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I am not known around the office as one who tears up often (we leave that to Marissa and Jess), but as Lisa and I were sending drafts of our Mother of the Bride Guide e-book back and forth, I found myself blinking back tears over and over.

The page where we shared 20 of our favorite ways mamas can create wedding season memories with their daughters was a reliable culprit. Blame it on my own baby girl turning one around the time we were editing our guide, or just that the thought of someday doing any one of these things with my precious girl is enough to overwhelm me, but there is undeniably something so bittersweet about the mother-daughter bond.

Wedding planning and the transition to a new chapter of life brings all of those emotions to a head. But friends, don’t be afraid of them! Embrace them for what they are, and let the tears flow as necessary.

In honor of Mother’s Day, here are twenty of our favorite ways for mamas and daughters to create memories during her engagement, whether you live under the same roof or across the country from each other. For more, be sure to pick up your copy of our Mother of the Bride Guide!

My Mom helping me into my wedding gown (photo by Tanja Lippert)

1. Throw the happy couple an engagement party.
2. Write her a sweet, heartfelt letter soon after her engagement to express your joy
and excitement.
3. Turn some of the tougher tasks into fun activities. How about “brunch and the budget
or “seating chart sangria”?
4. Invite her to peruse your jewelry collection for a “something old” or “something borrowed.”
5. Let her try on your wedding dress and/or veil.
6. Flip through your wedding album together and show her anything you may have saved
from your own engagement.
7. Shop for your dresses together.
8. Gift her a family heirloom at her bridal shower.
9. Spend an afternoon teaching her favorite family dishes, and then give her the recipes
(maybe with a special new recipe box or binder—we love the pretty options from Rifle Paper Co., Belle & Union, and Emily Ley!).
10. Go to a pre-wedding workout class together (bonus points for something neither of you
has tried before!).
11. Pray with her about her marriage.
12. Treat her and her fiancé to brunch or dinner, no wedding talk allowed.
13. Scour antique stores and flea markets for unique details together (candlesticks, vintage
china, embroidered handkerchiefs, etc.).
14. Unwind with a mother-daughter spa day or mani-pedi.
15. Watch old home movies while crafting wedding day details or favors.
16. Buy a bottle of the wine that will be served at the wedding to taste-test together.
17. Join her at dress fittings (and try to hold in the tears!).
18. Walk through her venue with her and listen to what she’s dreaming of for each nook
and cranny.
19. Take a class together to learn a new skill (calligraphy, flower crown making, etc.) that you
can put to good use for the wedding.
20. Tag along to help during her bridal portrait session.

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Michele Butler reply

    Love these suggestions! Very well thought out.

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Y’all know we love us some wedding photography around these parts. We’re passionate about sharing beautiful images because we know that these photographs are the witness to the beginning of your life together, and that they will become some of the most treasured possessions you’ll ever own, something to be shared with your children and your grandchildren and their children. Y’all, that is something special!

You put so much time and thought into choosing the perfect photographer; it only makes sense that you’d want to have the best working relationship with him or her possible. Today, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite tips and suggestions to help you do just that.

1. Consider an engagement session. A pre-wedding session will help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera (I know this was definitely true for my husband!). And, it will prepare your photographer for your wedding day by allowing her to see how you two interact, and get a feel for your best features.

2. Plan your morning carefully. I am a huge proponent of this tip. Choose a room with abundant natural light to get ready in. If possible, choose a room with neutral colors, and try to keep things neat and tidy throughout the morning. This will help your photos stay cohesive and clean-looking. If details are important to you, have everything you’d like photographed laid out and waiting for your photographer — a full invitation set, special jewelry, a vintage handkerchief, etc. See more of our wedding morning tips!

Photo by Ryan Ray (planning by Jacin Fitzgerald) from Katie and Ryan’s wedding

3. Share your morning. This is a tip from our friend Caroline: “Specifically invite your closest loved ones to be with you when you’re getting ready for your wedding. And encourage them to get totally ready beforehand, because most people like photos of themselves more when they look their best. It could be your mom, dad, a special relative, or simply your closest friends, but I love the idea of intentionally making them feel special by sharing those moments with them.” This is a wonderful way to create an opportunity for those spontaneous, sweet, intimate moments to happen — the ones we want captured on our wedding day, but can’t really plan for.

4. Create a generous timeline. I spoke about this a bit here, but if photographs are important to you, build in as much time as possible for them. Generally speaking, the more time your photographer has with you, the better the photos she/he will be able to produce. If you’re not sure how much time you’ll need for portraits, check with your photographer.

Photo by Amy Arrington (planning by Invision Events) from Sarah Beth and Matt’s wedding

5. Consider doing a first look. I completely respect those who want to see their significant other for the first time at the end of the aisle, but if you and your fiance are ambivalent, I’d definitely consider doing a first look. That way, you can take care of the majority, if not all, of the formal family groupings pre-ceremony, leaving extra time for bride and groom portraits or to attend cocktail hour post-ceremony.

6. Do not create a ridiculous shot list. Please, for the love of sweet tea, do not create a shot list with specific poses or moments. (You know the ones I’m talking about: they include things like “Dad whispering last minute advice to groom” and “bride’s parents whispering to each other during dinner.”) Remember why you hired your photographer, trust him, and give him room to let his creativity shine. Asking him to recreate something he or someone else has already done before will not give him the time or space to create something amazing for your special day. Instead, try showing your photographer some of your favorites from his portfolio, which will help him understand the work you’re attracted to.

Photo by Sawyer Baird (planning by Jacin Fitzgerald) from With This Ring

7. DO create a formal shot list. On the other hand, it’s important to think carefully about the formal groupings that you’d like captured either pre- or post-ceremony. Try to keep the list to ten or fewer combinations (i.e. bride and groom with bride’s parents, bride and groom with all siblings) to avoid impatience and stress. When you give the list to your photographer, be sure to include names — this will help her direct the portrait session smoothly and kindly!

8. Communicate with the VIPs. Once you’ve got that great shot list, be sure to share it with all the people involved. Email them a copy in advance, print out more copies for the day of – whatever it takes! Make sure they know where to be, when to be there, and what they should be wearing so you’re not scrambling after everyone on the big day. Even still, it’s great to assign one (kind but firm!) member of the family to be the official wrangler – maybe an aunt or older cousin. That way, someone who knows each person by name is helping to round up the group, meaning neither you nor your photographer (who doesn’t know who anyone is anyway!) is scrambling.

Photo by Ali Harper (planning by Blue Eyed Yonder) from Fine Feathered Fete

9. Plan for capturing the details. In addition to gorgeous portraits, many of y’all want your photographers to capture the details you’ve worked so hard on. This requires communication, too! If possible, work with your planner/venue/special helpers to set up the reception space as early as possible, so that your photographer can snap the details either pre-ceremony or during cocktail hour, before guests have entered the space and ideally while there’s still natural light outside.

10. Ask questions. Our last tip for working with your photographer? Ask them! “Is there anything I can do to help you do your job better?” Photographers, like all wedding vendors, try their hardest to be flexible, and they’ll do the best they can under whatever circumstances they find themselves in. But, if you do what you can to provide the optimal environment, they’ll probably produce their optimal results. And THAT is what we call a win-win :)

Photo by Heather Hawkins (planning by Mayhar Designs) from Maegan and Jared’s wedding

What do you think, ladies? Anything you’d add to our list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Jacin Fitzgerald, Amy Arrington, and Invision Events are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
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Some of you might be wondering why we’re even writing a post about whether you need to feed your wedding vendors, because the answer seems so obvious, while others of y’all are eager to hear the answer. And that’s part of the fun (and sometimes frustrating!) thing about wedding planning: you’ve never done it before, so almost every to do is uncharted territory. We’re here to help, with one of our main goals being to give you both the practical and the pretty as you plan your joyful, meaningful wedding day.

Photo by Whitney Neal with styling by Jaclyn Journey from Volume 8

But back to the question at hand! The short answer is yes, you need to feed your wedding vendors. A Southern bride is a gracious hostess to her carefully-chosen vendors as well as her invited guests, and in addition to being the right thing to do, it pays dividends! Here’s what you need to know:

Who should you feed? Any vendor who is “on” during your reception should be fed. You don’t need to worry about feeding a back-of-house vendor like your florist, who is setting up before your reception begins, because she’ll have the flexibility to set her own schedule and breaks. Generally, your planner, photographer, videographer, DJ or band members, and any assistants for any of these folks, will need to be fed.

Why should we be responsible for feeding them? Well, since they’ll typically be on the clock for 5-12 hours, they’ll need to eat to keep body and soul together somehow. A hot meal will give them way more energy to keep doing their best work than something they packed that morning, and you definitely don’t want them driving off-site (and missing important moments!) to find hot food. Most vendors will carry protein bars or something similar for emergencies, but you don’t want them to rely on those alone.

What should we feed them? Check each vendor’s contract, because some will specify what they need to be fed. If they don’t, many caterers offer “vendor meals” at a lower price point than what they’re charging for your guests. Ask what this consists of, because it can range from a boxed sandwich and chips to the exact same menu you’re eating. Again, it’s such a nice treat for your vendors to have a warm, yummy meal, so if at all possible, try to work that out with your caterer. If you’re having a buffet, sending your vendors through the line like everyone else is a great option.

Where should they eat? The best place for them to eat is an unobtrusive place that’s close to the action – maybe a table at the edge of the room, or a table just inside the catering tent, if it’s near the main event. You want them to be close enough so that they can spring into action, should it be required! Impromptu toast that needs to be photographed, anyone? :)

When should they eat? Generally, the best time for your vendors to eat is when you and your guests are eating. No one wants to be photographed while chewing, after all! Be sure to ask your vendors if they have a preference, or show them your proposed timeline and see if your suggested meal time works with how they like to do things. They have worked tons of weddings and will know what works best! See our tips for making a wedding day timeline.

Making sure your beloved vendors are well-fed will not only show your appreciation for their hard work, but will give them the fuel they need to finish out the night strong – a win-win for everyone! And if you have extra cake, a slice of that never hurts, either :)

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Cebu wedding photographer reply

    For me, the vendors should be fed. Its a common sense. It would definitely get the couple an extra mile.

  2. avatar Stephanie reply

    Thank you so much for a well written article As a wedding photographer for several years this time sometimes seems to be a point that brides don’t really understand. Thank you for making it So clear!

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