Photographer Shot List

One month countdown to my wedding! It is getting close and left on my checklist are the fine details. Not necessities, but the fun stuff!

My wise sister-in-law-to-be, who just got married, recommended I put together a shot list for my photographer. Something I wouldn't have thought of, but a great idea. Seeing all the beautiful shots out there, I know I want to make a list so I'm 100% happy when I get my photos back.

Here are some I definitely want in the mix...

Closeups of me with the bouquet.

Photographer listSources: left, right

The details.

Photographer list5Source

The ring bearer and flower girl getting excited for their walk down the isle.

Photographer list1Source

Sun behind.

Photographer list3Sources: left, right

Cute candids.

Photographer list4Source

Cool shots featuring the sky at dusk.

Photographer list2Source

Did you do a shot list for your photographer?


Aisle Blooms

This week I have been thinking about what I would like our wedding aisle to look like. A few months ago I bought a bunch of planters made from old cinnamon bread pans at a flea market. I'm not entirely sure how I will use these but I couldn't pass them up and though they would be great aisle decor.

I am also really loving all of these creative hanging flower arrangements.

Sources: 1 & 2


And these rustic stumps.

Sources: 1 & 2


 How are you making your aisle magical for your special day? What extra touches did you add?


Here Comes the Bride {aisle inspiration}

This past Saturday I talked with two different florists. Before doing so I gathered lots of inspiration and honed in on the look I wanted. I had been holding off on this because there are so many gorgeous options, I was having trouble committing to one. Creating a board with the things I decided on so far and adding in the flowers I was thinking about really helped me be sure I was going in the right direction. I sent the Pinterest board links to the florists and it helped them see my overall style and, more specifically, the flowers I had in mind (what did we do before Pinterest!?) One thing they both asked me on our calls was what my plan was for the aisle and ceremony space. I had been doing so much thinking about the flowers in terms of the tables and bouquets, I hadn't even thought of the aisles! So I asked them what they recommended and started searching and realizing there are endless options...

Source: left, right

Would love the candle look if I was having a nighttime ceremony.


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Shepherd hooks are really versatile and my venue has some I can use if I opt for this. No extra rentals =  money saved! But, you will be shelling out for the extra arrangements. One good option would be if you could move them to the tables after the ceremony for double duty!


Source: left, middle, right


And then there are petals. I love the look of petals along the aisle because it creates such a strong visual pathway. It's also romantic, timeless and (apparently) pretty cost-effective. One of the florists told me she could use the petals of a less expensive flower along the aisle.

When you have a gorgeous venue, I think you can get away with a more minimal aisle decoration. I'm thinking I will keep the ceremony decor pretty simple (we have Mt. Hood as the backdrop, so I think people will be looking at that), and put more towards the tables.

What are you doing to dress up your aisle and ceremony space? Did you have it figured out already when you talked to florists? Any cost-saving tips?

You May Kiss the Bride {Finding an Officiant}

There is one thing I have been completely putting off in wedding planning...finding our officiant. It is the only thing on those helpful wedding checklists that I have let go by and not done anything about - not even a google search. I'm one of those people where if I don't know how to do something, I sort of just focus on the things I like to do until I'm getting down to the wire on timing :)  So right now I am staring at the 10-month check list and realizing we are already down to 9 months. But, hey!, some people plan an entire wedding in 9 months, so I'm sure we'll figure it out! The officiant is such an important part of the day. The whole reason we are planning a wedding is to get married after all! The person will set the tone and should be a reflection of my fiancé and I.

So without further ado, my search begins.


Sources: left, right





If you have any advice for me about finding an officiant while being in another state, please do tell! Skype-friendly officiant, anyone?

Doggie Do?

On my wedding day I would like to be surrounded by the people who I love the most. This also includes my dog Otis (pictured below). Derek and I adopted him from the Humane Society right after we moved to Ventura almost two years ago.  Otis truly has changed my life for the better with his constant cuddles and easy-going personality. I know he will play a huge part in keeping me sane through the wedding planning process, and naturally I would like to include him in some way.

Despite my large family, Derek and I do not have any relatives or close friends with children around ring bearer/ flower girl appropriate age. This is where I am hoping Otis can step in (if he is up for it) and take on a dual role. I am envisioning him in a special bandana (I don't think a bow-tie is his style) led down the aisle by a leash adorned with flowers or ribbons.

Sources: Gambol Photography, Shannon Renee Photography, Chattman Photography, 4, Cedar House Photography

I have been researching tips and pointers for including your pup in your special day and I have put together a "DO" list.

The Pet Parents' Check List of Dos before the Big "I Do"

  • DO double-check that your wedding venue allows dogs.
  • DO have realistic expectations of your pet. Even the most well-mannered pup may let out a bark or two, or some other unpredictable behavior.
  • DO prepare to be flexible on your wedding day. You can't force it. If you expect your pet to perform a certain task, have a backup plan in case he is not up for it.
  • DO assign someone who can handle your dog. Preferably someone your dog is familiar with, or a professional pet sitter -- keeping tabs on your pup does not have to be your job!
  • DO practice with your dog as much as possible before the wedding. If you want him to carry a basket or walk down the aisle with the rings, run him through his paces regularly as the wedding approaches.
  • DO schedule a grooming appointment a couple of days before the wedding. You'll want your dog to look his/her best, but not quite as good as you :)
  • DO prepare a travel bag of must-haves for your pet (include treats, toys and comfort items).

Sources:, 2 & 3, Victoria Souza PhotographyDottie Photography

For more tips on including your pet, check out this Huffington Post article.

Are you thinking about or did you include your dog in your wedding ceremony? What kind of role did they play? Anything else I should be considering?


Interviewing Officiants

Well, I am very relieved to finally be able to say that we have an officiant for our wedding! A few weeks ago, Kyle and I had just walked away from our first meeting with our first officiant - after having been rejected by the one person we asked to do this (we have since decided that it was a good thing he turned us down!) - and were extremely disappointed by our prospects.

Since then, we met (well, Skyped) with one person we found on Yelp, and met with another one who was recommended by a friend. We learned a few things along the way and now feel really confident and excited about our decision. PHEW! What a huge relief.

a dear friend officiated Kendrick and David's beach wedding; photo by Our Labor of Love, Green Wedding Shoes

So for anyone else who isn't lucky enough to have a good friend or family member who will officiate your wedding ceremony, or who doesn't belong to a religious institution, here are some things we learned from our interviews.

Have some questions in mind. Other than the obvious ones, of course (are you available on our date? what do you charge?), ask them about why they perform wedding ceremonies. Ask them what their religious or spiritual background is. Ask them if they're comfortable performing a religious or non-religious ceremony. Then, and perhaps most importantly, pay attention to how you react to their answers. I noticed that some answers lined up perfectly with my own thoughts, and then sometimes I felt like I would be asking them to do something they were uncomfortable with.

handmade paper flowers serve as the perfect backdrop; photo by (once like a spark) photography, Green Wedding Shoes

Find out what their typical ceremony program is, and how flexible they are with it. Previously, I mentioned how Kyle felt that one of the people we were going to interview was a little too hippy dippy. Turns out, it just sounded that way. In reality her suggestion for including your guests in parts of the ceremony was really nice! Don't be afraid to mention the concerns you have about their proposed program. After all, the officiant can make or break your one and only wedding ceremony!

this ceremony included beautiful Hawaiian traditions; photo by Sea Light Studios, The Home Ground

Lastly, pay attention to your gut reaction. If your gut says "YES!" then really listen to it. And of course if your gut says "you should have started running 5 minutes ago" then you should probably pay even more attention to that and immediately move on. I noticed how great I felt after our Skype call with our officiant. She seemed professional, personable, and most importantly, I felt she was officiating weddings for the right reasons. As soon as she explained that she started doing this because a few friends had asked her to officiate their weddings, and she noticed a serious lack of non-denominational officiants who truly honored and recognized the significance of this day for the couple, I felt relieved to have found someone who understood what I was looking for (Isn't that exactly what I was complaining about in my last blog??).

We are thrilled to have found our match, and we are both now really looking forward to what we know will be a romantic, kick-ass, personal ceremony. Now time for some champagne.

Who did you have marry you and your partner? How did it go? How did you choose the person for this very important role?

A Simple Ceremony::Outdoor Decor

Sorry I've been gone for a few weeks, it turns out that planning a wedding and having a full-time job (like almost all of us do) sometimes can be a little overwhelming. But now I'm back and less than three months from my big day! Holy cow! I like saying less than three instead of a little over two (whenever I hear two, it makes me anxious). So, besides having an overwhelming amount of this to do (even though up until now, I've felt as if my planning was flawless), I am still constantly gathering new inspiration, which is absolutely KILLER if you are actually trying to make decisions. From all of the gobs of beautiful things I've seen, here's my plan for the ceremony. My ceremony will be outside my parents home under a lovely tree. I'll enter through our front door to rows of natural wood chairs and make a winding path around to the end of the aisle and all the way up to meet JB. I've always been in to a clean, somewhat industrial, earthy aesthetic (that makes sense, right), which I plan to carry through the ceremony. We won't have an altar, or really anything other than the tree up by where we'll stand, however, to make things festive, there are a few things that I've decided to add to the decor (only a few), so here's my guide for festive-ing up your ceremony.

