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Confessions of a former (diy) bride | part three

A few people have asked me how we did our DIY flowers so I decided to blog a few of my tips to share with anyone who’s interested. I’m by no means an expert on flowers, but I will share a few of the things I learned from doing my own wedding flowers. I hope this helps someone even just a tiny bit!

Choose flowers that are in season
Different flowers will be available depending on what time your wedding is, and the most affordable ones will be those that are blooming near your date. A prime example: peonies are extremely expensive any time of year except spring, but we were able to buy 10 stems for 19 bucks because a local grower had them in just in the nick of time! This tip leads me to my next…

Be flexible
Those peonies we bought up at 19 bucks a bunch? I had my heart set on them, but after discussing it with the ladies at Norfolk Wholesale floral prior to submitting my order I decided not to bank on them possibly being a cheaper price that day. I filled out my order not expecting to get any peonies at all, but grabbed a ton the day we picked up the flowers since they were such a good deal. I would suggest always having a couple other types of flowers you are willing to substitute for another. Instead of being picky about the flowers themselves, it’s better to work with whatever overall look and feel you are going for.

Factor in prep time
We brought our flowers home on a Wednesday and stripped all of the leaves and cut the ends off. It took the good part of an afternoon to get the flowers ready to be arranged and I’m really glad we separated the process over two days and didn’t try to do too much at once.

Order extras
Calculate what you think you need and order more of everything. This is to account for flowers that don’t open, stems that snap, or wilted buds. Ordering extra is a great insurance policy because believe me, things will go wrong! Our bridesmaids bouquets were made of peach carnations, pink spray roses, and white lisianthus, but for some reason the heads of the carnations would snap every time I tried to wind floral tape around the stems. I got so frustrated I seriously contemplated stomping all over the bouquets, but eventually after a sandwich I calmed down and used the extras we purchased to fill out the bouquets.

Keep it simple
Unless you are already a talented floral arranger or are a floral prodigy of some kind, you are probably not going to be the best at creating elaborate displays. No offense. If you really want an intricate and artful bouquet or centerpieces you may be better served by hiring a professional florist. And that is totally cool too! There is a method to flowers to suit anyone. Anyway, I found that it was easiest to put together arrangements if only two or three types of flowers were involved and if the overall look was more handpicked and organic.

Use Fillers
I picked this tip up from my wedding coordinator Ashly, who also does event florals. It honestly would have never occurred to me otherwise! She suggested we use  lots of greenery and fillers like Lemon Leaf, Eucalyptus, and Curly Willow Tips to create a more polished and professional look. She was totally right! The fillers added so much and were so, SO cheap. Not only did they make everything look more put together, they also lowered the overall floral cost because we needed less flowers to fill out an arrangement.

The Rule of Threes
I read somewhere that groupings of odd numbers are more visually pleasing to the eye. This is a great rule of thumb to use when you are arranging your centerpieces or bouquets…Oh yeah, and I also use this one when putting together balloon arrangements. Ha!

All photos in this post are from our wedding, courtesy of Jodi Miller Photography


LOL I had a sandwich and calmed down. You speak my language!

Confessions of a former bride part 2 | timeline!

Not every bride is as anal about their wedding day as I was, but here’s why you should be…(at least when it comes to your timeline)

It helps vendors (Dj, Event  Coordinator, Florist, Photographer, etc) know when you want key things to happen. Nothing is worse to me than being outside taking pictures of details only to find that the bride’s friend is singing a special song! Let me know when things are going to happen so I can make sure that I’m there!

It gets people off your back. People will ask  you “What time are we cutting the cake?” or “What time is the makeup artist getting here?” or “When are the flowers getting delivered?”. Developing a detailed timeline will help get some of these people out of your face on your wedding day by having a nice little sheet you can pass out and everyone can reference.

It helps create a more relaxed wedding day. If you are like me, you can’t relax unless you know what you are supposed to be doing and when you are supposed to be doing it. One of the best ways to make your wedding day super stressful is to fly by the seat of your pants without a timeline in place.

 Some things to think about when creating a timeline:

The season your wedding is in. If you are getting married in December and have your ceremony scheduled at 4:00 or later, more than likely it is going to be almost pitch black after you say I do. In that case I would strongly suggest adding a first look to your schedule (I would always strongly recommend a first look, but in this case even moreso).

Hair and makeup take longer than you think. For some reason when I was writing out our wedding timeline I thought that hair and makeup would take like an hour tops. My hair took at least an hour and the makeup took around 45 minutes/hour. Unless you go to a salon where there are multiple stylists to work on you and your bridesmaids and you have multiple makeup artists, this can be PER PERSON so plan accordingly.

Traffic. If you aren’t already familiar with traffic patterns around your wedding location, you need to get familiar and pad your timeline for traffic…especially if you are getting married in NOVA or Hampton Roads.

Speaking of padding the timeline, a good habit is to always add extra time into the schedule by padding every entry with a few minutes so you have some room to breathe. Things WILL come up and you will feel a lot more zen about the little things if you know you have planned ahead!

Decide on a rain plan.  I have a lot of outdoor weddings this year (holla!) that are going to be absolutely beautiful, completely dry, sunny celebrations.  Fingers crossed. Unfortunately the reality is when you’re getting married outside you have to consider your contingency plan in advance so that if mother nature decides to go crazy you are prepared and everyone knows what the game plan is. If you are planning an outdoor wedding I would suggest creating two versions of your timeline, a regular one and an in case of rain plan. That way the only wedding day decision is whether or not to pull the trigger on your backup.

 Since I like to practice what I preach (or preach what I practice??) here’s a sample wedding day timeline so you can see what one looks like and even adapt it to fit your wedding day.

Wedding Day Timeline
May 21, 2011
Katie + John

11:30 AM                             Hair appointments at salon
12:00 PM                             Drive to getting ready location/pick up lunch
12:30 PM                             Makeup begins
1:00 PM                                Photographers arrive/begin taking detail shots
1:30 PM                                Start getting ready (Bridesmaids first)
2:15 PM                                Bride gets dressed
2:00 PM                                Coordinator arrives at reception venue for setup
2:30 PM                                Drive to first look location (Nelson House)
3:00 PM                                First Look (Nelson House) / Portraits /Bridal Party Portraits
4:20 PM                                Family Portraits
5:00 PM                                Arrive at Ceremony location
5:15 PM                                Processional starts
5:20 PM                                Ceremony begins
5:40 PM                                Recessional
5:45-6:00 PM                      Guests file out/parade to reception venue begins
6:20PM                                 Dinner is served
6:50 PM                                Dance Floor Opens
8:15PM                                 Toasts
8:30 PM                                Cake is cut
8:40 PM                                Bouquet/garter toss
8:50                                        Resume dancing
9:55                                        Bride + Groom exit

Pssst…Style Me Pretty and Google Docs have teamed up to create this sample timeline that you can edit and make your own! Such an awesome resource!

Did you miss the first installment in the series?? Check out part one here!



I think I was the opposite and gave myself way too much time for hair/makeup…but it was so nice not having to rush through it all like I usually do on a daily basis!

Girl I am so thankful you posted this- I always struggle when people ask me about timelines!

Confessions of a former bride | part one

I got married last year, so it hasn’t been too long since I was a bride myself. Since getting married I’ve also stepped into the wedding industry by starting my own photography business! Both sides of the wedding industry are pretty different but we’re all working towards a common goal…putting together a beautiful wedding! Since it’s that in between time when people are busy planning their weddings I thought it would be neat to put together a series of informative posts with wedding confessions and advice. I have a few ideas already, but please let me know if there is anything specific you would like to see!

