And a special glimpse into weddings from 2007 :)
10 years?!?! What? How did that happen? Where did the last decade of my life go? Oh yeah…it went down the rabbit hole to die on Pinterest and be replaced with really ridiculously gorgeous weddings. And maybe just a little intense, but still so so gorgeous. All the same, I look at my wedding and while I don’t have darling chalkboard dessert table signs, or custom laser-etched oyster shell seating charts, it’s still beautiful in all its classic simplicity. So if your DYING to see what a typical wedding in 2007 looked like, scroll on down! I got a good laugh seeing how much has changed in the wedding industry in the last ten years!
Like these engagement photos for example. When I was getting married, the photo-overload announcment was so so popular! Do you guys remember those? A tri-fold wedding invitation with a collage of love on it. I saw announcements with upwards of 12 photos somehow all stacked in there. It was something amazing that's for sure!
And back before the days of having a professional shopper to perfectly style my engagement outfits and a hair and make-up artist to give me flawless skin and bouncy Revlon hair, there was just me, Big Sexy Hair root pump, a round brush, a hair dryer, and so many tears.
But the important thing...I guess... is that I felt beautiful that day and when I look at our pics I can see how much my husband loves me. Maybe I’ll tape this picture of him looking at me all lovey-dovey to his face the next time he’s upset at our Costco bill. It will be so much better to look at while he's ranting away than his “Phillip Angry Face”.
Also, when I see those smokin’ hot engagement sessions all tousled together in their beautifully decorated studio loft, I have to give a little chuckle at how nerdy and not model-y we are :)
Did you guys even know that back before formal couples sessions…DO NOT CALL THEM GROOMALS! (and yes I’m shouting at you in a loving way)…brides just got pictures taken. Alone. All by themselves. It was called bridals and we did it because of this tradition of the groom not seeing the bride before the wedding. Do people even know about that anymore?!?! FYI it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her wedding dress before the wedding day. Or at least it used to be...like one hundred years ago.
Also, there was this thing about bridals where we got all dressed up and fancy for our photos. I poured over magazines of updos, got my nails done (cause florist hands are joke), bought a great bra to get the honey’s up where they belong, and splurged on real jewelry. I must be getting old and cranky because I look at most bridal styles today and think to myself, “Isn’t that just how she wears her hair to work?!? Hanging down in loose waves and blowing all over the place all messy like? Why didn’t she do something more formal and special for her wedding day???” So enjoy the olden golden days of formal wedding updos and trying to make your hair extra Extra EXTRA special.
Oh oh oh and remember tiaras?!?! Back before flower crowns I HAD a crown. A real one. And I totally felt like a princess in my tiara. Loved it!
Oh. My. Gosh. We can all thank Charlie’s Angels for this uh-maze-ing photo series.
But praises be for the wedding-shoe revolution where we all finally figured out that wearing heals all day is horrific, so we mutinied and wore white bridal flip flops. And felt so cool about it. Er-mah-Gosh scandalous!
The number one question I get asked is whether or not I did my own flowers for my wedding day and the answer is, “No freaking way!” This may sound crazy, but as an artist, it’s hard for me to love my own work because I can see every minor imperfection and it drives me crazy. But, when another artist hands me their beautiful creation all I see is the effort, care, and beauty that went into creating something truly unique and beautiful for me. So, while I helped my florist design the bouquet style and look I wanted, I didn’t do the actual arranging. And hats off to my florist for creating a bouquet that would set the trend for the next several years!
How awesome that we pulled together a loose, organic, free-cascading bouquet 10 years ahead of its time?!?! My florist was a true artist!
These were the days man! And I love my whole entire album of me :) *snortlaugh
The Wedding Day
Many of you may not know it but back before grooms wore whatever the heck they wanted for their weddings (looking at you, you jean and suspender clad grooms!), they only ever wore black or white suits and tuxes. None of this grey/navy/taupe/jean & suspenders stuff. So when my fiancée said that his hill to die on was a chocolate brown tux? I died a little inside. It just wasn’t done. It threw off my entire color palette for crying out loud! But it was his “Thing” so we went with it, and now I’m glad I did, otherwise every anniversary would be like, “Remember how you didn’t let me wear a chocolate-brown tux at our wedding?”
One thing I’m really glad about is that we got married pre-Instagram filters. So, our skin colors look regular – not tinged with blue, orange, or green, although that’s pretty too…ahem. As cool as photoshop is, sometimes the editing goes a little over the top and it’s either so over-exposed trying to achieve that light and airy look that everyone looks like ghosts and all the details are totally blown out, or it’s so heavily moody and tinted that colors of skin, clothing, the landscaping, etc. all start looking a little wonky. Sometimes I get photos back from weddings I’ve done recently and I feel bad because the editing has made it impossible to see all the details the bride worked so hard to achieve. I love photographers who have a nice, subtle hand with the editing and use just enough to enhance the picture, but not so much that it detracts.
