ShootAnyAngle.com Wedding Photography Blog

What story will your photos tell? We're a husband and wife photography team, and we want to capture your special day so you can relive it every time you look at your photographs! On this blog, you'll find all things wedding to inspire you for your big day! Check back often for posts on photography, DIY, dresses, decorations, and more!


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Wedding Day Timelines

I’ve seen that one area of difficulty for a planning bride is how to create a timeline and what comes when.  It varies from religion to religion and culture to culture, but here are the basics so you can create your timeline!

Let’s start at noon:

12:00-3:00pmSet-up

  • This will depend on your decorum and your rental company, but some need 3 hours to set up all tables, chairs, lighting, and decorations.  Talk with your rental company (or venue, if they are handling it) about how much time they need.

3:00-4:00pmGetting Ready

  • An hour may seem like a lot, but if you need hair and make-up and to get in your dress, an hour is a good idea.  Plus, you’ll be followed by your photographers during this time as well as your bridesmaids as they get ready.  If you just need to get in your dress, you can cut down this time.  If you want posed photos or a “First Look” prior to the ceremony, add an hour after getting ready for that.

4:00-4:30pmCeremony

  • Ceremony lengths vary.  We’ve seen 5 minutes, we’ve seen half an hour, and we’ve seen a full hour-long mass.  For the purposes of this timeline, we’ll assign it to half an hour.

4:30-5:30pmCocktail Hours and PhotosEJ17WM

  • It’s always a good idea to allow an hour for posed photos.  This will (hopefully) take you away from your guests, so this hour is a good time for them to mingle, grab appetizers and a drink, and sign your guestbook.  We recommend having the cocktail hour in a separate location from where you are taking your photographs.  Otherwise, you’ll get curious guests mingling around you and potentially disrupting the photos.

5:30pmAnnouncement of Couple and First Dance

  • Once you finish with your photos, it’s time to greet your guests as husband and wife.  Generally, your DJ or a bridesmaid/groomsman will announce you so you can enter the party formally.  Many couples follow this announcement with their first dance and then go straight into dinner.  Others choose to hold off on the first dance until after dinner.

5:30-6:30pmDinner & Toasts

  • Even with the appetizers, your guests will be hungry – though probably not nearly as hungry as the two of you will be!  So, this is a good time for dinner.  Toasts can happen before dinner or towards the tail end of everyone eating.

6:00-7:00pmGolden HourJAH_6882WM

  • This is just an estimate, but if you want to shoot at Golden Hour (the hour just before sunset when the sun is low and there is a golden glow over everything), then check to see when sunset is, and schedule the photos for the hour approaching sunset.  These photos are best if it is just the two of you.  Everyone else can finish up dinner, while you take some shots in this magical glow.

6:30/7:00pmFirst Dances

  • If you haven’t had your first dance yet, have it now.  That’s followed by the Father-Daughter Dance.  If you wish to have a Mother-Groom Dance, you can do that with the Father-Daughter or just after.  My personal feeling is that each dance should be kept separate in order to give each couple their own special time.  If you wish to do a Money Dance, this is a good last dance of the “First Dances” because it can lead into everyone dancing.  After the first dances, it’s a good idea to ask your DJ to announce free-for-all dancing.

7:30-8:30pmDancing

  • Dance the night away!

8:30-9:00pmBouquet, Garter, Cake Cutting

  • About an hour into dancing, it’s a good idea to switch gears to the bouquet toss and garter toss (if you are having this event).  For our wedding, we used the song “Single Ladies” as a transition and had it announced that all the single ladies come to the dance floor for the bouquet toss.  Then, you can go straight from that to cake cutting.  You don’t want to wait too late to cut the cake because some guests will want to retire early.  Once that’s done, start the music again, and let the party continue!

9:30-10:30Dancing

  • More dancing!

10:30-12:30Breakdown

  • This may need to be longer, so again, talk with your rental company or venue.

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Photography by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography


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What to Wear to Your Engagement Shoot

whattowearIf you have an engagement shoot coming up, you’re probably wondering what to wear, and there are some outfits that are better than others.  Think about these tips when picking out your outfit.

AJH_3904WMWear solid colors or large prints (avoid small prints and logos)

Small prints can hurt the eye, and some screens will even show a rainbow effect when showing off the photos.  So, stick to solids and large prints. Checkered prints and stripes are fine as long as they aren’t really tight.

 

Avoid neon colorsshootanyangle.com/weddings/

Neon will be quite blinding in a photo.  Though the photographer can dull down the color a tad in post-editing, it’s best to avoid it.

