Rolling Elopements Is Now Watassa Wedding Photography!

Finally, one for the mitten state!


One of the single best projects we got to see launched on APW last year was Emily Alt Photography’s Airstream Elopements. The deal? Emily and her husband Ian would come to you in their vintage Airstream, and photograph your wedding, pop-up style, complete with traveling officiant as needed. What started out as a short-term idea turned into a twelve thousand mile trek across the country, with Emily and Ian witnessing and photographing twenty-eight (TWENTY-EIGHT!!) APWers getting married in front of their (temporary) home. It looked a little something like this:

And this:

And this:

The launch of the Rolling Elopements tour turned into a huge year for Emily. (Have you been following her on Instagram? Her feed is bananas.) And it made her realize something really important about her APW clients:

twenty-eight Best Days Of My Life

In the past year, I’ve shot the weddings of twenty-eight APW couples. That means that those twenty-eight weddings were absolutely, a hundred percent, truly, without a doubt, some of the best twenty-eight days of my life. I know that might sound like an exaggeration or general hyperbole, but believe me, it’s not. APW couples are inevitably exactly the type of couple I want to work with. As soon as they get in touch and make it clear that they learned about me through APW, I pretty much know immediately that it’s a great fit. And I’ve been right to trust my gut on this twenty-eight times. APW couples are usually very kind (this is a HUGE deal in the wedding industry, trust me. And working with kind people is like… beyond important to me), very well educated (many of my clients are in school for fancy PhDs, or working to save the world through education, social work, counseling, or in the nonprofit field. As a former high school English teacher in the public school system, I love working with folks who want to make a change and want to use their careers to do this), and very much focused on the marriage, rather than the details of the day.


Plus, APW couples just seem to get my type of work. They understand that hiring a wedding photographer isn’t just about if you like the photos or not—it’s about hiring the WHOLE packagethat means all my ridiculous jokes, my penchant for organizing an out of control bridal party, enjoying my amazing assistant’s dance moves (full disclosure, my assistant is my husband and he is the cat’s pajamas), and hanging out at least once to drink Prosecco on a porch and not only talk wedding details, but, more importantly, rehash the final episode of The West Wing. APW couples are great to work with because they want a friend at their wedding, not just a photographer, and that’s exactly what I want too. I want clients who feel like friends, who are friends by the end of the night, and whom I’ll continue to be friends with for years to come.


Rolling Elopements Tour

Since my last sponsored post, my husband and I set out on the great open road for our Rolling Elopement tourphotographing weddings while traveling in our thirty-one foot Airstream trailer with our two canine companions. We covered twelve thousand miles in five months, visited twenty-five states, and photographed and officiated numerous weddings from New Orleans to Texas to Santa Fe to South Carolina. We offered Pop-Up Weddings, all around the country, using our Airstream as the backdrop for the wedding chapel. Seeing a couple from start to finish in their wedding planning is pretty damn awesome, but the best part of it is seeing people at their VERY best on their VERY best day with their VERY best friends. I’m a giant sucker for emotions, happiness, love, joy, giddiness, and everything in between, so when I get to a wedding and I see that start to unfold, I am often smiling behind the camera.


Emily Alt PHOTOGRAPHY Becomes Watassa Wedding Photography

Emily also learned something else really important on her rolling elopements tour. While she loves working with APW couples more than anything, her heart belongs in Michigan, not on the road. So this year, Emily is parking the airstream and Emily Alt Photography is turning into Watassa Wedding Photography, serving Northern Michigan and beyond!

I lived in Chicago when I initially launched Emily Alt Photography and, as a result, I was shooting a lot of fancy, high-end affairs with black ties and elegant champagne. Then I moved to Michigan (my home state) and I had this moment of realization that THIS is the type of wedding I want to shootI want to shoot in Northern Michigan, I want to shoot in quiet, rural settings, I want to work with couples who are having super small celebrations, or even eloping. So I’ve decided to be intentional about seeking out weddings that are a good fit for who I am, and for me that means taking smaller weddings, rustic, woods, beach, backyard venues, and moving away from the large ballroom weddings that are more common in big cities.


Watassa Wedding Photography is about collecting memories from the day through my work: the good, the fantastic, the beautiful and the emotional. I’m a photographer who sees and loves the emotions. I do not, in any way, believe in shooting weddings to be featured on blogs or just to make a great Pinterest photo. I believe in shooting weddings that will convey to anyone who had to miss the day that it was a knock-down, drag-out, real-talk love fest complete with tears of joy, huge laughs, and giant smiles.

Why Watassa

From the start, it’s been clear that Emily gets what weddings are about: community and commitment. Watassa Wedding Photography is all about Emily’s love for her Northern Michigan community and her commitment to simple, honest wedding photography.


