Austin Family Portraits

Why Fall is the Best Season for Family Photos in Texas

About three years ago, after gaining a new writing client, I thought it was time to finally get some
professional headshots taken. The timing was perfect. I was updating my website and had created some
marketing materials so things were falling into place.  Everything was great, except for the fact that it was
the end of June, in Texas. Of course, the photoshoot needed to be outside to catch some of the amazing
natural light, which meant that I spent about three hours in the sun on a 103° day. Keeping the river of
sweat on my forehead from photobombing my professional shots proved to be more work than the mile-
long hike it took to get to the location of the shoot. I survived that shoot, but later on I thought about how
it could have easily been avoided had I planned for a shoot in the cooler months. Hopefully this post will
convince you to do the same.

So, Texas is finally getting some fall weather, which in the South typically means anytime the
temperature drops below 70 degrees.  Southerners have waited an excruciatingly hot six months (yes, six
months) of summer for these cool days. Now is the perfect time to get out there and take those family
photos. Why wait until the winter season to have your holiday card photos taken? Here are a few reasons
why the fall season is best time to line up little Timmy and Tanya or Rufus the labradoodle outside and
create photos that will last a lifetime

 

Tahoe family portraits

1. You Won’t Melt into a Puddle of Sweat.

Please see my story above.  Let’s face it, it’s hot as Hades in Texas between the months of June-October.
 Around the end of October we finally start to see glimpses of what I like to call, “Cold Front Season.”
 It’s not quite a normal fall in terms of getting cold and staying that way, it’s more like a cold front that
drops temperatures below 70 degrees for a few days, and then it jumps back up to 85°-90°. Either way,
you have to take advantage of the ability to actually sit (or stand) outside for longer than 30 minutes,
which means the photo shoot won’t leave you burned and applying aloe vera to your skin several days
later.  You can actually pick a shoot location outdoors and get some great natural lighting without melting
your face off!

family photos

2.  The Colors Duke, the Colors!

Summer is nice, but in Texas it tends to get so hot, that things just turn brown and die without some
diligence in watering. However, fall seasonal colors are the best.  The foliage is no longer getting beat up
by the unbearable summer sun and the leaves finally begin to realize that winter is coming.  What that
means for you is that there are lovely colors everywhere, and lovely colors mean lovely pictures.  Because
fall colors tend to be neutrals, you can color coordinate to your heart’s content.  In addition to the color
coordinating, the weather is cool enough to add in some additional matching accessories.  Try hats,
mittens, gloves or scarves for additions to your holiday card.

3. Holiday Props

In addition to cooler weather, the fall season welcomes in what the internet lovingly refers to as
“HallowThanksmas,” or the season in which we celebrate or prepare for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and
Christmas/other holidays. What this means for you is that you have the ability to use lots and lots of props
of your choice in your photo shoots. Feel free to pull out that Menorah and Dreidel, plant yourself in a
pumpkin patch or pull out the famous ugly Christmas sweaters and lawn snowman. Try variations of all
of those things if you are feeling adventurous this year.  Just know that fall is the perfect season to take
advantage.

Hopefully this article encouraged you to go ahead and book your family photoshoot now. Take advantage
of the cool breezes, the awesome fall colors and the opportunity to pull out the Christmas tree early.  The
cool weather might not last for very long and come Christmas, we may very well be looking at a sunny 90
degree day.

Tahoe Family Photos

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Interviews: The Texas LGBTQ Wedding Experience

June 26th, 2015 was a day that changed the lives of many people in the United States. It was one of those days, that ingrained into many people, the memory of exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. For a few of my friends in Texas, waiting on the state to make same-sex marriage legal was beginning to feel like a hopeless dream but that Friday changed it all. On June 26, 2015, The Supreme Court of the United States legalized same-sex marriage in all States and tears of joy, excitement, and hope were shed all around. Once they heard the news, couples could finally begin making those long-awaited ceremony plans. From where to find wedding photographers who shared a vision for their wedding (like…ahem, Lauren Lindley), to which traditional wedding aspects they should include. One of my oldest family friends was one of those couples who began planning. So, in honor of the recently celebrated Pride Parade in Austin, TX, I asked her and her close friend to share their Texas LGBTQ wedding experience. I believe these stories will help all couples find some joy, hope, advice and encouragement from reading.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Sheeanna & Rachael
Wedding Date: August 12th, 2015
Wedding Venue: Southeast Metropolitan Primitive Trail