 

 

 

_AJH3421.2WMJeans are fine

Engagement photos are supposed to be natural feeling, so you don’t have to be dressed to the nines (you certainly can be if you want to though!)  Thus, jeans and a nice top are just fine.

 

 

Dress for the location and activityAJH_1905WM

Talk with your photographer to plan the shoot, and let them know what you’d like to do.  Then, plan the outfit accordingly.  If you want to take pictures in the city, heels are fine, but more comfortable and supportive shoes would be needed for a wooded area.  Dresses are fine in any area (this includes floor-length if you can move in it), but I recommend wearing bicycle shorts (or similar) underneath.  The reason for this is your fiancé may lift you in the air, or you may lay down in a field of daisies, or you may jump to make it look like you’re flying.  Photography can be a more physical task than most anticipate, so make sure the outfit is comfortable and conceals all it needs to conceal even when moving around.  That means nothing to short or too revealing.

 

Consider your personalities_AJH4755.2WM

Dress similarly (though maybe a tad nicer) than you normally dress.  If you never wear jeans, don’t wear them for the shoot.  If you never wear dresses, don’t wear one for the shoot.  The reason behind this is two-fold: 1, you should be comfortable in what you’re wearing (especially since being a model may be a tad uncomfortable at times), and 2, you should look like yourself.  These photos are supposed to represent who you are both as individuals and as a couple, so let your personality shine through.  That also means that if you like particular outfits or costumes, wear it!  Just talk with your photographer ahead of time as some locations require normal dress (the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is an example of this).

 

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Accessorize!

Feel free to add in cowboy boots or an accessory or a specialty item.  Add a strand of pearls or your favorite earrings or even bring along props!  Shoots look great with bouquets or old cameras or even little bird cage veils if that’s what you’d like.

 

 

Have fun!!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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What to Know About Vow Renewals

I recently had the pleasure of photographing a vow renewal of a couple in their 80s.  It’s so inspiring to see a couple still happily married years after their first “I do.”  A Vow Renewal can be a really sweet and great way to renew the marriage.  Some couples prefer a quiet ceremony with just the two of them, but others prefer to have a party along with the renewal.  Both are great options if you’re interested in re-committing to each other.

When is a Renewal appropriate?

An anniversary milestone

Celebrating your 10 year anniversary?  15?  20?  30?  That’s the perfect time for a vow renewal.  Some would argue that 5 years is a bit too early, but it is still a milestone, so it’s acceptable!  If you can’t do it on the milestone for whatever reason (interfering with another wedding, illness, absence, etc) then you can do it off of the milestone year.

Anytime past the age of 70

If you’re over 70, you don’t need to wait for a milestone because you’ve had plenty already!  Plus, at that age, you’ve most-likely been with your partner for a long time, so a renewal at anytime is fine.

There are no other weddings happening

If you’d like a big party for your vow renewal, but there’s another wedding going on in your family or in your small group of friends, it’s not the right time (even if you’re celebrating a milestone).  It’s the other couple’s time for the spotlight, so you need to let them have their moment.  So, if a wedding has occurred or will be occurring within a year of your renewal (and you want to make it like a second wedding), then hold off.  If you’re just having a private renewal on the beach and no party element though (or if you’re over 70 years old), then it’s fine to do at anytime.

Are guests required to bring gifts?

The short answer is “no.”  The purpose of wedding gifts is to help the couple start their life together and to provide supplies for their new home.  Since a renewal couple has already been living together, the couple shouldn’t expect gifts.  That being said, if you wish to give a gift as a guest, you certainly can.  Focus on sentimentality versus functionality.  For example, have a print made of their wedding picture or a photo album of their lives together thus far.

Is the couple required to provide a meal to guests?

If a party or reception element is part of the renewal, then it’s a good idea to provide food of some sort.  Appetizers are perfectly acceptable though!  It’s also fine to invite everyone to a restaurant.  As long as you’re clear about it being “dutch treat” up front, then you can all have a meal together without you paying for the bill.

Is a vow renewal a second wedding?

No, but it can still be a big party, though!  Some people do make it like a second wedding, especially if their first wedding was smaller than they had originally wanted.  Though this is done, be aware that some guests may look at a second wedding negatively especially if it’s really like a full wedding.  In those cases, some people may think the renewal is for a purpose other than the desire to re-commit (such as trying to get gifts).  A vow renewal is only appropriate if you wish to focus on the commitment of your marriage.  As long as that’s clear, that’s what matters.

