Choosing the Length of Your Wedding Day

Many wedding receptions last the entire night. Younger guests and friends of the bride and groom love dancing right to the end. The slightly older guests won’t typically stay the entire time. On the flip side, you and your partner may not be night people. You don’t enjoy staying up super late and then having to change out of your gown, scrub layers of makeup off and take 1,000 bobby pins out of your hair. Trust me, it’s a process!

 Photo By: Mayden Photography
Photo By: Mayden Photography

If you guys are a couple who loves to have a good time, the reception ending at midnight is nothing out of the ordinary. All you want to do is have fun, and you deserve that. After all, it’s your wedding day! You want all the time you can get to mingle with family and friends. Having a late ending reception also allows for more time between important events on the schedule.

 Photo By: Mayden Photography
Photo By: Mayden Photography

If you are not a night owl, you might want to start your wedding day earlier because you want your reception to be done at a time you’re comfortable with. You still end up hitting all of the key elements to a wedding. The ceremony would be set at a time that would still allow for a ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner/lunch, and dancing. And the best part is your day wouldn’t be rushed and you can go at a pace you feel comfortable with.

 Photo By: Crane's Photography
Photo By: Crane’s Photography

Recently an intern joined my team and told me all about her future wedding. Neither her nor her boyfriend are night people. They don’t enjoy staying up late, they know that they will get grumpy and become bad hosts. By starting earlier in the day, they would have the chance to do everything that they want for their big day while still respecting their own wishes.

 Photo By: Aysha Nicole Photo
Photo By: Aysha Nicole Photo

Not all couples want the same thing. Each wedding reception is just as unique as the couple planning it. Making your wedding unique is key. Just because your friend ended at midnight does not mean you need to do the same. Make sure to keep this in mind when planning your own wedding!

Wedding Contracts: Not A Dirty Word

 Contract is not a dirty word! 
Contract is not a dirty word! 

Contracts are not a dirty word. They protect all parties!

— Ashley Radosav

We are surrounded by contracts every day and there is no real end in sight. We live in a “I’ll sue you!” wold, thus our lives now revolve around everyone covering their butt ALL.THE.TIME. Here is a list of the daily contracts we enter without even thinking about it: Cable, Internet, Cell phone, Car loan, Mortgage, Gas, Electric, Amazon Prime and so many more. When it comes to arguably one of the most expensive parties of your life, having and reviewing wedding contracts are a necessity. 

This is NOT a post about prenuptial agreements! 

Finding all of your wedding vendors can be hard enough. Once you find them, they shove these legal papers in front of you and make you feel as if you are signing your life away a little at a time. Wedding contracts do NOT need to be scary or overwhelming. Arguably, these are fun and exciting things that you are agreeing to (Photo, Video, Bar, Lighting, Flowers) and not something overwhelming, or at least it shouldn’t be. It is a simple agreement: Here is the product or service I provide, this is what and when you will pay me for it. 

Making sure that you sit and speak with the vendor to explain in detail what their contracts mean is very important. The basics of a wedding contract include the names of the people entering the contract, the event date, the times of provided service and what the outcome will be. For example, you sign a photography contract and you will expect to have him/her onsite with you for 8 hours and in 6-8 weeks you will get a beautiful wedding album. My contract for example basically says, “be a nice human being, I will be nice back.” Please feed me, this is what you will get in return…fairly simple. 

 Google Images
Google Images

Here is a brief run down of the key elements to a successful wedding contract:

  1. Make sure that all of the wedding/event dates are the same. I have caught more than once a wrong event date as I reviewed my client’s contracts. 
  2. Make sure your guest count is the same. The worst thing ever would be to have 225 guests and only food for 125. Double check your numbers…OFTEN!
  3. Make sure the timelines are corresponding. If you sign an 8 hour photography package, make sure all of the important events (ceremony, cake cutting, first dance) all happen within that 8 hour window. Otherwise, you will be missing some key elements of your day in the album you receive after the wedding. 
  4. Follow up and confirm with all vendors a week or two prior to the wedding day to fill them in on any last minute changes. A wedding vendor will always refer back to their notes or their contracts if something goes awry. If you do not inform them of changes, these vendors are NOT mindreader! 
  5. Hire a wedding planner to help catch some of these common mistakes. At the time of signing a wedding contract, there might be some gaping holes in your timeline, this is quite common. However, that is something a wedding planner can help fill in for you and make sure your other vendors are all kept up to date! 

