{Giveaway} wedding party gifts!

The people we choose to stand next to us on our wedding day deserve to feel appreciated for the work, time, and money they spend to make the vision for the day come to life. It shouldn’t take much to let them know how grateful we are that they are a part of our lives.

I stumbled across Bridesmaids Gift Boutique a couple weeks ago, and I came up with a TON of inspiration. This site is perfect for anyone searching for a cute, personalized and inexpensive way to make your crew feel special. I liked the options so much, I’ve decided to partner with them on a special giveaway post to show you just one of many ways to ask your BFFs to stand next to you, or simply thank her/him for being a part of your day.


I’m big on creating fun gift boxes and mini care packages. I love setting an intention behind what I’m giving to someone. So when I saw these Instagram-worthy travel wine cups, I thought HOW CUTE they would be for a celebratory situation like a wedding day, bachelorette or just plain “will you be my bridesmaid?” type gift.

Personalization is key when it comes to a party favor, so no one gets their drink confused. I also loved the idea of just putting your hashtag on them! These cups also keep your drink cold for up to 3 hours, so you can sip or gulp and no one has to know how many you’ve had…

Here’s what I’d include in my care package for my friends:

A recipe for a fun drink (like my Mojito Limeade below)

A tiny bottle of liquor

A drink stirrer

Simple syrup or a simple syrup recipe


Here’s a recipe for one of my favorite cocktails, a Mojito Limeade! (I’ve also included a virgin version too for any friends who are staying away from liquor, or if you just want a yummy drink without getting completely hammered!):

Mojito Limeade:

  • 1 tablespoon of simple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice (or a half a lime)

  • 12 fresh mint leaves

  • a shot of white rum

  • 1 can of lime LaCroix

  • 1 scoop of frozen Limeade concentrate

Muddle the mint leaves and simple syrup together in the bottom of the glass. Add a heaping spoonful of the Limeade concentrate and the rum and stir. Add the LaCroix and lime juice, and stir. Add ice and a couple more mint leaves for garnish.

If you want to make this beverage non alcoholic, just leave out the rum! It’s still delicious!

Now for the GIVEAWAY!

If you want a chance to win one of these personalized wine mugs from Bridesmaids Gift Boutique featured in this post, go to my Instagram page and find the giveaway post and follow the instructions. I’ll be doing a random drawing of the winner at 10am EST on Tuesday, February 12th, 2019!

PS: if you're looking for unique personalized groomsmen gifts check out Groovy Groomsmen Gifts or for a wide variety of wedding favor ideas and table gifts, there is also Forever Wedding Favors.

Even MORE tips and tricks for natural posing and feeling relaxed around the camera

One of my most popular blog posts to date was this one: my top tips for getting comfortable in front of a camera no matter if it’s your first (or 100th) time posing for photos. I think it’s about time for even more suggestions! Let’s dive right into it, shall we?

  1. play music


Nothing gets the party started better than a playlist of your favorite music. bring a portable stereo or turn on some music on during your in-home session. it will get you moving and give you something else to concentrate on aside from the person with a camera in your face.

2. practice breathing.


Do this intermittently during the session: close your eyes and take a deep breath. Upon exhalation, open your eyes and look at the camera or onto a focal point in the distance. taking a deep breath relaxes your face and cheeks, causing you not to look strained from holding a smile.

3. pretend you have a funny little secret


… like, pretend you just let out a fart that you’ve been holding in. Or think of what you’d rather be doing right at this second. Think about biting into a slice of pizza or what it feels like to jump into ice cold water. Or just imagine the happiest place you could be. Whatever it is, thinking of something funny or enjoyable will make you smile or laugh in a genuine way.

4. if you feel uncomfortable, speak up

“Mom and Dad kissing is so embarassing and making me uncomfortable. Tell them to stop, please.”

“Mom and Dad kissing is so embarassing and making me uncomfortable. Tell them to stop, please.”

I’m not going to lie, I like to push the limits of my clients just to see what works and what they are willing to do. Sometimes I want to try out a certain pose or I’ll take a chance on a prompt. Sometimes i’ll just keep going until someone tells me to stop. I don’t want someone to fall, I never want someone to strain themselves, and I certainly don’t want someone to do something they aren’t comfortable with. So if the pose isn’t you, say so. There are plenty of other prompts and poses that you can do instead.