I'm looking at images from my reception and realizing how simple it was. I got married about three years before brides started using Pinterest for wedding inspiration and while that's a great tool, it's overuse has led to the idea that your wedding is nothing without all of that fluff. My husband and I chose Sun River Gardens as our fantastic venue because it could stand alone without extra décor other than linens, centerpieces, and a framed portrait from my bridals. By the time we added in the cake vignette, and a flat-screen TV playing our wedding video, it was more than enough to look at!
We got married sans the chalkboard signs, vintage buntings, eclectic chair collection, creative place settings, custom balloons, and all the other stuff stuff stuff Pinterest pressures us into needing and it was still a gorgeous wedding and reception! I was able to take money otherwise spent on decorating and put it into coordinating wedding outfits for our large families, which I felt really added to the look and feel of the final images from our wedding. Although I should have known my 10 brothers and brothers-in-law would be nothing but mischief for wedding pics.
We also were able to splurge on a great videographer and the most AMAZING cake. Five tiers of bridal glory for all to see and eat. Everyone except me that is. One bite people that’s all I got. One stinking bite of all that amazingness. If I had a do-over, I’d go grab myself a piece of cake and be like, “Um yeah of course we can hug it out…after this cake.”
K – there are so so many amazing things that you can DIY for your wedding day that will actually save you money. Catering is not one of them. Learn from our mistakes. Catering real food for hundreds of guests (not just sugar cookies and soda) takes a ton of time and money and is a logistical nightmare and you will end up spending as much money doing it yourself as you would paying a catering company. It’s not a maybe. It’s a fact. My mom and a family friend absolutely outdid themselves putting on a fantastic buffet for my wedding day, but goodnight they spent so much time and effort on it and it cost exactly the same as having a catering company do it. So, while I love and appreciate all the energy my family went to, trying to save some money here, and I loved all the eye-catching food they prepared, in the long run it would have been easier, less stressful and cost the same to hire a catering company.
The only consolation is that my mother’s cooking is AMAZING and the food tasted fantastic. Can every catering company say the same?!?! Probably not. For future family weddings, though, I think we’re all ridiculously glad our youngest brother married a culinary school graduate with loads of catering experience :)
On a side note – does anyone even DO chocolate fountains anymore?!?! Or remember those punch waterfall fountains where the punch spilled over a cascading waterfall and then dripped into our cups on little chains? Those were so so cool.
I hope you enjoyed this little walk down memory lane with me! It’s fun to pull out the old wedding album and reminisce over all the trends that were so poplar decades ago. I’m sure we’ll only be laughing more and more as we hit 20 and 30 year anniversaries!
Just remember in today’s highly stylized world to use Pinterest for inspiration, but don't ever let it fool you or pressure you into thinking you HAVE to have it all in order to be married, have a great home, or enjoy a fantastic lifestyle. No one is going to walk into your ceremony and say, "Did you see how we weren't greeted with a professionally scripted chalkboard sign with greenery bunting and handed an organic, hand-pressed, 100% biodegradable menu?" And if they do, those aren't the kind of friends you need in your life :)
Splurge on the few things that are really important to you or your fiancé and then take a deep breath, let the rest go, and enjoy your special day! Preferably with a fancy updo because goodness knows I truly have no idea and will never understand why brides want to look like it’s just another day at the office with their hair down and loosely curled.
*Side Note: Many of the businesses I worked with on my wedding are just absolutely some of the best in their industry! I’ve compiled a list of my wedding vendors so you can check them out for yourselves!
Photography: Michael Lloyd Photography
Bridal Photography Venue: The Shops at Riverwoods
Wedding Ceremony: Salt Lake City LDS Temple
Reception Venue/Linens: Sun River Gardens
Florals: Solstice Studios
Cake: Cakes by Dawna
Dress: Latter-day Bride
Bridesmaid Dresses: Latter-Day Bride
Flower Girl Dresses: Gymboree
HMUA: Lisa Ballard Shear Xpressions
Rings: Shane Co.
