1. roll with the mother-lovin’ punches
Let me start by popping your wedding planning bubble, things will go wrong. It will not always go the way you plan. You may have the perfect day scripted out with every last detail covered and boom you get kicked in the face by reality. Back in April, I shot my first out of state wedding. Located in Colorado, it was my dream wedding to shoot. Fabulous people, fabulous design, and faaaabulous scenery. Everything was perfect, even the weather. It was a warm 75 degrees with a cool breeze every once in a while. Then we got word that on the day of the wedding there would be a minor storm. Well four hours later, it was a blizzard (blizzard in the mind of this Louisiana gal). Thankfully there was enough man power to move the outdoor wedding indoor in time. Absolutely nothing could have been done to prevent or stop the problem–all you could do was roll with the punches.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you should know how much I love wedding cake. Like, the sweet icing and fluffy cake make me melt every time. I had the perfect cake planned just the way I liked it, baked by a dear family friend. I saw it for a split second while passing through the venue to go for my first look. It was perfect. As we were walking back to the venue to get ready for the ceremony, my sweet, sweet coordinator walks out with a very fishy smile. She said “Sooo, something happened..” in a very sing-songy voice. That’s when I knew something was wrong. I said “What happened Alyssa?” while cracking a smile. “The cake fell, but we are going to handle it!” I couldn’t stop laughing. That’s all I could do. Oooof courseeeee the one thing I love about the food at a wedding had tumbled to it’s death off of the un-level table. What else could I say but “Oh well, i’m still getting married!” To my sweet surprise, Alyssa thought on her feet and sent her brother to purchase ice cream from the local grocery store. She salvaged the pieces of cake that didn’t fall on the floor and paired it with ice cream. And get this, my guests looooveed it. We then replaced my wedding cake with our humble, grooms cake.
The final hiccup came when it was time for our first dance. For several months before our wedding, we practiced our first dance, nothing fancy just getting our groove together. We were quite excited to show our moves off to the lovely Ben E. King hit, Stand By Me. In case you haven’t checked youtube for that song lately, there is another version of it that pops up often. It’s the bachata version, which kind of has a latin, salsa twist…oh and it’s Spanglish. Half English, half Spanish. We would laugh at how humorous it would be to actually dance to that and what our friends would think. As if the first dance isn’t nerve wracking enough, we stepped on the dance floor and waited a second. Then to our surprise, yep you guessed it the lovely Spanglish version of our song played in all its glory. There was no wifi, so nothing could have been done. We just rolled with it. Oh, and we laughed. Laughed real hard. The DJ made up for it after by throwing a hella good party.
2. do what the heck you want
I hold fast to this phrase when talking to clients. A lot of my clients have their wedding paid for my their parents, which is super typical. Therefore, a lot of my clients parents
control steer the couples decisions with decorations, dress, guest lists, locations-you name it. Now before the mothers who are reading this totally have a panic attack, let me explain a little further. This is a day solely set out to celebrate the unity of the couple. It should showcase their style, their love, and their wishes (within reason of course, I get there’s a budget). It kiiiillllsss me when I ask a bride about aesthetics and they jump straight to what their mother wants or what Pinterest says to do. Pinterest is a great resource for inspiration, but it should not be a place to manufacture your wedding, because Pinterest is made up of ideas from 1000s of other brides who quite frankly aren’t you. When I set out to get an overall idea for the aesthetic of our wedding, I sat down and wrote down adjectives to describe our style. Conrad and I both graduated in the arts so I knew it could be tough to nail down a flavor considering how much we actually care about that. I wrote down adjectives from his sculptures first: industrial, metal, wood, natural, geometric. Next came mine, which were pretty simple: clean, minimal, and organic. Theennnn I went to Pinterest and typed up a few of those adjectives to get an idea. I gathered images and created a moodboard to hand to my florist, decorator, and photographer. Here’s what I came up with:
From there I hired people to make it happen. An awesome florist, a coordinator to keep me sane, and an amazing photographer to capture it. More on them later.
Another aspect that I wanted to me completely “Kristen” was my dress. I’ve never pictured myself in white, never really had that desire. Even for senior prom, I wore a crimson red dress, my form of rebellion. I tried on a few white dressed in the beginning and left in tears. I hated the way it looked, the dresses were terrible, and the pressure to like it was even worse. Not to mention, the price. No thank you. I stopped at a bridesmaid shop as a last resort to kind of get a feel for what style I wanted and then fell in love. The simple silhouette accentuated my body, the color options made me happy, and the price filled me with peace. I looked around a few more places and found “the” dress at a local Bellas Bridesmaids in Baton Rouge. It was a beautiful greyish pink tulle Jenny Yoo dress. I was so happy. I couldn’t believe that I was standing in a bridesmaid dress almost in tears at how perfect it truly was. There I was zero fuss, zero pressure, and it felt goooood.
I bought the dress that day, but my journey wasn’t over. It was too plain in my opinion for bridal wear. I wanted something to jazz it up and make it feel more bridal. Thankfully a friend reached out to me about doing a custom piece for my dress. Months of brainstorming and pattern making later, she dressed me with the most perfect lace topper I could have ever dreamed. I squealed when she presented it to me.
