Posts tagged wedding tips
Things Your Wedding Officiant Won't Tell You Openly
Exchange of Wedding Rings

Would you really believe me if I told you that often the wedding ceremony is the worst part of the day for most everyone involved? A lot (read, LOT) of couples don’t spend nearly enough time thinking through the significance, details, and logistics of the ceremony. I sat down with a local pastor who has officiated many weddings to ask him his real, honest opinion on why the ceremony can be the worst part of the day, things every officiant wants you to know but may not tell you, and some things that you can figure out before meeting up with him or her to make everyone’s life easier (also check out the freebie below!)

Wedding Ceremony Planning Checklist

click to download and share with your officiant!

Why do you think people don’t plan out their ceremony like the rest of their wedding day?

In comparison, the amount of money put into the ceremony is less than most any other wedding expense. People tend to treat the ceremony less valuable because there is less monetary value tied to it. With current wedding trends, there’s less emphasis on the ceremony and more emphasis on the reception and the fashion. I think some of it, too, is that people don’t have a high view of marriage anymore and don’t see it as a sacred covenant between both of you and the Lord.

What’s something you wish couples knew about planning their ceremony?

You have to actually plan it. Most people don’t really even think about it. You should definitely at least have a coordinator for the ceremony, otherwise the officiant often has to coordinate, or it ends up being someone in the wedding party or family member that does it, and often none of those people are really great at it. It’s important for you as a couple to specify the expectations on the officiant, because in cases like this it becomes much more than just conducting the ceremony.

What’s your biggest pet peeve when someone asks you to officiate?

When I don’t know the couples at all. I always urge people to be plugged into a local church or meet up with your officiant at least once before your rehearsal. If the officiant knows you, it’s easier for the ceremony to be meaningful because it can be more customized to you, your relationship, your personalities, your family, etc. If I don’t know you and I officiate your wedding, I can only bring so much to the table. In my opinion, it’s actually better to pay for a friend to become ordained online than to hire a pastor you don’t know. 

What kinds of questions do you ask couples that come to you to officiate?

First off, have a plan when you meet your officiant. Don’t put more time into thinking about the music than the actual vows. Some questions I like to ask are:

  • How long do you want the ceremony to be?

  • Do you want it to be a Christian ceremony?

  • What’s the feel? Light? Solemn? Emotional?

  • Are there special elements like communion, feet washing, candle lighting, sand ceremony, etc.?

  • Who will set the stage/altar with decor, flowers, or anything needed for special elements mentioned above? 

  • Do you want to do your own vows? Traditional vows?" “Repeat after me” vows?

  • Can the officiant write the vows for you if you don’t? 

  • Do you want to exchange rings during vows, or after?

How do you coordinate a wedding ceremony?

It’s basically coming up with answers to a bunch of logistic questions BEFORE your rehearsal such as:

  • Where are people going to enter from?

  • Who is on stage at the beginning of the ceremony?

  • Who is walking in and when?

  • Is the dad giving away the bride? Will he be down front?

  • Where do you want bridal party and family to stand? Sit?

  • Do the ring bearer or flower girl stand or sit?

  • What is the speed of professional? Is there music?

  • Is there a stage with stairs? Who is on that stage or stairs?

  • Where does bride and groom stand in relation to officiant? 

What does it mean to have a “Christian” wedding ceremony?

To me, it means that the Pastor is allowed to use the Bible and biblical terms of marriage. Some things to think about that would make it a “christian” ceremony would be”

  • Do you want an “altar call”?

  • Do you want the officiant’s message to have a “counseling” feel with advice?

  •  Do you have verses picked out?

Popular wedding ceremony verses:

  • 1 Corinthians 13

  • Ecclesiastes 4:12

  • Song of Solomon 2.10-13; 8.6,7

  • Genesis 2:24

  • Ephesians 5:22-33

  • 1 John 4:8; 18

  • John 3:16

  • Proverbs 5:18-23

  • Proverbs 31

Why is the ceremony the most important part of the day?