How long have you been married? 2 years (10 years together)

Tell me how you met. We met through mutual friends. Talked on MySpace and then danced all night at the bar on ladies’ night a couple times. On one of the nights a friend asked Rachael to come home with me because I was too shy. One night turned into 10 years, and we were inseparable. We have only been apart from each other a handful of times since then.

Was there an official proposal? If so, who Proposed?  No. We always talked about being together forever. It was just something we knew mutually, but never thought would be legalized.

Did you decide to get married pre-supreme court decision or post?  Post.

Did that ruling affect your decision? Absolutely. Previously we had accepted the fact that we may never be able to marry legally, which was upsetting because we only wanted to have rights. A piece of paper would never split us up if we could not have done it legally, but it could prevent us from having rights if one of us were injured or ill, our property and our livelihoods, everything we built and shared together.

Did you both want to have a wedding?  If not, why not? We both wanted to marry each other always. But we differed on our opinions on the type of wedding. I (Sheeanna) wanted a big wedding, Rachael wanted a smaller wedding and does not enjoy being the center of attention. She felt it was something we should share between us and not everyone we knew. We compromised on the entire process and both had different things we wanted.

How long did you wait between the proposal and the wedding? We did not have an official proposal, we always just knew we would if it were legal. We married a few months after the supreme court ruling to pass same sex marriage.

Were your families accepting of a wedding? If not, what were some of their concerns? Yes and no. My (Sheeanna) mother and father were supportive and love Rachael. Though my father’s family were not all present in my life for ten years after I came out, my mother’s side has always been very accepting and present in our relationship. Rachael’s family has always been supportive and loving and accepted me immediately.

Did you decide on a big or small wedding?  Why? We had a very small elopement only including our sisters, our dog, and our mutual best friend. We got married on a primitive trail that we hiked often with our pup. We felt it was some of our best times and where we really found ourselves. We wanted it to be private, short, and sweet. Especially since it was one of the hottest days of the year. We married on the day of our existing anniversary of when we got together.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience 

Did you bring the standard traditions into your wedding (Ex: Father/Daughter Dance, throwing of the bouquet, etc.)? For the most part we did not. At first, the concept of being “wives” was an odd one to us. We merely wanted our rights as a married couple. We were always somewhat hesitant on the concept as there are so many in this world who are not accepting and ugly about it. We did get specific outfits to wear that all had the same general color scheme and our pup wore a tie made from some of my extra dress fabric. I (Sheeanna) made rose bouquets and boutonnieres, made of pages from Rachael’s favorite book series. We did not write our own vows and instead coordinated with our officiant on some basic vows that fit us well. We celebrated afterwards with a potluck at our favorite local greenbelt with all our family and friends who could be present.

Did you have any vendors or did you completely do it on your own? Why? We did all of it on our own. We wanted something simple and carefree, less stress.

Were your wedding vendors familiar with same-sex weddings?  (Did they have any experience in one?) Our wedding officiant was well known for marrying same sex couples.

Would you like to share the names of any vendors you would recommend? Give a brief review of their service? Spike Gillespie was wonderful. We had a meeting with her in person about a month before to go over different options for vows and she sent us some examples. She composed our ceremony for us based on what we wanted, hiked out a ¼ mile to our favorite trail spot and endured the 100-degree weather. We would absolutely recommend her to anyone we know.

Tell me about your wedding day.  How did you feel after it was over? Relieved. While we kept it small, it was still chaotic and a lot to work on. We had a beautiful time and were so grateful for all the people who came to celebrate with us. I don’t think it really felt real until we received our marriage certificate and then I (Sheeanna) cried for a while in relief and joy. We finally had the rights we wanted for so long, to the person we have loved for many years, and more to come.

