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Wedding Wednesday: What I’ve Learned

Categories: Tips for Clients.

Planning our wedding has been such an experience. I don’t have a wedding planner (lesson learned below), and I’m 500+ miles from all of my friends and family, with the exception of my Maid of Honor who lives 90 miles away in Charleston. So, I’ve basically been doing most of everything on my own and am thankful for my bridesmaids who keep me accountable via email and Facebook and who have made visits and helped in all their own little ways :)
So in honor of WW, here’s some of the things I’ve learned since embarking on this journey to being Mrs. Croft…

- Hire a wedding planner. If I could have a do-over, this would have been the first vendor I booked. I’d have told her my my budget, my priorities, and the things that were less important but obviously still a part of the process. Now that I understand how much is involved in planning a wedding, I understand why planning weddings is literally a job. Because when you already have a full-time job, planning a wedding is basically adding a second one to your plate.

- Details are all about YOU. In the beginning, it was so easy to scour Pinterest and say “ohh I love that” or “we HAVE to do that!” but creating projects and details based on what was unique to someone else does not create a wedding that is unique to you and your fiance. Start with a list of attribute that are unique to you as a couple, THEN find inspiration based on those attributes. And then, tweak them until they are 100% “you.” Otherwise, you’ll look back and feel like you were at someone else’s wedding, not your own.

- I know it can be done, but you don’t really want to do it. Trust me…just don’t DIY your invitations. It’s too late for me now, but I totally would have hired Dodeline Design or Little Bit Heart (for Marylanders) to do mine. Or if going through a designer isn’t you’re method of choice, you can find many beautiful suites on Etsy. It will all be okay, but this was so much unnecessary stress. I already know I’m not a designer, so I don’t know why I thought I could pull this off.

- Do a little at a time. I think everyone gives this advice, but there’s a reason. It can be flat out overwhelming if you try to tackle a ton of things all at once rather than chipping away slowly.

- Don’t lose sight of what it’s all about. Day in and day out I just can’t wait to read my vows to my best friend, walk back up the aisle with a new husband, and celebrate with all my favorite people. It’s not about favors or escort cards or linens…you have to be able to let go of the things that might not go as planned and know that what’s meant to be will.

- Hire good vendors! So important! I remember when I was looking for a caterer…I inquired with several who specialized in good down home country cooking, and ONE emailed me back within a week. ONE…out of four. And that one emailed me within a day. When I finally got two of the others (never could get the fourth), it took WEEKS to even get a quote back. By the time I’d gotten a quote back from the other two, I’d already booked with the first. Why on earth would I expect someone to give such an important day ANY real attention if they can’t even respond to my inquiry in a timely manner? You should have high expectations for your vendors to be reliable, timely, and helpful. Our caterer wasn’t the least expensive one I inquired with, but guess what? They’re also coordinating my rentals for me AND also sent me a floor plan of my venue with all the tables on it…talk about helpful! Their willingness to go above and beyond with make me feel so much more comfortable spending extra money with them…I’m getting a lot of value for my dollar.


Wedding Wednesday – Save the Date

Categories: Personal.

Since so many of my friends and family are making the trip from up north, it was important that they had some formal “early notice” to arrange travel plans and such, so Save the Date’s were pretty important for us. In my head I’d known all along what I wanted to do for them…a picture Save the Date. Of course I wanted a GOOD picture of us, and that was looking to be no problem since we had our engagement session with Katelyn scheduled for April 11th. And thennnnnn Oklahoma happened. So our engagement session was post-poned, and it was looking like no matter what we did, between my schedule, Dustin’s inability to really get away from work in OK for more than a weekend every 4-5 weeks, and Katelyn’s hectic schedule, our engagement session was just not going to happen by the time the Save the Date’s needed to go out.

So when one of my bridemaid’s was here in March, we had been brainstorming ideas and while out at Duke’s BBQ (if you’ve ever been you know that Duke’s had to be the magic ingredient to this a-ha moment), we literally both kind of had the same idea at the same time. Boots. Chalkboard. Field. Sunset. Us, but not necessarily us in the picture.

