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Five Reasons You Should Do a First Look

Way back when John and I had our wedding day (when I was only 23!!), the First Look was a somewhat new tradition. But now over six years later, many more couples are choosing to make this a part of their wedding day, which seems to mean that the First Look is here to stay! More and more of our couples opt to participate in this new-ish tradition and as photographers, we think that’s really great! Although the First Look is a tradition that’s steadily gaining in popularity, it’s one of the things we most frequently get questions about from new and potential clients. As a photographer and as a bride who did a first look, I know there are so many great and wonderful benefits to making a First Look a part of your wedding day!

Here are some of my top reasons to do one as well as one really good reason you actually SHOULDN’T do a first look!

BENEFITS OF DOING A FIRST LOOK:

More time with your significant other. If you really think about it, if you don’t do a first look and you have a typical evening ceremony that starts at 5:30 or 6:00, you actually go almost your entire wedding day without seeing your spouse to be! The first time you see each other is the ceremony and it’s not like you can talk or hug or really interact. If you do a first look, you have so more time together on this special day to really experience the wedding day TOGETHER rather than apart! I am so glad that more of my memories of our wedding day have John in them than not.

It simplifies transportation and other logistics. If you do a first look, it makes it easier to figure out transportation since you’ve already seen one another and can ride together or take one shuttle with the entire bridal party instead of having to make two trips. Making things simpler on a wedding day is always a win! Doing a first look also gives us more flexibility on a wedding day in case of bad weather, traffic, or other things outside of our control. If it rains the entire hour we had scheduled after the ceremony for photos and you haven’t done a first look, you may not get very many photos at all thanks to Mother Nature…On the other hand, if you’ve done a first look, we have SO much more flexibility in when we can do portraits and we can work around the rain by sneaking out for some of that beautiful natural light during dryer moments!

More time to party! One thing I learned as a bride that I’ve also seen time and time again as a photographer is that there really aren’t enough hours in a wedding day. The time flies by SO quickly and doing a first look really does help squeeze more moments out of an already packed day. One example of this is that you’ll most likely get to enjoy at least some of your cocktail hour with your guests if you’ve done photos beforehand! You’ll definitely want to enjoy the signature drinks you’ve picked out and all of those appetizers you carefully chose with the rest of your friends and family.

You get more photos (yay!) On average, we deliver around 50 percent MORE portrait images if you schedule a first look on your wedding day. Most of the time, when you don’t do a first look, the only option for ALL of the photos is cocktail hour. If there’s any travel time involved, this reduces the amount of time we can shoot even further. If you do a first look, many of the photos are taken earlier in the day, so we have the option of taking photos again after the ceremony or during the dinner hour for sunset!

You look hotter (but feel cooler) It’s true, the earlier we do your photos, the better you’ll look and feel in them! Your professionally done hair and makeup will still be nice and fresh and there are less opportunities to get sweaty or have your attire get wrinkled or stained. Less stress is always a good thing, am I right??

So you’ve heard the reasons that I think a first look is a great choice, but here’s the one reason that it might NOT be a great idea for your wedding day!

If you have a very early ceremony and a somewhat large gap between ceremony and reception, it may be too stressful to add one more thing into an already jam packed, long day. Especially if you have a wedding day photo or video coverage based on an hourly package and really want to maximize that time! In this situation, where you’re getting married most likely early afternoon and still having a dinner reception, I’d suggest skipping the first look since you’ll have so much extra time in between the ceremony and reception!

When it comes to deciding whether or not to make this new tradition a part of your day, it’s important to take all of these things into consideration and make a decision based on what works best for you! Also, chat with your vendors and see what they recommend based on your wedding day schedule! They’ll most likely have some great suggestions and input to add!

Got a Wedding Planning question you’d like me to blog about? Leave a comment or shoot me an email!

 

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Hello 30

Today is my 30th birthday and as excited as I am to celebrate and to start out on a new decade of my life, it’s also a little bit bittersweet saying goodbye to my 20s. My 20s were life changing years! They were the first ten years of my adult life and the first ten years within which I really started to find myself. The lessons I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had over the past decade are going to be pretty hard to top, but I think I’m up for the challenge now that I’m officially a 30 something 😉

 

In honor of this milestone birthday, here are ten of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the past ten years:

  1. Experiences are more important than things. Although this may not be true for everyone, I’ve realized this is very true for me (and John too). I value making memories over buying new things because I’ve realized that no matter what happens, you always have your memories to enjoy. I’ve also realized that you usually regret all of the things you didn’t do rather than the things you did. So, I will be happily watching Netflix and HBO Go on our circa 2009 TV rather than upgrading to a new one so that we can afford to go on trips and to go out and do fun things with friends.
  2. Sometimes it’s better to be nice than to be right. When I was younger, being “right” was very important to me. I have the temperament of a know-it-all and I LOVE dropping knowledge on people. I’m also somewhat competitive, which means from time to time, I can be annoying. One huge lesson I’ve learned is that there’s a time and place for being right and sometimes (actually, more often than not) being nice trumps being right because in the end, only kindness matters. (Do you like how I snuck those Jewel lyrics in there?? I had to!)
  3. Exercise is about more than just looking good on the outside. When I was 20 I joined a gym for the first time. I weighed probably 110 pounds and my “workout” was running on the treadmill exactly 30 minutes (there was a time limit, I didn’t make this up arbitrarily) a couple times a week to “tone” my body up. It’s funny to look back at that now and realize not only how much I really didn’t know about working out, but to know that future me would be someone who works out religiously 6-7 days a week. I think the biggest key to enjoying exercise has been discovering that exercise does so much more for me than what it does for the outside of my body. For me, exercise is about seeing what I can accomplish. It’s about challenging myself. And about setting goals and getting better, faster, and stronger. Sometimes I wish that I’d found my love for fitness at an earlier age, when I might have been more at a physical peak and/or capable of more, but I’m glad that I found it when I did so that I can carry the lessons I’ve learned into my 30s.
  4. Comparison is the thief of joy. Oh boy. If there was ONE huge lesson that I could impart upon myself at age 20, this would be it. In the past ten years, social media has only gotten bigger and bigger and with that, it’s become ridiculously easy to compare yourself to other people. Sometimes, the people you spend time comparing yourself to are people you don’t even know. I’ve spent so much time beating myself up comparing my behind the scenes struggles to the highlight reels of other people and it stinks that I would treat myself like that. If there’s one thing I would tell myself at age 20 (or really any age at all) it’s to keep your eyes on your own paper, because comparison doesn’t do anything positive for you.
  5. You only get one body, so you’ve got to take care of it the best that you can. I’ve come to the realization in this past year (thanks to some health issues) that my body isn’t just a floating orb that just kind of bobs around doing things…it’s actually a delicately balanced organism that runs better depending on how I fuel and take care of it. As stubborn as I’ve been about never giving up my love for junk food and being lucky enough to metabolize it fast, this all goes back to a similar point as #3…your body is so much more than what’s on the outside…what’s on the inside is even more important. If you’re not taking good care of yourself, making sure your body has the nutrients to function properly, then what are you even doing? This isn’t like it is with a car…you can’t trade in once yours starts performing terribly because you never got oil changes! You only get one body and you have to treat it right rather than just living by the motto of “treat yo self” 24/7.
  6. Invest your heart into good people. Forget about the rest. And also, in order to have great friends, you have to BE a great friend as well. I spent a lot of my early 20s looking for love (friendship-wise) in all the wrong places, so to speak. In my late 20s, I’ve become more selective about my friendships, but what’s funny is, that’s led me to more amazing relationships with more really genuine, kind people than I would have had otherwise.
  7. Just because something worked for you once doesn’t mean it always will. Be adaptable or get left behind! This is certainly true for my business, especially in this rapidly growing and changing industry, but it’s also a great metaphor for life. If you aren’t willing to change or grow, you will eventually stagnate and no one wants that. It’s important to be open to new experiences, trying new things, going a different way because that could end up leading you somewhere better than you could have ever imagined. Keeping an open mind is key.
  8. Holding a grudge or holding onto anger doesn’t hurt anybody but you. I could write an entire book on this subject, but in order to not make this blog post 375 pages long, I’ll leave you with this thought: forgiveness is the most powerful thing out there and it’s important for you to forgive people not just for that person, but actually for yourself, because it’s too big of a burden to carry anger around for very long.
  9. Don’t be afraid to wholeheartedly love whatever it is you’re passionate about. Basically, forget about trying to be “cool”. I used to think it wasn’t cool to admit I was 20 something and went to see Pixar movies by myself sometimes or that I still really love 90s country music. I also went through a phase where I wanted to be really hipster and would all but eschew anything “basic” or “popular”. But what I’ve learned is, the coolest people are actually the people who are most unashamedly who they are. So whatever you love, be proud of it. Love it with your whole heart. Be as excited about it as you want without worrying about what others think.
  10. Ain’t nobody got time for drama. Really though. If there’s anything that my 20s FLYING by has taught me, it’s that our time on earth is limited and it shouldn’t be full of drama, it should be full of champagne, sunshine, and as many bellyaching, tear inducing laughs as possible.