What tips would you give other same-sex couples preparing to plan their wedding in Texas? Do what feels right for YOU! Often weddings end up turning into what your family or friends want, and none of that matters in the end. Your wedding day is about you as a couple and the love you share for each other. Whether you have a huge wedding, or a small elopement, it should be about what makes you happy. Your wedding is to celebrate the love you have for each other, not everyone else.

Sheeana and Rachael’s story of how they met was so cute, I could barely hold it together while writing this, but it is filled with so much love and friendship that you can’t help but hold onto hope for a love like this. Here are a few things that a took away from it.

1. MySpace did some things right.

This story proves that spending hours on end decorating your “about me” page was not a complete waste of time. I mean, just take a look at this story! But on a more serious note, online dating is totally a thing now. I know that’s hard to believe if you are over a certain age, but social media has changed the landscape for finding love. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. True love could be waiting on your besties friends’ list.

2. Add your own special touches to your wedding day.

Seriously, who else was extremely impressed by the idea of making boutonnieres, from pages of your love’s favorite book series? Not only is that truly genius, that but those little touches make for fantastic photos.

3. Make sure your wedding is about you.

When planning a wedding, it’s easy to get caught up into doing the things that would make your family and friends happy. Just don’t forget that this wedding is yours and about you and your love. Pick the vendors you want, and involve those who make you feel comfortable. Choose your own location and make the choice of big or small wedding on your own. The people who truly love you will support you.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Aspen Grove Wedding | Incline Village, NV | Brianna + Aaron

There was a bit of a hint that Brianna and Aaron’s Aspen Grove wedding in Incline Village this summer was going to be a special one.  They were so at ease and loving during their winter Tahoe engagement shoot that they never stopped laughing the entire time.  The only time they weren’t laughing on their wedding day, they were crying tears of happiness and joy.  Mind you, so was literally everyone else, including the photographers.  Aaron’s vows were so incredibly tender and poignant, they left all of us in awe.

Their intimate daytime wedding was a DIY affair and all their friends and family stepped in to make it special.  Photos from their engagement session with me filled the tables and friends and family stepped up to fill all the vendor roles other than venue and catering. 

At the end of the day, their wedding was an incredibly joyful reminder of how a wedding is exactly what you make of it, and what you want it to be, and that it’s uniqueness and memorability lies solely in the couple.  Brianna and Aaron did an incredible job ensuring that their wedding was simple and really quite a beautiful celebration of  their commitment to each other.

Venue and Catering: Aspen Grove |  Bride’s Attire: David’s Bridal | Groom’s Attire: Men’s Warehouse | Second Shooter: the breakfast of champions, Nicky Lockman

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Plymouth CA Same Sex Wedding

Interviews: The Texas LGBTQ Wedding Experience

June 26th, 2015 was a day that changed the lives of many people in the United States. It was one of those days, that ingrained into many people, the memory of exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. For a few of my friends in Texas, waiting on the state to make same-sex marriage legal was beginning to feel like a hopeless dream but that Friday changed it all. On June 26, 2015, The Supreme Court of the United States legalized same-sex marriage in all States and tears of joy, excitement, and hope were shed all around. Once they heard the news, couples could finally begin making those long-awaited ceremony plans. From where to find wedding photographers who shared a vision for their wedding (like…ahem, Lauren Lindley), to which traditional wedding aspects they should include. One of my oldest family friends was one of those couples who began planning. So, in honor of the recently celebrated Pride Parade in Austin, TX, I asked her and her close friend to share their Texas LGBTQ wedding experience. I believe these stories will help all couples find some joy, hope, advice and encouragement from reading.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Liz and Traci
Wedding Date: Dec 10th, 2015
Venue: Private Estate Backyard

How long have you been married? 1 year and 9 months

Tell me how you met. We met in Jr. HS. Liz asked Tracy to the Valentine’s Dance. Tracy said yes!

