wedding photographer

Enchanting Champagne & Navy Wedding at Dogwood Venue

MARLEY + CAMERON | SUMRALL, MS

Oh, what a joy it was to be part of Marley and Cameron’s wedding day! These two kicked off my fall wedding season and theirs was my 13th wedding to shoot this year. Having known Cameron and Marley for a few years, I already knew that photographing their wedding would be a true blessing. I totally admit that I cried all day long! It’s just so easy to love these two and that was clearly obvious from the amount of friends and family that surrounded them on their wedding day. With a bridal party of over 30, we had the BEST day laughing and working together! I got to see first hand just how many friendships they’d formed over the years and how adored they were by those in their bridal party. It made me admire Cameron and Marley even more than I already did.

Dogwood Venue was the perfect spot for the Barnhill wedding! With it’s open design, jaw dropping bride and groom suites, and sprawling acreage along The Trace, we had plenty of locations for shooting. The bride started the morning off celebrating with her best girls while the guys enjoyed a little bit of down time before the festivities got started. There were so many precious moments from the book full of letters to the bride from her bridesmaids, to the arrangement made specifically for Marley’s mom that the couple gave to her during the ceremony, but I have to say my favorite was Marley and Cameron’s first look. I seriously don’t think I’ve ever cried that hard during a first look!!! Cameron was so overcome by emotion at seeing his beautiful wife to be, and there wasn’t a single dry eye in the place. From there, the two just relaxed and spent the remainder of the day enjoying each others company and that of their loved ones. Theirs is a wedding day I will always remember and cherish. When you look back through some of my favorites from their event, I think you’ll see why!

Marley and Cameron - I’ll never forget the first time I met you. It was at a tailgate a few years ago when Tracy and I had just started working together. Do you remember? I remember thinking how funny it was that Cameron had a sister named Carley and now had a girlfriend named Marley. Then as I watched you grow as a couple, I always felt like you two would make the most amazing husband and wife team. Then last summer when we went on one of our trips to the Reservoir, I remember telling Tracy that I thought a proposal had to be right around the corner. And it was! Being there on the day you proposed, Cameron, was just the absolute best. I can’t thank you guys enough for letting me be part of your incredible journey. You are going to have the most AMAZING life together! Big hugs and all my love, Shea

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Marley & Cameron’s wedding day was so absolutely perfect! I am so thankful for the amazing team of vendors who put together their incredible event!

Venue: Dogwood Venue


Brides Gown: House of Tux


Second Shooter: Meridith Lee Photography


Videography: Revival House


Catering: Stonehouse Restaurant


Coordinator: Sarah Elizabeth Clark


Groom's Cake: Sister Moon Cakery

Bride’s Cake: Simply Divine Cakes by Sheila Cooper

Hair Stylist: Kodi Atkins

Makeup Artist: Sidni Clark

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Timeless Engagement Session in Downtown Hattiesburg

EMILY + ROB | HATTIESBURG, MS

I had been looking forward to Emily and Rob’s engagement sessions for months! They are such a joyful couple with a special connection and the truest love for one another. When I met Emily for the first time over coffee, I instantly adored her. She’s so sweet, down to earth, and has such an inner glow about her. When she told me the story of how her and Rob met, a smile never left her face. Rob and Emily met through mutual friends. They knew each other casually but were never introduced until one fortuitous blind date at Chili's that set the course for where they are today. Their friends, who were dating at the time, thought they may make a good pair and so they set Rob and Emily up on a blind double date. Their connection was immediate. They traded jokes back and forth the entire night and neither of them were trying to disguise how they felt about the other. The blind date take took place right after they graduated from highschool, and the following summer would lead them in opposite directions for college - Rob to Mississippi State and Emily to Southern Miss. While they ran into each other over the years, neither were ready to let their guards down. They traveled far away, lived in different states, and attended graduate school eight hours apart. The stars weren’t ready to align for them just yet but one day in January 2018, Rob contacted Emily and asked her to coffee. They were in Hattiesburg for the Christmas break. Little by little they began talking more until eventually FaceTime became the standard. Soon enough Rob asked Emily to meet him in between their respective cities for a date and, as they say, the rest is history! Emily told me that their feelings for each other never really changed, but timing became the important factor. They needed time to grow individually and time to mature. God truly had a plan for them!

