Firstlight Photography, Hotel 1000, Terra Bella Flowers, and Westward restaurant would make for an amazing and unique experience.”
What stood out about the contest winners’ story?
“Each one of the couples who submitted their love stories to us were special. It was extremely difficult to narrow it down to the final four! In the end, our Facebook fans chose Brenda and Andrew. It was such an honor to witness their commitment to each other as well as their love for their baby to be. Plus, the Seahawks jerseys they wore in their profile photo were a huge hit!”
Brenda, the beautiful bride, shared details of Andrew and her story and how she was able to secure a truly unique wedding.
How did you learn about the Valentine’s giveaway?
“A friend of mine told us about the competition. Her mom had sent her the information. Funny side note, she lives on the east coast – the power of social media and subscription lists. I entered us and actually didn’t tell Andrew until we were selected!”
Your profile story garnered quite a following. What did you do to rally the social media troops?
“We shared several times each day and sent messages to almost all of our facebook friends asking them to like and share. We had friends that took it upon themselves to do the same.”
What is the Andrew and Brenda story? How did you two come to be?
“My fiancé and I met when we were in junior high. We were inseparable until senior year of high school when we parted ways as many young people do. I went to college, and he stayed around our hometown working. Four years passed and we both had been down some pretty broken paths filled with heartache. On July 4, 2009 we saw each other and all of those young love feelings came flooding back. We were again inseparable. Things moved pretty quickly for us and we ended up moving in together within a few months. We have spent the last (almost) six years rebuilding our relationship into the great thing that it is today.
We are that couple that doesn’t go a day without seeing each other. We have two dogs, and a house and live in our hometown. Things have been great for us for a while. We have spent the last few years traveling being reunited. Last fall we found out we are pregnant with our first child – a boy! Our baby is due June 7, 2015.
We are so excited and basking in the fact that we have become so much closer already. Lucky for us, there’s more to come. While in Hawaii in December, Andrew proposed to me on the beach near a small lagoon. We were not sure when we would have a chance to have a wedding with a baby on the way, and were excited to win the Theo competition. We have always loved our story, but having the Theo Chocolate wedding makes it that much more unique and special. We are so thankful for the life that we have together.”
There were only a few days from being announced winner to saying your “I Do’s” How did this play out for you?
“On Friday of the competition, I took a risk and bought my wedding dress. It’s not returnable, but I figured that we planned to get married regardless of if we won the competition. Luckily, my dress was only $200. I am a planner. I can’t stand not having a plan. So, naturally, I planned everything out in my head as the competition was going on. If we win, this, this, this and, this needs to occur. Luckily, we didn’t have to do much because Theo took care of most everything!”
What will you remember the most from your wedding?
“I think what we will remember most from our wedding is the unique situation. We have been hearing so much about it even a month later because people are just amazed at the situation. It has, I hope, been a great advertising piece for Theo. I especially think this because we live in Kitsap County, so people do not know of all of the shops in Seattle. We have an amazing wedding story, thanks to Theo. We were so grateful for the entire thing and were treated like royalty!”
Dress & Shoes
The dress was purchased at Benita’s in Silverdale. Since middle school Brenda has been shopping there for dance and pageant dresses. Her dress had to fit over her pregnant belly so her sister and good friend met at Benita’s and the staff pulled five options. Brenda knew at first sight which dress stood out. She tried it on first because she fell in love with it immediately. She did try on the other dresses, but went with the first dress of the day.
Brenda wore sparkling diamond hoops that were a Christmas gift from Andrew. Her grandma asked her to incorporate a ring that belonged to her grandfather. He found the stone in the mountains of Wyoming. Brenda showcased the ring in the bow on the back of her dress.
She found her shoes at Benita’s and went with a sensible low heel since she was pregnant and wanted to be as comfortable as possible on her big day.
Terra Bella Floral Design and Mercantile provided the wedding flowers. Terra Bella Floral Design and Mercantile hosted a pop-up shop inside Theo Chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Their selection of floral design is unique and artful. They are a sustainable flower shop, sourcing local, organic and consciously grown flowers.
About Theo Chocolate
Theo Chocolate is proud to be the very first Organic, Fair Trade certified bean-to-bar chocolate maker in North America. Since 2006, the company has been making mind-bendingly amazing chocolate. Many people would be surprised to know that on a good day, they can make up to 55 THOUSAND chocolate bars at the Seattle factory!
Theo Chocolate has lots of exciting things brewing for the future, including exclusive tasting events, chocolate making classes, and special tours. Folks who are interested in keeping up with all of the latest happenings can follow @theochocolate on social media and check out the Events Page.
About Firstlight Photography
Firstlight Photography is a husband and wife team. Kier and Mitzi spend their time doing work they both love. Services provided include wedding photography, boudoir and pin up photography and corporate events. The studio is located between Seattle and Tacoma with frequent travel throughout Washington, Oregon and California. Call Firstlight Photography for a phone consultation or meet over coffee to talk about your photography needs. Firstlight Photography works with each client to devise custom fit packages. A 15% military discount is offered on all services.
We love being a part of so many fabulous Seattle elopements. Are you eloping and want to get married in Seattle? By popular demand, Firstlight Photography has created an elopement package (the “Micro”) for our couples. The elopements we photograph take us all over the Pacific Northwest. Our Seattle based elopement photography work takes us from the ski slopes to Snoqualmie Falls and everywhere in between. We have even photographed a ceremony in a park – and the witnesses were local joggers.
