The 5 Things You Need to Know Before Moving Forward With Your Wedding Plans


STOP! Right now...don't make one more wedding plan before you find out the 5 most important things you need to know before making any more wedding decisions.

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  1. Know what your venue looks like at the time of day you're having your wedding.

    This is especially important if you are having an outdoor wedding. You'll want to keep in mind what the lighting conditions will be for your guests and most importantly you and your groom. I don't know about you, but I don't like standing in the hot sun in regular clothes let along a heavy wedding gown. 

    In terms of wedding pictures, the best time of day for lighting is early morning or just before sunset. Although, any good wedding photographer will be able to produce beautiful images in mid-day full sun. It's not the easiest light to work with, and it's not very flattering, but there are ways to work around it to still get stunning images.

  2. Find out if your venue has beautiful landscapes with plenty of open shade.

    When searching for a great venue, take note of the lighting and the landscaping. Wedding venues have some of the most beautiful landscaping, but if that landscaping is in direct sunlight, or even in spotty lighting, it could impact your wedding images. Look for venues that have a variety of different landscapes and backgrounds you can use for your wedding images and make sure those backgrounds are not in direct sunlight, or have spotty lighting.

  3. Determine how many guests you are realistically expecting.

    Knowing how many guests you can realistically expect to attend your wedding will play an important role in your venue decision and could alter your wedding budget. You'll want to make sure your venue can accommodate your wedding guests comfortably. You'll also have a better idea how much the catering will cost and will be able to budget accordingly. 

    The number of guests could also impact the wedding photography. Although any wedding can be photographed with one photographer, no matter the guest count, you might want to budget for a second or third shooter if your guest count is going to be over 100. This allows for more candid shots of your guests and ensures that not only are the important events of your wedding day being captured, but so are the little moments happening amongst your guests.

  4. Plan enough time for the unexpected.

    Ok, it's a wedding, something unexpected is bound to happen. The unexpected could throw your wedding day completely out of wack, or they could happen without a glitch to the time line. These unexpected items can be handled with a little pre-wedding planning and a timeline that has enough wiggle room for the unexpected. Work with your wedding planner and photographer to build a wedding timeline that will make the unexpected things the unnoticeable things.

  5. Plan enough time for the formal wedding portraits.

    When planning your timeline make sure you allow enough time for all of the formal wedding portraits (family, wedding party, you and your groom, etc.) You should plan roughly 3-5 minutes for each group shot. 

    A shot list of must have images that you and your photographer put together should help to eliminate any time crunching. It's a good idea to include the parents in this portion on the wedding planning to ensure that they get the images they want as well. It can eat up a lot time on the wedding day when mom brings her list of portraits she wants. This is where planning plays a huge role.

I can't stress enough how important planning is when it comes to your wedding day. A properly planned out wedding is a less stressful wedding. Know your venue, know how many guests, and know your shot list must haves. And most of all have fun planning your special day. Make it yours and enjoy the process. Happy wedding planning!


Guesterly...Introducing the VIPs of Your Wedding Day


Are you looking for a way to make your wedding day programs different and unique to you? Want a way to feature those who have been with you through the long haul and have impacted you as individuals and as a couple? Why not present them like the stars they are and give your guests a bit of background information about who is standing up at the alter with you as you say your vows.

McMahan Wedding-7805.jpg just might be the solution for you. From their website you can create questions to ask the various people you want to feature, add their picture, their social media handles, etc and print the information out into a simple flip book for your guests to keep. 

Pricing is pretty reasonable and the flip books can have as many pages as you like. They even offer an online flip book for the more environmentally conscious bride. Your guests are able to log into a password protected personal URL and read about the members of your bridal party, parents, grandparents, etc.

You can also use the tool to give your guests background information on your vendors if they are important players/contributors in your life. For example, if your officiant was a childhood pastor, or if your DJ was your roommate in college.

This tool could be an option for making your wedding programs a little more memorable and taking your wedding to the next level.


Valentine's Day Engagement? What should you do now?


