Should We Do An Engagement Session?

Well, I’m so happy you asked!

I will always recommend doing an Engagement Session… Even If you’re not local, and have to arrange a trip to the TN mountains, or fly me to where you are! Many of my couples find a local photographer to help them out, and even though it doesn’t serve all the purposes of having your Wedding Photographer work with you - it will still be beneficial for you!

As a photographer, I absolutely love doing Engagement Sessions… but there may be a few reasons you may not have thought of!

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Nerves.

If you think you’ll be nervous or awkward in front of the camera on your Wedding Day, it’s a great chance to work together and show you just how fun it can be! I want you to be able to relax, enjoy the time together just focusing on your love for one another. Come wedding day, you’ll be able to get into a comfortable groove with photos much sooner!

My goal in the first 15-20 minutes of your session is to make you feel comfortable by reassuring you of a few things: Everyone is Nervous. You can’t mess this up! You’re doing great!

I have a few tricks to get you comfortable in front of the camera, and even forget the camera is there. My goal is to for you to just have fun and enjoy being together! I’ll do the rest!

Habits.

We'll also find out if you're a nervous blinker or fist-clincher! 😂 Let me preface this by saying I am very detail oriented, and I usually catch little nervous habits people have, but you know yourself the best. Sometimes I can’t tell if your smile is genuine or your “forced smile”… and finding out what habits or tendencies you have on camera before the Big Day will help us work on those things and get genuine reactions and natural expressions!

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Decor.

An Engagement Session will give you so many images to either use as decor around your wedding, in frames on the reception tables or rehearsal dinner, a large canvas or album for guests to sign, or just as a focal piece for the gift/card table or Ceremony entrance.

Keepsake.

Probably the most important reason of all… This is the only time in your lives that you get to be in this season of your relationship.

Some of the sweetest/funniest memories my husband and I have are from our own engagement photo session from almost 10 years ago.

This is such an exciting time in your relationship - let's capture that excitement together!

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If you’re still with me - I have a special offer for you! If you don’t already have a wedding & engagement photographer, and you’re interested in a free engagement session, send me a contact email at the top of this page!

Comment below and tell me your favorite date night location!

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Picking your Wedding Date :: Seven Things No one tells you about setting a wedding date

Planning a wedding really does seem like a thousand little decisions… and picking the date for your wedding is one of the first ones! Seems easy enough, right? But trying to coordinate one date that will work for you, your family, guests, wedding venue, and football schedule (yes, in TN that’s a HUGE factor!) can seem like a huge task.

Here’s a few things to consider that I hope will help you as you select your perfect date.

7 THINGS NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT SETTING A WEDDING DATE:


“There’s a huge local event/convention that weekend and all the hotels within 50 miles will be booked.”

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The right wedding date is more than just a good fit for you and your families. Do a little research on the city’s calendar, look up the local football schedule, and be sure your guests won’t have a difficult time finding accommodations. Most large conventions are planned at least a year in advance! For the Knoxville area, our city has an online calendar of events HERE.

If you’re planning a Fall wedding in Knoxville - remember that the Tennessee Vols bye-week Saturday will be an extremely popular date! Consider having your wedding on a Friday/Sunday if you’re planning your date around a football schedule! I know to some that may sound a bit crazy - but it’s a huge factor for some Vols fans!

“Your wedding day will be the hottest day of the year.”

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Is there a time of year that your wedding location is more predictable? In East Tennessee, it’s a joke to think you can predict our weather! Your early May wedding could be 40 degrees or 80. Who knows? I’ve experienced both, within a single weekend!

If you want a summer date for an outdoor wedding, a morning or early afternoon ceremony is the best way to avoid rain.
June is usually a bit cooler than July and August, and September through early October is still in our “summer” heat. It usually turns cooler around mid- October, and won’t warm up again consistently until mid- to late-April.

If rain scares you, the best bet is to select a venue that has an indoor option you’re comfortable with. Or if you’ve always dreamed of an outdoor wedding - Have umbrellas on-hand, or select a date where there’s less chance of rain. Such as a morning ceremony in July.

Remember there could be good and bad aspects of any date - decide for yourselves what you will compromise on, what you’re comfortable with, or what you absolutely don’t want.

“You can’t get married then! That’s a holiday!”

Check the calendar for national & religious holidays! Do you want to make your wedding vendors and professionals work on Mother’s Day? Probably not. Some religions have restrictions on weddings during certain times of the year. Especially for church weddings, some forbid weddings during Lent or other religious holidays.

If you’re planning a church wedding, be sure to ask if there are any dates that are off-limits. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, consider the religions of your families and guests attending, or who you’ll have officiate.

“That date booked up months ago.”

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The average engagement period is about 10-14 months. That means prime summer and fall dates for weddings can book up as far as a year or more in advance. If you are set on a specific venue - have backup dates in mind.

Of course, you can definitely plan your wedding in 6 months, or even 6 weeks! The reality is, if you want a prime reception site or popular wedding photographer, planning in advance helps! If you’re planning a wedding in a short time frame, you just need a little flexibility, as you may have to take even your 3rd or 4th choice for a certain wedding venue and photographer.

