You got engaged!! Now what?

First things first, CONGRATULATIONS! Getting engaged is one of the most thrilling events of your life, and words can hardly describe just how thrilling it is! But, now what? You’ve anticipated this moment for a long time, and it has finally come and gone. All the excitement from telling your friends and family calms at last, what do you do?

Before you begin planning the wedding, sit down with your with your significant other and just brainstorm. While planning a wedding can be fun and exciting for some, it can also be extremely nerve-wracking and overwhelming for others. Getting all your ideas on paper and out in the open is a good place to start, and should be a nice easy way to approach the process together. Have fun with it! The most important thing to remember is that you’re planning a day to celebrate your love.

Now ladies, there are going to be some men out there who won’t want anything to do with the planning. Try not to let this get to you, and remember that he loves you! Odds are he just doesn’t want to get in your way. But that doesn’t mean you should exclude him from all of it.  Don’t forget to ask for his opinion on anything you think will be important to him. You should definitely clear the date and location with one another to ensure that all family members have an opportunity to attend.

Once you finish writing out all your thoughts and ideas, try to arrange them into a list in order of importance. This can help immensely in the money-saving portion of the planning. If you decide early on that helping pay for bridesmaid dresses is more important than flowers, you can get a handle on what percentage of the budget you need for this and save the money for it in an appropriate amount of time.

After your first brainstorming session, you should decide how you want to stay organized. You can go out and buy yourself a nice wedding planning book like this one, or put together your own. Whatever you choose, just be sure to have one central, safe location for all your vendor business cards, magazines, color swatches and anything else you collect on your journey to your big day.

My First Official Wedding

Finally!

A year has gone by; the planning is finished; the wedding is now over. I never knew how fast one year could really fly by, until I started counting down to their wedding, Nikki & James!

To start off, let me tell you a little about this couple. Nikki and James are two of the kindest, most laid-back, and fun-loving people I know. They enjoy hanging out with friends, playing kick-ball, and drinking beer. They are almost always smiling or laughing, and so are their friends. So, as you can imagine, planning and being part of this wedding was TONS of fun!

It all started with the engagement shoot. Nikki & James asked my Fiance, Ryan, to be their photographer for the wedding, and so of course I gladly assisted him with their engagement shoot. They wanted a really relaxed shoot that would portray how they actually appear as a couple. This was a piece of cake! We did a few of them wearing their college t-shirts, walking their dogs, and loving on one another. And then we did some fun stuff; Nikki had purchased chalk and attempted to find a chalk board. They wanted to write their wedding date on the boards and use these for a Save the Date card. However, since she couldn’t find a chalkboard last-minute, we had to improvise:

Throughout the rest of the year, Nikki and I met periodically to discuss what all she needed to get done and when. Whenever she needed anything, Nikki would email me and ask. Helping with little things like finding a party bus, finding a chair/table rental company, getting quotes from caterers, and just reminding her to pay deposits helped me to really understand the role of a wedding coordinator.

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Adorable Flower Girl

My favorite part of this particular rehearsal had to be coaxing the adorable flower girl down the aisle.

Thankfully, Nikki & James gave me the authority the run the rehearsal. Overall, it went really well. The wedding party was huge, so there were a lot of people to deal with just counting the 16 of them. (That’s not even including the bride and groom.) But even with a huge party, a few sets of grandparents, parents, the flower girl running around, and even the musicians, I still managed to hold everyone’s attention and get the processional practiced twice.
While it was surprising to me that such a huge group was so willing to listen, apparently it didn’t faze anyone else. We got a good rehearsal in, and were at the hotel for the rehearsal dinner by only 7:10 p.m. (Just late enough to say it was fashionably.)

June 2nd, 2012 The Wedding Day

As soon as I got to the chapel, Tara one of the bride’s co-workers and friends, was already on the spot multitasking. The front three pews of the chapel had been reserved for family, as instructed, and guests were already arriving.
The bride and her bridesmaids pulled up in their party bus, almost immediately after I arrived, and started piling in to the designated room to wait.

St. Mary’s Chapel

Once 5:00 p.m. came around, everyone was seated and the wedding began! The musicians Megan Garrity (vocals) and her Husband James Garrity (acoustic guitar) performed Heavenly Day by Patty Griffith. If you have not heard this song before, I strongly suggest you click on that link and listen. To simply describe it as beautiful, does not even do this song justice. And Megan Garrity’s amazing voice absolutely filled the entire chapel.

