Mandi + Jack

This year is chalking up to be the best year yet for Brandon Shafer Photography! I am honored to have the opportunity to shoot at all of my favorite GR venues: The Cheney Place, Grand Rapids Public Museum and now the Bissell Tree House at John Ball Zoo for the wedding of Jack & Mandi!

This couple had an amazingly beautiful wedding and their timeline gave us a few hours to spare, so we were able to get some really great shots in unique places around the city! We started with a first look in the tall trees at Provin Trails then moved on to some bridal party portraits around Robinettes. After the ceremony, we had some time to capture some artistic wall murals on Ionia St before heading to the tree house. I had to ride on a "funicular" to reach the wedding venue that was on top of a hill - can’t say I’ve ever done that before!

I had such a fun day at this wedding – cheers, Jack & Mandi!

Ceremony: Plymouth Heights CRC

Reception: Bissell Tree House 

Florist: Modern Day Floral

Cake: Nantucket Bakery

DJ: Moments in time

Caterer: Martha's Catering

Transportation: Affordable Limo

Tuxedos: Jos A Banks

Wedding Dress: Beckers Bridal

Makeup Artist: Lacy Glas

Stylist/Hair: Cortney Stuits, Nicole Leys

Wedding Planner: Amanda Elmergreen

Marissa + Matt

Matt and Marissa are Kalamazoo natives, so I was really excited for the opportunity to explore their home town with them! We met at Bell's Brewery and had a few cold ones before we went out to tackle the heat - it was HOT! I was able to capture some really amazing shots of them all around Kalamazoo - including where they had their first kiss! We ended the night at one of my childhood favorite spots, Plainwell Ice Cream, and took my drone out in an open field nearby. I'm still getting the hang of the drone, but keep your eyes out for some sweet aerial shots in the coming months!

Aleshia + Matt

Since I was a kid, I have always loved the museum! So, naturally, the Grand Rapids Public Museum is one of my favorite places to visit when I have downtime with my family- in fact, I proposed to my wife in the museum’s Planetarium! Needless to say, I was really excited to shoot Matt & Aleshia’s wedding at the museum!

Wyatt and I went downtown early to scope out some awesome locations that we were able to take them out to, and we were able to capture some amazing shots around the city before their reception. Their wedding was incredibly beautiful and tons of fun, and I’ll never forget that we found some wedding crashers on the carousel towards the end of the night that we had to kick out! Matt & Aleshia’s stunning wedding is one that will go in the books as an all time favorite!

Top 10 Dream Wedding Locations

I often get asked, “Do you travel for weddings?” Yes, I absolutely do! I LOVE to travel for weddings! In fact, traveling is one of my favorite hobbies. Not much in life makes me happier than getting to explore new areas of the world and experiencing new cultures, so I try to travel as much as I can!

Cabo San Lucas destination weddings

Your wedding day is one of the most memorable times in your life, so why not go all out and take your special day to a faraway place that you’ve have always wanted to go to, or maybe even to a special place that you already know and love! There’s no rulebook saying that you have to have a 300+ guest wedding in your hometown to have the best day ever. Some of the most intimate and amazing weddings that I have had the opportunity to captures where just a small group of family and close friends, enjoying an exotic destination, while celebrating their love with a backdrop of palm trees! Here are my top ten, bucket list picks, for dream wedding locations:

1. Fiji Fiji is a cluster of islands 1,000 miles off the coast of New Zeeland that is known for rugged landscapes, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs with clear lagoons. There’s absolutely no question as to why the exquisite beaches of Fiji are one of the most sought after wedding destinations in the world!

2. Hawaii - The islands of Hawaii Its islands are renowned for their rugged landscapes of cliffs, waterfalls, tropical foliage and beaches with gold, red, black and even green sands. The unique volcanic surroundings, mixed with dense tropical vegetation makes for the perfect backdrop to have your wedding photos stand out from the rest!

3. Jamaica - A popular Caribbean choice among adventurous couples that are on a budget - the flights, hotels and dining are all very affordable here! Jamaica has a vibrant mix colors and culture from shoreline to storefronts. Can you imagine a Jamaican cuisine catered wedding on the beach? Ya mon!

4. England - Ten years ago I had the opportunity to travel across the beautiful country of England with a preforming arts group. At the time I did not own a camera and only took a hand full of photos on a disposable, so I would love to go back and capture photos of this stunning country. Believe it or not, England is a very colorful place to capture your big day! Despite having a lot of rainy days, if you time your wedding out right and choose the perfect location you will have nothing but green hills and baby blue skies. Many couples enjoy having their wedding in England because it’s so simple and homely.

5. Ireland - A small country with a big reputation, the North Atlantic island of Ireland is known for its rolling green pastures with dramatic cliffs that look as if you’re in the middle of a Lord of the Rings movie! An Ireland wedding would truly be one of a kind!

6. Mackinac Island, Michigan - As a kid, my family and I would take vacations every summer to the UP and I can vividly remember crossing the Mackinac Bridge and gazing out over the blue water to the beautiful island of Mackinac. It’s one of the best places in the world to eat fudge, go on a bike ride, or to have a wedding!

7. New Zeeland - Probably the only island chain that beats Ireland, in terms of dramatic green cliffs surrounded by piercing blue water, New Zealand brings the best postcard-moments out of a wedding. 

8. Paris - Lovers flock here every year to tie the knot because of its great charm and all of the little places in the city that caters to couples. Picnic weddings are favorites, as are those along the Seine River, especially at night when you can capture the lights dancing and glowing around the bride and groom, and let’s not forget the Eifel tower! What could possibly be more romantic than a wedding in Paris?

9. Barbados - Visiting Barbados is a vacation of the senses.  You’ll be surrounded by the wonderful music of the Caribbean, alongside the crashing waves on its pristine beaches.  Barbados is a wedding destination filled with fun and tranquility, and there are plenty of opportunities for weddings, honeymoons, and extended vacationing in Barbados!

10. Aruba - My wife and I celebrated our engagement by taking a trip to Aruba where we uncovered our love for snorkeling and took exploring to all new levels. We only had a tiny rental car but that was enough for us to fully explore this wonderful desert island. I would absolutely love to travel back to Aruba and show you some of my favorite locations and capture some stunning wedding portraits! 

If you and your loved one are considering having a destination wedding, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, and nothing preserves memories better than photographs. I would love to be the one to capture your special day in paradise so you can relive it over and over again!

Tommy + Darline

Tommy, Darline, and I ventured out to the woods surrounding Kent Trails on a cold, winter day to capture these stunning engagement photos. The trails and trees were lightly dusted with snow and perfectly showcase the brilliance of a Michigan winter. We decided to head back towards downtown Grand Rapids to warm up and capture some photos with a more urban feel. After making a few stop stops along to grab some candid shots, we ended up at Long Road Distillers and celebrated their engagement with a craft-cocktail! I must say, I had a such time spending the day with these two and they really know how to dress to impress!

Cameron + Rebecca

Rebecca, Cameron, and I braved the frigid weather on a cold, Sunday morning to photograph this awesome engagement session! Despite the wintery weather, we had a great time and I was able to get some amazing shots – they were super fun to work with, and I’m very excited for how this shoot turned out. We started at the Sparrows Coffee & News Stand then ventured around town to some other unique locations like the historic Heritage Hill houses, the floral mural at Grand Rapids Ballet Company, and few other artistic walls downtown. I really enjoy taking candid photos in the urban areas of our city – GR has so many eye catching places to offer!