That’s the moment that the commitment is made. It’s way better to remember a special ceremony than to remember a special night dancing with your friends. Because we don’t put much thought into the ceremony, it it’s easy to forget the details of it years later. You can have a marriage without having a reception and a dress and flowers and rings. You can have a marriage without all of those things because it’s most importantly a covenant to one another and the Lord.

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Wedding Day Disasters and How You Can Avoid Them
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Every bride fears having a wedding day disaster that they can’t fix or recover from, and I can tell you from photographing dozens of weddings a year for the past 9 years, something usually DOES go wrong, but it’s never something you can’t recover from, especially if you have a positive mindset! Here I’m sharing the “disasters” I ran into and how they were solved:

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Dress Wont Zip

Yes, I experienced the dreaded broken zipper. Luckily, it was a bridesmaid and not the bride, but the effect was still devastating. As the girls were getting ready, minutes before we needed to head upstairs to get in place for the ceremony, the maid of honors dress split wide open. We tried safety pins, but unfortunately the dress was a little tight so those didn’t hold. We tried duct tape inside the seam (more on when this DOES work!), but that didn’t hold up either. What on earth did we do?! Some blessed soul had an emergency kit with a needle and thread and we literally sewed the dress together as she was wearing it.

Lesson learned: bring a needle and thread that matches all dress colors!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Botched Boutineers

Real talk here: boutineers are such a pain in the butt. Of course, they add elegance to the suits, match the florals that the rest of the party is carrying, but attaching them is always, ALWAYS a hassle. I’ve been to so many weddings where the groomsmen have no idea how to attach a flower to their suit with a single solitary pin without making themselves object to bloody torture. I’ve learned how to attach boutineers with my eyes closed, so I’m happy to help. Most times though, the stems are wrapped so tight, or there is wire under all that floral tape, so that the inserted pins bend, break, or stick whoever is trying to wrangle them. The solution? Ideally, talk to your florist about adding a fastener as they make/wrap the stems. Magnets don’t work, so don’t even attempt that. If you’re in need of a quick fix, have an extra box of pins handy and use two per boutineer!

Lesson learned: expect the boutineer pins to break and bring extra!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

No One’s Calling Shotgun

Little details get overlooked all the time, but when your bridal party is standing in a parking lot wondering what to do next won’t seem like such a little detail. One wedding I photographed had the girls traveling from the getting ready location to a picture spot pre-ceremony. While the bridesmaids had rides to the ceremony with family members all squared away, this quick detour left them all stranded. My second shooter and I were able to pile them all into our cars and get to the location and then back to the hotel where their rides to the ceremony could pick them up at a certain time.

Lesson learned: hire a nice photographer, and ask everyone in your bridal party to arrange a ride for themselves!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Dirty Dress

Every bride worries about looking perfect all day long, and I usually tell my brides to anticipate some kind of dirt, stain, or mark on their dress. It’s okay. It’s going to happen. One time I had a bride DRAG her dress through the muddy ground for some portraits outside after the ceremony. When you’re in the moment, it can be tempting to just book it to the next thing, I totally understand that! This bride was an amazing sport to not be deterred by the less than idea conditions outside, but when it was time to be announced in for the reception, the dress had to be cleaned up and fast. I had some baby wipes in my camera bag from a cake smash session earlier in the week, and would you know, those wipes did wonders on getting the dirt out from the delicate lace and tulle, and covering large areas at a time for a quick clean up.

Lesson learned: bunch your dress around your knees when walking outside, and grab a pack of shout wipes for your emergency bag!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Bustle Hassle

I love a great wedding dress train - its so classic and elegant. It’s important, though, to give it the time and attention it deserves as a major part of your wedding day wardrobe. Trains are like a member of your bridal party: they need their own space in the car, their own designated time to get ready, their own coordinator to be put in a certain place during the ceremony, and their own plan for dealing with disaster! I’m talking bustles here. Whether you do a ribbon tying method, buttons, or snaps, make sure that the final length of your gown BUSTLED is correct for the shoes your going to wear at your RECEPTION. I had several brides rip their bustles right out, and their dress material, because their dress was too long after it had been bustled and they took off their heels. What did we do? It wasn’t the prettiest thing, but duct tape inside the dress works well to keep ripped apart bustles in place. I’ve also tied ripped material together for brides so the damage would travel further up the dress.

