All posts by laurelashlings

IPhone for Your Wedding

These days, even grandma has an IPhone, so there is zero reason to give everyone a disposable camera like the old days. The problem is, how do we gather all those photos your friends and family snap in a buzzed up haze?

Most would argue that hashtags do the trick, but the issue there is that your guests will have to remember to add the tag and to actually “post” the photo, which we all know, many of them won’t.

There’s a new free app in iTunes called WedPics Wedding App which will collect all photos and videos taken by your guests the day of the event and collect them in one place for the bride to enjoy forever or repost to Facebook or order prints as they see fit. It’s gotten rave reviews from Mashable and TechCrunch, and has two million happy users, so I think it is safe to say, this app would make a fantastic compliment to your professional wedding photos.

It is as simple as inviting guests to the app before the day of. WedPics will then aggregate all the photos taken by your friends and family that day in a place where they all can view them. It creates a sense of intimacy and lasting memories for those in attendance.

There are all kinds of tips on WedPics website about how to make the most of this app, but they have truly thought of everything in terms of getting guests to engage, from inviting them via text, email and FB to having a readymade printable poster for you to print out and post on your wedding day.

One really cool idea they have is a “photo scavenger hunt” which creates just a little motivation for your guests to go out of their way and play photographer. If you have in attendance a creative bunch, this could certainly create a monster of people pointing their phones at each other for hours on end, but in all likelihood they will do a few, and then get swept up in catching up with old friends.

Gere were a few ideas:

Best/Worst Dancer

People clinking glasses

Someone making a toast

Favorite Decoration

…you get the idea.

So, if you are looking for a way to get your guests to send you their photos from the big day without worrying about hashtags, etc. the WedPics App is a great solution and will give people motivation to capture some really cool moments on your special day.


Your Oregon Hipster Wedding – Don’t Go Overboard

It’s tempting, I know. Finally, it’s your day and you get to make all the decisions. You’re not at work, your not at your parents house. And hell, there’s nothing wrong with trying to impress a friend or two with your incredibly hip taste. But there’s nothing cool about trying too hard. So if you find yourself doing almost everything on this list, nix a few things. Too much is tacky, right?

Vintage Wedding Dresses

The options are endless from Parisian glamour, to mid-century to classic vintage dresses are not only more economical, they fit the mood of a lot of Oregon weddings that tend to be in woodsy or historic settings, or in hotels whose decor often gives a nod to the past. There is both a quality and character to vintage dresses that will give a timeless appearance to your wedding photos. Unless you can score something on Ebay, your going to have to head to the big city for this one, ladies. Portland has a number of great shops including Xtabay Vintage Bridal Salon, and AlexSandra’s Vintage Emporium.

Blackboards – Everywhere

From the seating chart, to signs labeling the buffet, creatively drawn signs on chalk boards harken us back to the days before the dry eraser.

Mason Jars – Everywhere

From cocktail glasses to flower vases, mason jars are adorable (but can definitely be overkill.) Some cool ideas I’ve seen are using large ones for wildflowers along lining the aisle on iron hooks. They are definitely a great option for drinks as they are cheap and reusable.


Create an atmosphere of enchanting wonder by creatively placing tiny lights both indoors and out. Both dreamy and timeless. These are especially cool in the summer when your guests will be outside most of the night.


It seems that more than one bride missed the message that that Portlandia episode about birds was supposed to be ironic, but what the hell. Go for another animal… like bears. I can already see the wedding invitations created by one of your friend’s who is a graphic designer. Mamma and papa bear riding a tandem off into the sunset.

An obscure indiefolk song as the processional

I personally could not be more of a fan of this, so if you are looking for something to nix, let this be the last off your list!!! Even better would be a top 40s pop song… only your hipster friends will get the irony.


Make your grand entrance on a Schwinn! Have bike valet parking, or even better make a cruise through town a part of the reception. These are great for city weddings, where a lot of your friends will be arriving by bike, or in lake lodge settings where riding around on borrowed bikes will make it feel even more like summer camp.