I hope this shed a little bit of light on how to approach a wedding vendor’s contract and have them break it down into simple easy to understand language. You are getting married, not trying to pass the bar. Have them (or a planner) break it down for you!

If you have other questions about wedding contracts, send me an email at Hello@AshleyNicoleEventsInc.com and I will be happy to help!

 Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography
Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography

Event Security: Planning Events in 2018

 Photo: Steve Parsons
Photo: Steve Parsons

Security.

This topic has been around for awhile, though, I think it is often overlooked when it comes to small scale events. Out of the approximate $42.8 million dollars the Royal family spent on Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s recent wedding, 94% or a whopping $40.1 million dollars was spent on security for the royal family, their guests and the general public. Not every wedding planned today has a budget that lavish. However, in today’s day and age, security is, or at least should be considered. I do NOT mean to be a Debby-Downer, but seriously, these topics MUST be thought of! 

 Photo Credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Photo Credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Here are 3 things you should consider when planning an event or wedding in the world today. 

1. Location – Are you having your event in a large metropolitan area? If so, are large cultural events taking place in or around your event? For example, if you are planning a wedding on the Chicago marathon route, ask yourself if your guests will be able to get from point A to point B in a timely and safe manner. Fighting crowds and getting stuck in traffic is not my idea of fun. It could put a damper on an already tight timeline. Have you thought about group transportation if you have a situation like this?

If you are getting married in a smaller city and public parking lots are readily available, are street lights and well lit sidewalks available for your guests? Walking alone late at night in a dark, unfamiliar area is not always the best decision. God forbid something happen to you or your guests, it is better to be safe than sorry. If public parking is available, but far away, you might consider offering a complementary valet service – not free to you, but free to your guests.  

 Photo Credit: Getty Images Women's March
Photo Credit: Getty Images Women’s March

2. Fire Exits – We are pretty well conditioned at this point to look for the fire exits when we walk into a movie theater. How about your wedding or event venue? If an emergency arose, could you direct your guests to the nearest exit? You most likely will be getting married in a venue that your guests have never been to before. In the middle of busting a move on the dance floor, where do they run for safety in case of a fire or active shooter situation? While I am not suggesting you add the nearest fire exit on the dinner menu, at least having a few key people know where and how to exit the building could mean the difference between life and death. 

3. Life Saving Equipment – Does someone at the venue or your wedding planner know CPR or at a minimum First Aid? While this is not necessarily the first question I would ask your potential venue, it is a good idea to at least bring up in conversation. This should NOT be a deal breaker on finding your wedding venue. However, consider if a member of your family or bridal party happens to be a first responder. An extra bonus for the venue, is having a defibrillator on site.

While these might seem like silly questions or morbid thoughts, last week during a wedding a Great Aunt did indeed have a heart attack. Paramedics arrived on the scene quickly and the guests remained calm, however, for a brief moment, there was that *heavy panic* in the air. Happy ending: she is fine and recovering well! 

This experience reminded me to check the renewal date of my CPR certification and the pledge to never let it expire. These milestones should be filled with fond memories and only happy tears. However, the worst has happened and having a solid plan is the difference between a minor setback and a major tragedy. Having a plan for the worst and only expecting the best is how I approach every event I work. Hundreds of events every day go off successfully. I would hate to see you be at the one that does not. 

If you have any other questions or suggestions on how to make your next event both successful and safe, feel free to send me an email at hello {at} AshleyNicoleEventsInc {dot} com. I would love to chat further about this important topic with you! 

Party On, Folks!

Are you looking to provide your guests with a late night snack? This trendy food option provides your guests even more delicious (though, much more casual food) later in the evening. This food, helps soak up some of the alcohol and keep the dancing going full steam ahead! Here are 8 fun, creative and tried & true options!