Enter: creative solution to picture Save the Date. Our Save the Date (P.S. I hate writing that out so many times but hate the it’s abbreviation even more) is not really what I had in my head the whole time, but I really think they came out SO cute and it always makes me smile when I see it on our fridge. Of course literally a week after sending them out, I nailed down the design for our invitations and my Type A self was mad I hadn’t swapped some fonts around (because I want everything to be really consistent), but oh well! I’ll make it work :)

Here they are! Front… (ignore the extra spacing at the bottom, there was a cut line I had to be conscious of)

…and back (sorry, blurred out the website since I don’t necessarily want to share all of our wedding plans with the world)

And because you know I couldn’t help myself…I had to take this as well…


2012 Goals: The 1st Quarter In

Categories: Business & Photography.

I wasn’t sure how often I’d be reviewing the goals I set for this year, but since March just ended and we’re officially 1/4 of the way through the year, I think it would be smart to look at where I am in comparison to where I need to be to accomplish my goals in 2012.

If you’d like to look over my original post, you can find it here.

So far in terms of business goals, I have:

2. Learned to shoot film and actively use it for personal work
4. Actively second shoot as often as the opportunity arises. I worked with Paige of Paige Winn Photo last weekend and had an absolute blast. She is so good at what she does and I found it to be a really great opportunity to learn, gain experience, and work next to someone whose work I really admire. I’ll be blogging that wedding next week. I’m looking forward to working with her more this year and am always open to other second shooting opportunities. I’m definitely eager and excited to learn :)
6. Continued to volunteer for shelters and pets in need. Not as often as I’d like because I’m still finding it difficult to build a long-term relationship with a shelter anywhere nearby, but I’ve worked with a few groups here and there
9. Kept up with my 52 weeks of Riley and Lexi project
11. Had a pet session featured on a popular pet blog. I’m so excited both Dog Milk and Hair of the Dog have featured my work so far this year!
13. Made more photographer friends this year. So exciting to be building friendships with so many wonderful people in the industry! I only hope to continue to grow my circle of photographer friends this year :)
14. Photograph more horses and cats. I’ve photographed my own horses a handful of times (doesn’t really count haha), and I had my first full-on 100% cat session in March, which was great!
17. Established a quarterly online newsletter. 2/4 of my mailings have gone out so far this year! To get on the list and catch the summer mailing, click here.
19. Had one “review” day at the end of each month. So far, so good! It’s been great for me to review my financials, re-organize, and evaluate my short and long term goals.

So far in terms of lifestyle/other goals, I have:

23. Come up with a somewhat-consistent schedule for my weeks and daily plans. Always a work in progress, but I’ve got a fairly straight-forward general structure of the day, I just need to get a little better at ironing out the details that have a lot to do with productivity. To see what a “typical” day looks like, click here.
24. Read one book a month. So far this year I’ve read: Permission Marketing, One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler, The Hunger Games Series (started last year), and I’m currently reading The Five Love Languages
28. Work one day every two weeks on wedding stuff. This started out REALLY good. As in, I was making every Wednesday a really productive Wedding Wednesday with my afternoon hours. Then work got busy and it’s shifted to the backburner. I’m determined to get back on track because I was feeling so accomplished, and it also made me so excited every Wednesday to have time to sit back and think about how badly I can’t wait to marry my best friend :) To see some of my WW posts, click here.
29. Foster at least 2 labs for LLR. You can read more about Greta and Chase here.

So…so far, fairly okay. Some of these are not totally crossed off the list until the year is over, but I’m excited that some of the bigger things I thought would happen later in the year are already done. Here’s to the rest of 2012! 


Wedding Wednesday – Where Are We At?

Categories: Personal.

I haven’t blogged about our wedding for a little while now. In January I talked about being at the 9 month mark, and in February I talked about keeping it all in perspective. Here we are now at almost 6 months to go and at our one year mark of being engaged this Friday. Wow, time REALLY flies!

