I met Lauren after college through a mutual friend. She never hid her obsession with St. Patrick’s Day and one year I even joined her in Savannah to celebrate the holiday. I’m not sure if it’s because her birthday falls close to the date, or because she lived so close to Savannah (where they do it big!) in college, but her love for the day was real.
All the stars aligned when March 17 fell on a Saturday this year as she was engaged and planning her wedding. It seemed like a no-brainer that she’d get married on one of her favorite days of the year! A St. Patrick’s Day wedding was in order.
We’ve worked together on shower invites for several of her friends and I was honored that she choose me to design her wedding invitations!
Lauren wanted to incorporate green (duh), but didn’t want the invitations to be holiday cheesy. Based on her inspiration, I created a clean, minimalist invitation design. She wanted to do something a tad bit different than what was trending, so we used a classic text font for the names – I adore how these turned out!
The invitations were paired with green envelopes and we added a floral patterned liner to the mailing envelope, since it was a spring wedding after all!
Want to customize these invitations for your own wedding? Colors, fonts, and wording can be changed to suit your needs! Complete my invitation questionnaire here to get more information.
All your burning questions about hiring a wedding photographer? They’re answered here. This is one of my longest and most valuable blog posts to date – something every bride to be will find useful!
I met Katie of Katie Tiller Photography through networking circles and immediately clicked. She is the sweetest, kindest, and bubbliest person – not to mention, super talented! I adore Katie’s work and style, she did my most recent headshots and we have collaborated together on styled shoots.
Today Katie is sharing all the things you need to know about booking a wedding photographer and how she interacts with couples before (and on) their wedding day. There’s a lot of great information here, including Katie’s thoughts on the highly debated “first look”!
Tell me about your journey to becoming a wedding photographer.
Well, I started college with the intention to become a Veterinarian and over the years as I studied I loved my biology/chemistry major, but I didn’t have a peace about going to more schooling. At the time, I had one season of volleyball left to play and not that many hours left to take to graduate. I took a photography class for fun and missed almost 75% of the classes due to our travel schedule, BUT we got to choose what we wanted to photograph for our final project and I did couples. I fell in love!!
I love being around people and celebrating love! Sounds cheesy, but things just started to fall into place and opportunities started to open up. I took pictures of anything and everything to start, but my heart was set on wedding photography! I love being able to capture the joy and love on each couple’s best day. It is a job that I am so fortunate that I get to do every day!
At what point in the wedding planning process should a couple research, inquire, and book their photographer?
After a date & venue, the planner + photographer should be the next vendors the couple book! There are a few very popular wedding dates and the earlier you inquire, the better chance you have of your date being available! It’s never too early to secure your date with a photographer. I generally book about a year in advance and that really helps me personally plan out what I would like the next year of my business to look like.
What types of things should couples consider when choosing a photographer?
I think the two most important things when choosing a photographer is connection + style. As a bride you spent a lot of time with your photographer from your engagement session to several hours on your most special day. I want all my brides to feel like I’m a friend that they’re comfortable around and can fully be themselves and feel beautiful behind my lens!
The second thing that is super important for brides to consider is the style of a photographer. You might really connect with someone, but if they edit in a light & airy style and you prefer warmer images with more contrast, find someone with that style that you also connect with. As photographers we develop a style that we are proud of and feel confident in, and when asked to change it, I think both photographer + bride won’t be as happy in the end as they should be for their wedding day.
I know money is absolutely a big factor for many brides, but I promise 20 years down the road, you will love looking back on your images if you loved how you felt in the images. You probably won’t be upset that you spent a little more money if you loved your photographer + your images. You probably would be a little sad if you decided to choose a photographer based on price and not connection + style and they turn out not exactly as you hoped they would! These photos are an heirloom and something you’ll value forever, so try and remember that as you’re searching for your best fit!
Can the client expect to hear from you between the time they book your services and their wedding day?
