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!

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 4.09.16 PM.png

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


kristyn hogan_the lovingkind
Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 4.08.12 PM.png
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!

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?

Happy National Proposal Day!

Yesterday was National Proposal Day and for the lovingkind, that is a holiday worth observing (even if it is belated)!

No matter how it happens, whether it’s grand or simple, I find sweet beauty in the act of a man asking a woman to share the rest of her life with him. I love to listen to stories of “how he asked,” but even more importantly, I love to see the light in the eyes of the girl who has just said yes.

When I think back on the day Woody proposed to me just two years ago this month, I get that same light in my eyes. It was a moment unlike any other and I am so thankful for where that moment has brought us today.

When determining how to best share my own proposal story, I filtered through ideas and wrote a new post, but ultimately settled that the story is not about a perfectly written memoir, but rather the raw emotion and clear memory from the day it happened. So, for the first time on the lovingkind, I am opening the pages of my personal journal to share with you the entry I wrote the night we were engaged. I hope the the simplicity and transparency of my memory takes you back to the way you felt on your own sweet day.

A couple things to note before you read:

~Please overlook any fragments, run-on sentences or poor composition—a girl on the heels of a beautiful proposal cannot be concerned with grammar and matters of the like! I have tried to correct a few areas for readability sake.

~The original entry is 18 pages long (what do you expect from a writer?!), so I have pulled out excerpts for this post. Don’t worry, there is still plenty to read!

~It is all written the night we got engaged from St. Simons Island (SSI), one of our favorite spots and where we were visiting when we got engaged.

~Everyone always asks, "how did the cameras not give it away?" and it is a great question! Well, for one, when I had asked a couple days into the trip if I would be happy" in 5 days (yes, that was me not-so-subtly alluding to a proposal) Woody told me no, so I had removed the possibility of a proposal happening on that trip completely. Secondly, we had been planning to hang out with new friends and wedding photographers, Sarah and Brent. When Sarah said she wanted to bring her camera along (thanks to the behind the scenes planning with Woody) it seemed totally natural since she is a photographer and I didn't think anything of it! Their cover was flawless!

 

March 14, 2012

This is the beginning of what is sure to be one of my favorite journal entries ever...Woody and I are engaged!!! I can't believe how good it feels to say those words. I'm engaged. He's engaged. We're engaged. He is my fiance!

I am overcome with delight and excitement. I've gone to bed many nights dreaming of this and now I'll go to bed thinking of this wonderful day, beautiful proposal, and gorgeous ring. Wow. I had no clue it was coming today, not at all. Woody did so good. He surprised me and proposed in such a special way. He just amazes me over and over again with his intuition and great love.

Before we came to SSI, we made plans to hang out with Sarah and Brent DeShaw…Sarah suggested we go to a picnic on Driftwood Beach and we thought it was a great idea. Sarah shared that she wanted to bring her camera along just to get a few shots. Well of course I loved the idea and welcomed it. This also meant I had been chatting with Woody about outfits and knew we had to look cute!

We had a beautiful drive over to Jekyll Island. We chatted and rode and I was anxious to get there since we were a bit late. But we got there and then followed Sarah and Brent to Driftwood Beach. We got to the beach and it was amazing. The driftwood trees were huge and glorious. We spent some time walking around and quickly found a space for our picnic. We spread out our blanket and then began to walk at Sarah and Brent’s suggestion. Sarah got out her camera. I was very excited for her to get some shots, but also very nervous as to what to do or how to act. She talked about how her sister wanted some photos of trees and started snapping away.

I told Woody and Brent we were going to walk down the beach and they quickly followed. We hadn’t been walking long when Sarah said, “let me get some photos of you guys. I just can’t resist!” So we let her, but I think we both were a little nervous and unsure. Then she posed us and asked Woody to stand behind me with his arms around me. He did and that felt comfortable and sweet. Then, she told us to face each other and put our foreheads together. We did and had sweet moments.

It started to feel better and more natural, but Woody kept holding both my hands and keeping them about elbow length and he kept kissing me and saying he loves me. I felt like he was being a bit stiff and then realized he was shaking. I said something to the extent of, “you’re shaking, don’t be nervous,” and I was laughing because I wasn’t sure why he was so nervous.

