My Wedding Planning Journey | I Said YES To The Dress!

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My Wedding Planning Journey | I Said YES To The Dress!

If you came back for more wedding planning fun, I don't have a huge update today, but I do have some exciting news!
 

I said YES to the dress!!
 

I've been trying on wedding dresses since February, and I have to say, I've tried on a LOT of dresses. I'm actually kind of surprised - as a wedding photographer, you would think I would have all of these details picked and planned already! I had no idea where to start! I figured I would share a few tips on how to pick the perfect wedding dress for your big day!

1. Try on a few different styles.

The first day I went to try on wedding dresses was actually with my best friend and maid of honor, Samantha! It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, and we went to David's Bridal to get a feel for the different types and styles there were out there! At David's, I tried on a little bit of everything! I wanted to get an idea of what styles I liked and didn't like, what was flattering on my body, and what wasn't. Originally, I fell in love with the first dress I tried on! It was a beautiful lace a-line dress with a pleated bodice and it even had pockets! I was in love and I didn't want to take it off! I was ready to buy it right then and there, but my sweet fiancé reminded me that it was important for me to include my mom, so I waited to show her and get her opinion.

The next day, I came back with my mom and she asked me to try on a couple of other styles of dresses, since I had gotten so distracted by my first pick the day before. I obliged, and tried on a beautiful trumpet dress with beaded lace, a deep V-neckline, a super sexy low back, and the most delicate lace cap sleeves. It was a beautiful dress! I also tried on a dress similar to the one I had fallen in love with the day before. It was a beautiful tulle A-line with a sweetheart neckline and a pleated bodice. Of all the dresses I tried on, that was my sisters' favorite!

While I might not have picked out the perfect dress right then and there, the experience gave me the opportunity to narrow down my options a little and hone in on what I was looking for.

2. Take pictures!!!

Be sure and take photographs of the dresses you try on! Of course, the photographer is telling you this! But for real, being able to look back and see the dresses you liked on you is really helpful, plus you can show them off to anyone who might not have been there with you to try them on. It's also helpful to have a reference, and it will give you an idea of how your dress will photograph! One tip - be sure to ask the boutique if you're allowed to take photos, as some have strict policies against it!

3. Trust the experts.

The best experience I had trying on wedding dresses was at CC's Boutique in St. Pete! Not only was the bridal consultant, Deborah, amazing, but she chose dresses for me based off of the details of our wedding and the photos that I shared with her. She had me trying on dresses that I absolutely would have picked out, but the best part was that I didn't have to! I love that she took the time to get to know me and was able to really hone in on dresses that fit me and my style so well! 

4. Have an open mind. 

This one is important, especially if you end up with an excellent consultant! Even if you've done all your research, be willing to try something on that piques your interest, but you're not 100% sold on it, try it on! You might surprise yourself! 

I hope all my lovely brides find their dream dresses as easily as I did! Wedding dress shopping was such an amazing experience and finding my dream dress was such a great feeling! I'm so excited to wear it on our wedding day!!  

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For Photographers | How to Plan A Styled Shoot

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For Photographers | How to Plan A Styled Shoot

When I first started out as a wedding photographer, I remember perusing my favorite photographers portfolios and wondering how they got to shoot so many incredible couples, beautiful weddings, and amazing locations. I longed for my business to get to a point where my portfolio was filled with my ideal weddings at my dream venues. I wondered for a long time how to photograph weddings like those. I decided right then and there that I wasn't going to wait for those weddings to come to me. 

If there's one thing you should know about being in this industry, it's that you have to make things happen. Sitting back and waiting for those weddings to come to me wasn't an option, so I decided to plan a styled shoot. At the time, I was in the process of moving to Tampa from Nashville, and  I knew moving to a new state would prove as an additional challenge, so I started reaching out to vendors very early in the process, introducing myself and letting them know that I would be coming to Florida soon and would love to meet and collaborate on some projects. By the time June rolled around, I already had a handful of vendors on board, and we started discussing our shoot!

Styled shoots can be so beneficial for everyone involved, as long as they are planned properly. It's a great way for you as a photographer to express your creativity, bring a concept to life, or work on your technical skills. Everyone donates their time, talent, and materials, and in return, we as photographers give them some amazing images for their portfolio, as well as being able to add them to our own portfolios. It's also a really great way to network with other professionals in the industry. I love styled shoots because it gives me an opportunity to work with so many different vendors that I can refer to my couples with authenticity and confidence. Being able to say that I have worked with those vendors helps tremendously! 