Absolutely! I include engagement sessions in all of my wedding collections so that we have a chance to spend some time getting to know one another before their wedding day. If they book really far in advance of their wedding, I love to check in every couple of months to make sure wedding planning is going well + to see if they need any help. Finally, two weeks before I send out a questionnaire to nail down all the little details. I love to hop on a phone call to go over the questionnaire once it’s completed to make sure I know exactly what the bride wants for her best day!
Is there anything couples can do to best prepare for photography on their wedding day?
Yes! I send out a detailed questionnaire that may seem a bit tedious at times, but I promise it makes the wedding day go so much smoother. It collects information about special details, all family members/people that you wish to have in your formal group shots, vendor information, etc. I don’t suggest putting together a Pinterest board of shot ideas, but simply letting me know if there are a couple shots you love and want to be sure are captured! Once I get to know each couple and their personalities, it is much easier to flow through a variety of natural poses with them during their engagement session as well as their wedding.
What do you recommend to couples unsure if they want to do a “first look” before the ceremony?
As bride once myself, I was super traditional in the fact that I wanted to see my husband’s face when he saw me walking down the aisle. But, as a photographer, I do love when couples opt for a first look! I always suggest doing a first look if bride + groom portraits are really important to you and if you have a large bridal party or family attending the wedding. First looks also give you just a few minutes to take in all the sweetness of your wedding day with your soon to be husband or wife. It also allows for majority of pictures to be done before the ceremony so that after the ceremony, we can quickly get through family portraits and have some extra time for sunset photos. This way, couples get to spend more time with their wedding guests!
Is there anything you can offer advice on that most people forget when considering wedding photography?
This question kind of has the same answer as what to look for when choosing a photographer. A lot of couples can get caught up in finding a photographer in their budget versus finding someone they love. I am so aware budgets are real and necessary, but generally if a photographer costs more there is a reason. They might have more experience, equipment, and value the client/photographer relationship with attention to the client’s experience with them. It’s important to ask to meet or video call with the photographer to see if you vibe and connect with them!
Finally, one more brides might forget to ask is exactly what the package includes. For example, I include digital files with printing rights with my collections, whereas I know some photographers that just include proofs and do print sales. So, when brides are searching, make sure you ask what exactly the final product includes!
Give me your biggest tip to couples just getting started in the wedding planning process.
I’d have to say my biggest tip for couples just starting to wedding plan is to know your budget AND what is most important to you! As a couple talk about overall the top two most important things to you both. Set a budget for them, then book your dream vendors for those things! If you have a clear vision and budget, it will make the process so much smoother. Little things add up quickly with weddings, so being organized, detailed, and keeping good records will help brides feel less stressed. It’s okay to splurge on your favorite things and find more cost effective options for things that aren’t as important to you.
All images for this post were provided by Katie, aren’t they gorgeous?!
Wow! What an adventure I’ve had in the last five years. There have been lots of wins and just as many fails. There have been plenty of celebrations and more than a few tears. There has been a lot of learning, giving myself grace, and dreaming. I truly started creating as a hobby and had no idea it would lead me to running my own business, full time.
So, here I am at five years in and want to share a few things I’ve learned about being self-employed, working with brides, and the wedding industry.
It’s inevitable that something will go wrong. Missing packages, issues matching a color, a printed typo, out of stock envelopes, an important email ending up in your spam folder – the list goes on. In the beginning, I would stress so much and legitimately lose sleep over these type of things.
The worst part about being self employed is that any mistake comes directly out of your pocket, however having to literally pay for it reminds you to be cautious of repeating that error again. For the most part, clients are extremely understanding when there’s an issue – I’m always very up front if something is wrong that will affect their order. Give yourself a break, you’re only human!
It’s OK to Not Feel Creative Every Day.
When starting out, I felt so much pressure to come up with new ideas, designs, strategies, and content daily. Most of the time, it was enjoyable but there are days when you’re just not feeling it. Maybe there’s a custom design project that isn’t speaking to you on a particular day. Rather than trying to force something out that isn’t there, it’s ok to step away. Take a break, whether that’s for an hour, a day, or a week, and come back to it later. The best designs are born under positive factors and without feeling pressured to create.
