Let’s start from the beginning. What is a family shot list and why is it important?
A family shot list is a list of family member combinations that you would like taken on your wedding day (I provide a template thats a wonderful starting point and makes it a little easier). The reality is, all families are different so predicting who you are closest to can be challenging. Having a list of important family shots is a way to help us know who you are close to and which shots you will want with those individuals.
I always encourage my couples to do a family shot list no matter how small their families are. Not only does it make sure we are on the same page but it will allow you to think about your families and prioritizing your time before the actual wedding day. It’s always harder to do this on the day of the wedding (the less you have to think that day, the better).
While we’re on the topic of family shots, another important thing to think about is the background of your family pictures. The family pictures typically take place at the ceremony site. Usually because there’s seating for those who need it and the ceremony area is easy to get to (for less mobile family members). It’s a good idea to pre visualize what you would like the background of those pictures to look like and then decorate accordingly. When thinking about the background, pick something that will look good as a close up and also as a wide shot (or full-body group shots).
Don’t get me wrong, family shot lists definitely aren’t fun (its tedious and becomes repetitive quickly). Since there’s no re-dos on wedding days, you’ll be glad you took the time to list out such important shots!
Engagement season is upon us!
Lately, you may have noticed lots of bling and excitement in your news feeds. It’s because its that time of year again; engagement season! Over Christmas, New Years Eve, and Valentines Day lots of couples get engaged and start the wedding planning process. One of the many items to plan is the engagement session. So lets talk about engagement pictures!
What is an engagement session?
An engagement photo session is a portrait session with you and your soon-to-be significant other that is done prior to the wedding day. So, why do so many couples do them?
Here are a few reasons I often hear from clients:
-We have never had professional pictures and want to ‘practice’ before our wedding day.
-We need pictures of us for our save-the-dates and wedding website.
-We want to use our engagement pictures to ‘officially’ announce our engagement on social media.
-We want to make sure we work well with our photographer.
-We just want an excuse to have pretty pictures made.
These are all great reasons and I couldn’t agree more (especially testing out your photographer and practicing poses before the wedding day). You definitely wouldn’t wait to try on your wedding dress (for the first time) on your wedding day, would you?!?! So why would taking pictures be any different? Especially since the pictures will be one of the main ways you reminisce about the wedding day, years from now.
Things to think about while planning your engagement session!
Personally, I love when couples incorporate parts of their lifestyle or interests into their engagement session. Whether its hobbies, your career, traveling, other shared interests, your fur babies, or really anything that makes you who you are … the possibilities are endless!
I usually encourage couples to start with a main idea (such as your favorite city or maybe your favorite thing to do as a couple) and then plan the session around that main idea. Pre-visualize and think about what you want the final images to look like (are you and your fiance on a mountain overlooking a city, enjoying a glass of wine at your favorite restaurant, are you kayaking down a river… what do you want the final images to look like?). Once we have determined & discussed this, we can get to work planning it out!
Other details about the session:
-I encourage couples to bring three outfits that range in color, style, and dressy-ness (for variety). Also, feel free to bring any props that you may want to use (a nice blanket or quilt is wonderful to have for seated poses especially if the item has sentimental value). Also, comfortable shoes to walk in is a must!
-Picking outfits out can be stressful! A good rule of thumb, is to pick outfits that make you feel confident and that will hold up over time (you can’t go wrong with classic colors and patterns). Here are some examples!
-The background/location will likely make the biggest visual impact on your pictures. So picking a location that fits the look/style of what you want the images to look like, is key! Also keep in mind that destination engagement sessions can give you a totally different look (and they are super fun)!
-Typically I block off 2-3 hours for engagement sessions (one hour of shooting and 1-2 hours for changing outfits, changing locations, and etc…).
-Engagement galleries typically have 75-100 final edited images. And the images take around 2 weeks to be edited (so make sure to factor this in if there is a specific time you need the images by).
Chris + Shannon’s Wedding Day
This past October, Chris and Shannon were married at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. Here are a few of my favorite moments from their special day!
For wedding day tips, be sure to check out Chris & Shannon’s post-wedding Q&A section at the bottom.
Shannon and her bridesmaids were so excited to get the day started and ready to put on their dresses but first we needed a few PJ shots!
Shannon’s mom, Paula, and sister, Kate, helped her into her wedding dress. Having a few special family members help during this part is a great way to get more candids with those who are closest to the Bride. This is always a special time and will definitely make lasting memories.
Once she was ready, Shannon decided to do a reveal to her bridesmaids. I am such a fan of curating moments like this and letting them unfold naturally.
We also did a first look with Shannon’s dad and I absolutely love his reaction (or should I say, his ‘many reactions’)!
Finally, it was time for the first look with Chris and Shannon. I don’t think any of us could have been more excited! If you look closely, you may be able to see a few tears in Chris’ eyes!
They decided to exchange gifts after their first look which worked out beautifully!
Once Nala, their ‘fur-baby’, arrived I had to figure out a way to get and keep her attention. Apparently, Nala LOVES her frisbee so all I had to say is, “where’s your frisbee?!?” and she looked at me with the cutest expression (seriously, isn’t she the cutest?!?)! It’s always so much fun working with pets and I know these pictures are extra special because of how much they adore Nala!
Chris and Shannon had an AMAZING wedding party! Not only did they listen well but they were 100% committed the whole time (which means they were willing to do anything I ask)!
Family pictures were next and they were as smooth and seamless as everything else that day. Both Chris and Shannon have wonderful families and it was such an honor to work with them!