5. bring a change of shoes


Sometimes doing something as simple as changing your shoes will make all the difference in your level of comfort. If you have enough time, an entire wardrobe change could be the ticket to making you feel refreshed and ready to keep going, especially if you start to get sweaty or uncomfortable.

6. switch up your location


If a change of shoes doesn’t do enough, plan a change of scenery into your session. Going to a different location usually will spark inspiration, add some color, and give you motivation to finish the session on a high note.

7. take a break.


There’s nothing wrong with taking a moment to grab a water (or an alcoholic beverage if you need some liquid courage), take a seat, change, pet a kitten, go to the bathroom, do a touch up, or whatever you need to clear your mind for a few minutes before continuing. I’d rather take a 10 minute break than force someone to push through if they need a breather. Even supermodels take breaks on set.

8. find a photographer that matches your vibe.


Knowing your photographer’s style of shooting (not just editing!) is so so important. If you like their work and the feeling the images put off, more than likely they will know how to achieve that with you. However, there is always a disclaimer to this. If a photographer has beautiful photos on their website that you LOVE but they are all, say… super dramatic… but you HATE photos of yourself that are serious, then it might not be a good fit. If you’re usually someone who is ready to strike a pose and work the camera, maybe you won’t want a photographer who features more candid, laughing, silly poses. If you LOVE colorful things, maybe don’t choose the photographer that shoots only black and white images. The absolute best way to figure out if you’ll like the outcome of your photos is to ask the photographer for a sample gallery of the type of session you’re after.

Remember: a website is a portfolio meant to display the best of the best of their work, and will usually only feature a small percentage of what is actually delivered to a client.

9. Have a snack


Bring snacks or plan a location where you can order food. This suggestion is for adults and kids alike. Hangry is a true state of mind and a full belly means a happy face.

10. DON’T Bring a 3rd wheel

Nothing will make you feel more unnatural than Mom standing behind you saying, “Yeah. Kiss her. Kiss her good.”

Nothing will make you feel more unnatural than Mom standing behind you saying, “Yeah. Kiss her. Kiss her good.”

This is important. There is such a thing as “too many cooks” when it comes to photo sessions. You are so much more likely to get comfortable posing and getting cozy in front of a camera without an audience, especially if that audience is someone you know. This is why I discourage parents and friends from tagging along on engagement sessions and watching from the sidelines during first looks. It’s one thing when you feel you have to perform for a camera. Then there’s a totally new added element of pressure when you have someone who potentially has expectations or input on what you should do during a session or moment. The only exception to this rule would be if that person is there specifically to wrangle an animal or child. In which case, be upfront that the photographer is in charge of the session and you are bringing them along to help babysit.

11. shake it like a polaroid picture


Before you move into another pose, shake out your hips, roll your shoulders, and then come to rest on one hip or the other if you’re standing. If one of your knees is slightly bent, you’ll look more relaxed on camera than if both knees are locked. And it’s also just fun and helps everyone loosen up.

I hope these give you some fresh prompts to use during your next session (or selfie!). I’d love to know what works for you and what doesn’t. Leave me a note in the comments if you have more suggestions that have helped you bring out your inner model!

Let's get this straight: Someone else's wedding is not about you.

This blog post has been sitting in my drafts for two years.

Two. Years.

I have felt this way for over two years, and have been too afraid to hit publish because of some preconceived backlash. But I feel the need to get this off my chest. Maybe I'm being judgmental to everyone and I should take a dose of my own cynical medicine. Maybe I'm being hypocritical by writing it in the first place. In which case, you are free to disagree with me accordingly.


There is a certain tension between brides and the wedding industry. Or maybe I should say between engaged couples and literally everyone else involved in the wedding. But for the sake of this post, I’m calling out the wedding vendors specifically.

On one side, you have a couple who has never planned a party on this level before and suddenly realizes that planning a wedding is really expensive. The sticker shock is real, I know. It caused many stressful days while I planned my own wedding and forced me to get creative with my vision for the perfect day.

On the other side, you have people who charge these prices because owning a small business is f*cking expensive and they want to sustain themselves and pay their taxes and feed their family and do all the things that go along with the freedom of being your own boss.

Both sides are stressed and both are passionate and when you have the added pressure of needing to be unique in a saturated market and the feeling of pleasing your guests or making a statement or being creative mixed into an event that is so deeply personal, naturally, opinions are going to fly and frustrations will be had on all sides.