Was there an official proposal? If so, who Proposed? Yes! Liz proposed in California on Sunset Beach, at sunset. (I’ve been chasing Tracy for years. It was only appropriate to finally propose). We were also pregnant and thought we should act fast just in case something was overturned.

Did you decide to get married pre-supreme court decision or post?   We wanted to before but we were also expecting a baby. To protect my (Liz’s) rights, it seemed logical to rush it more than we originally had discussed.

Did that ruling affect your decision? Yes, to get married sooner rather than later. We were really worried it wouldn’t stick and hoping we could get grandfathered in.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Did you both want to have a wedding?  If not, why not?  Yes, but we dreamed of more of wedding ceremony with more family and friends present and not so much
of an elopement.

Were your families accepting of a wedding? If not, what were some of their concerns? Yes, our families were totally good with it. They were only sad they couldn’t all be there.

Did you decide on a big or small wedding?  Why? We did small for sake of time. We plan on throwing a bigger one at our 5-year anniversary.

Did you bring the standard traditions into your wedding (Ex: Father/Daughter Dance, throwing of the bouquet, etc.)? No, but we did write our own vows, and Tracy’s daughter held the rings.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Were there any new traditions you started? I’m not sure. We wrote our vows (not sure if that’s traditional or not), we had everyone we knew involved in some way at least. Sister-in-law signed our marriage certificate with the county, best friend was the officiant, our other sister-in- law was our photographer, we used our friend’s backyard, and our other friends made some yummy foods for after.

Did you have any vendors or did you completely do it on your own? Why? Completely on our own. Mostly because it was small and not necessary to use vendors.

Did you come across any discrimination during your planning? No, even getting our marriage license in small town Lampasas, just so Tracy’s sister could sign it, was still very welcoming.

Did you feel like you were treated like a heterosexual engaged couple? We just felt like a couple getting married. That’s all we ever wanted.

Tell me about your wedding day.  How did you feel after it was over? It was short and sweet. Even as I (Liz) was running a 103 temp, I still couldn’t be happier to look Tracy in the eyes to say I’d love to spend my life with her.

What tips would you give other same-sex couples preparing to plan their wedding in Texas?  Don’t give in to hate.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Prior to this interview, I had never heard Liz and Traci’s complete story but I will say that any couple can walk away from reading this with a few beautiful takeaways.

1. Elope!

(Just kidding, well maybe but definitely hire a photographer if you do)! But I think the takeaway from elopement is if you find love and you know, go for it. Life is unpredictable and if you wait for the perfect moment, you may never have it. See the opening and take it.

2. Even though Texas is a conservative state, most people are still good.

Texas gets a bad rap for being politically conservative and when it comes to politics and politicians that may be true, but the great thing about actual Texans is that they believe in decency and respect and most residents will still make sure you feel that.

3. Involve people who love and accept you in your wedding.

This day should be about you and your love, don’t allow people to come in and bring dark clouds to your special day. Don’t give in to another person’s hate. Surround yourself with love.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Landing Resort Wedding | Lake Tahoe, CA | Jaymee + Jacob

When you grow up in New Orleans, no wedding is complete without a second line.  New Orleans is my favorite city in the world, and in fact, I am spending most of October there.  A second line is basically a parade – the main line, or the first half, is the brass line.  Those who follow the band are the second line.  You parade for any celebration in New Orleans: a funeral, a wedding, for mardi gras, for festival season, for no reason whatsoever.  Umbrellas and handkerchiefs (napkins will do) are essential, so when I showed up to photograph details in the tent for Jaymee and Jacob’s Landing Resort wedding and discovered feathered umbrellas on the back of their chairs, well, I knew that we were going to have a second line and I got VERY excited.  