Should I wear a wedding dress?

You don’t have to, but some women prefer to (it’s always fun to get to wear a wedding dress!).  It’s pretty common to see episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” where women are picking out wedding dresses for their renewals.  So, you certainly can wear a wedding dress, and you could even wear your original wedding dress if it still fits.  You can also wear any dress you’d like.  The dress doesn’t need to be white either.  Wear whatever you feel beautiful in!

Congratulations!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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The Guest List: How to Say “No”

http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/One of the biggest headaches when getting married is the dreaded guest list.  In the beginning, you think it’ll be easy – just add family and friends, and done!  Right?  Wrong!  That’s before your mother gets involved, your mother-in-law gets involved, your cousin gets involved, and your bridesmaid gets involved.  “Not their call,” you may say, and you’d be right.  But, sadly, unsolicited advice is a common occurrence in life, but it’s REALLY common during wedding planning.  So, how do you deal with disputes that arise?

First thing’s first.  Pick and choose your battles.  A new boyfriend who is on the shy side is a safer bet than a likes-to-get-drunk-at-all-social-events co-worker.  You can’t fight and win all battles, so choose wisely making sure to keep in mind who the request is coming from and how both you and your fiancé feel about having that guest there.  If acceptable, invite those guests with a smile.  Then, it’s time to deal with the guests you don’t want to invite.  Here are the typical ones that will come up and some ideas for how to diffuse the tension and get the wanna-be-guest (or guest’s sponsor) off your back.  These are just suggestions though (and mostly untested), so always use your best judgement when coming up with your tailored response.  The final words need to be your own, and I find it best to keep it short.  After all, you know the person and the situation!

1.  Your Boss

Sure.  He/she may pay your salary, but weddings are personal.  As we all know, they are called “Personal Days” for a reason.  Your work is a different world than your personal one, so if you aren’t all buddy-buddy with your boss, you do not have to invite him/her.  So, how to dodge the question if it comes up?

Try:  “We’re limited on space and budget, so we have to stick to family and close friends.”

Or:  “We’d love to invite you, but then we’d feel obligated to invite the whole office and my fiancé’s co-workers too, and that’s too much.  So, we had to limit it to friends and family only.”

2.  A Guest’s New Boyfriend/Girlfriend

Every bride hates this one.  Here you are paying an arm and a leg for the wedding, and a guest wants his/her new fling invited without any thought as to how much more it will cost you.  Well, if he/she is a new flame, it’s not that serious.  So, if space is tight, you don’t have to extend an invitation to the significant other (or give the guest a plus one).  Now, if the couple has been together a significant amount of time (say, 6 months or more at the time of the invite – and especially if they’ve been together longer than you and your fiancé), then he/she should be invited.  Same goes if the guest has a significant role in the wedding (bridesmaid, groomsman, reader, officiant, etc).  If neither of those are applicable and space is tight, here’s how to handle that one.

“I’d love to invite him/her, but we just don’t have the space or budget to accommodate all the extra guests that we’ve been asked to invite.  Plus, he/she doesn’t know anyone at the wedding except you.  We wouldn’t want him/her to feel uncomfortable.”

3.  The Aunt/Uncle/Cousin You’ve Never Met

It’s funny how long-lost relatives all the sudden pop up once someone is getting married, but they do.  Some people believe that as long as there is a blood-line, then an invite is required.  As someone who has over 50 members on my mother’s side of the family alone (that I know personally – but there are more), I can’t afford to subscribe to that theory!  Even if you don’t have a huge family, a relative you’ve never met is oftentimes a guest brides don’t want to invite.  Here’s how to handle that.

“I’d love to meet him/her in the future, but we just don’t feel our wedding is the appropriate place.  As it is, the guest list is just too tight.”

4.  The Random Person Who Your Relative/Friend Already Invited

Shocking, but it does happen.  When it does, it can be very stressful, but try this approach.

“I’m very sorry, but there’s been a misunderstanding.  I’ve been told that you received an invite to our wedding.  Unfortunately, that person was not authorized to extend invitations, and we’re already at capacity for guests.  I’m terribly sorry for the position this has put you in, and I hope you understand.”

5.  Exes

Yikes!!  You’d think it’d be self-explanatory that exes are blacklisted from weddings (unless everyone involved are friends and alright about them coming – which is rare), but I’ve heard some horror stories about brides and grooms being pressured to invite exes.  Here’s how to deal with that one.

“Our marriage is a celebration of our relationship, not relationships of the past.  We want to look towards our future, not at what we chose to leave behind.”

