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

Justin and Lissa

Wedding Highlight #3

Spring Weddings in a state where seaons actually exists may be full of flowers and pastel colors, but here in Florida they’re full of blue skies, temperatures that won’t kill you (hopefully), and green country grass, or at least when your wedding is in March, and on a ranch!

The day started with some detail work, and a little bit of rehearsal before everyone went their own way to start getting ready. Obloy Family Ranch is an amazing location for those country brides and grooms looking for a real ranch experience. With rescued and baby animals all over for guests to go see after arrival, this ranch is fun for all ages.

Now on to what you really came to see….the photos.

The Details:

Getting Ready:

Ceremony + Formals

Reception:

This group of people, this wedding, and this night was by far one of our favorites. The leaping point for our career here in the central Florida. We will forever be thankful to this Bride and Groom and their families for allowing us to be a part of this amazing day.

Until Next Time,

Just a Girl Photography

Wedding Traditions…Outdated or Must Dos?

Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Probably one of the only traditions I myself followed (unintentionally) at my wedding. Every American bride knows there is a certain amount of tradition worked into your wedding from the moment you start planning it, even before you have colors, you have parts of your day planned just based off of what came before you. That is…if you chose to follow them. I’ve worked with traditional brides and I’ve worked with extremely unconventional brides, yet they’ve all worked in at least one the classic wedding traditions everyone knows. With that introduction out of the way its time from another….

HOT TAKE

Now, I’m going to limit this opinion to just the American wedding traditions, religious or cultural traditions to me are in a completely separate category. The traditions I’m going to discuss here with my opinion are:

-The somethings (old, borrowed, blue, etc)

-Garter/Bouquet Toss

-Not seeing the Bride the day of the wedding

-Not seeing the Dress Before the Wedding

-Cake Smash

-etc.

Now, seeing as I’m a sucker for emotion and tradition (I got married on my deceased uncles birthday and took his motorcycle jacket with me to wear for photos), this is going to be a complete 180 for me as far as my opinion.

I think that Wedding Traditions are completely outdated and unnecessary. At least the standard ones. 

Did I wear a garter at my wedding? Yes, but I did it for myself, because it matched my sash, and because I fully planned on doing a trash the dress photo with the garter but never got around to it. I didn’t do it because some tradition dictated it, and I sure as hell didn’t do it to make my photographer suffer through the awkwardness that is photographing a groom removing a garter from under his Brides dress. I’ve had brides do the bouquet toss, but not the garter, I’ve had brides/grooms do both, and I’ve had brides do none of the above.  Really, I think the whole idea of the garter/bouquet toss is pointless. No one wants to be the singled out single at a wedding. If your a man planning to make a proposal happen at someone else’s wedding during the bouquet toss, JUST DON’T.

Now, that was a lot of hatred for only one of the normal traditions, on to the next one. The Somethings…this one is a tradition that I feel a little less strong about. I think pieces of the something tradition are actually kind of sweet (see previous comment about my something borrowed at my wedding), but I don’t think it is something any bride should stress over.  If you only have something borrowed and something new, than you only have borrowed and new. There shouldn’t be an entire task dedicated to your maid of honor finding all these items for you.

The cake smash is one that I’ve seen time and time again back fire on grooms. Brides constantly screaming “NO” throughout the wedding to their grooms suggesting that cake will end up on and all over their faces at some point during the night, and Grooms just not listening. Inevitably, cake gets everywhere, including the dress and you end the night with a pretty upset bride…especially if the cake was chocolate.

I guess what I’m trying to say in all this ranting is….Make your own traditions or throw out traditions all together. Just like families all have their own traditions for the holidays, even if that tradition is having no traditions at all, every couple should make their wedding day about them. If you want to smash cake in each others faces, then it should be a mutual decision. If you want to have a first look instead of leaving the moment to the altar, make sure your photographer is there to capture it. If you want to forgo anything resembling traditions, than do it, just be aware that you may get some heat from your family members for it.

Thats all For Now,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Wedding Photographer

Do’s and Don’ts for a Beach Wedding

Beach weddings…the dream destination at the perfect time for just about every bride at some point in their life.

They are becoming more and more popular, or maybe I just think they are because I’m a wedding photographer in a Destination Wedding location with beaches…Who knows? Either way, as a photographer who has attended beach weddings and a bride who had one of her own (If you can count our small elopement in a cruise port as a wedding) I’ve put together this list of do’s and don’ts for any bride out there currently planning or thinking about planning a beach wedding.

