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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Necklace or No Necklace?

When planning our wedding, I remember being torn as to what necklace to wear.  At the time, it had never crossed my mind not to wear one.  So, I bought several possibilities, put on the dress, and tried one after another after another.  As excited as I was to have an excuse to buy sparkly jewelry, I wasn’t loving any of the necklaces with the dress.  Each and every option ended up going back to the store.

A little while later, I sat with my bridesmaid and wedding planner, Hayley.  I told her about the necklaces and how none had worked.  I asked her what she thought.

“I don’t think you should wear a necklace at all,” she laughed.  “With your beautiful dress, a bare neck will look a lot more elegant.”  Wow.  It was like a light bulb turning on.  I had the option not to wear a necklace.  I fought it for quite awhile after that, but in the end, she was absolutely right. A bare neck was a lot more elegant.

Of course, my choice won’t be the best for everyone, so let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Necklaces are pretty and can really dress up a plain gown.
  • It’s a way to bring in personality, whether that’s by bringing in some sparkle or by introducing a new, bold color.
  • It can easily be your something new or borrowed or even blue.
  • It can cover up any scars or beauty marks on your neck

Cons

  • It can detract from the gown.
  • It can shift and not lay right, which doesn’t look good in photos
  • It’s one more thing to buy or find.
  • It’s one more thing you may need to constantly adjust.

Here are some inspiration photos to help you make up your mind!

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http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

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Photography by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography


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Wedding Etiquette Breakdown

http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/Who knew there were so many rules when it came to weddings?  I never knew how many there really were until I was a bride myself.  It can be hard to keep track of for sure.  So, here’s a quick breakdown for you!

Announcing the Engagement

Make sure to call everyone close to you to notify them about the engagement prior to putting it on Facebook.  It’s very hurtful when a close friend or family member gets engaged and you find out on Facebook, not from the person directly (and I know from personal experience!).

Engagement Party Gifts

Simple answer: they are not required.

Rehearsal Dinners

This is up to the groom’s family to plan, host, and pay for.  Though the bride and groom can certainly give input, they should not help plan it as they have enough on their plate.  Likewise, guests with questions should go to the groom’s parents with them.  An invitation for the dinner is needed, but it can be as simple as an emailed notice of the event – just something so the guests know where to go and when.  Generally, the bridal party and their dates (along with the parents of the couple) are the guests to this event.

Invites & Save the Dateshttp://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

Save the Dates should be sent to people on your “A” list (i.e. people you really want to come), but not necessarily the full list (and do not send out more than your max capacity).  They should be sent out about 6 months prior and should include the wedding date and at least the city and state of the wedding.

Invites should be sent out to everyone on your “A” list (which should match your top number of guests) approximately 6-8 weeks before the wedding.  If it’s a destination wedding, feel free to send those out sooner.  It should include the date, the exact location, the time of the ceremony, and a way to RSVP.  This could be in the form of an RSVP card or a link to a website where they can learn more about the wedding and RSVP there.  And guests, RSVP as soon as you can.  Do not wait until the deadline, and above all, do not send it in late.

Brides and grooms, offering guests a “plus one” option is not mandatory, so you can choose if you wish to allow guests that option or not.  Weddings are certainly expensive enough without a plus one, so it’s fine if you choose not to offer it.  If you are okay adding some “plus ones,” but you want to put a limit on it, reserve those for guests who won’t know anyone else besides you.  Also, if you know someone can’t come, you should still send them an invite anyway (unless they’ve asked you not to).  Otherwise, they could feel offended.  It’s best to include a note with the invite that explains you know they can’t come but wanted them to have a copy of the invitation as a keepsake.

If the bride’s parents helped pay for the wedding, the wording should begin with both of the bride’s parents’ names followed by “request the honor of your presence at the wedding of their daughter” (or something similar) followed by the bride’s name and then the groom’s.  If the couple paid for the wedding on their own, the wording should begin with the bride and groom’s name followed by “request the honor of your presence at their wedding.”  If both sets of parents helped out financially, the wording should begin with the bride and groom’s named followed by “and their parents request the honor of your presence at their wedding.”  Of course, these are just guidelines, and they can definitely be altered to fit what you want to show on the invite!