So it shouldn't surprise me that I often see dumb articles like this or I hear a vendor complain about a certain trend they see over and over, or see an entitled rant on social media about using someone else’s wedding or work to further their own business. People will use any excuse to complain about anything at a wedding in general. It might be my biggest pet peeve of the industry as a whole.

we all need to calm down and realize: it's not about us.


Let's start with the article. What exactly is the benefit of telling couples that whatever idea they want to include in their own wedding is a fad, tacky, or a "mistake"? Why, year after year, do publications like Vogue and every other wedding blog on the planet feel the need to focus on the negative and ridicule someone's style choice? Why can't we simply focus on the positive, and instead of writing articles about "passé" trends, wedding day don't's, and "mistakes" brides make we write about things that aren't superficial and highlight the do's, the positives, and the direction we want to see from the industry as a whole?

The damage happens when someone puts a year into planning one day, then halfway through the process, after signing contracts and spending time and money on a certain aspects of their wedding, they read some BS article like this and suddenly feel judged, shamed, or unoriginal. Brides are made to feel bad about a choice they have made that makes them happy. And these people they interview are literally complaining about the presence of a donut wall. It’s a freaking wall of donuts!

Leave it to industry professionals to find a reason to hate on donuts.


Who are we (as anyone who is not the couple making the decisions and writing the checks) to say what is a mistake for someone else's wedding? Just because we have seen it before doesn't mean we should discourage it. If I have to read one more article from some random person complaining about a damn donut wall or a photo booth being at someone's wedding, I'm going to scream. Or write an angry, ranty article like I'm doing now.

Now, on to the vendors. We love our job. Many even use the hashtag #lovemyjob on a regular basis. Some days we say it like a mantra to remind ourselves that it's worth it. Some days we are able to put things in perspective and realize that there is a reason we're doing it. We, for the most part, genuinely do love our jobs.

But like any job, we get tired of routine. We get tired of being undercut. We get tired of seeing the same thing over and over. Sometimes we just want to shake our clients and let them trust our visions and do something -- anything -- they haven't already seen on Pinterest.

It comes from a place of love, it really does. But it's also the thing I dislike most about our industry.

It all started over burlap.

Don't rain on our metaphorical parade.

Don't rain on our metaphorical parade.

You guys, when you are planning a wedding, you get unusually attached to anything that is affordable and multi functional. So when I found some amazing gray burlap runners on Amazon for CHEAP, I got them to use at my wedding. My guests loved them and they are still used by multiple family members for their dining room. I may venture to go so far as to say that those damned runners were the best investment I made at my wedding.

About a week after I had purchased these runners, after meticulously pricing out alternative table decor and planning how I wanted to present my tables to my guests and the neutral palette I wanted to have, I checked Facebook and came across something I wish I had never seen as a burlap-using bride-to-be.

A wedding planner posted an update in a Facebook group complaining about a client's choice to use burlap in her wedding; it wasn't her ideal style and she didn't want to waste time planning the wedding if it wouldn't fit in her portfolio. She also complained that the bride wanted baby's breath and mason jars. She asked if there was a way to tell the bride her ideas were tacky and overdone.

Maybe I took her post a little too personally. She awoke the Bridezilla within. I probably started writing this post because of her post. But I see it over and over, vendors getting upset because someone else paid for something that didn’t serve their business in the way they expect them to. Caterers who get angry over a photographer not taking enough photos of their food. Florists who demand the photos weeks before a gallery is set to deliver to the clients, just so they can submit them for publication. A photographer who refuses to work with a couple because their “look” or vision for their wedding doesn’t fit what they want to put on Instagram.

But, whether an opinion about burlap hit a nerve with me or not, it doesn't change my opinion. If you're in the wedding industry you are going to see trends come and go. If you want to see something different or be creative, the best solution is to coordinate a styled shoot of your own to execute your own ideas or do whatever the hell you want. You can't rely on someone else to spend their hard earned money on your perfect ideal vision. When it's your dime, your project, your event, you can be picky and tell people what they can or can't do. But if you're being paid handsomely to execute another person's vision, it is not your place to complain or mock them for their choices. 

If something makes you that unhappy, don't do it.


Vendors are constantly after the "ideal client" yet no one can grasp exactly what that means to them. Vendors can spend their careers chasing an ideal for bragging rights, instead of appreciating the ability to do the work itself.

