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Friday, March 27

Envisioning Your Wedding Day

As a wedding photographer I might have had a leg up on your average bride when it came time to start planning my own wedding. I've been to more weddings in a year than the average person in a lifetime so I've had more of an opportunity to identify what I did and did not want to do at my wedding. But I'm also a huge Pinterest addict, which means that I have 5 different boards about weddings alone and over 700 pins to consult before I make a decision. 

So I decided early on that I needed to reign myself in and hold myself to the decisions I made about my wedding day so that the next time I saw a pretty idea online I wouldn't change my course. As a solution I made what I call my "planning book" - it's a place to keep all of my inspiration photos and detailed notes about decorations in one place. 

I take a picture that I found either on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram and I put it in the book with notes about how I would tweak it or a detailed list of what I need to buy to make it happen down to the inch. I also use it to keep myself in check and make sure that I'm not getting too wild - does everything flow together, is everything on theme?

You can check out a few example pages from mine below...

wedding planning tool

wedding planning tool

On the day of the wedding my planning book will definitely come in handy. My venue has a wedding the night before, which means that all decorating needs to be done the morning of my wedding while myself and my bridesmaids will be getting ready. I'm going to recruit some helpful family members to decorate for me since I chose not to hire a wedding planner or coordinator. That's where my planning book will come in. It has an overview picture of each detail of my wedding (centerpieces, aisle decorations, etc.) so that my helpers can see what the finished product should look like along with measurements and any instructions they might need.

If you're not going to be able to help with the decorations of your own wedding and are, let's be honest, a slight control freak, I would definitely recommend coming up with a one-stop-shop for people to reference for an overall vision of your day. It doesn't have to be fancy - mine isn't going to win any graphic design awards - it just needs to have everything in one place to take one more thing off of your plate so you can focus on being a bride.

Keep smiling!

Monday, March 23

Making BFF's and Friendship Bracelets

Recently I got an email inquiry from a bride that included a brag about how much Netflix she watches and a proposal story involving a kitten. And I went, "Uhhmmm, hello!? Where have you been all my life?". Seriously, if Myspace was still a thing I would put her in my Top 8.

I've talked before about how important it is to click with your wedding photographer and the further I get into this business, the more and more I believe it. Wedding photography is my passion, but not everything about it is as glamorous as it sounds. I spend a lot of time writing emails, fending off telemarketers (if I ever screen your call from an unknown number, you can blame them), and the amount of time it took me to file my taxes this year almost made me cry. Literally. But there is one single thing that makes all the self-doubt, hours of stress, and hand cramps from editing worth it - my couples.

Warning: this is about to get cheesy - but I mean every. single. word.

As soon as a couple books me for their wedding I add them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram. I like to be able to get a glimpse into their lives as a couple and get to know them a little better through social media. It allows me to interact with them, and since people like to talk about their wedding a lot, I get to see sneak peeks of the wedding itself. So by the time the wedding itself rolls around, I'm genuinely excited for their big day.

Last year I had the pleasure of shooting 3 weddings for a group of girls who were all bridesmaids in each others' weddings. By the time I did the last wedding in October, I felt like part of the group. There's one comment that I hear a lot from my brides, and it's the best compliment I could ever think of - "I keep forgetting you're my photographer, you just feel like one of the girls"! 

Yes, photography is a lot of work and is probably not a great field for someone with high blood pressure, but I am constantly reminded why I do it when I get to meet the most amazing people, document their love stories, and form a genuine friendship with two people at such an exciting time in their lives. It's an amazing feeling to be able to shoot a friend's wedding.

Keep smiling!

P.S. If any client ever made me a friendship bracelet I would die happy.

Wednesday, March 11

Planning Our Wedding: Registering for Gifts

wedding registry tips

As I grow up I quickly learn that more and more things are not what they seem like in the movies. Do you know how many movies I've seen brides-to-be joyously walking through an immaculate home goods store carefully picking out their fine china, good crystal, and spotless silverware to be added to their wedding registry? I don't have an exact number, but I do have a ballpark - too many. And let me tell you something - that is not how it really is.

All of the wedding websites suggest you register at stores that will gives guests a variety of choices in both products and budgets, so when it came time to register for our wedding, Blake and I chose to register at 3 stores: Sur La Table, Target, and Crate and Barrel. And similar to a romantic comedy, I learned a lesson at each one until it was just right.

