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.

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:

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