Lovin’ at the Lakeside: Gretchen + Ben

Aug 22, 2008 | Weddings

Here’s another wedding that I’d been looking forward to since the moment I met them – Gretchen and Ben’s glorious Sunday wedding in a very sunny and happy Seattle.  Ben and Gretchen were one of my first engagement session couples, and after several meetings (including one completely random occasion at Smith on Capitol Hill when I was just a teeny tiny bit tipsy) it was finally time for their wedding day!

I started off mid morning at the Pan Pacific Hotel, one of the best spots in Seattle for getting ready photos in my opinion!  The light is wonderful there, and the rooms are bright and spacious.  Gretchen, her co-Langmaids of honor and her mom were getting dolled up by makeup artist Sara Marcias and hair stylist Whitney, two new favorites of mine.

I almost died when I saw Gretchen’s dress … it is raw silk (heavenly!) with a cut and shape very similar to my own wedding dress … except I have to admit to slightly preferring hers!  She was told there and then that I expect some trash the dress fun with it!

The maids of honor dresses were almost as beautiful as Gretchen’s gown – they were designed by Wai Ching who also designed Morgan’s wedding dress!

Once Gretchen was all ready to go, I headed accross town to her and Ben’s appartment, where the guys and Ben’s parents were getting ready and hanging out.

Ben had gifts for his groomsmen – engraved pewter beer mugs.  They were a perfect match for the homebrew that Ben’s brother had made to mark the occasion (and you wouldn’t believe how hard it was to resist a little taster … it looked soooo good!)

The engraving on Dan’s mug is simply “Dan’s Brew” – it certainly met with his approval.

I left the guys playing cards while I went off to Volunteer Park to scout out some spots for the first look and formals, and to meet with the florist.

Ben waiting for Gretchen to arrive – he looks a little nervous here!

It was the perfect first look – they were both so excited and happy to see each other.  They didn’t stop grinning after that all day.

After a little while, we rounded up the famlies for some informal formals, and began the flower wrestle.  I think there should be a trained person available at all weddings to help fix flowers on suits!

While Ben’s mom is thoroughly amused by the whole process, Ben’s groomsmen look a little confused:

The flowers by Alexa of Fiore Blossoms were amazingly beautiful – and she is such an awesome lady too!

Time for some silly wedding party photos, and some more sweet pics of Ben and Gretchen:

After we’d had our fill of Volunteer Park, we headed to St Therese Church in Madrona.  It is such a gorgeous place with its beautiful stained glass, dark wooden beams, simple decor and airy feel.  The priest was fabulous too, he injected a lot of humor and emotion into the service, and I love that I caught so many moments where they were giggling.

Yay, giggles!

OK, so this may not be the most technically perfect photograph I’ve ever taken, but how can you not love those expressions?!

After the ceremony, I had my fantastic assistant Fiona grab my excess gear while I sped off to The Lakeside.  It’s such a great venue – there are three distinct areas for dining (upstairs), dancing (downstairs) and enjoying the sunshine (outside on the deck overlooking Lake Union).  The staff there is brilliant too, it was such a treat working somewhere so friendly.

Kelli Morse triumphed yet again with a splendidly tasty cake … it was so good, in fact, that I went back for seconds.  Not the brightest idea I’ve ever had!

I spent much of cocktail hour out on the deck, photographing many happy mojito-drinking folk and enjoying the sunshine.

These two were so adorable:

There were three ladies wearing dresses of the exact same shade of green.  It made for a great photo opp, whichever angle you took:

After dinner, Ben, Gretchen and I headed out onto the dock for some sun-down portraits.

I love the view of downtown Seattle over Lake Union from the dock.

After dinner and portraits there were toasts, cake-cutting and dancing …

And for the last 45 minutes I set up a photobooth … we all had a blast!

Strange things happen when you put people under studio lights!

Thank you all so very much for a fabulously fun wedding.  It was such a pleasure getting to know you all.  And Ben and Gretchen, have a beautiful honeymoon!

© 2008 Kate McElwee Photography


  1. So beautiful!!!

    Love that chapel too, amazingness overload.

  2. Fantastic pics, Kate! I can’t wait to see more, especially those from the photo booth. You really capture how much fun and how magical the entire wedding was for Gretchen and me. Bravo!

  3. Beautiful shots Kate! Now I’m just left to wonder… why didn’t that totally amazing human pyramid we made make the cut?? (o:

  4. WOW! That location is just gorgeous, I adore the overlook of the city!!! You did a great job (and her dress is to DIE for!).

  5. love her dress and all your details and colors are right-on as usual, kate. the church is so beautiful and it’s nice to see a little shake-up with the priest being the one with their back to the guests.


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