Valentine's Day is one of the most popular days for proposals. If you're one of those lucky girls who received a proposal last night, first CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! Second you're probably wondering what next. The wedding planning process is looking to be very overwhelming. You may not know where to start or where to look. Don't fret, in this post I'm going to give you some resources and next steps that will hopefully ease your stress and give you a starting point to what should be one the most enjoyable times for you as a couple.

Create a budget
First and foremost you should create your wedding budget, trust me, the last thing you want to do is start your life together in a mound of debt. Figure out what areas are important to you and how much you are willing/able to spend keeping in mind what is realistic.

According to The Knot, the national average cost of a wedding in 2017 was $33,391. Couples on average spent $15,163 on the venue, $2,630 on photography, and $2,379 on flowers. Click here to read the full article.

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I know these seem like big numbers, but during the budgeting stage, this is where you and your fiancé will figure out how the wedding will be paid for and who will help pay for it. In a recent blog, Traditions: Who Pays For What, I discussed who used to pay for what, but nowadays couples are footing a majority of the bill if not all of it. This is something that you and your fiancé will need to discuss, taking into consideration the financial situation on your families.

If you're not sure where to begin and maybe you aren't an excel or budgeting whiz, there are some great online budgeting tools, like this one from WeddingWire, that can help you set your budget and track your spending.

Start creating your guest list
This is actually something that you will be working on while creating your budget and through the whole planning process. Having a good idea of how many guests you are inviting, will help you in selecting the right venue and how much to budget for things like food, drinks, and favors.

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When creating your guest list you might want to talk with your parents to see if there are any family and family friends that should be invited, this is especially important if your parents are helping pay for the wedding.

You'll also need to decide if kids will be invited, or will it be an adult only event. Adult only allows for couples to get dressed up and go out without the kids. Most couples will see this as a nice date nite and may take advantage of the babysitter and get a hotel room for the night. 

As a rule of thumb you can expect about 85% of the people you invite to attend.

Select a date
When selecting your wedding date you'll want to keep a few things in mind such as holidays and your own work schedules. Of course during the busy season at work, you may not want to get married because it might be too hard for you to get the time off every year to celebrate your anniversary and, if you are able to get the time off, you'll probably be too stressed to enjoy it. 

Consider what season you might want to tie the knot in, and what colors go with that season. Do you like the orange fall tones or the bright vibrant colors of fall? You also want to keep in the mind the weather in the location you want to get married. An August wedding in Arizona may not be ideal unless your goal is to melt down the aisle.

If you find yourself struggling to decide on a date, try picking one that has meaning to you both. Maybe the first day you met, or the day you had your first date.

Another way to decide on a date is find your venue and make a selection based on their availability. Some venues can be booked out years in advance, so if you have a venue in mind, start there before selecting a firm date.

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Splurge on a wedding planner
I highly recommend investing in a wedding planner. They know the industry, they have connections to vendors and can connect you with ones that they personally have experience working with. A good wedding planner will help relieve a lot of stress by taking on the coordination of vendors and making sure the wedding day events go smoothly. Having a wedding planner will allow you the freedom to enjoy the day without having to worry about the flowers, the catering or getting the DJ to flow with the wedding day schedule. You can read about my experience with my wedding planner on my post How My Wedding Planner Kept Me Sane

Congratulations again lovely. Embrace the wedding planning process and allow yourself to enjoy this time in your journey together. 

Happy wedding planning.


Groomsmen Gift Ideas


When creating your wedding budget don’t forget to budget some money for gifts for your best guys and ladies. Here are a few gift ideas for the groomsmen.

Think experience

Instead of giving a material gift, think of gifting an experience. Is he into action and adventure, or traveling? Check out experiences at and gift him the experience of flying a helicopter, golf lessons with a PGA pro, or a paintball game.

Sports Car experience

How about gifting the best guys win the wedding with the experience of driving a Ferrari or Lamborghini with What guy doesn't like getting behind the wheel of a fast beauty?

Personalized shavers

Are you looking for something more practical? How about a personalized shaver from Backyard Sawdust on

The flask has a lot of gift ideas for every guy in your wedding party. Check out their customized flasks, poker sets and grilling sets.

These guys have been by your main and are standing with you as a couple on the most important day of your life. Show them some love with a gift of thanks for being such an important part of his life and your's.