Lesson learned: take your reception flats along to the seamstress putting in your bustle and make sure it’s high enough and secure! Also take someone in your family or bridal party along to learn how to work the bustle system put in your dress!

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Bouquet to No One

There’s nothing more awkward that chucking you bouquet behind you to all the single ladies - and then NO ONE wants to catch it and it just flops on the floor. Yep it’s happened so many times. Unless your bridal party is full of gals and guys that are single, you may seriously want to reconsider this tradition. More and more brides are opting NOT to do the bouquet toss because it seems a little mean-spirited to parade your single friends around, and it usually ends up awkward.

Lesson Learned: Unless you have bridesmaids that are single and PUMPED for the bouquet toss, you may want to toss the toss.

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

No Wifi - So What?

I’m sure you know that DJ’s don’t cart around CD’s and records anymore to their gigs, but did you know that a lot of them rely on STREAMING music into your event? That means wifi! I’ve been to a few weddings and heard HORROR stories from people as well where the DJ didn’t have wifi and have nothing to play for the wedding, or was missing key songs because they didn’t have them in their library! What did they do? At one wedding, a bridesmaid ended up hooking up her phone to the DJ right through an aux cord and played the needed songs as she treated from youtube with her cellular data.

Lesson learned: ask your DJ if they need wifi capability in your vendor meetings, and ask your venue if they have it!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Rain on Your Wedding Day

It might not be the most appropriate song to play at your reception, but rain on your wedding day ISN’T the disaster that some make it out to be. I’ve photographed a few weddings in the rain, and if the forecast is calling for showers a week out, I have had that conversation with my brides and made a contingency plan. When the location and aesthetic is right, we have used covered bridges, we have also used umbrellas for some bridal party shots if there are enough to go around! Finding a covered staircase or entryway is also a great option for group portraits in the rain. Some of the most beautiful and dramatic bride and groom portraits can be taken in the rain when the lighting is dark outside, so don’t get too sad about some drizzle!

Lesson learned: check the forecast, plan alternate photo locations that are covered, buy umbrellas for everyone, and trust your photographer!

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How Many People Should You Have In Your Bridal Party?
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

One of the first decisions you will make as an engaged couple besides your date and venue will be who’s in your bridal party! It can be hard to narrow down the list, especially if you have lifelong friends from high school, college, work, or even family that are like best friends. Where there’s no “rule” for who to include and who to not, I can share a bit of insight into my approach from when I was in your shoes 7 years ago.

Remembering that your wedding is one of the biggest, most significant days of your adult life, you want people there to support you. That’s the whole POINT of a bridal party - to surround yourself with people who will support and help you create amazing memories on your wedding day AND pledge to live life with you in the days after, both good and bad. I chose people that were vital parts of my childhood and high school years - my best friends that stayed the test of time. I chose people that were also close to me at the time, having moved to a new town and made friends there the past year. Has my friend group changed since? Of course. But I have no regrets with who I chose to be involved in my wedding day because they were so significant in supporting me through different seasons of my life.

If you are very blessed with lots of friends that fit into all of those descriptions above - don’t panic. It’s perfectly ok to have a big bridal party. Because I was on crutches freshman year in college and commuted the rest, I didn’t make many close friends in college, which was a big reason I could keep my bridal party to 5 women. But if you find yourself including 8 or more, that’s ok!! I’ve photographed bridal parties up to 12+ on each side! All it takes is a little more planning ahead! Hopefully these tips help (speaking from my experience as a wedding photographer AND 1 or 9 bridesmaids in a friends wedding a few years ago!)

What if the Maid of Honor or Best Man isn’t good at planning?