Not only was there a second line, but Jaymee and Jacob’s diverse group of friends brought a dance party like no other to their celebration.  I have been blessed with a number of epic dance parties this year, but theirs is definitely in the top three.  I had such a blast

Venue and Catering: The Landing Resort and Spa | Florist: EcoFlower | Bakery: Tahoe Cakes by Grace | DJ: High Sierra Sounds | Bride’s Attire: The Ultimate Bride | Bridesmaid Attire: Jenny Yoo | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Warehouse | Second Photographer: Finger lickin’ good Nicky Lockman

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How to choose the right photography conference

Choosing the Right Photography Conference for You

I believe that continuing education is incredibly important: it keeps you sharp, makes sure that you aren’t becoming stale in your work, and revitalizes low spirits and energy after a long wedding season.  With my work season jam-packed into four or five short months every year, I can tell you that a dose of inspiration is essential to my spring!  That being said, there are a gazillion workshops and conferences out there to choose from, from the small to the massive.  Choosing the right photography conference for you is a hard task.  How do you know where to focus your energy and hard earned dollars?  Where do you put your focus?

The first thing that matters to me when choosing a conference is WHY and I have three of them.  They very rarely overlap in the conference world.  I’m either going: 1) to put my hands on products, 2) to master or learn a new skill, or finally, 3) for inspiration and networking. 

Choose the Right Photography Conference

 

1. Go to photography conferences to put your hands on products.

Every three years, I head to one of the big two, which are Imaging USA and WPPI, simply because their expo is the easiest place to source out vendors for client products and new technology.  From USB drives, to album companies, to camera manufacturers, you’ll be able to touch and feel anything you can dream up out of the thousands of exhibitors at these expos.  With quality face to face time with the brand reps themselves, you can often purchase new gear on site at a discounted rate, and secure lower pricing for bulk orders from print labs and product manufacturers.  

While the big 2 certainly offer a wealth of networking drunken debauchery and parties, along with “conference” sessions intended to impart photography wisdom on you, I’m a pretty firm believer that the best learning isn’t crammed into a giant convention hall and a one hour talk, nor is the best networking done at an event where there are thousands of people.  

Choose the Right Photography Conference

2.  Go to a photography workshop to master or learn a new skill.

Small hands on workshops lend themselves to more in depth dissection of key skills.  A few years ago, I attended Azulox Photography’s Anytime Light workshop in Austin, TX.  With only 8 students and a full day dedicated exclusively to difficult lighting scenarios, I walked away feeling significantly more comfortable using off camera flash and strobes to make sure that I could handle anything.  

Last year, I attended the Missouri Photo Workshop in Perryville, MO for hands on learning in photojournalism.  Guided and mentored by world renowned  freelance photojournalists and photo editors, I came away with a better understanding of gaining access, shooting, and creating photo essays. 

I try to narrow down what I want my focus to be for the year in learning and choose a small format mentorship, workshop or online resource that fits that ideal.  If you’re interested in pursuing family lifestyle sessions, I would recommend looking into mentorship by Kristen Lewis.   If you love my moment-filled portrait and wedding work and want to improve on drawing the same reactions out of your own clients, I would recommend starting with Candice Cusic’s Moment Driven Workshop in Chicago.

Choose the Right Photography Conference

3. Get inspired and network

There is no conference more inspirational to me than Fearless Conference Europe.  (Tip: to save a buck or two, there is one in the USA every November as well).  Huy with Fearless Photographers has made a pointed effort to create conferences that are diverse, filled with women, and welcoming.  It’s incredibly easy to network at Fearless Europe – everyone is so incredibly open.  I walk away every year with nuggets of incredible inspiration and a new stamp on my passport to boot.

Other great medium sized events that offer a wealth of fun, inspiration and networking opportunities include Field Trip and Laura Babb’s incredible Snap Photography Festival.  

How to choose the right photography conference

What to Take With You

Don’t forget to fill your pockets with business cards, branded koozies (a must for me), and lots of smiles.  Remember that everyone at a photography conference is there for the same reason: to learn, to grow and to meet like minded people.  As such, open yourself up to opportunities.  Say yes to new things, new people and new conversations. Don’t sit with people you know: find someone new every day.  Be welcoming, smile, and make it a point to open up conversations to include strangers who happen upon your group.  Introduce yourself to others and extend invitations and you’ll walk away with a lifetime of laughter, friends and perhaps some new skills.

