First of all, I gotta give Ulla Brunner, one of my favorite planners ever (and fortunately, she’s located in the heart of Moab), a vendor highlight! She pulled everything together and made Emily and Ollie’s wedding dreams come true! If you are getting married in Moab and need vendor recommendations, help pulling everything together, and creating your wedding vision, she’s your girl. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a planner more on top of it! I’ll put her links below!
Getting Ready Locations:
Let’s start with the beginning of day. They chose two super rad and modern AirBnb’s–one for the groom/groomsmen, one for the bride/bridesmaids. Of course, the bridesmaids surprised Emily with cute decor on the morning of the wedding day, and it really paid off for pictures! I have never seen balloons left to just hang out on the ceiling, and I love that idea! And of course, the wonderful Mr. & Mrs. signs. Can’t beat that!
There are dozens upon dozens of amazing AirBnb’s in Moab, Utah, but these were by far the coolest ones I’ve ever seen. Having the opportunity to photograph in them was obviously great–architecture is one of my favorite things to capture. But not only did they have two really cool AirBnb’s, they had a trailer to finish getting ready in at the location they chose to get married! Emily put her dress on in a trailer a few hundred yards from their ceremony spot. It had a lot of natural light but also some AC to keep her cool in the summer sun. If you can’t get an Airbnb in town and then travel to your ceremony location, a trailer is a great option. Emily decided it would be better for her to have both options at the ready–whether rain or shine!
When choosing a getting ready location, always consider if there will be plenty of natural light. It’s important for amazing images to have natural light, or be well lit. Obviously, a good and experienced photographer will be able to make beautiful images anywhere and in any lighting, but you just can’t beat the look natural light provides. Every single one of these shots were shot with natural light only, so you can see how beautifully they turn out! The more windows, the better. And the better for everyone! Makeup artists and hair artists do much better when they have natural light to help them see every single thing they are applying! I’ve heard from many that they can even work faster that way. Not to fret though–if you don’t have that option, many professional makeup artists have lighting they can and will bring! More on lighting later.
Weather: About rain or shine… You never quite know what you’re going to get. Moab is extremely diverse, different during every season. At best, it’s unpredictable. Where you decide to get married in Moab is the biggest factor. If it’s on a cliffside, expect high winds! You’ll be lucky if there isn’t any wind at all. It’s extremely rare to not have winds. Although, I know many amazing spots that overlook Moab but are still a bit sheltered from these winds. These winds can add a LOT to photos, so don’t think wind is only a bad thing! The movement and life they bring to photographs is unlike anything else, and honestly, I love wind more than I dislike it. It all depends on what you want in the end! But be aware: these winds bring a lot of summer storms very quickly and unexpectedly, but fortunately, it also takes them away rather quickly as well. In the summer, it’s far more likely you’ll have a whole lot of heat, and not many clouds in the sky, which is very indicative from these images of Emily and Ollie’s wedding, taken in mid-September. It was bright sun, and full sun all day long until it was far enough down that we had some shade from nearby red rock features.
Ceremonies in Moab are something spectacular, as you can see from the above images. The scenery in Moab is unlike any other place in the world, which is probably why so many people want to get married there! It’s one of my favorite things in the world. An outdoor ceremony and reception in Moab, Utah will never be a bad thing, ever ever.
If you’re wanting a gorgeous overlook ceremony, talk to me about lighting! A lot of brides and grooms want that amazing orange light at golden hour. When the sun is close to the horizon in Moab, it illuminates the red rock in a dazzling display of red rock and sunset. Some of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever experienced in life were in Moab, Utah. Getting this lighting is very tricky though, because it’s not always at the most convenient part of the day.
If the timing doesn’t work out (many of my packages include timeline building) for sunset lighting at the ceremony, don’t be discouraged. We can always get portraits at sunset so you still have glorious golden light in your wedding day photos. We’ll just need to budget enough time in to get those rays! Emily and Ollie didn’t time their wedding around lighting–and you don’t have to either! Almost every single guest that attended their wedding came from out of state. They don’t get to see these people often. While pictures were a priority to them, getting to see and spend time with their loved ones was far more important. And in the end, I completely agree!