If your “best friend” isn’t quite on top of things and the thought of them coordinating something like a shower or bachelorette party seems laughable, just have an honest conversation with them. Being the Maid of HONOR doesn’t necessarily mean the Maid of Responsibility. Ask them what they would LIKE to do and realistically could do. Being your best friend, they should understand, and feel honored that you want to make sure their responsibilities play to their strengths. If there’s someone really “type A” in your bridal party that would LOVE to plan and organize, have them be the logistics. Your maid of honor can still make decisions and offer the ideas, but there’s nothing wrong with having someone else be the “do-er.” Your Maid of Honor can still HONOR you by sharing a toast at the reception, getting you a special gift, reading a passage at your ceremony, come with you to dress fittings to learn to bustle your dress, or any other important job you feel is appropriate!

How do you easily share the cost of things?

Ideally, when your shower or bachelorette party is being planned, your bridal party would split the cost and responsibilities evenly, including spreading your expenses (like tickets, travel, meals, etc) evenly among them as well. When I was a bridesmaid in a party of 9, the amazing maid of Honor, Mary, used a shared Google Sheet to keep track of expenses and who paid for what. We were like a little business, submitting receipts and everything! (this job doesn’t have to be your maid of honor either! Find your “accountant” among the group and they will eat this up.)

At the end of each event, Mary would take the total spent by everyone and split it 9 ways. She would then “invoice” us if we still owed for our portion of the total expenses, or “reimbursed” us if we spent more than our share. For things like going out to eat where everyone pays for themselves, she would pay for the brides meal and we would reimburse her for our part of it. Having people set up with Venmo or PayPal accounts made transferring money super easy!

What if everyone lives far apart?

Start. Planning. Early. It might seem crazy to commit to a weekend a whole year out just for a shower or a bachelorette party, but doing so will increase the chances that everyone can be there. And if they can’t? You as a bride have to have grace for those who can’t financially commit to traveling in for every event. Your friends are going to spend hundreds on their clothing and their share of all the fun events before the big day, so you can’t begrudge them for wanting to cut down costs by not buying a few more plane tickets. If possible, host them at your apartment or house to cut down on their losing expenses!

Another great thing to consider is WHERE to get your gowns or tuxes/suits. While it may be tempting to shop local (and in any other case, yes! Do it!), this is one decision that may be best handled by a big box chain store like David’s Bridal or Men’s Warehouse. You can decide the color, the style (if you want), and any accessories, and then your girls or guys can go to the nearest franchise store (bonus points if you choose a place within an hour of each of their homes!) and ensure everything will match. Shipping times at these stores are usually a lot faster too, which is always good!

How do you make sure wedding day isn’t chaos?

Talk to your vendors and come up with a plan. Your photographer is a HUGE part of managing your bridal party - mainly because we are with all of you the entire day long! Timelines are SUPER important the more people you add into the mix, so talk with your photographer, wedding coordinator, and DJ to make sure all parts of the day mesh with each other, and then be proactive communicating the info to your bridal party. If you know the guys (or girls!) won’t read a detailed sheet, consider making a version just for them that says where they have to be, when, when they have to be dressed, when pictures are and where, and when they are “done” with responsibilities (after the grand entrance, usually). It’s usually a good idea to give this info out at the rehearsal dinner, that way no one loses it ;)

Remember, these are the people you love the most, and with open communication and planning, I promise that having the squad there, however big and crazy, will be as sweet and as fun as you are imagining it to be! Check out some of the fun memories my couples shared with their big bridal parties!! And be sure to check out other blogs fulls of similar great advice for planning your wedding!

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Binge on All The Wedding Advice in One Place
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

If you're engaged, the internet can be an amazing source of advice for planning your wedding, and if you've been searching for a resource to binge read all of the wedding advice and wedding tips your browser can handle, then look no further! I've combed through all of my blog posts (almost 2 years of weekly material!) and pulled all of the best info for you soonlyweds to get your binge on! Share this with a bride to be to help answer some of the questions no one thinks to ask!

Do You Need a Second Photographer? How Much Wedding Coverage Is Enough?
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Do you need a second photographer, or "second shooter", for your wedding day? Your budget will definitely be the leading factor in your decision making, but there are some things you should consider when determining your photography budget and if you should hand out some extra cash for another photographer! (fun fact: all photos in this post were done by second shooters!)