Chicken & Waffles: A little bit savory, a little bit sweet. This is becoming quite the crowd favorite! If the idea of mixing chicken and waffles doesn’t make your mouth water, you could do a full size chicken tender with different dipping sauces. Think Ranch, BBQ, Honey, etc. 

 Credit and Original Recipe, click  HERE
Credit and Original Recipe, click HERE

Nacho and Salsa Bar: I think that Mexican is by far one of my all time favorites. Every time I get to eat nachos is a really good day. Having a build your own nacho bar at a wedding makes a fun, interactive activity for your guests to enjoy. Having a variety of toppings makes sure that everyone is a happy camper! Ole! 

 Photo Credit Click  HERE
Photo Credit Click HERE

Did I mention how much I love Mexican? Having food trucks can be a huge wow factor at your wedding. Logistically, it needs to be thought through. If you are getting married on the rooftop of the swankiest hotel, it might not make much sense to have a food truck sit on the street. Your guests will have to leave the venue, head down the elevator and hang out with locals on the street also indulging in your *free to them* tacos. If the venue can accommodate a food truck, I say go for it! 

 Photo Credit:  Salt & Pine  
Photo Credit: Salt & Pine  

Ice Cream Cart: Basically, everything is better with Ice Cream. I may be a little biased (my parents own an ice cream store) but nevertheless, ice cream is filled with happy memories. Why not bring those happy times to your wedding…an already SUPER HAPPY event! You could do ice cream sundaes, ice cream bars or have a cart ready to scoop out your favorite flavor. 

 One really great local option is  Cooks Ice Cream  in Elgin, Illinois 
One really great local option is Cooks Ice Cream in Elgin, Illinois 

S’mores Bar: Give me s’more love! Who doesn’t love a good, hot gooey s’more?!? No one I know! Create a fun, interactive childhood favorite for a late night snack at your next wedding or event! 

 Photo Credit and Original Story  HERE
Photo Credit and Original Story HERE

Bacon Bar: Some people believe BACON IS LIFE…and I would not disagree. This yummy breakfast staple is good any time of the day or night. Bacon dipped in peanut butter and chocolate takes the tasty treat to a whole new level. 

 Photo Credit:  Authentic Adventure Co
Photo Credit: Authentic Adventure Co

Pizza: Late Night Pizza…enough said. Gosh, I am getting hungry!

 Photo Credit and Original Story  HERE
Photo Credit and Original Story HERE

Donut Wall: This trend can stay around forEVAAA if you ask me. 

 Photo Credit and Original Source  HERE
Photo Credit and Original Source HERE

I’m not sure about you, but I am super hungry right now…I better go eat a salad from indulging in all of these delicious (but not so healthy) options! 😉 If you have a unique and creative late night snack idea, send it my way! 

5 To-Dos For Your Summer Wedding

 Photo Credit: K+B Photo
Photo Credit: K+B Photo

If you are getting married between June-August, here are 5 things you should have completed or are at least thinking about in the next few weeks at the time of publication, (this is the end of March) Some are obvious, some, maybe not so much.

  1. Wedding Venue – believe it or not, I have heard around town that some couples are still looking for wedding venues…and their wedding is just a few months away. Absolutely everything is dependant on the venue. How many guests are you able to hold? What is the style or feel for the venue (barn, industrial, banquet hall, backyard). The list goes on and on. For the love of Pete…find a venue. The rest gets easier after that. 

  2. Invitations – At this point, if you are getting married in the next 2-4 months, you should be either finalizing or sending out your invitations in the next little bit. In my experience, and I am not sure why, invitations seem to be the most time consuming and stressful part of the planning process. I can’t put my finger on why! Perhaps, because it sets the tone for the entire event. Or perhaps, you now have a very opinionated fiancee, who didn’t care about the invitations until you were knee deep in paper selection. Whatever the reason, make the decision and get them sent out!

  3. Schedule Hair and Makeup Trials – TRY your exact wedding hair and makeup PRIOR to the big day. Take some selfies. Remember, you will be standing with your right side facing your guests. Make sure you love your hair from the right side. Do you normally wear little to no makeup? Seeing yourself with a bright bold lip might catch you by surprise and you do not want ANY surprises on the wedding day. All professional hair and makeup artists will suggest a trial, take them up on it. Some HMUA might charge extra for this, others it is built into the overall package. Ask questions and make sure you feel comfortable.