The Wedding Industry is So Rewarding.
I did NOT want to get in the wedding industry. I was extremely intimidated and nervous about bridezillas. There are rules, etiquette, and pressure – just designing for the biggest day of someone’s life, no big deal! My experience was lacking and transitioning to wedding invitations was pretty slow.
However, I knew that I had to take the leap into weddings if I really wanted to grow my business. Once I did it, I never looked back! I’ve worked with hundreds of brides and haven’t had a single bridezilla – yes, really! The clients I’ve gotten to work with have truly been the sweetest. They’ve been so pleasant, so happy, and overall grateful
Consistency is Key.
This is one of my top tips for anyone wanting to start their own business. It doesn’t happen overnight and it takes work, a lot of it. If you’re consistent and putting your best efforts in, it will happen! The more you’re able to devote (money, time, etc) the quicker it will grow but patience is so important.
Show up, market, blog, strategize, network, create, dream, and don’t stop. Continue to work for it and amazing things will happen!
Interested in more about my business journey or starting your own? I have an entire blog dedicated to these topics! Check out zerotobiz.com now.
I’m excited to launch a vendor series, featuring some of Atlanta’s top wedding professionals! Working in the industry, I’ve gotten to know some really talented, sweet, and creative people. I’m sharing their top tips and best advice when it comes to planning a wedding and booking vendors.
First up is Kecia Wilson of Three Little Birds Weddings. She is the owner and lead planner who I was connected with last year through a wonderful bride. Kecia is passionate about what she does and it’s easy to see that in her work! (And I’m kinda obsessed that her business is named after a Bob Marley song!)
I asked Kecia questions on everything from why couples should absolutely consider hiring a planner to what wedding trends she is loving this year!
How long have you been involved with planning special events?
Since Bloomingdale’s opened in Atlanta in 2003, that was my first experience planning large-scale wedding events. I loved every minute from planning to execution to the afterglow of a party well thrown!
What started your interest in working with couples planning their wedding?
For me it all started with my love of china and crystal, which inspired me to seek out work in that industry pretty much exclusively throughout my career. Engaged couples have been a part of my life since I can remember, and helping them envision and create their new lifestyle together has been one of my all time joys.
What is the meaning behind your business name, “Three Little Birds”?
I’m a huge fan of happiness and ease, and my life anthem is Bob Marley’s song of that name. I want my couples to know before they even speak with me that… Every little thing is gonna be alright!
What are the perks to hiring a professional to handle wedding planning?
Oh… so many! My favorite, though, is all about the people. I’ve had so many couples who were lost in a sea of websites in trying to book vendors without any direction or guidance as to what they should be looking for in terms of cost, style, anything. With a planner, that stress and confusion are gone. I only introduce my couples to vendors who are exceptional at what they do, are within that couple’s budget, and who I know are professional, reliable, and most of all kind. The wedding team is everything, the rest is just details.
At what point in the wedding planning process should a couple make the decision to work with a planner?
I’ll answer that in the words of many past clients: “In hindsight, we wish we’d brought you into the process sooner.” For the ease of everyone involved, the earlier you hire a planner, the better. There are so many things that come up along the way that we can easily handle to save time, money, and mostly stress. Plus it’s a huge advantage to your wedding vendors to have a point person throughout, and a confidence that your wedding will be well organized from the beginning.
What skills or services do you offer to your clients to help them feel less stressed while planning one of the biggest days of their lives?
It’s more of an attribute, but the one thing I hear from both clients and vendors is that I have a very calm and confident demeanor, which lends an air of ease and lightness to planning and also the wedding day itself. My life motto is, everything is fixable. I truly believe it. So when things come up during planning or day of that others may freak over, I just smile and fix it and move on.
Tell us what a typical meeting might look like between you and a couple you’re working with.