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

GUYS GETTING READY

If your groom and groomsmen are getting ready at a separate location than you and you want to have photos of it, you definitely need a second shooter. The time spent traveling back and forth from location to location translates into moments lost for one photographer to be available to capture. A second shooter usually starts out the day in the bridal suite, then gets to spend some quality time with the guys right before your ceremony starts.

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EXTRA HELP

Picture this (real world examples): Uh oh - you and your bridal party have to get somewhere, but your cars are at the reception and you were dropped off at the hotel. A nice photographer and second shooter will be more than happy to offer up their extra seats in the car! Or, you have a room full of groomsmen, lots of straight pins and boutonnieres, and no one knows how to attach them, where to attach them, or how it's supposed to look. Not one, but TWO wedding pro's to the rescue! How about this - you need to get family photos started but Aunt Patty has wandered off to the cocktail hour. Second shooter to the rescue! While your main photographer is starting Patty-less portraits of other family members, a second shooter can wrangle up any stray loved ones that are needed for photos. Sure, all of these situations can be avoided with good communication pre-wedding and some planning ahead, but there is ALWAYS something that pops up that we are more than capable of handling for you which means a LOT less stress for you!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

MULTIPLE ANGLES

If you are doing a first look, a second shooter is a must in order to capture the reactions of both you and your soon to be hubby. A photographer team will know exactly where to stand as to not be in each other's pictures, and you can be sure that you will get the most genuine reactions captured in real time. It's also great to have a second shooter during the ceremony to get both of your reactions to vows, multiple angles of the kiss, and a variety or wide and close up shots of the same moments!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

TONS OF DETAILS

Etsy has nothing on you. People pin YOUR stuff on Pinterest. If you are a DIY bride and have tons of details and custom pieces, a second shooter is a great idea! If each centerpiece is different and you want photos of them, a second shooter is a MUST! While your main photographer will be sure to capture all the details she can, its always great to make sure every little thing is covered by having a second shooter all over the place while pre-reception portraits are being finished up! It's also very helpful to have a second shooter sneak away right after the ceremony to get some wide-angle, untouched room shots of the reception before guests arrive.

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

CANDIDS GALORE

If having lots of photos and memories of your guests having fun is really important to you, then a second shooter should be too. While one photographer "works the dance floor", the other can be snapping candids of non-dancey guests that would never otherwise be in the photos! The availability of two photographer at once also helps with the times where lots of events are happening at once, like the bridal dance or bouquet/garter tosses! 

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GROUP SHOTS

A another set of hands and another brain full of logistical skills can also help out a lot with group photos. Whether it's helping to manage the list of family members for post-ceremony portraits, or going around to each table at the reception and getting group photos while your main photographer is on the dance floor, a second shooter saves so much time and ensures that every guest makes it into a photo! 

Here are some amazing shots all done by second shooters! Its our hope that thinking through the day from multiple angles, multiple places, and multiple people's perspectives will help you choose what kind of coverage is right for you!

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Don't Have a Boring Wedding: Ways to Incorporate Color into Your Day!
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Do you want to have a unique wedding, different from everything else you see in the wedding mags and neutral Instagram feeds? Do you live life vibrantly, out loud, and full of color? Is your wardrobe grounded in hues that make you happy rather than neutrals, neutrals, neutrals? I'm sharing ways that you can avoid having a flat wedding and incorporate some color and LIFE into a day that's forever classified as "white." It is, after all, a nice day for a white wedding, but it's an even better day for a RAINBOW one! This post goes out to all my girls who grew up with Lisa Frank's rainbow leopard as their spirit animal, who gravitate towards the vibrant, and just appreciate the richness of life and all the hues it encapsulates!