Start Small

Eventbrite makes it easy to attend and organize events.  So easy, in fact, that there are dozens of small format photography classes and events on there near you.  Take a portrait photography master class!  Learn how to get started in bird photography!  Learn the ins and outs of food photography!  I just ended up in a rabbit hole of options and I barely even got started.

Where will you find me next?  

I’ll be at Mystic Seminars this January because I’m desperate to hear Pete Souza speak, and the Fearless Conference Europe in Split, Croatia this March.  As usual, you’ll also find me running amok, networking, taking photos and basically drunk everyday at SXSW 2018, which is like everything the photography world has to offer on steroids.  

North Tahoe Lodge Wedding

North Tahoe Lodge Wedding | Truckee, CA | Agnes + Laurence

It’s freezing today in Tahoe.  Actually, it’s been freezing all week.  As I was trying to decide what amazing wedding to share from this past wedding season on the blog, the cold temps, banana bread in the oven, and the promise of fall from the chill in the air reminded me of Agnes and Laurence’s private estate North Tahoe Lodge wedding in Truckee from this past spring.  There was still piles of snow.  So much snow, in fact, that their guests spent an entire afternoon clearing the deck of snow for their ceremony.  

Agnes and Laurence wanted to have a small, intimate celebration surrounded by friends and family.  They wanted amazing food, lots of laughter, and great photos.  I have to say, that when you are one of two vendors, it makes you feel incredibly unbelievably special.  (I’ll try not to let it go to my head, Agnes).  

Agnes is Polish and customarily, at a Polish wedding, the father presents the couple with two glasses – one of vodka, one of water. They are offered first to the bride, who must make her selection without knowing which is which. Tradition says that whoever ends up with the glass of vodka will be the dominant partner in the relationship.  I think you can tell by the photos which way this ended!

Agnes and Laurence, it was an honor to be part of your day and even bigger honor to be so valued.  I firmly believe that your wedding day should be a day where you celebrate with the friends and family closest to you and that the pomp, circumstance, and traditions aren’t that necessary so when clients find me that not only believe, but exemplify the same values, it makes my heart sing to be part of the day.

Venue:  The North Tahoe Lodge | Caterer: Blend | Bride’s Attire: Glamour Closet | Second shooting service of the sassy shutterbug Shaunte Dittmar

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Resources for black brides

Top Wedding Planning Resources for African American Brides

So, the love of your life just popped the question.  His proposal took you down memory lane through all the important locations in your relationship. You stopped at the soul food restaurant where you shared your first meal (and date) together, he led you to the jazz club where the resident saxophonist knocked your socks off and he first told you he loved you then took you on a walk where he had a friend waiting to play your favorite Marvin Gaye song as he dropped to his knees for the proposal.  You said yes, of course, and within two minutes the excitement of wedding planning burrowed its way into your thoughts.  You can’t wait to get started.

Resources for black brides

The next day, you head out to grab every bridal magazine on the shelves and while looking for makeup ideas come to a screeching halt.  Where are all the black brides??? Where are the makeup looks for women with brown skin?  Of course, you already knew this was an issue in regular magazines but it never bothered you until now.  Where will you find a DJ who knows the difference between regular rap and “trap” music?  Will you find a bartender who plans to keep more dark liquor than beer on deck at your wedding? Who will understand that you need a dress that will flatter your curves without having to make alterations that cost hundreds more?  Do resources for African American brides even exist?  

Resources for black brides Resources for black brides

The wedding industry is overwhelmingly, frustratingly white.  There’s a lot of things that irritate me about the industry that my profession is part of, and this is one of them.  As a black bride, it’s hard to ignore the lack of resources available to you that showcase the wedding traditions and looks that are important to your family.  To help alleviate some of the stress of finding them on your own, we have compiled a list of resources that have proven helpful for black brides all around the country.