Locally Sourced Food

While our eastern brethren might adhere to such standards in catering such as high-brow/low-brow (hot dogs and foie gras… eeew BTW), the Oregon hipster has one priority and one priority only: to have as much local and organic food at their wedding as their caterer will provide. And why wouldn’t we, with the incredible abundance available in the Valley?

So in conclusion, whether you live here or are coming to Oregon especially for your wedding, keep your cool in check during the planning processes. The best weddings allude to things without throwing them in your face, and guests of your generation will appreciate those details only they were clued-in enough to notice.

Barn Wedding Venues in Oregon


One of the most elegant and high-end rustic-style wedding venues in Oregon, Brasada Ranch knows how to pull off the picture-perfect wedding. This is for the bride looking for a barn wedding venue in Oregon who could do without the cow patties. The actual venue called “The Barn” is the only place we’ve played for weddings at Brasada and it’s the most popular of Brasada’s five locations for ceremonies/receptions. Take in breath-taking views of the high desert, enjoy the grassy-lawn, and find endless photo ops at sunset.

DD Ranch

Known for it’s incredible pumpkin patches with the backdrop of smith rock in the distance and family friendly events like the Country Christmas, a wedding at DD Ranch is for the bride and groom looking for an authentic country-style wedding without the fake frills. This is a real working ranch that does weddings on the side, not a wedding venue that keeps a few cows around for the photo ops. This could be a really cool option, particularly if your friends and family appreciate the window into legitimate western rural culture. It will feel like a field trip!


The lodge and cabins at Rock Springs were renovated a few years ago, and so this venue perfectly blends modern amenities with a reverence for nature and country living. Get married beneath towering Northwest pines or right by the reflecting pond. The fields of the ranch spread out into the distance and the overall feel is spacious and sophisticated. The best part is, its just a few minutes from downtown Bend.

Faith, Hope, Charity Vineyards

The rounded roof of the restored white barn is the defining feature of this working vineyard with views of Smith Rock and the Three Sisters. Wild flowers, a reflecting pond and rolling hills in the distance make this a lovely spot for any couple looking for a classy and countrified wedding venue in Central Oregon.

Hollinshead Barn

barn venues in oregon hollinshead upstairsThis historic barn had to have been renovated with weddings in mind… it’s almost too perfect! And the price is right… reserve a year and a half in advance to take advantage of the $600/day rental fee.

The first floor can accommodate 55 guests at tables, but there is plenty of room outdoors for seating in a large well groomed, fenced in lawn area. The second floor makes the perfect dance floor with vaulted ceilings perfect for acoustic music, and as a staging area before the ceremony.

The Barn is the centerpiece of an historic homestead that ran from 1939-83. Today it is the entrance to a 16-acre park, featuring nostalgic-looking groves of trees just waiting for your perfect wedding day pictures.

Heart of Rock Farm

DJVector2TYes, their website might look like it was made when the internet was first invented, and yes, their logo looks more like a scary, drunken tattoo, HOWEVER, if you can click just a little deeper, you’ll discover a genuine country gem in Sherwood, Oregon, with a big red barn just waiting for your family and friends to rip it up on your big day. Their website is worth a visit if nothing else to discover their photo collection of heart-shaped rocks.


This place is totally pro. Just an hour or so from Portland, it will absolutely fit the bill for couples looking for barn wedding venues in Oregon. There is a perfect wooden bridge crossing a creek perfect for group shots, but the crown jewel of the whole experience is going to have to be the Old Time Saloon they have on property, which looks actually old and actually western! Hold off on the shots till after the ceremony boys. The folks at Postlewaits aren’t messing around, so I’m sure you’ll be paying top dollar, and in exchange you’ll have a generally spotless event.

There are dozens are barn wedding venues in Oregon, and more and more are popping up every day due to the popularity of the rustic chic theme. Some of the venues run by local parks and rec departments are the best deal, but will require the most effort on your part to pull off. Other sites like Brasada and Postlewaits will deliver a professional, custom experience and help you as little or as much as you’d like.