He told me beforehand he was unsure how to be in front of the camera, but this seemed a little extreme. So I looked at him as he was intently gazing at me and I said, “you’re nervous,” with a little laugh hoping I could calm him down. It was at this moment he nodded in agreement and I clued in to what was happening. It was that sobering moment of “oh my goodness this is happening now.” I could not have been more surprised or expected it less, and just the realization that he was surprising me and doing it in this moment was breathtaking.

 It is clear by the look on my face that this is literally the moment I realized what was happening. I am so thankful Sarah captured this expression and this unforgettable moment in time!

It is clear by the look on my face that this is literally the moment I realized what was happening. I am so thankful Sarah captured this expression and this unforgettable moment in time!

I’ll never forget that moment of realization—I see the soft gray, blue and white hues of the beach behind him, I hear cameras clicking and I see his beautiful, blue eyes with a soft yet piercing gaze looking at me as they brim with misty tears, and I feel his tender shake as the breeze blows. My realization is stronger when he starts to speak, “33 years and one day ago, God created me…I believe God made you for me…you asked if you’d be happy in 5 days and I said no, because I knew you’d be happy in 4…Mattye Caroline LaSuer will you be in my life forever?” And as he began to say my name he got down on one knee.

I felt like a princess—I was feeling like royalty and incredible humility at the same time in the face of this gesture of love. He opened up a black ring box and I noticed a ring more beautiful than I ever hoped and while I was so excited for that, I was more excited to get near and kiss the man asking me to marry him!

I remember as he was talking to me having moments where I was giddy with delight and moments where I was zeroed in and completely consumed with the moment and hanging on his every word. I just wanted to soak in everything. When he was down on one knee, it was by far one of the best moments of my life—so precious and sweet and just ah! Perfect! Then he put the ring on me—it was amazing! So incredibly beautiful and truly felt like our creation, our symbol since we had spent so much time together picking out different elements but we had yet to see it all together (well, he had seen it of course!) Then, I proceeded to jump around and scream and hug and kiss my new fiancé!

It feels so good to say that and I truly do feel like a new woman. And I feel differently toward Woody- I just have this love and respect and admiration for him for what he did for me and for us that I just want to give myself wholly and completely to him—such a desire given from God.

After Sarah and Brent captured tons of amazing photos we had yet to see, they went to prepare the picnic and give us some time alone. I was so grateful for that. We looked at the ring, kissed, talked about the how, the what, and lots of questions about it all. We laughed, hugged, kissed—and let me just say I am absolutely overjoyed this is the man I get to do this with for life. I am even more convinced now than ever that he is the perfect partner for me and I could not ask for a better best friend.

Read more from Woody's side of the story on a sweet post from Style Me Pretty!


A few days after our engagement, Woody and I received the most wonderful surprise. Sarah and Brent had not only captured the beautiful photos you see here, but they had done something even Woody didn't know was happening. They recorded the entire proposal on video! Seeing it for the first time with Woody is a moment I will always cherish. We are so thankful to Sarah and Brent for being part of our engagement and creating stunning memories of this sweet day in our lives.

I would absolutely love to hear your proposal story! How did your husband or fiance propose to you? Share in the comments below!

anniversary photography

I shared in the Focus 3 part 1 that one of our top wedding priorities was photography, and in part 2, I posted some of my favorite moments captured from our big day! The point of developing a Focus 3 is to create a wedding day that feels like you, so it's no surprise that even after our wedding, photography is still very important to us!

I loved the experience of our engagement session, wedding photography and "day after" photo shoot. Fortunately, my dear Woody is a great sport about getting his photo taken and actually enjoyed these experiences too. We knew early on that we didn't only want gorgeous photography to capture our wedding season alone, but also our entire lives together.

Thus, the anniversary photo shoot was born! We started the tradition of doing a shoot every year around the time of our anniversary to celebrate and commemorate who we are as a family. This year, as one-year-old newlyweds, we called upon our talented friend, Todd Helzer, to help us create our first anniversary memory.

There is something about the first year of marriage that felt like a big, peaceful sigh. After all the commotion of dating, engagement and wedding, the first 12 months as husband and wife was comforting as we got to settle in and make a home and a life together. That is exactly what we wanted to capture in these photosthe sweet comfort of creating a life with your very best friend.

