To: the Fatherless Bride

Today, I’m going to take this blog to a little bit more of a serious place. This is a topic that hits home for me. Almost every wedding you go to you see a bride and her father walking down the isle, doing the father daughter dance, but has that ever made you think “When I get married, I won’t have that experience?”, then this blog is for you. Whether it be that you’re estranged from you father, your father passed away, you’ve never known your father, or any other reason you’ve ever had that thought at a wedding, just know I’m here for you, as I know how it feels.

My Story:

I was the bride that told my father, I didn’t want him to show up to my wedding, but why would I do that…you may ask? Well, to make a long story short my parents went through a nasty divorce during my senior year in college, to the point that I don’t have a picture with both my mother and father at my college graduation because my father couldn’t come within 2 ft of my mom. So when my father asked me if I wanted him at my wedding, every ounce of me wanted to say sure…but what actually came out of my mouth was “If you can’t be civil, then I don’t want you there”. My husband and I chose to have an elopement style wedding for several reasons, but one of those was to avoid our family drama, so as much as I wanted him there, I wasn’t going to make my whole day about who can be near who. Now on to my message to all of you out there who may feel the same.

To: The Fatherless Bride

Whatever your reasons for not having your father at your wedding, just know you’ll be ok. Your day can still be just as perfect without him, sometimes even better.

If your dad has passed and you were close, you can still honor and remember him as a part of your ceremony, and take solace in the fact that he’s always with you. If you have something of his you’ve kept with you over the years, you can even utilize that as your something borrowed. I know this is going to be a sad day not having him there, but you have to remember that it should also be a joyous one. However you choose to honor and remember him, just know that he’d be there if he could.

If you’re estranged from your dad, and you do everything you can to get him to your wedding, but yet he still doesn’t show up, know that the people in your life that truly care about you will fight through snow storms and hurricanes to be at your big day. You’re not important enough to him, therefore you should stop making him overly important to you. I know this can be hard, I know this is easier said than done, but trust me when I say that your day will be less stressful, less painful, and more joyous if you leave that stress behind and realize that the people who want to be there will be. It’s you and your husbands big day, if your father doesn’t want to be there to celebrate it with you, than SCREW HIM.

If you’re like me and made the conscious decision to tell your father not to attend, know that you made the right decision. Whatever your reasoning for telling him to stay away, don’t doubt it. It may be hard, you may think you’ll regret it, but from someone who did it and has never looked back, if you feel strongly about your decision you won’t look back. Ultimately, its your day, not theres. You may catch heat for your decision, and you have to be prepared to deal with that, but you won’t die, and ultimately, your day will be better because of that choice.

Not having a father there may make you feel sad, may make you look at everyone else’s weddings and say “Why can’t I have that?”, but I’ll let you in on a little secret, it gets better, and you’ll be perfectly ok. If you don’t want to walk alone, ask another family member to do it, if you don’t want to be alone while your husband has his mother son dance, ask the DJ not to do a mother/son father/daughter dance. There are ways to make your day seamless without your father being there. My personal favorite….doing everything you typically would have done with your dad with your spouse instead. Walk into the ceremony as equals, rather than being given away like a horse. Have your first dance together or don’t do a first dance at all. This day is ultimately about the two of you, do things how you want to do it. Just know that you are not alone, there has been brides before you that have knowledge of ways to maneuver through your wedding day without your father, and there will definitely be brides after you that you can help.

You are the star of your wedding, don’t let anyone else take that away from you.

Sincerly,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Wedding Photographer

5 Common Things Brides Wished They Knew Before Their Wedding

Being both a recent bride myself and a wedding photographer who keeps in contact with my clients after the big day, I’ve found that there are some common things every bride wish she knew before planning/participating in her wedding, no matter how different the weddings or brides, some things are common across all wedding festivities.

#1 More Money Does Not Equal a Better Wedding

There is no doubt that weddings are expensive, but they don’t have to be break the bank expensive. With enough time and determined family members/wedding planners a complete DIY wedding on a tight budget can be identical to the wedding that cost $30,000 dollars. I’ve seen amazing DIY elements at every one of my weddings, and those extra dollars saved could be put to use elsewhere. Just because you spend a small houses down payment on your wedding doesn’t mean it is the best wedding out there. Money does not equate to better, and thats something all brides out there should realize. Yes, you have a budget, but if its not a large one, don’t worry, you can still have an amazing wedding.  Below are all DIY projects made by the families of the Bride and Groom before their big day. Proof that you don’t need a ton of money to have an amazing Insta worthy wedding.

