creating a wedding registry: part 1

I’m so grateful we got to create a wedding registry and even more grateful for friends and family who blessed us with thoughtful, beautiful and useful gifts. From my favorite cake stand to our practical microwave splatter shield, I love knowing people who care for us helped us establish our home.

 Just after we said "I do!"  Photo by  Sarah DeShaw

Just after we said "I do!" 
Photo by Sarah DeShaw

Planning a wedding can be challenging, throw in selecting items that have the possibility to be part of your home forever, and it can be downright overwhelming. When we were engaged, I kept coming back to the memory of when my mom gave me a hand mixer in college. It was one of three she received as a wedding gift in the 70's and it was unopened. That's a long time for a mixer to be hanging around, so I was feeling the pressure to make some really good registry selections!

Now that we're a couple years into marriage, I love my hand mixer, but I'm comfortable knowing I may buy a new one someday and that is ok. Simply put, registering for wedding gifts is important and worth doing well, but it is not permanent or irreversible. It's not worth panicking or arguing over, however, if you do both, trust that you are not alone. 

Registering for gifts is not something you do every day, and while it can be fun, it's not as easy as it looks! Hopefully these tips will make it a touch easier for you.
Get your registry guns ready, friends, here are my best tips for registering from the heart!

1. If you don’t use an item (or even know what it is) before getting married, chances are you won’t use it after you're married.

It’s taken two and half years of marriage for me to start feeling comfortable in the kitchen—I still avoid touching raw meat, just for perspective. But, for some reason, I had the false impression that the bulk of a wedding registry should be focused on kitchen tools. So, I proceeded to fill our registry with kitchen items I suppose I thought some "magical marriage dust" would teach me how to use. With our combined kitchen experience adding up to very little, even trying to choose the items we wanted from the never-ending selection proved difficult.

Instead of walking into registering trying to meet some false expectation of what you think you need or "should" register for, take the time to talk about what is important to you in building a home and create your registry around that. Whether it’s cooking, entertaining, relaxing, being outside, hosting overnight guests, or a combination, let your values for your home guide the items on your registry.


Tip: A friend of mine told me that after creating their initial registry, she often edited it online, and I think this is so smart! Registering can be daunting, but the option to update and change things online helps take some of the pressure off because you can fine-tune your choices along the way.


 The first wedding gift we received was this beautiful cake stand. I found it in  Macy's  and "begged" Woody to register for it. Of course he said yes even if he didn't totally understand the value of a beautiful cake stand. He now loves eating homemade cookies that are often kept in it, and it is one of my favorite pieces in our home! Photo by  Rachel Coffey

The first wedding gift we received was this beautiful cake stand. I found it in Macy's and "begged" Woody to register for it. Of course he said yes even if he didn't totally understand the value of a beautiful cake stand. He now loves eating homemade cookies that are often kept in it, and it is one of my favorite pieces in our home!
Photo by Rachel Coffey

2. You don’t need to determine your “forever” home style before you get married.

As ridiculous as this seems to me now, part of me honestly thought we needed to determine our “forever” home style when registering. From linens to décor, I was focused on defining our style as a couple, but as an almost three-year-old wife, I see how unnecessary and unrealistic that effort was. I now appreciate how our style has developed in the first few years of marriage, and expect it to continue to develop throughout the course of our life together. 

If you’re feeling pressured to pick out the perfect “forever” items, let go. Pick what you love now and enjoy every bit of it. Then, as your life develops and grows, be open to transitioning pieces to a different use in your home. People give you wedding gifts to help you build a home as newlyweds, not for you to be committed to the same style your whole life long.


Tip: Many stores offer a registry completion discount. This allows you to buy remaining items on your registry at a discounted price after you're married. This is especially great if you want to complete sets of things like plates, mugs, towels, and sheets, or purchase more expensive items that you may not have received as wedding gifts.


 We chose  Restoration Hardware  to register for bed and bath linens because it was the place where we found our personal styles collided; we both loved this store. We have been so happy with the quality of everything we received from RH and enjoy these pieces so much! Photo by  Jacob Blount

We chose Restoration Hardware to register for bed and bath linens because it was the place where we found our personal styles collided; we both loved this store. We have been so happy with the quality of everything we received from RH and enjoy these pieces so much!
Photo by Jacob Blount

3. Keep it simple and intentional.

I found it easy to get carried away when registering; they put that little gun in my hand and it felt like I could have anything I wanted in the store! While you certainly could register for everything in the store, that does not help you create a purposeful home. Being intentional about the items you love and that help establish a home reflective of you as a couple is much more valuable than binge-registering for lots of stuff.

Gift-givers love the guidance registries provide, so it helps everyone when you are intentional with the registry you assemble. Depending on your circumstances and wedding timeline, you may get everything on your wedding registry or you may only get a portion of the things you’ve selected. Either way, if you register for items that have value and purpose for you as a couple, the more pleased you will be with the collection of gifts you receive. Ultimately, you want to have pieces that will help build your home, not just fill it.