Our band the Ashlings is perfect for barn wedding venues – we play classical during the ceremony and upbeat cocktail music for the reception. And our cello/violin/guitar trio specializes in learning you special song!

wedding of tim sohn and lily seidler in glide oregon

Featured Farm Wedding: Tim & Lily in Glide Oregon

This wedding was out of a story book, and it is fitting that it would be so poetic given that the groom Tim Sohn is an accomplished writer for Outside Magazine, The New Yorker, The Huffington Post, and the New York Times. He also spends summers in Alaska in Bristol Bay working as a salmon fisherman and penning his first book. Very cool guy.

I first met Tim seven or eight years ago in Bend when I was playing at a martini bar downtown and he came in with a pack of friends he was driving across country with. They were very into the music and I guess I talked them into buying a few CDs. I definitely remember them because Tim told me he wrote for Outside that night, and I thought it was the best thing to meet an outdoor writer at a gig, and it made me happy to live in Bend.

Most of the gang from the cross-country trip was at the wedding, and I had the incredibly flattering experience of having the boys all come together and sing along with me to a song I wrote called “Backroads” that I suppose became their theme song for the trip.

The wedding itself took place on the Mont Alto Ranch, a beautifully maintained historic property on the North Umpqua River that belonged to Tim’s side of the family. I will let the photos speak for themselves, but I did not want to leave this magical place and these sophisticated, yet incredibly sweet people. I even got to catch up with an old acquaintance Corey Arnold, whom I’d met during some travels down in Panama who fishes with Tim in Alaska and is an amazing photographer of the ocean and its creatures.

They had some very cool choices for wedding songs including Lay Lady Lay, You Look Wonderful Tonight, and Diamond’s on the Souls of Her Shoes. They had a few requests for the reception too, including Romeo & Juliet which I’d always wanted to learn.

Lily works for Prada, and got an inside deal on her dress, which looked specifically stunning on her, and I have a hard time imagining anyone else pulling it off.

I played this gig with cellist Kieran McManus from Portland who not only put up with me for two days, but found us an awesome place to stay on the river when our first camping option was shut down due to forest fires.

Over all this Oregon farm wedding was an memorable and nostalgic experience on the banks of the North Umpqua River in Glide. Congratulations and thank you so much Tim & Lily!

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Black Butte Ranch Wedding Sisters Oregon

Featured Oregon Gay Wedding: Lucas & Spencer

July 31, 2015
Black Butte Ranch, Sisters, OR
Theme: Outdoors, Nature
Colors: Sand, Green
Prelude: Classical Instrumental
Wedding Party & Processional: Canon in D
Recessional: Their own recorded song from iTunes
Post Ceremony: Instrumental versions of our wedding pop song repertoire.

Black Butte Ranch in Sisters Oregon is one of our favorite venues in the region, and the union of Spencer & Lucas was the first Oregon Gay Wedding for the Ashlings, so we were really excited about this one. The day was picture perfect with the Cascade Mountains reflecting perfectly off the small lake in front of the lodge, as paddle boarders lazily floated by.

The couple was dressed in elegant light sand-colored suits with matching vests underneath, with contrasting red and blue polkadot neckties. They entered on huge Clydesdale horses who were more interested in exploring the beautiful property then properly transporting the grooms for the processional, but how can you blame them? Once back on track they delivered Spencer & Lucas to the back part of the aisle and they walked down together as we finished the most emotional section of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. We got to hear the story of how the couple met, and there was a lot of emotion in the crowd as they read their vows.

This couple was truly international. They had friends visiting from literally all over the world. The DJ set up as we were closing up shop, and I was able to steal a photo of the couple together amidst the announcements and gratitude speeches. The rest of these shots are taken by Powers Photography Studios out of Portland, and they are incredible photos. Enjoy!