#2 It’s Your Day Not Anybody Else’s

Your day is not the time to fix everybody elses drama, but so many Brides and even some Grooms get caught up in trying to do just that. Weddings have become a day to please everyone else, rather than a day about the couple. Grown adults talking crap about the bride on her big day, family members too selfish to realize they’re stressing the bride out more than making her happy,  Mothers of Bride/Groom silencing the wants of the couple to create their perfect vision, you name it I’ve seen it. If there is one thing that I will never regret, it was the fact that my wedding was a total of 5 people including my husband and I, in the middle of nowhere, Grand Cayman (but we still hired a photographer :)), and that is because of all the stress and chaos I see families put the couple through leading up to and on the big day. So if I have any advice to any current or future Bride and Grooms, its don’t be afraid to speak up, don’t be afraid to tell people what you want and how you want it, and remember its YOUR day, not theirs.

#3 Don’t Feel Rushed to Put it Together, Take Your Time and Do Your Research

Nothing is worse than feeling rushed to complete something, except feeling rushed while planning a wedding. Many of my brides have come back to me and said, “I wish I had more time.” In the instant gratification culture we live in today,  you can’t let someone else’s expected timeline of you dictate how your wedding gets planned and executed. If you need time to research venues and vendors, take it. If you need time to get together the money to make your wedding the experience you want it to be, take it. Just because someone has an opinion on the length of your engagement doesn’t mean you should take it. Go on the wedding websites, take the time to talk to your soon-to-be-spouse, and make sure you create a budget everyone is comfortable with. Being a vendor myself, I hate being passed over with a client, but all I truly want is that couple to get the most memorable day for them. So take the time and find the vendors that best suites you, from venue to photographer.

#4 Let the Photographer Do Their Job, If They Want You to Pose They’ll Tell You

Posed doesn’t always work, some couples aren’t comfortable in front of the camera and I kind of prefer it that way. I don’t want to be like that robot in the Season 2 Finale of Rick and Morty, where I announce my presence for every photo. When I can get couples to be organic and candid, thats when I get the best images. Posed always, without fail (at least for me), comes out stiff and unrealistic. The more candid you are, the more you ignore me and act like I’m a fly on the wall, the better images I get. I’ll tell you if I want you to pose, or you tell me if you want a specific image, other than that, mums the word. It’s why I always wear black (Stay Tuned for a whole blog post on what to wear as a Female Photographer) to weddings, makes it easier to stay hidden in the shadows. So let me (or any other photographer) do my/their job, and I promise you won’t regret it when you see your gallery.

#5 The People Who Truly Care For and Love You Will Be There…No Matter What

This one hits home for me, seeing as I was the Bride who told my father not to show up to my wedding if he couldn’t be civil with my mom (spoiler alert: He didn’t show). In truth, barring the extreme uncontrollable circumstances, (illness, make it or break it work situations, death, and college finals) the people that truly love you and care for you will be at your wedding day no matter if its in the middle of the week or if they have to fly across the country to be there. That was something, as harsh it was, I and one of my brides had to realize to get through the entire wedding and reception process. Nothing will stop the people that want to be there from supporting you on your big day, which is why you shouldn’t sweat it if family members or even those that you thought we’re close friends decide to check that “Will Not Attend” box on your invitation. The ones that matter will be there, and thats all that should matter, even if you don’t realize it in the moment.

Top 5 Brevard County, Fl Engagement Session Locations

So you’re engaged….Now what? Well, before you go off into the black hole that is wedding planning on Pintrest (that will inevitably end all productivity outside of the wedding…Trust me, I know from personal experience), you should probably look for a photographer to do your engagement session/save the date photos.

Once you find a photographer you and your groom-to-be both agree on, one of the first things you’re photographer is going to ask you is if you have any locations in mind. That my friends, is where this blog can come in handy….even if your photographer isn’t us.