Now hear me, you don't have to go crazy, and there is certainly an important spot for timeless and elegant, but there's ALWAYS room for pops of fun in your details and decor! This is, after all, a STYLE, and if your style is not colorful, that's perfectly okay! Find a photographer that specializes in the light, airy, neutral palette that makes your heart sing. If you're a wild child and want all the bright hues, hit me up!! In this post, I'm sharing highlights from the most magical styled shoot (aka a "fake" wedding that showcases wedding vendors) that I've ever been blessed to be a part of! We will go through different elements of the day, dripped in color, to give you some ideas as to how your favorite shade can be present during your wedding, and even more importantly, how your personality can shine in a day steeped in tradition.

INVITES

This invitation suite by Penned by Alice features some pretty punchy pinks and unique papers and inks! Invites are your guests first impression of your wedding style and theme, so carefully consider the message the papers, colors, textures, and wording says about you and the vibe you want!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

 

FLORALS

God's creation is full of color, and nowhere is this more evident in a gorgeous floral arrangement. If you want to keep things pretty classic and simple but still get sprinkles on your ice cream from time to time, here's where you can go crazy! A super talented florist like the amazing Kerry Patel can take your fav colors and make a spray that's a stunner.

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

 

CAKE

Desserts make everyone happy. Color makes everyone happy. See a correlation? This is another place where you can cater to the fun and whimsical and play with color. Your cake photos will be a fun part of the day (smashing sugar in your hubby's face?!), so make the cake itself fun too!!  This awesome naked cake by Neverland Bake Shoppe features a baby pink drip, rainbow sprinkles, and more vibrant flowers! Not quite ready to make your cake rainbow-tactic? There's always the cake stand or even the INSIDE of the cake to add a pop of color or fun surprise!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

 

DECOR

If you want to go maximum Lisa Frank, here's where you do it! The amazing, perfect, wonderful Jessica Oh Photography styled this shoot, and her use of balloons, confetti, streamers, and smoke bombs gave a loud and clear message that this is a unique wedding! I guarantee you that if you tell your photographer you want to use colored smoke bombs, they will probably buy you a pony, I mean, cry with happiness. 

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Of course, there's lots of other ways you can put personal touches on your big day, and I want to encourage you to never lose sight of that. Don't let tradition, outside pressure, cost, or especially wedding culture squash your creativity and enthusiasm. Weddings are all about YOU, so make them unmistakably YOU! Enjoy the process and let your imagination run wild!


Workshop:  www.njspark.cowww.instagram.com/njsparkco#igniteworkshop2018

Styling + Coordination :
Jessica OH
www.jessicaohphotography.com
www.facebook.com/jessicaohphotography
www.instagram.com/im_jessica_oh

Floral Design:
Kerry Patel
www.kerrypateldesigns.com
www.instagram.com/kp_designsfloral

Invitation Suite + Hand Lettering:
Alice Lonero, Penned by Alice
www.pennedbyalice.com
www.instagram.com/pennedbyalice

Hair + Makeup
Mary of Lighten Up Salon + Spa
http://www.lightenupsalon.com
www.instagram.com/lightenupsalonandspa

Cakery :
Neverland Bake Shoppe
www.neverlandbakeshoppe.com

Models :
 Mary Elizabeth Trotter & Eric Nakonechny
www.instagram.com/missmarynak

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Lindsey + Aaron: Backyard Summer Wedding in Johnstown, PA
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Recently, I was asked by one of my future brides-to-be if I had any advice for people that are camera shy, self-conscious, or just otherwise super awkward around, and hate the idea of being in front of, a .... *gasp*...camera. Let me first say this - not a single one of my brides emerged on the other side of their wedding day photos feeling that they totally bombed. This beautiful bride featured here absolutely rocked her photos, but admittedly did not totally love being in the spotlight with all eyes on her all the time. You would never know it, though, from how serene and peaceful the photos turned out!! But back to the original question - how can you survive your wedding day if you are totally freaked out by your personal paparazzi that you, ironically, hired to follow you around all day? 