Invitation Suite: Pro Digital Photos
And working professionally and respectfully with others in your industry
Enjoy this gorgeous couple - they're too good looking for their own good! I loved seeing these light and airy bohemian lakeshore bridals come together and how this springtime white and pink cascading bridal bouquet turned out. I really wish lilac, tulip, and peony season weren't quite so short :(
I'm also sharing some thoughts on politely navigating the networking world of the wedding industry, but this would be so applicable to many other work environments out there. And it isn't meant to be ranty or cranky or anything like that. More just food for thought and me writing about a topic I've been thinking a lot about lately. Feel free to share your thoughts below! And a huge thanks to Taynee Miller Photography for providing the gorgeous imagery for this blog post! Be sure and use the link below to check out her work!
Photography Credit: Taynee Miller Photography @tayneemillerphotography
Recently, a photographer posted on a group page of wedding vendors I’m a part of that a florist had reached out to her and asked for some of the photos from a wedding they both worked and she was unsure whether or not to charge the florist for the images and wanted some advice. Curious what everyone’s response would be (because as a florist I’m often in the same situation of needing good imagery for my portfolio) I was pleased to see that almost every photographer offered the same advice – that there are more pros to reaching out and sharing with others in the industry than there are cons!
I get it I really do! We all need to make money at our jobs. I get it that in every industry there are single moms, dads, and even dual income families that NEED the income to make ends meet. I get that there are families out there that are sooo strapped for cash, that losing even $1 may mean the difference between paying a bill and having enough food to eat. Believe me. We’ve been there. My husband was unemployed and underemployed for two years. There are so many times it came down to that dollar; how to earn it, how to keep it, or the best way to spend it with so many basic needs clamoring for attention.
But, do we all need the almighty dollar so badly that there is no room to share and give back to our coworkers, community, or industry? I know that as a florist and cake artist, my talents lie in a certain direction. Sadly, that direction is not photography :( Which means that I really rely on the talents of other vendors in the wedding industry to help me keep portfolio, website, blog, and social media up and running and looking top notch and professional. If I had to pay for every. single. image. that would make this task and the task of making a profit on each wedding verrrrrry difficult. So I’m frequently that florist reaching out to photographers like, “Hey, we recently worked so and so’s wedding together! Would you be willing to share at least 3-5 final images from the bridals and the wedding that are good shots of the flowers for my portfolio?”
Most are very considerate and willing to share at least a few images. Others…are not. And I get why, but today I’d like to offer up a few points to consider when someone reaches out to you and how to handle it respectfully and professionally.
Point #1 – Our work added to your image: While your photography work and editing are gorgeous, it’s also what’s IN the picture! Most people don’t look at a picture and see just the photographer’s capture, framing, lighting, or editing. They’re also seeing a beautiful dress, flawless hair and make-up, an incredible bouquet, or a delicious cake. All of these vendors contributed to YOUR picture to make it look the way it did. In essence, we are a team! An image of a blank cake table or hands with no bouquet isn’t going to sell your work very well. So when these vendors reach out to you, you may want to remember that their talents helped make your shot what it is.
I’ve seen loads and loads of posts from photographers saying things like, “My bride’s florist fell through do any florists have leftovers they could whip up for her?” or “ My bride didn’t order a bouquet for her bridals, but it’s so awkward to just have her there holding nothing. Will any florists contribute a bouquet last minute?” Even photographers acknowledge that their images NEED the fluff from florists, cake artists, jewelers etc. in order to look their very best. And since the florist in those situations bailed you or your client out, I would hope that you would, as a courtesy, send her the images of her work.
Point #2 – Marketing, Advertising, and Credit Credit Credit: With intellectual property theft being THE PLAGUE of the internet, more and more creatives are crying foul and getting very aggressive when their work isn’t properly credited on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., but most people seem to know the basic rule of giving credit to the person responsible for creating the gorgeous imagery – the photographer; however, this leaves a lot of work uncredited – bouquets, dresses, HMUA (who really get the shaft on this), decorators, venues, etc. Unfortunately, much of the lack of credit comes from the actual wedding photographer. They post stunning image after stunning image that builds their following, gains traction for their SEO, and helps them rise in the algorithms on Instagram, but don’t credit all the vendors involved in the wedding for one simple reason…they don’t know all of them. In a styled shoot, we are all given a list of every participant and it’s a simple matter of just tagging everyone. But a real wedding?!?! I have no clue where my bride got her dress, or where their rings came from, or who created the macramé backdrop, and I’m sure this goes for photographers as well.
My point is that all these vendors work together to create gorgeous photo ops for a photographer to shoot at a real wedding, but then no credit is given – often simply because they don’t know whom to credit. So when a vendor reaches out to you for images, you now know whom you should be crediting when you post your stunning bride and her bouquet, but on the flip side, you can request that they be sure and credit you anytime the blog or post about it on social media.
After all, algorithms and SEO are based so much upon how much you are being talked about and interacted with. It only helps you to have 20+ vendors from a real wedding sharing their work on Instagram, blogging about it, or pinning it to Pinterest – all with credit to you as the photographer. Even if those vendors only have 1,000 followers each, you’ve just reached 20,000 people outside of your following. I’d say that’s worth 3-5 free images.
In fact, I would go so far to say that a good marketing and advertising strategy would be to have each of your brides fill out a vendor list about three weeks before the wedding and try to find out who as many of the vendors are as possible. Then, as a courtesy, e-mail them the Pass/Pixieset/Dropbox/whateveryouuse file from the wedding along with a note explaining that they are welcome to use the images and to just please be sure and tag you, give credit on blog posts, etc. While this may seem like a lot of effort to organize and implement, it’s FREE advertising and marketing and virtually guaranteed to get your name out there just that much more, whereas boosting your post on Facebook or Instagram may or may not help, and it may or may not reach your target audience (I would know...I tried both of those and it didn't help at all. It was a total waste). All you had to do was add in some extra e-mail addresses when you send out the wedding and BOOM you’ve just reached all of their followers.
Point #3 – Referrals: We all know that more and more brides are using the internet to plan their weddings. Brides are more likely to Google, search Pinterest, or do a hashtag search on Instagram to look for vendors and wedding inspiration. That said, for all of the effort we put into SEO and hashtagging, nothing replaces word of mouth. Our brides text, chat, Direct Message, Facebook, Skype, and share boards on Pinterest and they talk, talk, talk about who they like, what they like, and what they don’t like.
The same goes for vendors in the wedding industry. After over 13 years in the wedding industry, I KNOW who I like to work with and I KNOW which vendors are going to take care of their brides, each other, and build a community. So when my brides come in and want a referrals, you better believe I’m referring not just the talent in the industry, but those vendors who are kind, considerate, warm, giving, and willing to go the distance for not just their paying clients, but industry professionals as well.
Now, if a photographer asks me to pay for images that doesn’t make him or her a bad photographer and it does not mean I won’t refer them. If they truly do good, solid work I’m still willing to pass their name along. But, I’m more excited and authentic in my glowing praise about someone who has truly taken care of me and reached out to help me just as my work helped create their gorgeous image.
So, I guess I can pay you that $25 per image. Or I can send a wedding your way. I might do both, but I’d really rather just receive some beautiful, free imagery, put you on my preferred vendors list, and rave about you to my clients :)
As a final note, whether you share images for free with vendors or ask them to pay (and I would love to build my business big enough that I can pay!), I hope you’ll be professional, gracious, and respectful to the other creatives who pulled that wedding together. Give credit where known and where you can. Share and give back as much as you are able. Think outwardly and build up others. It will only reflect well on you.
Grotto Falls Destination Elopement
Meet Kiana and Fabrizio! I’m so excited to introduce you to this darling couple. Kiana and Fabrizio met at the end of summer 2016 through a dating app. After their first date, she knew she had found her husband - and even called her mom to tell her as much! Fabrizio was everything Kiana had been looking for and more, smart, fun, caring, genuine...and even Italian!
They started dating consistently from that very first week and soon they were spending every amount of free time together. They even went grocery shopping together! It only took a month before they were openly talking marriage with each other. Fabrizio and Kiana both realized that this was going to be a lifelong relationship because of the deep friendship, honesty, and commitment.
Initially, they both planned on a courtship of at least a year. As they began to plan and set a timeline, they realized there was a bit of a time crunch. Fabrizio had been accepted and was planning on going to dental school the following summer in July and it was already October. Kiana would graduate only a month before his move in June and naturally wanted to move across the country with him.
However, both Fabrizio and Kiana come from conservative, religious families and maintain these same values so moving in before marriage wasn't an option. It seemed most favorable to marry right before July in order to have the longest courtship possible.
All too soon, though, the logistics of planning a wedding during Kiana’s senior year of college, graduating, throwing a wedding, finding an apartment and moving in together, and then moving across the country all over the course of one month seemed impossible, to say the least. In addition, Fabrizio's family was still mostly located in Italy. Even with a date six months away, it was unlikely they could make all the travel arrangements to come without longer notice and they didn't want to have their large wedding celebrations without the groom's entire side of the family.
Realizing that his family wouldn't be able to come regardless of the date was actually a relief because it removed the cultural obligation of having an immediate big wedding reception and party. After many heartfelt discussions, they decided to simply elope and move forward with their marriage in November before Christmas break. Kiana and Fabrizio knew they wanted to be together and it seemed a pity to waste any more time waiting simply to log in more "dating hours".
“We were glad that we could have an intimate ceremony with the focus on our love and commitment, rather than the decorations, elaborate cake, or wedding gifts. Our elopement was just about us, our love, and our decision, rather than about all the other expenses society currently requires of a wedding. We wouldn't have done it any other way. And nearly 9 months later, we consider it the best decision of our lives."
Thanks Kiana and Fabrizio for sharing your amazing love story with us!
From the Photographer: We loved the secluded nature of Grotto Falls in Payson, Utah for their intimate elopement, and I couldn't think of a better way to showcase their exotic beauty. There was a perfect pocket of light that danced around them and allowed for all the incredible textures of her hair, dress, florals, waterfall, and rocks to shine.
From the HMUA: Kiana has gorgeous natural curl and we wanted to showcase her beautiful hair by doing an undone updo with swept curls framing her lovely face. She has a cathedral length veil tucked in the bottom of her updo. Her makeup was peachy and perfect for her skin tone. She has striking skin tones and facial features so we used natural colors to enhance her beauty!
From the Florist: Our multi-cultural couple and their unique backgrounds were such an inspiration for the florals and I wanted to combine flowers that represented both the exotic looks and cultures of the bride and the groom.
For the bride, I have stunning orchids and David Austen's "Juliet" garden roses and I paired those with sprigs of eucalyptus, olive branches, honeysuckle, and fresh rosemary as a nod to the groom and his Italian heritage. The result was a deeply meaningful bridal bouquet with organic sophistication and a heavenly fragrance. I'm in love with this earthy peach and rust bridal bouquet!
A peach carnation fairy ring was the perfect pop of color against those rocks and a simple, earthy decoration for the elopement and something that an eloping bride could easily DIY!
And I know you typically only see orchids as corsages for Mother’s Day, but these rust colored orchids were so beautiful that I had to reinvent the orchid into a chic groom’s boutonniere. I loved pairing the lines and movement of the orchid groom’s boutonniere with the pattern and colors of his suit and tie!
From the Cake Artist: Cake cutting may be the traditional wedding confection, but I couldn’t help but feel like these darling from-scratch cherry mini pies were the perfect sweet treat to grab for an elopement! Because it's not official until you share a bite :)
I made three mini pies: two with Kiana and Fabrizio’s initials and one with a heart…because even officiants need a little snack and a little love :)
Our couple loved their elopement sign and announcement! I would definitely be framing the poster as a keepsake and sending out the announcements and photos to share the big news!
So, you may have read this blog post and loved it but thought, “I could never elope! There are too many traditions I would hate to give up” If that’s the case, you can click here to see ideas we’ve put together to help reconcile our wanderlust and desire for adventure with our roots and our family traditions.
Or, if you’re just not sure if an elopement is right for you, I wrote an article here for Wed Utah on Page 30 on three reasons why you may just decide to elope after all :) I’m a traditional wedding girl myself and I convinced me!
Thanks for sharing this intimate destination waterfall elopement with me and congratulations to Kiana and Fabrizio! You can find the contact information for all the elopement vendors below:
Kiana & Fabrizio Cena
Ceremony Location: Grotto Falls, Payson, Utah
Florist and Cake artist
The Pear Blossom
Kite and Butterfly
Cassia Leigh Design
Road Trip to Moab, UT!
This shoot was created for those brides who have a hard time reconciling their deep-seated wanderlust with their love for family, traditions, and community. The world feels a lot smaller today than it did 20 years ago, and more and more couples are opting for either destination weddings or elopements in order to make amazing travel memories and get their wedding photography done in some of the most scenic places on earth. But some of us still feel the pull of the family and events of the traditional wedding. We love the idea of eloping to amazing places, but don’t want to give up that Daddy-daughter dance, or having our grandparents there to hear us exchange vows. Enter the destination bridal session...it’s the perfect compromise! Plan a weekend getaway with your fiancée and photographer, dress shop, HMUA, and florist and travel to those far flung places you dream of. Then, come home and surround yourselves with loved ones and your favorite traditions as you celebrate your wedding. It’s a flawless mix of home-grown roots and independent freedom.
From Hawkeye Photography: In Utah we are so spoiled with incredible wonders such as Moab and Arches National Park just a short road trip away. We don’t have to go far to satisfy our wanderlust! Set along the Colorado River, Moab, UT is a location rich in geological wonders with fascinating colors, lines, and movement in the rocks everywhere you go.
For the perfect bridal session, make it a girl’s weekend! Split a VRBO with your besties and head down Friday night for some excellent Mexican food and relaxing in the hot tub. Get up Saturday morning and drive into Arches National Park and enjoy an easy hike to Delicate Arch. Don’t forget to stop by Balance Rock on your way! Then head home and get all dolled up for your bridal session.
