Chart House Wedding

Chart House Wedding | Ashley + Tim

Once upon a time, two people named Ashley and Tim hired me to be their Chart House wedding photographer and to do an engagement session with them in my hometown of Dallas, TX but really what’s really important is that we got drunk and ate pizza and they met my mom and we became best friends forever.   

True story.

Tim is from Northern CA and he convinced Ashley that they should get married in Tahoe in August of this past year.  She was very concerned that it was going to rain.  “It never rains in Tahoe in the summer,” Tim assured her over and over.  “It NEVER rains in Tahoe in the summer!” I exclaimed with ultimate authority over and over.

It POURED.

But thankfully it poured seconds AFTER their ceremony and stopped by the first dance so clearly they are going to have the best of luck for the rest of their lives, which is what we tell people so that they feel better when it rains on their wedding day but is actually a lie.

Second true story.

Ashley’s aunts can really break it down on the dancefloor.  

Third true story.

Also, I went home with one of their wedding guests.

True or false?  You decide.

We were also all super pumped to do a post wedding portrait session and we went tromping all over the rocks out at Angora Lakes a few days later so I included some of those gorgeous images at the end of their wedding images.

Venue: The Chart House | Florist: Thran’s | DJ: Cornerstone Entertainment | Bride’s Attire: Allure Bridals from Terry Costa | Bridesmaid Attire: Lulu’s | Groom’s Apparel: J Crew | Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux | Rentals: Camelot Party Rentals

Chart House Wedding Chart House Wedding Bride and Groom

Bride Groom dancing

7 Ways to Hold a Charitable Wedding

Let’s all be honest here: weddings cost a lot of money for all parties involved.  The spending spree usually starts with the hefty purchase of the engagement ring, and continues beyond the honeymoon.  For some people the excessive consumerism required to plan a wedding is something they could do without.  Planning the “Wedding of the Year” doesn’t mean you have to be the biggest spender of the year. Of course, we all know there are some big cost involved, but many couples are now working to make their wedding less about consuming and more about charity. If you are looking for opportunities to use your special day to help improve the lives of those in your community, consider some of the ideas below as ways to hold a charitable wedding.

marraige proposal

Consider Making Your Bachelor or Bachelorette Party a Volunteer Event.  

Think about some of your favorite hobbies.  In what ways can you and your bridal party use those interests or skills to serve others?  Are you a huge animal lover or often get called “the dog whisperer”? The local animal shelters are always in need of volunteers to come out and help walk or spend time with lonely pups. Or maybe you have always wanted to help at your local food pantry, they usually need small volunteer groups to help organize their donations.  Take your bridal party out for a few hours of community service and maybe continue the party with drinks later that night.  It’s the perfect opportunity to blend helping your community with spending time with your favorite guys or gals.

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Host a Food Drive During Your Engagement Party or Bridal Shower.

If you are already anticipating a massive influx of wedding gifts, why not dedicate your bridal shower or engagement party gifts to charity.  Instead of having guest bring you a gift personally, maybe ask that they bring in a bag of canned goods or other non-perishable food items.  You can also ask friends who may not have time to attend the entire shower to just drop by, say hello and drop off donations as well.  Guests might be relieved to not have to choose the perfect gift to bring and have an even better time focusing on the actual event.

Bride and Groom

Use Amazon Smile When Making Wedding Purchases.

AmazonSmile is a great way to make sure that all your spending does some good too. AmazonSmile allows you to choose a charity and they in turn will donate a percentage of what you spend to your chosen organization.  To go a step further, if you have an amazon wedding registry you can ask your guest to use your charity when shopping for your wedding gifts to ensure that even more donations make it their way.

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Have Your Bridesmaids or Groomsmen Donate their Unwanted Wedding Attire to an “Operation Prom” Organization.

Okay, they don’t have to tell you upfront that they thought your choice of dress was hideous or that they can’t think of when they would ever wear it again, but making this an option for your special ladies or gentleman can help ease the uncomfortable thoughts they may have about the best way to get rid of that dress without you finding out. Give them the out they are so desperately seeking and let it go to some lucky teenage girl or boy who might not otherwise be able to afford a formal gown. There are several organizations out there that provide gently used evening attire to teenagers who are not able to afford a prom dress or tux on their own. A few to look into are “Project G.L.A.M,”   “Operation Prom” and “Becca’s Closet.” You can either have your wedding party bring clothes to change into after the reception and leave it in an available closet or box, or arrange for drop off after the wedding.  Either way, you make some gal or guy’s prom dreams come true.

Guests with food

Donate Leftover Wedding Food and Goodies to a Local Homeless Shelter or Food Pantry

Along with wedding attire, there is usually tons of leftover, unwanted food and wedding trinkets that family and friends of the bride and groom are practically begging guests to take as they walk out the door.  Even with all the pleading, much of it gets left behind and unfortunately thrown away. A great way to prevent this from happening and help your family and friend “clean-up crew,” is to plan to donate all the leftover food to people who really need it.  Local shelters and food pantries generally welcome all the help with extra food they can get.  Just designate someone (or a few people) in advance to be the delivery guys and feel good knowing you saved a piece of a landfill and you helped feed your community at the same time.