Emily explained:

The name Watassa comes from a huge hunting lodge that sat smack in the middle of the Northern Michigan woods that my great-grandfather bought in the 1950s. My family used this home as a summer retreat for years until my dad sold it in 2004. Watassa was the name of the home, and it comes from a Navajo word meaning “Nirvana” or “place of peace.” When I think of Watassa I think of the very best of my lifethe happiest moments, the best spot, the most beautiful place, the place where I want to go when I die. And that is the type of photography work I want to dothe best, the happiest, the most beautiful, the moments you want to remember for your entire life.

As part of her community commitment, next year Emily will return to her other job as a high school teacher. (Do you know who can boss around your family during portraits better than a teacher? Nobody.) Which means that she’s only booking a handful of weddings (think ten to twelve) for the whole year, so she can keep her killer customer service skills up to snuff. But don’t worry, Emily’s still got dates available for next summer! Watassa Wedding Photography’s prices start at $3400 for eight hours of coverage, an assistant photographer, an engagement session, all digital print rights, plus travel within Michigan and Chicagoland, and a new best friend for life. (Can you put a price on a best friend for life? Probably not.) For unlimited day-of coverage (up to twelve hours), an assistant photographer, engagement session, digital print rights, and travel throughout the ENTIRE continental US, dirt cheap prints, a whole bunch of presents, and a best friend for life, the price is $4800.


We’re always complaining how there aren’t enough awesome APW photographers outside of the East and West Coasts. Watassa Wedding Photography solves that problem for at least the Mitten-ers… (that’s what we call Northern Michigan readers, right?) in the house. In the past year, twenty-eight APWers got amazing wedding photography and a new best friend from the now Watassa Wedding Photography (plus possibly presents? I want to know more about the presents, Emily).  If you’re getting married in Northern Michigan next year, you could be lucky number twenty-nine.

Staff Picks

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  • Liz

    Yay Emily! Can’t wait for October 18 :)

  • Crayfish Kate

    Ahhhhh! SO EXCITED for you Emily! Love the new brand! We will catch up soon. :-D

  • Trinity

    Emily and Ian did SUCH a great job with our (Michigan) wedding last fall!

  • itsaprocess

    Emily and

  • itsaprocess

    Well, *someone* (me) can’t use a comment app. Anywho, what I was trying to say is that Emily and Ian are the best in the whole wide world of wedding photography. They shot our wedding this past March, and they just made everything beautiful and stress free (that last one is worth it’s weight in gold). We enjoyed our couple shots so much, and as an awkward-in-front-of-the-camera-couple, that was a wonderful gift. The photos themselves are stunning and we really enjoyed getting to know each other!

    Congrats to Emily and Ian for finding balance between saving the world (one classroom at a time!) and helping all of us make remember our weddings beautifully. And congrats to anyone who hires them in the future. They will rock your socks!

  • Jessica Vann

    Emily shot my wedding last month. She is SPECTACULAR. I got so many compliments from my family and friends about how cool and laid back she was. She fit right in with our group and has such a positive energy. She did an amazing job with our pictures as well. Lots of happy tears shed when we got them. She captured so many special moments and memories we will treasure for a lifetime. Go to her site and check out her blog. We were recently featured there as well!

  • sam

    Emily and Ian just shot our wedding on June 21st in Bettendorf, Iowa. Emily also did an engagement session with us in Chicago over last Thanksgiving holiday. We found Emily through APW (thanks so much!!!). We just got back from our honeymoon and have not had time to properly thank and review Emily and Ian’s work — but in short let me say that they are amazing. We loved working with Emily from start to finish. First of all, Emily is that perfect blend of communicating a relaxed, trusting vibe while also being very, very detailed oriented. That is a perfect mix for us anyways! And when my (now!) husband asked her to shoot us outside of the abandoned Cook County Hospital (he has a borderline unhealthy obsession with The Fugitive) and at an indoor pool on Michigan Avenue in the depths of winter — she went all in and produced truly stunning and unique engagement photos for us. We haven’t seen her final work from our wedding but we already know she will do a great job. We loved working with someone who shares our progressive values and knows that weddings at their core are about marriage — not about how many fancy table settings you can etsy-ify. Emily treated us and everyone in our family like friends that she deeply respected. I cannot recommend Emily enough to any newly engaged couples. Try and get on her list for next year cause she is the best!