Emily and Rob showed up to their engagement session looking completely elegant in classic attire. Emily’s off the shoulder dress and heels paired perfectly with Rob’s blazer, dark slacks and dress shoes. As the two laughed and enjoyed each others company while strolling the streets of downtown Hattiesburg, I was so inspired by their natural joy. It was as if the whole world had disappeared around them and they were completely alone walking hand in hand. After we finished up shooting in downtown Hattiesburg, we traveled to a beautiful pecan grove where Emily and Rob changed into their 3rd outfits. The bride-to-be looked every bit the blushing bride in a fun, floral gown and the future groom’s outfit complimented hers so well. The day was SO HOT, but you would never know it from looking at the couples engagement session. They made every shot look effortless, happy, and every bit as perfect as they are.

Emily and Rob - I can’t WAIT for wedding day with you guys! You’re two of the most adorable humans I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and I’m so blessed to be part of this time in your lives! Thank you for choosing me to accompany you on your journey to becoming husband and wife. I hope you love looking back on your engagement session from last Friday as much as I do!! Big hugs, Shea

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Enchanting and Elegant Downtown Hattiesburg Wedding

HANNAH + DOUG | HATTIESBURG, MS

When Doug and Hannah met while attending The University of Southern Mississippi, sparks flew from the very start! Over the years that they spent dating, they talked about what forever might look like for them, and knew that their families would play an integral part in their journey to becoming husband and wife. When Doug proposed, their dearest loved ones surrounded them and it was the happiest of events. Hannah believed they were going to dinner at Olive Garden, but little did she know that Doug had a whole affair planned where their families would be able to be part of the day he asked his best girl to be his bride. He gave Hannah a stunning diamond belonging to her mother that was set into an elegant diamond band. Truly elegant and so incredibly special because the diamond belonged to her mother, Hannah happily said “Yes” as Doug placed the ring on her finger.

Hannah and Doug chose The Venue at the Bakery Building as their wedding venue, and they couldn’t have made a more fantastic choice to go with their elegant wedding vibe. Originally built in 1927, The Bakery Building served as a full-scale bakery for many years nestled in the heart of downtown Hattiesburg. It’s the perfect fusion of historic character and modern urban industrial chic. This one-of-a-kind atmosphere with semi-private nooks, open lounge areas, and a large multi-purpose space is an ideal location for those couples who want both an indoor and outdoor option on their wedding day. With a spacious garden area featuring a large deck and string lights, the two made the decision to host their wedding outside surrounded by their loved ones. Hannah wanted an abundance of romantic florals and greenery to be involved in her day. Blooms: A Garden Shop captured the brides vision in stunning fashion. The couple chose sage and peachy pink as their go to color scheme.

The classic, romantic style of the day was complimented by all of the details the bride and groom chose to be part of their wedding. In Hannah’s bouquet, she carried a locket featuring a picture of her mother, and after walking down the aisle, the bride and her father lit a candle in remembrance of her. Hannah wore a stunning off the shoulder Bliss Bridal gown featuring a sweetheart neckline, delicate shoulder straps and intricate beading. A handmade wooden cross made for a reverent backdrop for the wedding ceremony and it was adorned with a stunning arrangement of roses, garden roses, and sweet pea. Their religious ceremony included communion in which the grooms brother led both families.

After saying, “I do”, the couple headed into their reception where they dined on a delicious buffet style dinner and lots of sweets! The bride has a sweet tooth, and her request was that there be candy, cake, and donuts at her reception. The bride had three cakes surrounded by her favorite donuts, while the grooms cake and table featured his favorite football team - the New Orleans Saints. The couple exited from their reception underneath a line of sparklers and starry skies. Hannah and Doug hopped into a convertible Mustang and waved goodbye to their family and friends bound for their honeymoon in Cancun!

