Retro Engagement Session at Wildey Theatre: Ross and Sydnie

I got to shoot this retro inspired engagement session at Wildey Theatre for Ross and Sydnie who plan to wed November 12th, 2016. Their wedding will also be at this fun and vintage theatre! To keep in theme with my interview with a bride blog, I decided to also interview Sydnie to share about her journey in planning her wedding so far. 

How and when did you two meet? When was the moment that you new this is who you wanted for the rest of your life?

We first met at his mothers house. I was good friends with his little sister and they had a bonfire. He asked me to be his date to a wedding and we just clicked. The moment I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him was when we moved in with each other it just felt like home with him there.

Who proposed to who? How did it go? 

The discussion of marriage was actually brought up by me jokingly. I texted him that he should marry me so I could get grants for school instead of loans, but then we started actually discussing and eventually started planning. It felt pretty surreal since everyone always jokes and talks about marriage while in a relationship but I didn't think it would actually start the conversation for our future.

What was the first start of your wedding planning and why?

My first start of wedding planning was photography. I wanted to be able to have photos to last my lifetime and display of the most important day of our lives. Photography was my first decision for a number of reasons. I knew I wanted you because your pictures are just breathtaking! Also my MOH is a photographer so being around her and seeing her work just lets me know what I do want to see in my pictures and what I don't. The final reason is my mothers own wedding pictures, they weren't the best and she just doesn't like them, says she regrets not spending more money in that area, and she doesn't display them anywhere they are in a tiny photo album tucked away. I want to be able to display my pictures all through my home and be proud and able to show off my wedding day

What has been the hardest decisions to make?

The hardest decision for me is every decision really! You want everything to be perfect and for the right price so I spend a ton of time on each decision. I compare prices, search garage sale sites, and find the best deals I can on the little things. For the big things, like photography, my venue, and catering, I researched them, read reviews, and compared value and pricing. 

Who is helping you with planning? 

My mother is helping with the planning mainly. She makes all the calls and just wants it to be perfect. My bridesmaids also help me with planning especially my Maid of Honor Mercedes, I couldn't have picked a better one! She has helped a lot with making phone calls as well. Between her and my mother I have a hardly had to make a call. She has investigated a few caterers for me and completely taken charge of flower arrangements, with little input from me of course. She and another bridesmaid had put their heads together and are planning a weekend in Gatlinberg for my bachelorette and she is already planning the bridal shower. She's the planner in our group of friends so I really lucked out with having her as my best friend!

What kind of advice can you give to couples just starting their planning process?

Advice to couples just starting planning is to just relax and take it a step at a time. It's very easy to get overwhelmed with all of the decisions but if you just focus on one thing at a time before you know it it will all fall into place.

What are you MOST looking forward to on the big day? 

I'm most looking forward to just having all my friends and family gathered and to just finally be able to call my fiancé my husband!

Whats the plan after the wedding?

Our plans for the future definitely include kids but we are in no hurry! We plan to travel as much as we can then settle down somewhere in a small town with some land and then start the family.

Venue: Wildey Theatre 

Hair: Stacie Higgins

Interview with a Bride: Rachael and Adam

What has it been like being a military wife? Will you and adam have to move around like a lot of the other military couples I see?

Being a military wife has been a lot of fun! I have gotten to meet so many great people and I've gotten to watch my husband make these great bonds! But it also has its rough times where I don't get to see him like I would like to. Unfortunately being married to someone in the Army means that at times he has to chose duty over me. Adam is a Military Police officer for the Army Reserves so we won't have to move around like an active duty soldier would. We have been lucky to be able to stay home.

How did the proposal go? Who asked who? Explain the moment you new this was the man you wanted to be with forever. 

We had a little bit of a different proposal. We knew we were going to get married before he went to basic training but we didn't set a date. One night I was in class and got an unexpected call from him. His drill sergeant permitted them an extra phone call. When I picked up he said "March 28". And I instantly knew that he was talking about a wedding date. We were so excited. Then when it was time for his holiday leave from basic, he came home a few days earlier than what he told me and surprised me! I was at an apartment complex looking for a place for us to go when we were married and as I was talking to the lady he snuck up behind me with flowers and got down on one knee. My mother-in-law and mom were there and captured a video of the whole thing. I was so surprised. It was instant tears. Adam and I were high school sweethearts. I don't feel like there was a definite moment where I knew he was the one I feel like I knew all along. We had our rough patches but the whole time we dated i knew there wasn't another person for me. He was it.