We scouted out a beautiful trail in Kane Creek right along the Colorado River and styled our shoot among the foothills and boulders along the river just before Moonbeam Canyon. It was the perfect location for creating that awe-inspiring, editorial style imagery!
From the florist (me) lol: The rock features and natural landscape in and around Moab were a real source of inspiration both in color and in movement. I wanted colors that would complement the palette of the dress and the surrounding rock and undergrowth. An cream and yellow ombre bridal bouquet with pops of sage and grey was the perfect accent to the slate purples and red rock! I used white spray roses and dahlias, a creamy butter-yellow stock (my new favorite light yellow colored flower!) and then for the yellows I used solidago, ranunculus, billy balls, and spray roses.
With the grandeur of the Colorado River and Kane Creek as our backdrop, this dramatic bouquet featured locally foraged undergrowth like sage brush and juniper, along with textural details like silver dollar and gunni eucalyptus, air plants, cacti, and raw branches to create an emotional, sweeping floral bouquet.
I loved personalizing this bouquet and look with our sensational purple skirt and J.Noelle top, and then changing into a more traditional white bridal separate, also by J.Noelle! Both looks are absolutely stunning and using both outfits is a great way for a bride to bring in her own style and personality.
Those same elements of air plants, cacti, and branches were used to soften and romance our bridal sitting area. I love the juxtaposition of the sheer cliff faces with the intensely textural bouquet and spiny cacti. This bridal vignette adds a lovely touch of elegance ! For my local friends, I bought the potted cacti and those gorgeous airplants at Sun River Gardens and all of our decor for the bridal vignette came from Target.
From Blushing Blonde HMUA: My most requested bridal look for 2017 has been the half up and half down look. This beautiful bridal style is the perfect showcase for any head piece a bride chooses. We used a smooth texture to showcase the Danani Handmade Stone headwear, but this would also be beautiful with a veil. For her makeup I pulled on the tones in the red rocks and brought in oranges onto her eye lids, and plum into her crease and onto her lips to tie in the purple skirt and local natural colors. It was traditional and romantic, yet dramatic.
I can't get enough of the colors of the rocks, her make-up, and the flowers together!
To end the shoot, we set up a beautiful display of candles and tapers in this moody little natural rock alcove we discovered and I was envisioning the candles glowing and reflecting off the rocks...until a strong wind picked up and there was no way we were keeping those candles lit :( Bummer. But I'm posting the image here because it's still gorgeous and you can use your imagination and visualize my best laid plans!
I hope you guys have found some great ideas for reconciling roots with wanderlust. Leave a comment below and let me know where you would want to go get your destination bridals taken! If you would like to see more from these fantastic artists, scroll down for vendor credit.
The Pear Blossom
Danani Handmade Adornements
Wedding Gown (Grey Top used in all images, and Cream skirt)
Airplants and Cacti
Sun River Gardens
Bridal Vignette Decor
How to Prioritize Your Wedding Budget
First off: Giveaway update! If you didn’t catch the info about the Summer Baking Camps and the giveaway I’m doing along with them, hurry on over! You still have time to enter! I also still have a few slots left in each age group, so get yours reserved today. Can’t wait to bake with you!
Along those same winning lines, Julia and Marty were the winners for the Dream Team Bridal Session giveaway featuring me along with two other amazing vendors, Hawkeye Photography and Blushing Blonde. Julia and Marty weren't planning on affording a formal bridal session, so it was wonderful to style and shoot this session for our sweetest couple!
Photographer's inspiration: Julia and Marty wanted a timelessly elegant location, but one that also incorporated some elements of nature into their formal session. The Capital Building in Salt Lake City, UT was the perfect venue for their story to unfold. We started with a classic Cinderella first look as she descended to him down the grand staircase. From the moment their eyes met, I knew it was going to be an amazing shoot. Their chemistry was very real and very resonant with the camera. We created a magical fairy-tale formal session for them to cherish. –Ashley, Hawkeye Photography
HMUA Inspiration: Julia loved the traditional soft, romantic bridal updo and she has gorgeous blonde hair that falls below her shoulders, so we swept it into a twisted low updo. She had a classic jeweled headpiece to accent her beautiful hair with a few pieces left to frame her face.
Her makeup was natural, luminous, and gorgeous, and only needed a subtle natural smokey eye and natural lips with a light blush to be complete! Her eyes are the star of the show, with long lashes framing her brilliant baby blue's. – Julie, Blushing Blonde
Florist Inspiration: I loved Julia's color palette of dusty pink, burgundy, and slate blue and felt so inspired to find flowers that were organic and raw, but also soft and romantic, accenting the movement of Julia's flowing gown from Gateway Bridal and her flawless, fairy-like features.