No gifts please

In Lieu of Wedding Gifts, ask Guests for Donations

In a day and time when many couples already live together pre-marriage, the same old wedding registry gifts of housewares are just not needed anymore.  If you have already outfitted your home the way you want, and have all you need, why not forego the registry altogether and have guests donate to a specific non-profit cause?  There are a couple of ways to do this, but first choose a charity that is important to you as a couple.  Then you can either have guests donate on their own, or use a website that allows you to create a “charity registry.” It’s a bit more like a “GoFundMe” than a Macy’s registry, but it gives you the opportunity to share the story of why you as a couple want to support this particular charity. You then share the link with guests, so they can donate. 

Resources for black brides

Use Vendors Who Give Back

If you have been planning your celebration for even a short amount of time, you know that not all vendors are created equal.  There are lots of reasons couples choose the vendors they want to work with, but a great way to help you decide is to find out if they are giving back. Many vendors are socially conscious and not only want to build their business, but they also want to build their communities.  I give 10% of my profits each year to a non-profit that I choose based on it’s connections to my clients.  This year, my beneficiary is the Girls and Boys Club of Lake Tahoe.  You can read more about my current and former recipients here Consider using a network of vendors like “Black Sheep Bride,” which I am a founding member of, to find charitable, like-minded wedding and event vendors, who you know are using some of your money for good works; after all, it may take a little bit of the sting out of the costs! 

Tahoe backyard wedding

Tahoe Backyard Wedding | Incline Village, NV | Dost + Nick

These two. 

I adore them. 

I’m so thankful to call them friends now.  They love music, and dancing, and laughter, and good food.  They are adventurous, curious and sardonic.  They say yes when I invite them to concerts by bands they’ve never heard of and they invite me to concerts by bands that I’ve never heard of.  They are willing to go to burlesque shows starring my former clients.  They like brunch (but, I mean, never trust a person that doesn’t).  They have some incredible moves on the dancefloor.

Dost and Nick wanted an intimate backyard gathering with their motley crew of far flung friends and family.  Their guest list was as diverse as they are, with folks coming from as far away as Turkey.  They rented a beautiful house directly on the water through VRBO for their Tahoe backyard wedding and as an added surprise, it decided to snow that week.  Bonus: Dost made good use of a thrift store fur coat that was perfect for the occasion, which is to say, it was fucking freezing that day and she had no choice but looked amazing in it.

We were all thankful for the tent and for the best DJ around Dave Berkman, who was willing to completely break down and move mid-day his entire setup inside so everyone could cut a rug the grass in relative comfort while it was 40 degrees out in Tahoe in September.

Dost and Nick have since told me that they were drawn to my work because they loved the way I capture movement and motion, which is something their dancefloor had plenty of!  I’m so incredibly honored to not only have been part of their day, but have new friends also.

Venue: VRBO | Caterers: Carson City BBQ | Rentals: Celebrations Rentals | DJ: Ascent DJ | Bride’s Attire: Maggie Sottero | Groom’s Attire: Paul Smith

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Holly's Ocean Bluff Wedding

Holly’s Ocean Bluff Wedding | Fort Bragg, CA | Simon + Vanessa

This Holly’s Ocean Bluff wedding is too special not to blog right away.  Simon and Vanessa came to me by way of a former wedding.  Simon’s sister, Kendra and her now husband Tom, hired me to photograph their wedding last summer.  It was one of my favorite weddings of the year because their friends and family were so vibrant, generous in spirit, and welcoming of Nicky and I.  When Simon and Vanessa became engaged, they immediately reached out to me about photographing their wedding as well.  It always makes me feel incredibly special to be part of a family for multiple events – whether it be watching families grow and share and capturing their portraits, or photographing multiple weddings for the same family.

When I showed up for Simon and Vanessa’s rehearsal dinner celebration (tacos and wine mind you – I think it was actually planned just for me), Uncle Glenn told me that I did such a good job on Kendra and Tom’s wedding that I could definately “take it easy this time and phone it in.”  Needless to say, I did no such thing and a lot of fun, a beautiful ceremony overlooking an ocean bluff, family formals in the rain, some insanely delicious food, and an exceptionally raucous dance party filled their amazing day.

It was so fun to see so many of Simon and Kendra’s good friends and family members for the 2nd year in a row.  Being hired repeatedly is an honor that I do not take lightly and I hope that Simon and Vanessa love their wedding photos as much as I loved taking them.

Venue: Holly’s Ocean Meadow | Coordinator: Sonya Houston from Mendocino Weddings | Florist: Rosa Wyglendowski of L&R Farms | Catering: Karina’s Catering | DJ: DJ DLT | Bride’s Attire: BHLDN | Hair and Makeup: Marianella from M Salon | Rentals: Matt Rowland Events | Second Photographer: Chris Arson

 

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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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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.

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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.

Resources for black bridesResources for Black BridesResources for black brides

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.