If possible, I recommend backlighting your ceremony (for those of you who don’t know what that means, when you walk down the aisle, you’ll be looking into the sun). It almost always looks better in photos! A couple notes about that: your guests will be facing directly into the sun, which makes it harder to view the ceremony and can make them hot if there isn’t shade. Keep these things in mind, and a pros and cons list is never a bad idea. Knowing where photos lie on your priority list is important! Emily and Ollie did the exact opposite of backlighting, because the incredible view faced the other way. They wanted their guests to see the view, so they got married in full sun, and it still looks absolutely stunning. There is no wrong way to do it. Again, a good photographer will know how to handle any situation, and handle it well!
Another option is finding shade. Behind really big and beautiful trees or massive red rock formations, or even canyons. Once the sun gets lower in the sky, it’s easy to find these things, as you can see by the portraits of Emily and Ollie, and the family. We shot these while the sun was still very bright, but we were in the shade and had good lighting for the portraits. You can see more backlighting examples here as well.
Reception is a whole other ball game in Moab! I’ve shot many receptions here; some outside, some inside! I’ve shot in pouring rain, and I’ve photographed beautiful starry skies. What you’re going to get if you don’t have an indoor plan is up to fate and Mother Nature! haha Emily and Ollie, with the help of their amazing planner Ulla, had a great option for whatever weather scenario they experienced. Fortunately, it didn’t rain at all and they were able to dance and party all night under the stars, but they had a massive tent that fit all of their guests, tables, Photo Booth, musicians, and decor just in case!
Note: See how red the red rocks become when golden hour appears? They absolutely GLOW. And then when it sets, the world just becomes a radiant purple and blue. It’s honestly incredible.
Weather is one reason to get these tents if you don’t have a specific venue in Moab, but another is that they do really well with lighting. I can use flash in there and sparing you many long, boring photog secrets, it looks good. It was very dark when toasts started, and I needed another light source, so I moved to flash instead of natural light. It turned out great!
The dance floor was outside the tent area, but that’s okay! I pushed my flash up, and we still got amazing images! Of course, Emily and Ollie are absolutely stunning and would look good no matter what picture I took of them. Hahaha Just a side note about these toasts: Emily’s father gave the most compelling, beautiful, and eloquent toast I have EVER heard, in my twelve years of doing this. His audience clung onto every word, enamored by how he spoke about his little girl, the memories he treasured of her, and the woman he’s watched her become. He managed to make every single person tear up, or straight up bawl their eyes out. Including me (and that ain’t easy, folks. HA just kidding, I cry behind my camera all the time). I found out later that he is an avid writer and poet, published many times. It makes perfect sense–he gave his heart and soul into those words. I still talk about it to this day, and he’s not even my own dad. LOL
Moab has endless options, so don’t be afraid to utilize them and get creative! Be bold, be different, be unique! Turns out, Ollie knew a thing or two about stage lighting (if I remember that correctly), and had a light sign created to be displayed at the reception! They turned it on as the sun faded away, and the music filled the night air. I wish I could take credit for the last shots of the night, especially those beautiful silhouette shots, but that was allllllllll Ollie’s idea. He said that was one of the most important images to him, so I made it a priority to get it done! We waited for the party to be poppin’ before I quietly stole them away for a small moment to capture these. It was 100% worth it! Consider creating some time for night photography, astrophotography, or end-of-the-night shots such as these. One, it’s gorgeous, but two, it’s a wonderful thing to step away from everything you had planned and see it all unfolded in front of you. All your guests enjoying themselves, starting new relationships, creating great memories, celebrating the love you two share. They all came here for you. And that’s a moment that is truly important to have. For the record, it was the only moment I actually shed a tear on my wedding day. I guarantee you, it will become one of yours favorites.
Ulla’s Brunner’s Contact Information: Tell her I sent you! We love working together so much!