Giftshttp://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

Gifts are typically given for bridal showers and the wedding itself.  How much to spend really depends on the guest’s budget, and they may choose to make something versus buy if that’s easier.  Typically, guests tend to spend around $100 a gift on weddings, and they can spend around $50 on shower gifts, but again, this is entirely up to the guest and what they are comfortable with.  It is best to stick to the wedding registry when choosing gifts, but a sentimental or handmade gift is also appreciated.

Brides should send out thank you notes as soon as possible, but the general rule is that they have one month to send out thank you notes from the time the gift was received.  In the note, it’s a good idea to mention what the gift was (i.e. “We love the gravy boat!”) so it’s personalized.  Also, it’s good to have them handwritten (I know, I wasn’t a fan of this one either because my handwriting is horrible) and both the bride and groom should sign it.

Guests, if you are writing a check to the couple, make sure to check if they have a joint account.  If they don’t, and you write the check out to both of them, they’ll have to go down to the bank and open a joint before they can cash or deposit it.  When in doubt, put the check in one name only.

Brides, you may get the majority of the gifts, but you still have some to give.  Brides give gifts to their parents, their bridesmaids, the groom, and anyone else who really helped out.  Grooms do the same on their side.

The Dress

A virgin wears white right?  Wrong.  I’m not sure how the old tradition got switched from wearing a veil to wearing white, but for some reason, most now believe the sign of purity is wearing all white.  Fashions have changed though.  Now, wearing a non-white dress is becoming more and more popular since not everyone looks their best in white – and those color dresses can be absolutely stunning!  Sometimes, a veil doesn’t go with the bride’s overall look.  Sometimes, the dress isn’t white.  And that’s absolutely fine.  As the bride, you should wear what makes you feel beautiful.  So, guests, make sure you never comment negatively about the fact that the bride chose a color other than white or decided not to wear a veil.  Nowadays, it really has nothing to do with “purity” just with beauty.

http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/Bar

Alcohol can be a wild card to throw into the mix, so always make sure to discuss with your partner as to what you’d like to do.  The typical options are to have no alcohol at all, just wine and champagne, or a full bar.  If having no alcohol, make sure that is noted on the invite, or better yet, on the wedding website.  Some guests may choose not to come if alcohol is not served.  If you’re just having wine and champagne, you can limit how much guests drink by having your caterers provide one glass to each guest.  You don’t have to note this on the invite or wedding website, but you certainly can.  If having a full bar, it’s generally expected that it will be an open bar (i.e. free), and that guests can come back as many times as they want.  For any alcohol, you will need to talk to your venue about a liquor license (this is generally passed onto the bride and groom to pay for). Oh, and guests, do remember there are photographers there taking pictures!

Guest Attire

The look and feel of the invitation generally lets people know the style of the wedding, and thus what is appropriate to wear.  It may not specifically state the attire, but if it’s an evening ballroom wedding, you can expect to dress up a bit fancier.  On the other hand, an outdoor garden wedding would be a perfect place to wear a nice sundress.  Of course, there are some rules that guests should abide by.  Read more about which rules matter on a past blog post, Wedding Guest Attire Rules: Brides Tell Us What Rules They Do and Don’t Care About.  It’s always nice to let guests know the attire on the wedding website if you can though.  This is especially true if it’s a themed wedding or if you have a very specific style you’d like guests to match.

Behavior

You’d think it goes without saying that you should always be on your best behavior at a wedding (regardless of your role), but sadly, some people do need reminding (check YouTube for examples).  That’s not to say you can’t let loose and have some fun, though!  Just know when to sit quietly and when to party.

As far as taking pictures during the ceremony goes, take your cue from the couple.  If there are no signs saying you can’t, and the officiant doesn’t request that phones and cameras are put away, then you can take pictures.  Just make sure flash is off and don’t reach your camera over your head or in the aisle to get the shot – you may just block the professional photographer!

Bridesmaid Duties and Who Hosts the Bridal Showerhttp://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

To learn more about bridesmaid duties, visit our past post here: Bridesmaid Protocol: What to Expect As a Bridesmaid, and What Brides Should Know.

