17 Lessons learned as a wedding photographer

Being a lifelong learner.

Each wedding is unique in itself, just like each couple.  Of course, being a professional, brides and grooms have certain expectations when hiring their wedding photographer.  Tips, suggestions, referrals, the list is ongoing and I’m always so thankful that my brides (and even grooms too!) trust in our relationship and seek advice from me on different aspects of their wedding day.  As much helpful information as I do offer to share, I’m always still learning too!  

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I have a wedding workflow. It’s similar to a roadmap from inquiry to delivery for each wedding. Each “project” is customized to fit the needs of each couple. I find that the more organized I come into each wedding day, the more my couples can relax and are able to enjoy their day.
But with all these workflows, experiences and numerous weddings I photograph each year, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that each one teaches me something new. Sometimes, it is related to the art, sometimes to business, fashion, perfume, and my favorite is when it’s just a life skill. I am a life long learner and blessed to have the opportunity to be in a working/learning/creating life.

17 lessons I learned in 2017 as a wedding photographer.

 

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Stick to your goals

 Spencer and Abby  
I love the friendship that has blossomed between us. But they really taught me one of the most amazing lessons. It’s actually a story I think I have shared with almost every bride I have met since. Their ceremony was scheduled to take place on the beautiful front lawn at Haseltine. Unfortunately, the morning was full of a light mist and just but a bit of a damper on “the plan” You know, that workflow I mentioned earlier. That morning on my drive to the venue, I worked and reworked my game plan around to ensure that all the things would be done fluidly and without too much disruption to the plans that were it into place. When I arrived and walked into the BEST BRIDAL SUITE IN MISSOURI, there she was.
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My girl Abby was grinning ear to ear and didn’t have a care in the world about the rain. Just barely misting, we had a beautiful private first loook between Abby and Spencer and then invited the bridal party to join us for pictures. We made use of the property, (I had Abby put my handy dandy red hunter boots on ). We completed portraits andAbby went to the hiding place to wait for the ceremony. I distinctly remember her saying “We just want to get married outside. That’s what we’re going to do.”
The ceremony began and as Abby walked down the isle glowing like the beauty she is, the light mist turned to a steady rain. Spencer and Abby shared some small laughs and continued on.
It is probably one of the most beautiful ceremonies I have ever seen! They were so intuned with one another, they didn’t seem to mind (maybe not even notice)!!!
The lesson I’ve taken away from this is how “brave” they were. They had a dream of an outdoor wedding, and they stuck to it, no matter what anyone else had to say about it.

 

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It’s the little things, am I right?

Ambrielle and John 
It’s no surprise that one of my favorite parts of a wedding day are the details. When I arrive on the wedding day, I love starting out photographing this things because it helps “set” my creative mood so to speak. I had known that Ambrielle and John had a love for all things Disney and Cinderella and knew that would play a big part of their “fairytale”.

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Their love story was a long one as they first met in 2nd or 3rd grade and dated while in high school. But the romance was not missing on this day. They had waited for this day for a long time!!!  Ambrielle, being the HUGE Cinderella fan had a glass slipper.  A few years ago, her family’s home burned down and she lost her glass slipper.  That is until she opened her wedding gift from John.  I just love a personal well thought out gift.  Look at those emotions!!!  It’s so important to “feel all the feels” on your wedding day.  The perfection is in the real imperfect moments.

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In the end, it’s just about those you love the most

Bear Creek | Walnut Shade, Missouri

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These two didn’t bat an eye at the negatives being thrown their way.  I’m proud of them for “sticking to their guns”  Look at you know guys!  Almost a year in and you’ve got quite the life started.  xoxo
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Keep challenging yourself

Brittany and Josh 
 The Old Glass Place | Springfield Missouri

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It’s Spring in Missouri and our rainiest two months of the year are continuing.  I can’t imagine having a rained out wedding day with any other couple.  They handled the entire day with their amazing laid back attitudes and grace.  I was blessed to work with them!!  The lessons I learned from this day was to take the opportunity and JUMP.  We had just a little over 30 minutes of rain free skys and I used every second of that to ensure that Josh and Brittany had timeless portraits of the two of them on their wedding day.  The situation also pushed me to stretch my imagination and creativity to try new things (aka their first look) which has come to be one of my favorite portraits ever.  Just love this couple!

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If you build it, they will come.

Erica and Alex
Private Property | Tunas Missouri

Charity Fent Cake Design Wedding Cake

Umm, this location was unbelievable!  Erica’s family has an old farm and they literally BUILT her venue fashioned from the original structures.  They had a “vision” and made it happen.  They gave themselves plenty of time to plan out and actualize their dream wedding.  It was well worth it!  Not only was the scenery beautiful, but the love of family these two share was so much fun to see.  It was such a fun wedding to be part of!