  4. Solidify Rehearsal Dinner plans – Who is hosting the dinner? Will it be a formal sit down dinner? Something more relaxed at a pizza parlor? Top Golf? Traditionally, the Groom’s family foots the bill, but with tradition out the window, anything and everything is possible. Make it something fun for your nearest and dearest to kick back and relax before all of the real formalities take place the following day. Do yourself a favor, don’t over indulge in food or beverage. No one likes the hungover look.

  5. Order imprinted items (anything personalized) – With just a few months left before the wedding, you want to make sure that anything that is getting personalized gets ordered. Mistakes happen. Remember this post about getting a wrong personalized bridesmaid robe? If things do come back a little wonky, you will have enough time to contact the vendors and get the situation fixed. It would be terrible to place an order and get a wrong name or wedding date printed on 2,000 beverage napkins.

If you want to find out the rest of the to-dos with a wedding fast approaching, shoot me an email and I can send you a complete list! 

 Hi! if you have any other questions on the world of event planning, drop me a line and we can chat! 
Hi! if you have any other questions on the world of event planning, drop me a line and we can chat! 

Need a Bridesmaid Gift? Look No Further!

Are you struggling to find something to gift to your bridesmaids? If so, keep reading!

 Photo Credit: Dave Pavlina Hair and Makeup: Gold Plaited 
Photo Credit: Dave Pavlina Hair and Makeup: Gold Plaited 

If you have been a reader for a while, you might remember that a few weeks ago, I was sent a groomsmen gift to review. The gift was completely free and I was only responsible for providing my honest feedback. If you missed the review of gifts for guys, you can click here. After I wrote my review for the Bleacher Buddy, Joe asked if I wanted to test out some gifts for the ladies. Of course, I would be interested! Did I mention, I love getting free swag?!?  I reviewed the website Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique and selected my item to review. Below are my honest thoughts for purchasing gifts for your best girlfriends from Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique.

Here are my thoughts:
 

Website: Very easy to navigate, constantly making updates and adding additional products to their site. Their products range in price from $11 to $285. Personalization is key with this company as your can put a name, monogram or face on pretty much anything they sell. Their selection of gifts at this point is not vastly different from other companies, but make it easy to select gifts that can be personalized. In conjunction with Groovy Guy Gifts you can find something for just about everyone in your bridal party.

Shipping: They have the standard 8-12 business day shipping but also provide expedited shipping (5 business days) for those couples who forgot that they need to get something sooner. These types of purchases can slip by without even thinking about it! Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique is currently running a sale for FREE personalization and FREE shipping on orders over $75. If you have a medium to large party, this will not be difficult as items can add up quickly. I love taking advantage of sales whenever possible!

Product: I selected the Timeless Collection Floral Kimono! The site offers several types of floral robes, but something about the navy option really spoke to me. I also know that robes are STILL a very popular bridesmaid gift. For me personally, when I get gifts like these at weddings, I am not a *huge* fan of personalization…some of your friends might be single or in the process of changing their name. A lot of people love doing this, so just take my opinion as that, opinion. You can also of course order the gift without personalization. I wanted to get the full experience, so I got my first name embroidered. 

 

When I ordered the item, I requested a navy robe with a navy inscription of my first name. I received a navy robe with my name embroidered in pink. I reached out to the company and they noted the error. They are in the process of shipping me out a corrected robe. I understand mistakes happen and we are all human. Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique gets bonus points for owning the error and immediately setting into motion the solution. *Another reason to not wait when you are getting gifts personalized.

Packaging: The box came very quickly! I was quite surprised. It was wrapped up in a nice gift bag. I rank the packaging a 10!
 

Review of Product: The Timeless Collection Floral Kimono in Navy is in general a good quality robe. The colors are vibrant and the garment is professionally sewn. Despite the embroidery color issue, they embroidered my name nicely and is of  good size. The robe fits well and states that it will fit most people. Even if you can not tie the robe, keeping it open will still be a nice option.