Tip: You can register for gift cards! If you’re unsure of where you’ll be living when you get married, are planning to move, or just don’t know what all you will need yet, gift cards to your favorite places can be a great option. Some people will choose to give a gift card regardless, but registering for them lets people know they are something you specifically would like to receive. Then, you can use your gift cards in your first few months of marriage as you get settled in, along with that registry completion discount too!


Most of all, the best tip for registering from the heart is to keep it all in perspective. Registering is valuable, important, and fun, but at the end of the day, it is just about things and not nearly as important as the marriage you are building.

What questions or advice do you have about wedding registries?

it's our second anniversary!

I loved our wedding so much. So much that I was honestly concerned that our anniversary would make me miss it. I feel like on Instagram this is where I would follow with #sadbuttrue.

While I love looking back on our wedding, and do miss it from time to time, our anniversary is not just the "reminder" celebration of our wedding that I thought it might be, but it is truly a special celebration all its own. 

It's easy for a wedding to feel like the "main event," but the truth is, it is just the beginning of the real main event: the marriage.

 I love this first-married moment right after we walked back down the aisle as husband and wife. I feel like our excitement could just leap off the page!   Photo by Sarah DeShaw Photography

I love this first-married moment right after we walked back down the aisle as husband and wife. I feel like our excitement could just leap off the page!

Photo by Sarah DeShaw Photography

I am so proud and honored for each year (today marks two!) I have been able to spend as the wife to my dear husband. Every anniversary is a time to remember the vows we made and the fabulous event that kicked off our marriage, to be thankful for the years we've been given, and to renew our love and hope for the future years to come!

This year, we're celebrating our second anniversary at the most magical place on earth: Disney World!

In the spirit of our anniversary this month, soon I'll be sharing what I've learned in the first two years of marriage, as well as some thoughts on ways to celebrate an anniversary. But for now, I'm going to spend time with my sweet husband having new adventures! I hope you'll also begin this month by doing something fun and by giving a kiss to the one you love! 

Happy November from the Woodcocks!

Behind the lens: Kristyn Hogan Photography

I'm so excited for this next installment of my Behind the Lens series. It all began with sharing my own quest for a wedding photographer, and then I wondered what kind of insight could be found from the ones behind the lensthe photographers themselves! I asked some of my favorite photographers to share their perspective, and I have loved reading their heartwarming and insightful responses. Of course, the best part is getting to share it all with you!


Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you to the delightful and talented Kristyn Hogan!

I was first introduced to Kristyn's photography when I saw the wedding photos of a college acquaintance, and I've admired her work ever since. Keep scrolling, and you'll see why!

Based in Nashville, TN, Kristyn has a gift for capturing the "lovely" in a moment, a setting, a relationship, or an event. Her spirited approach to photography shines through her images and tells beautiful love stories.

I hope you'll enjoy seeing a few of my favorite Kristyn Hogan photos as well as hearing from the heart of Kristyn herself!

 Welcome to The LovingKind, Kristyn!

Welcome to The LovingKind, Kristyn!

 This is one of my favorite images! It displays the joy of good friendship, while still having such exquisite style it looks as though it could appear in Vogue!

This is one of my favorite images! It displays the joy of good friendship, while still having such exquisite style it looks as though it could appear in Vogue!

kristyn hogan_the lovingkind

tlk: How do you describe your photography style?

kh: Our logo says it all - "Spirited Fresh Timeless". Those are words we have used for years to inspire and refine our work. Every moment we capture, every story we tell, and every interaction we have with our couples, we want to stay true to those words and the feeling of what it means to be spirited, fresh and timeless. We want our photographs to evoke emotion and joy, and to capture the spirit of the moment and the people. We want our photographs to look and feel fresh, and to be handmade, real and honest. And ultimately, we want our photographs to be timeless. We want these moments to be moments our couples share with their children and with their grandchildren, and for the memories to stand the test of time and to be a documentation of life's most important moments. 

 That's giddy, bridal perfection right there!

That's giddy, bridal perfection right there!

kristyn hogan_the lovingkind
 See how she has a way of capturing a lovely moment while also telling such an authentic piece of a love story? I love this image of a mid-reception, stolen kiss!

See how she has a way of capturing a lovely moment while also telling such an authentic piece of a love story? I love this image of a mid-reception, stolen kiss!

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We want our photographs to look and feel fresh, and to be handmade, real and honest.


kristyn hogan_the lovingkind
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Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 4.00.25 PM.png

tlk: What is one of the most important things you recommend for brides and grooms to consider as they select their wedding photographer? 

kh: This may not be typical, but one of the most important things I think can be missed in looking at wedding photographers is versatility of their portfolio. Beautiful, posed photographs in natural light in an ideal location are not hard to come by these days. And while we all love those photographs, they only make up a tiny bit of what a wedding day actually is. A wedding day happens in the brightest sun, darkness of night, not always perfect backdrops, and sometimes even rain. A wedding day is more than just styled portraits in perfect lighting, it's also photos of your ceremony, details, moments, family and guests in all elements and lighting. Find a photographer who can show you the full story of a day with all its important elements. Otherwise, you may end up with gorgeous portraits but no photographs of all the guests who traveled across the country to celebrate with you. Or great moments but no photographs of the details you spent months designing. 