Who Pays for What

Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner, the marriage license, the officiant fees, the bride’s bouquet, the boutonnieres and the corsages, and even sometimes the honeymoon.  The bridesmaids handle their own attire, as do the groomsmen, and the couple pays for the rings.  So that means, the bride and her family would handle the rest (short end of the stick there, huh?).  That being said, things have changed, and brides and grooms are paying for a lot more than before.  That being said, if it’s your child, you should be pitching in some places, and not just the bare minimum.  If you can’t do that financially, then find ways to contribute your time to help take the pressure off the others.

Last names

Some women keep their maiden names.  Some hyphenate.  Some take their husband’s last name.  All are fine!!  It’s up to the bride as to what is best for her.

Social Media

Weddings are wonderful, but they are also incredibly stressful.  With stress comes tension and frustrations.  These are natural, but there is a time and a place to express that frustration – it’s not on social media.

Good luck!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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Bridal Outfits Besides “The” Dress

http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/Every woman knows about looking for the dress, but there are several other outfits that the bride needs apart from that.  Now, these could be outfits you already have, or it could be a fun excuse to go shopping!

Bridal Shower

If you’re having a bridal shower, you’ll need a dress (and more than one if you’re having multiple showers!).  Wear what you feel good in, but don’t over-dress.  This is the time for shorter dresses or maxi dresses, not ball gowns.

Bachelorette

It really depends on your plans as to what is appropriate here.  It could be a club dress or even pjs!

Traveling to Venue

This can be jeans and a “bride” t-shirt or a button up blouse.  Just note that you need to be able to get the shirt off over your just-done-at-the-salon hair.  So, a button-up or a large neck is the way to go.

Getting Ready

Generally, this includes a robe and your undergarments so you don’t mess up your hair and make-up going from that to the dress.

Reception

This outfit is optional, but some women would like to get married in a ball gown, but party the night away in a slimmer dress. If that sounds like what you’d like to do, a reception dress is needed.  It’s usually also white (or ivory) but easier to move in.  Sometimes it’s shorter or a sheath fit, but it’s up to the bride.

Going Away

This too is optional.  If you can travel in your wedding dress to the hotel, then go for it!  If you’d like to change, a going away outfit will be needed.

Night of

As someone who opened a shower gift containing a negligee in front of all of her female family members and friends (and proceeded to turn bright red when I held it up trying to figure out what it was – I was the last to figure it out), I can tell you from experience that it’s generally assumed that the bride will wear nicer pajamas the night of her wedding.  That means a nice nightgown or negligee or sexy lingerie.  What you wear (and are comfortable with) is entirely up to you.

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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Wedding Fails

shootanyangle.com/weddings/When I was planning our wedding, I had one stress-reliever I could always to – I read articles and watched YouTube videos about wedding day fails.  I admit, this is an odd stress-reliever.  Here I am working my butt off to make sure that everything goes perfectly, and yet I’m watching videos of weddings gone horribly wrong.  Still, in some weird way, it calmed me down.  It made me laugh even when I was cringing, and it also made me happy to know that these disasters couldn’t happen to me.  After all, I wasn’t getting married on the edge of a pool.  And we didn’t have a tent with a center support poll and none of our guests were amateur poll dancers.  And we definitely were not going to have a horse-drawn carriage.  And our wedding cake wasn’t multi-tiered.  See what I mean?  Though cringe-worthy, these videos are also hilarious – of course, it’s much more likely to be funny when it isn’t happening to you!

Here are some real wedding “fails” from our readers.  Luckily, even though these events weren’t the best thing to have happen, they also weren’t all that bad in hindsight.  The motto of the story?  Even if everything doesn’t go absolutely prefect according to plan, the wedding will still be great!  After all, none of these things will stop you from marrying the love of your life!

“I was at a wedding where they had shrimp as an appetizer.  I was running around a lot, so shrimp was an easy thing to eat on the go.  Well, I didn’t think about the fact that it had been out all day.  It gave us all food poisoning!”

As someone who has had food poisoning before, I feel for this guest.  It’s a good lesson for all brides though: Be aware of how long your food can stay out and how long it has stayed out.

