Millika + Garret! Where do I start with this amazing couple. I had never met these two before (I wish I would have known them) and as we were driving down Antelope Island’s causeway together, we immediately started chatting like we were old friends just catching up. This couple is so in love. At the beginning of the session I asked, “Are you both okay with kissing…?” They both looked at me with huge smiles on their faces and said “OH yeah” at the same time. From then on I knew it was going to be an amazing session!
After both going on LDS Missions and keeping in touch over the course of 2 years, they finally reunited earlier this year. May 11, 2018 will be such a special day when they can be sealed to each other for eternity in the Bountiful Temple! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to be apart of this special time in your lives. Love ya long time. XOXO
Focus on what is most important to you. Make a list of your top 3: (photographer, flowers, venue, food, etc) and focus the majority of your budget toward these things. That way you are able to get exactly what you want. There are a lot of budget resources out there (on Pinterest for example) and they say things like “Take 25% of your whole budget and put it toward flowers” for example. Sometimes that is unnecessary. My best advice is don’t go by these budgets; every bride and her budget is different!
Remember to tip. Often times it is easily forgotten to tip! Some of those people include caterer, photographer, wedding planner, delivery staff, etc. A complete list of who and how much to tip can be found in this article from Wedding Wire.
Who pays for what? This can be one of the hardest and most confusing parts of planning. After you get engaged, sit down with both sets of parents (if they are helping with cost) and of course your groom. Talk about who wants to pay for what. Come ready with your top 3 most important things and an estimate of how much they’ll cost. There are also articles of tradition for who should pay for what which may be good to read but it also depends on the situation and who is willing. Talk about it with them before making an assumptions.
Another important thing to remember is: If you find the right photographer, they can make a $800 wedding look like an $8,000 wedding. The wrong photographer can do the opposite. It’s always good to do some research!
“Invitations can be the biggest wedding headache.”
There are a lot of factors that go into play with invitations. Who, what, when and where. Some of the most common questions I am asked are: “When should I send out my invitations? How many should I order? How soon should I get engagement pictures done? How do I address the envelopes? What should I include in the invitation? Do I need to do a Save The Date?”. Etc, Etc, Etc.
I am here to help with those questions and where to get started. Invitations don’t have to be a pain!
So, where do I start?
Once you have a vision of your wedding day, find invitations that match your color scheme and theme. It will give your guests a sneak peek as to what your big day will be like. You also want to pick one that catches your eye. One that gives you butterflies when you look at it. You want to be in love with your invites, trust me. Look at ALL your options. Find announcement/print companies that are going to best suite you. (local or strictly online, best fits your budget, etc) At the very bottom I have linked several websites where you can start looking.
2. Start Guest Lists & Gather Addresses
After you have found your dream invitation that you absolutely love, you want to start putting together your guest list so you can get a number on how many to order. Tip: always over order by ~20. There will be people you forget, plus you want to make sure you have enough to keep for yourself. It is one of the most cherished things I have from my wedding!
Many brides are different; some want a small wedding with a max of 15 people and some want to invite their and their fiancee’s whole high school along with their aunt’s dogs (JK). My advice: invite the people that mean the most in your life and / or have made an impact in your life somehow. Whether it be past or present. And that number doesn’t always matter, big or small. It’s your day! Invite who you want to celebrate with!
There are many ways to collect addresses. Sometimes this can be the biggest headache of them all. Start with social media. Announce your wedding date through a cute post and one (or 10) of your engagement pictures and let everyone know you are collecting addresses. You can also start an event page on Facebook and invite friends to give you their address via personal message or through ineedyouraddress.com/ (which is free to sign up.) Don’t directly ask your guests to post their address in a comment or on the event page directly. If they decide to do so, that’s okay, but for privacy reasons it’s always good to give them a private place to put their information.
Another fun option is a free website. Through your website, you can have a link for your guests to submit their address. You can also post date / times / address of your ceremony & reception, your love story, links to your registry and upload pictures of you two.
(FREE) Links to check out for building your own wedding website:
Pro Tip: Purchase a Wedding Guest List Tracker HERE for less than $5. Hang on to all addresses so you can send out thank you cards after your big day.
3. Separate Your Guests in 2-3 Different Lists.
Seems odd, but hear me out. There will be guests you want to invite to only the reception and not necessarily the ceremony. Upon ordering your invitations, make sure to get two different kind; wedding invitations (both ceremony & reception) and reception only invitations.
If you are having a wedding dinner (the night before) or a luncheon that day, it’s always smart to get a separate luncheon card to place in those invites so there is no confusion. Put time, date, location and what food will be available.
4. What to include
There are many examples online for what to include in a wedding announcement.