So, while I’ve learned a lot over the past decade, that’s just a little sample of some of the big lessons I’ve learned. What I gained over the last ten years in both knowledge and experiences could fill an entire Harry Potter sized series, but it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting to anybody but me. Part of me is really excited to see what I’ll think about this list when I look back at the end of this next ten years, though thinking about age 40 is kindddd of scary. I also can’t wait to know what I will add to the list by then. There’s sure to be a lot of things learned within this next decade!

And, as sad as it is to say adios to one of the most life changing decades of my life, it’s also really neat to be starting a new one because there’s just so much possibility ahead!

Before I go, I wanted to quickly share ten of the biggest moments from my 20s (in no particular order)

  1. Running my first (and ONLY) marathon
  2. Moving in with John
  3.  Marrying John
  4. Became a wedding photographer
  5.  Started running my business full time.
  6. Seeing the world! Italy, Hawaii, San Fran, Florida, Vegas 4 times, Boston, Maine, Chicago, Mexico, and more!!
  7. Deadlifting double my body weight and climbing a rope…aka my fitness journey
  8. Finding Lucy in 2008
  9. Becoming an aunt.
  10. Struggling with my fertility

Thank you for following along and for being a part of my journey! I’m so thankful to have the most fantastic friends and clients around. Thank you for making my 20s such an incredible time in my life! I’m excited to make tons more memories through work and my personal life in the next ten years and I hope you’ll stick around to be a part of that too!

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For Photogs: Tips for Your First Destination Wedding

Last month I hit a huge first for my business…my first international wedding! While I’m no stranger to traveling for weddings (we photograph all over the East Coast!!), going to Mexico for Caroline and Josh’s wedding was an entirely new experience! And although I will definitely say I’m for sure no expert on destination weddings, I thought I’d share some things that I learned that may come in handy for someone else in the future!

Here are a few tips:

  1. Head to the location early. I would suggest giving yourself a couple days ahead of the wedding. This will account for any flight delays or disruptions and allow for any missing baggage to arrive. And it will give you some time to adjust to the time change (if there is one) as well as give you a chance to location scout.  For a typical wedding, I don’t do much scouting before the big day because I’m used to shooting on the fly based on the light, but for a destination wedding it helps to go early to get the lay of the land! Giving yourself extra time will keep it less stressful!
  2. ONLY carry on your gear. I can’t imagine checking my camera equipment at all, much less to a destination wedding! I keep my things in an inconspicuous backpack wrapped in items of clothing and I wear my backpack and then keep it under the seat while I’m flying. Never check your gear and keep it within your eyesight as much as you can!
  3. Board as early as you can when flying. Speaking of which…I know that it may not be fun to get on the plane early and sit there even longer in those super comfy seats, BUT I think it’s important to board early to ensure that you’ve got overhead space within your eyesight when you’re traveling with thousands of dollars of equipment and heading to a once in a lifetime event. If your airline offers priority boarding, consider upgrading. The additional cost is a small price to pay for peace of mind!!! I’m lucky that I have priority boarding through American Airlines, so this is something I didn’t have to worry about, however, I wouldn’t think twice about adding it if I didn’t, because I’d hate to board late and have to stow my gear way far away from me!
  4. Consider bringing a business credit card. Credit cards are better than debit cards when it comes to traveling, especially international travel. They’re safer and more secure and many of them offer incentives like no exchange fees or foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad. I chose to use my credit card rather than exchanging money because it was one less thing to worry about.
  5. Double check the types of electric outlets where you’ll be staying.
    Can you imagine anything worse than getting to a wedding and realizing that you CAN’T recharge your batteries??!? If you’re not used to traveling internationally, you might not realize that some countries have different types of outlets with different voltages and you may need adapters to make your equipment compatible.
  6. Research the WIFI situation and consider renting a MiFi device if necessary. If you’re shooting a wedding at a resort, chances are there will be WIFI available. If you’re traveling abroad and there’s no wifi, or it’s inconsistent (read Trip Advisor to see what others say about the WIFI…) or if you’ll be at multiple locations, consider renting a mifi device for internet/phone access while you’re away. I rented this one when I went to Italy a few years ago and it was great!
  7. Charge what you feel your time and effort are worth. I know there are a lot of people who are dying to shoot destination weddings who might do them for little or nothing at all, however, destination weddings are not only a lot of work, they’re also a huge time commitment. In addition to the wedding day, you’ll  also spend time traveling to and from the wedding…that’s time that you don’t have to grow your business, but are technically working. Don’t do yourself the disservice of doing it for free or super cheap because it is a LOT of work despite how amazing it looks on insta-stories. With anything in business, you have to make sure it is worth it!!
  8. If you’re shooting in a humid climate, be sure to take the time to allow your gear to de-fog. This one is mainly for weddings in tropical locales. I thought it was humid here in Virginia, but the humidity here is nothing compared to the humidity in Mexico! I was in for quite the surprise one morning when I woke up to take my camera out around the resort for a few photos of details and landscapes. The lens and body fogged up after being taken out of our cold hotel room and into the sweltering heat and humidity and I was forced to wait about 20 minutes for it to acclimate before I could begin to photograph. Luckily I discovered this before the wedding day and we were able to account for it in the timeline! About 20 minutes before I was to make the transition from shooting getting ready indoors to shooting the first look outside I set my camera in my bag out on a balcony so it would be ready for me!

Those are my super simple tips for photographing your first destination wedding! I had a blast shooting in Mexico and that was also largely because our couple, Caroline and Josh, were so wonderful to work with! I’d be doing you guys a disservice if I didn’t also mention how important it is to ensure you and the couple are a good fit for one another…traveling can be stressful enough without adding any tension or awkwardness. We’ve all worked an event or two where ahead of time we may have seen a red flag or two…but a destination wedding is not the time for that!! Not only will you want to be at ease with the people you’re photographing to make your experience go great, you’ll also want the couple to have someone they vibe well with so that their wedding day and travel memories are the absolute best they can be!

Want to see photos from our destination wedding?? See them here

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Pool Party Maternity Photos | Brandi

One of my friends, the adorable Brandi of As You Wish, is expecting her third little one! In honor of this exciting time for their family and the new little babe headed their way toward the end of the summer, Brandi really wanted to do a pool party themed maternity session with lots of fun floats. I’m obsessed with floats this summer (I have a donut and a pineapple myself!) so I loved her idea and couldn’t wait to see how it turned out!

Brandi is adorable, right??? It was so fun to play a little part in her pregnancy this time around by photographing her. I can’t wait to meet that little one and hold him or her!! Here are a few of my favorites from Brandi’s session!!

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Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Wedding | Caroline + Josh

I am so SO excited to be sharing this wedding with you guys today. I’ve been dreaming of photographing a destination wedding since I became a wedding photographer, and that dream finally came true this past weekend!

Caroline and I first “met” over the internet back in 2013. We emailed back and forth about photography things and then she reached out to me one day in 2016…about her wedding photos! I was ecstatic! Not only was I so excited to work in Mexico for her and Josh’s big day, I was so excited to finally meet this internet friend in real life!

The day of the wedding was overcast since it’s getting close to the rainy season in Puerto Vallarta, but, it was beautiful and so perfect for photos! The heat was slightly less intense, which made it even better. Caroline, being a wedding photographer herself, budgeted lots of time for her portraits and first look so we got to take a variety of shots around the resort. Speaking of the resort, this was our first time visiting an all inclusive and we LOVED the Hyatt Ziva!!

Some of my favorite moments from their wedding day:

  • Their ceremony recessional where their guests waved custom “terrible towels” that Caroline and Josh had personalized as a nod to Josh’s love for the Steelers.
  • Caroline’s brother’s speech where he encouraged everyone to really soak up the memories and the moments….and their brother/sister dance to Lullaby! I think every single person was crying at that dance!!
  • Caroline taking off her shoes and jumping off of a rock in her wedding gown to get down to a spot I wanted to take portraits at…that’s dedication!!
  • Josh had written a special note on the bottom of her shoes as a surprise for her during getting ready…I loved seeing her read it for the first time!

All in all, this was a wedding that will be really hard to top! Not only was it one of the sweetest and most heartfelt days I’ve ever been a part of, it was probably the most fun and close to the most photos I’ve ever taken! Here are a few favorites!!!!







Vendors:

Wedding Venue: Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta // Flowers: Hyatt Ziva // Cake & Catering Hyatt Ziva // Cocktail Hour Music: Trio Veracruzano // DJ: Eden Mendez // Hair & Makeup: Vitamar Spa at the resort // Stationery Suite: Britt Larson Graphic Design //Bridal gown: Olivi’s Lace // Groom’s attire: Men’s Wearhouse //

See my personal snapshots from the trip here!

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