the candid life

Free Resources + Inspiration
to level up your photo adventures


AMBER + NATHAN // an ethereal Pacific Northwest style elopement at Busch Wildlife

A Wedding Reimagined

Over the moon to finally be celebrating this story after an extra year in the making!! Amber, Nathan and I first connected in July of 2021 with dreams of a white Christmas wedding that December. We instantly clicked and both began envisioning their (hopefully) snowy vows on main street in historic Saint Charles. But like many couples, the Covid pandemic caused Amber and Nathan to put their initial wedding plans on hold.

Months went by and I was delighted to reconnect with them both when they signed up for one of my Fall Mini Sessions at Busch Wildlife! (more formally: August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area) Even though they live nearby, they had never heard of this gorgeous nature reserve and instantly fell in love with the location I had scouted. Amber even commented that she loved how this favorite forest spot felt like scene out of Twilight. As a fellow Pacific Northwest lover, I instantly understood. But little did I know, Amber and Nathan left that mini session together reimagining their entire future wedding around the magic of this secluded little pine grove.

two wedding rings sit atop a metallic silver wedding invitation that says "Til Death Do Us Part" inside of a coffin shape

A Very ‘Marry’ Christmas

If there’s anything Amber and Nathan love as much as their moody dark style, it’s Christmas magic. Part of the joy in choosing to share their vows in the holiday season was capturing a bit of that whimsy throughout their day, starting in their own winter wonderland. We began the day at Amber and Nathan’s apartment, decked with lights and holiday decor, as the girls got prepared together. The small group and space set a cozy pace as Amber peacefully bounced between hair and makeup touch ups to check on the homemade hot chocolate brewing in the kitchen for the post-ceremony reception.

young bride smiles across the counter in her kitchen towards her friends as she sips hot cocoa
bride looking in the mirror at her reflection to see new wedding makeup
a simple white wedding dress hangs on the curtain rod above a large sliding glass door in between a fireplace with stockings and christmas tree

A Speechless First Look (+ Gift Reveal)

Once dressed, we headed over to one of Busch Wildlife’s many scenic lakes for a first look reveal. For everyone on the sidelines, it was one of the most highly anticipated moments of the day, because Nathan’s reaction was sure to be priceless. As a self proclaimed ‘professional emo’, Amber’s first pick would have been a non-traditional black wedding dress. But out of love for Nathan, she promised to wear white (and a dress for the matter) as a special gesture for him on their day. His reaction to seeing her for the first time would absolutely melt your heart. Just a slew of happy speechless moments looking adoringly at her in awe! And when I thought these two couldn’t get any sweeter, they exchanged gifts and Amber hit it out of the park: custom matching hoodies inscribed with their wedding date and “Til Death Do Us Part”, made with love with the help of her mom. Nathan couldn’t pick his jaw up off the floor!! Private moment complete, they each welcomed over their closest lifelong friends for sweet portraits by the water.

groom smiling as he holds up a black hoodies with "Til Death Do Us Part" and an illustration of two skeleton hands with pinkies intertwined

Intimate Vows Among the Pines

Their first look was a personal fave, but their ceremony was just as good. Even in the frigid cold, their small circle of close loved ones were so excited to watch these two share vows. Bundled up and huddled in a semi circle underneath the larger-than-life pines, we watched Amber and Nathan stand before their mutual friend officiant and smile until they couldn’t feel their cheeks. The crowd rang silver bells as they shared their first kiss and erupted into cheers.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Reception

In lieu of a traditional reception, Amber and Nathan opted for a hot chocolate bar complete with the homemade hot coca and chocolate chip cookies Amber made that morning. With freezing temps beginning to numb our fingers, the warm treat with a HUGE hit for all!

Til’ Death Do They Part

Ended this special celebration with newlywed pics in the pines to fully capture that Twilight love story feel. Even without snow, and a bitter cold that required quick pump-up dance spirts to keep warm between shots, Amber and Nathan were beaming with pure joy walking into ‘forever’ together.

wide far shot of bride and groom standing leaned together centered in  front of a backdrop fo tall thin pine tree trunks

Dreaming of artful + candid wedding images like these?

I LOVE helping couples document their love story in their own way. To learn more about the unique wedding + elopement experience I provide, get in touch HERE!

Love the dreamy nature setting of this elopement?
Click HERE to see more work from Busch Wildlife!

Sample text