kristyn hogan_the lovingkind
kristyn hogan_the lovingkind
kristyn hogan_the lovingkind
kristyn hogan_the lovingkind

tlk: What is your favorite part of a wedding day to photograph?

kh: Of course there are the classics that we love: the look on the groom's face when he sees his bride walking down the aisle, the father daughter dance, and walking back up the aisle together as husband and wife. These moments never get old and are always special, but my favorite part of a wedding day to photograph are the moments unique to that specific wedding. There are a handful of moments from each wedding day that truly tell their love story. A story that is no one else's but their own. These moments are never the same from wedding to wedding and they can't be planned for or anticipated. These are moments that simply have to be watched for. Sometimes they happen in an instant and are gone, so we are always mindful of being aware of what's going on around us, looking for those moments that only happen once and are cherished for a lifetime. 

 This photo perfectly displays what Kristyn says she values most in photographing a wedding day, "We are always mindful of being aware of what's going on around us, looking for those moments that only happen once and are cherished for a lifetime."

This photo perfectly displays what Kristyn says she values most in photographing a wedding day, "We are always mindful of being aware of what's going on around us, looking for those moments that only happen once and are cherished for a lifetime."

 The colors, lighting and composition of this photo are dreamy, but what is even better is the emotion being evoked through the connection between the bride and groom. It's practically perfect.

The colors, lighting and composition of this photo are dreamy, but what is even better is the emotion being evoked through the connection between the bride and groom. It's practically perfect.

Kristyn is not only a fabulous photographer, but she is the kind of person that reminds me of a warm, sunny day. You can find more from Kristyn on her blog, Facebook and Instagram, where I have no doubt you'll find her to be every bit as lovely as her photos!

The Love Journal

There comes a point during engagement, where you start to wonder if your wedding vows will sound something like this:


I take you, my wedding, to be my fabulously celebrated party.

I promise to love you, to plan for you, and to think about you every moment of every day.

I will be yours to have and to hold, for bigger and for better, for expensive and expensiver, in sunshine and in it better not rain.

I vow to cherish and obsess over you all the days of my engagement.


We laugh because this is so true! It can be easy as soon as that sparkly ring slips onto your fully-capable-planning finger, to shift your focus from the man you're marrying to the event where you'll be marrying him.

 fabulous love captured by  Sarah DeShaw Photography

fabulous love captured by Sarah DeShaw Photography

And, come on girls, we come by it honestly, right? When you find fabulous love, don’t you want to celebrate it fabulously?! Many of us have thought and been told all our lives that your wedding day is supposed to be the day of your dreams. The truth of the matter is, a wedding day is only one day—albeit one very special and important day—of many spent with one even more special and important man. It's your marriage to this man that makes your wedding day matter.

What troubles me is that many brides, myself included, all too often miss the sweet treasures found in the days, weeks, and months leading up to the wedding day, blinded by the singular goal of achieving the perfect wedding. The journey gets overlooked for the destination. But just like a marriage, a wedding is built, and there is so much goodness to savor and cherish in the building—if you will but take time to notice it!

During my own engagement, I wanted to remember our engagement season in a special way and be able to share it with Woody. I love to write and keep a journal (I wrote 18 pages the night we got engaged—yes, I’m serious), but during engagement there is hardly time to write novella-length journal entries, so I thought of something else.

LaSuer Woodcock Wedding-04 Preparation-0090.jpg

Each day of our engagement, I would write one thing I loved about Woody or that I loved doing with him. I would number them and collect them all in a journal and give it to him on our wedding day. What started as a memory-keeper and gift for my groom, ended up encouraging my heart during engagement more than I ever expected.


A few excerpts from the love journal I gave Woody...


#4

3.17.12

 I love your determination on the golf course. I love how you include me in your game with confidence that I have half a clue what is going on.

 

#18

3.31.12

I love that you came with me for Lucy’s prom. You make what is important to me important to you.

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#114

7.5.12

I love exploring the streets of San Fransisco with you and knowing that I get to spend my whole life exploring with you.

wedding registry_the Lovingkind

#119

7.10.12

I love registering on Wedding Tuesday with you!

 Pictured in San Francisco, three months after Woody's proposal, I was still very excited to wear his ring!

Pictured in San Francisco, three months after Woody's proposal, I was still very excited to wear his ring!

#121

7.12.12

I love wearing the diamond ring you gave me.

Mattye and Woody the lovingkind

#177

9.8.12

I love how being at Melissa and Dustin's wedding today made us both so excited for our own. I loved afterward when you told me how watching them made you so ready to be the one getting married. Even as I write this, my heart is about to beat out of my chest at the thought of marrying you!!!


I intended for each day to only be a sentence or two, but as I got deeper into this journey, sometimes I had more to share.


