by, Kelly Logie
On my first trip to the iconic Spokane park, I looked outside my car window at the snow-covered fields, while my car stumbled along the icy road.
If you have ever been to Manito Park before, I know what you’re thinking. Why did you visit the park for the first time on a freezing January morning? Why didn’t you wait to see the vibrant colors of the park during the spring, summer or fall?
Many people who are from Spokane have a common belief that Manito Park is not a winter destination, especially not for weddings and engagements. I wanted to prove these people wrong, and show the Spokane community that Manito is truly beautiful during all four seasons. If you’re in the Inland Northwest and looking for a spot to have engagement photos or a wedding, Manito is the place to go.
Located in Spokane’s South Hill neighborhood, Manito is a public park that is home to five gardens, a conservatory and duck pond. Over 150,000 visitors tour the park every year, according the Manito Park website. With freshly manicured lawns, playgrounds, walking trails, flowers and a greenhouse, Manito is a popular wedding and engagement photo spot all year-round. In order to keep the park immaculate, the Park and Recreation Department is in charge of maintaining Manito’s 78 acres of landscape and 20 acres of botanical gardens, according to the city of Spokane.
Portland-based photographer and Whitworth University graduate Olivia Salzwedel has had multiple experiences working at Manito year-round. “Manito has a lot to offer because it’s so big. When I’m photographing people, we still have a sense of privacy where my clients can relax without feeling like people are watching them,” she says, “I’ve also done wedding day portraits in the snow near Manito, and it was the perfect setting with the tall trees behind. It was perfect light and felt like we were secluded in a little fairy tale. It was amazing.”
The Gaiser Conservatory is a common location for indoor engagement shoots, surrounded by a variety of flowers and plants. Duncan Garden is one of the most popular outdoor wedding spots in the park, according to local Spokane wedding photographer Amber Glanville.
“Manito Park is a fantastic location for weddings and engagement photos because of the great diversity within the park. There are more formal areas, such as Duncan Garden,” Glanville says, “I also love the history behind the park. As one of the oldest parks in Spokane, it always lends a timeless feel to wedding ceremonies and engagement photos.”
Even during the winter, Manito offers great scenic variation all within walking distance. Water features, a wide array of colors in the greenhouse, bridges and gazebos create great variety for wedding and engagement photographs.
“One engagement session really stands out. It was February, and we had just been through a snowstorm, so the whole park was covered in a blanket of fresh snow. We shot most of the photos on the green to the east of Duncan Garden that day,” Glanville says, “The sun was shining through the treetops and every thing was sparkling and fresh. It was the quintessential winter setting, like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.”
Glanville says that on numerous shoots at Manito Park, clients always say they had no idea all that the park had to offer. It is a staple of Spokane, and it shows off the natural elements that makes the city so stunning. “I love being able to walk around the entire park and feel like we went to multiple locations, when in reality it was just one spot,” Glanville says, “I believe that Manito Park has unified the diversity of many parks into one single, grand destination where photographers and clients have so many choices to work with for photo sessions.”
I was able to talk with Spokane engagement and wedding photographer Jennifer DeBarros, and she told me about her most memorable experience working at Manito. A few months ago, DeBarros was on an engagement session photo shoot with a couple who had met in Spokane for college. The couple was not originally from Spokane, but they had decided to call it home. Both had never visited Manito since they had been living in the city. At the end of the session, they were so amazed at the beautiful diversity of the park and said they couldn’t believe they had never been before.
“I was so shocked to hear that a couple in Spokane had never been to Manito Park, as it has been my favorite park since I moved here at the age of 7,” DeBarros says, “I was so thrilled to have shown them this gem in Spokane and was ecstatic to hear they wanted to look into reserving Duncan Garden for their ceremony.”
While on my first visit to the park, I realized exactly what the couple realized. I had been completely missing out on Manito!
“It felt amazing to share such a beautiful spot with people and know that they would now be able to come at any season and enjoy all that the park had to offer,” DeBarros says, “I believe Manito Park is one of the best features of Spokane. It is something someone in Spokane should know about!”