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Winter Wedding at Ginger & Baker, and Block One in Old Town Fort Collins

Armstrong Hotel for Getting Ready photos, Ginger & Baker for the Ceremony, and Block One for the Reception.

Such a fun combination of venues. This wedding spanned across three locations, each with unique textures and artistic flair. Do you have a dog that you'd like to have in your Getting Ready photos? Then book the Armstrong Hotel in Old Town Fort Collins. They are a pet-friendly boutique hotel right on College Avenue. Cafés, restaurants, bars, breweries, and shopping all at walking distance. They even pass out bikes if you're feeling cyclodelic.

This wasn't our first time shooting at the Armstrong Hotel, we actually shot our couple's Engagement photos here in the Café and in Ace Gillett's lounge in the basement (Check out those here). Our Bride is a fan of art and architecture and photography that represents those ideas. I love it when I can stretch my art-legs and shoot with interesting and unorthodox perspectives. Truth be told, a lot of wedding photography is made up of standard material. These are the must-have photo shot lists you find in your Google search. Or is it? I am excited for this trend of wedding photography that is more about the "flow" then a list of shots to be taken. I find it more freeing creatively, and I think our couples enjoy that release-of-the-reins and know they're going to inspire their photographer to explore new ideas. All of this of course comes down to trusting your photographer and their ability to craft some imagination on the fly.

"Is art art...?" Thank you Lisa from Saved by the Bell for your deep thoughts.

Luckily, we were in the Armstrong and the creativity was flowing. As a photographer, you cringe when you realize that you have to photograph people in rooms with warm-toned walls. Unless you've spent much of your college career studying the Color Wheel of Contrasting Colors, you wouldn't necessarily know that human skin looks better when there is an opposing cool-colored wall near it. Best of all, would be a white wall. White walls and ceilings reflect a gorgeous light back down onto it's occupants and is always a good look (I'm talking to you orangey-interior wedding barns!). Back at the Armstrong, we have beautiful deep blue walls to get lost in, fun décor, and lots of window light. These elements gave us all the tools we needed to get some really great shots of our Bride and her ladies getting ready. Everyone knows I love a good shadow, so all of this natural light really lent itself to my need for artistic drama.

I'm going to digress for a moment (writing as it is occurring in my headspace), and do a quick art lesson that will SIGNIFICANTLY improve your photographs. Brides: When you walk into a venue, pay attention to the colors in the room, because these colors will reflect back down onto your face. No, seriously. Want to look like an oompa-loompa on your wedding day, or like you got into a fight with your self-tanner? No, I didn't think so. Then take my advice when you step into your next potential wedding venue and look at the walls. Warm-toned walls or ceilings reflect their orangey hues onto your skin, so opposite colors, or better yet white walls and ceilings, will brighten your skin tone, lift shadows off your face, and reveal your wedding dress for the actual shade of white that it is. If I had it my way, I'd send an army of Brides to each of these barn-style wedding venues and tell them to paint their woodsy interiors white! Now, I know what you are saying, "Ya, but that's why we like that venue, because it makes us feel like we're lost in the woods with only porcupines to eat." That's all fine, but when you look back at your iPhone photos and notice you have an orange cast on all of your guests, you're going to wish you'd skipped that porcupine meat. So now the hard work begins for us professional photographers/editors when we have to edit those dreadful colors out so your skin looks perfect. But, it sure would have saved us all a lot of time and hair (needle) pulling if those walls were just white to begin with. I'm not saying don't have your wedding in the cutest, most rustic, steeply pitched barn you can find, just know that a white wall here and there will do wonders for your skin. Wedding vendors: this one is for you- consider hiring a photographer to assist you in your design elements. A seasoned photographer who shoots a lot of venues can give you an enormous amount of clarity when it comes to placement of arches, bridal party entrance routes, sunlight tracking, and of course paint schemes. Just sayin'.

Ok, back to some vendors who get (most) that stuff right. For the Ceremony, we have now popped over to the Ginger & Baker. This location moonlights as an event space, but is also a delightfully fancy restaurant, bakery, chef-led cooking studio, wine cellar, coffee and gift shop. Unique to the teeth, its filled with edgy brick walls, greenhouse glass, bull horns, and single-window rooms. All of these can work to your advantage, or, your disadvantage. I'm not going to lie, the dark indoor ceremony space was not an easy room to shoot. A main single window acted like a beam across the front half of the wedding party, while leaving the other half in relative shadows. To the room's defense, it was a cloudy day, so the other window that sits in the rafters, far above the space didn't pump out much light to help even things out. A flash would have looked like an electrocution in this situation, aside from the fact that flashes during a ceremony is a personal no-no of mine. So to keep our Bride and Groom, and their guests, completely present in the their ceremony and not hit by repeated flashes, I had to work with the light I had available. I personally would switch the lay out of the ceremony location and would have the Bride and Groom take their vows in the adjoining greenhouse room with floor-to-ceiling light coming in from 3 angles (Three angles! The camera gods have spoken), and have the cocktail hour or reception in the dark brick room to give a sense of Prohibition Era intimacy.

This may be a good time for another quick lesson in photography: Flash + windows = bad, flash + dark interior = good. So, having the ceremony in a well-lit interior where a flash is unnecessary and would otherwise interfere with the solemnity of the moment, would be to your advantage. Also, using a flash around windows can get tricky, unless you're a vampire with no reflection. The takeaway from this lesson is: look for a naturally well-lit ceremony space if your wish is to have an indoor ceremony, and when it comes to your indoor reception, a white wall or ceiling to bounce a flash off of never hurt 'no body. Also, don't invite any vampires to your wedding because those will.

For the reception portion of today's wedding festivities, we enter the industrial-chic Block One. I love this "One" for receptions- lots of natural light coming through the windows, big open white walls and ceiling panels to reflect back perfect colored fill-light onto the scene. Outside of the venue, a river winds around the back and the trees give off gorgeous colors especially in the Fall. These make for a great backdrop for those group or bridal portrait photos. The only downside is parking, but that's Old Town for you and unless you want Fort Collins to look like Vegas with an 8-story parking garage around every corner, then we deal. Poker pun intended. Now to the part-tay...

Getting Ready Venue:

Armstrong Hotel

259 S. College Ave.

Fort Collins, Colorado 80524

Ceremony Location:

Ginger & Baker

359 Linden Street

Fort Collins, Colorado 80524

Reception Location:

Block One Events

428 Linden Street

Fort Collins, Colorado 80524

Bride's Dress:

Encore Bridal Loft

261 Linden Street

Fort Collins, Colorado 80524


Bloom Floral Boutique and Studio

153 N College

Fort Collins, Colorado 80524


Howe Eventful

201 E 4th St,

Loveland, Colorado 80537


The Rollin' Stone Pizza truck

Fort Collins, Colorado


Front Range Event Rental

3800 Weicker Drive Unit 2

Fort Collins, Colorado 80524

And Me:

Blue Canoe Photography

301 South Howes Street #504

Fort Collins, Colorado 80521

(970) 567-9638

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