Having grown up in Brevard County my entire life (Literally, was born, went to K-12, went to college, and had my first job out of college all right in the glorious county), I’ve become quite familiar with the popular photo spots around town, but this list is my Top 5 Favorite Places to shoot around Brevard.

#1 Downtown Melbourne

With so many colorful backgrounds to explore, Downtown Melbourne is the perfect setting for a newly engaged couple to show off the merchandise. The old antique accents make for an easy change in pace. This versatile space allows for all personalities to shine through. Even when it rains, this location can be a blast to explore and find new places.

#2 The Beaches

All across Brevard there are gorgeous beaches to pick from, stereotypical, yes, but a gorgeous shot at both sunrise and sunset is guaranteed even with a phone photographer. They may not be white sand beaches, but you’re guaranteed amazing photos just from the scenery.

(No, you don’t have to do your session in bathing suits, this couple just chose to let me photograph their day at the beach)

#3 Florida Institute of Technology’s Botanical Gardens

Now, I may be biased to this location, seeing as I spent 4 years wandering the jungle when I was suppose to be doing homework. 🙂  (Go Panthers!) This location can create a sense of adventure even for he tamest of couples. Where all the students go to hide, the Gardens (or Jungle as I came to know it) is a location filled with trees, rivers, and beautiful scenery.

#4 Obloy Family Ranch

Located in Merrit Island, Fl Obloy   Ranch is both a fun place to do engagements and venue for a ranch style wedding. An animal rescue to all sorts of creatures ranging from kangaroos to horses, the twinkly lights strung along the wedding venue area, the small lake at the front entrance, and many other things along the path make for stunning photos. You can even request to have a horse/ride a horse in your photos if given enough time and preparation.

#5 Downtown Titusville

A bit far from the typical tourist attractions along Florida’s East Coast, Downtown Titusville has one of my favorite landmarks to photograph couples in front of. The iconic Cocoa-Cola wall has been a staple of my photography since I started with my first engagement shoot back in High School. Across from the iconic Coke wall is also an amazing view of the River equipped with docks to also go and photograph on.

Jareck + Kara

Wedding Highlight #1

The room was filled with Blush and Gold, the bride in a boho sheik style dress and accessories, and the groom filled with emotion. Our first wedding is one we’ll never forget. Not only because it was the first wedding my husband and I shot together, but also because it was the wedding of the two individuals who were the witnesses at our wedding. This wedding will always hold a special place in Just a Girls portfolio.

The Details:

Every wedding is unique in this arena. Every bride has her own style, every groom tries to work in his despite his brides protests, and every venue has its own unique little things that can create an image that stand out.

The Ceremony:

Whether it be religious, short and sweet, traditional vows, or self-written vows, the ceremony is always the emotional part of a wedding. This couple chose not to do a first look, leading to the true raw emotion when the bride walked down the isle. There was laughter, there were tears, and there was a kiss.

The Reception & Bridals:

The fun part of a wedding, where the dancing starts, the food is passed, and the stress the bride and groom felt up until their ceremony starts to melt away. Honestly, I think I like receptions more than I do ceremonies as a photographer, its a better chance to get those candid moments and raw emotion of the bride, groom, their families, and their guests.

At the end of the night, the wedding went off without a hitch, well….as much as weddings can at least. We left the venue happy with what we we’re able to get and couldn’t wait to deliver the images to the amazing couple who came on the journey to the altar with us.

Until Next Time,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Wedding Photographer

Unplugged?

We live in a world where no matter where you look everyone around you is plugged into the online universe. Whether it be scrolling through social media, reading a blog, listening to podcasts, or playing a game, the online world often seems like a better reality than the one we’re actually living in.

Which leads me into this weeks topic of conversation and HOT TAKE!!

Cell Phone/Cameras during the Ceremony! Necessary or Completely Rude?

There’s a couple ways to approach this, but I’m going to take it on from the perspective of a wedding photographer who edits their own photo gallerys and give you, the people of the internet, my Hot Take.

PUT YOUR GOD DAMN PHONES AND CAMERAS AWAY!! 