Lesson Number 1: Make an Appointment
We registered at Sur La Table on a whim one night. We were already at our local mall and had about an hour to kill and I decided that the best use of that hour was registering for wedding gifts. So with no preparation or forethought I walked in to the store and announced that we would be making a wedding registry. We quickly learned two things - Blake and I do not have the same style when it comes to anything related to kitchen ware and neither of us had enough cooking or baking knowledge to even be in that store in the first place. That's where an appointment would have come in handy. Sur La Table offers appointments for gift registries so that they can have a staff member ready to answer all of your questions - even the silly ones. The store and its products are amazing, so please take advantage of their offer to set up an appointment so you can get the full experience and be confident in your decisions instead of wondering out loud the difference between a cookie sheet and a jelly roll pan.

Lesson Number 2: Be Ready to get Weird Looks
Taking a cue from lesson number one, we registered at Target on a week night when we knew that store wasn't going to be too busy. At Target they have you do your registry entirely on your phone - you download their registry app and use your phone's camera to take a picture of the product's barcode and you're done! Simple as that. But unfortunately without an official looking scanner, you just look like a crazy lady wandering the aisles of Target taking pictures of everything. It was only when I turned around to find a little girl staring at me with a look I can only describe as equal parts terror and concern in the bedding aisle, that I realized Blake had wandered off and I was having a conversation with myself about the merits of down alternative pillows.

Lesson Number 3: Go to the Pros
There's a reason that everybody and their mother has registered at Crate and Barrel for their weddings. Not only are their products stylish and extremely durable, they know what they're doing. My local Crate and Barrel hosted a wedding registry event on a Sunday morning where they allowed engaged couples to come in before the store opened and register. They had a plethora of sales staff ready and willing to answer questions, give demonstrations, and help in any other way they could think of. When we entered we were handed a list of commonly registered items sorted by type and use and I could have kissed them. You know how I feel about beautifully arranged lists. The pros at Crate and Barrel let Blake cut things with insanely sharp knives, let me arrange a pretend dinner party with the cups, plates, and silverware of my choosing, and even gave us a gift on the way out the door! Crate and Barrel by far was the closest to the Hollywood registering experience I had imagined.

Keep smiling!


Wednesday, March 4

My Secret Wedding Planning Tool: Trello

If you read this blog often you've probably seen a trend - I'm obnoxiously organized. And while a lot of my tendencies are natural habits I've picked up over the years, I recently acquired a secret weapon: Trello. Trello is an online project management tool that allows even the most unorganized person to take control of all the crazy projects (big or little) they have going on in their life. 

Trello to me is a way to make checklists, give yourself reminders, and stay organized all in one place. Trello creates "boards" for each project you have going on. And on each board you can add "cards" which can have anything on them. So let's walk through this really quickly...

Let's take a look at my wedding board - I do not think I would have gotten through the wedding planning process with all of my hair still intact without Trello. When things started to get overwhelming at the very beginning of planning, I made a board. I first split things up in two ways: 1) things I need to do and 2) things Blake needs to do. I made a card for each item that I thought of and put it either in Blake's list or my list. Then I assigned each task a due date so I could prioritize them. 

wedding planning tool

Since Trello is free and super easy to sign up for, I added Blake to the cards that were his responsibility. Now, when a due date approaches, Trello will email Blake a friendly reminder for any card that his picture is on and I will receive an email reminder for all of the cards that I've given to myself. I went an extra mile by assigning color labels to some of the cards (purple for anything related to my dress, orange for anything having to do with our vendors, and blue for decorations) and you can also attach images, files, and link to cards to keep all your resources in one place!

I use Trello for everything and Trello is such a flexible tool that it allows me to shape every board in a unique way that works for me.  In my photography business each client has their own board so I can keep track of emails I need to send, due dates based on their wedding timeline, and of course when their big day is. I also have a personal board that I set up with both small reminders, like when the bills are due, and long lists, like things I need to get done around the house.

As I mentioned before, Trello will send you an email when a due date is approaching, and again when something is due to keep you on top of things. I still hop on Trello about once a week to update my boards - when something is done I drag it from "To Do" to "Done" - and keep an eye on things that I want to get done over the next few weeks.

If anyone out there is looking for a free, easy tool to help them organize their lives - check out Trello. And I especially recommend it to anyone out there trying to plan a wedding - it will save you from quite a few meltdowns!

Keep smiling!