As you guys know, I have a passion for teaching, so the purpose of this post is to share my experience in putting together a styled wedding shoot and answering some of your questions. I hope this post can inspire at least one person to reach out and bring their creative ideas to life! 

Step 1: Decide on a concept or theme for your styled shoot.

So, it all starts with an idea. If you're anything like me, those ideas come to you in the middle of the night when you're trying your hardest to sleep and your brain just won't let you. I keep a small notebook and pen in my nightstand drawer for all those brilliant middle-of-the-night ideas, and I write them down so that I can remember them in the morning. I've even been known to doodle my ideas if I have a specific image that comes to mind. Sometimes, these ideas sit for a while, and other times, the shoot comes to life quickly. It all depends on the season, how busy I am with weddings, and what vendors I have on board. 

It's also important to keep in mind if your styled shoot has a seasonal theme, especially if you want to get your shoot published. A winter theme won't have as much relevance if it's ready to be submitted in the spring, so plan accordingly! 

The other thing to keep in mind when coming up with your concept is your ideal client. Ultimately, you want your styled shoot to attract the weddings you want to shoot, which means appealing to your target audience and creating a styled shoot that mirrors your dream weddings. For me, I like whimsical outdoor weddings with lots of details, natural light, and soft colors, so I try to keep those things in mind when coming up with a concept. Remember, your concept doesn't necessarily have to be a theme! It can be based off something as simple as a color or mood, style, location, or even a word! Get creative, and think outside the box!

Pinterest is a great tool for brainstorming. Don't be afraid to create a mood board based off your ideas! This is super helpful in sharing your ideas with the rest of the vendors involved once the planning process begins.  And remember, you're all working together, so be sure to allow your other vendors some creative freedom in the process! After all, you're working with them because you like their work and you trust them!

  Paper Goods:  Kelly Milazzo ,  Florals:  Flower Child Florist , Tableware:  Southern Chairs

Paper Goods: Kelly Milazzo,  Florals: Flower Child Florist, Tableware: Southern Chairs

Step 2: Have a goal in mind.

What is it that you wish to accomplish with your styled shoot? Do you just want to add some new images to your portfolio to showcase the kinds of weddings you want to photograph? Do you want to get your styled shoot published on a wedding blog? Do you want to network with local vendors and get your name out there? Do you want to see an idea that you have come to life?  Your end goal will help guide the rest of your shoot, so it's important to figure out what you want out of it. 

Step 3: Figure out how involved you want to be.

There are two major levels of involvement when it comes to styled shoots, and it can honestly vary from shoot to shoot. Do you want to plan and execute the entire shoot, or are you more interested in having a planner bring your idea to life while you just concentrate on the photography aspect? Planning and executing your own shoot can be incredibly time-consuming, but the benefit is that you have complete control over the end result, and you can be sure that your vision comes to life exactly the way you imagined. It allows for a lot more creative freedom, but it does entail a lot more work. 

  Paper Goods:  Kelly Milazzo ,  Cake:  Laurel & Oak Cake Design

Step 4: Reach out to vendors.

The vendors you need will ultimately depend on the styled shoot itself and how complex you plan on making it. The more vendors you involve, the more room you have to be creative, and the more reach you'll have in your local community! Do your research when reaching out to vendors and make sure that your styles correlate! This will help tremendously in the long run.  Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, one of my favorite things about styled shoots is collaborating with vendors and being able to then refer them to my clients, so it's important to make sure your target audience is the same. 

A few of the vendors you'll want to reach out to will include:

  • Wedding Planner
  • Venue
  • Models/Couple
  • Wardrobe/Bridal Shop
  • Hair and Makeup
  • Florist
  • Tables/Chairs/Table Settings/Linens/Other Rentals
  • Bakery
  • Paper Goods
  • Accesories

It's important to provide as many details as possible when reaching out to your vendors. If you plan on working with a wedding venue, you'll need to make sure they have a date available first. Prepare to execute your styled shoot during the week, especially if you plan to do it during wedding season, as weekends are usually reserved for weddings.