Overall Ranking out of 10: I rank this item and the website an 8.5 out of 10. Overall, great packaging, great design and excellent customer service from Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique. I did remove 1 star because of the unfortunate error in the color of my name. I am also removing a half star due to the common items on their site. I have been surprised at the improvements to the site since I last visited and look forward to seeing a wider selection of unique bridesmaid gifts. It is a brand new site, so in time, they will have as a unique selection as the Groovy Guy Gifts. I will add one star back once the corrected robe gets delivered! In general, a good way to buy gifts for anyone in your bridal party. I look forward to seeing where they take gift giving in the future.

If you know of other great gift ideas for the ladies in your life, send me a message and I will get the item and write a review of it for you! 

 

Can I Get Married Today?

 Have you ever thought there might be days where you are not allowed to get married? Turns out there are!   Photo Credit: authentic adventure co
Have you ever thought there might be days where you are not allowed to get married? Turns out there are!  Photo Credit: authentic adventure co

Marriages happen every single day of the year, all over the world. Whether you are a follower of a specific religion or someone getting hitched at the courthouse. Yes, even on a Monday! In the last 100 years or so, weddings typically began happening on Saturday evenings as this allowed bridal party members to have the day before and the day after to prepare, party and recoup all in one weekend. Weddings have come quite a long way from cake and coffee in the church basement following the ceremony. 

According to the Knot’s 2016 annual real wedding survey, only 26% of people getting married, are getting married in a Church or Synagogue. The rest, are opting for less traditional venues such as beaches, barns, museums, tents, etc.  The majority of couples today are choosing to forge their own path, while those opting to get married in a house of worship might not be aware there are wedding conflict dates. 

Disclaimer – By no means are these the only conflict dates. If you are looking to get married in one of these venues, please reach out to your specific parish, synagogue or temple for a complete list. Dioceses and individual churches may have other rules or regulations. If you have additional dates, feel free to comment below! #themoreyouknow 

 dates provided by  catholicweddinghelp.com
dates provided by catholicweddinghelp.com
 dates provided by  g  reekweddingtraditions.com
dates provided by g reekweddingtraditions.com
 dates provided by c habad.org
dates provided by c habad.org
 dates provided by  qual.org.au
dates provided by qual.org.au
 dates provided by  fpmt.org
dates provided by fpmt.org

Despite this list or other religious conflict dates you might discover, always check with your spiritual leader or house of worship. Special dispensations or allowances might be made. If you are thinking of having your ceremony outside of a house of worship, really, any date would be available for a ceremony. Just be considerate of your guests. No one wants to attend a wedding on a major holiday. Dates to avoid in general would be Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day. New Years Eve can be a hit or miss. You will most likely be paying a premium for all of your vendors and it might not be financially worth the extra expense. 

Why you should ALWAYS hire a professional

Weddings can be expensive, I get it. When you start reaching out to vendors and you say, “Hi, I am getting married let’s chat about how you can create my dream wedding!” you are so optimistic and excited you spend your time blissfully chatting about flowers, lighting, linens and the best photo package possible. Everything is perfect until you get their proposal and all you see are the $$$. Ensue mild panic attack

One solution you might think of is to reach out to a friend who really likes to bake cakes or another friend who just picked up photography as a hobby. While these friends might offer to provide you with your dream wedding at a fraction of the cost or even free all together…please, for the love of all that is holy, carefully consider your options. There are plenty of ways to thoughtfully and methodically save on extra expenses. Taking a chance on an amature is not one of them. While all vendors start somewhere, there is a huge difference between running a profitable business and doing something a hobby. Below are photos of how much of a difference a professional vs amature wedding can turn out.

 This image was taken from photographer David Bailey's Blog. You can read the full article  here . 
This image was taken from photographer David Bailey’s Blog. You can read the full article here . 
 When a bride ordered a tire wedding cake, she walked into the reception to find this cake waiting for her...full article  here
When a bride ordered a tire wedding cake, she walked into the reception to find this cake waiting for her…full article here
 Source via Pinterest
Source via Pinterest
 This catering fail was actually how I saw food being presented to guests...in real life. No joke.
This catering fail was actually how I saw food being presented to guests…in real life. No joke.