Part One | The First Look

Photographers LOVE first looks! You want me to love you (more than I already do)? Choose to have a first look. Beyond just making time for portraits, having a first look helps to ensure that your day flows smoothly  by getting a big part of the portraits out of the way earlier on. Not only do we get to shoot you and your spouse to be in an excited/blissful/nervous state, but if we get to do a first look and you guys have seen each other already, we can knock out bridal portraits and even family portraits before the ceremony so everyone has time to breathe afterwards! If you are interested in exactly why photographers love first looks there are tons of articles and blog posts about it by photographers who are much more eloquent than I am…

I would much rather explain the concept of a first look to you from the perspective of a bride. Not just any bride, but an extremely introverted bride. I was never really very nervous about the wedding because I knew I was ready to marry John, but I did catch some anxiety over walking down the aisle. I was so worried about people looking at me and whether or not I was going to be doing the ugly cry like Farrah on Teen Mom.

It was around 3pm and it was HOT. I was anxious because we were running late and just nervous in general. None of the panic really set in until I got to the site of the first look. I was supposed to wait til they had John where he couldn’t see me, but my heart was in my throat and I couldn’t wait any longer. So I just went. Walking over to my soon to be husband I felt so anxious, like I was going to throw up all the chips I ate for lunch. But in a good way. I was sweating and trying to keep it together, but the closer I got to him the more I felt my eyes well up. When I finally reached John after what felt like both a lifetime and a split second, I tapped him on the shoulder and he was already crying. What can you do when your future husband is crying happy tears but cry yourself? I flat out bawled too and told him to stop crying.

Looking back I’m so glad that our first moment on our wedding day was just the two of us. Because it was exactly that…a moment. A few precious minutes where we could privately revel in the fact that we were about to get MARRIED and breathe in and out the warm May air. Honestly I don’t think we would have had that if we had waited to see each other until the ceremony. Seeing my husband waiting for me at the altar was a pretty magical moment, but it really does not compare to the intimacy and nervous excitement of a first look in my opinion. Also, the ceremony itself begins right after you get to the altar so you don’t have a second to relax and just take in both your soon to be spouse and what the day means.

So to summarize, from former bride to future bride: you will not regret a first look. You just won’t.

Stay tuned for the next installment!! It’s about TIMELINES! Fun, fun:)

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Images courtesy of Jodi Miller Photography


What a great post. I’m a photographer so I love the first look and like very much you put it.

Maddie + John | Gaithersburg, md engagement photography

I had such a great time shooting Maddie and John’s engagement session out in Gaithersburg, Maryland this past weekend. They were nice enough to meet up during the holiday weekend, since we were already in town. For the first part of the session they invited us over and cooked a delicious stir fry to share. They love cooking together and experimenting with recipes! I absolutely love it when couples incorporate things that are “them” into their session.

After we finished eating, we drove over to John’s elementary school for a few pictures on the soccer field…Maddie and John are both really into sports…they met playing kickball and actually both play soccer now! Fun fact: Maddie and John (my John) actually ran track together in high school, while Maddie’s John attended the rival high school.


These are awesome!!! Love! 🙂


Thank you for all the terrific pictures! You are fantastic–and not to mention a lot of fun to work with.


Happy Thanksgiving!

I know you are busy celebrating and being thankful with your families today, so if you have taken a second to read this post, THANK YOU. Yes, you! From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of my clients for your support, trust, and most importantly, your friendship. I love this job so much and wouldn’t have the opportunity to do it if it weren’t for the amazing clients who were willing to trust this photographer in her first year of business. I am beyond grateful to have gotten to know so many awesome people this year. I’ve laughed with you guys, stood in your windowsills, cried at your weddings, and very honestly had the time of my life.

Savor this day and eat lots of turkey and green bean casserole for me! I will be in Maryland enjoying my in-laws company, shopping, stuffing my face,  and shooting an engagement session for one of my 2012 couples 🙂 See you all next week!