Be as specific as possible when reaching out to your vendors. Introduce yourself, send them a link to your work, give them details about the concept or theme, share your mood board with them, and explain to them what your goal is with the shoot! Let them know what other vendors you have on board already, and ask them if they have any other ideas or questions. Once you have your vendors lined up, be sure to keep them involved throughout the planning process and confirm details such as date, time, location, and what they will be providing. It never hurts to be too thorough in this case! It's never a bad idea to provide your contact number as well as getting your vendors contact number. 

I take it one step further with my styled shoots and I provide a timeline for the day, which includes the venue location and address, contact information for each vendor, and what time each vendor should arrive. I always allow for ample time to set up, because having more time to shoot is never a problem!

  Venue:  The Orange Blossom Barn , Florals:  Flower Child Florist , Hair:  Cassandra Platinum , Makeup:  Krysten Strauser , Paper Goods:  Kelly Milazzo , Tableware:  Southern Chairs , Unicorn: Birdie Baby Boutique

Venue: The Orange Blossom Barn, Florals: Flower Child Florist, Hair: Cassandra Platinum, Makeup: Krysten Strauser, Paper Goods: Kelly Milazzo, Tableware: Southern Chairs, Unicorn: Birdie Baby Boutique

Step 5: Start collecting details.

If you are taking on the role of photographer and planner, it might be a good idea to start collecting any little details you need to bring your shoot to life, or coordinate with your vendors to see who can provide what. For one styled shoot, I took on the responsibility of planning the entire shoot, and I was responsible for everything on the tables except for the tableware. I spent weeks searching high and low on Amazon and Etsy, shopping at Target, and even perusing thrift stores for all the bits and pieces to bring the shoot to life. Be sure and keep any receipts for things you purchase, as some items can be returned after the shoot if they don't get used!

Another thing is to consider purchasing a styling board for your details! Heirloom Bindery sells these beautiful styling boards, or you can create your own like I did using canvas boards and fabric. It gives you an opportunity to create some really cohesive styled detail photos! I love using these boards to style my invitation suites, and if you can get your hands on your paper goods prior to the styled shoot, you'll have ample time to create some really cool images with them. Of course, if you're working with a stylist, they can take care of this on the day of, but having a variety of images never hurts. 

Step 6: Put together a shot list. 

I know that for most of us wedding photographers, it feels faux pas to work off a shot list. We educate our clients on a regular basis about how suffocating it is to work off of a shot list. For a styled shoot, however, I think it can definitely be helpful! The benefit to a styled shoot is that you have so much extra time to get creative, but there are so many pieces involved! It's easy to get caught up in it all, so creating a small shot list so you don't forget anything is key. It doesn't have to be a very thorough list, but it can be helpful to jot down some of your ideas!

Step 7: Shoot!

This one seems pretty obvious, but it's the most exciting part of the whole process! Seeing everything come together on the day of the styled shoot is so exciting! Be sure to arrive to the venue on time, and introduce yourself to each of the vendors involved! Have fun! 

Be sure to get lots of photos of every element for your vendors! This is SO important! Everyone has donated a lot of time and effort for this shoot, and the end product is ultimately your photographs! Get as may different angles and focal lengths as possible! Variety is never a bad thing.

One thing to consider on shoot day is to provide food or arrange to have food delivered during the shoot. Everyone is working hard that day and donating their time - fuel their brains with some carbs and make sure to stay hydrated! I even provide a cooler with adult beverages for my couples/models, in case they need a little liquid courage before jumping in front of the camera ;)


6. Share, share, share!

Once you've culled and edited your images from the styled shoot, it's time to show them to the world! Obviously, if you're going to submit your styled shoot for publication, it's important to try and keep the images off social media. Do your research and see which publications require exclusivity and which one's are okay with images being shared on social media before releasing them. Be clear and upfront with your vendors about your intentions with the images, and give them a timeline of when they can expect the images. I typically share 1-2 images from the shoot on social media, as most blogs that I submit to are okay with that, but be sure to clarify with the blogs you plan to submit to so you don't lessen your chances of being published.

7. Submit your styled shoot!

Getting your styled shoot published on a wedding blog is an excellent way to share your work, along with all the wonderful vendors you worked with, with tons of potential clients and other wedding industry professionals. Be mindful of which blogs require exclusivity, and don't get discouraged if your shoot isn't chosen to be published. Choose a blog who's style and aesthetic aligns with your own, and keep in mind the submission process is different for every blog! You may have to spend some extra time resizing images, writing descriptions, linking vendors, and reading about their submission guidelines. Submitting images for publication can be tedious, but it's worth it in the long run!