I used peach stock, cream hypericum berry, safari sunset, burgundy dahlias, blushing bride protea, white ginestra, light blue delphinium, blue thistle, and red amaranthus to create this woodland fairy, slightly cascading bouquet and love how the texture and movement came together. – Emily, The Pear Blossom
We were so happy that we could give back and help a sweet couple like Julia and Marty get a little something something extra for their wedding and bonus – you can see all the goodness featured over on Latter-Day Bride as well. It gave me all the feels and I’ve got a few other giveaways up my sleeve after the Summer Baking Camp Giveaway because I get it people I really do. The vast majority of us…dare I say 99% of us…aren’t “One-percenters” (see Ma?! I do math good :) The sky ISN’T the limit when it comes to college, travel, and wedding budgets. We go and do what we can afford. And often times this means sacrificing something we want for something we need or want more.
But, knowing what to cut and where to cut can be REALLY difficult when it comes to your wedding because every last detail feels so important. It seems like it could make or break the look and feel of your wedding and *fingers crossed* you only get one shot at this so it has to be perfect the first time around. That’s a lot of pressure you’re putting on yourself there girl and it can also cause a lot of friction between you and your fiancée or your momma, so immagonna make it a little easier for you and show you what I did BEFORE I ever started planning my wedding to help keep the planning fun, stress and confrontation-free, and in budget.
The first thing most gals do when they get engaged is run out and start trying on dresses because that’s the fun part!!! Yay!!! And because it’s fun it must be the right thing to do right?! Wrong. There is a step that should have happened before you ever got engaged and almost everyone I know skips this step so I’m sharing it with the world now.
Step 1: Prioritize YOUR Dreams
When you’re engaged to be engaged (that awkward point in dating and courtship where you’ve talked marriage, know you want to get married, but he hasn’t popped the question yet) you need to sit down and communicate with three-four groups of people, 1) yourself, 2) your fiancée, 3) your parents, 4) and possibly your fiancée’s parents. You need to sit down with them and have a little heart to heart about what is the most important thing to them when it comes to getting married or marrying off a child and then you need to limit them. Yes you read that right. You need to limit them. Here is my general rule of thumb, but you could certainly adjust these numbers to work for you situation:
The Bride: gets her top 5 most important things. Girl when I say “Top 5” I mean the items in your wedding that are ABSOLUTELY so important to you that you are willing to go to battle over it. Everyone says “choose your battles” meaning you have to be willing to let other, less important issues go and for your wedding you need to be willing to compromise, but not with the items on this list. This is your hill to die on, this is where you’re going to spend your money, and this is where you are going to invest the most time and energy so make it worth it and dig in to the nitty gritty wedding details here. You can’t just say, “I want my reception to be perfect.” What about the reception? Oh the dancing? K what about the dancing? Is that a professional DJ, installing a dance floor at your venue, or making your groom take dance lessons? Get specific.
This was my list:
1: Dress – I wanted to feel amazing in my dress and I wanted to buy it. I was not willing to rent and I was willing to pay more and cut other places to get what I wanted. My dress was over $800, but I re-used jewelry and shoes from a “scholarship pageant” I did in high school (you can stop laughing now) and I had my cosmetologist sister-in-law do my hair and make-up to help afford the dress.
2: Photography – I have always believed that no matter what you actually do for your wedding, at the end of the day all you have are the photos, so you go big here and you get the best. dang. photographer. you can afford. You don’t cut here. Period. Your wedding day is not the day to have a neighbor with a nice camera come and do it for free. Unless your neighbor is India Earl and then yes, by all means have your neighbor do it :) lol
3: Flowers – I wanted fresh flowers and I wanted them installed everywhere! I also wanted a gorgeous outdoor wedding in a fantastic garden, but have you seen the prices? To get that lush garden look I wanted and still get all my fresh floral centerpieces and bouquets, I opted to have my reception at a greenhouse. This saved me A TON of time, effort, and money in a lot of ways…already decorated, already lush and garden-esque but not as expensive as actual garden venues, and already climate controlled so no matter the weather I could have that outdoor garden feel without having to stress.
4: Cake – I wanted a huge (five tiers people! It was amazing!!!), from scratch buttercream cake covered in fresh flowers. My mom was worried it would cost too much and wanted Styrofoam. Yikes! I was freaking out about the thought of a Styrofoam cake, but this was my hill to die on, so I compromised on catering to get the cake I wanted.