4 Benefits of Having a Wedding Day Shot List


As you plan and prep for your wedding day; coordinating with all your wedding vendors to ensure the venue is as you want it, the food is delivered on time, and the flower arrangements are delivered on time and set up according to your liking, you should be working with your wedding photographer on a wedding day shot list. Yes, your photographer should be asking you questions and working with you to develop a shot list, but you want to make sure you are advising your wedding photographer about any family dynamics that they might need to be made aware of as well as some of your must have shots that are important to you.

Planning out a shot list will provide several benefits, here are just a few.

Having a plan will reduce the amount of time spent on family photos

By talking with your photographer about what shots are important to you, you and your photographer can create a plan that will speed up the family photos after the ceremony. Your photographer will be able to create a plan that will reduce time and get you back to your guests faster. A wedding shot list has the most benefits when it comes to family photos when you have a big family.

Have a better understanding of time needed

Planning out the shot list with your wedding photographer will give both of you a better idea on the time needed for the wedding photos. This will help you when you are planning out your timeline and will give you a better idea on what time your make up artist and hair dresser should arrive. There is nothing like having your photographer ready to take the first look pictures when your makeup and hair aren't done and your bouquet hasn't arrived yet. You'll also be able to prepare your family and wedding party for the wedding photos by letting them know how much time you'll need them for. 

Reduce the risk of forgetting a shot you wanted

When you are creating your shot list ensure that you ask both sets of parents what shots are important to them. This will give you a more thorough list. Having a list on paper will ensure that all the important shots are captured. A lot is happening during the wedding day and if you don't have a plan before hand something is bound to slip through the cracks.

Reduce awkward moments - wrong parents together (divorced parents - know the dynamics

When talking with your wedding photographer about the shot list be sure to advise of any family dynamics (divorced parents, awkward family relationships). When your photographer is aware of potential relationship issues, they can arrange the family photos to ensure there are no awkward moments and problems don't escalate.

Just like any aspect of your wedding, you should have a game plan for the wedding photos. This goes for the first look, bridal party, and family photos. When you have a plan the risks of problems arising is reduced and you are bound to not forget a particular shot you wanted.

Click here for a sample shot list.


Why You Need a Wedding Day Timeline




You have planned and hustled to make this day the perfect day for you and your groom...and we can't forget your family and friends, so you don't want to see it all go to ruins by making the mistake of not having a wedding day timeline. There are so many benefits for having a wedding day timeline, but here are just four that should motivate you to create your wedding timeline.


Plan to succeed

Ok, so your wedding wait fail if you don't have a timeline, but you could make it more successful by planning out the day. Your wedding timeline will help get all of the events and details of the day out on paper so you can visually see how everything should flow. It will also help you see some potential problems so you can proactively make decisions or changes that could prevent these problems from ruining your day.


Reduce wedding day stress

There may not be a quick solution to warding off wedding day stress, but you can at least take some steps to reduce the stress the day may bring. Just like preparing for a test in school, when you are prepared for the events of the day and know what to expect, you will be more relaxed.


Get everyone on the same page

The wedding timeline when shared with your vendors, family and friends, can get everyone on the same page and clear up any confusion about when and where they need to be or have have things delivered. Your family and bridal party will know when and where they need to be for pictures. Your hairstylist will know when to arrive in order to have you and your entourage ready for pre-ceremony pictures. Your florist will also know when and where to have the bouquet and boutonnieres delivered in time for the first look session and pre-ceremony pictures.


Keep the events moving

The timeline gives organization to the wedding day and keeps the events of the day running smoothly. Yes you will have some bumps and hurdles come up, but it's nothing that can't be solved or worked around. The timeline just helps to keep festivities moving forward.


Your timeline is not set in stone. It is a working document, and should be looked at as a guideline. There will be hiccups during the day, something may take longer than originally planned, but in the end, the timeline will help keep you, your wedding party, family, and vendors on track. 

Click here to download a free customizable wedding day timeline.


6 Questions You Should Ask Your Wedding Photographer


Finding a wedding photographer can be a daunting task. you want someone with the skill level at the right price point and who you jive with. So how do you find this diamond in the ruff? Here are 6 questions to ask wedding photographers to help you find the right one for your wedding day.