#169

8.31.12

I love when I have a very real moment of realization that we are about to become husband and wife. Sometimes the magnitude is incomprehensible and overwhelmingly joyful. It's like I just have this moment and it hits me in a fresh way, and I am overcome at the thought that I get to marry you, my best friend, the best person I've ever known, my true partner and love of a lifetime. I get to put on a beautiful, white dress and tell you vows and exchange rings. I am about to do something that, frankly, is one of the most exciting things I can imagine this side of heaven, because I'm marrying you. Because you asked me to spend my life with you. Thank you. And yes, forever yes.

#227

10.28.12

I love looking at you in a whole new light because I know you're soon to become my husband. I appreciate the man you are, the decisions you make and the way you lead us even more now. I feel ready, so excited, and anxious to become your wife! As we talked about in the car on the way to church, we're tired of dating—we're ready to be married!



This simple endeavor not only created a one-of-a-kind memory and gift for my husband on our wedding day, but it also served as a way to help me stay calm and focused on what’s important during our engagement. After a few weeks, writing these entries formed into a habit, and quickly turned into one of my favorite parts of each day.

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LaSuer Woodcock Wedding-04 Preparation-0060.jpg

Whether wedding plans were falling into place or falling apart, every night I got to fall asleep focused on our love, and I found great peace in that. Even the wedding-planning days of disagreements and stress had something good and true worth focusing on in them, and this journal gave me a way to do exactly that. No matter what happened each day, good or bad, I ended it focusing on gratitude and true love, the very thing that would make our wedding matter.

LaSuer Woodcock Wedding-04 Preparation-0111.jpg
Wedding Ceremony the Lovingkind

#233

11.3.12 Wedding Day! 

Our final day to be engaged...

I love you.

And today, I promise to love everything you've been, everything you are, and everything you will be all the days of my life. 

Love, 

Your Fiancé, Mattye



Looking back now,  just under two years later, I am so thankful for these recorded memories. It's a fun chronicle to be able to read and remember all the little and big moments we shared in our nearly eight-month engagement. More importantly, it allowed me to share my love for Woody in a fresh and personal way. Giving him the journal was an intimate expression of giving him my heart.


It's not about saying things perfectly, it's about savoring, remembering, and appreciating the love that makes your wedding day significant.


I encourage you to try this! Even if you’re not a writer, all you need to do is write one sentence a day about something you love about your fiancé or a reason you’re grateful for him. It's not about saying things perfectly, it's about savoring, remembering, and appreciating the love that makes your wedding day significant.

Wherever you are in your engagement, try it for 10 days and see if it doesn’t make a difference! If you’re already married, this is also a great way to love your husband and cherish the good things found within your marriage daily. Create a love journal for your husband for Valentine’s Day, your anniversary or just because!

Start here! What is one thing you love about your fiancé or your husband today?

Wedding photos by Sarah DeShaw

selecting heartfelt bridesmaids gifts

Recently, the mother-in-law of one of my dear friends and bridesmaids asked me where I got the bags I had monogrammed for bridesmaids gifts. This question got me thinking about bridesmaids gifts in general and I thought it'd be a fun topic to bring to the lovingkind!

Having received many bridesmaids gifts over the years and having given them once, I recognize it is a special opportunity to honor your friends, but it's not an entirely easy process. First of all, choosing a similar or identical gift to fit the taste of multiple people can be challenging. Secondly, depending how many bridesmaids you have, even an affordable gift can become pricey when multiplied several times.

LaSuer Woodcock Wedding-01 Bridesmaids luncheon-0046.jpg

To help, I'm going to offer a few things to consider as you decide the best way to honor your bridesmaids. I'll also share the choices I made for my own wedding. But, before we get to that, let me remind you that your gift to your bridesmaids does not have to be elaborate or expensive; rather, it is a token of love and appreciation to thank them for the investment they are making into your wedding and your marriage. You may choose to get one gift or a few, and your budget and number of bridesmaids will certainly help you determine what is best. My hope is that these tips will help you navigate the road to giving bridesmaids gifts they will love and that are sincerely from your heart.

bridesmaid gift the lovingkind

1. A gift that has purpose on the wedding day.

A great place to start is to think about something your bridesmaids will find useful on the day of your wedding. This could be jewelry to wear with their dress, a tote to carry around their belongings for the day, comfortable flip flops to change into for dancing at the reception, a cute water bottle to make sure they stay hydrated, a shirt or robe to wear while getting ready, or a special nail color to coordinate with their bridesmaids dress.

My choice

I have been in a few weddings where I received a tote bag as a gift and I loved it. I found it so useful the day of the wedding to carry around all the unexpected things I ended up with throughout the day. Because of this, I knew I wanted to get bags for my bridesmaids and I was thrilled when I found adorable canvas totes at Pottery Barn for a great price. To make them "wedding ready," my mom helped me find a woman in our hometown to monogram them in the most perfect wedding day lavender!

 Stella & Dot  Love Bracelet  from the "Friendship Ties" collection

Stella & Dot Love Bracelet from the "Friendship Ties" collection

2. A gift that has purpose after the wedding day.

You might not feel a connection to anything that is useful the day of the wedding, so getting your bridesmaids something they can use in their everyday lives is also a fun option! A few ideas include a journal, a book, jewelry, a spa gift card, bath and body products, stationery, or a coin purse.