Do’s

Do – Pick a dress that is appropriate for the heat and sand that you will be encountering on the day of your wedding.

Do- Make the requirement for guest attire as casual (maybe even beach casual) as possible

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Do- Try and plan for a sunset/sunrise ceremony (Makes for fantastic pictures)

Do-Remember sunscreen and Sunglasses (and possibly a darker shade of foundation)

Do- Buy an alternative dress to wear for your reception, I can guarantee you won’t want to be in a full length dress all night in the tropics.

Do-Provide water in some fashion for your guests….if you’re hot they probably will be too. Don’t want anyone passing out and making your big day all about them. 🙂

Do-Have a back up plan!!! The weather (especially here in Florida) doesn’t always play nicely.

Don’ts

Don’t- Be Afraid to have a Trash the Dress session…If your photographer doesn’t ask (shame on them) don’t be afraid to ask them. You’ll never wear it again anyway, might as well have fun with it. I was too afraid to ask, and I wish I hadn’t been.

Don’t- Try and wear real shoes (Heels,Dress Shoes, anything you might find in a typical ballroom wedding), you will sink into the sand, it will be unfortunate, you will regret it. Try out those fake sandal things you see on Pinterest all the time, or maybe even some real ones if you don’t want to go completely barefoot to your wedding like I did.

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Don’t- Try and make your groom and his groomsmen wear a full suit, it will not work, it will be uncomfortable, and you could end up with a groom who decides to wear swim trunks, neon sunglasses, and a fishing hat instead (I’m unfortunately not making that particular scenario up)

Don’t- Forget to file all the paperwork for your marriage license beforehand if you’re doing a destination wedding. Some places can take several days to process, and you don’t want that to stall or ruin your perfect day.

Don’t- Freak out when the day doesn’t go as planned. The weather sometimes doesn’t behave, the schedule sometimes can’t be executed  100% on time, your guests may get a little drunk and try and make things about them. Take a page out of island life mentality and just relax and go with the flow.

Don’t-Expect your groom, his groomsmen, or your guests to be sober by the time the ceremony starts (Even with a sunrise wedding). They’re on vacation, just because you spent all day getting ready doesn’t mean everyone else did. Even at a regular wedding, the groom has probably been drinking most of the day, so don’t expect anything different from a beach wedding 🙂

With no help from my husband, (his only input to this blog was “don’t wear shoes” and “don’t wear white because you’ll blind everyone”) that is my list of Do’s and Don’ts for the Beach Wedding Bride. Even if you chose to ignore this list entirely, the most important thing to remember is, Have Fun, its your wedding day!

Until Next Time,

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.

Christy + Mido

Wedding Highlight #2

Summer Weddings, can be both a blessing and a curse. Typically, here in Florida they would be a curse, especially with an outdoor wedding. It was way too hot, humid, and unpleasant, which is why when I was asked to go back to Utah to shoot yet another Utah wedding my immediate answer was Yes! (Even if that wasn’t Josh’s exact response :P)

Starting from the beginning the wedding was untraditional. Most of my brides are the traditional “I want him to see me at the altar and get his true reaction” type brides, this wedding however gave me a whole new challenge. First look photos that will be ready to be printed for the wedding the next day. We arrived, we shot a whole day of getting ready and first look/bridals, and I made sure those photos were edited and ready by the next morning…..even if it meant editing in the back of a car on an hour long ride.

First Look & Bridals:

 

The first look was stressful, but I adored it, I honestly wish there were more locations like this here in Florida. 🙂

Going into the wedding day, things were stressful, but thankfully Josh and I could kind of relax until the ceremony started. We got a chance to enjoy our time in Utah, at least for a little while. Backyard weddings have a certain sort of whimsical element to them, and that was the essence we tried to capture while working on the details before the wedding.

Details:

With the details out of the way, it was time to start the ceremony. Without really any vantage point to shoot from this time around, I had to find my groove. So, I decided to try something completely different. I decided to move around the small ceremony space to capture the intimate, sentimental ceremony from all angles (Actually, where our now staple dual angle perspective came from)

Ceremony:

A beautiful ceremony officiated by the one and only Christine G (Also my and the brides grandma), the night quickly moved into the reception and family formals. Unlike the typical wedding with a sit down dinner, this crew was ready to party the night away from the minute the newlyweds said “I do”!

Reception & Formals: