Favorite Wedding Vendors | Charlotte NC


Favorite Wedding Vendors | Charlotte NC

As a photographer, I’ve gotten to work with some amazing vendors in the Charlotte area! From DJ's to venues to florists, I've met a lot of vendors through shooting weddings. I wanted to take a moment to share with you my favorite wedding vendors I have worked with so far. 

Videography: Digital Spark Studios

Joshua and Adam are so easy to work with and have a great eye for capturing your day through video!

DJ: Sotos Entertainment

I've worked with Sotos Entertainment several times now and they always create a great party atmosphere. They are also great to work with and a lot of fun!

Hair and makeup: Dana Raia Bridal

Dana did a few of my bride's hair and makeup last year and it always turned out stunning! 

Florist: Bookout Blooms

Bookout Blooms designs gorgeous florals that fit your day uniquely.

Wedding Planner: Magnificent Moments Weddings

Amanda from Magnificent Moments Weddings is one of the most organized and sweetest wedding planners I've ever met! She will not let you down on your wedding day.

Cake: Cupcake Delirium

I am a huge fan of cupcakes at a wedding instead of a wedding cake and Cupcake Delirium's are the best I've ever tasted!

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Venue: Johnson Carriage House

I've had the honor of shooting many weddings at Johnson Carriage House and it is my favorite venue! Lillian is there for whatever you need and there are a variety of locations around the venue for beautiful photos.

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Thank you to all the wonderful vendors I get to work with and who help make every bride's day perfect!



Best Unique Processional Songs | 2016 Edition

I am back with a whole new list of processional songs for 2016! If you haven't seen my other processional song lists, you can view them here: 15 Best Unique Processional Songs

And here: 10 More Unique Processional Songs

A few things to note for those who haven't read my previous posts on this. If you don’t know about me and crescendos, well we have a love affair. I’m convinced its the perfect time for the bride to enter. I also am a big believer in choosing ONE song for your bridesmaids and you to enter in to and not two separate ones. The flow and build up of one song creates much more emotion. And lastly, as always, listen to these songs the whole way through to really get the full effect! 

1. Ratatouille Main Theme- Michael Giacchino. I am in love with anything Michael Giacchino composes, (who knew a movie about a rat cooking could give you the feels?) so of course I had to include one of his songs on the list. It has a Parisian, vintage movie feel and there is a crescendo at 1:02 that would be amazing for your entrance. 

2. Story of My Life - The Piano Guys. They’re back again for my 2016 list (3 times)! Pretty much any other song list I make includes The Piano Guys. They are like the masters at crescendos and instrumental music. This song has 2 crescendos, one at 2:28 and one at 3:31.

3. The Mission/How Great Thou Art- The Piano Guys. I didn’t know I could love this hymn more than I did already but I do! The Piano Guys did it again. This version has a sophisticated and formal feel to it that would be wonderful for a more traditional wedding. There is a small crescendo at 2:00.

4. Jurassic Park Theme- The Piano Guys. Again guys, who knew a movie about dinosaurs could have a gorgeous soundtrack? This Piano Guys version is so lovely and keeps true to the original. I personally think movie soundtracks are the best at evoking emotion and beauty! A great crescendo starting around 2:20-2:40!

5. Better Together- Us the Duo. I found this version of Jack Johnson’s song and just fell in love with it! It has a little bit of a different feel and would make for an adorable, happy entrance at your wedding.

6. Can’t Help Falling in Love- Hailey Reinhart. I have Ingrid Michaelson’s version of this song on my Reception song list here: Best Reception Special Dance Songs. But I really love Hailey Reinhart’s version too! It’s a classic, slow love song if you want a softer entrance at your wedding.

7. Beauty & the Beast- Emile Pandolfi. Who doesn’t love Disney??! This version of a classic Disney song is the perfect whimsical touch to a fairytale wedding. (He has a whole album of these songs by the way! Beauty and the Beast is just my favorite)

8. Pure Imagination- Emile Pandolfi. Emile Landolfi is on the list again with this beautiful rendition of Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka. The piano makes my heart just melt to pieces. If you want a bit of classical whimsy, then this is your song. There is even a crescendo at 2:48!

9. My Heart Will Go On- Emile Pandolfi. My husband will love this one on the list since Titanic is his all time favorite movie! Piano really makes everything better. The melody is still there but is wrapped in gorgeous piano scales that give it a more elegant feel. 3:06 starts the crescendo you’ve been waiting for.

10. Grow Old With Me - Tom Odell. For a faster pace processional (Or even try this one as a recessional!), use this one. Definitely for a more non-traditional wedding, but I love it!

11. Question - Old 97s. Another sweet, quirky tune that I can picture at an outdoor wedding. 

12. Boat Song- JJ Heller. I always like to include non-traditional sounding songs on this list. This one has a wonderful waltzy (yes I made that word up) feel to it. It’s perfect for a cute little backyard wedding! 

13. Giving Up - Ingrid Michaelson. This is another quirky, cute song that I just had to include for this year’s list. It has the perfect slow rhythm for walking down the aisle and I can see the bride coming in around 3:11 towards the end of the song.

14. North- Sleeping at Last. My friend introduced me to this song and it quickly became one of my favorites. Perfect for a slower, emotional entrance.

15. First Day of My Life- Bright Eyes. Last but not least, another fun upbeat song to enter your wedding to! 

Well that's it for 2016's list! Feel free to comment below with what song you used for your own wedding!




Favorite Details + Tips | Part 2

Here we are, part 2 of my favorite details and tips! In part 1 I covered bouquets, favors, cakes, reception tables, and other little personal details. If you missed part 1, you can view that here: Favorite Details + Tips Part 1

This week I'm finishing up with veils/flower crowns, thrifting and cheap finds, groom attire, guest books, and creative reception/ceremony details. I'll also add some extra tips at the end that should be helpful!

1. Veils/Flower Crowns - My favorite veil is spanish lace. It is SO gorgeous! Several of my brides have worn this type of veil. 

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I also loveeee flower crowns! They have a more whimsical feel than a veil that just makes me happy :) These are super easy to make yourself!

2. Thrifting and Cheap Finds - A lot of my brides have been DIY-ers, thifters, and just creative with their details! First tip here, search goodwills and yard sales for lace tablecloths, glass bottles, and old books to use in your decorating.

Another one of my brides got very creative with her reception decor. Her tablecloths are actually curtains from Ikea that they cut to fit the table! Other decorations are things they made themselves, already had, or thrifted. Be creative with where you look for decorations! Target, Hobby Lobby, Ikea, and other similar stores have great selections.

3. Groom Attire - These are my favorite groom outfits that I've seen so far!

4. Guest Books - Guest books don't have to be an actual book with lines for the guests to sign their names. Think outside of the box like these brides did!

Have guests sign a globe 

Have guests sign a globe 

Have guests fill out cards with their info and then leave a note for you

Have guests fill out cards with their info and then leave a note for you

Have a piece of art made for your guests to sign and then hang in your home

Have a piece of art made for your guests to sign and then hang in your home

5. Creative Ceremony/Reception Details - You don't have to follow the traditional rules for your ceremony and reception. Check out these unique ideas to include on your day!


This bride had rustic doors for her outdoor ceremony entrance. They were just beautiful!

This bride had rustic doors for her outdoor ceremony entrance. They were just beautiful!

Get married at a public park- these are usually free or low cost and make lovely outdoor venues!

Get married at a public park- these are usually free or low cost and make lovely outdoor venues!

DIY strips of fabric tied together for your altar backdrop

DIY strips of fabric tied together for your altar backdrop

Use benches for seating during your outdoor ceremony

Use benches for seating during your outdoor ceremony

See each other before the ceremony because these first look pictures are so worth it! (And I promise it doesn't take away from the actual aisle moment!)

See each other before the ceremony because these first look pictures are so worth it! (And I promise it doesn't take away from the actual aisle moment!)




Have teacups out for guests to enjoy warm drinks on a cold wedding night

Have teacups out for guests to enjoy warm drinks on a cold wedding night

Let balloons fly around you for your big exit from the reception! 

Let balloons fly around you for your big exit from the reception! 

Wrap up cute wooden utensils instead of real silverware at guest's place settings

Wrap up cute wooden utensils instead of real silverware at guest's place settings

Toast glass bottles of coke instead of champagne for a more casual reception

Toast glass bottles of coke instead of champagne for a more casual reception

Have a food truck come to your reception!

Have a food truck come to your reception!

Lastly, I wanted to share some extra tips that will help your day and photography run more smoothly!

1. Have a cute hanger ready to put your dress on. It really makes a difference in photos!

2. Clear all clutter from the getting ready room before you take pictures of you getting into your dress.

3. Think about doing a brunch or dessert reception if you want to save some money. I think these types of receptions are so lovely!

4. Always have extra bobby pins ready to go for your hair or your bridesmaid's. I've fixed many a bride's hair with bobby pins from my own head :)

5. You can wrap tissues around your finger and then when you carry your bouquet they will be hidden but easily accessible to dab any tears during the ceremony.

6. Aisle runners usually make walking down the aisle harder, especially if you or your girls are wearing heels.

7. Make sure your family members know if they are in photos and that they should stay put immediately after the ceremony.

8. Be careful about doing a fake exit from your reception to get photos. Many times guests leave immediately after this and your reception might end earlier than you want.

9. Use one song for you and your bridesmaids walking down the aisle. It gives your ceremony a nice cohesive flow and builds up to your entrance!

10. If I had to tell you one other thing to invest in (besides photography!), it would be videography. I am so glad my husband and I have video from our wedding to look back and watch my dad dancing crazy during the reception and hear us saying our vows :) 

Phew. I think I've bestowed all of my knowledge upon you :) Comment with any unique details or tips you have!




Favorite Details + Tips | Part 1

I've shot around 100 weddings now and I have so many favorite details and tips I've seen from brides. I thought I'd share some of these here for inspiration for brides currently planning their wedding. All of these are a few of my favorite things (insert singing) that I've seen at weddings! I have to admit I had some trouble narrowing these down so this might turn into a 2 parter blog :) Let's get started!

1. Bouquets - One of my most recent brides got her flowers from Sam's Club! I did this at my own wedding and it only cost around $300. Look at these lovely bouquets!

To add a touch of whimsy to your bouquet, add long ribbons wrapped around the base like this bride did.

2. Cakes - I'm not a huge cake person, but I've seen some beautiful and tasty ones at previous weddings! First up, don't you just LOVE this hanging cake?

Cake don't have to be super fancy either. Look at these lovely, natural cakes with minimal embellishments. If you have a baker in the family, these could be easily replicated!

And if you're not a cake person, like me, opt for cupcakes instead! One of my brides got cupcakes from Cupcake Delirium in Charlotte and they were delicious!


3. Reception Tables - My absolute favorite reception tables are family style ones! There's something about sitting all together like family on a wedding day that makes it special and one long table decor makes a stunning piece to look at.

4. Favors - Favors usually go forgotten on tables at the end of the night but there are some very creative options that I've seen brides give out that are adorable and useful. A few of these are below!

Handmade candles

Handmade candles



Succulents (and oh look some cute shoes!)

Succulents (and oh look some cute shoes!)



Pom-poms for an exit (and to keep) and a cd with songs chosen by the couple

Pom-poms for an exit (and to keep) and a cd with songs chosen by the couple

Glasses to keep

Glasses to keep

5. Little Details - One thing I always say to my couples is make your wedding personal and special to you. Here are a few little personal details that my couples have incorporated into their wedding days and might give you some inspiration for yours!

Travel themed decorations (they were engaged long distance)

Travel themed decorations (they were engaged long distance)

Part of her grandpa's sweater sewn into her dress

Part of her grandpa's sweater sewn into her dress

Bohemian feel to their whole wedding which was so very them!

Bohemian feel to their whole wedding which was so very them!

A handmade box made by family to put future letters and a drink for the couple

A handmade box made by family to put future letters and a drink for the couple

Alright guys, considering I've spent two hours writing this and could keep going (because I LOVE details) I'll go ahead and call this Part 1. Part 2 will have to come another day!




Bridesmaid Dress Inspiration

I love when my brides have their bridesmaids dressed in mismatching dresses! It looks so lovely and allows each bridesmaid to get a dress they feel comfortable in. Long gone are the days of picking out formal dresses in a bridal store. There are so many places that offer elegant or vintage style dresses in the same color palette but different styles. Here are my picks for places to find bridesmaid dresses and some examples of how you can mix & match them together!

1. Ruche

What are your ideas for places to shop for bridesmaid dresses?


The Only Questions You Need to Ask About Wedding Photography


The Only Questions You Need to Ask About Wedding Photography


I’ve been seeing a lot of lists lately that claim to have all the questions you need to ask your wedding photographer before you book. What I’ve realized while reading through these lists is that many of the questions are irrelevant to the couples trying to pick a photographer. Some questions are outdated and other questions require photography knowledge that many couples don’t have. I wanted to simplify the list to make the process easier and more helpful.  These are the only questions you need to ask a potential wedding photographer.

1.     Is our date available and what is your pricing?

Obviously, you need to find out if your date is available with a photographer before you ask anything else. From there, ask to see a pricing guide so that you can see your package options. Don’t be afraid to ask what some of the items in the package entail!

2.     Do we get all the high-resolution digital files and print rights? 

Some photographers do not give back digital files. Some photographers only give back some. Ask your photographer if you get all of the high-resolution digital files and print rights. It is my belief that couples should not have to pay extra for all the memories of their day.

A side note: Please print your photos! Whether it’s through your photographer or through a different way, get them printed!

3.     Can we see a full wedding?

When you view a photographer’s website, their gallery usually only shows their best work. Ask to see a full wedding from the photographer from beginning to end. This way you can see their work for family photos, getting ready, and reception and not just couple portraits. Most likely, they can point you to some blog posts on their website or show you a photo album or gallery when you meet with them.  

4.     What happens if you get ill?

Although it’s not common, sometimes photographers end up very ill or in the hospital right before a wedding. Ask your photographer what is in place in case that happens.

5.     Do you have insurance?

Make sure your photographer has business, equipment, and liability insurance. Photographers should have all of these for their business. They protect the photographer and everyone at your wedding.

Those 5 questions are the most important ones you can ask a wedding photographer! However, even more importantly, are the questions you need to ask yourselves.

1.     How important is photography to us?

Make a list of the big things you need for your wedding and place them in order of importance. The top 3 things on your list should be the things you spend the most money on. Once you know where photography falls on your list, you can ask yourself the next question.

A side note: Photography and videography are the two things that on your 50th anniversary together, you can look back and remember every detail of the day. One of the biggest regrets of brides is not spending more on photography and videography.

2.     How much are we willing to spend on photography?

Once you answer the above question, you can figure out your budget. Depending on where photography falls on your list, you can decide how much are you willing to spend on it. The average cost of a wedding photographer in the U.S. is $2400, so keep that in mind when planning.

A side note: Please, please, please, do not just have a friend take pictures. Most beginning photographers have not experienced everything that goes into a wedding day and haven’t had much experience. If you’re going to hire a newer photographer, make sure they have second shot at least 5 weddings and remember: ask to see a full gallery of their work!

3.     Do we like this photographer’s work and does it fit our style?

When you are looking at a photographer’s website, take into consideration the style of their photos. Many photographers have different editing and shooting styles. Pick a style that matches you as a couple and the feel of your wedding. LOVE your photographer’s work!

4.     Do we like the photographer/get along with them?

Your wedding photographer is going to be with you ALL day at your wedding. Pick a photographer that is friendly, organized, and that you think you will get along with.

If you ask these questions of your photographer and yourself, it will help you make the best decision regarding your wedding photography!




The Best Charlotte Wedding Venues | 2014

I’ve shot many weddings in and around the Charlotte area and I got to capture some beautiful couples at lovely venues in 2014. Here are my top 5 picks for Charlotte wedding venues based on where I have gotten to shoot so far.

1.    Duke MansionDuke Mansion is the perfect, elegant choice for your wedding. The location has many great spots for photos and has a beautiful room for bridal preparations. The set-up I saw utilized the atrium for the ceremony and the ballroom for the reception, but there are several options for places to have these both inside and outside. The staff is very friendly and will help you plan out the details of having your wedding there!

2.    Anne Springs Close Greenway. Another favorite of mine is actually located in Fort Mill, SC very close to the Charlotte border. Anne Springs Close Greenway is a great rustic venue. The Dairy Barn is an adorable location for your ceremony and reception and the land surrounding the building is just gorgeous for photos. The set-up I saw here was as follows: the ceremony was upstairs in the Dairy barn, the reception dinner was downstairs, and then the dancing was back upstairs. It is such a great venue no matter how you set it up at any of the locations here!

P.S. This location is also great for engagement sessions!

3.    Johnson Carriage House. Johnson Carriage House is located in Mooresville, NC. Even though it’s a little bit further from Charlotte, this location is definitely worth it! With large open land, a garden, stables, and horses grazing in the pasture, this venue is fantastic! There are so many options for your photos and it is the perfect outdoor wedding space.

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4.    Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens. Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens is another great, elegant venue. You can wander the many walkways through the gardens for photos and enjoy the beautiful space inside with lots of windows and natural light. You can have your wedding inside or outside depending on what fits your day best. The set-up I captured here utilized the indoor space by having both the ceremony and reception in the large window-lit room.

5.    The Brawley House. Finally, The Brawley House is another location in Mooresville, NC. This venue is the perfect mix of elegant and vintage. This historic house has great rooms for bridal preparation and lovely grounds outside for photos. You can have your ceremony outside next to the house or inside the barn on the opposite side. The wedding set-up I encountered here had the ceremony outside and the reception inside the barn. However, the barn doors were opened so guests could step out onto the patio with string lights hanging overhead.

So, there are my top 5 pick for Charlotte wedding venues. I'll post a 2015 list later this year after I get to shoot at more amazing venues! :)

Let me know what venue you love in the comments below!



My Favorite Ceremony & Reception Exits

I’ve seen and heard about some great wedding exit ideas that I wanted to share with you! These are my favorites ones that are a little more unique and fun.

1. Confetti Cannons

Confetti has been used in weddings before but I’ve only been to one wedding where they used confetti cannons! These were so much fun at the end of their ceremony and gave a much better effect than guests throwing it. You can find confetti cannons at places like Party City or Amazon.

2. Balloons

There are two ways you can use balloons for your exit.

1. You can use helium filled balloons and release them. You could even do this at night using white balloons!

2. You can have your guests blow up balloons but not ties the ends and then let them go and fly all around. This is what one of my couples did for their exit last year and it was so fun!


3. Paper Airplanes

I’m partial to this exit as my husband and I used it for our wedding. I made tons of paper airplanes out of scrapbook paper that matched my colors and feel of the day and then all our guests threw them in the air above us as we ran out.

4. Maple Tree “Helicopters”

I love, love, love this idea! If you’re having a woodsy, outdoor wedding then this one is for you. Maple trees have leaves/seeds that fall in the fall season. They come down like spinning helicopter wings. They fall so gently and are just lovely!

5. Kazoos

This idea is so fun! Buy kazoos (I personally like the simple white ones) from Amazon or Walmart and personalize them with tags that say “Make a joyful noise!”. Then, you can have your guests blow the kazoos as you run through.

6. Pom-poms

One of my couples from this year used pom-poms for their exit and it was so unique. It fit the couple perfectly and the best part was the guests could pick a color that went with their favorite sports team and use it in the future!

7. Sparklers

A lot of couples use sparklers for their exits these days, but I still LOVE them. I especially love them when my couples do things a little differently with them. One of my couples grouped everyone around them in a semi-circle and we got so many great pictures of everyone cheering them on while they were the center of attention!

No matter what exit you choose for your wedding, pick one that fits your day and means something special to you!

What fun and unique wedding exits have you seen or used?




10 More Unique Processional Songs

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I love love love wedding music! It can set the whole tone for your day and bring about great emotional moments. Last year I wrote a blog post with my picks for the best unique processional songs. You can read it here: 15 Best Unique Processional Songs. A lot of you seemed to really appreciate the post so I thought I’d post another list for even more song inspiration! 

A quick recommendation before I start listing the songs: Use the same song for your bridesmaids and you walking down the aisle. Using two different songs breaks up the emotion and continuity of the processional. Using one song that spans the length of everyone walking down the aisle will build up a crescendo to you walking in!

With that said, here are 10 more unique wedding processional songs!

1.     I Dreamed a Dream (Instrumental from Les Miserables). Les Miserables is one of my favorite plays and this song gives me chills every time I hear it! The crescendo in this song would be perfect for the bride’s entrance. Now, this version is a medley of Les Miserables songs which you could use or you could find a similar instrumental version of just the song I Dreamed a Dream. 

2.  Begin Again (Taylor Swift - Piano Guys Cover). You just can’t go wrong with The Piano Guys. I listed two of their songs in my last blog post and here is another one that I think would be perfect! Listen for the crescendo at 2:45. It is simply breathtaking! Who knew that Taylor Swift songs could be this beautiful? :)

3. Forest Gump (Theme Song). This song is a sweet and peaceful choice for your entrance. The cello coming in at 1:20 adds a beautiful depth to the song. I don’t think there will be a dry eye at the ceremony if you walk down the aisle to this one!

4. Paperman (Christophe Beck). Disney/Pixar music just has a way of making you feel magical and hopeful. The Paperman short came out 2 years ago and the music from it is just stunning. Since it is a longer song, you could start the song at the beginning and end it at 1:25. But I encourage you to listen to the whole thing because it is a lovely piece of music!

5. Moonriver (Audrey Hepburn).  Such a classic. Whether you use Audrey Hepburn’s version or a cover version, this song is so romantic! The acoustic guitar is so simple but its all that is needed for this sweet tune. P.S. End the first video at 1:30 as it goes into a faster paced version of the song afterwards.

6. The Winner Is (from Little Miss Sunshine). Something a little more quirky for your wedding day! If you’re planning a bohemian, folky, or quirky wedding then this song is for you! I don’t know about you, but this song makes my heart happy.  

7. The About Time Theme. (Nick Laird-Clowes). First of all, if you haven’t seen the movie About Time, YOU NEED TO! This theme song from the film has a beautiful crescendo and I won’t lie- it makes me cry. Listen for the crescendo at 1:30.

8. Tenerife Sea (Ed Sheeran). Ok, I know I’ve had a lot of instrumental songs on this list (but can you blame me?!). This song just recently came out and I think it’s perfect for a wedding processional (or even a first dance). The waltzy (yes I made that word up) quality of the song is perfect for walking down the aisle. You could even have a friend play an acoustic guitar version live for you!

9. La Vie En Rose (Acoustic Cover). If any of you watched How I Met Your Mother, you’ll know that this is the song the mother sings on her ukulele. I thought the ukulele version was so enchanting! Listen to this version and see if you think so too.

10. Sort Of (Instrumental by Ingrid Michaelson). I’m finishing up with one more instrumental song. You could use the lyrical version as well, but I just fell in love with the simple piano and strings. This song also has great crescendos thoughout it.

I hope that out of these songs you found one that made your heart soar and made you picture yourself walking down the aisle on your wedding day.

Let me know what songs you are using on your special day in the comments and don’t forget to check out my blog posts listing recessional songs and special dance songs!









My $8000 Wedding

My husband and I knew that we wanted to have a beautiful, vintage wedding. However, we also knew that we didn’t want to spend every cent we had planning it. We wanted to focus on the important things and have money leftover to put into our savings as a newly married couple.

Before I start, let me say that this is based on a 150 people guest list. My husband and I had decided early on that we only wanted family and close friends that actually knew us to be at our special day. With that being said, let me first break down for you our budget and then I’ll go into detail about each item.


Venue                                                                         $1100

Catering                                                                     $3000

Cupcakes                                                                   $400

Dress (with alterations)                                           $1200

Groom’s Attire                                                           $300

Accessories (not including jewelry)                           $40

Makeup & hair                                                           Free

Photographer                                                            $700

Decorations                                                                $300

Invitations                                                                    $60

Save the dates                                                           $80

Programs                                                                    $30

Flowers                                                                        $300

Favors                                                                          $50

Pastor                                                                           $100

Gifts                                                                               $100

DJ                                                                                   Free


Total                                    $7,760


Ok, so some of these items you may be wondering, how on earth did she only spend that much?! Well, let me go through and tell you!

Venue.  I looked everywhere and everywhere for the perfect venue. I didn’t have many options in Williamsport, PA! But then, we found The Acacia Club. It’s vintage and elegant ambiance was exactly what I was looking for. We saved money by having both the ceremony and reception here.


Catering. I have never been one for wedding meals- I never like them! So I decided I wanted a dessert reception. This item, unexpectedly, ended up being the most expensive. My caterer INSISTED that we needed a certain amount of food. I thought he was overestimating, but went with it anyway. What do you know, we had so much food leftover and it was just dessert/hourderves! If there is one piece of advice I can give on this it would be to really put your foot down and tell your caterer how much food you want so you don’t end up paying more than needed.


Cupcakes. I am also not a cake person. Wedding cakes always taste dry to me. So I found an adorable lady in my hometown that did wedding cupcakes! We had 3 different flavors and let me tell you, they were delicious and much cheaper than a wedding cake!


Wedding Dress. Lace. I knew exactly what I wanted when I headed into the bridal shop: a slender-fitting, lace dress with thicker straps and a v-neck. I actually had to custom order my dress so it was a little more expensive than planned. My dress was another area I chose to spend a little bit more on.


Groom’s Attire. My husband and I are not tux people and since our wedding was going to be a little more casual, we decided on dress pants and a vest. Express, which in my opinion has fabulous fitting clothes for men, was our one stop shop.


Accessories. This category included undergarments and shoes. Vintage looking flats from TJ Maxx were the perfect fit. My jewelry is not included here because it was a wedding gift from my parents!


Makeup & hair. I did my own makeup and my sister did my hair. I never like when hair stylists do my hair so this was the perfect option for me! Plus, I wanted my hairstyle simple but elegant which was easy for my sister to do.


Photographer.  I was very prepared to spend $2000 on my photographer. Photography, obviously, is my passion and I wanted this to be perfect! My husband and I were very blessed by one of my good photographer friends (who I loveeee her work, you can check it our here: http://www.floralandarrow.com), who did it for the amount above. We love our photos from our day and I honestly would have paid her the original amount I had planned when we started looking!


Save the Dates. I designed my own save the dates. I created a custom stamp online and had it mailed to me. Then I ordered vintage, paper luggage tags and stamped each one. I LOVE them and they were so easy to do.


Invitations. Again, I designed my own wedding invitations. This time I created a template on the computer that looked like an airline ticket and printed it on brown kraft paper. I cut and stuffed them all with some help from my good friends!


Decorations. A lot of my decorations were DIY or things we already owned. Here is a list of the decorations we used:

-shepherds hooks (bought)

-mason jars (bought)


-spools of thread (bought)


-luggage tag signs (leftover from our save the dates)


-vintage suitcases (already had)


-vintage books (already had)


-chalkboard signs (DIY and bought)

-paper airplanes (DIY to throw on our departure)


Programs. With paper leftover from my invitations, I printed programs. These were also designed by me and folded by my sister and I!


Flowers. I’m not a big flower person. My husband knows the way to my heart is with chocolate not flowers :) I knew I wanted something simple but elegant. As I was on Pinterest one day, I saw a wedding with all Babies Breath. It was breathtaking! So, I ordered 6 bunches of it from Sam’s Club and my cousin made our bouquets and a few vases filled with them!


Favors. Most of the time, favors get left on the reception tables (I’ve shot lots of weddings- every time this happens). So, we decided to go with something edible that people could eat at the wedding: chocolate covered peanuts and coffee beans in small grey bags. Yummy!

Officiant. My pastor married us and didn’t ask for any payment, however we still wanted to pay him!


Gifts. Groomsmen and bridesmaids gifts consisted of darling tea cups and earrings for the girls; pocket knives for the boys!

DJ. Joe and I are BIG music people. We wanted to pick every song from our processional to the dance music. We also aren't huge fans of DJ lighting. So we created our own playlist for the whole day, uploaded it to our ipod, and categorized it. One of your good friends ran the music and made announcements for us!


So, there you have it, my wedding for under $8,000. If there is one piece of advice I could give to you on budgeting your money well for your wedding, it would be this: Pick the top 3 categories you want to spend the most on and save, save, save on the rest of the categories. If flowers aren’t important to you, don’t spend $3000 on them! If your venue is the most important aspect of your wedding, then spend a little more there.

You might think that my husband and I skimped on some things, but honestly we LOVED everything about our wedding and still wouldn’t change a thing about it. When all is said and done, you are spending a joy filled day, marrying your best friend and partying with all the people who make your life special. 





The Best Reception Special Dance Songs

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First Dance Songs

You are the Best Thing- Ray LaMontagne. This was on my recessional song list, but it was actually my first dance song! My husband and I listened to this song a lot when we first started dating and would tell each other all the time that "you are the best thing in my life". It was the perfect fit for our day :)

I Won’t Give Up- Jason Mraz. A slow dance, I Won't Give Up is the perfect song for your first dance, summarizing the commitment of marriage.

Marry Me- Train. Another great slow dance song, Marry Me speaks for itself.

I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You- Ingrid Michaelson. This cover of Elvis Presley's popular song will serenade you as you dance with your sweetheart.

Forever Like That- Ben Rector. I love this song from Ben Rector's newest album!

Mother/Son Dance Songs

And I Love Her- The Beatles. My husband used this song for his dance with his mom at our wedding. It was so special for them because it was the same song his mom and dad danced to at their wedding!

Over the Rainbow- Harry Nillson. This version of Over the Rainbow is from the movie You've Got Mail and is lovely for a dance with your mother.

What a Wonderful World- Louis Armstrong.  Mother/son dances are hard to pick songs for, but What a Wonderful World is a classic song that makes the list.

Moon River- Audrey Hepburn. If you're looking for something a little bit different but still sweet, Moon River by Audrey Hepburn is it.

L-O-V-E- Nat King Cole. Another classic, L-O-V-E will make your mother/son song a little more upbeat and fun.

Father/Daughter Dance Songs

Sweet Pea- Amos Lee. A cute, fun song that is perfect for your father/daughter dance!

I'll Let You Go- Jessica Allossery. I fell in love with this sweet, acoustic, indie song at one of my bride's weddings for her father/daughter dance. It's a unique, non-traditional choice that you'll love!

Isn’t She Lovely Cover- Pixie Lott. A friend of my husband's recorded a version of this song for my father/daughter dance and it was perfect :)

Hank- Ben Rector. A little more sentimental, Ben Rector hits the love of parents just right with this song. You could even use this as a double dance song (mother/son and father/daughter)!

The Way you Look Tonight- Frank Sinatra. And of course, I can't resist a good classic to throw into the list!

Choosing songs for your wedding day is incredibly personal. I hope my posts of songs have given you some ideas for your wedding, but what I really hope is that you take time to pick songs that are truly special to YOU, not just because they are on a list of what you should play.

For processional song ideas, go to my other blog posts herehere, and here. For recessional song ideas, check out my post here

What special songs did you use for your day?


The 15 Best Unique Recessional Songs


The 15 Best Unique Recessional Songs

Last week I shared with you my top picks for the best and unique processional songs for your wedding. This week I want to share with you my picks for recessional songs! These are all upbeat, sweet, and unique songs that will make you want to dance back up the aisle! 

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Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love- Coldplay. Coldplay is back for your recessional! I had a few Coldplay songs on my processional list and I have a few more on this one. Their unique sound is just captivating.

 White Dress- Ben Rector. Another special song for me, this was the song my husband and I used for our recessional and we still love it! :)

Top of the World-Imagine Dragons. The last wedding I photographed, the bride and groom used this song and I thought it was just perfect as they jumped off the stage!

Firefly- Jimmy Needham. Close friends of mine used this song for their exit. It's so sweet and charming!

You are the best thing- Ray Lamontagne. Another one of my brides used this song for her exit and it just happens to also be my first dance song with my husband! It's the perfect ending to your ceremony.

Young, Dumb, and In Love- Matt Kearney. My sister just got married in September and used this upbeat song as her exit. It fit her and her husband perfectly!

You and I- Ingrid Michaelson. This fun little diddy is the perfect addition to a casual, backyard wedding.

Home-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Looking for something a little more unique? Try this vintage sounding track.

I Do- Colbie Caillat. The title already tells you the song is meant to be for a wedding. Play I do after you say "I do"!

Sweet Disposition- The Temper Trap. Anyone else love 500 Days of Summer? Here's a great song from that movie to use as your exit.

All You Need is Love- The Beatles. Classic and all about love. Need I say more? 

Feel Again- One Republic. A little more recent and a fun beat, Feel Again could be your recessional!

You Make My Dreams Come True- Hall and Oates. Want to go out dancing? Try this other track from 500 Days of Summer!

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours- Stevie Wonder. This song always reminds me of You've Got Mail (one of my favorite movies). Feel like the end of a romantic comedy with this pick!

Strawberry Swing- Coldplay. And finally, another Coldplay pick. Strawberry Swing will have you swinging back up the aisle.

Find your processional song here, here, or here. Or go here to see a list of special dance reception songs!


The 15 Best Unique Processional Songs


The 15 Best Unique Processional Songs

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 One of my favorite parts of a wedding is the music! For my wedding, I spent careful consideration choosing my processional, recessional, and first dance songs. I wanted songs that would fit the moment perfectly. For the processional, I think that it should build up to that beautiful moment when the bride enters. {Canon in D and Here Comes the Bride just don't do it for me!} So, here are my top picks for processional songs! Be sure to listen the whole way through the songs so you hear every crescendo and beautiful note!

1. You are on our side- Bethany Dillon. My sister and one of my friends both used this song for their processional. The touching worship of our Savior in this song and the grand crescendo make it the perfect entrance song!

 2. Hoppipolla- Sigur Ros. This hauntingly beautiful medley has a crescendo that make you want to stand up for the bride as soon as it starts!

3. Turning Page (instrumental)- Sleeping at Last. Ok, ok I know this was used in Twilight, but isn't it lovely? I just love me some good piano and strings music!

4. There’s No Place Like Home- Michael Giacchino (LOST soundtrack). This song holds a special place in my heart as it was my own processional song! LOST was our favorite show (we became friends because of it) and the music makes us cry every single time. I started descending the stairs at minute 1:23  :)

5. A Thousand Years- Piano Guys. This cover of Christina Perri's A Thousand Years is absolutely perfect. There go that piano and strings again!

6. You Make Beautiful Things (acoustic)- Gungor. I love acoustic versions of songs and this one is no exception. This beautiful testament to how the Lord makes beautiful things out of our lives is simply perfect for an entrance song. Pay attention to minute 2:30. 

7. Reign of Love- Coldplay. One of my brides used the next two songs as her processional. This pretty little Coldplay song she used as her bridesmaids were walking down the aisle. 

8. Together- Hagwood Hardy (Anne of Green Gables).   And this was her bridal processional. Anyone else a fan of Anne of Green Gables? It made me tear up while shooting her walking down the aisle! {start it at 20 seconds!)

9. Secrets- Piano Guys. Can you tell that I love the Piano Guys? This version of One Republic's Secrets mixed with Beethoven's 5th is AMAZING.

10. Love Story/Viva la Vida- Piano Guys. I know, another Piano Guys cover, but they are genius! This crescendo is to die for. (End the song at minute 3:44)

11. Portuguese Love Theme- Love Actually soundtrack. This is one of my favorite holiday movies and the whole soundtrack is wonderful. This song is the best from the movie and I think it would be beautiful as a processional! (Minute 1:57 crescendo!)

12. Gumption- The Holiday soundtrack. I just love soundtracks. There's something so special and grand about them. From another one of my favorite holiday movies, enjoy this heart warming song! (Start at minute 1:25 and end at minute 3:00. The crescendo is at minute 2:20)

13. Romantic Flight- How to Train your Dragon soundtrack. I could soar right out of my seat listening to this soundtrack. (A little Scottish sounding at first but again the crescendo at minute 1:10 is PERFECT!)

14. Throw the Coins- Sense and Sensibility soundtrack. I couldn't let down my Jane Austen fans. This track from Sense and Sensibility is heart-warmingly lovely.

15. Carl Goes Up- Up soundtrack. Lastly, looking for something a little more lighthearted but still beautiful? Try this amazing song from the movie Up! (End it at 52 seconds)

I hope some of these songs took your breath away and helped you find the perfect processional song! For even more processional song ideas, check out my new blog post 10 More Unique Processional Songs.

Looking for recessional songs? Check out my post 15 Best Unique Recessional Songs.

To find that special dance song for your wedding, go to my post The Best Reception Special Dance Songs

If you're interested in having me capture your day, you can send me a message here. I love to travel and I'd love to hear from you!