Etsy-Up Your Wedding Day!

The modern couple gets major props from most photographers for their strong attention to detail and continuous pushing of the envelope on the look, touch, and themes for their wedding.  Some of my absolute favorite weddings were a combination of thoughtful purchases that matched the couples personality or those who went balls out on the DIY designs!  Though most of our clients are super creative in some capacity, we do have a few who are always on the hunt for a helping hand in design to which we recommend sites such as Pinterest for inspiration or Etsy for those truly unique touches.  Not sure how to incorporate a few personalized touches?  Try starting here with some finds from Etsy:

-Cake/Dessert Toppers:

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-Alternative Bouquets:

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-Guest Books:

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-For the Groom:

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What are some of your favorite Etsy finds or purchases?

Dead Wedding Trends

Everyone knows that couples have been tying the knot for centuries, however over the years some of those old fashioned trends are dissipating from planned wedding details.  With the ultimate goal for the modern day couple to make their wedding more personalized, more relaxed, and more fun for guests we’re seeing more and more “traditions” being dropped.. and for good reason.   Given we’ll photograph anything here’s what we’ve seen lately in the soon to be sealed barrel of dead wedding trends….

The “Ghost” Wedding Dress Shot.  More often than not we’re asked by our ladies to avoid capturing their ghostly hanging wedding gown in preference of a stunning front and back image of the gorgeous gal actually in her threads.

Ceremony “Accessories”.  More couples are opting for a simplistic wedding ceremony, incorporating personalized vows in an abbreviated yet thoughtful ceremony.  Departing are sand blending ceremonies, unity candles, and lengthy impersonal readings.

The Super Extended Family Photo.  Almost every couple we work with prefer to scale back their family posed images that are captured after the ceremony to include just parents, grandparents, and siblings versus the aunts, great-uncles, twice removed cousins, the who-the-hell-are-you family members, etc.

The Receiving Line.  [Insert Imperial March Music Here]  The receiving line is an old hold over from when couples chose to get hitched and hit the road versus head to an immediately following cocktail hour and reception.  A good old fashion receiving line will suck time away from your day faster than an Olympic Speed Skater and depending on the month you’re more susceptible to sharing colds and other fabulous illnesses with your invited guests.  Most couples opt to visit tables to talk with and thank each of their guests or just drag everyone out to the dance floor or photo booth!

Not Attending Cocktail Hour.  With more opting to do a first look pre-ceremony, couples are making time to hit up their cocktail hour.  Takes care of being able to talk to invited guests, family and friends plus.. hey you paid for it!  Why not enjoy that specialty cocktail and tasty hors d’oeuvre?

The Cake Smash.  Many modern couples are either forgoing the “baby’s first birthday style” cake smash or just saying to hell with cake all together and opting for creative sweets such as pies, cupcakes, dessert bars, or even whoopie pies!  No gal looks good with a nose full of icing nor is it very lady like trying to get smashed cake bits out of your bosoms!

Tosses!  Yes there’s an exclamation point here for a reason. I have to agree with this dying trend over any other.  The bouquet toss… not so bad.  Garter toss… it’s alright.  Garter removal and garter replacement on a new gal… not a favorite.  Many couples we’ve spoken to prefer to completely do away with the tradition as not to embarrass or point out the relationship status of their close friends or family.  We do still see a handful of couples doing tosses and a handful of guests going balls out to grab the garb.

All in all, plan your day as you like, traditional or not.  If all goes as planned, you’re only doing this once:)

Tips for Bridal Show Season

Ah.. just as wedding season is closing, so begins Bridal Show/ Booking season.  Many wedding professionals, including yours truly, will be setting up booths at local bridal shows in hopes of meeting great couples and filling in the few remaining dates for the current year before wedding season is yet again upon us.  When we first started setting up for bridal shows, I’m not going to lie.. I was nervous!  I have to talk and “sell ourselves” to how many people?!  I remember attending a few shows when we were getting married and it was so overwhelming!

Over the past years, I’ve made it one of our goals to be the opposite of a standard, typical wedding show vendor.  Many times if you come up to talk with us, one of the first things I’ll say is “I’m a photographer, not a salesperson”.  There’s nothing worse than listening to a crappy sales pitch from anyone when you either have no idea what the product or service is or are no longer in the market for said item.  We also attempt for practical, yet fun “forget-me-nots” aka show schwag. Lastly the decor.  With each new year of shows, we aspire to do something a little different in our decor.  What we didn’t realize was the inspiration that our tiny detailed touches would make on attendees. I hope we can keep inspiring some folks with each show we participate in!  So with all the gray area of bridal shows, I wanted to share some tips before heading out and things to keep in mind while you’re there.

1. Wedding Only Email Address and Pre-Printed Labels.  When registering for a bridal show, all of the vendors, interested or not, do receive your contact information and you’ll most likely know when the list was shared due to your inbox being filled faster than a coffee cup at Starbucks.  Many vendors and wedding planning sites highly recommend to set up a wedding only email address.  Speaking from experience, we had one vendor who is no longer around, contact us well after our wedding date despite the unsubscribe and “Please stop sending us information” emails.  Preprinted labels will save you a huge chunk of time filling out giveaway forms which most booths have.  In most cases, your name, phone number and that wedding only email address is usually all that is needed, however we’ve seen address labels used as well.  You could also save yourself from hand cramps by designating your MOH or mother as the Entry Form Diva… don’t forget their sash and crown of course!

2. Do Your Research Ahead of Time.  Most shows offer a website or some sort of listing of which vendors are attending.  If on the hunt for a DJ, check out their facebook, blogs, or website in advance to start narrowing down your “must see” list at the show.  Also highly, highly, highly recommended to check out reviews on vendors regardless of attending the show or staying home in your PJ’s.  Reviews are fantastic, usually raw, responses from previous couples who have booked the vendor.  On most sites, vendors can only dispute or file complaints on reviews, yet cannot have a bad one removed.

3. Be Leery of “Today Only” Show Specials.  We’ve never understood why some vendors choose the “Book today and save… or Book today and we’ll….”.  Today only specials, wedding show or not, is not something that we believe in.  You’re not purchasing a toaster, you’re making a huge investment in each other with a celebration of your love with family and friends.  We recommend regardless of which vendor you’re shopping for, interview multiple for comparison.  It’s also easy to get hooked on looking for the lowest cost vendor, however the service standards, overall product, and your experience may differ across the board.  Regardless of vendor, your search should lead you to professionals that not only match or compliment your style, but match your personalities.  This is especially true for venues, coordinators or planners, photographers, and DJ’s- those that you spend a large chunk of your actual wedding day with.

4. Have fun.  Taste the snacks, sip the wine, and eat the cake even if you have a caterer.  Attend the fashion shows, they’re great to start getting an idea of the newer styles.  Soak in the sample decor and flowers, who knows what inspiration you may find.  Lastly smile!  No one likes a grumpy bride:)

I hope you may have found some insight in our show tips and if heading out be sure to stop by and say hello!  See below for where we’re at this winter!

January 19- Unveiled, Clarion Hotel, New Cumberland

January 26- Best Wedding Showcase, Lancaster Marriot Convention Center

February 9- Weddings In Style, Blue Ridge Country Club, Harrisburg

February 26- The Elegance Behind the Bride, AACA Museum, Hershey

Embracing the new year!

2014!  Six years ago, Jason and I started our small business venture with big dreams and goals, each year chipping away at yet another milestone for ourselves and MMP.  I still find it humbling to look back from where we started to where we are now and those continued big dreams and goals we continue to strive for.  This past year was filled with such amazing clients that shared in moments of laughter and warmed our hearts with each event.  With each of our clients over the years being unique, I still find it a blessing to remember each event (and the couples names which shocks people at bridal shows when we talk about images) and be able to share details with new couples joining the MMP client family. 

Also for 2013 we took a leap of faith in a few forms… one being an actual living, breathing office space to make our own and meet with clients rather than trying to fit three sample albums and a laptop on one of those tiny coffee shop tables.. sorry 2009-12.. you know what we’re talking about here:)  We’re blessed to have such amazing vendor relationships and friends to help support our business and aspirations! 

The other major “breathe-into-a-paper-bag” moment was saying sayonara to my full time day job and working in the business full time.  Working for yourself is a dream so many have and also one of my greatest challenges to turn off during a typical work day.   In two job territory times I would work the full time job then come home and edit all night or head straight to back to back client meetings or to a photo session then pretty much right to bed around midnight.  Its hard to say okay.. 5pm.. quitting time when you’re self employed but I’m learning.. until an email comes in and I’m all over it at 9pm at night:)

For 2014 we’re striving to continue to provide top notch service to our client family, continue to grow and evolve our styles, and develop educational practices for not only our immediate team but for other photographers.  We’re hoping to showcase and network with other amazing local wedding vendors to expand our knowledge to assist our clients in booking the absolute best vendor for their needs.  Lastly, we’re expanding our own personal education by continuing course work from top national photographers and attending specialized seminars.

In closing, we’re eternally grateful for our clients, vendor friends, and supporters.  Without you guys, we wouldn’t be where we are today and where we’re hoping to be tomorrow!

Making the Most of your Engagement Session

Often we get asked by clients and fans alike how to figure out the best location for engagement pictures.  What we’ve found over the years is it’s more about what you choose rather than where you choose when it comes down to getting the best possible images.  Here are some tips- both common and offbeat- to satisfy the masses:)

Absolute hands down #1- BE COMFORTABLE!  We’re not talking fuzzy bunny slippers and yoga pants, although comfy and enjoyable, definitely doesn’t have the classy look you may be going for.  Be comfortable in your skin, in what you choose to wear, and so very much, comfortable with each other.  Many times we ask clients to be themselves- sit, talk, relax, while we set up the shot.  Hidden MMP secret… getting set up on our end for some images actually means we want to capture YOU.. in your natural element.  Nothing is more magical on film (okay digital) than a couple who is in love, talking to each other, stealing kisses and taking in each others presence and enjoyment of the session.  Cheesy as it may sound, you absolutely cannot pose love or emotion, and thankfully all of our clients have zero issues with the giddiness that is, the love for each other.

#2 Location, location, location- Location is a hot topic when it comes to engagement sessions.  Focusing on the where rather than the feel of how you want your images to appear can sometimes be overwhelming.  When deciding on a location it’s best to ask yourselves, do we want architectural elements or something incorporating greenery, urban or rural?  When it comes down to it, a park is a park and most won’t be able to tell the difference between the tree at Fort Hunter versus a tree at the Masonic Gardens.  Architectural- desiring a known location in your town or something off the beaten path?  Still stressing on a location- Ask!  We love helping our couples choose the best location based on your preferences!

#3 Spice it up! Natural beauty is the best and being confident is key, however we’ve noticed that ladies who primp and prep with professional hair or makeup applications for their engagement session have an innate sass in their imagery!  Nails, hair, makeup, all regardless of for an event or just for beautification fun, can make a girl feel even more gorgeous and confident!  Money saving tips- go DIY style or schedule your hair/makeup trials on the same date as your engagement session!

#4 What the hell should I wear!?  Also another popular question from our couples is the attire.  Most commonly, couples opt for two outfits, one being a casual, kicked back style and another being more formal/business casual.  Guys, be prepared.. your lovely bride may change at least 3-5 times until grabbing the perfect outfit, not speaking from any experience on that subject or anything:)  Ideas for a spring/late summer evening session might include a cute sundress with embellished sandals for a cool casual look, and your best date night dress with killer pumps for the formal attire.  Guys maybe opt for a complimentary casual button down with jeans and a pair of kicks, and a classy formal look of a suit minus the tie, potentially adding a pop of color in the dress shirt or belt.  Ultimately being confident and comfortable (see the theme yet) in what you’re wearing is key.  What not to wear- another popular request- nothing to matchy-matchy (Both wearing white shirts and khakis), if going for a more green/natural location avoid the vibrant reds, pinks, and oranges, and shoes are noticeable in images, although those new bright pearly white sneakers look great at the gym, they don’t so much in your engagement images.  Ladies also remember heels and rock-climbing/farms don’t always mix well:)