Todd contributed to building our vision and he did a great job helping us create images that portray the strength, love and tenderness found in a new marriage. We had so much fun with this shoot too! It felt lower pressure than our wedding photography and some of my favorite moments were nestling near Woody in the crisp winter air and forgetting the camera was even there. It was the genuine laughs, sweet embraces and "you're my best friend" glances that truly made the day special and Todd captured these moments beautifully.

I'm so thankful to have these photos and I plan to create a wall in our home full of memories from every year of our marriage. The heart of the lovingkind is to love well and live your best life. Whether it's through photography, journaling or just pausing and reflecting, I encourage you to find regular moments to enjoy the season you're in and celebrate the people you love in your life.

Check out more photos from the shoot on Todd's blog!

the Focus 3 {part 2}

Last week I introduced the Focus 3 as a great way to set your priorities for your wedding and align your vision and your budget so your wedding day truly reflects you and your groom in a meaningful way.

Now that you’ve begun to develop your Focus 3, the next step is learning to keep them a priority and logistically use them in your planning journey. I created the tips below to help you take action on creating an all around fabulous wedding with a Focus 3. I've also included some of my favorite moments captured from our third focus area, photography!



Tips for keeping your Focus 3 a priority

~Decide and lock in the Focus 3 elements first (or as early in the process as possible). It's key to make sure they are taken care of before too much else gets in the way and distracts you from what is most important.

~Write down your Focus 3 (make sure your groom is included!) and share them with your family, your planner, and your vendors. Having everyone on the same page will provide support for your vision instead of letting others distract you from it.



3. photography

rehearsal dinner photography

Photos by Sarah DeShaw


~Allow your Focus 3 to be “splurge” items. You certainly don’t always have to spend a lot of money to highlight what is important to you, but chances are, to get the best of the best in your Focus 3 areas you will be spending a bit more. If you do this in the beginning while the wedding fund is fresh, you can rest easier with the remainder of wedding budgeting because you know the Focus 3 areas have already been covered financially.


Allow your Focus 3 to be “splurge” items.


~Use the Focus 3 as a guideline when making hard decisions. For example, we really, really wanted chic lounge furniture around our dance floor, but it just wasn't fitting into our budget. Had we not already splurged on the church and our attire, we could’ve made it work, but it simply wasn’t a Focus 3 item so it had to go. Once I realized that splurging on this did not fit within our Focus 3, I was able to peacefully let it go and rest knowing our wedding was still going to be just what I wanted even if it was sans lounge furniture.


wedding day photography

Photos by Sarah DeShaw


~Stay true to your heart. It will be tempting to justify “trumping” your Focus 3 or letting other elements creep in as more important. But remember, you created the Focus 3 before you sat in that amazing floral design meeting, tasted that mouth-watering cake, or saw the magic of the designer shoes that are “just your color!” These things can be exciting in the moment, but the Focus 3 came from your core, not a fleeting moment of stimulation, and they will carry your wedding memories for years to come.


Love is what we celebrate and if that is your focus, you cannot fail.


~Most of all, remember, you’re marrying your best friend. At the end of the day, if everything fell apart and he stood waiting for you at the altar, your wedding day would still be a success. Love is what we celebrate and if that is your focus, you cannot fail.


reception photography

Photos by Sarah DeShaw


At the end of the day, I realized every little moment built the ideal wedding day for us. There is a part of your wedding that cannot be known or felt until the day arrives, and if you let it, there is a sweet gift found in those unexpected moments. From the things we planned (the heartfelt vows) to those we didn't (the insanely good moves our guests brought to the dance floor), it all came together in a perfect fashion to be a day that would be forever ours.

 

I’d love to hear from you!

If you are engaged, what are your Focus 3 areas?

If you are married, do you have any tips of your own to share how to stay focused on what is most important to make your wedding feel most like you?

Leave a comment below!

The Focus 3 {part 1}

Every bride knows when planning a wedding there is no shortage of advice and opinions, solicited and unsolicited, from, well, pretty much everyone. Some you take, some you leave, and hopefully in some you find pearls of wisdom that change the course of your planning experience for the good.

