Highway to Happiness: Family Pictures

Wedding Recaps

Posed, formal family portraits were pretty low on my photography priority list, but even I can see that they’re nice to have–I just didn’t want to spend a lot of time taking them! I may have rushed our photographers a bit, and I appreciate their patience as I called out the groupings, adding one more person per group after each handful of shots.

We started with just us and Mama Leadfoot, then added in Dr. Aunt.

Originally SiL (blue dress) stood on the other side of her husband but my need for symmetry kicked in and I asked them to rearrange themselves.

Originally SiL (blue dress) stood on the other side of her husband but my need for symmetry kicked in and I asked them to rearrange themselves.

Then my brothers got into the picture, finally adding my sister-in-law. Mom sorta missed the everyone-stand-at-an-angle memo, but it’s all good.


Switch to Roadie’s family, starting with his mom, then adding dad in too. Roadie’s parents are divorced and don’t really interact all that much of their own volition so we were a little concerned about how tense this day might be. We needn’t have worried, though–they either took an oath to be shiny, happy people this day or their ire has mellowed over the years.


And Roadie’s sister completes the picture.

A funny thing happened with one of these pictures. Roadie’s dad posted one of the group shots on his Facebook page and a few people got really confused since he was wearing a white jacket and standing next to me. Someone on his friends list asked “D, you didn’t?!” And we always thought it was the women wearing white we had to worry about!

Looking back on the photos we do have (more than this, but I limited the ones in the post since, well, they only really matter to the people in them), I do wish I’d asked for one with us and both sides of the family together, but there’s nothing to be done about it now. It’s not a full-on regret, just wish I’d thought of it then.

At this point we were getting close to the start of cocktail hour so I sent our families up to the Gathering Hall so they wouldn’t have to rush (and so Mom could get some coffee). The golf cart would be coming down for us and we wanted time to take some staged getaway pictures with it before we arrived at Cocktail Hour, ourselves.



The Road Trip Wedding Recaps:


Achievement Unlocked: Photographer

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

When last I ranted wrote about the thoughts and search for a wedding photographer while planning a budget-minded wedding I was faced with seemingly few choices:

  1. Spend half our entire budget on a wedding photograher (conventional wisdom)
  2. Pay what we could afford but not be able to actually choose our own photographer (going with a photography group)
  3. Wait until a couple months before the wedding and try and score and up-and-comer on Craigslist or Facebook (last ditch before handing a friend my camera and hoping for a decent photo or two)

Seriously, that’s what the landscape looked like.

But I’m a little more stubborn than that, and I started searching afresh for someone out there who took good, no-nonsense photos without charging an arm and a leg. To do that, I did something a lot of people don’t: I went beyond the first page of search results. I clicked on every link listed in the WeddingWire photography directory and about midway through I found my glimmer of hope: Pink Shutterbug Photography.

Not only did she take straightforward photographs without a lot of over-processed filters applied, but she’s personable, quick with an email reply, and understands that not everyone has a photography budget of $2500+ but that everyone deserves decent wedding photos.

What makes her able to offer such affordable wedding packages is that she’s primarily a family photographer. She might do only one or two weddings a year, but she tells me she likes it that way–she gets to enjoy the shoots more than always wrapping up one to go straight off to another.

After a few dozen emails back and forth, we met for an in-person meeting and signed the contract then and there. I couldn’t see finding someone a better fit for our budget and we got along swimmingly. Better yet? She includes an engagement session in her package–great opportunity to work together before the actual wedding day–and delivers strictly digital files, just what I was looking for.

She wasn’t the only photographer I reached out to, of course. There was another who did her best to work with our budget but it meant one shooter for half the hours and no engagement session and was still 50% more than we really wanted to spend. We could have made it work, but I’m glad we didn’t have to.

Our engagement shoot was in January, and I’ll go into more details in another post, but here’s the teaser collage she posted on Facebook, just to give you an idea of what you can get if you really look hard enough:

It can’t be all about price, of course, but when you’re on a tight budget, price can’t be discarded from the discussion entirely. What lengths were you willing to go to, to find the vendors you needed?

Picture This

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Photos are the one thing you take away from this very expensive, very busy day.

Or so the conventional wisdom goes.

And I agree, to a certain extent. The dress? Not going to have many opportunities to wear it again. The food? Eaten. The venue? No longer your own personal playground. The memories? Intangible.

So photos to the rescue. To show you what you didn’t see when you were talking to Uncle Eddie with your back to the rest of the room. To catch those little (sometimes staged) moments between you and your beloved, one of which you can blow up to 16×20 and have printed on canvas for your wall.

Or not.