Personally, I think that if the Bride and Groom shelled out hundreds sometimes thousands of dollars for a professional team to come in and capture their big day, all guests should respect the wishes of the Bride, Groom, and their families.

No moment on your phone is more important than the Brides walk down the isle with her father, no photo is worth blocking the professional shot with your arm and hardware while risking the contract the Bride and Groom created with their chosen photographer, and no cell phone is going to get a better photo than the thousands of dollars worth of photo equipment no matter what the spec sheet of your iPhone XR says.

Brides and Grooms shouldn’t have to ask their guests to put their phones down and be present at the ceremony, but if they do happen to ask you as a guest FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST DO IT.

Now that you know my opinion, I’m going to tell you a little story that lead me there.

Story Time

Recently, my husband and I we’re hired to shoot a wedding, a wedding where all of the guests we’re told by the family multiple times that they should unplug and be present at the ceremony. Even posting signs like the one below all around the wedding venue:

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My husband and I actually really appreciated this ask, we’ve had trouble in the past in the editing stage where there were constant phones ruining the shot, or people leaning into the isle blocking it entirely making it hard to deliver a shot that didn’t require hours of photo shop to fix.

Seemed like a simple enough request, guest put your phones down, the professional ones will be shared with you once they are delivered, which wasn’t too long after the wedding if I might add.

However, this request couldn’t be respected. They’re not my guests, so its not my place to say anything, but it made delivering the images from the wedding a slower process seeing as we had to turn images similar to the one below where the bride was walking with her father, into images that we’re acceptable to deliver.

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Amongst my editing process, as more and more of these photos came up, I decided to send a pre-edit shot to the Mother of the Groom, whom I had dealt with most of the process leading up to the wedding, and who I was sure would have her own opinion of the shot. She sent me back the image below, of which she blasted to the guest on Facebook. I was happy that the family still had our back, but just upset I couldn’t get the photos to them sooner due to the extra time it would take to erase all the digital evidence.

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So whether you’re a guest or the bride and groom, for the love of all that is holy PUT YOUR DAMN PHONES DOWN. Enjoy the ceremony, and then capture all the fun of the reception. You can handle a 30 min detox from the digital world, I promise.

Love,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Wedding Photographer

Just a Girl?

Our name can be misleading, so we thought we’d start this company’s jump into the blogging world with a little more of an introduction you can put on an About page. I want our couples to understand who we are, just as much as we want to understand them and what they’re about in order to best capture their big day.

Who are we?

By day:

We’re both engineers with uber technical, stressful, and chaotic jobs.

By Night:

We’re Florida Nature Loving free diving and paddle boarding free spirits that come home to a house full of 3 fluffy creatures (2cats and 1 bunny).

By Weekend:

We’re also those nature loving people, but we’re also photographers looking to make other couples big days and special events easy and amazing.

Our Journey to the Altar:

We met in Downtown Disney, truly apart of our generation seeing as we met on Bumble. It was a short, sweet, whirlwind, kind of love. We went into this relationship knowing what we wanted, we had both had rough lives growing up and weren’t typical 23 year olds.

Fast forward 3 months after we met and there was a perfect ring on a finger of a 23 year old woman completely head over heels in love. Remember that feeling? We sure do.

Fast forward another 3 months, we we’re hopping on our cruise ship with our favorite other couple (Also our witnesses 🙂 ). In case you didn’t catch on, that was 6 whole months from first meeting to marriage, told you it was a whirlwind. We decided to have a small intimate thing with just us and the people closest to us, we realized sometimes our families can be a lot so the smaller the better. It was perfect, we were perfect, the cruise was perfect. The perfect day, for what in our heads was the perfect couple.

Fast Forward a Year and some change….(Brings us to present day). We’ve celebrated our one year anniversary, about to celebrate our 2 year dating anniversary, photographed some weddings together, went through some crazy adventures, and now are looking forward to making other couples weddings as special as ours was.

We want everyone to feel as special as we did, and as Just a Girl Photography, we strive to make a couples big day or special event in life turn out as perfect as we can. We shoot from a dual angle to catch all emotions of the day. We’re a couple that has been through all the chaos recently, we understand what it is you’re going through and try to make it easier on everyone involved.

Now on to the photography,

Just a Girl Photography.