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My Wedding Planning Journey | Where Do I Start?

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My Wedding Planning Journey | Where Do I Start?

When I first thought about writing this segment about planning my own wedding, I figured I would work on it after the wedding. And then, I got a brilliant idea. Let's figure it out together. 

As if working as my full time job as an RN, planning a wedding, planning a huge styled shoot, and getting back into competitive barrel racing after an eight-year hiatus wasn't enough on my plate, I figured a series on wedding planning for all of my bride-to-be's would be awesome.

For the next year, I'll be sharing tips, tricks, and wedding planning advice that you can only learn from going through the process yourself. I'll also be sharing which vendors I've chosen to work with, as I think choosing the right vendors is crucial to having an amazing, stress-free wedding!

I'm not going to lie - after all these years of photographing big, beautiful weddings, I always said that I wanted a small, non-traditional wedding. I had no desire to have a big venue with a DJ and the flowers and the food and the bridal party...until we got engaged. My plans totally changed, thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest. The problem with that is that wedding planning can quickly go from exciting to overwhelming. There was so much inspiration out there, I didn't know where to start. 

The first step for us (after just enjoying a few weeks of being engaged, telling our friends and family, and setting a date) was to figure out what kind of wedding we wanted to have. I knew right away that we wanted our wedding to be elegant and timeless, but not too fancy. We definitely wanted an outdoor ceremony location, and we wanted a venue that could host everything - the getting ready, ceremony, and reception. We didn't want any loud colors or crazy themes, but we definitely wanted to incorporate some aspects that told the story of us, and who we are as a couple. 

Our next step was setting a budget and figuring out which aspects and vendors were most important to us. Obviously, our wedding photographer was at the top of our budget, and I'll be making an entirely separate post about that soon, but it's up to you as a couple to figure out what is most important to you and go from there. These things add up quickly, so be prepared!

Choosing our bridal party was a pretty simple task, but it really made the planning process start to feel real! Asking my two best girlfriends to stand by my side on the happiest day of my life was one of the best memories I have from this year! The best part is that my maid of honor is also getting married soon, so we're getting to go through the planning process together, and I just think that's so fun!

The next two steps were the big ones - finding a wedding venue and hiring a wedding planner. I'm so excited about our wedding venue, and I'll be sharing more about the place we chose a little later, but I've got to tell you guys, hiring a wedding planner was the best thing we have done so far. 

We hired Kathleen Brate with Southern Romance Events to handle all of our wedding planning, and y'all, I can't say enough good things about her! She has handled everything for us so far, from inquiries to contracts, tastings with caterers, and she has even referred us to some really amazing vendors. She answers every question we have, and when we run into hiccups, she smooths things over and presents us with solutions. Over the last couple of months, we've booked most of our vendors, so we're just now getting into the little details, so I'll keep you guys updated on how all of that goes!

I never thought I would be so excited to plan a wedding, but y'all...I'm marrying the love of my life and I couldn't be more ecstatic. Our wedding is going to be a dream, and I'm excited to take you all along for the ride. I'd love to hear more about your wedding planning experience, any vendors you've booked or if you have any questions, tidbits of advice, or just words of encouragement! I'll be posting more about this journey throughout the year, so keep checking back!

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Brooke & Hunter | Covington Farm

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Brooke & Hunter | Covington Farm

OH. EM. GEE. Y'all. This venue. And this couple. And that skirt. And all that beautiful golden light. Holy cow. I knew that Dade City's newest wedding venue, Covington Farm, was amazing, but nobody told me that it looked like the set of a Nicholas Sparks movie. Brooke and Hunter (and that yellow skirt!!) were just perfect and so in love, and I'm so thankful that all of this came together so beautifully!

Ladies, if you're obsessing over that skirt like I am, fear not - it's hanging on my new client wardrobe rack, and it's available to borrow for any session, along with a whole assortment of clothing! Wardrobe styling is kind of a new feature that I offer, but I have to say, my clients and myself have all been happy with the results! If you have a session coming up with me, get in touch and let's figure out what to wear!

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For Photographers | Having a Full Time Job...and Being a Wedding Photographer

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For Photographers | Having a Full Time Job...and Being a Wedding Photographer

One of the questions I get asked most frequently by other photographers is how I was able to photograph weddings and go to nursing school full-time. I'm still not entirely sure how I managed to pull that off, but I did. I graduated from nursing school in May and now work full time as an RN in Tampa along with photographing weddings. 