Reception only invites can be worded a few different ways. Regardless of how you word it, you want make sure to be specific but polite and formal. For example: (I made this up)
Mr. and Mrs. John Johnson have the pleasure of announcing the marriage of their daughter
Josilyn Johnson to Eli Nielsen
Please join Mr. and Mrs. Nielsen in celebration of their marriage at the wedding reception
on July 6, 2015 at 7 o’clock in the evening
Make sure to include / Things often forgotten:
Parent’s names. Sometimes your parents will want you to send invitations to their friends, old neighbors, coworkers, etc. These recipients may not know your or your fiancee’s name, but they will know your parent’s names. You can do this by stating their names like shown in the example above or do a separate card that states, “parents of the bride: ___” and “parents of the groom: ____”
Registry information. Upon receipt of your invitation, your guests will most likely start looking for a good gift to get the new couple. Include where you are registered so they know they perfect place to start looking. There’s nothing like getting a gift you don’t want OR getting 4 of the same thing. (It happens, trust me).
Website URL. In this day and age, it is completely acceptable to include your wedding website on the invitation. This also a good place where your guest can R.S.V.P.. If this is how you want your guests to R.S.V.P., make sure to state that on the invitation.
Luncheon information: date/time/address/food
These can be put directly on the invitation or on a separate card that most printing companies offer.
Be creative! Include add-in cards, ribbon, confetti, etc.
Next, you’re going to want to create a timeline for yourself.
If you want to include images in your invites from your engagement session, make sure to check with your photographer first on when they will be delivered to you. Most photographer’s turn around time is 2-3 weeks. Some even offer a rush fee so you can get them back in just a couple of days. This is an important factor to put into consideration when looking at your timeline. Whether you want the invitation company to print them out on your actual invite or if you want to have them printed to include separately, find out when you will receive your images. (As for the actual engagement session date, I recommend 3-4 month in advance. Talk with your photographer beforehand and see what they recommend)
Save The Date: It is very common now days to do Save The Date online via social media. If you are interested in sending out an physical card, it’s best to do it 3-4 months in advanced.
Ordering wedding invitations: Order them as soon as possible. At the latest, order them a month before you want to send them out. This will give you enough time to do a proof with the printing company.
Sending out wedding invitations: Wedding invites should be sent out 6-8 weeks before the wedding.
If you plan on sending out R.S.V.P. with your invitations, make sure to include the return by date. This date should reflect 2-3 weeks before the wedding date so you can get a final head count. Otherwise, make sure to note the R.S.V.P. date on your website.
Pre Made Stickers (search Etsy– there’s hundreds!)
Most invitation/print companies offer to print your return address on each envelope for you, and they will match the print that is on your invites!
7. Have an Invitation PARTY!
Once you have ordered and received your invites, invite your bridal party over for some snacks and help to put your invitations together! Be sure to put one together before they come over and then you can teach them how you want them put together. If you trust them- you can also divide up the guest list and have everyone address some invites for you.
Once you have put your invitations together, take one to your local post office and see what kind of postage you will need. They will weigh them for you. Some invites weigh more than others so you’ll need to know what kind of stamps to purchase. (Tip: you can order cuter stamps than what they have on-hand on the post office’s website!)
8. Thank you’s
“Who do I send thank you’s to? Everyone that gave us a gift?”
Yes, but you also need to include those who you hired. Some examples are make up artist, caterer, event planner, photographer, florist, etc. You should also send thank you’s to those whom you didn’t hire, but helped you immensely. Like neighbors who helped set up or close friends who picked up your flowers for example.
Thank you’s are typically sent 2-3 weeks after your wedding day; after you have settled down from your honeymoon. When opening your gifts make note of who gave you what. That way you can personalize the thank you card more than just “Thank you for the gift, we appreciate you and enjoyed visiting with you on your wedding day”. (zzzz boring!) A personalized thank you is much more appreciated, trust me.
On November 3, 2017 I got to capture the most gorgeous couple at Jordan Pines in Utah. When I first arrived, it was raining and no blue sky or clouds in sight. As soon as our handsome groom got there, the rain stopped and and it warmed up a bit! Couldn’t have been better timing. We got him in position so he could see Harlee as a bride for the first time. Harlee arrived shortly after that and as she got out of the car, my jaw hit the floor. She looked gorgeous! Her flowers were a dream. I brought her down the trail where Ty was and as soon as I gave the okay, Ty turned around and saw his new bride for the first time. His smile couldn’t be any bigger! We finished the session off with smiles and good weather. I can’t wait for their gorgeous wedding on the 11th! Enjoy!