WHen you look back on your wedding day, what were the best moments?

Looking back at the wedding, one of the best moments for me was sitting in the bridal room right before the ceremony as all the bridesmaids were standing in the lobby lined up. My stepdad was in the room with me waiting to walk down the isle. There was a knob on the wall and he being who he is turned it in curiosity. It was a knob to the sounds playing in the worship center. I was hearing the music as my bridal party walked in. I was in tears instantly and walked in the worship center crying. I was overwhelmed with love and happiness.

So you guys had a pretty flawless wedding day. Your details were incredible, from the dress to the venue choices. How much did you spend for your wedding and did you fall into budget or go over? Should a couple expect to go over their budget?

To be honest, we didn't have a set budget. When we got married we were 18 & 20 years old, so we relied on our parents for the majority of the costs. We just tried to get things as cost friendly as possible. We ended up doing a lot of details ourselves like the favor boxes, jars for the candles and flowers, and even the save-the-dates. I think that there is always going to be some cost that comes up that you don't expect that will throw the budget off but there's also things you plan on that you decide against. It's all about prioritizing what you want in your wedding. 

What were your splurge areas? Are you happy with what you spent? 

One thing we splurged on was the veil. When I went in to try on dresses I never thought I would want a longer veil but when the bridal consultant put it on with my dress I had that bridal moment. At times I didn't even know if I loved the dress or the veil more. They both were so beautiful. Another splurge was the photo booth. It wasn't a necessary thing but it was a really fun addition to the reception. We are so happy with what we spent!!

What are some areas that you could’ve saved in?

I don't think theres really anything I would have changed cost wise. We did very well for what we spent.

You have such a close family! How do you feel their support helped with The planning and flow of the wedding day?

My family and I are so close! I wouldn't have been able to do this without them! They were so amazingly supportive through the whole thing. In the beginning some had some concerns because Adam and I were so young getting married but once they saw the love we had and how serious we were about it they put their concerns aside and really dove in to help. My mom and stepdad along with my in-laws really made the whole thing happen as far as paying for things. My sisters were amazing! All of them were such great help. My younger sister, Emily, was my maid of honor and she was always there to help me with decisions. My older sisters Sam and Sarah are very artistic so when it came to doing some handmade things they were my go to girls! They also threw my bridal shower and handmade all the decorations! My step sister Andrea was really helpful to me on the wedding day. When something was going on, she was going to figure it out for me. They were all so amazing and I am beyond blessed to have such a supportive and loving family.

How different is married life from just being boyfriend and girlfriend? 

St. Louis Wedding Photographer
Married life is so much fun. It's great to always have someone to hang out with. We have enjoyed making dinner together, hosting dinner for our family, and being independent. We always thought we knew each other completely but since moving in together and being married we've learned a lot more about each other. You never truly know someone until you've had to fight for the blankets or the temperature on the thermostat!

What are the biggest challenges you guys have faced together this past year? 

One of the biggest things we have had to deal with is time. As a newly wed couple, we want to spend all the time we can with each other but we have conflicting work schedules. Sometimes it's like we're passing ships in the night; we catch each other as we go to bed and kiss each other goodby in the morning. I personally go to school full time and I also work full time so we are constantly trying to find time through the week that Adam isn't working or I'm not trying to get something done to spend time together. Adam only has one weekend a month off and an occasional Tuesday, so when it comes to quality time together, it's less than we'd like.

What is the most important tip you can give for couples searching for their perfect wedding venue?

The most important tip I can give is find something that is going to match your personality or theme, find something that isn't outrageously priced, and most importantly find something that you can see yourself as a new couple enjoying the night away. In the end, you shouldn't sweat the details. Even if things don't end up perfectly, you're still going to go home with the best thing of all: your new hubby or wife. 

What does the future look like for you two?