My choice

I love jewelry and I wanted to give a special piece to my bridesmaids. However, I quickly realized I couldn't afford the kind of jewelry I envisioned for their dresses so I opted for a piece that would work in their everyday collection. I chose the sweetest little bracelet from Stella & Dot. It is called the Love Bracelet and is packaged with a card that says, "the richness of life is in love." I chose this because I adored the idea of them having a piece of jewelry they could wear regularly that reminded them of our friendship and how rich and good love is.

 I love the look on my precious mom's face in this moment when I gave her the monogrammed shirt I had made for her.

I love the look on my precious mom's face in this moment when I gave her the monogrammed shirt I had made for her.

3. A gift that is personalized.

One of the best ways to create a gift that your bridesmaids will instantly love is to personalize it! In the South, we personalize anything and everything with a monogram, but you can also personalize gifts by color, scent, or style. Personalizing a gift is a special touch that shows the recipient you notice them and appreciate them for who they are as an individual.

My choice

One of the things I was most excited about on my wedding day was the time at the salon getting ready with my friends. Putting time and attention into this part of the day, I knew I wanted to give them a shirt they could wear that would be easy, comfortable and adorable in photos to boot!

My mom, mother-in-law-to-be, and sister-in-law-to-be would also be at the salon with us so I wanted to make sure they were included in the group too!

bridesmaid gift the lovingkind
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4. A budget that works.

Once you get going, bridesmaids gifts can be so fun, and if you're anything like me you might be tempted to start picking out more than you can really afford. The best thing to do is the same thing you did for your wedding: set a budget. Once you allocate how much you can spend, you will be able to enjoy the process of choosing gifts without harboring any stress about the expense. Also, once you set a total budget, you can figure out how much it breaks out for each bridesmaid. From there you can decide if you want to invest in one large gift for each girl or if you prefer to give multiple, smaller gifts.

my choice

I knew early on there were a few items I hoped to give starting with a small gift when I asked them to be bridesmaids. Because of this, I set a budget at the beginning of our engagement and as I picked up items throughout, I was able to track my spending. This truly made it easy and fun for me to purchase gifts and focus on the heart of what I was doing since the finances were already settled.

 I love how clean and beautiful the shirts looked on all my sweet friends!

I love how clean and beautiful the shirts looked on all my sweet friends!

bridesmaid monogrammed shirt the lovingkind
 Isn't Deneb, my darling mother-in-law, adorable in her lavender "D" monogram?

Isn't Deneb, my darling mother-in-law, adorable in her lavender "D" monogram?

 Of course, I wanted to match too! I had looked at different robe, wrap, and shirt options to give my bridesmaids, but this shirt sealed the deal on the monogrammed white oxfords. It is actually an old shirt of Woody's (an authentic "boyfriend shirt!") with a soft lavender plaid. It is also made by Billy Reid who is the same designer that created Woody's made-to-measure wedding suit. Once I found this piece I knew it'd be the perfect compliment to the white oxfords I had considered for my bridesmaids.

Of course, I wanted to match too! I had looked at different robe, wrap, and shirt options to give my bridesmaids, but this shirt sealed the deal on the monogrammed white oxfords. It is actually an old shirt of Woody's (an authentic "boyfriend shirt!") with a soft lavender plaid. It is also made by Billy Reid who is the same designer that created Woody's made-to-measure wedding suit. Once I found this piece I knew it'd be the perfect compliment to the white oxfords I had considered for my bridesmaids.

 Starfish ring by  Premeir Designs

Starfish ring by Premeir Designs

5. A gift that is significant to the location or time of year.

You may find that you are getting married in a special place, whether it be your hometown or a destination wedding, or a special time of year that inspires your gift. This has endless interpretations depending on the special feature you want to highlight. Some items to consider are locally made food like jelly or jam, or locally made gifts like bags, jewelry, scarves or a piece of art. If you're getting married in December choose a special Christmas tree ornament, if you're getting married at the beach give a personalized beach towel, or if your getting married in Louisiana give them a fleur-de-lis coaster set (one of my favorite gifts from a Louisiana wedding welcome basket!). 

my choice

My mom also wanted to give a gift to my bridesmaids. She knows most of my friends well, and it was really special to see her honor them and appreciate them with a thoughtful gift.

She picked out the starfish ring pictured above by Premeir Designs, to be a symbol of St. Simons Island where we got married. I love the elegant simplicity of these pieces that give a subtle nod to our destination nuptials. She also selected these lovely silvery gray pashminas for the girls to use in the case of a chill at our outdoor November reception. She chose the perfect gifts as my bridesmaids looked beautiful in their rings and made great use of their pashminas throughout the evening!

 This is my dear sister, Lucy, looking precious in her pashmina as she gave her maid of honor speech at the reception.

This is my dear sister, Lucy, looking precious in her pashmina as she gave her maid of honor speech at the reception.

 If you look closely, you can see my mom wrapped up in her very own pashmina in lovely wedding lavender!

If you look closely, you can see my mom wrapped up in her very own pashmina in lovely wedding lavender!