Since February, a lot has happened. On my trip home to Maryland, I found my dress!! I can’t wait to blog more about that in detail over at A Lowcountry Wedding where I’m a guest Lowcountry bride, but for now I’ll tell you that I was NOT looking forward to this process. I didn’t have much of an idea of what I wanted, and I felt like being short and petite but having an athletic build would make me look completely swallowed in a bridal gown. I also didn’t want to spend a fortune since we decided our splurges would be the venue, photography, and food. Well, I am happy to say that I am THRILLED with my dress, I cannot believe how AMAZING I feel in it, and I can’t WAIT to put it back on! I know that’s a lot of capital letters…but I am just so incredibly excited to spend all day in that dress!

We’ve also started digging into some DIY projects and throwing our personalities into the event. I’ll definitely blog more about our projects later, but one of my bridesmaids came to visit me for a few days and we got a little start on a few really fun and mostly easy projects :)

Last Sunday, my mother-in-law and I went to Charleston to check out some hotels and rehearsal dinner options. We found a beautiful hotel about 8 miles from Pepper Plantation and will likely block the majority of the rooms there. I’m so excited for my friends and family from up north to come to Charleston…there’s so much to do whether it’s downtown, on Sullivans Island or the Isle of Palms, shopping and eating out in Mt. Pleasant, or checking out beautiful beaches like Folly.

Unfortunately, we have had a minor kink in the process because Dustin just took a job in Oklahoma for the next couple of months. He should be able to get home once a month, but it puts our April 11th engagement session plans on the back burner until we figure out when he is coming home and when Katelyn is available. I was SO looking forward to this for so many reasons…of course to work with Katelyn, but also because we have hardly any pictures together since I am always the one taking pictures. I was also so excited to have Katelyn come to our farm because it’s just so beautiful in the spring, and I knew I wanted to use one of our favorite pictures for our Save the Date. So we will get to the engagement session when we can, but one of my bridesmaids and I came up with a clever alternative to what I’d hoped for our Save the Date’s and I can’t wait to share them after they go out in the next 2 weeks :)

I think the bridesmaid dress debacle is almost under control. Notice the emphasis on think and almost. I swear, we are having the hardest time finding something in the right shade of blue that offers some variety and balance for different shapes and sizes. We were pretty set on these in Matisse Blue, but now that one dress has come in, we’re afraid the blue is too teal :-/ Ahh! Can’t wait to finally have that taken care of.

Otherwise, I really need to start nailing down flowers, a month of coordinator (seriously I think one of my biggest regrets is not hiring a planner for the whole process…shame on me), invitations, wedding bands, and the honey moon. One step at a time! I can’t believe we’re less than six months out! :)

For any Lowcountry brides who may be interested, here are the vendors we have booked thus far:

- Venue: Pepper Plantation

- Photography: Katelyn James

- Catering and Beverages: The Crazy Dutchman

- Music: The Party Music

- Dress: Casablanca


A Few Crazyyyy Weeks!

Categories: Personal.

It’s officially the first day of spring (SOO exciting!) and every morning there’s something new, pretty, green, or blooming around the farm. Spring and fall are my FAVORITE times of the year and this spring is no exception. Life has been a little hectic lately though…Dustin took a job in Oklahoma for a few months, I’ve had a friend in town visiting, I’ve been shooting, trying to keep up with the dogs, horses, life, work, my house, wedding planning, and family, AND I’m about to hit the road for Maryland later this week to photograph two beautiful couples. So this blog post is a total cop out, but my to do list is only growing and I’ve got SO much to do before I head up 95 so this will have to do for now. I’m anxiously looking forward to the 1st of April because it means I get a little break to tie up all of these loose ends in my office before another 2.5 months of craziness!

Moving on, I’ve blogged about my love for Instagram before, but more than ever I’m feeling like my Instagram app is my own little Polaroid camera. I’m loving how I can always capture little snippets of my life whenever I’m on the go :) Tomorrow I’ll be bringing you a Wedding Wednesday post, but until then, here’s a look at what I’ve been doing lately…