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Featured Wedding: Wedding of Colin Conway & Emily Mastrangelo

Prairie City, Oregon
At the Conway Ranch outside of John Day

Theme: Rustic Chic
Colors: Gold and White
Prelude: Classical Instrumental
Wedding Party Processional: Trumpet Voluntary
Bridal Entry: Canon in D
Recessional: Wedding March
Cocktail Hour Reception: Upbeat Americana and Wedding Repertoire

The most striking thing about this wedding was the setting. Colin’s parents own a weekender ranch a few miles outside of down with panoramic views of the Strawberry Mountains. The property is surrounded by hay fields and the caretaker’s horses peacefully graze in the distance. The red barn was given a good sweep for the occasion and in preparation for the late night party, and chandeliers hung from the ceiling with fresh hay strewn on the floors. Dinner was presented on one long table in the back yard accented by gold candleholders and tea lights strung overhead. Fresh flowers everywhere complimented the subtler white and gold theme.


The weather broke 100 that day and the ceremony was thankfully moved back a few hours, allowing the cooler afternoon breezes in to everyone’s relief. Little water misters hung everywhere, also giving some quick comfort as you walked past and were subtly covered with tiny cold droplets.

While the majority of the evening took place in different areas around the main house, the ceremony itself was out in the hay field. One of my favorite parts of this ceremony was that no one saw the bride until she made her entrance at the ceremony. What a classy and dramatic touch. It is so common these days for the photos to take place before the ceremony, so most get to see the bride (including the groom) before the ceremony itself. It just made it so much more dramatic and emotional.

The distance the wedding party had to walk to get out to the hay field was actually quite long, and this ceremony was a great example of why it is always so important to have someone to cue the musicians as to when the procession begins, as we started a few seconds late a result. It is always good to have a contact person the day of to manage these little details so we don’t have to bug the bride or groom.


Given that the photos happened after the ceremony, the cocktail hour stretched out over two hours, and we happily entertained the crowd with a mix of songs from our wedding book and upbeat Irish and Americana tunes. The groom’s father came over and introduced himself and we learned he is the Washington State Senator Steve Conway. He requested we play his favorite song “Black Velvet Band” and even went so far as to bring us a print off of the lyrics. We ended the evening with this tune and I think it made his family very happy.
Overall, this was a very stylish and classy affair with an authentic adherence to the rustic chic theme without going overboard. Congrats Emily and Colin!




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Featured Wedding: Gretchen Smith

Aspen Lakes Golf Course
June 20, 2015

Prelude: Instrumental Mix of Pop and Classical
Wedding Party Processional: Trumpet Voluntary
Bridal Entry: Canon in D
Special Song Mid-Ceremony: Broken Road, Rascal Flats
Post Ceremony: Upbeat Americana and Love Songs

One of my favorite parts about being in the wedding business is getting the chance to connect with people on a personal level about something that is so dear to their hearts and special. Sure, some can be high-maintenance as expected, but the majority are really down to earth and cool, as I think the kind of experience we provide attracts those kinds of people to us.

Gretchen was definitely one of the sweet ones and I really enjoyed getting to know her a little bit as we worked out the kinks of the wedding music somewhat at the last minute. She had an idea that she wanted us to learn “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flats for a mid-ceremony song. This is one of my favorite things to do, and I think if it is done right it can bring so much emotion and meaning to the ceremony as well as making it significantly more memorable. Music goes straight to people’s souls I believe, and by having a four minute pause mid ceremony, it gives everyone time to process the event they are witnessing, while providing a direct window into the story and emotions of the couple getting married.

I have a dark secret that I actually appreciate country pop. There is something incredible about how the songs tend to be perfectly crafted, with a lot of melodic integrity and a lot of storytelling and simple but meaningful lyrics. Sure some are really dumb, but this Rascal Flats song is an example of just really, really solid songwriting. Their version is of course over the top and over produced, but when me and Julie toned it way down and made it folky, I think the lyrics and meaning pop even more.


Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others that broke my heart, they were just Northern Stars
Pointing me on my way, into your loving arms
This much I know is true, god bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

Gretchen shared a little bit about her story of her finance as we texted back and forth about the details and I got to learn a little bit about why this song had so much meaning for them.