 And for a little game of "Where's the pashmina?" take a look at the husband of a bridesmaid who turned it into a scarf!

And for a little game of "Where's the pashmina?" take a look at the husband of a bridesmaid who turned it into a scarf!

At the end of the day, be confident that you know your friends well and will select just the right gift to make them feel loved and appreciated. With a little thought, attention and planning, you will create the opportunity to bless them with a heartfelt gift to honor your friendship and celebrate sharing your special wedding season together.

 all photography in this post by  Sarah DeShaw Photography

all photography in this post by Sarah DeShaw Photography

What gift did you give your bridesmaids or what is one of your favorite bridesmaids gifts you've ever received?

Behind the lens: Sarah DeShaw Photography

I recently posted about our quest for a wedding photographer, and I'm excited for the first in a series of follow up posts featuring the insight and images from some of my favorite photographers!


As I was writing my own tips for selecting the right wedding photographer, I started to wonder what guidance I would find from those who have the most exposure to wedding photography—the photographers!

It has been insightful and heartwarming to read their responses, and I'm so excited to share them with you! The main thing I've learned through receiving their feedback is that choosing the right photographer really is about more than just a great photo. Each photographer has a specific style and approach to a wedding day. The different ways they view weddings and love stories will most definitely show through how they capture yours.

As much as I want to share everything all at once, I'm going to exhibit self-control and feature only one photographer per post so you can really enjoy and take in all they have to share.

I decided there was no better way to start than with my very own wedding photographer, Sarah DeShaw!

Hi, Sarah!

Based in St. Simons Island, Georgia, Sarah travels worldwide to capture love in a truly authentic way. She is also one smart cookie and a brilliant entrepreneur, so stay tuned for lots of good to come from this gal! But for now, just sit back and enjoy reading her responses and drooling over some of my favorite Sarah DeShaw images!

Sarah has an uncanny ability to capture the heart and emotion of a moment. There is such life in her photos, and I love how they can grab your heart in a way that transports you right to that moment in time.

I can practically feel the gasp of breath he is taking, and I can only imagine his gorgeous bride walking down the aisle to him to begin their life as husband and wife. You just can't beat a moment like this, and having it captured perfectly is a priceless gift.

Ok, so maybe I'm a little biased, but I just can't feature my favorite Sarah DeShaw images without including a few from my very own collection of gorgeous Sarah DeShaw photography!


tlk: What is one of the most important things you recommend for brides and grooms to consider as they select their wedding photographer? 

sd: I would say there are two things you have to have : 

You should feel immediately connected with their photography style as a prerequisite. Secondly, give your potential photographer a call and make sure your personalities are a match. Simply put, if you like your photographer, you'll love how your photos turn out.


s deshaw12.jpg

I mean, can't you almost feel the mist refreshing your face?!

Sweet details! I love that this photo is not only gorgeous in it's own right, but is valuable because it also displays important wedding details like the colors, bouquets and THAT BOW! Oh my, I love it!


tlk: How do you describe your photography style?

sd: Our photography style is much like our brides: lovely, elegant and candid!

tlk: What is your favorite part of a wedding day to photograph?

sd: I absolutely love photographing the moment when the bride and groom see each other for the first time. All of the anticipation woven with love is hard to beat!


This truly feels like a fairytale!

As I mentioned, Sarah has an entrepreneur's heart and she has built a team of photographers through her brand. You can follow them and see more from the Sarah DeShaw team on their blog.

Come back to the lovingkind for a lot more vision and gorgeous photography from incredibly talented people in the coming weeks!


I shared my favorite images by Sarah and I'm curious—which one do you like best? Comment below!

 

the quest for a wedding photographer

Photography was an early priority for our wedding, and our photographer ended up being one of the first vendors we booked. That sentence makes it sound simple, but the search and final decision wasn’t so easy. (You can read more about how we prioritized photography and other items for our wedding in my previous post, the Focus 3 {part 1} and {part 2}.)

As a longtime admirer and researcher of beautiful photography, I was unexpectedly challenged by the fact that choosing only one wedding photographer meant that all the others would be forever off the market! I mean, I was fully ready to take all other men off the market and commit my life to Woody, but deciding on only one photographer seemed so daunting!


  Photo by  Kristyn Hogan Photography     An acquaintance of mine from college,  Lacey , chose Nashville-based photographer, Kristyn Hogan, for her wedding. I stumbled upon her wedding photos on Facebook and fell in love. Kristyn's work is clean, yet rich with color and emotion. She brands herself as spirited, fresh, timeless and I couldn't agree with those adjectives more!

Photo by Kristyn Hogan Photography

An acquaintance of mine from college, Lacey, chose Nashville-based photographer, Kristyn Hogan, for her wedding. I stumbled upon her wedding photos on Facebook and fell in love. Kristyn's work is clean, yet rich with color and emotion. She brands herself as spirited, fresh, timeless and I couldn't agree with those adjectives more!


Whether photography makes it in your Focus 3 or not, I generally find it is a significant wedding element for most couples. Photos are one of the primary ways to remember the details, moments and emotions of your wedding day, so finding someone who can capture these in a way that suits you is important. 


