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.


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


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 Tennessee Vols fans!

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


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, only one weekend apart!

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 June. July in East Tennessee tends to have frequent thunderstorms. August and September have less rain - if you can tolerate the heat.

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 religion of your families or guests attending, or who you’ll have officiate.

“That date booked up months ago.”


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 flyer or rewards miles to book their ticket, and that’s near impossible during a holiday period.

“Your wedding date is during the peak of floral prices.”


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!”


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!

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Thanks for reading!

Whitestone Country Inn :: Ruby & Charcoal Wedding Styled Shoot :: Knoxville Wedding & Elopement Photographer

Confession: I'm not a writer. I create images that I'm super proud of... but when it comes to writing about it, that's another story... But I think it's safe to say that this shoot really speaks for itself. 

Heather Green, the previous owner of The Bride Link, Colleen with At Last Weddings and myself, all sat down over coffee one morning and dreamed up this concept of a Winter Elopement at Whitestone Inn. 

Elopements are becoming more and more popular, as couples are wanting something in-between a Courthouse and a big Wedding.

Intimate. Captivating. Memorable. 

That's what couples want in their special day! And that's what we captured with this Winter Elopement-Styled Shoot! Maybe it's just the two of you and a minister on the lake, or a handful of your loved ones on a hillside overlooking the mountains... Either way, Whitestone Inn has the perfect setting for your day. 

So enjoy! And feel free to incorporate these details into your own intimate wedding day! Or contact the vendors listed below to create your dream Wedding or Elopement. 

Venue: Whitestone Inn - Kingston, TN

Models: Real couple, Courtney & Lee

Coordinator/Stylist: Colleen with At Last Weddings & Events

Linens & Place Settings: A & A Party Rentals

Dress: Loveliest Bridal

Hair & Makeup: Southern Sirens

Tux: Prestige Tuxedo

Flowers: Humble Bee Flowers & Gifts

Cake: Catie Cakes

Photographer: Emerald + Ivy

Wedding Day Items You Didn't Know You Needed

Like any well-prepared bride, you’ve probably made an ultimate check-list, but what could you be missing? In my experience, here’s a few items you probably forgot to include - but could come in handy!



This seems obvious - but it’s often forgotten! The Last thing you want are bridesmaids in wrinkled dresses coming down the aisle, and in all your photos! Or a crinkled veil! Not a bad idea to send one with your Groom as well!



Your makeup artist will create a look to last all day, but sometimes touch-ups are inevitable. Have a small bag of powder, lipstick, and oil-blotting papers just in case!



You may have dreamed of those gorgeous heels, but they may not be the best dancing shoes. Stash a pair of flats in your bag! (They make some that are super compact and will fit in a clutch!) Or consider cute Kate Spade Keds that photograph well too!



Remember to stock up on snacks & drinks to keep everyone from getting “hangry” or passing out! Especially in the summer months, extra water bottles are a must! If it’s too much to remember on your day, ask a friend or bridesmaid to arrange fruit, bagels, muffins, or sandwiches. Or have somewhere cater lunch in for both Bride and Groom.



Matching robes are always a favorite for this photographer! They make for some really beautiful getting ready photos, fun group photos, and look classy! But don’t forget to wear cute clothes underneath also! We don’t want the robe slipping open to reveal just undergarments - but you want to make sure you can slip it over your head and not mess up your hair! If you don’t have a robe - a button up or wide-necked top will be perfectly fine.



Bobby pins, Safety pins, band-aids, Advil, deodorant, a sewing kit, super glue, fashion tape… to name a few I’ve experienced needing on a wedding day! Some of these items I carry with me, as well as a crochet hook, scissors, tampons, breath mints… In the summer I also recommend Sunscreen spray, and for outdoor weddings - Bug Spray.



Whether you want to relax or keep the mood fun while you’re getting ready, music sets the mood! Create a playlist that starts with soothing songs, and gradually gets more energetic and fun! Try out the search feature in Pandora, and search for either Wedding Day Country or Pop!