Let me say this again, all vendors start out somewhere. Not all new vendors are bad. Not all experienced vendors are fantastic. While I would always recommend hiring a professional to provide a service on your wedding, there are ways to cut costs on other aspects of your big day. While weddings are expensive, your sanity and the stress of wondering how something will turn out will always trump the extra few dollars. It is ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry…

Having friends who want to help contribute to your wedding is fantastic. Allow them to bake a cake for your bridal shower or have them take photos at the bachelorette party. Please, allow your friends to be guests on your big day and take a boat load of stress off your shoulders. You are hiring professionals because they will know how to handle any situation. Amateurs or hobbyists are simply not worth the nominal savings. Trust me. You and your guests will thank me for it. 


 Hi there! I am Ashley Radosav, the owner of Ashley Nicole Events. I have been planning weddings and events for the past 11 years. I too, was once an amateur and have certainly grown as I turned my hobby into a professional and profitable boutique planning firm. I am currently located outside of Chicago, Illinois and serve the Chicagoland area. I am also willing to travel (for the right couple!) If you have any other wedding planning questions, send me an email and I will include that as the next blog post! You can reach me at: hello@ashleynicoleeventsinc.com  photo credit: Mary Rose Photography
Hi there! I am Ashley Radosav, the owner of Ashley Nicole Events. I have been planning weddings and events for the past 11 years. I too, was once an amateur and have certainly grown as I turned my hobby into a professional and profitable boutique planning firm. I am currently located outside of Chicago, Illinois and serve the Chicagoland area. I am also willing to travel (for the right couple!) If you have any other wedding planning questions, send me an email and I will include that as the next blog post! You can reach me at: hello@ashleynicoleeventsinc.com photo credit: Mary Rose Photography

Engagement Photo Session Tips and Tricks

     If you are recently engaged, congratulations! Wedding planning is a ton of fun. I love it, (clearly) and cherish every wedding I get to be apart of. One of the really fun parts about getting engaged is having what I call the Glam Squad. Typically, this is the one (major) time in your life when you get to have professionals working with you for basically everything. I like to think of a bride as a mini celebrity leading up to her wedding. Think about it: hairstylists, manicurists, makeup artists, personal trainers, dentists (gotta have those pearly whites) stylists and estheticians all working to transform you into the best version of yourself. Don’t get me wrong, you on a drizzly Tuesday is fantastic too, but when you are all dolled up…you carry yourself differently. Trust me, my hubby says he prefers me in a hoodie and sweatpants, but he certainly doesn’t complain when I come home with professional hair and makeup and a killer dress.  (Maybe he *would* complain if he knew the price tag, but I digress).  😉

     Why am I rambling on and on about being a mini celebrity? Two words, Engagement Photos. Engagement photos allow A. a bride to get a test run with her hair and makeup artist B. a test run with the photographer C. one on one quality time with your sweetie and D. great looking, professional images for your save the dates.

TEST RUN HAIR AND MAKEUP

    In my opinion, it is important to meet with your professional hair and makeup artist prior to your wedding. Most, if not all,  HUMA provide a trial as part of your wedding day package. Some might have this service built in to the over all price, some might charge a little more for the trial. While some brides get frustrated with having to pay additional for a trial, that makeup artist is using product on you that he/she can never get back. It is not like they can scrape off the foundation and re bottle it for the next bride. Even places like Sephora require a minimum purchase for makeovers. In most cases, you will do a trial with the same person who will actually be doing your hair and makeup on the wedding day. Sometimes, this is not the case. Ask about company policy when it comes to scheduling your HMUA. That person will get to know the texture of your hair, the quality of your skin and can make recommendations based on what they see. They can chat with you about your style, how much makeup you normally wear, etc. Because these are just the engagement photos, you could do a similar style of hair and makeup or even a  more natural look to get the feel/style of the artist. Leave the big transformation for the actual wedding day.