  Photo by  Timwill Photography     I don't remember where I first encountered Tim's photos, but I was hooked instantly. He is a film photographer, and his work has a stunning and whimsical quality to it. I particularly love the artistic yet timeless beauty portrayed in this image.

Photo by Timwill Photography

I don't remember where I first encountered Tim's photos, but I was hooked instantly. He is a film photographer, and his work has a stunning and whimsical quality to it. I particularly love the artistic yet timeless beauty portrayed in this image.


So, where do you start with your photography search?  With a variety of photographers to choose from, how do you find the right one to create an experience and a product you will enjoy and value? There are lots of tips for selecting a great photographer, but I think it ultimately comes back to understanding and agreeing with your fiance about what you want. Essentially, what are the must-haves, red flags, and areas open to compromise that will define your search?

In our wedding photographer search, there were three key factors that drove my heart in the decision.

1.) Relationship. Woody and I are both driven by relationships, and we realized our photographer was someone we would spend a lot of time with on our wedding day. Taking this into account, we desired to find a photographer with whom we felt a genuine connection. I was a bride who not only looked at photos but also poured over blogs. I found I was consistently more attracted to photographers who wrote about their couples and their weddings in a way that showed they actually knew something about their lives—not just their wedding. Essentially, I wanted someone I liked and that liked me back. Someone to not only care about my wedding, but to care about me. Woody agreed, and we both felt this was essential to telling our authentic wedding story.


  Photo by  Sarah DeShaw Photography     I originally discovered Sarah DeShaw through a Google image search for a wedding chapel I liked in St. Simons Island, GA. One of her photos came up in the search results, and when I saw her logo, I thought, "that looks nice, I think I'll check her out!" What I found in her work was captivating simplicity, sincerity and beauty expressed in important moments and engaging interactions.

Photo by Sarah DeShaw Photography

I originally discovered Sarah DeShaw through a Google image search for a wedding chapel I liked in St. Simons Island, GA. One of her photos came up in the search results, and when I saw her logo, I thought, "that looks nice, I think I'll check her out!" What I found in her work was captivating simplicity, sincerity and beauty expressed in important moments and engaging interactions.


2.) Style. I had a very particular aesthetic I wanted to achieve and I was prepared to look at thousands of photos until I was absolutely sure we had found a photographer whose style consistently matched our aesthetic. While Woody's and my taste in photography was similar, there were some differences, so it took a little extra time to find a style we both loved. We collected photos we liked from websites, Pinterest, and blogs, and used these as our “style guide.” One of the best things we did to help us finally decide on a photographer was to ask to see the photos from an entire wedding. Aware that only a selection of the best photos from multiple events were featured on most websites, we were interested to see a collection of work from an entire wedding day.


  Photo by  Daisy Moffatt Photography     Based in my college town, Chattanooga, TN, Daisy photographed the weddings of some of my college friends so I had followed her work for a while. She has a way of capturing the happy side of love and her friendly personality oozes from her work. This particular image is still one of my all-time favorites!

Photo by Daisy Moffatt Photography

Based in my college town, Chattanooga, TN, Daisy photographed the weddings of some of my college friends so I had followed her work for a while. She has a way of capturing the happy side of love and her friendly personality oozes from her work. This particular image is still one of my all-time favorites!


3.) Coverage. I was very particular with what kind of coverage I wanted. This meant I needed a photographer who was willing to work with us to customize a package that fit our needs. Some photographers have set packages, some are completely customizable, and others fall somewhere in between. With a specific vision for coverage, customizable options were the most appealing to me and Woody. We didn’t want to be forced into a package that gave us things we didn’t want upfront like fancy prints or large albums, and more of what we did want, like extra hours of coverage on the wedding day, bridesmaids luncheon, and the rehearsal dinner. I did care about ultimately displaying the photos in our home, but I wanted to focus on getting as much coverage of our special events while I could, and select albums and prints later.

Ultimately, I am so thankful we were thorough and patient in our search. It is clear to me now that God had a specific plan for who we were to work with as our wedding photographer. We ended up choosing St. Simons-based photographer, Sarah DeShaw, in whom we truly got more than we could ever ask for or imagine. Throughout the process she was professional, yet relatable and Woody and I both loved her style. She gave us flexible coverage options, and we felt a great connection of friendship with her and her husband.

The photos she and her team created for us from our engagement shoot to bridal portraits, from the wedding day to day-after shoot, are some of the most gorgeous images I’ve ever seen (even if I do happen to be partial to the cute boy in most of the photos!). She hit our aesthetic spot-on and truly captured our wedding story in a way that still mesmerizes me.


  This moment photographed by Sarah's husband, Brent, is from our engagement session. This was just the beginning of a dear friendship between me and Sarah, and the first of hours we would spend drooling over gorgeous photos together!

This moment photographed by Sarah's husband, Brent, is from our engagement session. This was just the beginning of a dear friendship between me and Sarah, and the first of hours we would spend drooling over gorgeous photos together!


I hope these thoughts will help you as you uncover what is most valuable to you as a couple and set out to find a photographer that will capture your love story in a way that will delight you for years to come.