Your photographer should help you create a schedule for photos to convey to wedding party & family. Knowing the general timing of what’s happening at what time will put everyone at ease and help the day run smoothly! Some of my most organized couples have even put together a Girls/Guys list of duties and where everyone needs to be when, who needs to be setting up what or driving everyone from hotel to venue, etc.
If you’re an Emerald + Ivy couple, at our very first consultation we’ll set a rough timeline to give you times that hair and makeup should be completed, flowers should be delivered, decor finished, dinner served, etc.



Trust me, you don’t know what might snap or rip, and if you have extras you won’t fret one bit! Also make sure you have the proper undergarments for your wedding gown! And try them on together before the big day (at your last fitting if you’re having your dress altered) to ensure a good fit, comfort, and long wear! (Not to mention, make sure those sticky cups will hold through sweating if you’re getting married in the warmer months of the year!)



A wedding planner, venue coordinator, day-of MC, or an organized friend - whatever you decide - will take a lot of pressure off you! They can hold on to your beauty bag or clutch and emergency kit, and make sure things happen as they should behind-the-scenes. It also takes some pressure off of the photographer - to not have you stressed or having to check on decor. Show someone before the big day how you want tables decorated, etc… and let them handle it!


I hope these tips have been helpful!
Anything I’m missing? Leave me a comment!

Brad + Mary Catherine :: Basilica of St Peter & St Paul :: The Camphouse :: Chattanooga, TN :: East Tennessee Wedding Photographer

After doing an engagement session with Mary Catherine and Brad, I knew the wedding day was going to be a breeze - They're so perfect for one another, so incredibly sweet to each other... I hope as the years go by, your relationship just gets better and better. Always be affectionate; Always be considerate and adoring, just as you are now! 

Here's a few of my favorites (there were SO many!), but if you want to see the entire gallery - the link will be at the bottom! Just ask myself or the Bride and Groom for the password! 

Ceremony was at The Basilica of Sts. Peter & Paul
Reception held at Camphouse
Flowers by Grafe Studio Floral Artists
Bride's Gown from The White Room in Lebanon, TN
Bride & Bridesmaids Hair (and Bridal Prep) at Juliet's Beauty Lounge
Makeup by Katheryn Golden Makeup
Groom & Groomsmen suits from Joseph A. Banks
Bridesmaids gowns from various locations, a few from Adrianna Papell
Bride & Groom and Wedding Party Portraits were done at Phillips Park in Chattanooga

View the full gallery HERE. (Ask the new Mr. & Mrs. for the password or email Emerald + Ivy HERE.)

Michael + Sarah Foust :: Cove Lake State Park Wedding :: East Tennessee Wedding Photographer

Michael and Sarah are one of the funnest, sweetest couples you'll ever meet. They love the Lord, they really care about people, and they love each other so much! It's so obvious in all their images how happy they are together! 

Also... Can all my weddings be at a State Park? Cove Lake State Park is one of the prettiest around, and we had beautiful weather and light the entire day! 

I hope you loved the images! I am absolutely honored to be a part of this day! 

Other Wedding Professionals that brought Michael & Sarah's day together for them:
Venue: Cove Lake State Park
Flowers: Village Florist (Lake City)
Bride & Bridesmaids Dresses: David's Bridal
Groom & Groomsmen suits: Men's Wearhouse
Rings: Fred Meyer Jewelry
Second Photographer: Sara Miller

To see the full gallery from Michael & Sarah's Wedding Day, click HERE. Enjoy! 

Peter + Tisha Nelson :: Intimate Wedding at The Lodge At Brother's Cove :: Sevierville, TN

Married on a perfect early spring day, with redbud trees starting to bloom, Peter & Tisha chose a mountainside venue to celebrate their marriage with their closest family and friends.

The views were breathtaking, and the ceremony and sentimental moments scattered throughout their day were absolutely darling. It was truly an honor to be the one to capture all these sweet moments.