6.  The Person Who Invited You To Their Wedding

People change and some drift apart.  Just because someone invited you to their wedding does not mean you are obligated to reciprocate – especially if things have changed.  You already gave them a gift after all.  Try this.

“We’ve decided to have a more intimate wedding, and we already have more family and close friends than we have room for.  I hope you understand.”

~

Now, these suggested responses are all well and good if they work the first time, but what if you are dealing with someone irrational (we all know someone like that!), and they keep pressuring you?  At that point, I’ve found it best to be polite but firm.  Something along the lines of “I’m sorry, but we cannot invite him/her, and that decision is firm.”  If that still doesn’t work, it’s sometimes best to just ignore future appeals.  So much of our communication these days are via email and text, so those are easy to leave unanswered.  If the appeal is done in person, you can simply say, “I’m sorry, but that’s a stressful topic. Let’s talk about something else.”  Remember, try to always stay as polite as possible.  Anger will only lead to animosity, so keep that at bay.  It’s okay to say no as long as you do it respectfully.

Good luck!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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How To Make Your Own Bouquets

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 Flowers can be very expensive, but you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on your boquets.  Do them yourself!  You can get flowers at Safeway, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Costco, and many other places for good prices.  Then, assemble them!  Plus, it’s a good skill to have not just for weddings, but for other events such as Mother’s Day!

When I assemble bouquets, I use florist tape, scissors, and then whatever ribbon I want for the stems.  You can get florist tape from Michaels for a couple dollars.  I’ve found it best to make little bundles of 4 or 5 stems and wrap that in florist tape.  Don’t wrap too widely though.  Keep the tape area as narrow as you can so you don’t have to cover up too much with the ribbon.  Once you’ve made all the bundles, add them all together to make the final bouquet.  If you want it to be a rounded bouquet, make the center bundles the highest point, and lower the side bundles to give it the desired shape.  Once everything is secured, cut the bottom of the stems to even them out.  Sometimes, I like my bouquets to have more of a “mussy tussy” look, so I’ll purposely leave a lot of the bottom stems showing and vary the length of them slightly.  If you want a more formal look, wrap the stems tightly and fully, and trim evenly.

There are several options for the stems.  You can wrap them in a criss-cross pattern with ribbon, tie a single ribbon around to cover the florist tape while keeping most of the stems visible, or you can use fabric or wide ribbon to cover most or all of the stems.  If using this last option, secure the fabric in place with florist pins (also available at Michaels).  If you want the stems completely covered, cut a circle out of fabric that is about 2 inches wider in diameter than the diameter of the stems.  Place the stems in the middle, and wrap the sides up around the stems.  Then, wrap your ribbon or fabric starting from the bottom up to hold that fabric in place and secure with pins.

Making your own bouquets also opens up a lot of area for creativity.  You can use fake flowers or a combination of real and fake.  You can make bouquets out of pinwheels or pearls (Pinterest, anyone?), and make it truly unique.  So, have fun with it!

Photos and bouquets by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.


    

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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What Not To Do Before the Wedding

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There is lots and lots to do before the big day, but there is also a lot NOT to do.  Here are the top five things not to do in the months (and days) before your wedding!

1. Don’t try anything new in the beauty department.

Never tried eyebrow waxing?  Don’t start the day before the wedding.  You could break out in a rash, and that’s the last thing you want!  Never tried spray tanning? Never dyed your hair?  Don’t start before the wedding!  The color could be all wrong with no time to fix it.  Never used mousse?  Don’t start the day of the wedding unless you want to turn your hair into a hard shell.  We’ve all heard of hair and makeup trials, and they’re popular for good reason.  Try things WELL in advance to avoid beauty mishaps.

2.  Don’t starve yourself.

You’ll be stressed out enough before the wedding.  Starving yourself will only make it worse, and it’s not necessary (or healthy!).  Be kind to yourself, and eat well (throw some treats in there too).

3. Don’t second guess your wedding choices.

A month out, your choices in vendors, colors, dresses, etc are pretty much set in stone.  True, some last minute changes are possible, but keep them to a minimum.  Otherwise, you’ll just drive yourself crazy (and your fiancé too), and you may end up with no vendor at all!

4.  Don’t spend too much time out in the sun (especially with straps).

Too much time in the sun isn’t good for anyone, but especially not before the wedding.  You don’t want a sunburn, awkward tan lines, or peeling skin on the big day.