#5 Think outside of the box! We ADORE when couples take the road less traveled for both their engagements and weddings!  Some awesome trends we’ve seen are theme/stylized engagement sessions! Love the Mad Men era?  Why not grab some vintage inspired threads, work with us to secure a location that will match your feel, and don’t forget the red lipstick!  Not ready for an all out theme?  No worries.. grab a few rental pieces from local vintage rentals like Swoon or Maggpie Vintage Rentals for a truly unique setting for some of your images!  Maybe try to incorporate props in for your save the date cards?  We’ve seen a TON of awesome and creative ways to announce your upcoming nuptials from cool places like Etsy!

Overall, just have fun!  We love working with unique and dynamic couples who wear their personalities on their sleeve so give in, relax and have fun!epler_124_mmp

Post 100- Be Inspirational

With this being our 100th post since 2009 when we broke open this blog, I thought it’d be entertaining to look back personally on our first few blog entries.  I saw our first portrait sessions and the comments I wrote up to our first wedding and smiled thinking about how far our little business has come since we photographed Tina and Ben’s wedding back in May of 2009.  I still check in with and follow (thank you Facebook)  a large majority of our couples, even Ben and Tina who now have a gorgeous daughter, Nevaeh.  I love seeing that almost all of our couples are still as happy and in love with each other as they were the day we photographed them at their very best.  I also get all warm and fuzzy knowing that we’ve touched other people’s lives, hopefully inspiring them in some fashion.

The latest inspiring story was from a Maid of Honor at one of our weddings we captured in the fall of 2012.  She sent me a message which beyond warmed my heart with the following words “I just want to thank you. I have had this love and passion for photography for so long… You and Jason really fueled my fire and gave me such inspiration to really start my journey!  I really just wanted to thank you for giving me the extra push, without even realizing you did…”.  Words cannot express how much I appreciated her taking time out of her day to email me.  Starting our journey with this business has been hard but rewarding, time consuming but so worth it, and inspires Jason and Myself to be better people and better spouses to each other.  We started to venture into weddings because our very own wedding photographer, Mary Steinbacher, inspired our creativity, so to help others along their journey is one of the most rewarding measures we can do.  Each of our couples inspire me in different measures and truly one of the reasons we have all 90+ couples hanging on our office wall.  Regardless if it’s photography, the love you share with your significant other, a hobby or profession- realize that you can inspire others! 5507_4948183355288_129106882_n

“Kickstart” your wedding!

I’m jealous!  With so many new and interesting sites out there I wish we would’ve had these tools 4 (almost 5) years ago when J and I were in the midst of our planning!  Aside from the more common planning sites, such as Wedding Wire (AWESOME) and Offbeat Bride (EVEN MORE AWESOME), I’ve been finding inspiration in other off-the-beaten-path sites that are blooming in popularity as of lately.

The latest is Kickstarter (est. 2009.. what rock have I been under?), which J first introduced me to.  To be honest.. he told me about a “project” he helped to fund and the typical former banker in me starts to Google scams, spams, and any other wife research for that “Uh.. yeah, we gotta talk” moment.  Upon checking out the site, I was smitten!  It’s actually a cool program where artists and creatives of all walks can post their “project” up and request funding to complete said project with perks for the funding individual, ranging from promotional items to large quantities of the actual product sponsored.  Think high school Economics and the Stock Market Game but much more fun.   Some projects and creatives that I’m following range from up-cycled bowties (perfect for your grooms, ladies) to cork wallets and iphone cases to my personal favorite find, alcohol infused marshmallows and brittle (Jenna is seriously awesome to work with!).

My recommended way to use this site, because it can be challenging weeding out projects you might not be interested in such as super indie films or under the radar musicians (there are a lot on here), is to check out the Staff Picks and narrow down categories to what you’re interested in- highly recommend the fashion section.  I also prefer to hit up the websites directly that link to these particular vendors to get exactly what I’m looking for or to see about special ordering.  Have you checked out Kickstarter or are following any special creatives you’d like to share?

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