Tisha's Mother and Father were able to watch out the window as Tisha & Peter saw each other for the first time on their wedding day!

Instead of the traditional "bouquet toss," Tisha wanted to present her bridal bouquet to her Mother. I'm positive anyone else watching was in tears as well. Such a touching way to honor her Mother! 

Tisha also chose to change into a Reception gown. They even did a second "First Look" with more portraits in the second gown after the ceremony!

Myly, Jana & the ladies over at 3M Creative Consultants helped the couple create their dream wedding from helping with all the planning, setting up for the day, coordinating/directing on the wedding day, and cleaning up afterward - They're truly amazing! 

Click here to see the full Nelson Wedding Day gallery! 


Erwin + Anna :: Ramble Creek Vineyard Wedding :: East Tennessee Wedding + Elopement Photographer

When Anna and I first started discussing wedding details, I literally squealed a little at the chance to shoot at Ramble Creek Vineyard. It's a somewhat new venue in Athens, Tennessee... and y'all. They built this place to be a photographer's dream, I'm sure of it. I'm so happy Anna and Erwin asked me to capture their gorgeous wedding! Not just for the perfect venue, but it was an honor to be a part of such a sweet day. 

Their Wedding day was the perfect amount of cloudy... until it wasn't. Ha! So about the time we wanted to do some wedding party portraits, it started pouring... and didn't stop until their sparkler exit! (Perfect timing!) But the inside of the venue is just as gorgeous, so we were able to still get so many photos!

I love that the building's interior wood was all milled from the property! And one of the owners hand-crafts gorgeous pottery, that are displayed (and for purchase) in the bridal party entrance waiting area. It's the coolest room! (and we had a good laugh about how their logo and mine are almost identical!)

Am I allowed to say that this is one of my favorite weddings? Everything just ran smooth, and everyone was so happy. The bridesmaids and groomsmen were all amazing, on time, looking sharp... All the details and flowers were perfect, the venue staff were phenomenal. I can't wait to shoot here again! But for now, let's all drool over these photos. :) 

And if you want to see the full gallery of Anna & Erwin's special day - the link is at the bottom! 

Venue: Ramble Creek Vineyard
Bride's Dress: Belle Saison Bridal in Austin, Texas
Bridesmaids Dresses: David's Bridal
Bride & Bridesmaids' Hair: Wendy Rae Peery for Bangs & Blush in Knoxville, TN
Flowers: Lisa Foster Floral Design in Knoxville, TN
Groom & Groomsmen Tuxes: Men's Wearhouse
Catering: Ramble Creek Catering
Cake & Desserts: Eva at Ramble Creek Cakes
Guest Signing Canvas: Carrazy Cute Canvas on Etsy


Please keep in mind that although you cannot print the images from the gallery, you may order prints or share online! Just be sure to tag @emeraldandivyphoto on Instagram or "Emerald + Ivy :: Formerly Blush Creative Photography" on Facebook! Thanks so much! 

Greg + Brianna :: Knoxville Wedding Photographer

I first met Brianna about five years ago, shooting her sister's wedding. When she contacted me about availability for her and Greg, I was beyond excited! Brianna has one of the sweetest temperaments ever, always speaking with and exuding grace. Their wedding day was no different. They were on cloud nine the entire day - Despite the rain. Which normally makes couples a little nervous, even though they say it's good luck! Something to do with renewal and cleansing? Makes sense, right? ;) 

Back on topic, enjoy! 

(And if you're planning a wedding for cooler months, you have to see what Brianna's bridesmaids are wearing! Such a great idea, and so cute!) 