5.  Don’t push yourself too hard.

It won’t be easy during the crunch time, but you need to take some time for you (and for the two of you).  Get enough sleep, go for walks, take breaks from your phone (which will probably be constantly notifying you of something or other), and do whatever you need to do to stay calm and marry on!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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How to Deal With Post-Wedding Blues

Photo courtesy of Susie Hannibal

Your wedding day is bound to be the happiest day of your life thus far.  It’s a busy but fantastic day that is the cumulation of generally a year of planning and years of courtship prior to that.  For that day, you feel like a princess, a celebrity.  Everyone knows you and is complimenting you, giving you gifts, taking pictures of you – and whether or not you are generally someone who likes all that attention, it will become very odd when it’s suddenly all gone.  And it will be the very next day.

Sure, weddings are really about vowing to spend the rest of your life with the one you love, but it does become more than that whether we want it to or not – and we get used to that.  We’re only humans after all!  But what happens when all the planning is over, and the attention is gone, and you realize the big day that your life was circling around has now been completed?  Well, for many brides and even some grooms out there, it can lead to post-wedding blues.  Even though the wedding is over, the marriage is just beginning, so what are some things you can do to get past it?

Take a Breather

We all need a bit of a breather first.  Weddings are exhausting!!!  So, allow yourself the relaxation time.  It’s okay to take an extra-long soak in the tub.  It’s okay to watch a few more episodes on TV than you usually do.  It’s okay to sleep in on the weekends.  Take some down time.  Your new hubby will need some too, so take that breather together!

Do Wedding Related Projects

Oddly enough, even if the wedding is over, the projects aren’t.  You still have thank you notes to write (and only a month to do them in), social media albums to make, photo books to make, canvas prints to order, etc.  Most couples have pictures of their wedding day and photo albums of it in their home, so now is the time to get those done!

Plan a Couple-Only Day

Since odds are that you both took time off work, you may find yourself overwhelmed after returning from the wedding and honeymoon only to be met by a wall of work that accumulated while you were out.  It may seem hard to carve out a moment just for you two.  It’s really important to get that time though.  You’re newlyweds after all!  Plan a time to do something just the two of you.  Even if you can’t get away for a full day, and even if money is tight (it usually is after a wedding!), you can still find free and short things to do: go for a walk in the park, watch one of your favorite DVDs together, make dinner together, go to the beach and watch the sunset.  There are lots of options in regards to activities, but make sure it’s just the two of you.

Plan Something To Look Forward To

Let’s face it: a wedding is really just a big party, so you’ve really been a party-planner for a year or so.  If you have post-wedding blues, it may be the planning that you miss.  So, plan something new!  Offer to plan someone’s birthday party, or plan a tea-party, or plan a thank-you-to-everyone-who-helped-out-at-our-wedding party.  Put those new-found skills to good use!

Get Dressed Up

Brides sometimes don’t feel as pretty after a wedding.  After all, their hairstylist and make-up artist and dress designer aren’t there everyday!  We all look our best on our wedding day, so the days that follow are a bit of a let down in the beauty department.  So, get dressed up!  Do your hair and make-up, put on your favorite dress (no, not the wedding dress) and go out to dinner with your hubby, or plan something at home.  It’ll help give you a little pick-me-up.

Pick Up a New Life Project

Your life was circling around the planning of the wedding, and now you find yourself with free time on your hands.  Put that energy towards a new life project.  Want a different career?  Put that energy towards that.  Or maybe you want to re-do parts of the house, or rejuvenate your relationship with family.  Whatever it is, use the new free time for that.

And most of all, focus on the positive – you just married the love of your life!

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How to Transform Your Old Bridesmaid Dresses!

“And the best part is you could just shorten it, and wear it again.” Whether it was in the movie 27 Dresses or a bride has said these words to you, we’ve all heard this line. Maybe we’ve even believed it. But, did we actually shorten it and wear it again? Most likely not.

I don’t know about you, but when I was a bridesmaid, I spent $280 on the dress. Back in 2012, that was the most expensive dress I had ever bought, and I could only wear it once! Until now, it has sat in the closet everyday since.

So, what can you do with the dress (without throwing all that money down the toilet)? Well, you could donate it or you could trash it, but neither of those options make the money you shelled out for it really worth it. Instead, why not alter the dress to fit your style?

I loved the top of this dress, but I knew I was not going to wear a floor-length number like this again. Even shortening it wasn’t enough for me – it would just look like a short bridesmaid dress! So, I decided my alteration would keep the top as-is while altering the bottom. I knew I wanted it to be a short dress – with a satin strapless top, a floor-length would look too fancy no matter what fabric I chose. To really keep the look as anti-bridesmaid as possible, I looked for a geometric pattern, and I found this blue and white chevron, which I loved.