“My maid of honor didn’t get off work until super late the night before [my destination wedding] and then she needed step by step directions to get to town.  I was up all night the night before my wedding to get her there.”

This poor bride got no sleep before her big day, which is exactly when she needed it the most.  Bridesmaids, make sure to let your brides get some much needed rest during crucial times.  There’s always someone else to contact.

“Our wedding planner said that the weekend before us, a bridesmaid fainted just before the ceremony. Gotta keep hydrated in the tropical locations!”

Yes, you do!  Even if you aren’t in a tropical location, make sure to stay hydrated.  We don’t think about it much, but dehydration is the quickest way to have people drop like flies!

“My sister was getting married in her yard in Alamo. The chairs were setup in a row on the grass, the caterers had come in and set up a cocktail table for before the ceremony, along with the beautiful wedding cake table. It was a beautiful sunny, warm day under the umbrella a huge oak trees. As my sister and her husband were exchanging vows, I looked over at the cake table, seeing something in the corner of my eye, and found it was ‘Buddy,’ their black cat, licking the frosting off the wedding cake……. it was hysterical!!”

Even cats like cake!  If you are having a wedding close to animals, make sure they are put away in a back room with a water and food bowl.  Or at least keep the food out of range in the case of a dog.

“My mother-in-law called her friends and, knowing very well we hadn’t been able to invite them, told them all they were invited.  Then she called us, told us exactly what she did, and said ‘Now if you don’t want them there, YOU have to tell them!'”

Cringe!  This one particularly is like nails on a chalkboard.  Parents, this is your child’s big day.  Sure, you can ask that certain people are invited, but the final decision is up to the bride and groom.  Please don’t become an example of a “dreaded in-law!”

“When one of my husband’s cousins got married, a different cousin got so hammered that she tore a cabinet door off in the bathroom.”

Haha!  This would have been pretty funny to witness, but it also probably fell to the bride and groom to pay for.  As a guest, you are certainly welcome to have fun – but in moderation.  And if you ever cause damage to any property, you should pay for it.

“Our bathrooms broke down at our reception hall.”

Yikes!  Luckily, in this case, there were other bathrooms on the property that were accessible, albeit a bit of a walk away.  Though I never would have thought of it for my own wedding, it’s probably not a bad idea to ask your vendor where the second closest bathrooms are in case the closest ones become unusable.

“At one wedding, a bridesmaid got really drunk and tried to do a table dance.  All she succeeded in doing was shattering champagne glasses.”

Many times, the biggest setbacks come from drunk guests, so being able to control the alcohol intake (one glass per person or asking the bartender to cut people off) is a good idea.  And again, if you were the drunk guest, you’re paying the bride and groom back for those glasses that they inevitably got a bill for.

“The food came in catering tin containers and were supposed to be in stainless steel platters with lids and burners underneath to keep them warm.”

A warm dinner is definitely ideal, so it’s a shame that the caterers messed this up.  Though there is not much you can do at the venue if this situation arises, do ask your caterer for a portion of your money back or a coupon for future services to make up for their mishap.

‘[When sending out my invites] I had terrible luck with the mail.  Three invites and two RSVP cards were sent back ripped.  Then, a contract…”

We luckily only had this happen to one of our invites, but I still cringe to think of this poor bride’s position.  What are they doing at that post office?  Are rabid dogs working there?  In this case, the bride did talk to the post office with no luck, but that is a good first step.  Another option is using a different location.  And don’t worry, guests understand it was the post office, not you.

“[I was at a wedding where] when toasts were being given, some guy drunkenly got the mic and slurred something about a goat, and ‘Let’s give it up for Dave!’  To this day, none of us know who ‘Dave’ is.”

I love this one.  The lesson here is keep the mic guarded.  Ask the DJ to stay with it, or have groomsmen keep an eye on it.  Otherwise, it becomes a loud speaker for someone who has had too much to drink.

Have any other wedding fails, big or small?  Let us know, and we’ll add them here!

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Photography by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography


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The Wedding Night

ShootAnyAngle.com/weddings/Everytime I think about this topic, I just think of that “let’s talk about sex” song.  It can definitely be an uneasy topic.  Of course, the one thing everyone assumes will happen the night of the wedding is a consummation of the vows, aka sex.  Oddly enough though, that’s often what doesn’t happen.