Outdoor Wedding Pavilion

Bride and Groom outside in Septmeber

Strive for Grace, not perfection

Gabbi and Sean
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton | The Diamond Room | Springfield Missouri
I went into this day feeling pretty confident, after all, the weekend before I had rocked through the rain with Abby and Spencer…..
The problem this time was it wasn’t misting. It was a strong, heavy rain ALL DAY LONG. From the moment I arrived to the end of the reception.

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Gabbi an Sean chose not to have a first look together before the ceremony, so upon completion of family pictures we had a lot of work to do before arriving at the Diamond Room.

Groom and Groomsmen at Hotel Vandivort

We headed to Hotel Vandivort and they were gracious enough to let us take over the lobby for just a bit (before the prom crowd arrived). I desperately wanted a brick wall setting… We ran across the street and the girls at Norman’s Bridal were absolutely amazing. Moving a showcase to let us snap on the exposed brick.

In that moment, I realized, no one really can work alone in this industry alone. It takes a village. Way to Go Springfield!!

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bride and groom on staircase at Hotel Vandivort

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4 (or 6)  hands are always better than 2!

Hannah and Connor |

Haseltine Estate | Springfield Missouri

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I had gotten to take a small break and a few weekends off to enjoy with my boys and some beautiful weather. Pumped about photographing these two high school sweethearts, who happen to also be my former students, I couldn’t wait to run all over Haseltine and photograph their pool side reception.
And then the tornado sirens started….

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The Reception area was set. Thankfully we had some super awesome friends there able to move the tables under the tent, but we were literally 45 minutes before ceremony time. I am SO greatful Hannah invested in having a Coordinator as part of her vendor team. I’m a fixer, but in this situation, there were things out of my control, Ryan (with complete events) and Tyler and Natalie (the venue owners) we all had to drop what we were doing and move to plan B, for each of our parts. There was no time to help one another out, we all had big checklists that needed to be fulfilled and there was a line of guests arriving. Thank goodness Mary, with Bringing it Together Events was there to make sure all things that needed to be happening were AND taking care of and calming our bride and bridal party.
The lesson in this is even though we professionally work in this industry, there can always be a situation where things are out of control. Having a Coordinator was priceless on this day, not only for the bride and groom but also for their vendor team.

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bride and groom on lawn at Haseltine Estate

LIVE your life, and don’t take it too seriously.

Holly and Mike
Stone Chapel, Drury University | Historic Firehouse No. 2 Springfield Missouri

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Oh the lessons learned from these two!  Too many to count, but I think the biggest one I took away is to keep those you love close to you and ENJOY them.  Have fun in life!  Don’t take yourself too seriously and if there isn’t good music, then there is no need to come!  LOL  Don’t be worried about throwing some traditions to the wind!  Holly and Mike were so thoughtful in that one of their friends birthday’s happened to be on their wedding day.  They had a custom birthday cake made for him and we all sang Happy Birthday!  I love that, even though this was “their day” they were selfless and thought of others throughout!

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Learn to laugh at the things that are out of your control

Jessica and Mike
Missouri State University Catholic Campus Ministries | The Diamond Room

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A life lesson that we all need reminders of one and a while, sometimes things happen that are just out of our control and you just have to go with it.  Do the best you can with the tools and knowledge you have.  And then.  you have to move on.  The moving on thing is something I have ALWAYS struggled with, no matter if in work or life, I am a fixer, I want to solve all the problems.  These two were such a an inspiring couple as they handled some things out of their control with such grace.  From the heat of the day, the blaring sun to a few other things that will stay just between us 😃  They showed GRACE!

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EVERYTHING is better with florals!

Libbi and Matt 
Kingsway United Methodist Springfield Missouri | Old Towne Event Center Republic Missouri

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I remember the very first time LIbbianna and I sat down for coffee. I kind of fell in love with her right then, I think we’re kindred spirits. Nothing is a better surprise than running into these two frequently throughout this year and catching up, of course after a round of hugs!
I’ve always loved flowers, but LIbbi’s decor taught me that there is nothing like florals and just how much they add to the aesthetics and over all feel of a wedding celebration. Not only this, but the addition of the floral bridesmaid dresses and men’s ties was just amazballz. Libbi and Matt’s wedding day was exactly what I would have pictured for “old romance”. Every detail truly fit that.
You can see Libbi and Matt’s wedding Featured in the Winter 2018 Edition of 417 Bride Magazine right HERE.

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In everything, remember who you are.

Mackenzie and Tanner
Stonegate Glass Chapel | Walnut Shade, Missouri

 

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June is for love, that’s fo sure!!!  I remember when I first learned you were wearing chaco’s for your wedding day, and I thought hmmmm, this is fun!  That’s different and cute.  But the more I thought about it, photographed your wedding and completed your gallery I realized that those shoes stand for so much more!  Mackenzie has such a love for life and a smile that will literally knock you over.  She’s a HAPPY person!  She has fun and see’s so much positivity around her.  She’s always ready to run to the next adventure, and you can’t do that without chacos!! 😃

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I love that you kept an everyday part of who you are and incorporated it into your wedding. And, let’s be honest, you may be the smartest one, because you had comfy shoes on all day!!!