Our future is looking bright! We both are going to continue our education to get further in our career paths. We hope to get a house int he next year or two and perhaps have a little human around in the mix. We will just have to wait and see what is thrown on our path in life.


St. Louis Wedding Photographer

Interview with a Bride: Stephanie and Ryan

This is the first blog post on the new series I am starting "Interview with a Bride". I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed gathering all of the juicy details of each of my past brides wedding. A sort of "where are they now" "what to expect when you are planning a wedding" series. Stay tuned for the next blog (I will try to do one weekly for you per my new years resolution). If you have any questions you would like to have answered by the next bride, please leave it in the comments section. Happy reading! :)

 

How did you and your husband meet and when did you know you wanted to get married?

We met through a mutual friend. There was no single moment, but our first date lasted 8 hours (always a good sign).  Ryan planned the best dates. Each allowed me to get to know him better and explore the city.

How did your husband propose?

It was November 1st, 2014. Ryan suggested we visit a historic house on SLU's campus that is an art gallery. We walked through, admiring the architecture and antiques. Afterward, Ryan led me to a koi pond just outside. (Little did I know that when Ryan went to SLU, he had picked this as his desired proposal spot.) We watched the bright orange fish for a minute. Then, he asked me to sit next to him on a nearby boulder. I took my seat, and he proceeded to dig in his pocket. He pulled out a large box, and I curiously looked up at him. Upon opening, I realized it was a gold locket necklace. (Backstory: The last locket he gifted me had the words "I love you" in it as his first expression of love.) Thus, I knew it was going to say something important, and I started to tremble. While I opened the locket, he got down on one knee and brought another (smaller) box out of his pocket. He asked me to marry him and I began weeping in immense disbelief and elation (not a cute cry, an ugly “I-can’t-believe-this-is-actually-happening” cry). He stood up and placed the ring on my finger. The moment had passed so quickly, I asked him to get down on one knee again so I could remember that moment forever. He obliged. :)

What was your first step for your wedding planning?

Finding a venue was step one for us. There are lots of options around St. Louis, but we wanted to do something unique, yet stay within budget.

 

How did you expect your wedding to go vs. how it actually went? Were you happy with how it ended up being?

The wedding beat all of my expectations! Sure, there were some small things I would change, but overall, everything came together and it was even better than I could have imagined. Winter weddings are risky, but it ended up being 45 degrees and sunny. However, there was also a historic flood the week of our wedding (they say rain is good luck, so maybe floods are really good?!).

What is your favorite memory from your day?

- Ryan: My favorite moment was the first time I saw Stephanie while taking first look pictures.

- Stephanie: There were so many little moments that I now cherish, but the one that comes to mind was sitting with my husband at our sweetheart table watching our guests during the ‘generations dance’. We did things a little differently than usual- couples who have been married the longest (30yrs+) started dancing and then couples with various lengths of marriages joined in (e.g. 10 yrs). This gave us a chance to observe the couples who have served as examples for us (both sets of parents have been married for 35+ yrs) and watch the dance floor fill.


How much research did you do when selecting your vendors?

I did a lot of research. I have spreadsheets for everything imaginable. Beyond Google, I would suggest joining local wedding groups on social media for recommendations.

How much money should a couple plan to invest in planning their wedding?

I have seen beautiful weddings at all budgets, but couples should plan to go over budget on some things. I suggest figuring out what is most important to you (for us: live music and activities) then cut the things that are not important to you (for us: flowers, programs, veil, ‘get-away car’ etc.). Sure, you can get the cheapest vendors, but there is a reason they are cheaper.

Are there any areas of your wedding that you wish you would’ve not splurged on? Any areas you wish you would have splurged?

Nope, I am happy with what we paid.

Now that the wedding is over, how do you feel when you look back on your day?

This is a great question! I have had married friends tell me one of two things: (a) “save your money; the one day is not worth the hassle and money” or (b) “it was such a special day, I wouldn’t trade it for anything”. I agree with the latter. The memories made with our closest family and friends are invaluable. Not only was it a “wedding” where my fiancé and I expressed our love to one another, but it was also an opportunity for our friends and families to visit the city we love and spend time together getting to know one another. It was worth the stress and every penny.

What is your biggest advice you can share to a couple planning their wedding?