Hannah and Doug, I’ll never forget being part of such an amazing time in your lives! Your day was the absolute dreamiest and full of all the best things. I don’t think I’ll ever find the right words to express just how thankful I am to have been by your sides on your journey to becoming husband and wife. It was such an honor! I hope you enjoy looking back at your wedding day, and I’m sending you guys my biggest hugs!! Shea

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So many amazing vendors made Hannah & Doug’s wedding day the absolute fairy tale that it was! I couldn’t be more thankful to have worked with such an amazing group of talented and hard working individuals! It was such a pleasure to work with each and every one of them!

Venue: The Venue at The Bakery Building 
Caterer: Special Events Catering 
Videographer: RedSail 
Second Shooter: Timothy Samuel King 
Florist: Blooms: a Garden Shop
Wedding Cake: Rhoda's Cakes & Catering 
Bride's Gown: Bliss Bridal, Hattiesburg MS 
Bridesmaids Gowns: AZAZIE
Groom's Tux: Men's Wearhouse
Invitations: Your Stationery Stop 
Hair Stylist: Jennifer Lee Meadows - The Meadows Salon & Spa 
Makeup Artist: Taylor Carlton - The Meadows Salon & Spa 
DJ: Clay Parker 
Lead Assistant: Mackenzie Huff
Grooms Cake: Cassi Renot 

Southern & Sweet Spring Wedding at Cold Springs

BRITTNEY + ERIC | COLLINS, MS

On a perfect sunny day two weekends ago, Brittney and Eric said “I do” to forever! The forecast called for rain and chilly temps, but the Lord had other plans. Sunshine and warm weather was enjoyed by all who watched the two become husband and wife. The day started with the bride handwriting notes to everyone near and dear to her. Then, with her bride tribe, she was pampered by the talented staff at Loose Ends Salon. The bride selected floral robes for her bridesmaids, mother, little sister, and future mother in law as their getting ready outfits, and they were OH SO CUTE! While Brittney finished hair and makeup, I slipped out to photograph her gorgeous details. She took so much care in selecting the details that would tell her and Eric’s story. A variation of shades of blue and pink decorated the day for the two with the bridesmaids in dresses from David’s Bridal in quartz and the guys in navy suits from John White, Ltd. The bridal flowers were the perfect touch to add to this already sweet southern wedding. White roses, hydrangeas, sea holly, eucalyptus, and sand dollars made for the most beautiful bouquets and boutonnieres. As a tribute to her father, a local farmer, the bride even added a a hint of cabbage to her bouquet. Her grandmothers handkerchief was wrapped delicately around the stems. As Brittney slipped into her stunning lace dress from Imaginations with intricate beading, she donned a single strand of white pearls around her neck that also belonged to her grandmother. A pair of blue jewel earrings and a pair of powder blue flats gave the bride her something blue. After tearful first looks with her father and bridesmaids, her mother carefully placed her cathedral length veil into her hair and readied her to walk down the aisle. As her bridesmaids prayed over her, with her family’s heads carefully bowed around, I was overwhelmed with the love in the room. The prayers were not only for Brittney, but for her future husband and the family that God would hopefully bless them with one day. After the prayers were said, it was time for Brittney to take her fathers arm and walk toward her best friend.

Not an eye was dry in the church during Brittney and Eric’s ceremony. The couple wrote their own vows and lovingly read those aloud to one another. Every word was laced in love and devotion. The wedding ceremony also consisted of the Lord’s supper and a sand ceremony. As the bride laid her head on her husband’s shoulder as prayers were said, I took a moment to say my own special prayer for the couple. Marriage is such a blessing. I prayed that their lives would be full, happy, and that they would find constant companionship in one another. That they would never go to bed angry at the other, and that the Lord would watch over and guide them throughout the rest of their days.

After kissing his bride, Eric took her hand and walked back down the aisle with his wife at his side. Cheers were heard all around and the two shared a private moment alone before joining the reception where a gorgeous 4 tier wedding cake prepared by Monkey Kisses was enjoyed by all. The bride opted for a nontraditional bouquet toss where instead of throwing a bouquet for a single lady to catch, she handed out individual roses to them. After handing out the roses, she prayed with them for the future wives they would be and that the right Godly man would come along to walk with them as their partners in life.

The couples send off was so much fun! Heart shaped confetti decorated the two as they walked towards their getaway car: a vintage red camaro! It was the most amazing end to the most amazing day. I stole Brittney and Eric away for their husband and wife portraits during golden hour, and every single shot was breathtaking. These two love each other so completely! The magic just happens when they’re together, and I feel so blessed that I was the one they chose to capture their love! Brittney and Eric - I just adore you guys! You’re shining beacons for Christ and your love is so pure! Love one another as our Lord loves his church, and your days will be full and truly blessed. I am so thankful to know you. It was such an honor to be by your sides as you joined the married folks club. Welcome, and thank you for the opportunity to serve you! Big hugs and all of my love, Shea

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The Cooper Wedding had the greatest of vendors! A huge thank you to all of them for making Brittney and Eric’s wedding so incredibly special!

Venue: The Springs Church Cold Springs
Caterer: Morgan's on Main
Coordinator: Deanna Chance Jones
Videographer: Timothy Samuel King
Second Shooter: Tyler Cook
Florist: Sweet Blossom
Wedding Cake: Monkey Kisses
Bride's Gown: Imaginations
Bride's Ring: Carter's Jewelry of Petal
Groom's Tux: John WhiteLtd
Invitations: Timothy & Co Design & Bourne Brothers
Calligraphy: Lulabelle Weddings and Events
Hair Stylist: Loose Ends Salon & Accessories
Lead Assistant: Courtney Fortune Shoemaker

Elegant Mandeville Winter Wedding at the Fleur De Lis Center

ASHLEY + BEN | MANDEVILLE, LA

It was 2012 when I met Ashley. I started a new position as an admissions counselor in the Office of Admissions at Southern Miss. I had the pleasure of working with and getting to know her over the next few years, and came to admire and respect her. She was so bubbly and you wanted to be her friend from the moment you met her. It was easy to see how Ben fell in love with Ashley. And their tale is one that you’ll read here today. This is a very special blog post because you’re going to hear all about their wedding experience but not from my perspective - you’ll hear it from the bride! Today kicks off a blog series where I have invited some of my brides to share a little bit about their wedding day and planning experience! There’s SO much good info here, guys! Who could better help you plan your wedding than someone who’s recently been through the process?! And let me just say that Ashley has some STELLAR advice!

HOW THEY MET

My name is Ashley Johnston Wicker and Ben and I met through the world of online dating in March of 2016. We had both tried it off and on, but never really found a person that we clicked with. Ben was located in Davidson, NC, and I was in Hattiesburg, MS, so how did we find each other you ask? Read on…

In early March, Ben found out he was moving to Hammond, LA, to join Southeastern Louisiana University as an Assistant Professor in Chemistry. Once he knew he was moving, he changed his location target and pretty soon we ended up on each other’s match list.  I had vowed to embark on a personal journey in 2016, where I focused on being more vulnerable. When I saw Ben’s profile, I knew this was my first test. I reached out immediately, while trying not to come across as too eager. By the end of the month, we had exchanged numbers, and I kept finding signs that this guy was something special.

Ben wasn’t moving until the end of May, but a family funeral brought him to town a little earlier than expected. He stopped in Hattiesburg so we could actually meet face-to-face, and I was smitten. I’m pretty sure I made a complete fool of myself (hello nerves!) at T-Bones, where we had lunch, but it was the start of a beautiful thing. It was definitely full of laughs, as Ben has always brought laughter and fun to my days.

HOW BEN PROPOSED

When Ben and I had been dating for a little while, we began to have conversations about the future. I told him that I would like to date someone for at least a year before being engaged to them. I figured a year was long enough to experience all the seasons with someone, so it seemed like a good timeline. As we approached our one-year anniversary in May of 2017, we planned a trip to Vicksburg, MS, to celebrate. Those plans got derailed about two days before the trip due to a city-wide water main break. Ben quickly swooped in to fix things, and soon enough, we were headed to Mobile, AL, for a relaxing weekend. Little did I know all of what Ben had up his sleeves.