To alter the dress, I first cut it short. The blue and white fabric needed lining, so I used the actual dress underneath to serve that purpose. Then, I cut out the blue and white fabric into a wider A-line, and sewed the sides together. Next, I carefully pinned the top fabric into place under the waistband of the original dress and along the zipper down the back. Once that was done, I simply sewed it into place! It only took around 2 hours for my un-useable bridesmaid dress to become something I’d actually WANT to wear!  It’s great as a party dress, and you can even add a little sweater to make it more casual.  A MUCH better alternative to keeping your old bridesmaid dress in the closet (or worse, in the trash)!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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How to Change Your Name After Marriage: Step-by-Step (What You’ll Need, and the Costs)

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Changing your name after marriage is a bit of a complicated process.  The main thing is knowing what to expect and, specifically, knowing what order to change it in.  It took me quite awhile to change everything over (actually, I’m still finding areas that I haven’t changed yet), but as long as you have the time (no big international trips coming up), it’ll be fine and relatively stress-free. Get the major ones done first, and then the rest can be changed as needed.

Also, make sure to change your name after the honeymoon.  Otherwise, you probably won’t have everything ready in time!

(Note: the below prices are based on what I encountered while changing my name in the state of California late 2014 to early 2015.  Also, note that I’m not an expert on the topic, just a fellow bride who has gone through the process.)

Step One: Get your Marriage Certificate

In the California county I was married in, it cost me $15 per certificate.  I bought three just in case.  It’s usually ready about a week or so after the wedding.  Call in first if you want to make sure.  You don’t need an appointment.

What You’ll Need:

     ID

Cost: $15 each

Step Two: Change Name with the Social Security Agency

You’ll need to go into your local SS branch with your old card and the marriage certificate. They’ll have you fill out some paperwork. You don’t need an appointment.

What You’ll Need:

     Marriage Certificate

     Original SSN card

Cost: Free

Step Three: Change Name at the DMV

I made an appointment, but it’s really hit and miss as to if that helps or not.  They’ll take a new picture of you, so look your best!  They require you to fill out a form that must be done on-site.

What You’ll Need:

     Marriage Certificate

     New SSN card

Cost: $27

Step Four: Change Name at the Bank

I was told I could have done this prior to the DMV, but then when vendors ask to see your ID to verify you are the cardholder, it wouldn’t match.  So, I did it after I received the new license.

What You’ll Need:

     Marriage Certificate

     New SSN card

     New Driver’s License or Interim license (may be optional for some banks)

Cost: Free

Note: this is an area I am STILL struggling with. For some reason, my bank can’t figure out how to send me the new cards and checks in my new name. Also, my bank only allows 21 characters on the cards/checks. My legal name is over that, so if that’s the case, the bank will work with you to find a way to represent your name.

Step Five:  Passport

The application can be filled out online (http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english.html), but you’ll have to mail in the documents.

What You’ll Need:

     Application form

     Recent Passport photo

     Fee

     Most recent passport

     Marriage Certificate

Cost: $110

Step Six: Other

This list will change per person, but here are the common areas where name changes are needed:

—HR at work (sending them a quick email should do it, but each company will probably be different)

—Mortgage

—Car Registration (If you have AAA, just visit your local branch)

—Medical (If you have health insurance from your company, the HR department will have to handle this for you. If you take care of your own insurance, contact them directly.)

—Library cards (handled at the local branch)

—Membership cards

—Pet tags

—Subscriptions

—Insurance

—Utilities and bills

—Loans/leases/contracts

—Voter Registration

—PayPal (You’ll need to send a picture of your new license and marriage certificate.)

—Email addresses and signatures

—Voice mail message

—Social media and other online accounts

—Organization/Clubs

Good luck!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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Bridesmaid Protocol: What to Expect As a Bridesmaid, and What Brides Should Know

Back in 2010, WeddingChannel.com did a study to find how much the average bridesmaid will pay for the “honor” of standing next to her friend on her wedding day. It is funny that as a society, we’ve labeled being a bridesmaid as an honor, but it’s the only honor I know of that you have to pay so much for!  WeddingChannel.com found that it was a whopping $1,695 out of pocket for the average bridesmaid. Having been a bridesmaid myself before, I can say this is not far off the mark. It’s not just the money either. A bridesmaid needs to make herself available for the wedding, the rehearsal, and as many other wedding events as she can attend. That means time off work, so it’s not just money going out of your pocket, it’s the prevention of money coming back in.