It was a beautiful and short ceremony, but since I was still technically “on the clock” I had to make sure to focus on the task ahead, even while dodging my fiance, as he took pictures in the back of the church.

After the wedding, we rushed over to the reception site; The NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Tara and I ran around like crazy setting up centerpieces, the cake & present table, the sign-in table, and somehow managed to have the 3rd floor of that museum looking ready for a wedding reception within 30 minutes or less. It seemed impossible that we would achieve such a feat at the time, especially since the security was letting guests up when they were asked not to, but the place looked amazing in the end.

Welcome Mr. & Mrs. James Gieszelmann!

When the wedding party arrived, the DJ blasted “Party Rock Anthem” -LMFAO, as per request of the Bride & Groom, and they danced into the museum in style.

Into the Mystic

My favorite photo of the night, however, is of their first dance. When James & Nikki booked their reception site, the one thing that James was most excited about was the concept of “dancing with dinosaurs”. That is, whenever the museum hosts a wedding reception, the dance floor and DJ are always located in the room with the giant dinosaur bones. It was truly a breathtaking scene. They danced to “Into the Mystic” By Van Morrison and this is what it looked like:

The happily married couple is now vacationing in Hawaii for two weeks!! I am insanely jealous and ready to relax myself.

April 22nd, 2012

Surprise!

My 25th birthday is coming up next Monday and this past weekend my bf decided to take some time to spoil me rotten in preparation for it. His sister, who lives in L.A., was planning a visit back to Raleigh, so he made dinner plans for us to meet with her and her new boyfriend at my favorite restaurant downtown. Because this dinner was to, not only meet Michelle’s new boyfriend, but also to begin celebrating for my birthday, my bf Ryan, decided that I should have a whole new outfit and have my nails done for it. He took me out shopping on Saturday for an adorable dress, Sunday he treated us both to massages, and immediately following a manicure & pedicure for myself. Neither of us have really had the money to go out and spend on one another, so this whole weekend was an absolute treat.

Little did I know, my super sweet, romantic boyfriend had some other plans surprised for me. After the four of us finished eating I excused myself to the restroom and when I got back Ryan’s sister and boyfriend were gone. I didn’t think much of it, sat back down, and took his hand that was reached out across the table looking for mine. Before I knew it, he proceeded to tell me how special I was to him and how he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. My heart began to race, hard. We had both had a little alcohol with dinner, and he does have a tendency to get shmoopy when he drinks, but this was different somehow. Before I could come to the conclusion that he was proposing he pulled out the most beautiful diamond ring I have ever seen. I was instantly overtaken by emotion and started to cry. I put the ring on, wrapped my arms around his neck, buried my face into his chest and cried. After I finally managed to stop crying he politely pointed out that I had not yet said yes.

After the “OF COURSE IT’S A YES!” came out, he informed me that a birthday party of my friends and family were waiting for me upstairs. I once again excused myself to the bathroom in hopes of regaining composure before facing everyone upstairs.

We walked into a room of excited friends and family, including Jessica Yakamna, a friend of Ryan and I both who was photographing the event. I cannot praise this girl enough. I have worked with her a few times in the past on random, fun, and sexy photo shoots and I always love the results. Jessica not only has a great eye for lighting and angles, but she is extremely easy to get comfortable with and have a good time. It is totally possible that I am biased, but she is still really amazing! Here are some beautiful shots from my engagement/birthday party: My Favorite Raleigh Restaurant

I love this picture and I love this place! I use to work for one of the guys who owns it now, Woody, and I want to support it any chance I can. We also had our company Christmas party here, which was fabulous, and very reasonably priced.

You can’t see the ring extremely well, but this is still such a beautiful shot of the ring on my finger. I also really love the way the champagne looks in front of the lights.

The entire experience was extremely overwhelming, but absolutely amazing. My Mom, brother, and Jess (my brother’s fiance) all showed up, and Ryan’s Mom came too! I only wish I had more of an opportunity to talk to everyone.

Unfortunately, I felt like I didn’t get to see Ryan very much at all, but we at least found time to sneak in some kisses.

It’s all still sinking in now. I am so happy and excited I can barely stand it. Having this ring on my finger will certainly help in the whole wedding planning process too! 🙂

We haven’t picked a date, and probably won’t for a while, but I am still really excited.

Please check out Jessica’s work if you have not yet. I personally can’t wait to start throwing engagement photo ideas her way.