Siegel Thurston Photography » Capturing the Images of Your Life for a Lifetime

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Wedding planning can be incredibly overwhelming. There is so much to consider; flowers, the dress, tuxedos, bridesmaids and groomsmen, venue…the list goes on and on. We are Southern California and Phoenix wedding photographers, so we understand how stressful the planning stages can be. Lots of couples don’t want to get caught up in the hoopla of planning a wedding and simply go for the traditional cake, D.J. and a church hall venue…which is great and all, but we’re here to tell you that planning an extraordinary wedding doesn’t have to be chaotic and time consuming. Here is a list of 6 ways you can make your wedding day phenomenal without all of the hullabaloo.

1. Create a VIP Lounge

 Make your guests feel like a VIP by creating a sort of VIP lounge at your reception. Off to one side of the dance floor, place a few comfy chairs or couches and a table with some candles to give your guests somewhere less formal to congregate. As a bonus, put up a curtain and a red rope for a more VIP look.

2. Hire a Few Reception Ushers

 High-end clubs and restaurants have ushers that show guests to their tables, so why not have ushers at your reception? You can ask the ushers from your ceremony to double at the reception or consider coordinating with your caterer to see if the wait staff can help out. This is an elegant way to welcome your guests to the reception and give them that personal touch.

3. Offer Cocktails Before the Nuptials

 Surprise your guests with light cocktails before the ceremony begins. Keep them simple like wine, mimosas or fruit infused waters or herbal teas. Your ushers can sweep through and gather up the empty glasses before the ceremony begins and your guests will be refreshed and ready to help you celebrate your special day.

4. Jazz Up Your Escort Cards

 You want your guests to know how special they are and how much you appreciate them sharing your special day with you, so give them a little token of your appreciation with a unique escort card. Forego the usual boring paper place cards that usually just get thrown away and opt for something more meaningful. You could put the cards on stick and place them in small plants that the guests can take with them. You can even choose something edible like a cake pop with the guest’s name on it. The sky’s the limit, so don’t hesitate to be creative.

5. Go All Out on Your Welcome Bags

 Welcome bags are a popular way to welcome your guests to your event. They are especially wonderful for destination weddings. Stock your welcome bags with gourmet chocolates or petit fours from a local bakery. You can include miniature bottles of champagne, maps of the local area, or even a gift certificate to an area coffee shop. Whatever you choose, make sure that your gifts are personal, thoughtful, and memorable.

6. Make Even the Littlest Guests Feel Special

 Let Mom and Dad enjoy the evening by providing a special space just for kids. You can create a make-shift child care center in a room close to your venue so parents can stop by and check in on their little ones and still enjoy the reception. Hire baby sitters to come up with games and crafts for the little ones and provide yoga mats if they start to get sleepy.

These are just a few of the many ways you can make your wedding day unique and memorable for everyone. Let us know what you think of this post by leaving us a comment below. Have you ever tried any of these ideas? Which one was your favorite? As one of the top SoCal and Phoenix wedding photographers, we’d love to hear from you.

Photo above from a recent clients’ wedding, Ashley and Jeremy, wed this spring.

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Congratulations! You’ve gotten engaged, you’ve started planning your wedding, and now on to some of the details that will make your wedding day dreams come alive — selecting your color scheme, your bridal party and their look.

Now we’ve all been in weddings before where we’ve ended up with a closet full of dresses that despite what the bride might of said when she showed you what dresses you were wearing—you knew you would never wear again.

All of that has been changing the last few years, changes that have made both the bride and the bridesmaids equally as happy.

There’s so many fabulous trends in the latest in bridesmaid fashion the last few years, and one that has remained tried and true and timeless is allowing your bridesmaids to choose the style of dress they’re wearing.

Don’t worry, before the thought of having girls in random styles and colors of dresses surrounding you on your wedding day — one of the best parts about this trend is YOU still get to pick what you want them to wear, but they get to choose a dress style and silhouette that is most flattering on them.

With the trend of having mix & match or mismatched dresses, one of the most popular variances of this is for you to pick the color and a selection of styles and they pick which style they’re wearing. Depending on how large your bridal party is may determine how many styles you let your ‘maids choose from. For example, for a bridal party of eight, you may select anywhere up to four styles for your girls to choose from. For bridal parties as small as four, maybe just two options. You just want to make sure that there’s never just one person in one sort of style, unless you want to do what some brides do, have the maid or matron of honor wearing a different style from the rest of the bridesmaids.

So with choosing your color, (this is usually the primary color of your wedding color scheme), and choosing a handful of styles, you create a win-win situation for everyone, you look beautiful, your wedding looks beautiful and not only do your bridesmaids look beautiful, but they also FEEL beautiful standing next to you on one of the most important days of your life.