Black Bride

Black Bride is a site specifically dedicated to African American brides. This site posts articles on topics that affect women of color as they plan their weddings and the events leading up to and following their special day.  According to the site, they “are committed to being a resource to women of color as they embark on one of the most important days of their lives, and beyond.” Black Bride not only offers online resources, but they also put out a magazine, host black bride events, and post helpful and uplifting articles on life after marriage.  The site features a list of vendors categorized by type of business and location, wedding planning tips and a photo gallery full of ideas that would rival Pinterest boards. They have an Instagram account that you should definitely follow for quick ideas. This site is pretty much a one stop shop for black brides looking for inspiration and planning guidance.

Resources for Black BridesResources for Black BridesResources for Black Brides

Black Bridal Bliss

Black Bridal Bliss is like your college roommate’s best friend who knew everybody on campus, including those who threw the best parties and where to buy the best outfits for said parties.  The owner of the site, Bridgette Bartlett Royall, was probably that girl.  The site is user-friendly and appeals to all types of black brides.  The ‘About’ page states that the “site showcases content for Black brides and their nuptials – from big to basic; budget to ballin’ and everything in between.” The site is approachable and unique in the fact that it not only offers helpful advice on planning your honeymoon but also list things like recommendations of solid financial advisors. Every Tuesday, the site features a segment called, “Tie the Knot Tuesdays,” which highlights real weddings and often posts Q&A sessions with industry professionals.  One of the best aspects ofBlack Bridal Bliss is its style section.  This section offers style ideas on everything from guest party favors to -of course the much-asked question- what to do with your hair on your wedding day?  Go ahead, kick your shoes off and gather knowledge from this site over a cup of tea.  You won’t regret it.

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Munaluchi Bridal

Last, but certainly not least, Munaluchi Bride makes the cut on our list as one of the best resources out there for Black brides.   My favorite destination wedding planner, Tamara Jones of Tamara J Events, recommends Munaluchi over all others because “it was one of the first publications to actively seek a place in the creative space for brides of color.” In addition, when surveying recent Black brides, this resource came up as one that they used the most. First of all, I tried not to get stuck on the insanely beautiful meaning of the site name.  From their ‘About’ page: (Munaluchi) is the combination of two African names, which when fused together mean, “Beautiful Work of God.”  Y’all, that alone gave me hope that this site knows its Black wedding planning stuff.  It starts by acknowledging the fact that Black brides are often made to feel less than beautiful when approaching vendors and jumping into the wedding planning process.  As mentioned above, being left out of all the magazines can certainly do a number on your psyche. This site immediately begins to heal that hurt and make you feel welcome, but I digress…

Munaluchi is slightly different than the other sites mentioned above because it not only serves the Black bride, but it focuses on all multi-cultural brides.  The ‘About’ page states: “We cater to the growing multi-cultural wedding and events industry throughout the world with a vertical online marketplace connecting engaged couples to event professionals.” That line alone explains the best feature of the site: the vendors list.  The vendor list is extensive.  You can search for what you need based on specialty and location. To make the vendors list even more beneficial, Munaluchi Bride weeds out all those not really interested in serving the multi-cultural bride by having vendors fill out an application form and charging a membership fee for those who want to advertise on the site. Munaluchi also hosts wedding events in different cities so you have a chance to meet a few of them yourself.  For all of the multicultural brides out there looking for vendors who won’t automatically assume that you are an “Angry Black Woman” just because you say ‘no’ to a suggestion, this is the place for you.  

Resources for black bridesResources for black brides

Big thanks to my writer, the amazing Tashara Mitchell of Austin, TX, who has been working hard to help me craft posts that are inclusive and diverse.  It’s important to me to make sure that everyone is represented in my work and she’s the badass who is helping.  If you need marketing and ghost writing services, I can’t recommend her enough.