One of the best pieces of advice I received during wedding planning was to pick the three most important areas of the wedding and make them our focus. This advice came from our fabulous wedding planner, Kelly Mattox, and it was game-changing for me because I am the kind of person who can’t function when my mind is spinning in a thousand different directions. Mind spinning = body paralyzed.

So, instead of constantly turning through ideas without knowing where to land, the “Focus 3” gave me a more manageable outlook. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t only focus on three things and leave the rest of my wedding up to chance; I approached every aspect with intention and care, but when I felt overwhelmed, I rested knowing that we had prioritized what was most important. As long as those things were taken care of, the other elements would fall into place. It gave us direction and vision for a wedding day that we would enjoy and be proud to share.


Our Focus 3

1.  The ceremony (the venue played a big role in this and was a “splurge” item for us)

2.  Fabulous attire (we both appreciate great style in everyday life and it would be no different on our wedding day!)

3.  Photography and videography (we found great value in telling our wedding story in a way that truly captured the look, emotion and love of the day and could be shared for years to come)


This is a great time to pause to point out that the absolute MOST important focus is not any tangible thing, but it is being the right bride and the right groom for each other. We made sure that was taken care of before there was a “yes” to a proposal, and that is the most vital foundation for a beautiful wedding and marriage!


1. Ceremony

Photos by Sarah DeShaw

You may have a list similar to ours, or one completely different. Truthfully, I think those differences are what make each wedding special. If one bride wants her wedding to ooze from every corner with floral design that will make your heart stop, and another wants to serve a dish the guests will dream of in their sleep, and yet another wants to have a band so good guests dance until the wee hours, it’s these details that make your wedding yours. Choosing these important elements as a focus allows them to really stand out on the wedding day instead of getting lost in a million other details. If everything is on an equal playing field, it’s nearly impossible to have a personalized feel for your wedding and share with your guests what is most special to you.


Part of having a "wow factor" guests will remember is letting some things stand out above the others.


I had a friend attend a wedding a couple months before mine and afterward she told me, “Mattye, the details were amazing—very thought out and executed with care, but there were so many of them it was hard to take it all in.” Part of having a “wow factor” that guests will remember is letting some things stand out above the others. It’s still important to keep all elements of your wedding at a level of quality you’re proud of, but your guests will appreciate the focus you place on the areas important to you because it allows them to celebrate in the way that is most meaningful to you. After all, the beauty of a wedding is that it celebrates the unique love story of the bride and groom in a personal way, right?

2. attire

Photos by Sarah DeShaw

If you’re anything like me, this idea is a great concept, but narrowing down your glorious, dreamed-of-for-years, big day to three main focuses can seem nearly impossible. I mean, it’s all important isn’t it? Yes it is, but if you’ll take a breath, close your eyes, and let your mind envision your wedding day for a moment, I think you’ll begin to see that certain elements rise to importance above others. While some of this will happen naturally, I’d like to provide some practical tips and questions that will help you determine your Focus 3.

Finding your Focus 3

~  If you could personally plan only three elements of your wedding and had to leave the rest to someone else, which three would you cling to for dear life?

~  Jump ahead to your ten-year anniversary. What are the things you want to remember most about your wedding day?

~  Include your groom in the conversation! Believe it or not, guys may not have spent the time “dreaming” about their wedding day in the same fashion girls do, but I think they all have ideas and expectations for the day. Wedding planning and the wedding day will be so much better if you and your groom are in agreement on your focuses and desired outcome—after all, what better preparation could there be for marriage than approaching your wedding day as a team?!

~  When you think “my wedding day,” what is the first thing that comes to your mind other than your fiancé? Is it a dress, a church, a flower, a song, a group of people?

~  Think of your favorite wedding that you’ve ever attended. What made it so special? What are the three things you remember most about it?

~  What matters to you in everyday life? Here is a start to get your mind going: good food, relationships, faith, music, entertainment, fashion, thoughtful details, etc.

~  What do you and your groom like to do together?

Take some time to think about your Focus 3 and come back next week for part 2 of this post to learn how to implement them and stick to them! I'll also be sharing highlights of our third focus area, wedding photography!

As you're brainstorming your Focus 3, feel free to share below! If you're already married, what were the most special elements you incorporated into your wedding day? I'd love to hear from you in the comments section below!