     When I got my hair and makeup trial, I went after work and when it was done, I went home, showered and went to bed. I knew this going in, but I desperately wanted to work with this particular Chicago based company. If they told me to show up at 5:00 AM on a Sunday to do my trial, I would have. When you find your dream team, you listen to them.  Typically, trying to schedule your engagement photos on a Saturday and expecting your HMUA free on a Saturday is a slim shot. However, if you are flexible on days/times for your engagement photos (read more about that below) then perhaps the scheduling gods will work in your favor! If not, then you could see if an associate HMUA could do your trial/engagement makeup  and perhaps relay information to the person doing your makeup on the wedding day. Early communication and scheduling is key and all HMUA companies  run differently. Make sure you ask these questions in advance and never assume.

TIME TO BOND WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER

    If you are planning your engagement photography, it is most often because, you have hired a photographer and this session is included in your wedding package. “Engagement Sessions” can last anywhere from 1-2 hours and can include 1-3+ outfit changes with multiple locations. It sounds like a long time to be the center of attention, but trust me, that time flies by. If you have selected a boutique photographer (meaning they are the owner and main photographer) you were drawn to them as a person and for their photography style. Having this time to get to know each other and get all of the potentially awkwardness out of the way will make for a much smoother, less stressed and more enjoyable wedding day. Having a stranger “be all up in your business” literally touching you and positioning your face, arms and body and watching you get dressed can be quite intimidating. A good photographer will make you feel comfortable, probably make you laugh and work to put you and your fiance at ease. When the three of you spend time at an engagement session, you get to know more about each other and when they show up on the day of the wedding, it’s as if a friend is walking through the door, not a paid vendor. If you have opted to go with a “big box” photography company, meaning, you select from a portfolio of photographers and do not meet the person until either your engagement session or wedding day, ask if you will be guaranteed the same photographer for both days. If not, can you meet the photographer prior to the wedding to make sure you mesh well? Ask what happens if you do not like the person you have been assigned. Always ask, never assume.

QUALITY ONE ON ONE TIME WITH YOUR SWEETIE

    You and your fiance have spent countless hours making tough decisions. Which vendors to hire, where to have the wedding, what your colors should be, on and on and on. By taking this time to get all dolled up and simply have fun with each other will come as a much needed respite. Do things on this “planned and highly photographed date” that speaks to you as a couple. Do you love to spend the weekend casually sipping on a perfectly brewed cup of coffee? Go to your favorite local coffee shop. Do you love spending time in the park playing fetch with your fur baby? Go do that! Do you simply adore biting into the cheesiest slice of pizza? Go to your local pizza parlor and order an extra large pie…you’ve got another person along on your date! Do something seasonal! If your photos are around the holidays, go to a Christmas tree farm and get cozy with each other while “shopping” for trees. Have a snowball fight and warm up with some hot cocoa! Don’t take engagement photos in a campground if you have never, in your life, went camping. Your friends and family simply won’t get it.

 This is an example of doing something that speaks to you as a couple. My husband is an airline pilot, so we wanted to honor his profession in our engagement photos. We went to a private airport and were able to take photos with this Jet. Photo by: Authentic Adventure Co. 
This is an example of doing something that speaks to you as a couple. My husband is an airline pilot, so we wanted to honor his profession in our engagement photos. We went to a private airport and were able to take photos with this Jet. Photo by: Authentic Adventure Co. 

SAVE THE DATES

    Once you have completed your engagement session, your photographer will tell you when and how to expect the images. You might get an online gallery, you might go to their studio and have a slideshow of your day together and then you pick your favorite images in person. Once you select the images, you can begin ordering save the dates. Shout your love from the rooftop and announce your wedding information  with the photos from your engagement session!

THREE MORE PIECES OF ADVICE

     Think of hiring a stylist to help you select the best outfits for your engagement photos. You want to find outfits that flatter your body type and coordinate. I have seen some very mismatched outfits and it can throw off the entire photo. A stylist can also help with selecting your bridal gown and all of the important events during your engagement (bachelorette party, bridal shower, engagement party, groom’s fashion, etc) Get your ring professionally cleaned prior to your engagement session. This will be your most photographed piece of jewelry and it needs to be looking its best! You want that bling to sparkle! Be flexible! If it starts raining on the day of your shoot, be flexible and either work with the change of plans (embrace it) or reschedule. Don’t let a kink in the gears ruin what should be a special day. 

