EEEEE!!!! That's a really good way to start a blog post, I'm sure. BUT YOU GUYS. This is my good friend Courtney, her husband Nick, their adorable fur-babies, AND their soon to be BABY, and I am head over heels about getting to share these photos! I received a couple of missed calls from this babe a couple of months ago and she told me they were expecting, and that nobody knew yet, and wanted to see if we could do some announcement photos followed by a maternity shoot. I could barely contain my excitement. I was driving home from Portland when I called her and the news instantly woke me up from my dazed auto drive feeling and put me in the BEST MOOD ever. So we set a date to take some photos a few weeks out from that call, with the idea that it would be spring which would mean it would be warm and sunny, so we could shoot at a little tulip farm that was set to open that weekend because the tulips would be in bloom. HA. PNW you never seem to fail us. We arrived at a tulip farm with NO tulips, they had not sprouted yet and it just looked like a field of dirt. I remembered passing a some sort of Japanese garden on the way into town so I had them follow me back there praying it would be something we could shoot at and we got pretty lucky, the photos turned out amazing! They brought their little pups along with some adorable flower crowns and we did a little mini announcement shoot! It was brutally cold that day considering it was supposed to be spring- it hailed on me as I drove home (no wonder the tulips hadn't come out yet!) I CANT WAIT to see this mama in a couple of months for her maternity shoot and am so excited for this new adventure!
As you guys know, I like to start my posts with a quote. It's not easy, it gets harder and harder to not repeat them, not overuse them, not use super cheesy ones, find ones that I feel represent what I'm about to write about. Kellie and Braden's wedding was one that I read more quotes than normal. It wasn't that I couldn't find one, but their love is so sweet and pure that they all seemed to fit. Then I read this one. One thing I'll always think about with their wedding was the group of people who were part of it. The family, the guests, the wedding party. It was an amazing group of fun, genuine and good looking people. (Seriously, at one point my second shooter asked me if I also had noticed how good looking everybody at the wedding was haha!) It was a Sunday wedding. Sunday weddings sometimes tent to end a bit earlier and slow down a bit more than a Friday or Saturday wedding. NOT THIS ONE. There was so much dancing, fun, laughter. One of the most fun and packed dance floors we have gotten to shoot. One thing that was SPECIAL about Kellie and Braden's wedding was they did a last dance, alone. While their guests assembled outside of the barn and got ready for their grand sparkler exit, Kellie and Braden took a few minutes to be together, alone, in each other's arm, dancing. It was just me, the DJ, and the two of them for one last song. I loved this so much, it was such a great time to just take a moment to slow down and take in the night. They had such a beautiful, sweet wedding and it was such an honor to be a part of it!
I asked Kellie a few questions about her wedding day for my future brides so here we go!
1. If you had to describe your wedding in 3 words how would you describe it:
BEST. DAY. EVER! It really was.. It felt magical, fun and romantic. I've never felt so much love in one day.
2. Your favorite part of the day:
Hard to pick just one part of the day! I think we had the most fun dancing with our friends and family. I've never seen Braden dance so much!
3. One recommendation to brides planning a wedding now:
Make sure to delegate tasks if you don't have a wedding planner. The less stressed you are, the more you can enjoy your big day!
Venue: Thomas Family Farm
Dress: New Beginnings Bridal Studio (Maggie Sottero - Carol dress)
Tux: Macy's (Bar III Midnight Blue Suit)
Florals: Centerpieces by Mother of the Bride // Bouquets by Flora Blume Design
Cake: Celebrity Cake Studio
DJ: Sounds Unlimited
Decor: by Bride & Mother of the Bride
Stationery: Vintage Sweet Design
I wanted to talk a bit about reception photos and what to expect. I received an inquiry recently asking about them. A lot of my blog posts don't have a TON of reception photos, maybe a few of the bride and groom dancing or the grand exit if there was one, but majority of what I share are the bride and groom shots. Whenever possible, I recommend a first look followed by wedding party and family photos before the ceremony. It eases the timeline for the day a little bit and helps things flow nicely. I totally understand when a couple wants their true first look to be walking down the aisle, and I respect that, so we would then do all of your photos during cocktail hour. But for the sake of this post, we are going to assume you did majority of your photos before the ceremony and are now leading into cocktail hour.
During this time, we will usually shoot any family photos we haven't got to do yet. Your guests will likely be guided to a designated cocktail hour area for drinks and appetizers and we will finish up signing your marriage certificate and family photos. If you have added a second shooter to your package, the second shooter will be capturing guests at cocktail hour. I usually direct my second shooter to get a mix of both candid and group shots, as well as any fun decorations, games, or details that have been included. If time allows and we finish up family photos, you will join in on cocktail hour. I love following around my bride and groom during this time getting candid reactions from guests as well as photos of you with your friends and family who have come to see you. At any point during the night, I encourage you to grab me or my second shooter for a photos of you and specific guests if you'd like to. I also sneak away during this time to shoot details of your reception while it is empty. Most couples either go right into their first dance upon entering or they will eat and then their first dance will be shortly after that.
After the first dance, most commonly you'd follow with traditional parent dances and then open the dance floor. Once the dance floor is opened, most of your more critical photos are finished. It's time to relax and let loose! By this point, guests have been fed and fueled for some dancing and energy is back up. I usually float around with my camera capturing in action shots, playing with lights and capturing candids. A lot of things can affect how your dancing photos will turn out. First and foremost is venue- are there windows, lights, how big of a space it, how high are the ceilings, time of day, etc. Secondly, DJ lighting. If there are a ton of funky colors flying around I can't help that, if you are worried about too crazy of lighting I recommend asking your DJ to hold off on those lights for 45 minutes in order to get some dancing shots without them. For most of my packages, there is only about an hour or so of these photos which is plenty of action captured.
As the night reaches the end of your wedding, you'll need to decide whether or not you need this covered by a photographer. 80% of the time this is just a continuation of the above photos. The biggest reason you would want this time captured is if you're planning a grand exit and want this captured. The last few songs of dancing are usually pretty wild, final call is usually made at the bar and people are feeling loose. I usually spend this time making sure I haven't missed anyone, I love to get a final shot of the bride and groom dancing together. If you have fun string lights, I will play around with some drag in the photos for a few fun and creative shots that add movement and help tell the story of what's happening.
If you are planning a grand exit, you're going to want to talk to me ahead of time. The best grand exits involve a well thought out plan ahead of time as well as a sober wedding planner who can help make sure this happens. I LOVE a good sparkler exit, but I've seen so many of them go wrong when it wasn't properly planned. At this point in the night, guests are having so much fun that it gets hard to line up guests in order to create a clear and safe pathway for both you guys and myself. A few things I've seen that really help these go off flawless are lining the pathway with tea lights (the wedding planner(s) will then light these just before you guys make your exit and guests will light their sparklers from these tea lights. It made a really clear line of where guests are supposed to stand and the sparklers were not lit too early. Keep your grand exit in a straight line and take is SLOW (walk way slower than you think you need to, try to take it all in!) Lastly, I always suggest stopping for a final kiss, dip and hug in the middle or at the end of your tunnel, giving everyone one last opportunity to cheer and celebrate you guys (and me a few opportunities for these shots!)
If these photos are extremely important to you, make sure to talk with me before hand. We want to talk about things like lighting set up as well as timeline flow of the night. Whenever possible, hang some string lights. Don't be afraid to dance for me, or grab a few of your friends and dance near me so I can see it! If you're doing a grand exit, be sure to chat with me, your venue, and planner on what is allowed and how to go about it. And last but not least, HAVE FUN! This is the party of your life, I promise! Enjoy it, dance, laugh, drink, eat and be so full of love!