Nowadays, bridesmaids are asked to buy a dress, buy shoes, get their nails and hair and makeup done, attend all pre-wedding functions, go to the bachelorette party on their own dime (and pay for the bride’s trip as well), give the bride a wedding gift, and do it all with a smile. Not all of those are really legitimate requirements though, and oftentimes, bridesmaids can find themselves overwhelmed by someone else’s life event. Many brides are very considerate of their bridesmaids, but others aren’t. So, let’s take a look at what is and is not expected of you as a bridesmaid.

What IS Required Of You

To be there on the wedding day

Of course, this is the most important requirement of a bridesmaid, so if you’re asked to be a bridesmaid and getting to the wedding looks like it may not work out, politely decline. The other wedding events you can get out of, but not the wedding itself!

To wear a dress of the bride’s choosing (and pay for it)

Typically, bridesmaids pay for their own dresses and wear what is asked of them – even if they don’t like the dress. Now, if you are very uncomfortable in the dress for a legitimate reason (for example, if it’s too revealing), then politely bring up your concerns to the bride.  She’s your friend after all!  Most brides are more than happy to pick a dress that people like and are comfortable in. I’ve personally never seen a bride purposefully pick hideous gowns for her bridesmaids to wear, but if you are unfortunately in that position, try to make the most of it.

To the brides, be considerate of your bridesmaids here. They will never wear these dresses again. No, really, they won’t. So, try to pick out dresses that are inexpensive. This means steering clear of the bridal stores (where you are going to shell out at least $100). That way, at least they aren’t paying a lot for something they won’t wear again. I had to spend $280 something for a bridesmaid dress, and at the time, that was the most expensive dress I owned! So, for our wedding, I picked dresses that were only $40. That way, even if they only wore it the one time, it wouldn’t be a huge loss. As far as shoes go, no one really notices their feet anyway, so Brides, let them wear their own instead of buying new ones – unless they want the excuse to go shoe shopping, that is! Bridesmaids are also commonly asked to get their hair, nails, and makeup professionally done. Don’t put that additional cost on them. If it’s really important to you, pay for it. Or, better yet, have a nail painting party before the wedding and do each other’s hair and make-up. Pinterest has how-to’s for everything!

To support the bride emotionally

A wedding is a very exciting and happy day for a bride, but it’s also extremely stressful. Any number of things could go against the plan on the day of, and that’s not even looking at the internal emotional roller coaster that some brides experience. So, be kind, be gentle, be patient. At one point or another, every bride is going to be stressed to the point of feeling like she will burst. Some brides express that stress by being a bridezilla, others by crying, others by going catatonic. It doesn’t mean she is a bad person. It just means she is human. Be kind, be gentle, be patient. For our wedding, I asked the bridesmaids to just periodically tell me, “Everything is going to be okay.” Just that little reassurance helped me keep going.

Take on tasks to help with wedding planning or setup

Planning a wedding is a lot of work, so it’s not uncommon to have a bride ask for your help. Even though it is a lot of work, it can be a lot of fun too, so embrace it! If you have a specific talent, offer to handle that area of the planning so you can do what you enjoy.  I was blessed to have one of my bridesmaid offer to act as a wedding planner.  I was worried it would put too much stress on her, but she really enjoyed it – and she did a fantastic job!

To the brides, be grateful for the work your friends are doing for you. That means thanking them and giving them thoughtful thank you gifts. Also, if you see any bridesmaid is too overwhelmed, lighten their load or take them out for the day so you can both take a much-needed breather.

Help be a hostess to guests

This doesn’t mean financially contribute to the wedding. Rather, it means bridesmaids should be ready with a smile to help guests find the restroom or their seat, or answer questions about when dinner is – things like that.

Tackle issues

Does Aunt Nancy need to get her outfit approved? Offer to be the liaison so the bride doesn’t have to do it. Did the bride forget her “six pence for her shoe?” Offer to go pick it up. There are a million and one things that could come up, but if you can take it off the bride’s shoulders, try to do so. However, if you find yourself too overwhelmed, let the next bridesmaid handle the task.

Help plan a bachelorette party (and pay for your way if you go)

Listen to what the bride wants here, and help plan the fun event. Keep the costs as low as possible so that more people can afford to go. However, if the costs become too much, you do have the option not to go (more on that later).