On Friday (our actual anniversary day), we spent the evening enjoying pizza and bowling. It was fun, stress-free, and exactly what I wanted – to spend time with Ben. That evening, we talked about the past year, and I told him that I was so happy he had not run for the hills yet. And as always, when we talked about the future, I told him to always be up front with me if he wasn’t happy or didn’t want to be in a relationship anymore. We exchanged gifts – girls, please don’t ever get your guy location specific gifts!! You never know what life will throw at you. I had found these awesome Civil War era cuff links made out of wood from Vicksburg, and I was so excited to give them as a memento of our one-year anniversary. Well of course, they no longer made sense as we were now in Mobile, but he loved them the same. He gave me a beautiful heart necklace with the May gemstone for our anniversary, and I swooned!

The next day, we were about to head to breakfast, and Ben decided to be bold. We were talking, and all of sudden, he said, “I don’t want to be your boyfriend anymore.”WAIT - WHAT?! My heart sunk, as my attention immediately turned to our conversation the night before. He may have said other stuff, but I didn’t hear him. Not until he started smirking and said, “It’s because I want to be your husband.” Then Ben pulled out the most beautiful three-stone engagement ring and asked me to marry him. Cue the confetti and fireworks. Y’all – I was a ball of emotions. Trying to recover from thinking he was breaking up with me to being completely overwhelmed with love as his proposal. I then asked why he didn’t propose the day before on our anniversary (I was just curious) and this is where I fell even more in love with him (if that is possible). You see, Ben listens. He told me that he wanted to wait until we had officially been dating a year because of our early conversations, so he waited until we were together a year and one day. He’s a keeper!

WEDDING PLANNING : THE BEGINNING STAGES

We picked out a date pretty quickly after getting engaged. We knew that it was probably going to be a somewhat long engagement because my little brother was getting married the following April. So looking at the calendar, we settled on January of 2019. Initially, I thought I wanted a barn-type wedding, however, the more I researched barn venues and everything that went into the planning associated with it, I decided to be more open to other types of venues. We also knew that we wanted our families to be comfortable and enjoy themselves. Getting married in your 30’s has some serious perks as we both have had a lot of time to think about what we wanted out of this day, and we were able to rule out a lot of fluff so we could focus on what mattered most. 

HOW THEY CHOSE THEIR WEDDING VENDORS

Searching for vendors was a little overwhelming, but I would definitely start with your venue. Don’t let anyone tell you it is too early. These are big decisions, and they should not be rushed.  I had some venues tell me that it was too early because I started looking 18 months ahead of our chosen date, but other than minor price adjustments, good venues should be able to handle early inquiries. If they can’t, it might mean they are not organized. Red flag!

Piece of advice – don’t rule out venues until you have a chance to compare apples to apples. I ruled out event centers pretty early because I didn’t think they could provide the atmosphere I wanted out of my wedding. Boy was I wrong! I ended up giving my venue a chance after I realized how amazing their customer service was. They always replied immediately, and they were so incredibly organized. These things matter at the end of the day because it can make or break your experience.

The other thing to note with vendor search is take note of their communication to you. I had several vendors that used the wrong name, immediately wrote me off because they thought I was looking at January 2018 vs January 2019 (six months vs 18 months) and would not answer specific questions (instead provide general information or not answer the question at all). It’s one thing to not bug the heck out of your vendor, but you should feel good about your communication with them. Trust your instincts.

Finally – be aware of reviews. While reviews are a great way to get insight into people’s experience with a vendor, make sure you read them in several places and use them to build questions. Don’t just write something off by one bad review unless you notice a pattern or see consistent issues throughout many reviews. I did that with one of my vendors, and I am so glad I asked several questions in meeting with them. I ended up choosing that vendor and had a wonderful experience with them because we were on the same page with lots of communication.