When in doubt: Keep it simple! No one remembers what the centerpieces were, if you had a personalized return address stamp, or what font was used on the programs. That is, don’t get caught up in the tiny details. Instead, focus on making it an experience for your guests, then sit back and watch your loved ones party in your honor.

 

Venue: Washington University in St. Louis

Ceremony: Graham Chapel

Reception: Holmes Lounge in Ridgley Hall

Makeup Artist/hair stylist: Sierra- Abigail's on DeMun

Ceremony dress: Brides by Design - Resale and Sample gown shop

Reception dress: Neiman Marcus -Plaza Frontenac

Florist: Walter Knoll Florist- Sally Rodriguez

Caterer: Bon Appetit - Washington University in St. Louis

Band: Saint Louis Big Band

Officiant: Rev Sark Elking


Happy 2016! (2015 recap)

What an amazing year 2015 was, I am almost sad to see it go. I experienced so many wonderful firsts this year, most photography related. I shot 25 of the best weddings possible in 2015, huge thank you to all of the wonderful couples that booked me and spent the most important days of their lives with me. We will be forever friends now. 

Some of my favorite moments of 2015:

I shot a SURPRISE wedding! No one new but the bride, groom, and me that there was going to be a wedding that day. The guests were surprised, but the couples children were over the moon in happiness for their parents. Here are some of my favorite candid moments from this wedding: 

I photographed an elopement at The Butterfly House! The couple had an officiant, me, and their daughter to witness. I even got to sign their marriage certificate (probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for me!) Here are some beautiful moments from that very emotional day. 

I photographed my first ever same sex wedding. This was right after the federal ruling that made same sex weddings legal. I need to blog this elegant day (one of my goals for next year, be a better blogger!). Here are some moments from their beautiful portraits at the crystal garden. 

I shot a biker wedding on the Fourth of July! There is a blog post on this special wedding. My favorite moments were the formals at Shady Jacks Biker Saloon. Here is a preview of some of my favorites from that wedding. 

This gorgeous wedding at the Old Rock House, a first for this venue and one of my most favorite weddings of 2015.

This beautiful ceremony at the City Museum... with star wars references in their nuptials. 

These firsts and many more, but I want to leave you with one more. 2015 was my first year I was picked by my viewers and clients for the 2016 couples pick for wedding photographers in st. Louis. Thank you so much for an amazing year! I am looking forward to how 2016 will top this!! 

The Old Rock House Wedding, St. Louis

I was so excited when I met with Chelsie and her Mom earlier this year. Chelsie was a hula hooping massage therapist, and such a down to earth girl that I new we would instantly hit it off and be friends. Every detail about Chelsie's wedding made me excited to shoot it, I was literally counting down the days to her wedding date. First off, a wedding at The Old Rock House (a popular music venue that I have photographed and frequented many, many times) peeked my interest. Secondly, her and her fiance wanted to do photos with their vintage VW bus (score!). And lastly, they were up for my creative vision of going to Laumeier Sculpture Park for wedding portraits which would involve some hiking for them and their entire wedding party.

They hired a fabulous hair stylist/makeup artist, Jacqi Kamp from JS Hair Desgins, who got everyone in her bridal party photo shoot ready with makeup that lasted the entire day. I was really impressed with the quality of her services, because we did go for a hike and the bridal party had 10 hours they had to stay fresh and gorgeous looking. Her team worked hard to get everyone ready and looking their best in a efficient and fast pace. She even went as far as to leave makeup behind for the girls if they wanted to do any touch ups when we were back from our hike. 

They had an amazing jam band, Acoustics Anonymous, who played an acoustic set during their ceremony, and really got the party going for the reception. Live music is such a rare and WONDERFUL treat for a wedding reception, and they couldn't have picked a more appropriate band for their style and their wedding venue. 

This was one amazing wedding that we will always be extremely grateful for photographing. The amount of FUN we had with this couple, their family, and their friends is endless. We both hope to continue meeting creative couples like this to work with on photographing their dream weddings in the future.  

Wedding venue: The Old Rock House St. Louis

Makeup/hairstylist: Jacqi Kamp JS Hair Designs

Live Music: Acoustics Anonymous

Floral and Decor: