I was talking to a good friend recently and listening about the stress involved in planning her wedding. My heart ached for her, and I knew how she was probably feeling in that moment. Tending to be a people pleaser … Continue reading
This past month I was invited to “be taught” to learn to cross country ski. If you aren’t familiar, this is where you have skis on each foot and try to slide one foot in front of the other to maneuver … Continue reading
Remember when the thing to do when getting Engaged was to post an ad in the local Newspaper? Better yet, remember the last time you bought a newspaper to read (and not just for Black Friday Deals!)? If you … Continue reading
Our Story – What the heck is a First Look?
When Bryan and I had our Engagement Shoot with our wedding photographers before our wedding, Allen and Melissa (our photographers) asked us if we’d be interested in doing a First Look before the ceremony. As a young bride, the first of most of my family and friends to have a wedding, I was clueless as to what they were talking about. My Aunt previously used our photographers for her wedding and chose to do a First Look from which I had seen beautiful pictures, so I was open to it but still not sure what it was. After Allen gave me a quick description of what this was, Bryan and I were on board. However, I had little idea of what I was getting into, and how much I truly would cherish that moment on my wedding day.
As I mentioned, I was the guinea pig bride for a good bit of my friends and family, not knowing what to splurge on and what to save on, or exactly how to do everything other than what I found on Google (before my Pinterest days). I was so focussed and excited about planning each detail of my wedding day, I totally forgot, until the day of, that I was going to be the CENTER of attention along with Bryan – yikes! How did I not pick up on this! I was terrified of all eyes on me…Oh boy. Thankfully, my best friends and closest family were there with me in preparation and before the ceremony pictures, and our photographers were totally chill and soothing in their approach.
After some fun pictures with Moms and Bridesmaids, Allen let me know he’d found a beautiful spot to have our First Look Moment. He led me around to the back garden area behind our Bride’s Preparation room and as I came around the corner I saw Bryan’s Back, where he was waiting for me. Melissa photographing Bryan, Allen staying near me, they captured the very moment Bryan and I laid eyes on each other as Bride and Groom. All I can really share is how I remember this moment looking back.
As I am sure you have picked up on, I am somewhat shy and nervous to be the total center of attention. What this First Look moment gave to Bryan and I was the most beautiful and special intimate moment. It was like the photographers were not even there…no posing, no talking to us, just a moment to be candid and take in the excitement of becoming husband and wife.
The first moment I saw Bryan I felt an immediate sense of peace. There were no distractions, just the handsome and wonderful man I was about to marry wrapping me up in his arms and holding my hand. I had the chance to take in his every expression when seeing me in my wedding gown for the first time rather than worrying about handing off my bouquet, walking up the steps of the altar in my heels or speaking in public. And just as I had the chance to take everything in, Bryan could say exactly what he wanted to when he saw me rather than sneaking a “you look beautiful” whisper in the middle of a ceremony (I feel like with especially men, they are less guarded and show their true emotions in this private moment than in front of a congregation where they have to contain utmost “manly” composure). If you are a sucker for intimate and romantic – you can’t top this private moment filled with excitement and love for one another! What is even cooler, we are blessed with a story telling sequence of multiple photos catching both Bryan’s expression as well as mine, and gosh, I love to look back at them now after only 5 years together, in 50 years they will be even more precious in helping us remember each moment and emotion of our wedding day.
The best part about this First Look in our experience was exactly what Allen had told us. He said “The First Look gives you two extremely memorable moments. The First Look is intimate and private, but you will be amazed at the moment the church doors open, everyone stands, and your eyes meet.”
As a wedding photographer, I don’t push doing the First Look on my clients, but I do share a little bit about what it is if they have not heard of it. I think a bride and groom’s choice whether to see each other or not before the wedding ceremony is completely special and beautiful for them, and I would only prefer to capture their “first look” exactly at the time they are ready. With my own personal experience, however, the photos were priceless, the moment was perfect, and I hope to help brides in making their decision on whether or not the First Look is for them.
Our First Look
(Special Thanks for our Wedding Day Photos to
Allen and Melissa with Image Photography!)
Ashley and Ben’s First Look
Okay, I am curious to know who is like me. Brides planning a wedding, I have a feeling this will be a familiar tune to maybe some of your Wedding planning days. Mom’s – you will relate. Photographers – this is something we have all dealt with. I am reading Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey, and he ironically brings up that infamous situation most of us have faced when working. You know this scenario – where you wake up with an overloaded to-do list, hit the floor running, and then it all goes out the window and you seem to be putting out fire after fire and at the end of the day, you are exhausted, have a headache, and what’s worse, you feel like NOTHING got done! I know almost anyone with any kind of daily responsibilities has possibly had a day, week, or month like this where they are truly the rat on the wheel running and getting nowhere.
Or how about this scenario, you have this pile of things you know need to get done, but you sleep in or avoid doing the tasks that need accomplishing, trying to relax., yet you feel worse at the end of the day. Dave Ramsey even remarks -
“The weird thing is that the more efficient, on task, on goal you are with your time, the more energy you have……wasting a day away, does not relax you, it drains you.”
This is something I needed to see in a different light and I am hoping you will find Dave’s easy tips at least a little helpful.
My personal biggest problem is that when I do sit down and write a list, it is impossible to finish the tasks in one day, and I end up feeling worse after seeing my defeat on paper. I love the idea Dave mentions from Dr. Stephen Covey of first separating out each task into Four Quadrant Categories:
- Important and Urgent
- Important But Not Urgent
- Not Important But Urgent
- Not Important and Not Urgent
Obviously, Quadrant I items are extremely easy to identify and of highest priority. You have to have them done that day or your deadline is missed, you go out of business, you displease clients, your reception venue could be booked by some one else, etc.
Quadrant IV is also easy and should be on lowest priority.
What I found most helpful was learning to properly identify Quadrants II and III.
Quadrant III I relate to a situation I personally deal with and call Email and Facebook Traps. I am trying to complete a task, and I get an email from a fellow local photographer, or a ding of a new update or message on my Facebook…and before long, 3 hours later I am out of my Facebook Vortex, no accomplished work to show for my time. Aghh! It felt like I should respond right away, but in the grand scheme of things it was not important that I spend time on it at all.
Quadrant II includes things like reading helpful business building books, parenting books, exercising, getting the oil changed, etc. These are things that are important to get done but not urgent where you should stop everything and do them right away.
Nevertheless – I suggest digesting this idea and seeing what falls into each category for you. It has truly helped me hold myself accountable in maximizing my time.
What I am really excited to try is Dave Ramsey’s To-Do List suggestions! I am paraphrasing, but here is a list I compiled from his book:
- Each morning make a list of activities that need to be done today.
- Look at the list and by each task that must be done today, put an “A”
- By each task that should be done very soon (today would be best) put a “B”.
- Put a “C” by the remaining activities, and Dave says if they haven’t been moved up to A or B in a few weeks stash them in an idea file.
- Now, by the most important “A” item, put a “1” by it, (will now be
“A1”) then the next most important A put a “2” and so forth.
- Repeat with the “B’s” and “C’s”
So simple yet so Brilliant! I love that Dave calls the number one item A1, and comically nicknames it “Steak Sauce” in honor of the steak sauce A1. He challenges readers when a distraction comes our way to ask ourselves – “Is this Steak Sauce?”
I LOVE THIS lol!
I can’t wait to try this myself – let me know if you try it or have been doing this and how it is working for ya!
It is me again…I do apologize for being on vacation from blogging for far too long! The truth is, I love to vacation, and Bryan and I don’t go on vacation often, but we had a very special vacation recently for our 5th Wedding Anniversary! We took a 7 night Disney Cruise on the Brand New Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship!!! This was my very first cruise ever – and it definitely set the bar high!
First of all,
We booked our cruise this way, and
A) it was the cheapest price for our cruise anywhere online
B) it included a FREE Digital Photo Album voucher so that you can design a memory photo book with pictures from your trip
C) We earned a $190.00 COSTCO CASH CARD simply by booking through them! WoooHooo! Skeptics don’t over analyze, I already made my photo book and received my cash card within weeks of my return home…no work on my part!
I am so glad I got the Seasickness patch, because I wore it the whole time and did not even get sick except for one time, and the funny thing is there was no rough seas…so you can imagine if I did NOT take it!
After boarding the ship and before we set sail towards the Eastern Caribbean, we immediately ate lunch at the Cabana restaurant – which is a wonderful casual buffet style layout with everything from Pizza to Lamb and Fruit to dessert! We ate outside on the deck and soaked up the sun
After lunch we met on the big deck where the AquaDuck is and joined the other 3100 guests for the Set Sail Deck Party! We then headed up to deck 11 to the very front of the ship to get our first relaxing view of the ocean.
The things I like most about cruising on the Disney Fantasy are:
- Gorgeous Decor throughout – it is truly amazing the amount of detail in the decor of this magnificent ship! From our comfy and well laid out room to the Lighting and dining decor all the way to Glass tile mosaic Murals of Flamenco Dancers and Bull Fighters in the Restrooms!
- I have never met so many delightful employees as I did on this ship! The cleaning was impeccable, the service was perfect and speedy, and the interaction between us and crew members was top quality – we left friends behind when we returned home.
- Free Fountain Drinks 24/7…and Soft Serve Ice Cream most of the time!
- All inclusive meals and entertainment on board. This I think is one of the first vacations where I got to witness Bryan truly relax instead o stress about where to eat, what to do and how to arrange our Itinerary – with all that sorted out ahead of time – he could truly kick his feet up, shut his eyes, or just be relaxing!
- Adult Entertainment was wonderful and still clean! How Refreshing!
- Adults only decks, lounges, spas and pools we SO Nice!!!! Days at sea were just as eventful as days at port due to well-organized and multiple options for entertainment day and night!
- Easy to avoid being around children for couples, and there are so many kid’s activities and awesome crew members helping with children activities that parents can enjoy both time to themselves as well as family time!
- Very adequate lounge chairs both in the sun and in the shade. We would lay under a cabana and fall asleep watching the moon and listening to the wind and water!
- As many cruise guests are on the ship, you feel like you are the only people there sometimes since the activities and organization are top-notch.
- Top notch Broadway quality musical shows that appeal to the entire audience from men to children.
- Unsurpassed dining service, with 5 course meals and a good mixture of casual and formal dining. Oh and the dining restaurants are unreal! From one that makes a cartoon out of every dining guest’s cartoon drawing to eating in a garden and watching the stars come out while beautiful flowers are lighting your table and opening as dusk draws near!
Everything on this ship was above and beyond my expectation! We spoke to a Travel Agent who was on vacation herself and she had take cruises on many different cruise lines. She remarked that aside from having to pay for alcoholic beverages on this ship, the value and excellence of what you get with Disney is incredible and incomparable.
We visited St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Disney’s Private Island Castaway Cay. My favorite for scenery is definitely St. Thomas, and we had much to do at Castaway Cay. All in all, and as frugal as Bryan and I are, we both highly recommend taking a trip with the Disney Cruise Line and plan on doing so again in our future. As expensive as they may seem, there is no doubt that it is an awesome value and a guarantee for a fabulous vacation. I am including a little video I made especially or Bryan highlighting our trip and some of the Portraits we had made by Dustin Prickett with Sunglow Photography down in St. Cloud, FL during our visit.
Dustin is a wonderful wedding photographer from Lakeland and was gracious to work us into his schedule! Oh and that reminds me y’all! I purchased a groupon from MetalPix and for $45 FLAT I was able to order a gorgeous 16 x 20 Metallic Art Aluminum Print ($150 Value) of one of my favorite portraits of Bryan and I. I received in her in AK within 3 business days! Super impressed with their product and I will definitely be purchasing from there again. Anyways, sorry I am now rambling, but mainly I just want to share great experiences when I have them so that you will try them and enjoy them as well! I will write again soon! Take Care in the mean time and feel free to shoot questions about any of this!!!
Great Read # 1 for the Bride and Groom -
What is the most powerful motivation for a woman in her marriage? For a man?
Here’s my thoughts on a book that has a great answer to that question!
I don’t just photograph weddings because I like gowns and flowers and cake (although Bryan and I do love cake!)…I truly am crazy about Marriage (as you probably already guessed) – I think it is the single most important relationship you will ever have, and I can’t tell you enough how my heart desires to help my brides and grooms have the best, strongest, and most incredible marriage possible. I enjoy hearing their story and sharing in their wedding day as I photograph the Wedding Ceremony and Reception. But, the wedding day is just the beginning of what is in store for a bride and groom.
So, with our upcoming 5th Anniversary, I will be sharing with you a few of the most beneficial books that helped us start our marriage out on a more solid foundation. First of all, I do not want you to think we know the perfect recipe for a happy and perfect marriage…everyday is a day to learn more about growing together in our marriage, and learning to be a better spouse for each other- and our journey has only just begun! But this book and the others I will write about have truly been a blessing and major help in what we have as husband and wife – which is why it is on my recommendation list for all.
Don’t disregard this book as a typical marriage book by its title – the message is pretty profound, even for those who have heard the cliche’ before. Women, brides, wives, if you think all your man is looking for is that you genuinely love him, you must read this book! If you think your man only should have your respect if and when he deserves your respect – YOU MUST READ and consider, and even TRY the points in this book!
I think the best way to introduce the author and his concepts is by this quote from Dr. Eggerich’s website:
“We believe love best motivates a woman and respect most powerfully motivates a man. Research reveals that during marital conflict a husband most often reacts when feeling disrespected and a wife reacts when feeling unloved. We asked 7,000 people this question: when you are in a conflict with your spouse or significant other, do you feel unloved or disrespected? 83% of the men said “disrespected.” 72% of the women said, “unloved.” Though we all need love and respect equally, the felt need differs during conflict, and this difference is as different as pink is from blue!” – Loveandrespect.com
The first book I cannot write enough about is “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Bryan and I were given this book and workbook as a wedding present, but we didn’t pick it up until one of our “arguing that first year of marriage” tense moments. I am so glad it was in our home when we needed it, and I believe it has been the SINGLE MOST BENEFICIAL READING for our marriage. I wanted to let you all know because it meant so much to the two of us, I know it will only help anyone who will listen. If you are super interested – Dr. Eggerichs and his wife Sarah speak frequently at conferences all over! Although there are none scheduled this year for Alaska, there are some coming up in Washington sate. By the way, as you read some of the examples in this book, keep three things in mind:
a) You don’t have to force your love to read it…while 2 people pursuing relationship enriching wisdom is extremely beneficial, the points, mindsets and techniques in this book can be successful with just one individual understanding and making a choice to follow the techniques in this book.
b) This can and has SAVED a failing marriage..You will read examples of individuals who refused to let their marriage fail without trying everything possible, and by reading and following the points in this book, were able to win their spouse back over and strengthen their marriage.
c) The message in this book is written by a Christian author, but the techniques work for anyone and are proven. Give them a try and see if your relationship doesn’t benefit!
I have changed my whole approach to respecting Bryan and he has changed his approach to loving me, and it has done wonders for our marriage! It is a daily challenge, because, as you will find – these techniques aren’t natural, we have to learn HOW to provide what our spouse needs. Dr. Eggerichs describes what he calls “The Crazy Cycle” that we experience that can cause our resentment of our spouse to cause us to act disrespectful or unloving towards them, which causes them to act disrespectful or unloving towards us, which fuels our fire more, and so on. This truth that we can find hope in that this book is centered around is found in the Bible in the book of Ephesians (Ephesians 5:33):
“Husbands must love their wives and wives must respect their husbands.”
So there you have it! Please let me know if you decide to check it out! I really hope it will help you and your relationships!
So, this past Saturday, my associate photographer Jennifer Hammer and I drove out to the Bible Valley Chalet in Indian, Alaska (right near Girdwood). The sunrise on the water off of the Seward Highway was phenomenal…and I knew it was going to be a gorgeous day for a wedding in Alaska! We passed people climbing the frozen water run-off’s on the mountain side of the Seward Highway, and saw a few moose who were probably enjoying the beautiful morning as much as we were, especially after such bad weather the day before! We pulled into the Bible Valley Chalet and began examining the lighting and planning our shots etc. Miss Jessica Bowlin, her mother, and her bridesmaids arrived on time, with hair done and nothing but smiles. She said she was nervous, but you’d never know it by the way she was able to laugh, chill and get ready with her mom and friends! The day went perfectly, and the wedding party was super tough to get some really fun photos outside in our cozy 12 degree weather. I love that they brought sunglasses, it made for really great personality pictures and also seemed to bring out more laughs and smiles which were great for the Wedding photos. Jessie and John were super fun-loving, and brought their ski boots for some authentic Alaskan Winter Wedding pics. The reception was at the Bayshore Club House in Anchorage, and was elegant and cozy, with it’s lodge like feel, high ceilings, soft lights, beautiful views and gorgeous fire blazing in the fireplace. This was an awesome party – it was great to see that so many people could cut loose and dance the night away! It is such a privilege for me to take a part in such a happy and special day like this for a couple, and there is no doubt that Jessie and John are perfect together! Just look at them! Click to view Larger!