It always starts with hugs and a bit of life stuff, because I love my couples, I’m so blessed! Then we dig in. I like to call it a pow-wow, because it’s a top to bottom information exchange. If it’s a timeline meeting, for instance, we go hour by hour, I have my notes and questions prepared and my clients have theirs and we just go. But to me the follow-up is as important. I always send revisions or recap notes within a day so that everyone knows what was discussed, revised or decided upon at each step along the way.
Are there any trends for 2018 weddings you’re loving?
Color! I’m loving the shift to new and brighter colors this year! I had one wedding in particular last year that was just full of bright beautiful summer colors, (paper suite by oh my! designs by Steph, by the way!) It was magnificently styled by AJF+D, and I remember thinking I’d love this look to move forward into next year. And it has!
What’s the biggest piece of advice you can offer to couples just getting started in the planning process?
Breathe, and know that in the end it’s all going to be ok. Couples can get stressed very quickly in this process, which takes the joy and fun out of planning. But it doesn’t have to be that way at all! My top three tips are: 1) Commit to keeping love at the heart of it all, 2) Remember that the wedding is only a celebration of the Marriage, and… 3) Trust your planner!
Organization is one of the most important things during the wedding planning process. As a bride, you’re dealing with multiple vendors, timelines, payments, and approvals. If you haven’t heard about the email address wedding hack, get ready to say hello to streamlining all the things and goodbye to stress!
I’ve noticed many of my clients have a dedicated email address and it really got me thinking – what are the perks to setting up a brand new email account specific for all communication related to wedding planning?
Keep Everything in One Place
If you’re anything like me, you get about a bazillon emails a day. OK, maybe a bit exaggaerative, but I do have a bad habit that goes something like this: see email notification, read message, get busy and forget to respond, important email gets buried with “junk mail”, never reply back. (FYI: this is related to my personal email, not business emails! I keep my biz account super organized and respond to all client emails within two business days.)
With a wedding planning email address, you can make sure all related things end up in one place. Everything stays nicely organized and makes responding much easier. It’s also a good idea because you’re quickly able to go back and review messages and contracts without digging through a huge inbox.
When you’re wedding planning, it’s likely that you’ll be communicating with several vendors – your venue coordinator, a wedding planner, the photographer, your florist, the caterers, transportation and hotel contacts, your designer… the list goes on!
Not only is this a great place to keep all correspondence with your wedding vendors, but also anyone else involved in your planning – parents, friends, etc. Give them the email address and instruct that anything wedding related (reminders, suggestions, information) be sent to that account.
You can also include the email information on your wedding website as contact information for guests who need to get in touch with you.
Only check your emails when you’re in planning mode. This can be a time saver and allow you to batch your wedding planning tasks. If you’re feeling stressed or just need a break, turn off the notifications and pause planning until you’re feeling excited again!
Give your fiance access to the wedding email address so that he can be involved in the planning as well.
For the email address itself, include your names (or future last name) somewhere so it’s easy to identify for vendors. I’ve seen lots of variations, so feel free to get creative!
Create a signature that will be included with any message. Make sure it clearly lists both your names and a phone number. It can also be helpful to have the wedding date, venue name, email address to your planner, and a link to your wedding website.
The only downside: Once the big day is over, you’ll likely stop checking the email which could mean you’ll miss communication from vendors that want to reach out post-wedding. For example, I send all my couples an email at the end of the year offering specials on newlywed holiday cards. I know a lot of other vendors also offer discounts and sales to previous clients, often communicated through email. Avoid this by quickly sending a single email, copying in all vendors, to let them know your best contact email after the wedding.
BONUS: Need some help staying on task and managing your wedding planning? Check out my friend Renee’s brand new app – EverlyWed. It’s everything you’ve ever needed as a bride to keep track of #allthethings. In one place, you can manage wedding to-do lists, bridal shower prep, bachelorette party planning, and even honeymoon details. Best part? Not only is it like, really pretty, but it’s totally free! Get organized here.
You’re engaged, now what? Time to start wedding planning!
It’s mid January, meaning many girlfriends have recently upgraded to the new title of fiancé. December is the most popular month of the year for proposals, which shouldn’t be surprising since it’s a time focused on family and celebrating.
