It may seem strange to love winter weddings in a city like Portland where it rains for months at a time but it’s true. We love winter weddings. The feeling of a winter wedding is a complete change up from the summer wedding vibe and one we love to embrace. One thing we love is the change in color tones. Couples who get married in the winter tend to choose darker, richer color palettes for their wedding decor. For this wedding in particular, Justin and Renee chose rich purples, navy and warm tones to enhance the intimate winter feeling. Which was absolutely perfectly for their venue location, The Benson Hotel.
The Benson Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Portland and has recently undergone some lovely renovations and the weddings are just knocking it out of the park. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to work with this incredibly kind and sweet couple, at what we consider one of the best hotel/ballroom wedding venue locations in Portland.
Justin & Renee utilized the best of what the Benson has to offer in planning their wedding. Justin got ready in the hotel and then headed to the cigar room at the hotel’s neighbor restaurant El Gaucho. Encircled in plumes of cigar smoke, Justin and his groomsmen laughed it up and took him some bonding time before the wedding got underway. Meanwhile, Renee was in a corner suite where many brides get ready. After snuggling in matching Hanna Andersson jammies, the bridesmaids made an outfit change and only then, in their fancy gowns, did they choose to chomp on Portland’s famous Voodoo Donuts. Gotta love the juxtaposition of dresses and doughnuts. After their quick snack, everyone circled around Renee as she went from jammies to bridal gown. Renee is an OB nurse who spends her days in scrubs catching babies and here she was on her wedding day…simply a vision in white and lace. A particularly touching moment was when Renee’s mom and Justin’s mom put their arms around each other while watching Renee step into her dress. The two mothers were filled with emotion and therefore, so was everyone else.
Afterwhich, the room cleared and Renee stood by the window to wait for Justin. If you thought the emotion of their moms was sweet, you were not prepared for the emotion of Justin himself. It goes without saying that photographers love a groom, or a bride, who isn’t afraid to show emotion. Renee and Justin enjoyed a private moment or two before we joined the rest of the wedding party for Renee’s dream photo: running down the middle of Broadway Ave in front of The Benson. Traffic literally stopped and then we all said, “Ok, let’s get married now!”
The Benson Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom is the ultimate space for a warmly lit winter wedding ceremony. Draped in dark purple curtains with multiple hanging chandeliers, it is every bit as inviting and romantic as it sounds. The hotel manager was kind enough to let Daniel crouch through a small entry way into the balcony that overlooked the ballroom. With Daniel on the balcony and myself, Lindsay, on the main floor, we both were able to capture every candid and heartfelt moment of Justin and Renee’s touching ceremony. These two exchanged vows under an incredible arch that was adorned with the most beautiful creation from Botanica Floral. Justin and Renee danced their way back down the aisle and right into their cozy cocktail hour in the London Grill.
Reception festivities began in the Benson’s Mayfair Ballroom where everyone would enjoy a delicious meal prepared by the Benson, personal speeches from Justin and Renee’s friends and family, and plenty of dancing on a nice big dancefloor with music provided by Aaron Harris Entertainment. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing planning of skills by Carolyn O’Brien, of Creative Celebrations. She is amazing and so fun, easygoing to work with.
We can’t end this blog post without talking about the most endearing moment of the evening. Justin’s mother had previously been in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. She is a gem of a woman, let me tell you. Kind and funny and genuine. During a moment before the ceremony, she talked to me about how she introduced her son to Renee and how she was just so blessed to be there to see them get married. Justin had not planned on a mother son dance, given his mom’s position in a wheelchair, but she surprised him (and all of us!) by coordinating a dance for the two of them. One where her family would hold her up while she danced with her son on his wedding day. I am getting chills and a well in my eyes just thinking about it, and I don’t even know this family personally. There was not a dry eye in the house. What an amazing moment to capture and we feel honored they trusted us to document this moment for them.
Justin and Renee then kicked off a party that did not disappoint. They cut a freaking amazing Dream Cakes beauty of a cake and laughed, sanged, danced their way into the late hours of the night. This was truly a special wedding for us to photograph and we thank everyone, from the Justin and Renee to the Benson Hotel to Creative Celebration for inviting us to be a part of it.