I realized early on that not every wedding is going to grace the pages of a magazine. Not every client is "ideal." Weddings are inherently unique and cliche all at the same time. It's the paradox of partaking in a social tradition that has gone on for centuries. Ultimately weddings are all the same: someone gets married.

some people don't care that burlap is trendy. Some people just want to have a party and get married and not be in debt afterwards.

It is the vendor's job, after all, to guide and execute a client's vision for their wedding instead of tear it down. If one didn't want another wedding featuring mason jars and burlap, one should present an alternative with a similar budget (because let's face it, most of the reason to use burlap and mason jars is because they are perfectly rustic and affordable) or turn it down altogether.

No bride wants to work with someone who isn't excited to be there.

Your clients aren't your pawns to fill up a portfolio. Stop thinking of them this way, or you'll never be happy.


And finally, I want to talk to the guests. Yes, the people who are neither the bride or groom nor being paid to attend the event. These are people who (in theory) love the couple who are graciously hosting them, feeding them, and entertaining them for the day. It's not about you, either.

It is not your place to complain about the food, or the music, or the signature drink the couple chose to serve. Yet I know it happens at almost every wedding. It isn't your place to roll your eyes at anything you see. All you have to do is be grateful that you have people who love you enough to buy you dinner and drinks and want your company on the best day of their life. 

Is it so much to ask that you keep your opinions to yourself if they are negative? You literally have an out when they send you the invitation. If you are the type of person who will complain or is never happy, do everyone a favor and check the "no" box on your RSVP.

There should be no place for negativity at a wedding.

OK, now to myself: I recognize that people will always have opinions and there is no amount of sass in a single article that will change the industry as a whole. But, my God, it feels good to release this tension. Two years of holding this in and F*CK it feels good to release it.

To my clients and anyone who is planning their wedding: keep doing you. Make your wedding day the way YOU want it. Don’t listen to the magazines or the vendors or the guests or Pinterest. Do what makes you happy.

And to all the articles and opinions (including mine), this is the best way to handle negativity:


The real reason you don't want the RAWs

RAW files suck to look at. There. I just came out and said it.

Sure, yes, in actuality photographers usually prefer to shoot in RAW. I shoot in RAW. I love editing RAW files. But looking at them really sucks compared to the possibilities they give.

RAW, unedited file on the left versus the edited version on the right. I think it’s obvious why I would never deliver the RAW file here.

RAW, unedited file on the left versus the edited version on the right. I think it’s obvious why I would never deliver the RAW file here.

As a client, you shouldn’t ever need or want the RAW files for any reason. And I’m here to explain why.

What are RAW files anyway?

RAW files are uncompressed, straight from camera images. They are unmanipulated and unprocessed. Photographers will shoot on RAW because it keeps the most information possible on the file and allows the highest level of possibilities when editing.

So knowing this, “RAW” sounds great, right? It sounds like something that will give you the biggest file to print from and have the best quality. But what you may not know is that a RAW file needs to have a special program to even open it in. You cannot print RAW files from just any program without converting them to another format first. If you don’t own Photoshop or Lightroom, you probably won’t be able to open it at all.

And I’m going to reiterate what I said earlier, to be clear: RAW files look like shit. They are dull, lifeless, and basic. Sure, they are big files. But why would you want a big file that looks like shit?

Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself. These are all before and afters of a RAW file versus an edited file:


Trust me, you don’t want the RAW images. They look like shit compared to the final product. And all that information you think you’re losing? You can’t detect it from looking at it.

Instead ask yourself, “Why do I feel like I need the RAW files?”

  • If it’s because you want to manipulate the files yourself, I want to direct you to my post about copyright.

  • If it’s because you want to see every single image I took at your session or wedding, trust me when I say, you don’t. One thing I promise to my clients is I’ll deliver everything I took as long as it’s flattering and in focus. You don’t want to see the unflattering photos or the photos that didn’t turn out.

  • If it’s because you feel like something is missing, tell your photographer that you think something is missing. Most of the time they either have and it didn’t upload (which sometimes happens, we’re only human), they didn’t capture it at all (we can’t be everywhere at once, unfortunately), or they did capture it but it didn’t come out the way you were expecting.

  • If for some reason you need a bigger file, tell your photographer the size file you need, and they will be able to go back and export it as big as it can possibly go. This always has it’s limits depending on the camera they used, but suffice it to say, it usually can go bigger if need be.