  • Katy

    I found Emily through APW and she and Ian shot our wedding in March of this year. Our wedding was not heavy on details… we had planned it in under three months from afar, trying to keep things as low key and simple as possible. Really our sole focus was having our nearest and dearest people with us on that day, and that’s what we wanted Emily to capture. Which she did. She nailed it. Of the 35 people at the wedding, we have extraordinary candid shots of all of them… laughing, tearing up, chatting, all of it. The kind I want to give to family and friends as gifts. And so many good ones of my husband and me that I don’t even know where to begin in deciding which ones to print and display.

    Which is all to say, yay Watassa! I’m so looking forward to seeing where Emily’s work goes from here.

  • Dear former clients: Please be more amazing. Oh wait. No possible. You are all the BEST. Seriously. Tearing up over here in Michigan. Miss and love you all so much–thank you so much for these sweet words and for believing in me–I truly adore you all.
    –xoxoxo from me, Ian, Tasha and even Ruth Anne!

    • Crayfish Kate

      WE LOVE YOU GUYS. That is all. :-D

  • My little brother just got engaged to a Yooper! Maybe we’ll be looking you up in the next year or two!

  • Lacy

    Full disclosure: I am the cackling redhead in the first picture. And I’m obsessed with Emily and her work.

    Emily and I met up after I contacted her on the APW instagram feed with ideas for where to shoot a pop-up wedding in New Orleans. Much to my chagrin (and all of the APW instagram fans who commented on our conversation), I couldn’t convince my fiancé on the pop-up elopement, as we were only three weeks away from our already planned wedding. We did however end up meeting with Emily for an amazing photo shoot throughout the city. We ate beignets, climbed trees, explored an abandoned factory- but most importantly had an incredible time hanging out with Emily. She’s kind, hilarious, talented, and an all around rad lady. I mean seriously, when you’re just finished with a lovey-dovey photo shoot and the first thought you have is “man, I miss our photographer”, you know you’ve found a good one.

    If I had only met Emily a few weeks earlier I would have booked her for our wedding. Just weeks after our wedding in our home state of California, we decided due to family issues we needed to leave New Orleans and move back. The day Emily’s photos arrived I sobbed, realizing that they so perfectly captured our love for each other and the city. I’m still sad about leaving New Orleans, but thankfully due to Emily (and the magic of APW’s instagram), we walked away with an incredible set of photos that are so perfectly us, and that will someday prove to our children that we were once hot and adventurous.

  • Ashleigh

    I’m a little late to the game but I just wanted to add to the chorus and say how absolutely wonderful Emily and Ian are. They shot our wedding at the beginning of June and were everything we could have hoped for and more. They really got us and our wedding and it was so great to have them there. Emily is incredibly dedicated and will do anything and everything to get to your wedding on time (even going without sleep and driving through the night. That’s how much she cares about you and your wedding.) We had guests at our wedding come and tell us how great Emily and Ian were and ask where we had ever found them. I’ve been happily showing everyone the sneak peek photos of our wedding from her blog and everyone agrees with us that the pictures are amazing! So not only are Emily and Ian extremely talented, they are amazing wonderful people!

  • Jakmanus

    Emily is the BEST! I would recommend her to everyone! We found Emily on APW and could not have been more excited to work with her. We met Emily and Ian a year before the wedding, sipped wine, and chatted just as much about education reform as we did about wedding photography. I honestly think we could have gone on all evening! Confession: We weren’t going to take engagement photos, but we did, essentially because we had a vendor-crush on Emily. And we’re so thrilled we did! As my mom said, “Your kids will look at these one day and think that you looked so young!” (Although we don’t need to wait for kids for that. We’re babyfaced individuals.) Then we didn’t have reason to talk for almost a year, but when Emily next contacted us, it was with the MOST organized and detailed questionnaire for us to complete that would help her capture our day exactly as we wanted. That questionnaire alone would be a reason that I’d sign up for Emily to shoot your wedding (and/or life events in general) NOW. It was so thoughtful and gave such insight to the intentionality behind Emily’s work. Beyond that, it helped us to really consider a few details we hadn’t yet! At the actual wedding, Emily and Ian were amazing! She remembered random little details about my husband’s job that we had told her a YEAR prior and asked about them. Many of my family and friends later admitted that they wanted to chat with Emily and Ian at random parts of the evening regarding everything from Chicago Public Schools to dolphin training. She and Ian are so laid back, they’ll even impromptu chase down and ice cream truck with you. So that was cool. As was receiving our photos about a month later. Emily emails you the photos with a suggested order to view them, again proving just how fine her attention to detail is. Once you think you can’t laugh and cry any more at your photos because you’ll be obsessed with looking at them with your partner over the next few days, she send you the files in the mail with extra goodies and you start all over again. Beautiful photography and people keep asking me who did it. Oh! And she sends goodies to you throughout the process :) YAY EMILY AND IAN! Congrats on the rebrand–we can’t wait to see what you do next!!