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THE DRESS

I had a very vague idea of what I wanted in a wedding dress – something ivory with straps, not too busy, and functional. I also knew I wanted both of my parents to be a part of the experience. I highly recommend making an appointment at a bridal salon so you can be assigned a consultant that brings experience to the process. I would not recommend bringing a lot of people. It can be an overwhelming process, so having a few important people that can help you make decisions it essential. If you want your bridal party to be involved, go for it, but just know that the more people involved, the more opinions flying around!

I tried on five dresses, four of which the consultant picked out based on my descriptions of what I liked and what I didn’t. The one dress I had a saved picture of wasn’t available anymore, which was somewhat disappointing, so I relied on the consultant to help guide me with questions. The fifth dress was picked out because I was trying to rule something out. Before trying on dresses, I didn’t think lace was something I wanted. I thought it would be itchy and too busy, and I really just wanted something simple and comfortable. Dress #1 was simple, but definitely not comfortable. Dress #2 made my parents tear up, but it didn’t have straps so I couldn’t full imagine what it would look like if I added them. Dresses #3 and #4 were an absolute no because they weren’t me. I was almost settled on Dress #2, but that’s just it – it definitely would have been me settling. So I asked the consultant if she had any with lace, her eyes lit up and immediately came back with something I definitely would not have picked out. The dress was an A-line ivory dress with a lace illusion top and tulle skirt. It had wide straps that created a scoop neckline and did not dip too low in the back. When I put this dress on and stepped out of the room, everyone was crying. I didn’t really think I would have that moment, but y’all, when the consultant added the belt and a veil, I was in complete awe. I am not a fashionista, and I hate trying on clothes, but this was the first time I actually felt like a bride.

My advice to new brides – don’t build up your dress experience beforehand. It is okay if you don’t find the “one” in a single shopping trip. Don’t settle on a dress just because you feel like it is your only chance. It is also okay if they don’t have the dress what you want. Use your consultant’s experience and guidance on finding something as close as possible, and you just might be surprised at what you find!

Lastly, make sure you are completely comfortable in what you find. Sit down, move around, don’t just stand in front of the mirror. You will spend your entire wedding day in that dress (unless you change), so make sure you can do everything you want to do in it. Including a few dance moves on the podium.

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THE WEDDING DAY

I highly recommend choosing a photographer that provides a very specific timeline. This will help you outline your entire wedding day, including determining how early you need to start on things that aren’t going to be photographed – like moms, grandmothers, and bridal party getting hair and makeup done. Luckily my photographer was pretty detailed, and it really helped my hair and makeup artists decide on proper start times for everyone.

Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before because even if you are having a morning wedding, the entire experience is exhausting. You will talk to so many people, you will have so many moments of quick decision making, and some things may not pan out the way you want. Dealing with all of that coming off a good night’s rest will make a world of difference.

My wedding morning started off pretty early, and I was so thankful I remembered to order breakfast. Luckily, I remembered to make a checklist the night before, so when it was time to leave, I was able to check it twice to make sure I had everything I needed. I highly recommend doing this!

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Ben and I decided to do a first look session so we can get a lot of pictures out of the way before the ceremony. If you are decided on a first look, I highly recommend this moment unless you wanting to stick to tradition. It was such a special moment for us, and I was so incredibly overcome with emotion. We decided to only exchange cards, and this card meant more to me than any ring, piece of jewelry, or any other gift. I definitely messed up my eye make-up in this session, so next piece of advice – make sure one of your bridesmaids can help you touch things up afterwards! And bring tissues!!

Take Note - wear comfortable shoes. Just as your dress should be comfortable, you will be on your feet A LOT. I chose the Kate Spade wedding collection Keds, and while I spent more on shoes than I wanted (still under $100 yay!), it was so worth it. They were fun, sparkly, and I didn’t mind being on my feet in them all day. I got to the venue at 11 am, and we didn’t leave until 5:30 pm. I maybe sat for 25-30 minutes total in that entire period. So trust me when I say, choose comfort over look.

Our ceremony was short and sweet (not to mention, the weather was PERFECT). Ben and I come from two different religious backgrounds, (me – Catholic, him- Baptist) so we decided to have a Christian ceremony. What made it truly special was Ben’s dad officiated. We used the same ceremony that was performed for Ben’s parents, but I added two special readings that appealed to my Catholic side. The ceremony was perfect, and it went by extremely fast.