After family pictures, Pat (Shannon’s grandfather) pulled out the cutest picture of Shannon from when she was a kid. We past it around and it really was such a sweet moment. I can tell Shannon and Pat have a wonderful bond and he is incredibly proud of his grand daughter.
We were now getting close to ceremony time so it was time to go back into hiding. This was the perfect time for one last group prayer.
It was finally time for Chris and Shannon’s ceremony. The look on Chris’ face as Shannon walked toward him down the aisle was absolutely priceless.
They read their own vows to one another (which adds such a personal touch to every ceremony) and then exchanged rings!
After the ceremony we snuck away and did a few more pictures of just Shannon & Chris (I’m a huge advocate of golden-hour/sunset pictures with the bride & groom- it’s perfect for giving your guests time to migrate from the ceremony site to the reception area)!
At the reception, Anna from Old Frond Co had decorated the main arch way with beautiful flower arrangements! It was the perfect touch for an elegant entryway!
Chris and Shannon opted for going straight from their introduction to the cake cutting and then to the first dances (this freed up a large chunk of time toward the end of the reception for just dancing and spending time with their friends & families)!
As you can tell, everyone danced the night away and had a wonderful time! We snuck off one more time, right before the special exit (only for a few minutes) for a few romantic night shots!
I asked Chris & Shannon for a few helpful wedding planning tips (in hopes of passing along some information to future couples)! Here are their answers:
Q: What was your favorite part of the wedding day? A: During our first look, Chris started crying before he even turned around. It was so sweet, and I loved getting to show him my dress that I had been hiding for so long. We also wrote our own vows, but decided not to share them with each other before the wedding day. It was so special to finally get to hear them during the ceremony.
Q: Did you enjoy the experience of doing a first look at your wedding? Do you have any advice for couples who are on the fence about doing one? A: Do it! I was anxious all morning and just wanted to see Chris. As soon as we had our first look, I felt so relaxed and loved getting to spend the day hanging out with him. We had lots of time to take pictures before the ceremony and were so glad we could just relax and enjoy our reception.
Q: Can you talk about the theme/feel you were going for when planning your wedding? And do you think you achieved it? A: The theme I was going for was a fun, casual, garden wedding. When looking for a venue, I wanted somewhere that was naturally beautiful that we wouldn’t need to decorate much. The gardens were also the perfect background for our pictures and ceremony. Our garden wedding was everything I hoped!
Q: Starting the wedding planning process is pretty overwhelming, do you have any tips for staying organized and within budget? A: Everything will cost more than you think, so decide early what matters most to you and make sure those things are set up first. Look into wedding coordinators to stay organized. Our day of wedding coordinator gave us a book to help us keep up with everything during the planning process and took care of everything on the wedding day.
Q: What advice do you have for soon-to-be brides? A: Focus on what will make your wedding day fun and special. There are many things I spent time planning, but didn’t even notice on the day of the wedding. We decided it was important to us to have a really good wedding cake, get to take pictures with our dog, and to write our own vows. These were all memorable moments for us on our wedding day. Plan a relaxing day for yourself and make sure you have plenty of time enjoy the friends and family you have invited.
-Our 2017 Weddings-
2017 was so incredibly good to us!! We shot 26 weddings total (not counting all the engagement sessions and miscellaneous sessions we did throughout the year)! As most of you can guess, we love love LOVE weddings so here’s to all of our 2017 couples!! We appreciate you guys so very much!
Congratulations and shout out to all of our wonderful 2017 couples. Thanks for an amazing 2017!
Leigh + Kevin (01/28/17)
Kim + Aaron (03/11/17)
Shailyn + Kevin (03/23/17)
Elizabeth + Justin (04/01/17)
Haley + Corey (04/08/17)
Sarah + Leon (04/14/17)
Ciara + Gabe (04/29/17)
Morgan + Josh (05/20/17)
Ashley + Nick (06/03/17)
Courtney + Garrett (06/10/17)
Maggie + David (06/11/17)
Anna + Justin (06/16/17)
Alyssa + Mark (06/17/17)
Jade + Aaron (06/24/17)
Ella + Masaud (07/22/17)
Miranda & Travis (09/16/17)
Jessica + Daniel (09/30/17)
Shannon + Chris (10/07/17)
Elizabeth + Austin (10/21/17)
Lauren + Luke (10/29/17)
Amanda + Travis (11/04/17)
Emily + Dillon (11/09/17)
Tiffany + Mason (11/18/17)
Evy + Corey (12/09/17)
Allison + Ryan (12/10/17)
Sarah + Sam (12/17/17)
Are you getting married in 2018? If so, we would LOVE to set up a meeting to see if we have a good connection! (Contact us here)
Allison + Ryan’s Wedding Day
Two weeks ago, Allison & Ryan said ‘I do’ at Burritt on the Mountain in Huntsville. Their wedding was elegant with classic details and truly one of the most beautiful weddings I have had the honor of photographing. Although it was chilly outside, we all made the best of the beautiful sunny day. Not only were Allison & Ryan so great to work with but their whole wedding party was incredibly fun and easy going! We loved getting to spend the day with these guys!
Congratulations, Allison & Ryan!
Venue- Burritt on the Mountain
Florals- In Bloom Floral Design Studio
Coordinator- Kathleen Bernal Events
Caterer- I love Bacon (Keith Hill)
Cake- Edgars & Black Forrest Cake
Makeup- Colleen Gagnon MUA
Hair- Serenity Salon (Jessica Sledge)
Dresses- Something Blue Shoppe
Music- Josh Allison
Rentals- All Needz