Let's be honest, I didn't get a lot of sleep over the last four years of my life, but I did learn some things that helped me along the way. I've compiled some tips to help you juggle your work-life schedule and find some balance in the hectic world of being a college student who is also incredibly passionate about wedding photography. 

 Chelsey Somohano Photography www.somohanoweddings.com

 

1. Get enough sleep

No, seriously. My first two years of school, I was up every night trying to cram information into my brain and editing pictures until three or four in the morning, and let me tell you, it wasn't healthy. I still struggle with getting enough sleep because my body got so used to only four hours a night at most. The nights that I would turn my computer off and close the books and go to bed by 10 PM were some of the best decisions of my school career. I would wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever came my way, whether it was school, work, or photography related. I was able to focus more, which in the long run allowed me more time to do what I needed to do because I wasn't sitting there reading the same paragraph over and over again trying to understand what my textbook was trying to tell me.

2. Set office hours. And stick to them.

When I started going to school and photographing weddings concurrently, I sent out a mass email to all of my clients, other vendors, wedding planners, etc. I let them know that my office hours would be changing and I also included it in my signature so that it was right there for anyone to see when I responded to an email. Having the weekends off wasn't out of the ordinary since I was usually photographing weddings, but I decided to also take Mondays off. This gave me a chance to catch up on anything wedding related after the weekend, and it also gave me a chance to study without feeling guilty for not responding to an email right away. I did extend my weekday hours however to make up for that day I was taking off. I also had some leniency and responded to some emails at 10 PM because I'm human and if I didn't do it then I would probably forget, but I tried not to make that a regular practice. I also utilize Boomerang for Gmail, which allowed me to schedule my emails to be sent at a designated time. Often times, I knew I would have emails to send, so I would write them whenever I had some downtime (Downtime?! What's that?!) and I could set them to send on whatever date and time I needed them.

At first I was nervous about taking a weekday off, but in the long run was a good move for my business and I have actually kept that policy in place since graduating. I still take Mondays off. I will say that doesn't necessarily mean that I wasn't working on something photography related, I just wasn't responding to emails on that day. 

 Chelsey Somohano Photography www.somohanoweddings.com

 

3. Extend your turnaround time.

This was another one of those scary things that I had to do in order to keep myself sane during nursing school. In my contract, my turnaround time is 90 days. That seems like a really long time because it is. I didn't like the idea of my clients having to wait three months for their photographs after their wedding, but that deadline allowed me the time I needed if I got really busy or needed extra time to study for an exam. There were some weeks that I had exams every day and 12-hour clinicals and I was working a full time job as well, so it was nice knowing I wasn't going to be in breach of my contract if I needed a few extra days. I will say that I never needed all 90 days but it was nice to have that cushion if I needed it. Plus it was nice to be able to surprise my clients with their photos early when they were expecting them in three months! Underpromise, overdeliver!

4. Outsource your editing!

If you ask me what the best decision I made for my business was in the year 2016, it was outsourcing my editing. I had a really hard time with this. Like a really hard time. I am a control freak and I don't like giving up that control especially when it came to my clients photographs. I had tossed the idea around for a while and experimented with a few different companies but never found any but I trusted enough to use for all of my weddings. Along came Plus Minus Collective. Jack and Matt took every fear I had about letting someone else edit my photos and threw them out the window. I cannot recommend this outsourcing company enough. They took the time to get to know how I really edit, instead of just slapping a preset on my files and calling it a day. While the process to set up my account with them took a little longer, it was worth it in the long run, because every time I got a wedding back from them, I knew the images would look exactly the way I wanted them to look. Not only did outsourcing free up a lot of my time that I could use to study, but it allowed me to deliver my galleries a lot sooner than my clients anticipated, which was just an added bonus. Check them out if you're looking for an outsourcing company! Mention my name and you'll receive 20% off your first three jobs with them!