“Three-day weekends can be a perfect solution - or a major disaster.”

On the plus side, guests will have more time to travel to and from your wedding. But that can be outweighed by the holiday factor. Guests may have already scheduled a vacation or trip for that weekend far in advance. You may find some guests aren’t able to attend over a holiday weekend.

You also want to consider other events in the area. A major festival/marathon/parade on Memorial Day weekend, for example, may make it difficult to have a wedding that weekend (hotel rooms, traffic, roads blocked, etc).

Another factor: cost of travel. Some out of town guests may try to use frequent flier or rewards miles to book their ticket, and that’s near impossible during a holiday period.

“Your wedding season is the super-bowl of floral prices.”

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There are two dates that because of demand, floral prices could get as high as 4x the regular cost… Valentine’s and Mother’s Day. Florists are also extremely busy during those times, and you may not get your first pick of florist.

You also want to consider what flowers you’re wanting. If you’re flexible on the types of flowers, your florist will help you pick flowers that are in-season.
Calla Lilies in January, for example, are much more expensive! (I know. I wanted them for my January wedding. I ended up having fake callas put into my fresh flower bouquet! You couldn’t even tell!)

 

“If you get married any other day but Saturday, I’ll give you a discount!”

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It’s a little known secret of the wedding industry - you can save a ton of money by getting married on any other day but Saturday.

How much? Of course, it all depends on the vendors! Wedding Venues may give a discounted rate or take a percentage off their regular published prices! The same goes for a lot of DJ’s and wedding photographers! (I do!)

Just ask! It doesn’t hurt to ask, and it shouldn’t offend anyone that you’re asking if they have any discount available. Just don’t assume they do! Everyone does business differently, and some professionals may have a little more flexibility than others, even in the same field. For example, I love Monday-Friday weddings. But I know a few other photographers that aren’t as available during the week. So they may not give a discount, because it’s actually harder for them to do a mid-week wedding. It never hurts to ask!

 

I hope these tips have helped you!
Let me know in the comments below what you think, or any other issues you’ve faced choosing your wedding date!

If you’re planning a wedding, be sure to follow me over on Instagram! I post tips every Wednesday at the very least!

If you’re a photographer or just take photos for your family or business, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter! I promise to not bombard your inbox with useless emails! You’ll receive 1-2 emails per month with photography tips, tricks, new techniques to try, and specific ways to improve your photography skills!

Thanks for reading!

After the Wedding :: Name Change Checklist

One of the most confusing things about getting married - was figuring out where and how to change my name after the wedding. So I've researched and compiled a list for you!

If you’d like to download the entire list and refer back to, I’ve included that for you at the bottom of this post!

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What to consider:

Don’t put it off. Changing your name takes weeks to begin with, so tackle it all at once to avoid confusion or forgetting something!

Remember to book your honeymoon in your maiden name - and let your fiance know ahead of time. You may be excited to have your married name on your ticket, but most airlines will make you re-purchase a ticket if it’s under a name other than your ID - even if you have your marriage certificate on-hand.

Tell your relatives and friends of your decision on how you plan to change your name. Receiving gifts with the wrong monogrammed initials can be disappointing!

For example, will you keep your middle name and simply change your last name, or will you drop your middle name and keep your maiden name as your middle name? I have always loved that I have the same middle name as my mother, so when it came time to change my name, I knew I wanted to keep that name and just change my last name. Also worth noting, there’s no rule saying you can’t keep both if you want!

How to officially change your name:

Get marriage certificates from your town or county clerk. It’s the number one item you’ll need during this process. Unlike your marriage license (which you receive before your ceremony), your certificate states that you are legally married. Request multiple copies so you can send them simultaneously, as most offices will require a certified copy.

Change your name with the Social Security Administration. Your SSN won’t change - but you’re going to need this card with your married name to change your name elsewhere, so go here first! Gather your marriage certificate, an application for Social Security Card, and proof of citizenship/age/identity (a birth certificate). You can submit your application online or in person, and once your new SS card arrives, it’s official.

Update your passport next. They have the slowest turnaround, so apply as soon as you have your new SS card. Keep in mind there’s an additional fee if your passport is over one year old. You can also do this by mail: find the proper form at travel.state.gov, and mail in the form along with your current ID and a marriage certificate.

To change your Driver’s License, you’ll head to the DMV. You may consider making an appointment to avoid a long wait - and double check your state’s required documents and fees. You’ll want to bring your marriage certificate, proof of identity (SS Card), and vehicle registration. While you’re there, update your voter registration, too!

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Stop by the post office and notify them of the new name associated with your address. If you’re also moving, don’t forget to forward your mail!

And don’t forget… places you need to contact individually: Bank account. IRS (tax returns). Email (some will let you change the name that appears when you send an email, so you don’t have to start over!)… and anywhere else your name is on file: Insurance, gym membership, social media profiles, luggage tags, magazine subscriptions, amazon account, credit cards, etc.

Enjoy the process! It’s not always fun to sit and wait in the DMV or SSA… but you’re married! That’s exciting!


If you’d like to download a PDF copy of this list for easy reference - click below!

I hope this helps make these changes easier for you! If you needed this guide, comment below to let me know it helped!

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