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Be kind and generous

Meredith and Adam
The Savoy Ballroom | Springfield Missouri

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Ohhhh, these two!  Just really two of the most unique, genuine, kind people I have ever had the opportunity to work with.  From the get go, Meredith, you gave me such a huge amount of trust and you will never know what that has done for me.  I will be forever grateful! ;The ease of this day, each little detail was just pure enjoyment!!! One of my favorite moments was getting to hear Shawn Whoever play live for the first time, and the fact that you danced to Metallica with your husband was pretty cool! I loved how you intertwined each of your religious faiths to customize a beautiful ceremony! Mazel Tov!!!!

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Be brave and take more portraits in the “off” season.

Samantha and Brandon 

Weathered Wisdom Barn| Preston, Missouri

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My first News Years Day wedding. So fun and exciting and at one of the most breathtaking barn venues in southwest Missouri (although would Preston, maybe considered Central Missouri?). I didn’t have the opportunity to meet this special couple until their wedding day. Not being local to the area, we spent a lot of time communicating via email and although I knew this was important, they really helped me see HOW much more important it is for a destination wedding. We established a strong relationship before their wedding day and they were able to sit back and enjoy their time with friends and family.
I’m also thankful for these two for helping me discover this deep love I have for winter portraits. I find myself becoming more confident and experimenting more and more with the look or bare tree’s and bold colors.

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Keep diving into your love of history and heritage

Hannah and Mark
St. Agnes Cathedral | The Old Glass Place | Springfield Missouri

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So thankful to have gotten to photograph this beautiful wedding day planned and organized by Allie, with Allie Rose Events.  Hannah and Mark traveled from Montana for their wedding, but family flew in from all over the world!  This was my first time photographing men in Kilts, and seeing how beautiful the additional traditions they incorporated into the ceremony and reception focused on both their heritages.  

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Hold his hand, just because.

Caitlyn and Cody
Private Estate | Willard Missouri

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There was so much beauty to this day!  But one of my favorite things, and it may not seem like a “big deal” to others, but I LOVED it!  Caitlyn and Cody got ready in the estate together.  They saw each other, chatted, and I captured this quick little hand holding as they checked in on some details.  They honestly just wanted to not “overthink” things, and that was awesome.  They still had a first look, which was AMAZING, but they weren’t going above and beyond to hide from one another while getting ready.  The entire atmosphere of this day was relaxed and such a magical thing to be a part of and to wind down the 2017 wedding season.

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When someone helps you out, let them know you are greatful.

Lindsey and Andrew
Holy Trinity Catholic Church | Haseltine Estate Springfield Missouri

 

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Brrrrrr, it truly was a great day, but another awesome lesson in being prepared for anything!  A lot of “behind the scenes” types of things (ie: the reception tent blowing away 2 days before the wedding)  Another great reminder of how important it is to have a professional doing some awesome coordinating. Love you Bringing it Together Events!

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But, despite all the little things and the CRAZY out of season cold weather, Andrew and Lindsey were so much fun getting to know and work with!!!  The icing on the cake, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard with such a beautiful bridal party!  Just a reminder that even though this is “one of the biggest days of your life” to keep it real and enjoy the time with your family and friends!

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Dress like a super model 3-4 times a week.  (ok, it’s a lofty goal…)

Christa and Brandon
Stone Chapel, Drury University | 425 Downtown Springfield Missouri

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It’s obvious that these two are pretty easy on the eyes, but their outward beauty has nothing on how awesome of hearts they have!  Friendly and fun!  I took away so many things from their wedding day, but I think one of the most important things I took away to share was the “quiet time”.  I arrived at Hotel Vandivort while Christa was getting ready and she was enjoying a few quiet minutes alone after having her hair and make up done.  No one was there with her, she had time to breathe, relax and just be “present” for the day.
She wasn’t alone forever, and her bridesmaids and mom’s arrived when it was time to get dresses, but just that 30-45 minutes of “peace” made a big difference.  It was pretty amazing to see the calming literally wrap around her.  It was/is a nice reminder to just sit and “be” every once in a while.

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You can see Christa and Brandon’s wedding featured in the 2018 Winter Edition of 417 Bride Magazine right HERE.

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Tomato Tomatoe.

Just as mentioned before, each wedding is so unique, so special, and each one has their own little lessons to be taught.  You can learn so much about people and take away something for yourself.  I always do!!


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Weddings to remember

2017 was full of so many more amazing couples, trials, lessons, big wins, and major magic.  I’m so thankful for those Sunday “wedding hangovers”, when my feet hurt so bad, it hurts to walk across the house!!  I’m thankful that I get to meet these people.  I’m thankful for all of these (and many more) lessons.  Whatcha got 2018?  I’m ready!!!

Joy and Chaos,

Mandy

Sycamore Creek Family Ranch Bride and Groom watching Sunset