Elk Lake Wedding | Kaitlyn + Zack


Elk Lake is one of my favorite places in the world and when Kaitlynn and Zack told me about their wedding I knew I had to be a part of it. Kaitlynn and Zack wanted a laid back wedding with 50 guests focusing on the couple party rather than tradition. They met in Arizona, moved to Utah together, and had just moved to Bend about a year before their wedding. They wanted their Elk Lake Wedding to highlight their new home of Central Oregon and create a full weekend experience for their guests.

For their first look they opted to read private vows to each other along the shore of Elk Lake with Mt Bachelor peaking out. I kept my distance to really allow them to have an intimate moment while still getting ALL THE PHOTOS. Both Kaitlyn and Zack described themselves as “awkward in front of the camera” which couldn’t be further from the truth. I gave them some light direction and but allowed the real emotion and moments to unfold. We also split portraits up throughout the day in 10 minute chunks which let them relax and not feel like their wedding was an elongated photoshoot. Even better- it allowed us to get a variety of portraits in different light and even different weather!

Their decor was centered on the surroundings with autumn colored drapery and dried florals. Their reception was lakeside under the tent with music and dancing covered. My highlight of the night was taking photos of the couple in the canoe at the end of the night. With the sunsetting it was was the most picturesque way to end the day.

Another highlight was earlier in the day when the groomsmen wanted to take canoe photos. Their combined weight almost sunk the canoe and I think alllll of them got a little bit wet as the canoe started tipping and taking in water. I think I was almost doubled over laughing as I kept snapping photos of them trying to escape. I was also extremely thankful that piling all the groomsman in a canoe was not my idea!

My Advice for an Elk Lake Wedding

  1. Get ready in one of the larger lodge cabins. Kaitlyn got ready in Middle Sister and Zack in the North Sister cabin. Because they got ready so close together I was able to bounce between and we didn’t need a second photographer.
  2. Ask the venue to borrow a canoe! Elk Lake brought one lakeside and made for some of the best photos of the day! When we weren’t using it, it still looked absolutely adorable in the background.
  3. Split up photos throughout the day. Elk Lake can be SUNNY but the weather also changes very quickly. The view of Mt. Bachelor was completely covered by sunset so I was glad we got those during the first look and 10 minutes after the wedding. Splitting portraits up in small increments also allows you to both enjoy your wedding day and get to spend some time just the two of you. Your wedding goes by so quickly and in my experience this is a great way to balance time with your guests and time together and get the absolute best portraits.
  4. Plan a multi day “wedding weekend.” With cabins, camping options and an on site store & restaurant it’s easy for your guests to truly experience Elk Lake. For activities, guests can hike scenic trails, fish in the lake, or simply enjoy walks by the water. For the adventurous, there’s kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking. You can even rent a day dock (pirate-y looking boat) for a few hours and explore the lake.
  5. You are surrounded by amazing hiking but many of those hikes are permitted. My favorites would be hiking to No Name Lake on top of Broken Top via Todd Lake (harder hike but the road to Broken Top trailhead is absolutely treacherous and often closed) or Green Lakes (relatively flat easy hike). Both of these are popular so you’ll want to set an alarm to get permits!
  6. Explore nearby lakes! Nothing beats the views at Sparks Lake but note that the lake is very shallow and more of a boating lake then a swimming lake – especially in late summer. I also love Hosmer Lake – it’s basically across Elk Lake (you drive there via gravel road)- it’s less visited and a good spot to hang out and have a picnic and explore a different lake

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Are you planning your Elk Lake Wedding or other Bend wedding? I would love to capture it! Let’s chat!




Cake soufflé apple pie tiramisu marshmallow bonbon cheesecake!

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