Some of our couples want an intimate wedding venue and we have found a little piece of paradise right here in our backyard. Bed, Baked and Beyond: Cherry Hill Guesthouse and Venue is a Victorian guest house in Seattle’s Central Area. This is the PRIMO site for your petite wedding. You and your guests can take over the venue for your petite wedding. You can rent the first floor and backyard garden for events – for under $500. And, if you and your guests want to stay in one location, this large house is appointed with four unique and stylish guest rooms. Prices range from $60 to $120 per night.
We toured the venue during a recent open house. We had met Abil and Melissa before at the Burlycon Convention where they had a pop up vintage boutique that was one of the biggest highlights for us. Melissa has an amazing vintage collection of clothing including wedding gowns from many different decades. These were on display all throughout the home.
Melissa and Abil will help you plan your special event, rehearsal dinner or petite wedding. In our time at their home we knew we wanted to spend more time with them. They love what they do and have such a passion for this home and their clients. They are amazing conversationalists. Melissa is a chef so she serves up an amazing spread and Abil is a nutritionist who makes sure guests have a good selection of fresh fruits and good eats. These two know Seattle so they serve as the perfect bed and breakfast hosts. They will help guide your stay and adventures.
We were fortunate to be able to sample the Tin Box Bakeshop cakes that are a specialty at the venue. Planning your wedding or event? The owners will help coordinate tasty desserts and can even source your bouquets and flowers from the local Pike Place Market.
See for yourself and give Bed, Baked and Beyond: Cherry Hill a call to book your party, engagement, rehearsal dinner or your petite wedding or elopement.
They are also equipped with an outdoor room aptly called the Potting Shed. This is a great outdoor lounge that overlooks the beautiful gardens. This venue is a cannabis friendly location.
A while back the lovelies at Firstlight Photography posted a question on Facebook about whether or not there was anyone interested in doing a Trash the Dress session with them. I, being the crazy person I am, jumped at the chance. It was suggested that we do the shoot at Rein Fire Ranch in Ravensdale. If you’re not familiar with the area you are sorely missing out. Rein Fire Ranch is located in a beautiful area southeast of Seattle and is surrounded by the majestic Sugarloaf Mountain Forest.
I have to say, my breath was taken away when I first pulled up to the ranch. First off, the place is HUGE. Second, the view is, to be a bit cliche, breathtaking. There’s sky and mountains and trees as far as the eye can see. It’s an absolutely beautiful background. And that’s not even the ranch itself. Rein Fire Ranch has a bounty of awesome features. From the lush green grounds to the rustic barn. From the amazing garden complete with gazebo to the cabana. But my favorite area was probably the pathway between the fenced in pastures, which if you are lucky, may contain a horse or two.
Before lighting up my dress we did some more traditional photos using the barn and grounds. The place is absolutely perfect for wedding photos. There are so many areas to take photos; you can go traditional and use the huge lawn and garden area, you can go rustic and use the barn and pasture areas, not to mention the bridal suit for getting ready. The possibilities are kind of endless. After our foray into traditional pictures it was time to get down to business.
Using one of the fenced in pasture areas we set up a fire pit and got to burning things. First a cardboard cake, then my dress. I can’t tell you how much fun it was. There is something very freeing about ripping off your white dress and throwing it into a fire. And before you ask, yes, I am still very happily married and about to have a baby. I’m just no longer a blushing bride, more like a grown woman who happens to be married. So I guess you could consider my Trash the Dress experience as a coming of age event. With fire.
We truly live in the most amazing of places. Being Seattle wedding photographers is a dream. And, as an added bonus, cloud cover is actually great for photos.
Not too long ago we started a Firstlight Photography Pinterest Washington Wedding Venue Board and are trying to capture all of the Washington wedding venues where we have photographed weddings. We’d be lying if we didn’t say we had a long way to go.
Our newest venue crush is Rein Fire Ranch in Ravensdale, WA. The owners hosted us for a recent bridal portrait shoot that has been in the works for several years. We initially shot Tiffany and Brandon’s Friday the 13th wedding years ago. They were our first Offbeat Bride couple.
Tiffany is the most amazing of sports so we approached her at the end of last year with a Trash the Dress proposal. Since she had already worn her dress for a cemetery shoot, a library dress up event, Halloween and we think she even said she vacuumed her house in it – she agreed it was time to kick it up a notch. She was of the mind to go big or go home so we knew we needed some fire power behind us. We plotted out the demise of her dress (and we should mention that she and Brandon are still going strong!) and set our plan in motion.
We invited JoAnn from Studio J Salon and Day Spa to do Tiffany’s hair and makeup. We wanted to do a final farewell to the dress so we captured some bridal shots of Tiffany. From there, it was back to hair and makeup for a much different look.
Tiffany has worked with Firstlight Photography for so many years now that photographing her is so incredibly easy. She has got it down. We all had so much fun as we wandered the grounds of Rein Fire Ranch. We even had a chance to spend time with some of the furry critters that call RFR home.
Here is a sneak peek at the second part of the session. We had a blast with this Trash the Dress session! Stay tuned for more!