 

5. Keep it simple.

Photographing weddings and making sure my clients needs were met while drowning in nursing school was hard to balance. Answering emails from potential clients about packages and pricing can be very time consuming. Not to say I don't enjoy answering those questions and educating my clients, but there are only so many hours in the day. When I started nursing school I reformatted my website to include all of the information that a potential client would need in order to book with me. I included step-by-step instructions, full pricing and details, what to expect next, my availability, how to get a hold of me, etc. All of these things are on my website on one page, easy to find and easy to read. This usually meant that when a couple contacted me they already knew what package they wanted, how much it was going to cost them, and how to book me. More often than not, our first email exchange was the couple telling me they were ready to book, and maybe a few questions that they needed answered. The entire process was easy for me and for them, which meant I had more time to do what I needed to do. This is another thing that I have continue to implement in my business even after graduating. I don't get a lot of inquiries anymore but the ones that I do get are typically clients that are ready to book. This isn't necessarily a concept that everyone should implement in their business model, but it's something that works well for me. I'm a photographer, not a salesperson. It's easier for me to present exactly what I have to offer to my couples and not try to upsell them on other things. 

6. Know that it's okay to say no sometimes. 

Don't be afraid to say no – and that's coming from a people pleaser! When someone asks me for a favor, I say yes, no questions asked. I struggled with this concept of saying no sometimes for a while, but learning your limitations and learning how to say no will help you tremendously. Don't feel like you have to agree to everything all the time. Keep track of the things you have on your plate, and ask yourself if you really have time to do whatever it is your being asked, whether it's another wedding, a second shooting opportunity, or simply dinner out with friends. I promise you, your friends and family will be understanding to your situation. 

7. Have a solid support system. And lean on them. 

This is kind of a big one. When you're drowning in school and work and life and nothing seems to give...lean on your friends and family. I was incredibly blessed through school to have my best friends, my sweet man, and my family, who were all there for me when I needed them, whether it was to answer a question, to bring over a bottle of wine to unwind after an exam, or just to simply be a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen. Don't take these people for granted! 

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I hope some of this information helps you guys build your business and maintain your sanity throughout your school career and beyond! I implemented a lot of these things to help me find a balance during school, but I have kept a lot of them in place, even after graduating. I still work full time as a nurse outside of the photography industry, so these things help me keep that balance that I worked so hard to create. 

I'd love to hear how these tips have helped, or if you have anything to add! I always love hearing from other photographers how I was able to help! Feel free to leave a comment below! And good luck! There is a light at the end of the tunnel that is college, and I promise it's not an oncoming train.

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Nicole & Jake | Annalee Acres Wedding

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Nicole & Jake | Annalee Acres Wedding

I really love my job, you guys. Being able to be present for the most important day in couples' lives is really just, for lack of any other term, awesome. Nicole and Jake were really no exception. These two share a mutual love  for so many things, and it was really incredible to see the smile that Nicole put on Jake's face. I got to spend the day with their families, documenting all of the joy that always surrounds my couples on their wedding days. 

Also, if you can't tell, I was just a little bit obsessed with Nicole's dress - it was gorgeous! I was really just over the moon with all of their sweet little details and I'm so thrilled to finally get a chance to blog these images! 

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Aubrey & Aidan | First Magnitude Brewery

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Aubrey & Aidan | First Magnitude Brewery

I'm always so honored when friends ask me to photograph their wedding days! Aubrey and I attended college together in Gainesville, Florida back in the day, and spent our days working at Publix together. Big P crew for life! When I heard that Aubrey and Aidan were getting married, I was so excited for her! Aubrey exudes the kind of happiness and carefree spirit that I wish more people in this world had. It's hard to describe the joy she had the morning of her wedding, and the sheer excitement of finally marrying the man of her dreams! 

 

Aubrey and Aidan had a small, intimate wedding day in Florida. They got ready together in the morning at Magnolia Plantation, a super quaint bed & breakfast in the historic district of Gainesville. There was a quiet peace that morning as they prepped for their day next to each other. Little hidden pockets of light made for fantastic getting ready spots, and they smiled at each other as the big moment came closer. 

 

As you can see, Aubrey and Aidan aren't a traditional couple and therefore, didn't have a traditional wedding! Their ceremony and reception was held at First Magnitude Brewing Company in Gainesville, and it was the perfect gathering place for their friends and family! Audrey's father walked her down the aisle to Aidan as the most important people in their lives watched, and they made a promise for forever through laughs and tears. It was a beautiful, intimate ceremony, and I'm so thankful to have been a part of it! 

The reception was a blast, complete with cake fights and shots, selfie sticks and a live band that really brought the place to life! Inside, guests enjoyed board games and craft beer and nothing but good conversation. 

it was truly an honor to photograph this wedding! Aubrey and Aidan, thank you for putting your trust in me to document your day! 