Again, there is no need for the RAW image. Every reason you think you need RAW images for probably has a solution without us needing to show you what was taken straight out of the camera before we put a magic touch on it.

Most photographers won’t want you to see the straight from camera image anyway. It probably sucks.

it's all in the details {the best wedding details i've ever seen}


I can’t believe I haven’t talked about this before! I’ve shot so many weddings, sometimes it can be a blur.

But one thing is for sure: the details are what make all the difference in making your wedding day one-of-a-kind. The right kind of details can also set Pinterest on fire. I’m pretty sure that’s a fact. Trends can take over full eras of weddings (I’m looking at you, mason jars) and someone is always the first to think of doing it.

Here are some of my favorite unique details from weddings I’ve shot (in no particular order):

A Paper Flower Bouquet and Boutonniere


I feel like the one wish I had after my wedding was that I wanted to save all my flowers, especially my bouquet. I wanted to keep my flowers forever. I wish I had thought of getting a custom made paper bouquet (like this one from The Striped Petal). I mean, look at those colors! And they are so realistic, you can almost smell them!

This Wisteria Balloon chandelier


I might have to recreate this to turn into a blog post, because if you can believe it, the piece hanging above my beautiful bride, Rae, was made by her by hand. Each of those white flower petals is actually a popped white balloon tied to a string of green yarn. The leaves are all paper. She strung each of these up by hand to make one very impactful piece that became the centerpiece of her ceremony and later, her dance floor. It was beyond impressive.

Alternative Table Numbers


Who wouldn’t love a twist on table numbers? If you plan on doing a buffet, you don’t really need numbered tables at all. And what better way to bring attention to your centerpieces than by naming each table something unique? In this case, my bride, Nicole, named her tables after famous duos in literature. It was not only creative, but it made everyone look around and laugh when they saw where they were sitting.

A bowtie made of feathers


Sometimes all you need is a little extra touch of something fun. I love a good unique accent for the groom, like a bolo tie, cool cufflinks, or a feather bow tie like this one. You can find similar ones on Etsy or specialty sites.

Leopard Print bridesmaid dresses

(and napkins!)


Leopard is the new blush. I’m calling it.

Hand poured candles in vintage glasses


It’s really difficult to figure out a good wedding favor that your guests actually want and will use after the wedding day. I think the number one complaint from brides and guests alike is that they think wedding favors can be a waste of money. And maybe that’s true, but I challenge you to get creative and think outside the box. My bride, Kaytee, collected antique colored glasses and poured her own candles for her favors. Every guest had one at their seat along with some personalized matches (which are both useful and cost effective gifts in and of themselves!). They lit up the whole reception, brought a nice touch to the table setting, and made a nice keepsake for after the wedding.

A Michael Jackson Impersonator


Or any impersonator or performance, if I’m being real. Similar to fast food, you don’t know true joy until a cover band or celebrity impersonator walks into a wedding reception and performs a set for the guests. This is one surprise treat your guests will be talking about for years, I promise. I mean, I’ve included it in this blog post, haven’t I?

Living room set ups outside


Why not just bring the comforts of home outside? There is something about sitting on a couch outside that is just satisfying. You don’t normally run into living room decor in nature, so why not make a fun spot for photo ops like this? Dan and Paige used a little Wes Anderson inspiration with their wedding details, and their love of film really came through with some vintage televisions set up around their outdoor venue.

An area rug for a dance floor


This brings a whole new meaning to “cut a rug,” amirite? This goes along with bringing the indoors outside, but maybe instead of renting a dance floor for your wedding day, a rug would make more sense! It’s soft on bare feet, easy to transport, and you can use it after the wedding. Not to mention, it makes a great centerpiece for your reception.

Late Night Fast Food Delivery


A wedding detail doesn’t always have to be decor or a fashion piece. Why not put a personal touch on your day with a surprise delivery from your favorite food truck or late-night fast food spot? Your guests have been drinking all day, and after a few hours on the dance floor, they’ll have built up an appetite. And the reaction of people getting a fast food burger at the end of a wedding? McDonald’s wishes they could pay for that level of excitement in any commercial.

So what do you think? Did you get some inspiration? Do you have any other details you’ve seen from weddings that you loved? When it comes to figuring out all the details of your wedding, it’s all about taking things you like and incorporating them in some way. And who cares if it’s traditional or not; It’s your day, why not have fun?