Venue: The Barn, Powell, TN
Day of Coordinator: Jessica Missey
Bride's Gown: Loveliest Bridal
Bride's Hair: Elisha Goosie from Enve Salon
Bridesmaids dresses: David's Bridal
Groom & Groomsmen suits: Kohls & JCPenney's
Flowers: Lisa Foster Floral Design
Rings: Fagan Jewelers
Cake: Eve Kiser

Link to full gallery: https://emeraldandivyphoto.pixieset.com/gregandbriannawolfe/

John + Jordan :: The Standard Knoxville :: Knoxville Wedding Photographer

One of the first details I discuss with a couple is about their venue... It's part of my planning process, to make sure we plan enough time to photograph the areas that the couple loved about the venue. We'll talk about what they have planned, what they're excited about, what they envision for their wedding day... Jordan and John loved all the exposed brick, beautiful textures, and that everything was in one building. 

Come January, we were SO grateful for all the variety The Standard has to offer... It was NINE DEGREES outside! 

Jordan and her bridesmaids got ready upstairs, where there was the most beautiful light pouring in the windows...  And even though the room the guys get ready in had NO windows, it still looked really awesome with moody light. Somehow, I think that's just more manly, right? 

Anyway, It was a perfect day - but I was SO grateful they wanted all their photos inside! 


(To see more photos from this wedding, click on "Client Access" on the menu at the top of the page!)

Venue: The Standard Knoxville
Bride's Gown, Belt & Veil: White Lace & Promises
Bride's Shoes: Jessica Simpson, from Dillard's
Hair: Gabriel at Salon Visage
Makeup: Rachel Waters, Younique
Bridesmaids' Gowns: David's Bridal
Groom & Groomsmen suits: Men's Wearhouse
Flowers: Sydney Nichols
Cake: Maggie Cakes
Groom's Cake: Churro Cake! From El Sazon
Catering: Brown Bag Catering
Frames at Ceremony: Made by Terry Trost, Bride's Uncle
Guest Book: Basic Invite
Programs: Designed by the Groom, Printed by the Bride! 

Mike & Jenny | March 25, 2017 | The Reserve At Bluebird Hill | Knoxville Wedding Photographer

Venue: The Reserve At Bluebird Hill
Photographer: Blush Creative Photography, Stephanie Kozick
Second Photographer: Cassidy Garcia Photography
Flowers by Echelon Florist
Bride's Gown is a Mori Lee, from Nearly Newlywed
Groom's suit is a Vera Wang from Men's Wearhouse
Bridesmaids' Dresses Vera Wang from David's Bridal
Bride's Hair/Makeup done by her favorite stylist, Nadia Lenko
DJ/Lighting by Corey Ozair of Music in Motion
Officiant Chuck O'Connor of Sensational Ceremonies
Catering from Dead End BBQ
Cake by Cheryl McMillan Cake Design
Ceiling Draping & Lighting by Luma Designs
Hand-lettered signs and Favors made by the bride! 
Guest Favors, potted Succulents from Dixie Lee Nursery & Garden

Gage & Savannah :: The Emporium Center :: Knoxville, TN :: Downtown, Urban Wedding :: Knoxville Engagement & Wedding Photographer

We couldn't ask for a more perfect day for a wedding! Savannah and Gage are probably one of the sweetest couples I've worked with, and I am so happy for them! It's absolutely clear that they want to honor God with their lives, and in their marriage! Savannah and Gage - It was an honor to capture your day for you! 

To see the entire preview gallery, go HERE. But here's just a few of my absolute favorites from the Brazzell wedding:

Jamie + Kody Hash :: Knoxville Wedding Photography

I'm a bit behind already on this new blog! But Jamie & Kody's [absolutely gorgeous] Wedding images are available for friends and family to view in their own Featured Gallery! Just click HERE.

And of course, a big Thank You! to the wedding party! You guys are all so awesome! I had a great time with you all - laughing and just having a great time throughout the day! Jamie and Kody are so blessed to have such amazing friends! 

Amanda + Micah :: Maryville Fall Engagement Shoot :: Knoxville Wedding Photography

Meet Amanda and Micah: High school sweethearts. and probably the quietest couple I've ever photographed... Just taking the day in stride, capturing gorgeous photos as we go, just happy to be together.