Feed and “water the bride”

One of my bridesmaids came up with this term, and it made me laugh every time she said it. With everything going on during the big day, the bride will likely not get enough food and water. As you would with a sick child, give her something small to eat and drink periodically to make sure she doesn’t faint!  For our wedding, there was a plate of appetizers waiting for me after the ceremony.  That was such a welcome surprise!

Follow the bride’s instructions day-of

Hold the bouquet. Sign the marriage certificate. Help with the train of the gown. Go get Aunt Nancy for the family picture. Help set the tables.  Etcetera, etcetera.

To the brides, make sure your requests are within reason. For example, a current trend I’ve seen emerging is taking boudoir shots of not just the bride but of all the bridesmaids too. Whether or not to pose for such shoots is a very personal decision. Don’t ask your bridesmaids to do this unless you know they are all comfortable with it and want to do it. If any aren’t comfortable, come up with another idea that works for all involved.

Pay for own travel and accommodations

Yeah, sorry, but it’s true. If you agreed to be a bridesmaid for a wedding in Hawaii, you do need to pay for your travel over there and your hotel room and any food costs (just like you’d do on a normal vacation). Keep this in mind when making the decision to be a bridesmaid for a destination wedding.

Pose for the wedding photos

Your picture will be taken during the whole day. Make sure to be ready for the photographer when requested, and plan your prep time around that.

What Is NOT Required Of You

You do not need to be the one to throw the bridal shower.

Contrary to what you may have heard, the bridesmaids are not supposed to throw the bridesmaid a bridal shower. This was something I only learned during my time as a bride. Tradition gives the bridesmaids a break here (you have enough to pay for). Instead, this is traditionally done by friends/non-immediate family members of the bride or mother-of-the-bride. The bride and her parents and siblings are also not the ones that should be throwing this party so as not to appear to be fishing for more gifts. Plus, they often are helping pay for the wedding itself! That being said, if there is no one else to plan the party or if the bridesmaids as a whole want to throw the party, they can. Just make sure everyone is on the same page, and keep the price low.

You do not need to shell out money you don’t have.

At the time I was a bridesmaid, I had some major costs coming up in my life, and I found it very difficult to keep up with the costly requests of not only the bride but of my fellow bridesmaids who wanted to go all out. I ended up having to back out of some events (not the wedding itself, of course), and I was belittled for it. Remember that you are all supposed to be friends, so brides need to be supportive of you as a bridesmaid just as you need to be supportive of her as a bride. If you can’t do something financially, don’t.  Someone else’s wedding isn’t worth you going broke over.

To the Brides: your life may revolve around the wedding, but your bridesmaids’ lives don’t. In this day and age, it’s hard to get a good paying job and even harder to support yourself and a family financially. Be mindful of this fact. Bridesmaids simply cannot shell out too much on you. If you ask too much of them and aren’t understanding if they can’t handle something financially, you will lose them as friends.  So, preserve the friendship and have an open conversation with your friends to see what they can do financially. Or, just keep everything as low as possible! And, if someone can’t do everything you wish they could, be respectful of that. Weddings cost a lot, and so do the pre-wedding functions such as the bachelorette parties. Those are becoming quite extravagant, and your bridesmaids may not be able to afford it (time-wise or financially). Be understanding and respectful if they have to bow out, and make sure they realize that they don’t have to go if they feel it’s too hard on them to do so. They are your friends after all. They would love to be there, but you don’t want them to feel bad if they simply can’t.

You do not need to attend every single wedding-related function.

Yes, it’s best if you do, but if you can’t because of work or money or prior commitments (or sanity!), it’s okay to politely decline an event (that includes the bridal shower and the bachelorette party). Some weddings have tons of pre-wedding parties, and it can become too much. If it does, politely bow out, and brides, let them.

You do not need to take it all with a smile.

Now, things could very easily get heated since it’s a high-stress time, but if the bride or another bridesmaid is being continuously rude or over-stepping their boundaries, you can say something. That being said, pick and choose your battles, and be as gentle as possible when it becomes absolutely necessary to bring up the issue. This needs to be a conversation, not an attack. You’re all stuck together until the wedding day, so be as kind as possible and diffuse any tension that starts to build.

You do not need to buy the bride a gift.

You’re doing a lot already, so a gift is not required. However, if you feel bad showing up empty handed, go in on a gift as a group or make something for the bride. Or, if your family is also friends with the bride, you can go in on a group family gift.

And, when all is done with the wedding, treat yourself to a spa day or a nice dinner or that cute dress you’ve been eyeing – or simply a relaxing, and quiet evening at home.  Pamper yourself!  You deserve it!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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