About 5 years ago, I bought my first Nikon DSLR camera. I was 17. I had some cash laying around from a seasonal side job I had and thought, “ehh, why not?”. Thought it would be a fun hobby and only ended up picking the thing up a couple of times… To be honest it overwhelmed me. I looked through the manual for a half a second to only realize I had no idea what I was doing. It basically stayed in auto mode until I upgraded a few years late
My friends have been real troopers since the very beginning. They ending up getting roped into being my models that early spring as I decided to take them out to Antelope Island. It was probably a really painful shoot for them while I messed around with my settings the entire time, trying to figure everything out. I was overwhelmed but they were patient and we ended up having a blast.
I popped my memory card into my computer and it actually found to have some awesome pictures. I had a proud moment, as I was surprised to what I was actually capable of. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, ya know? But that is what triggered me to pick my camera up again and again. Not because my friends loved the pictures I gave them. Not because I wanted to show them off and tell people “I’m a photographer”. It’s because I honestly and truthfully loved and enjoyed taking pictures. I loved being creative and trying different things. I loved learning about my camera and the things it could do. I loved hanging out with people and getting to know them better.
I spent the next little while doing fun (free) shoots to “build my portfolio”. Between my sister, friends and friend’s friends, I got some good experience under my belt. I started to grow my IG page and getting a good following. A short while later, I start getting contacted by people wanting to pay me for my services. This scared me SO bad, mostly because I knew I was just starting out. I didn’t want them to over pay because if they hated the pictures, I didn’t want them to ask for their money back. I would have been so embarrassed and I know now that if that would have happened, I probably would have quit. Right then and there. A lot of the sessions I did were just $20-$30 at most. But that was fine with me because I loved doing it and I enjoyed giving people images they liked and posted.
Yes, I like to consider myself as “self-taught.” As far as learning my camera, learning composition and lighting, exposure and posing, yes. I read a few articles here and there. I spent a few hours total on Pinterest looking at poses and “How to Grow Your New Photography Business” blogs. There are a few things, however, I couldn’t have ever learned without the help of another photographer I looked up to (and still do) very much. And it’s Charissa Lee Photography.
Charissa and I have known each other since junior high. We lost touch through moving and high school but reconnected when I hired her to be my wedding photographer March of this year, 2017. I had followed her photography page since day 1 (biggest fan right here!). There was no question as to who I wanted as my wedding photographer. She learned that I was starting out with some interest in the industry and invited me to a styled shoot with one of her engagement sessions to follow that evening. She might not know this but after that day, I decided I am going to work my buns off to get where she is at. I wanted to know everything she knew. I wanted better equipment than what I had at the time and overall better resources. From there forward, I practically changed my whole business and how I did things. She invited me over to her house to mentor me on editing, client organization, marketing, payments, pricing, you name it. She sat me down and let me ask her any stupid question I had in my head. There is no way I could EVER repay Charissa and her mentorship. Since our reconnection, she has been there to support me from my horrible times and bad clientele stories, to being excited about my new equipment and letting me send her pictures I was proud of. So, Charissa, thank you for allowing me to come and be your second photographer any chance you had. Thank you for teaching me things and for encouraging me when I’m doubtful. And lastly, thank you for being such a good friend.
I consider this year of 2017 my very first year at photography, as in Brynlee Paige Photography officially “opened its doors” this year. I have booked multiple weddings, senior sessions, families, LDS missionaries, maternity, and newborn sessions. And I’m just getting started.
I couldn’t do this without the support of my clients, family members and friends. Thank you soooo much for being there with me from the beginning!!!
I wanted to blog about this journey and my beginning for the record of it. I have days where I am done, I tell my husband over and over that I quit. That BPP is done forever. In those times it’s easy to forget where you came from and where you started. It’s easy to focus on the negative and its easy to be hard on yourself. I wanted to blog this so I can look back and see how much I’ve grown. It’s very hard not to compare yourself to others, but you need to compare YOU to YOU. Be fair to yourself and charge what you’re worth. Take risks and don’t be scared to protect your name. (a little note to self)
Montana Wagstaff & Jace Turnbow are getting married on December 1, 2017 in the SLC LDS Temple. Can you believe these two go all the way back to 7th grade math class?! After graduation, Jace went on an LDS mission to California and Tana waited for him. After two years of many, many letters and emails, he came home and proposed shortly after. (And check out that ring!!!) The two knew it was meant to be since the beginning. Nothing short of the sweetest fairy tale.
This engagement session was filled with laughter, good memories and cold feet. At first, we were stopped by a snow storm at Snow Basin but it didn’t keep us from finding beautiful, bright fall colors! These love birds were willing to do anything to capture their love. It ended up being very easy seeing as how deeply in love they are. I can’t wait to see these two as Mr & Mrs!