  1. What is your shooting style?
    With so many photography styles out there (photojournalistic, lifestyle, classic, edgy, etc.) you want to make sure that the style your photographer shoots meets your tastes. You should be able to determine their style by looking at their online portfolio and/or sample albums, but the style they shoot will also determine how they approach your wedding and interact with you to get the shots they need. A classic wedding photographer might do more posed shots where a lifestyle photographer will photograph the moments as they unfold, with little to no interaction or prompting.

  2. How many weddings have you shot and how many were the same size as ours?
    There are a lot of photographers currently in the wedding industry and more and more are entering the industry on a daily basis. You want to make sure that the photographer you hire has the experience and the confidence to document your wedding. Someone who is experienced will not only have the appropriate equipment, but they will also have good knowledge of the wedding flow ensuring that they are in the right spot for those special moments.

  3. What are your packages and pricing? Are they customizable?
    Wedding packages come in many shapes and sizes and varying price points, so you want to make sure that the photographer fits your budget. You also want to make sure that you can remove items from the package that you don't need or add items/products that are more important to you. The last thing you want to do is pay for something that doesn't meet your needs, something that will be of little to no value to you.

  4. Can we pay for more photography time if we need it? How much?
    Photography time is usually included in the wedding package and varies by photographer. You want to make sure that you have enough time for your photographer to capture your wedding day from beginning to end. Ask your photographer if you are able to add more photography time to the package or if you can add photography time the day of the wedding in case the events stray from the wedding timeline. Last thing you want is to not have a photographer capture the two of you cutting the cake, or letting loose on the dance floor, partying it up with all your wedding guests.

  5. How many other events will you be photographing that day?
    Don't assume that your wedding is the only one that your photographer is going to be photographing that day. You want to make sure that you are hiring a photographer that will be dedicated to your wedding that day and not be rushing off to another event.

  6. How long does it take to get the images back?
    This will vary by photographer. If you hire a wedding photographer who shoots with film, you might be looking at a longer turnaround time because they have to send the film to the lab for developing. The editing process of the photographer might also cause a longer turnaround time. Make sure to ask so you know what to expect. Most wedding photographers will post some teaser images on social media or their blog within a couple days of your wedding, but you should clarify the turnaround time for the images.

The important thing is that you find a wedding photographer who you can trust and have confidence in photographing your wedding so you can focus on each other and having fund with your guests. These questions should give you a good starting point.

Remember to embrace this time and enjoy it. Happy Wedding Planning!

If you would like to learn more about my wedding photography services contact me for your free consultation.


How My Wedding Planner Kept Me Sane


He proposed. I said yes. Then he said, "we're getting you a wedding planner."

My husband definitely knows me and knew he did not want to spend a year engaged to a stress ball. Let's face it; I didn't know all the ins and outs of planning a wedding especially a destination wedding, so I went in search of a wedding planner.

Our wedding planner helped recommend vendors in the area, which was extremely helpful since I knew they were coming highly recommended from her. She had seen their work, she had experience working with them, so I felt at ease that whatever vendor I chose would do a great job. I was able to be active in the planning process without having to stress over coordinating all the details.


Our planner was able to help make decisions and also had recommendations based off of her years of experience. After all she had planned and coordinated more weddings than I had.

We really saw the value of hiring her the closer it came to the wedding. She was working hard coordinating the details, communicating with the vendors and making sure everything was right on track. When the day came, we were able to see all the work she had done. Our wedding went off without a hitch...except the one between us (cheesy...I know). She was on top of the timeline, she was aware of the photographer’s time and was quick to ask if we wanted to move the events forward or pay for more photography time. She was even great coordinating cleaning up and getting items such as bouquets and toasting glasses to the appropriate people.

Our wedding was a success because of her. I believe that having a wedding planner allowed us to enjoy the process and the event to the fullest.

If you're a planner and find joy in coordinating such events and look forward to coordinating your own wedding, more power to you. I wish I were more like you, but for those of you like me that want to be part of the planning process without the stress, I would definitely encourage you, if you can, consider the option of a wedding planner. The good ones are worth the investment.