My story is just one perspective, so I thought it'd be interesting to see what insight we could learn from the other side of the lens! I’ve spent time talking with some of my favorite wedding photographers and have collected valuable tips and perspectives to share with you. Stay tuned for a series of posts featuring the feedback and phototgraphy of some very talented folks!

In the meantime, I’d love to know—what are/were you looking for in a wedding photographer?

#tlkpretty

Part of the mission of the lovingkind is to celebrate who we are and the life we have been given. In creating tlk, I had a vision for brides, wives and women to come together to share seasons of love and celebration as well as many moments in between.

I think about this vision as we enter into the heart of wedding season where parties, showers, and grand celebrations abound. The lovingkind is about people who are made to love, and there is so much love shared through gatherings large and small to celebrate special people and love itself!

I personally adore a good party, and finding beautiful inspiration in the details is always one of my favorite party perks. From invitations to flowers to sweet treats and even sweeter friends, there is so much celebratory goodness to enjoy and to share!

I am excited to create a platform for the tlk community to share ideas and event inspiration from wedding season and anything else you’re celebrating in between—I hope you'll join me! Whether you're experiencing this season as a bride, bridesmaid, family, guest or just lover of all things beautiful, I invite you to share delightful details and memorable moments on Instagram and Twitter with the new hashtag #tlkpretty.

The heart of this hashtag is simple—use it to identify anything you find pretty and inspirational from parties, weddings or everyday life. Together, we will build a heartfelt collection from which to draw ideas and to inspire love.

There's more! I will choose one post each month to feature on the tlk blog! The original creator of the post will win a set of “so this is love” notecards or a print of your choice (designs coming soon)!*

*update: I will choose a post to feature and one winner per month for a limited, undetermined time frame. Also, qualified posts are those created and tagged with #tlkpretty by the same Instagram account.

We live in a beautiful world, so head out and find all the #tlkpretty there is to share!

xoxo

mattye



love songs + wedding invitations

In true lovingkind fashion, love songs happen to be some of my favorite tunes. Through the combination of beautifully crafted lyrics set to a perfect melody, they have a special way of expressing thoughts about love that no other medium does. Love songs carry different meanings for everyone, which means one love song has the potential to be the anthem for millions of love stories. This allows something very personal to also be shared. When you think about it, it's quite romantic.

Through our wedding, Woody and I wanted others to feel inspired and renewed by love. We incorporated this mission into our wedding experience as early as possible, starting with our invitations.

custom invitation suite by Weddings Etc. of Homewood, AL

custom invitation suite by Weddings Etc. of Homewood, AL

On our wedding response card, we asked our guests to share their favorite love song. Reading their answers was so much fun. Not only did it make them more fun to receive, but we hoped it would make them more fun to reply to as well!


Collecting rsvps and getting the final guest count to your wedding vendors can be challenging. Some responses come late and some don't come at all. I most certainly have grace for this because I am personally guilty on both accounts, but I prepared myself that our wedding would be no exception to this pattern. Considering this, in addition to inspiring love, we hoped incorporating a fun element into our response card would make them more interesting to respond to and therefore translate into more cards received and received on time. Not to mention, for those unable to attend it was a small way they could still share in the love and fun of our wedding.

custom invitation suite by Weddings Etc. of Homewood, AL

I was very pleased with the number of responses we received and felt an extra dose of love pouring in as each card arrived. There were dozens of great songs sent in and they painted a beautiful picture of the different generations and personalities of our guests. Here is a small collection from all the responses we received:

Forever and Ever, Amen  -Randy Travis

The Way You Look Tonight  -Frank Sinatra

The Luckiest  -Ben Folds

Unchained Melody  -The Righteous Brothers

Stand By Me  -Ben E. King

The Way I Am  -Ingrid Michaelson

Always on My Mind  -Willie Nelson

Jump (For My Love)  -The Pointer Sisters

Let's Stay Together  -Al Green

The Way you Make Me Feel  -Michael Jackson

Feels Like Home  -Chantal Kreviazuk

I Cross My Heart  -George Strait

I Will Always Love You  -Whitney Houston

custom invitation suite by Weddings Etc. of Homewood, AL

These are the response cards from my mom and Woody's mom!

I still love reading these songs and thinking about what they have meant to the couples that submitted them. I think about how they have been woven into the melodies of their lives, and how they have lifted them up and reminded them of their lasting love. I wonder about the times they have laughed, cried, danced and reminisced as these songs played in the background.  I appreciate how songs have an uncanny way of reconnecting us with a place, moment or feeling. It's their sweet ability to remind us of where we've come from, comfort us where we are, and inspire us for where we want to go.

In closing, I'd like to share the lyrics from one of my favorite love songs. It's called "I Will Not Take My Love Away" by Matt Wertz. The lyrics are so simple and they remind me of a wedding vow.

"I will not take my love away

When praises cease and seasons change

While the whole world turns the other way

I will not take my love away.

I will not leave you all alone

When striving leads you far from home

And there's no yield for what you've sown

I will not leave you all alone."

What is your favorite love song?