On a side note, to my Florida friends, I will be marketing my services to the central Florida area beginning this year! There's a lot in store for my business in the next year, and expanding my wedding photography to Tampa and Gainesville is at the top of my list! Get in touch if you or someone you know in Florida is getting married soon and searching for a photographer!

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Heather & Alex | Dade City Engagement Session

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Heather & Alex | Dade City Engagement Session

There's something really special about photographing a super cute couple on a private boat dock in your hometown in Florida. It's even more special when the session turns into a surprise proposal that you get to be up close and personal for. 

Heather and I spent four years on the yearbook staff together in high school, and Alex was a regular at the ball field that we grew up playing on. When you grown up in a small town like Dade City, it isn't long before your worlds collide and two of your favorite people end up together. 

I always schedule sessions during my trips to Florida, and Heather was so excited to plan a session to document the love that she and Alex share. We planned and scouted and came up with the perfect location - a super secret boat house on Lake Jovita in San Antonio, Florida.

When Alex caught wind of our plans, he called me to let me in on a secret - he was planning on proposing to Heather during our session! I squealed with excitement. A proposal! How fun! And the best part was the fact that I didn't have to  hide because we would already be taking photographs! 

The day of the session, we explored the property near the boat house, and eventually made our way out to the water. From the dock, you could see Heather and Alex's alma mater,  Saint Leo. Alex suggest a cool photo with the college campus in the background, and I had Heather step forward towards me, telling her the shot with Alex blurred out behind looked so cool. I subtly asked her to turn around and hug her man, and there he was, down on one knee. Heather was so surprised, she actually turned back around and covered her face, shocked and delighted by not only that gorgeous  ring, but the sudden, exciting prospect of forever with her mister right.

At this point, of course I was in tears, so let's give it up for auto focus. She said yes (duh!) and finally figured out that I was in on the big secret. We spent a little more time exploring the property and documenting a little bit of what turned out to be a pretty rad story. Heather and Alex, thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to tell a little part of your love story!

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Hannah & Drew | Mint Springs Farm

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Hannah & Drew | Mint Springs Farm

I was so thrilled when Hannah and Drew told me they would be getting married at Mint Springs Farm next summer! Mint Springs has always been one of my favorite venues in Nashville, and I just adore their property and all their quaint little areas to shoot! We got together on a beautiful May afternoon and wandered around the property, getting to know one another and just laughing and talking about their plans. Hannah and Drew share a passion for Christ, so it was very important for them to be married in a place where they could glorify that love. Mint Springs' outdoor chapel was the perfect place! The way that Hannah lights up when Drew smiles at her is one for the books! Hannah and Drew, I cannot wait for your wedding next year! I had so much fun photographing your engagement session!

To view the full gallery of images from this session, click here!

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Lauren & Eric | Meadow Hill Farm

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Lauren & Eric | Meadow Hill Farm

Oh. My. Goodness. I don't even know where to begin with Lauren and Eric's amazing wedding. I've been obsessing over Meadow Hill Farm since it was established, and it was only fitting that my last weekend in Nashville was spent photographing a wedding there! It was such a beautiful day in Nashville, too! Sometimes, I have to pinch myself to make sure this is real life!

Everything was impeccable. Lauren's beautiful lace dress was so dainty alongside the rustic decor of the venue, and her bridesmaids wore beautiful blush dresses. Lauren's mom created many of the floral arrangements, and my little photographer heart was just singing all day long!

Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a sucker for great family photos. I absolutely adored the floral backdrop at Lauren and Eric's ceremony site, so of course it made the perfect location for family photos! And the ceremony! Oh my goodness! Obsessed! So much emotion and joy throughout the entire day! 

Oh! And this is pretty rad - Kelsea Ballerini filmed her new music video for Legends during the sparkler exit! Check it out here and see if you can spot us!

I could talk forever about what an incredible wedding this was...or I could just share some of my favorite images! Enjoy! Leave some love in the comments for the bride and groom!