  • reedriguez

    So here’s the thing, we had our Pop Up Wedding in Santa Fe back in April and Emily and Ian weren’t good. They were covered in awesome sauce. We wanted to bottle their essence and spray ourselves in EmiliAN®, by Fabergé. Seriously, it was the perfect day from start to finish. We were going to get married at the Rothko Chapel and experienced stress like you wouldn’t believe trying to have an out of town wedding, not to mention budgetary issues that would make a hedge fund manager cry. Then Emily floated into our lives thanks to this website (the gift that keeps on giving) and our lives changed only for the better. Want to have a wonderful day? Do you like to laugh and have faith in your photographers? Like doing things that aren’t typical wedding goo? Want the day to REALLY be about you as a couple and your closest people? Emily and Ian will soon be your closest people if you do this, I promise. I am a control freak like you wouldn’t believe, and I handed this day over to them and never looked back. Have a look. We were out of control fabulous. And we are not fabulous people – just middle aged Netflix addicts. But Emily and Ian helped make us fabulous and we still bust those pictures out and re-live that day all over again with such love. And we hand prints out to people on the street because we know we’ll never look that fantastic again. Love, love, love!

  • alpelican

    I’m a Michigander marooned in Louisiana and when I found fellow Michiganders Emily and Ian to shoot our March wedding, it was just perfect. I never worried for a second. They just made amazing pictures. Every time I look at them I love them more. Just go hire them already.

  • Kerry

    We were lollygagging on setting a wedding date when I saw Emily’s Pop-Up Wedding post on APW, so I sent her an email and we decided within a couple of days that this was happening.

    Emily came down to Texas to shoot my wedding last November and it was awesome. Our wedding grew into a more planned affair, so we weren’t able to incorporate the Airstream like I originally envisioned, but she managed to capture the relaxed and friendly vibe and keep the wedding feeling small like we wanted. It was so nice to work with someone who you view as a close friend 5 minutes after meeting, who’s normal (well…haha), and shoots damn good photos.

    Emily and Ian felt more like our guests than our photographers, and they captured the small, candid aspects of the wedding that were the most memorable. My husband and I still talk about how relaxed our wedding was and how lucky we were to have such great people shooting our day. We even joke about getting married again so we can have another party. :)

  • mimi

    Yay Michigan! We got married on family property in northern Michigan last summer and there really is nothing else like it. Welcome back!

  • Aimee

    So I’m the one with the peonies in her hair being held up in an orchard up there :) Everyone has said it but Emily is THE BEST! We didn’t want to do a huge thing but wanted something more than going to the courthouse. We found Emily and thought no way could something as cool as Rolling Elopements be coming to Michigan – lo and behold she’s from Michigan! We knew that’s what we wanted to do! As soon as Emily called to chat I knew it was going to be awesome! I could not have imagined how awesome though. The more we chatted, the more excited I became! She seriously thought of everything- every detail was beautiful. She and Ian are so laid back and fun and so well organized! We had a blast chatting with them before the ceremony and I wish they could have spent the rest of the evening with us! I worried about other details of the reception but never once worried about Emily, she’s so on top of everything! We just got our photos back and I can’t believe how beautiful they are!! I feel like I’ve definitely gained new friends in Emily and Ian and would highly recommend them! Emily thank you for everything! <3 Aimee

  • MarynBert

    Oh my goodness, where do I even begin…. Well at risk of being a big ole repeater after reading all of the reviews below I have to say the same, Emily and Ian are A-maz-ing. Emily was of course our photographer and Ian not only rode photo co-pilot for the day but also officiated our ceremony. Everyone who was a part of our wedding just adore them for soooo many reasons but a few of the qualities that most impressed me with them included their talent, their thoughtfulness, their kindness, and their consistency (and any brides-to-be out there this is a big one, trust). I’m telling you folks, it don’t get any better than these guys. Emily and Ian not only gave us the most warm and joyful pictures/ceremony that we could ever hope for but they also gave us the opportunity to share those memories and that day together with them. Emily and Ian: thank you for everything we love you. Everyone else: Book this girl! You will thank yourself for it a million times over and for many many years to come (and get the boudoir photo shoot… once again, trust)

    • Crayfish Kate

      SECONDED on the boudoir shoot. ;-)

  • Maya

    What a wonderful find! I just saw the Pop-Up Wedding in Santa Fe and I want that to be my wedding! I love the photographer’s beautifully unique style and I think we might have found the solution to our wedding for next year. Fingers crossed! Thank you for featuring this.

  • Carrie

    I’m literally crying at work right now, because I can’t have her photograph my Northern Michigan wedding this September. I’m sure the photographer I found will be fine, but DANG. So not fair.