Some other cool things that happened was her uncle sang the Lord’s Prayer and one of her best friends read a love poem. The officiant stole the show with metaphor after metaphor describing the journey of entering into a lifelong partnership: he told the story of nautical journeys and discovering new lands and how the captains would make the crew burn their ships when they arrived at a new destination.

Another beautiful high summer wedding in an epic setting. Thank you Gretchen for introducing us to this song. Congratulations!


Black Butte Ranch Wedding Music

Featured Wedding: Brett Williams & Laurie Craft

June 20, 2015
Black Butte Ranch, Sisters, OR
Theme: Roses, Satin, Greens, Outdoors, Nature
Colors: Crème and Champagne
Prelude: Classical Instrumental
Wedding Party Processional: Trumpet Voluntary
Bridal Entry: Canon in D
Recessional: Better Together
Post Ceremony: Half Hour of upbeat Americana and Love Themed Songs

Set on the shores of a small lake nestled at the base of the Cascade Mountains, I think the best word to describe this wedding overall is “stunning.” This is one of our favorite places to play, and the mountains feel so up close there, the backdrop never gets old and Black Butte does a wonderful job maintaining these grounds impeccably. We’ve developed a great relationship with the Wedding Coordinator there, Jennifer Engele and she’s become a great advocate for us, and we really feel at home there!

Beyond our joy at being back at Black Butte, we observed the overall crowd appeared well healed and good-looking in general; a classy bunch who were generous with their compliments when we finished.

The bride definitely stole the day on this one, as she should, appearing like someone out of a magazine.

The tables were decorated with dozens and dozens of white roses, complimenting the bridesmaid’s dresses, which were a satin crème/champagne color. So much white felt both bold and elegant and a harmonious contrast to the setting of mostly greens and blues.


Julie set the stage with a beautiful mix of classical and contemporary songs on the violin before the ceremony began. She pulled off a great version of Canon in D, and as to be expected the bride was practically in tears by the time she reached the groom. The officiant seemed to be well acquainted with the couple and told some personal stories that gave a beautiful window into the lives of Brett and Laurie.

We ended the ceremony with a special request: “Better Together” by Jack Johnson. I loved the contrast of everything being really classic and straightforward except for this casual and poppy tune by one of my favorite songwriters.

Overall, a very memorable day punctuated by the elegant taste of the bride and the warm and accommodating Black Butte Ranch staff.

Black Butte Ranch Wedding Music

Sisters Oregon Wedding at Black Butte Ranch
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Sunriver Wedding Music

If you’ve decided to get married in Sunirver, you’re in good company; it is one of the most popular wedding venues in Oregon. The music that accompanies your big day should be something that is both classy with a dash of rustic chic. Musicians that can play both classical and Americana/Folk would be perfect for this venue, and my band the Ashlings is a great example of a group that can perform Sunriver Wedding music that fits the setting.

Just the Way You Are – Amazing – Bruno Mars

For a Sunriver Wedding we played in February of 2013, the groom Matt Gorman requested this Bruno Mars song as the processional and it was a surprise for his wife. The chorus on this song is particularly powerful “When I see your face, there’s not a thing that I would change, ’cause you’re amazing just the way you are.” A great sentiment for a wedding and more of a modern and personal choice for couples looking to change it up a bit.

Tennesee Waltz

This was a first dance choice for a mother and son song during a Sunriver wedding in the winter. The Great Room is absolutely enchanting in the winter, decorated with thousands a little tea lights and candles and a cozy fire burning at the centerpiece of the room. This song brought everyone back in time.

What a Wonderful World

This was the recessional for a Sunriver Wedding in the summer of 2012. The couple was from Hawaii and loved the version by Isreal Kamakawiwo’ole with Somewhere Over the Rainbow at the beginning. This is just one of those “perfect” songs.

A Thousand Years

Again this was Sunriver Wedding in the winter, so the candles and the lights inside the cozy lodge reminded us all of the video. A lot of bridge request this song and it has really grown on me. While it may be more of a “pop” choice that everyone will recognize, there is a reason it is such a famous song. I always get it stuck in my head after we play it.