What exactly does this look like? We loved how one of our recent brides, Sydney, coordinated this for her bridal party of seven.


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Sydney went with one of 2015’s hottest hues for weddings and bridesmaid dresses this year: royal blue. Notice how you still get the uniform look, but you also get a variation of styles that flatter each figure and in a way that doesn’t make any of the dresses look out of place.

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Here you can see the bridal party is wearing the same color, but two different styles: a strapless option and a sleeveless option. One of the key things to remember with this trend is selecting dresses that are the same type of fabric to add to the uniformity. That way even with each girl wearing a different style, the bridal party still looks consistent.

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They’re just absolutely lovely. Congrats again to the Wilhelms, it was a pleasure to be a part of your special day!

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We had so much fun with Dave, Ashlee and their adorable kiddos, at their Pine Top family photo session.  Ashlee found some to die for locations tucked away in the neighborhood near their cabin.  The neighbors were more than happy to let us all take a stroll through their woods and relax for a few fun photos by their little red barn.   A big thanks to Dave and Ashlee for such a fun family photo session!

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First comes love, then comes marriage. And in between? Hours upon hours of wedding dress shopping — and all the stress, fights and over-consumption of Champagne that comes along with it.

But here, Nara Ragimov, manager of the ultra-luxe bridal salon at Bergdorf Goodman, and Joan Joffe, one of Bergdorf’s top bridal consultants, reveal how to shop for your special day like a pro. Take a look:

Leave the entourage at home

“Brides love to share this moment with their closest friends and family,” says Joffe. “But please remember this day is all about you.” Ragimov and Joffe recommend bringing no more than two or three guests.

“Too many people distract the bride from what she really likes,” explains Ragimov. “The sister or friend, maybe they’re imagining themselves in a wedding gown. [The bride] often walks away a little bit disappointed because in some cases, they maybe have already decided on something, and then they have this huge crew and all the opinions that come along with it.”

Ditch the hot pink thong for the day

“Always make sure to bring along nude or skin tone undergarments,” advises Joffe, who says turquoise and fuschia underwear will show through the white dress.

Although it’s difficult for brides to imagine walking down the aisle when they look straight out of a Britney Spears video, bright underwear is better than no underwear.

“Sometimes they come in without underwear, and the bridal consultants here, they don’t like that,” says Ragimov. “So we make them buy a pair of underwear. It’s not sanitary!”

Take it easy with the champers — and make sure to eat

With engagements comes loads of celebrations (and drinks) — and often, bridal salons offer the lady-of-the-moment and her gang some complimentary Champagne. Ragimov, however, advises not to have more than a couple glasses.

“We’ve had girls who come in and want to play with a lot of their friends, and they’ll keep asking for more and more Champagne, because they want to make this a whole experience,” she says.

And be sure to have a bite to eat beforehand.

“Every few months we get a bride who turns pale white and feels faint,” says Ragimov.

“Maybe they didn’t eat, or they’re dieting or nervous, or they’ve been standing for a long time in their dress,” she adds. “But it’s important to stay hydrated and nourished.”

Honesty is the best policy

Joffe says to be upfront with your bridal consultant when it comes to your tastes, size and budget.

“On occasion, we do get that bride who will say, ‘Don’t order it in a size 8. Order it in a 6, because I am going to lose weight,’ ” says Ragimov. “We discourage them from doing that, because there is no guarantee that they will lose weight.”

Instead, buy the size you are right now. “Better the dress comes in bigger than smaller,” adds Ragimov. “We can always take it in.”

And while Bergdorf Goodman is known for its array of high-end designer bridal gowns, including one $90,000 Oscar de la Renta gown a bride purchased a few years ago, not everyone has an unlimited budget.

“We don’t ask our brides when they come in what their budget is. We leave it up to them to tell us because we don’t want to offend anyone, you know?” says Ragimov. “Everyone has a budget, whether it’s $5,000 or $15,000. So if the bride is upfront with us in the beginning and tells us, ‘This is what we’re looking for,’ we’re able to work with her on the price.”

Be nice — or else

“We always kind of laugh because the customers that give us the hardest time, the bridezillas, the high-maintenance brides, oftentimes we hear that they got divorced really quickly after the wedding,” says Ragimov.

“I personally have worked with several brides like that, where they were just so difficult, I had to take over from their original bridal consultant. In several cases, I have bumped into them at the store, and they tell me, ‘Oh, it didn’t work out.’ It happens quite often. It just goes to show if they’re tough, they’re not only tough on you — they’re tough on everyone.”

Original article and imaces from the NY Post

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