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Seattle is the center of a great, thriving metropolitan area that combines business, residence, industry, and nature – but it is only the center. Hundreds of thousands of people live, work, and get married in the suburbs beyond the city limits. If you’re looking for a spectacular site for photos of your wedding day a little closer to where you live, without fighting the city’s notorious traffic jams, here are some options to consider.
Just across Lake Washington from the city of Seattle is Bellevue Botanical Garden, a lush oasis in one of the city’s biggest and fastest-changing suburbs. The garden, of course, changes every week; you and your photographer may need to plan in advance to take advantage of whatever is particularly blooming and beautiful on your wedding day. Try the Dahlia Garden for a riot of color against the bride in white and groom in black, or for a slightly more rugged backdrop, position the wedding party around the Alpine Rock Garden.
Another suburb that shares Lake Washington frontage with Bellevue is Kirkland, home to several lakefront parks with excellent photo possibilities. Marina Park offers a chance for the wedding party to pose in front of the sentimental bronze “Coming Home” statue, or the bobbing forest of boat masts at anchor, or at water’s edge with a view of Seattle sloping down to the far edge of the lake.
For a slightly wilder look along the water, head north to Juanita Bay Park, which functions more as a wildlife preserve than as a pleasure zone for humans. There are boardwalks through the marshy areas to avoid damaging delicate shoes; this would be a great place to photograph a bride and groom who love the natural splendor of the Pacific Northwest.
While Seattle occupies the center of Puget Sound, Tacoma, near the southern end, is an independent metropolis that just happens to have a much larger city close by. The biggest concentration of natural beauty you’ll find locally is in Point Defiance Park, 700 acres of forests, gardens, and spectacular views across the water to the Olympic Peninsula. The rose garden, the park’s focal point, is an obvious place to shoot wedding photos, but give some consideration as well to Point Defiance Park’s half-dozen other theme gardens. In particular, spend some time taking photos in the rhododendron garden, artfully entwined with old-growth forest, or use the waterfall and pond in the Northwest native plant garden as backdrops. For a really exotic photo setting, take the wedding party to the zoo and aquarium on park property and get some pictures of groomsmen and gorillas or bridesmaids and sharks.
Like every place in the greater Seattle area, Tacoma has plenty of natural beauty, but it also has some spectacular man-made photo settings. Your obvious destination point is the Bridge of Glass, a 500-foot pedestrian walkway over a busy highway designed by internationally known glass artist Dale Chihuly. Position the wedding party under the brightly colored and infinitely varied Seaform Pavilion, or have your photographer get a vertical shot around the base of the Crystal Towers. Depending on the photo angle, you can also capture the bustle and skyline of downtown along with the delicate, undulating glass artwork in this dramatic public space.
At one end of the bridge, you’ll find the Museum of Glass, another destination rich in photo possibilities. Chihuly may be the most famous glass artist, but this cutting-edge museum shows that he’s far from the only one. Get some photos of the wedding party on the rooftop plazas, where glass sculptures mingle with water displays and a reflecting pool under the sunny (or cloudy) Pacific Northwest skies. Your photographer can also get some dramatic effects by spacing the wedding party along the spiral staircase that winds up the steel-tiled cone at the center of the museum.
The mild, steady climate of the Seattle area lends itself very well to the mass production of tulips, daffodils and other bulb flowers. If you’re planning a spring wedding (March and April are peak bulb season), you can get some gorgeous photos at bulb farms within a reasonable drive of Seattle. Drive north to Mount Vernon to find Roozengarde, home to a spectacular three-acre show garden of tulips and daffodils. Particularly when professionals grow them, these flowers are every bit as bright, showy and luxuriant as roses. Maybe they’re perfect for the wedding ceremony as well, but fields of tulips are only one option for photos of your big day in greater Seattle.
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