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After the ceremony, we took a few more pictures, and then Ben and I were tucked away for our own private dinner. This was AMAZING. Our venue really went above and beyond making sure we always had a drink in our hands and whatever we wanted for dinner. You always hear that the bride and groom never eat at their own reception, so I was happy to hear about the private dinner when we toured the venue. It really helps you reset after what may have been a stressful lead up to the start time and spend a few special moments with your new groom. We spent the entire reception talking to our guests, so it was great to have this time together. Be sure to ask how your venue handles food for the bride and groom, so you can make sure you eat beforehand if you don’t get a chance to do it at your reception.

Don’t feel like you have to do all of the traditional aspects you see at receptions. Do what you feel comfortable doing. For example, Ben and his mom didn’t do a mother/son dance; instead I used that opportunity to dance with my grandfather, who means the world to me. We went back and forth on the bouquet/garter toss, and in the end decided to do it, but we put our own twist on it. Just because something traditionally happens at weddings, doesn’t mean you have to include it. Think about what is most important to you and your groom and decide on those things together.

Finally, to close out our reception, we decided to treat our guests to a mock second-line (no brass band, just music), and I loved every bit of it. We invited many out-of-town guests, and I wanted them to have a fun New Orleans experience, since it is where I am from. It led into our send-off, where we used snowfetti to create a magical winter experience. It was everything I imagined it would be, walking out hand-in-hand with my groom, as fake snow fell on top of us. I could have imagined a more romantic send-off.

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Couple of little things to note:

Decide what is important in your wedding experience and stick to it. For us, we didn’t care that we didn’t have extravagant table centerpieces, or the entire ceremony and reception decked out in flowers. We decided early on that it was about our experience and our guests experience. They absolutely raved over the food and cake, and they had a great time on the dancefloor. That is exactly what I wanted them to take away from the experience.

It is very easy to get overwhelmed with all things wedding through pinterest, websites, magazines, and people recommendations. Don’t let yourself spiral out of control Make a plan and set a vision from the very beginning and stick to said plan/vision. After all, it is your wedding experience. One example was the guest book. I kept seeing the guest book where people sign a heart and drop it in a shadow box and thought this is incredibly cute. It is really popular so you can find different variations of it. What I didn’t expect was as the wedding approached, I kept thinking, what I am going to do with this afterwards??? In fact, I started taking that approach to many things I considered doing/using/purchasing for the wedding. That got me thinking that I needed to not just think about the day of, but what happens afterwards. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying sacrifice your vision for practicality, but if you find yourself spending tons of money on things you can’t repurpose later, maybe make sure it’s REALLY a part of your vision. The wedding industry is huge, and now I know why! They get you on purchasing really cute things to carry out your vision, but then you are stuck with them. We ended finding a more unique guestbook that we can hang on our wall, and I am so glad I made that decision.

Overall, I would have to say the number one contribution to our successful and stress-free wedding day was communication. I kept an organized wedding planner throughout the process, and I asked questions. I kept in contact with our various vendors (thanks to our venue, we only had a few!), and I tried to keep telling myself, it’s not about the things – it’s about the people, and the fact that I’m marrying my best friend!

THE LEAST FAVORITE THING WAS….

I don’t really know if there is a least favorite thing associated with a wedding, expect for the fact that it went by so incredibly fast. I will say that sometimes, I let “tradition” and “what’s popular” get the best of me throughout the planning process. I also let the word “perfect” creep in every once in a while. While you hope that your wedding day is everything you imagined it would be and more, to expect it to be perfect is being naïve (and this is coming from an optimist).

I will say, since we didn’t have a lot of vendors to coordinate, my least favorite part of the experience was the week before the wedding. Ben and I were so anxious for the day to get here, that the waiting part was annoying. So, make sure you find something to keep you busy, whether it is last minute projects (not anything major), or just friends to keep your mind off things, so the anxiety doesn’t completely stress you out.

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