1. Find something unique but simple that you can use again. My mom has always taught me two things about shopping: 1. buy for the long-haul 2. don't buy small stuff (she's not in to chotchkies).  So heeding her advice (I've been making staple housewares purchases for years) and with her help, we found 5 beautiful round metal candle pieces that will hang in the tree behind us. One more piece of mom advice for making things look perfectly undone and chic, choose odd numbers, specifically 3 or 5.

Clockwise from top left: one, two, three

2. Add something living. For me that's easy, the tree. However, at the end of the aisle I will also have a few (probably 3) pots or holders of some sort with living plants and I'll have a eucalyptus garland around the front door.

one, two, three 

3. Keep it simple and stay true to yourself. This is what I've been struggling with! There are so many ideas that are beautifully executed to choose from that it is absolutely overwhelming, however, what I've been trying to remember to help decide what I do and don't want is: would I pick this any day, or just today? Think about you and your lovey's true style, what do you two like and go from there. For me and JB, it's simple, we don't like clutter or anything too girly. However I've been on the edge of buying and cutting pink ribbons for a ribbon curtain on multiple occasions. Here are a few more things that have almost made me drop all plans and start fresh.

Clockwise from top left: one, two, three, four I wanted to change our names after I saw this:

Can you imagine a root beer themed wedding?! The BEST!

Are y'all having trouble making decisions? How are you decorating your ceremony?

Dressing Up the Aisle

I’ve talked about aisle décor a bit, particularly with flowers, but now I’m thinking about aisle runners. The aisle way at our venue is part stone and part lawn, so I’m thinking that it will be necessary to have a runner to smooth out that transition. Plus, I don’t want my dress to get stuck on the flagstone! I don’t think a monogramed runner fits in with our style, but why just go with plain white or lace? The runner could be a great place to infuse a little color, pattern and personality! (And if you’ve been following me, you know I love some personality in my décor)

These floral patterned runners are gorgeous, but I’m really loving the look of the stripes!

Sources: Yellow Floral, Yellow Stripe, Blue Damask, Multi Floral, Blue Stripe, Orange Edges, Black Stripe 

Now I just need to figure out how to execute this. I could buy fabric, as long as the amount of fabric needed doesn’t get too expensive. I also saw a DIY tutorial suggesting painting a canvas drop cloth. As always, suggestions are welcome!

These runners aren’t quite practical, but they sure are gorgeous!

Sources: Streamers, Lettering, Ombre

Oh, and happy leap day! Enjoy this beautiful photo and one of my favorite quotes: "Leap and the net will appear"


An Officer and a Gentleman

Today is my fiance's birthday, so this post is dedicated to him. I actually haven’t provided much background on Niall in this blog, mostly because he is a pretty private person. Oh and wedding planning isn’t exactly his go-to hobby. But there is one thing I am particularly proud of about Niall that we plan on highlighting in our wedding. Niall is a Marine so we are planning to have a sword ceremony at our wedding.

A sword ceremony gives a symbolic pledge of loyalty to the newly married couple from their Marine family. Immediately after the marriage ceremony is officiated, the Marines position themselves just outside the doorway of where the ceremony took place. On the command, the Marines raise their swords into a high arch and the newly married couple proceeds through the arch. Oh and sometimes they tap the bride's behind...

Although no longer in active duty, Niall left a promising career in finance as a 26-year old to enter Officer Candidates School and later deploy to Iraq. I didn’t know him then and am truly grateful for that, because I think his deployment would have driven me crazy with worry. I had actually never met anyone my age who was in the military before meeting Niall. So to meet someone who left his career in his mid-twenties to serve his country was astonishing to me, completely selfless and brave, but astonishing.

Isn’t he handsome…

He gets uncomfortable when people thank him for his service, because, as he says, there are plenty of people who gave their life and he got to come home. Nor does he think he has done anything all that special or worth bragging about (I am sure he will be very embarrassed by this post!). But to me, he is one of the most gallant and honorable men I have ever met.

The sword ceremony is just a small tip of the hat to Niall’s life as a Marine and of course to all those men and women who have served our country. I am so proud to be marrying a man like Niall, and I bet Madeline and all of the other soon-to-be wives and husbands of our military feel the same.

So on that note, and because I am tearing up too much to see my computer screen, Happy Birthday, Niall! I am truly honored that I get to spend the rest of my life with you. Teammates…

Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Creative Ceremony Altars

A couple is at the altar for a very short amount of time, but that time is still the most important part of the whole day. I didn't want to go overboard on that area, but I definitely wanted it looking perfect. We actually use all of our ceremony decor somewhere else during the reception which was a great little perk :) These are some totally fun and amazing ways to dress up your altar. Some are simple and some....not even I would know how to do at this moment! But if you want to undertake any of these projects, I would love to learn how to do them!  And for another favorite ceremony altar idea, I posted it over here.

Source: 100 Layer Cake, Elizabeth Anne Designs, Tecpetaja Photography, Source,