After the fantasy of an engagement begins to become reality, it’s time to start thinking about planning a wedding! But, where the heck do you even start? It can be extremely overwhelming to think about all the things!
First things first – set a budget. A lot of the stress that comes with wedding planning is related to money. By setting a budget from the beginning, you’ll be able to make decisions without too much emotion. I recommend picking 2-3 things that are most important to you and allocating more of your budget there. For instance, maybe you really want a lot of flowers but feel fine about skipping videography. Or maybe you’re set on booking a popular, live band but aren’t worried about impressing guests with an extravagant food menu. Everyone is different, so decide what things are most important to you and your fiancé.
Decide on a Theme and Feel for your Big Day
If you’re the type who has been pinning everything wedding related for the last two years, it’s time to edit and trim your inspiration. You can even start a new board and pin your favorites there. It’s easy to collect a lot of ideas over time and looking at it all together can easily get overwhelming. Make sure to only keep pins that directly relate to the theme and feeling you’ve set.
It’s 100% ok if you haven’t even thought about wedding colors, themes, or inspiration before getting engaged. The fun starts now – Pinterest is a wonderful resource to use. You can use the search function to get started and save your favorite ideas to a board. This is helpful for you to stay on track as well as provide visuals to your wedding vendors!
Find a Venue and Set a Date
Once you choose the “where” and “when” the other parts of your big day will start to fall in place. There’s a lot to consider when deciding the venue – like how many guests a space can hold, if they allow outside vendors or supply a team, what amenities are included, and if it makes sense logistically.
I really love The Venue Report website for browsing through awesome wedding locations. You can search for exactly what you’re looking for and it will provide you with options, information, and photos. Your venue is the backdrop of your theme and will set the tone for overall feel of the entire wedding.
Book your Vendor Dream Team
After you’ve booked a venue and picked your date (aka your future anniversary!) it’s time to start selecting your wedding vendors. Once again, there are a lot of factors to consider and lots of amazing options – these decisions can be very difficult!
A good place to start when looking for vendors is through the wedding venue itself. Often, they can provide a list of recommended professionals. Once you book with a vendor, they are happy to give you referrals of people they trust and enjoy working with. Make sure to check out their websites and social media for portfolios of past work to ensure it fits with your theme!
Work on Details
Depending on your personality – this can be this most enjoyable or daunting part of the wedding planning process! In my opinion, the details are what really set apart your day from everyone elses. You can choose unique touches in different ways to represent you as a couple – decor, food and drink, entertainment, design, favors, the list goes on!
Your wedding invitations set the initial tone for the entire event and I recommend putting a lot of thought into the design. Imagine a reaction of your guests opening the envelope – how do they feel, what do they say? Subconsciously, it even leads guests to dress a certain way and even how much to spend on a wedding gift! Yes, seriously. An invitation printed on thick cardstock in a luxe envelope with a liner is going to give a different impression than a casual design on everyday paper.
I don’t think this North Georgia mountain, dusty blue themed wedding styled shoot could have turned out more beautifully! Brianna of Brianna Joseph Photography had such a gorgeous vision and executed it perfectly – I was so excited to be involved by creating the invitation suite.
Lewallan Farms, a wedding venue in Waleska, Georgia, was the backdrop for the shoot. The farm is 400 acres and boasts multiple ceremony sites. The land is complete with a lake and stunning mountain view!
Brianna used the vintage blue canoe as a starting point for the overall concept and brought together an incredible team of local vendors to create a picture-perfect day! Every detail was so well thought out and the special touches really shine. See full vendor list with links at the bottom of this post.
The mountain themed stationery suite included rolling hills and elegant fonts. This design is a personal favorite and is simple, classic but versatile enough to fit a more modern outdoor wedding style. Dusty blue weddings are right on trend for 2018 and these envelopes are a great way to incorporate color in your wedding invitations.
In a wedding, the invitation suite is the first impression yours guests get of your big day. It should really encompass the overall feel of your wedding and I really think this suite accomplished that in this styled shoot!