5: Wedding Line Clothing – K this one probably sounds super dumb, but it goes back to being left with just the photos at the end of it all. I wanted my photos to look perfect and to me that meant matching tuxes and perfectly coordinating Maid of honor, bridesmaid, and flower girl dresses. Some wedding parties do the whole mix and match thing and pull it off famously, but I love the seamless blend of matching outfits. Sometimes the mix and match is just too busy. I like the eye to move effortlessly over the picture and not be caught on weird, random details.
Everything else after this was totally flexible. I had a brother help with the music, a friend help with catering, a random hole in the wall do invites (because hey they just get thrown away!) etc. etc. etc. Did doing those things cheap and a little jimmy-rigged run smoothly? Not quite. But the hiccups were worth it and emotionally I could roll with it because I had already made up my mind in advance where my priorities were and the rest was just fluff.
Step 2: The Groom’s priorities
The Groom: gets his #1 most important thing. Why only one in this age of gender equality? I recommend it because the groom typically plans or takes on the majority of the planning and decision making for the wedding night and the honeymoon, so the bride gets extra say on her special day. Seems fair to me :) Some grooms care not one bit about wedding plans. Others are super involved. Adjust these numbers as needed right?
My husband was fairly involved, but only cared about 1 thing. He wanted to wear a chocolate-brown tux. At first, this seemed a little weird to me, because this was back in the day when men wore white or black tuxes and there was no Pinterest to inspire us to deviate from the norm. But then I looked at my list and the color palette I had chosen wasn’t one of those Top 5, which meant it was adjustable, so I adjusted. And I’m so glad I did. I would hate to look back on my wedding and think that I didn’t give my husband the one thing that was important to him. Sad day for him, but he has that regret, because I asked one thing from him and he refused to do it and totally regrets not compromising on that one thing. Sucker.
Step 2: Help Your Mom Pick Her Priorities
The Mother of the Bride: gets her top 3 most important things. Why? Because she’s your mom and you don’t want to look back at your wedding and realize all you did was fight with your mom. I’ve seen brides and their mothers fight over details as inconsequential as how the bride was going to style her bangs, styles of cutlery, or how big the bouquet should be. True story. If your parents are throwing a reception for you, that means they are the host and hostess and they’ll have an idea of how they want to entertain their guests, so a bride needs to be willing to work within those parameters. But, it’s also your special day and you’ve got one shot. So, if you know what’s most important to you and then what’s most important to your mother, you’re going to know where to back off, where to compromise, and where to have a knock-down drag out fight with your mom and I’m guessing for most people, it isn’t over bangs.
Step 4: The FOTB
The Father of the Bride: gets his #1 most important thing – typically you see the FOTB worry the most about budget, but you may be surprised at what he says. Maybe it’s the song you use for the daddy/daughter dance, or having red meat at just ONE dinner for the love, so just communicate about it now.
Step 5: The Groom’s Parents
The Groom’s Parents: This area is a little grey depending on what, if anything, the groom’s parents are paying for. My in-laws hosted a lovely wedding luncheon and paid for all of it, so while my mother-in-law was very sweet to ask for my suggestions and opinions, I was also really careful to make sure I deferred to her and what she had in mind. Basically, the wedding luncheon didn’t fall in my top 5 so it’s where I was happy to compromise and be flexible, which worked out well because my MIL was marrying off her 4th son and had her system down. A bridezilla tantrum here would have thrown a huge wrench in that and created a lot of friction.
There you have it my friends. THIS is what needs to happen BEFORE you start planning your wedding. Once you make the lists in a convenient little note on your phone, head out and try on dresses, taste cake, and take dance lessons to your heart’s content. And then when some awkward moment comes up over veil length or something totally random that you never expected, you can pull out your list and be like, “Hey was this important to anyone?” and then compromise from there. And then when you get images back like this, you can just sigh over them and get all sentimental and misty-eyed instead of remembering how your bridesmaid went out and changed her outfit at the last minute and no longer matched in the pictures. Seriously though, this picture gets me...every time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed perusing Julia and Marty’s fairy-tale formal session while we’ve chatted about dicey things like budgets and bridezilla moments. Nothing like a spoonful of sugar to make that medicine go down :)
Julia and Marty
The Pear Blossom
Venue: Utah State Capital Building
Dress: Gateway Bridal
"Markova" Gown in Latter Day Bride line
Meet the Designer
Emily first fell in love with flowers while studying floral design at Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2002. She did her first wedding that same summer and has been designing weddings ever since. With over 12 years of experience in the floral and wedding industries, Emily loves creating flowers that bring beautiful colors, textures, and most importantly, memories to every event.