See, we’re not the hang pictures of ourselves on the wall type of people. We’re not planning to have children, so no generations to pass them down to. And if our respective histories are any indication, we’re not going to pull out the album every anniversary and get all schmoopy over the pictures again.

Not that there’s anything wrong with any of the above behaviors, it’s just not us.

For the record, there were 3 separate videos taken of my first wedding and I’ve yet to see even 5 seconds of any of them. Of those wedding photos, the ones I valued most (we had a photographer-friend offer to take the pictures for the cost of the film–which we had developed ourselves) were the random, candid shots of folks at the reception. Mr. Road Trip thinks he might have watched his wedding video with his ex (before she was an ex, obviously) maybe twice in the 10 years they were married? And the photos flipped through about the same.

So when I see starting “investments” of $2500 or more for a local photographer (that being half our total wedding budget), I start thinking that the majority of pro photographers aren’t for us.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not even for a moment trying to say that photographers don’t earn every penny of their fee. Sure, a chunk goes into the physical album (which we do not want included, and I’ve asked several photographers at bridal shows ‘Do you have a package without an album?’ and, with the exception of the one dude with the very nice custom flash drives in their own wooden boxes, they all fluster and bluster about how we can’t possibly NOT want an album), but their time is just as important, and therefore valuable, as my own. They have a business to run and I respect that.

Nor am I whining about how I want stuff I can’t afford and hoping the Universe will hand it to me on a silver platter. Because that’s just it: I’m not lusting after a certain out-of-budget photographer. I don’t have visions of dreamy shots or over-saturated artistic interpretations. And I certainly have no desire to traipse around our venue for 2 hours doing photo after photo of T and I staring dreamily at each other; away from each other; at some indeterminate spot in the distance. Nor do I want a single shot of someone’s hands holding some tiny thing like it’s a fragile baby bird. This is a wedding, not a catalog shoot.

Yes, I want photos. Of us with our friends, of our ceremony, of our friends having fun and laughing and eating and drinking. I see the perfect photographer for us as a personal paparazzi-meets-photojournalist. No avant-garde artistic sensibilities, just an honest representation of the day, however it turns out.

And I’ve got a feeling that’s out there. At a price that won’t strangle what’s left of our budget after the venue, food, drinks, and attire have taken their chunks out. I just have to find it, is all.

So tell me, am I alone in my photography is not the most important thing ever sentiment? 

I named this the ketchup & mustard vortex--after this we all made use of the hairdryers to dry the background enough to continue. And get more wine.

Artsy Play Date | Painting with a Twist

Everyday Adventures

Last Friday night a friend of mine celebrated her birthday in a very fun way: by inviting us to join her at the local Painting with a Twist studio for food, wine, and fun with paints and brushes.

What were we painting?

The fun thing about Painting with a Twist is that anyone can do it. An instructor leads you through the composition of the night, step-by-step, and everything–paints, canvas, brushes, easel, the works!–is included in your class fee. Our picture was a 2-hour class–yes, we all did this in just 2 hours-and our instructor was just the cutest thing and worked very well with our, uh, spirited group! They also let (nay, encourage!) you to bring in food and drinks to make the atmosphere that much more relaxed.

I took some photos as the painting developed, just so you could see the process

Our cute-as-a-button instructor, Laura

Step 1: Yellow surrounded by darker yellow--Laura called these two French's and Dijon

Step 1: Yellow surrounded by darker yellow–Laura called these two French’s and Dijon

I named this the ketchup & mustard vortex--after this we all made use of the hairdryers to dry the background enough to continue. And get more wine.

I named this the ketchup & mustard vortex–after this we all made use of the hairdryers to dry the background enough to continue. And get more wine.

Step 3: Adding in the dark–respect the black paint!–shadows in three of the corners.

Step 4: Adding the hill in the remailing corner

Step 5 and then some–things moved rather quickly once we started adding the tree, the orbs, the details on the tree, the centers of the orbs, our leaves and a bird. I made my bird into a wonky little peacock just because.

It was a great 2 hours (okay, we ran a smidgen long due to excessive celebration, lol) and while I didn’t exactly learn anything new or earth-shattering, many of the girls got a significant confidence boost in regards to their own creativity. Many are planning to go back for another class (each store posts a schedule of the available nights and what painting will be taught, you just sign up for the one(s) you’re interested in–and there are locations all over the country!) and I did entertain the fleeting thought of seeing if they had any instructor openings. Emphasis on fleeting, though–I could do it, but I really don’t have time. Still, it would be so much fun, like when I taught cake decorating but with WAY fewer calories.

Next week I’ll be back with a couple more creative gift-wrap solutions, and then maybe we’ll eventually get back to woodworking 😉

Have you done anything fun and creative this week?