 Unfortunately, I see photos like this all too often. Let's start with the obvious, they should not be eating. Second, their clothes are too mismatched. She looks dressy (messy, but dressy) and he looks like he is wandering the beach. Also, his shirt and shoes are blinding and over powering the photo. I am not sure if this is a joke, or actual engagement photos, so I apologize, I have no idea who to give credit for the photo. 
Unfortunately, I see photos like this all too often. Let’s start with the obvious, they should not be eating. Second, their clothes are too mismatched. She looks dressy (messy, but dressy) and he looks like he is wandering the beach. Also, his shirt and shoes are blinding and over powering the photo. I am not sure if this is a joke, or actual engagement photos, so I apologize, I have no idea who to give credit for the photo. 

     Finally, smile and enjoy this fun experience with your fiance! It should be a stress-free, fun activity that you both will remember for a lifetime.

 Photo by: Authentic Adventure Co 
Photo by: Authentic Adventure Co 

Ashley Hamm Photography

Part of being a wedding planner is being connected. I know a guythat can help with whatever you are looking for. Do you need an authentic cuban cigar roller? I know a guy. Perhaps a master sommelier or someone to hang from the ceiling while pouring tequila shots? I know a guy…or girl. Really, I do!  When it comes to wedding photography, I know Ashley Hamm. When I met Ashley, we immediately connected over having the best name on the planet! Hello, Ashley Squared! 🙂 Ashley has been the owner of Ashley Hamm Photography for ten years! Ashley was a blast to interview. Please get comfy, grab a cup of coffee and get to know my friend. 

How did you get started in the wedding photography business?

Gosh, that’s a great question! I remember the first time I found a disposable camera in my parents’ junk drawer and went out to play with it in the woods. I was maybe 7 years old and I loved the clicking sound of the camera when I pressed the button and the way the light shone through the trees. At first, it was a hobby, just for friends and coworkers, but then it became something I just couldn’t live without.

What do you love about being a wedding photographer?

I love working with people capturing their favorite moments. The moment they say I do, the moment they hug their children and watch laughter spread across their face or the moment they hold hands and fall in love all over again. I get to see how people look at each other and love and embrace and cry and just be amazing.

 Photo credit: Ashley Hamm Photography
Photo credit: Ashley Hamm Photography

Let’s be honest, what do you not love so much about wedding photography?

Honestly, it’s the laundry (from working with kids getting on the floor and getting dirty) and finding comfortable shoes. That’s it. Worst answer ever? Maybe. There is not much I don’t love about this profession. 

You deal with couples on the most important day of their lives, what is something you wish all couples looking at photographers considered or asked?

Full weddings! Before you book, ask to see at least 3 full galleries of the most recent weddings from your photographer! From start to finish, consistency should be a key element when booking a photographer for your wedding day.

Where are some of your favorite engagement session locations?

Downtown Milwaukee, Starved Rock, and The South Shore Cultural Center!

 Photo credit: Ashley Hamm Photography
Photo credit: Ashley Hamm Photography

What is your favorite wedding venue? Why?

Wandering Tree Estate, Salvage One and Emerson Creek.

Wedding days can be stressful and over in a flash. What do you wish people considered on the day of the wedding?

I would actually prefer it if they didn’t think about it at all. Be in the moment, live it up, smash the cake all over each other’s faces. Be present! I am there to document your day just as it is, so be there and enjoy!

Tell me one thing no one knows about you (but you are okay with the world knowing!)

I own 35 cameras (film and digital) and collect them from all over the world when I travel! I’m also allergic to kiwis 🙂

Thank you, Ashley, for joining me and allowing my corner of the internet to get to know more about you! If you are interested in meeting Ashley, or getting to know more about her, I recommend you reach out directly to her. You can find her corner of the internet by clicking   Ashley Hamm Photography  Tune in next week when I provide my top 5 Engagement Photo tips!