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Jasmine and Stephens | Red River Farm

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Jasmine and Stephens | Red River Farm

Jasmine and Stephens had the most dreamy wedding in a little private barn just south of Nashville. Every single one of their handmade and sustainable items was just perfect - from the repurposed church pews to the antique fabric Jasmine thrifted for her dress, even down to the secondhand books used to decorate the tables. It was truly a breathtaking wedding, and it was such a pleasure to work alongside Sammi B Photography again. My favorite part of the day was that Jasmine and Stephens allotted a few extra hours after their send-off for portraits! I just love it when couples understand the importance of good portraits, and that scheduling them during the best light of the day is the smartest way to guarantee that you'll get some amazing options to choose from! 

I hope you'll enjoy these images of their super fun wedding! I'm excited to be photographing a few barn weddings this year! 

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Charity & Bobby | Fall Engagement Inspiration

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Charity & Bobby | Fall Engagement Inspiration

Sometimes, I get an idea that swirls around in my head for days and months and I finally get a chance to see it come to life.. Jennifer Hamilton of Jennifer Hamilton Events took the ideas I had scribbled down and helped me tell a beautiful story for a beautiful couple. Charity and Bobby are both musicians from LA and their style and mutual love for books, camping and messy smores made them the perfect couple for this styled engagement session. What started as notes about tee-pee's, bonfires, horses, gold stars and stacks of books became the perfect setting for a beautiful story. Thanks to the Breedlove's for letting use their beautiful property. It's picturesque lakeside setting made the perfect backdrop for the tee-pee that Jennifer Hamilton built by hand. The Instax polaroid pictures and the gold dangling stars really were the icing on the cake. And can we talk about how gorgeous Charity is?!

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Goodbye, Nashville

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Goodbye, Nashville

"You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place...like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again."

I don't think it's quite hit me yet that I said goodbye to Nashville on Sunday. Leaving the place that I came to as a naive teenager and leaving as what I would consider an adult is a weird feeling. I've been looking forward to going home for so long that I didn't really think about that leaving would feel like.

A lot of people used to ask me what brought me to Nashville, and I wish I could say it was something other than my silly little heart, but that was it. I followed it to a city that I had only spent 48 hours in, and I ended up making it home for the last 8 years. I went through heartbreak and loss in this city. I met people who became my family. I lost friends. I gained friends that can't get rid of my even if they tried. I worked at Hard Rock Cafe and got to meet musicians, see shows, and teach people all about the city I had grown to love. I climbed fences. I threw parties. I rode horses. I demolished a house. I survived a flood. I fell in love and maintained a long distance relationship for a year. I lived in a barn. I was a groupie.I worked at a farm. I saw countless friends get married. I partied a bit. I studied a lot.  I started a business. I worked my ass off and not only got into nursing school, but graduated from it. All in all, I have experienced a life that I wouldn't trade for anything in this city, and I can truly say that Nashville will always hold a special place in my heart.

And here I go, following my heart once again, back home to my family, my true love, my best friend, and the only place that has ever truly been home to me.

Nashville, thank you for welcoming me with open arms. Thank you for showing me what southern hospitality was all about. Thank you for the friends I've gained for life, and thank you for being so wonderful to me over these last eight years.

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Holly | Honeymoon Island Maternity Session

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Holly | Honeymoon Island Maternity Session

I'm getting so excited for my move to Tampa, y'all! I've been flying back and forth quite a bit over the last year, visiting with family and taking small steps to make the transition as smooth as possible. One of the things I've been working on is shifting my focus a little bit in my photography. I absolutely adore photographing weddings, but I'm also finding that I really love photographing maternity sessions and families! 

Holly and I actually went to high school together (good old Wesley Chapel High!) and she just recently moved back to Florida with her adorable family! She and her husband Justin already have one sweet little boy, and they are expecting a new baby girl any day now! We met up at Honeymoon Island to document that beautiful baby bump, and I'm so excited to share these with you all! Baby B, you are going to be so loved!

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Holly & Nathan | The Red Barn

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Holly & Nathan | The Red Barn

Holly and Nathan are such a sweet couple! I absolutely loved photographing their wedding at Crafton Farms, and the big red barn was the perfect backdrop for these two! It was such an emotional day filled with love and laughter, from the sweet letters they exchanged before the wedding, to the moment Holly walked down the aisle to Nathan. I just adore these two! The weather was perfect, and we had such beautiful light for sunset pictures! I highly recommend that all of my couples take 15 minutes out of their reception to head outside with me and get a few portraits before the sun goes down! 

Holly and Nathan, it was such a pleasure getting to know you both over this last year! I'm so happy to call you both clients and friends! I wish you all the best in your marriage! 

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