Tahoe wedding Photography

Turtle Rock Park Wedding | Markleeville, CA | Adam + Terin

My friend Terin is one crafty lady, and I don’t mean like a fox.  She’s so crafty that she and some of her best girlfriends host weekly craft nights.  They make, build and design things I wouldn’t even start to dream of.  Like quilts.  I’m pretty sure that’s a thing they’ve done that I don’t do.  I don’t even bother with a crafting club.  I straight up just go to Girls’ Drinking Club.  In fact, I’ve previously vowed to drink more wine just so that I have more corks to give to Jenna Palacio to craft me a wine cork wreath.  Moral of this story: Terin is a master crafter and she killed it at the DIY wedding.  Terin: 1.  Lauren: 0.  

When Terin started planning her wedding to another one of my good friends, Adam, she had the help of her family and friends to transform what is normally a bland looking cafeteria room at a local state park into the place of her dreams.  I was blown away by how they managed to turn Turtle Rock Park into a lush, intimate oasis.  It was nothing short of incredible.

Almost everything at Adam and Terin’s gorgeous Turtle Rock Park wedding was DIY: her sister made hundreds of tiny cheesecake cupcakes, she wore a reconstructed version of her mother’s wedding dress, they invented, built or designed all the table decor and screens for the ceiling, her mom made their bouquets, they created all the table runners and centerpieces themselves.  Seriously.

Adam and Terin were wed at an hilarity filled ceremony, peppered with tears and sentimentality, at a private estate at the edge of the Sierra Nevadas, overlooking the Nevada valley.  On our way there, they wanted to highlight all the scenery our backyard offers us, so the wedding party stopped in Hope Valley for photos.  The party got wild and went late into the night thanks to the boys at Liquid Craft mobile bartending and Dylan with Lake Tahoe DJ.  Adam is apparently also creative: he wrote Terin a song.  And then he sung it.  In front of everyone.  Meanwhile, everyone cried and laughed and then cried and laughed and then realized that Adam ruined weddings forever for all of their future because no one can top that.  Adam: 1.  Everyone else: 0.

Venue: Private Estate and Turtle Rock Park | Day of Coordinator: Shana Conway Schmidt | Mobile Bar: Liquid Craft | DJ: Lake Tahoe DJ | Bakery: Corie King (sister of the bride) | Catering: Stephen Moise | Bridesmaid Attire: Azazie | Groom’s Apparel: Amazon | Hair and Makeup: Katie White at Tahoe Salon Be | Rentals: Camelot Rentals | Second Photographer: Red, White and Brian Walker 

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Edgewood Wedding | Stateline, NV | Carolyn + Robert

In a strange turn of events, Carolyn and Robert ended up moving their Edgewood wedding to a completely different weekend after they booked me, which meant that I had not one but two back to back amazing Edgewood weddings on the same weekend.  I couldn’t believe my luck to end up with such fun awesome people for an entire weekend.  

Carolyn and Robert are amazing: they are super laid back and classic.  They wanted their wedding day to be a simple, classy celebration of their love for each other and I think they excelled at their grand vision.  Rev. Dr Osburn has known Carolyn all of her life and his ceremony was both personal and touching.  Their dog, Khaleesi, stole the show as the ring bearer and was only upstaged by one of the more epic Tahoe sunsets I’ve ever seen in my 11 year history here.  The sky was every color of the crayon box in 360 degrees.  I clearly couldn’t choose just one sunset portrait to include on their post so obviously there’s just way too many photos in here.  

Venue and Catering: Edgewood Golf Course and Resort | Day of Coordinator: Lindsay Johnson with Blue Sky Events | Officiant: Rev. Dr. Chuck Osburn | Florist: Thran’s | Invitations: Minted | Bakery: Flour Girl | DJ: Lake Tahoe DJ | Strings: Blue Forest Duo | Bride’s Attire: Trudy’s | Veil: Alt Brides | Bridal Party Attire: Lulu’s | Groom’s Attire: Tailors Keep | Hair and Make-up: Tahoe Salon Be | Second Photographer: The Quicker Picker Upper Nicky Lockman of Nemus Photography.

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