A good friend of ours says it best as he tells the story of his wedding night: “I carried her across the threshold and into the bedroom.  I carefully unzipped her dress and slid it off her body…. And then we went to sleep.”  The truth of the matter is that you’re often exhausted that night.  It’s the culmination of a year or so of planning and stress, a full day of being styled and prepped and dressed to the nines, smiling and visiting with others, dancing the night away, barely eating, and a whole lot of emotion!  You’ll be lucky to even make it to the hotel room let alone have energy for amorous activities.  That being said, you definitely can manage to do it all, but it might take an extra cup of coffee!

After our wedding and at the hotel, my husband quickly broke out the take home containers that held our second dinner as I pulled the bobby pins out of my hair, counting each one as I did (32 – surprisingly, it fell short of my record of 52).  We quickly realized that we were missing something – utensils!!  My husband, ever the MacGyver, took out his pocket knife and two empty water bottles and cut off the tops to make two scoopers that we could shovel the food into our mouths with.  It was so much fun!  I love that we forgot utensils so we would have that fun memory forever.  We then proceeded to watch the end of The Time Machine. Yes, the part with the creepy underground dwellers and Jeremy Irons looking absolutely terrifying.  Still, in an odd way, it was relaxing to just watch a movie and know our wedding planning stress was all behind us.

Even if you do plan to do, uh, something, I recommend at least taking a breather first, but it’s not critical for it to be that night either.  Whatever you both choose to do that night is fine as long as it’s about the two of you, together, starting your marriage.  Just don’t be too disappointed if those plans change at the last minute.  After all, you two have the rest of your lives for that.  😉


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Alternatives to Wild Bachelor(ette) Parties

http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/The first word that comes to my mind when I hear about a bachelor or bachelorette party is “debauchery.”  And that scares me. My interests are far from anything close to that word.  In college while everyone else was out drinking, I was in my dorm room writing.  Yes, I was a weird college student, but I never drank, and the party scene didn’t interest me then and it still doesn’t now.  Still, in this society, if we are going to a bachelor or bachelorette party, we’re expected to understand that it will be a wild night that we should partake in.  I couldn’t disagree with this social norm more!  The idea behind these “stag” parties was to have one more wild night before you’re “locked in.”  This has never made sense to me.  To me, a night of debauchery sounds like someone trying to escape their life, but an upcoming wedding means the person is about to start a life with the one he/she loves.  That’s not being trapped or locked in.  That’s incredibly exciting!  For me, I had no desire to have “one last wild night.”  Any fun times I had I wanted to share with my fiancé, now husband.

James & Angela's Bachelor(ette) Disneyland Trip

James & Angela’s Bachelor(ette) Disneyland Trip (Angela is in the black and white dress, James is on the far right).  Photo taken by a kind passerby!

So, what did we do for our bachelor and bachelorette parties?  We had a joint party in Disneyland with our friends!  It was an absolute blast too.  We went for Dapper Day, and we all dressed the part.  It was such a great trip, and we were surrounded by friends who also preferred this idea as opposed to a wild night.  Our trip was so much fun that it was even featured on MiceChat!

Let’s look at non-debauchery options that will make your bachelor or bachelorette party truly fun!

A fancy night out

How about a nice dinner followed by the theatre?  Or going out dancing?  Dress to the nine’s and have a classy evening out with friends!

Head to Laser Tag!

Try a day of fun activities: mini golf, laser tag, bowling, go-cart racing, a drive-in movie theatre…  Find something fun you’ve always wanted to do and go for it!  I once attended a Laser Tag bachelorette party complete with dinner and dessert at a nearby restaurant, and it was a complete blast (literally)!

Go to a theme park

Disneyland anyone?  Yes, please!

Have a relaxing spa day

Grab your girlfriends and head to the spa.  Wedding planning is a stressful time anyway, so what better time to have a day of relaxation?

Go camping

If you’re into the outdoors, a camping trip is a great way to celebrate a bachelor/bachelorette party.  Plus, it’s an inexpensive way to have a full weekend trip away.  Make sure to bring plenty of s’mores makings!

Have a craft day

Enjoy crafts?  Make a day of it!  You can even work on wedding day crafts if you want to.

Go to afternoon tea

I love the idea of a girly tea for a bachelorette party.  Make sure to dress up!

Go paint-balling

Bachelor and bachelorette parties can still get a little wild without debauchery.  Plus, it’s a great way to let loose!

Have a slumber party

Yes, a good ole-fashioned slumber party complete with pjs, ice cream sundaes, and The Breakfast Club.

Does your wedding coincide with an event?  Use that!

Comi-Con?  Go as a group!  Halloween?  Go to the cornfield maze!

Go to the beach!

A day is the beach is always fun.  Have a big group barbecue or bonfire!

As long as it’s a day that will be fun for you and your guests, that’s all that matters!

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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).

 

shootanyangle.com/weddings/

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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And, make sure to check out our latest feature with Wedding Chicks & Coca-Cola!


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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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Wedding Day “Hacks”

There are lots of small things to think about on the big day, and those often slip through the cracks while you’re busy dealing with flowers and caterers.  Here are some simple hacks to help deal with those little things you may have forgotten!

1.  Tuck a handkerchief in the back of your bouquet.  

This way, you’ll have something to dab your eyes with when you inevitably get emotional because you’re so happy to be marrying the love of your life.  If you tuck it in, it will blend with the rest of the flowers.

2.  Stash a bag under your table at dinner.

By that time, you may be needing some touch-ups.  You can keep make-up in there, bandaids in case those cute shoes start to hurt, oil blotting papers for your face, hair pins, etc.

3.  Bring an “emergency” kit.

I never go to a wedding without one, even if I’m the photographer or just a guest.  My kit always includes a sewing kit (with thread colors that match the outfits of the bridesmaids, groom, groomsmen, and bride), floss (both for getting food out of your teeth and for extra strong thread in case of a big sewing emergency), oil blotting papers, deodorant, hair spray, lint roller, static cling spray, and mints.  I use the travel section of Target to re-stock it.  For the most part, you can keep this in the “getting ready” room or in the car in case it’s needed.

4.  Use an Anti-Chafing Stick between your thighs and/or wear Spanx.

You are going to be sweating under that dress (ah the joys of Polyester!), so make sure your thighs can’t chafe.  It puts a damper on things when each step is painful.

5.  Choose a garter that can’t ride or roll up.

If the garter can roll up and scratch your thighs, it will create the same problem as above.  Make sure to choose wisely.

6.  Get a travel cup with a straw for getting ready.

Most of us don’t want to eat or drink before the wedding for various reasons, but if you get dehydrated, that can lead to serious problems.  One of my bridesmaids assigned herself the job of “watering the bride.”  So, she made me a cute travel mason jar mug that said “Bride” on it, and filled it with water.  Even if you don’t want to, push yourself to take little sips periodically to ensure you’re hydrated.  Using a straw will help keep your lipstick intact.

7.  Eat smart the day before.

We all want to eat lavishly at our rehearsal dinner, but if you eat something too rich, you could be sick the next day.  This is especially true of anyone who is lactose intolerant or has IBS.  Thus, you have to be smart about what you eat the day before.  Make sure it’s not too fatty or particularly large.  If you’ve had problems with a certain kind of food, avoid that at all costs the day before and the day of your wedding.

8.  Assign a bridesmaid to grab you an appetizer plate for in between photographs.

You probably won’t eat a lot prior to the wedding, so having a plate of appetizers to eat in between taking photographs is wonderful.  Just make sure she checks your teeth before you jump back in for another photograph!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

9.  Pack an “after the wedding” to-go dinner.

Most brides and grooms find they can’t eat much at the reception (tight dress, talking with guests, nerves, etc), so you may find yourself starving later that night.  Ask for a to-go dinner that you two can enjoy later that night.  We did this for after our wedding, and food has never tasted as good as it did then!

10.  “Contact anyone on the day of the wedding, except the bride!”

The day of your wedding, you should not be having to answer any calls.  So, create a contact list for your wedding party with the names and phone numbers of who they should contact for specific issues.  Make sure to include your vendor contacts as well.

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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