Smith Homestead Forest Wedding

Smith Homestead in Tillamook, Oregon was the most fitting venue for Ragan & Max’s Oregon Forest Wedding during the Summer Solstice. The venue was immersed in the tall trees of the Tillamook Forest, with a beautiful rushing river to look out upon. The Smith Homestead shelter looked like a cross between a log cabin and a window-filled greenhouse with big sliding doors, a stone fireplace, and long wooden tables and benches.

The day began with Ragan & Max getting ready at separate houses. Ragan at her parent’s house which was beautifully and thoughtfully adorned in antiques and a friendly cat. Max got ready at the house that him and Ragan recently purchased and were in the process of renovating!

Both architects, Ragan & Max met during their schooling together. From Ragan’s own words, “We technically first met in Environmental systems class, however we did not start talking until after we ran past each other on the levee outside town. I was running with a cross country teammate, and Max was training for an Iron Man. Back in class, we began to talk about how far we were running - both of us happened to be doing 14 miles that day. So we planned our first 'date' as a 14 mile long run the following weekend and the rest is history!”

Ragan & Max in front of the Colonel Summers Park gates that Max designed!

Ragan & Max in front of the Colonel Summers Park gates that Max designed!

Their Proposal Story

“We have always shared a strong sense of adventure and wanderlust, so when we were in school we got hooked watching 'The Amazing Race', planning our own bucket-list of destinations. The weekend of the proposal Max had invited some of his siblings/their partners into town to help with the proposal, I figured they were in town just for the long Labor day weekend. He had planned a full day of challenges for me to do (with his siblings meeting me at each task), which were all related to our shared interests and based off the format of ‘The Amazing Race’. Tasks included getting a clue from Powells, an architectural modeling challenge at Max's office, bubble tea, and a baking challenge based on ‘Great British Bake-off’ at my childhood home with my best friend judging. I have always been very competitive, and completed the tasks hours ahead of the estimated time, causing a bit of panic behind the scenes. The tasks culminated in Max proposing inside the [Colonel Summers Park] pavilion next to our apartment surrounded by candles, string lights, and rose petals.”


First Look

The pavilion at Colonel Summers Park where Max proposed has extra significance to the couple. “This pavilion has always been very special to us, as it is right next to our first apartment together, and the laser-cut gates were one of Max's first projects out of school. Max even managed to sneak a silhouette of our chinchilla, Kiki, into the design of one of the panels which feels so special.” It was at this pavilion that Ragan & Max chose to have their first look and boy was it a beautiful spot!

Max pointing out the Chinchilla he worked into his gate design

Max pointing out the Chinchilla he worked into his gate design


From there, we all set West for the Smith Homestead nestled into the Tillamook forest. It was there that Ragan & Max said their vows in front of 30 of their nearest and dearest down by the river bank, The rest of their wedding day was filled with laughter, hugs, Thai Food, pinatas, S’mores and a whole lot of love. It was an amazing Smith Homestead Forest Wedding!


Significance of Marrying on the Summer Solstice


“We knew that picking a date with significance to us was more important than a traditional Saturday wedding. In architecture school, we were taught early on the importance of designing for the sun - providing passive cooling by reacting to the sun's angle with window and overhang placements. To test our designs, the most extreme days of the year were considered - summer/winter solstice, and spring/fall equinox. Choosing to celebrate our love on the longest day of the year with the sun at the highest point in the sky felt like the best way to solidify our new chapter together, along with having a tie to our beginnings back in school. We are also planning to travel to other countries on future anniversaries to celebrating the solstice as the locals do, learning more about other cultures.”


Favorite Moments of the Wedding

Ragan - “My favorite moment of the day was the ceremony itself; we put a lot of effort into making it feel special and unique to our relationship. Having Max's brother officiate, our moms read passages, and being surrounded by loving family and close friends made the ceremony feel very intimate. Sharing our personally written vows was also a lot more emotional than I was expecting, however Max leaning in to try and kiss me (twice) helped lighten the mood and it really reflected our personalities.”

Max - “Ragan's vows were easily my favorite part of the wedding. I'm not the best writer, and worked hard to communicate how I felt the best I could and thought I did a pretty good job, but her's completely blew mine out of the water.”


Advice from the Couple

“Don't feel pressured to do what is expected of you on the wedding day. Stay true to your vision and incorporate whatever feels right to your relationship. For us it was climbing down a small cliff to get married by a secluded rushing river then celebrating with take out Thai food and s'mores.”



Main photographer: Marissa Solini Photography (aka Me!)

Second photographer: Kayla Dolce Photography

First Look Location: Colonel Summers Park

Ceremony & Reception Location: Smith Homestead in Tillamook, Oregon

Bridal Outfit: BHLDN skirt, top from Poshmark

Groom Outfit: Indochino suit 

Officiant: Brother Sam (Family)

Florist: Family friend

Caterer: Thai Peacock

Cake: Aunt Sandy (Family)

The couple also attended a Vow Writing Workshop from Rooted & Wild to help them with their vows

Kind Words from the Couple

From the start of communications, Marissa was clearly focused on making the wedding day perfect and comfortable for us. This was first evident when she asked us our Love Languages in order to better understand and prompt us on the wedding day. The day before our wedding we realized that another wedding was scheduled at our first look location and Marissa was immediately responsive and suggested several back up plans. Luckily we ended up being able to use our first location after all, but it was extremely reassuring that we had her on our side. Marissa and her second shooter Kayla managed to capture our difficult-to-reach ceremony (10' down a cliff) beautifully and despite being by a rushing river seemed to cover all angles without being obtrusive. The final photographs make our wedding feel very cohesive and Marissa captured our personalities and emotions so well. We warned her that we were not a very PDA heavy couple and she managed to find a great balance with her directions, having us just be in the moment and focus on one another. You can see the love and connectedness in the photos and we never felt pushed beyond our comfort level. We are beyond happy with all the photos we received, and cannot imagine another photographer doing as great of a job! Hire her!