3. hire professionals and pay their price
I know you are probably thinking “here is where she goes on a rant about paying professional’s price, because she’s a photographer herself.” I say you to you “boooooooo, rude.”
Here is my perspective as a client on why I hired the beautiful souls I hired.
1) Ashleigh Jayne, queen of the light. My first decision and challenge was figuring out who to hire for photos. Gosh I wanted some stellar people from out of state, but the logistics of everything wasn’t panning out. Then I kind of panicked. After panic was over, I came back to reality and looked around at the talent around me. First to mind for the style I was trying to achieve was Ashleigh Jayne. A sweet little sassy thing who has a wicked eye for composition and light. She gets me, I get her. The relationship fell into place perfectly. When she sent me over her price I didn’t even think twice. It was just a duh moment for me. Granted, I know what goes into being the wedding photographer. I understand the responsibility, professionalism, and awareness needed. She deserves more than the price she quoted. Ashleigh and her husband provided me with some of the most special photos I will ever, ever have. I was a little sad after the wedding, thinking back at how fast it flew by. Then I remembered I hired an artist to capture our day to ensure that I would never forget what happened. My heart overflows.
2) Alyssa Arlene, boss lady. Every boss chick needs a boss lady. Initially I didn’t think I would need a coordinator/planner to assist me over the next months of wedding planning. Then I realized what I was getting myself into and anxiety swept over me. All the logistics made my brain dizzy. I mean this was my first rodeo. How am I supposed to know which vendors to choose, how to organize guests, set everything up, coordinate vendors, etc. The list seriously goes on. I googled “louisiana wedding coordinator” and Alyssa Arlene Events popped up. I liked her website and her prices, then hired her almost asap.
I joked with her often through the planning process about how she was my hired best friend. She was excited when I was excited, frustrated when I was frustrated, and handled everything before it even came to my mind. Bless her heart for being patient all the controlling moments I had with her. One thing that meant a lot to me about Alyssa was that she looked out for me. She held me to such a high place and I appreciated that so much (mainly because of point 2. Do what you want). No matter what my parents would say or command on the day of, she kept coming to me to make sure it’s what I wanted. I can’t thank you enough for being my chill pill on the day of.
3) Casie Webb, the garden fairy. This chick is boss. I met Casie a few Aprils ago at a clients wedding. We stayed connected and worked on another wedding together. Her vibes and style mesh oh so perfectly with mine so I knew I had to have her on my team. A better description for her would be designer rather than florist. She did most of the decorating that you see aannnd she put together all of the flowers. From our bouquets to every little glass bottle I provided her with, she gave her all and made my vision happen. Everything was outstanding. She’s the type of artist that makes your vision happen no matter the budget. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Casie, you ma girl.
4) DJ Cmix, master of the party. Where to even begin with this fool. In case your wondering, fool is a good thing. Let me set the stage properly. I loooove to dance. I can’t help it. I love a good party with good music. Not just the same over played music. I had zero idea who I wanted to hire when thinking about DJs. Honestly none ever stood out to me at all the weddings I photographed. It’s generally the same music, same work ethic- blah. I didn’t want to hire someone to just press play and carry on. I wanted an artist to throw. down. A friend mentioned that he knew a DJ that would fit my style. But he warned me that this DJ mostly mixes at clubs, but he that we would throw a good party. I remember thinking in my head, done and done. I hired him before even hearing what he could do but I had a good feeling. He invited me to come hear him mix at a club downtown one night. As we were walking up to the bar, I could hear him mixing and I fell in DJ love. I danced the entire night and couldn’t wait to have him again for our wedding.
The entire reception was a throw down, leave it all on the dance floor party. There was never a dull moment. In fact, most of our reception pictures look like that of a rave. It was the best party I have ever been to. He let me mix, take over the mic, and just go wild. There was never a break in music and a song didn’t play for more than two minutes. He mixed todays music like an old school disc jockey. The club rained down and It was turnt.
4. remember that it is just one day in a lifetime marriage
Remember, remember, remember, this is just 10 hours in the span of your marriage. Yes, have fun. Yes, plan it the best you can. But don’t forget that you wake up the next morning next to the man/woman you married the previous day. It does not stop on your wedding day. It’s almost like once you pick a wedding date your brain can’t go past that date. It consumes almost a year of your brain. Brides, let me encourage you to alter your thinking. Care more about being a wife than a bride. Our wedding day was the best day we’ve ever experienced together, but we know there will be greater days ahead. I don’t have much else to say on that topic.
5. accept imperfection
Perfection is not attainable. Don’t even think you can make it there. What you need to remember is that the day, no matter how it turns out, is perfect for you and your mate. Don’t let little things hinder your perspective on your day. Love every second of it because it flies by. I always tell my couples, now having experienced my own wedding, soak it in. Seriously, stop and soak it all in. It won’t be the best day of your life, but it’ll be pretty darn close.
with all the love my little heart can hold,
all professional images shot by the lovely Ashleigh Jayne. Sharing is caring but stealing is rude. xoxo