STALK YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER

If you already have your photographer picked out, follow their Instagram, like their Facebook page, learn the name of their dog, and memorize their blood type. Just kidding - at least about the last two (my dog's name is Ibanez and my blood is A-, in case you were wondering...). It is very helpful for your photographer, though, if you scope out some of their go-to poses and share which ones you really like the look of. Chances are, when YOU are put in that pose, you will like the result too! If you love the look of candids, full-length shots, close-ups, serious expressions, whatever! - tell your photographer! Have a realistic eye, though - focus on the people and how their bodies look and not on the backgrounds or other details that are unique for every wedding.

FESS UP ABOUT YOUR "FLAWS"

Before your wedding, have an honest heart-to-heart with your photographer about parts of yourself that you don't exactly love. I'm all about #BodyPositive, but I'm also (refreshingly?) realistic, and realize that you MAY not love your arms, teeth, feet, etc. Your husband to be, your photographer, and your bridesmaids all think you look perfect, but if YOU don't feel that way, it will effect how you feel as you are being photographed! Let me know what you're conscious of, and then I can also keep a sharp lookout for those same things and let you know if you need to stand up straighter, look a certain direction, drop your chin, etc. It's also helpful knowing those areas you want to avoid for choosing flattering poses.

ACCENTUATE YOUR ASSETS

And then even more importantly, let's shout the things you love about yourself from the rooftops!!! If you love your hair, you best believe we will get some killer close-ups. If you love your curves, full-length shots are in your future, dear! It's so important to focus on the positives, and if you spend some time really zeroing in on things you actually LIKE about yourself, you might just give yourself the confidence boost you need to rock your portraits like a super-model.

ASK FOR FEEDBACK

If you hire a cool photographer that's not a jerk, ahem, then they will be more than happy to share some sneak-peeks from the back of the camera! A good photographer will also give you verbal feedback as you go and affirm that you are nailing the poses and creating some beautiful portraits! Don't be afraid to speak up for some validation if you need it - chances are, you will grow more comfortable and confident as they day goes on that by the end of the night, you will just be focused on the most important thing - being. married. 


I hope you enjoy this beautiful, intimate wedding featured below. Lindsey and Aaron's 50 person backyard ceremony/reception was everything that a slow summer night full of magic could offer. I was mildly obsessed with the dried floral crowns and bridal bouquet, and the mis-matched bridesmaid floral wrap dresses added the perfect touch of whimsy to the entourage. The details were quaint and carefree - pastel glass votives and lanterns, geometric metal accents, floral paper lanterns and straws, and the sweetest floral covered homemade arbor for the ceremony! The incredible gardens offered by their generous neighbors gave us the enchanted forest vibe that perfectly set the tone for this sweet culmination of an 8 year love story!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
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The Most Fun Bridal Party | Stratigos Banquet Center Wedding, North Huntington PA
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Every wedding may not have a strong "theme", but every wedding definitely has a "feel" to it - and most people, surrounded by their friends and family, want that feel to be a fun, relaxed, and stress free one! Morgan and Daniel's gorgeous wedding at Stratigos Banquet Center in North Huntington was by far one of the most relaxed and fun weddings I've been a part of, largely in part to their super fun bridal party. It may seem silly to say, but choose your bridal party based on how they support you, if they are happily willing to participate in whatever is needed, and how they make you FEEL! If someone stresses you out, think carefully about having them in your inner circle for your big day!

Morgan and Daniel's bridal party was more than willing to venture out into the heat, tackle any pose I could come up with, (the groom even happily did a backflip for me!), and brought plenty of fun ideas of their own, too! A great way to grow camaraderie with your bridal party to ensure everyone is having a great time day of is to all spend time together before the wedding. Go camping together, definitely have some great activities planned for a bachelor/bachelorette party, and just help your friends get to know each other and realize why YOU love them in the first place! It might be a challenge coordinating schedules, but when the whole bridal party knows each other and is friends with each other, it sets the atmosphere for the whole day, and definitely shows up in photos!

Hope you enjoy the super fun (and beautiful!) highlights from this lighthearted and personality-filled wedding!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
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How To Make Your Personality Shine at Your DIY Wedding | Pop Culture Themed Wedding at the Indiana Country Club | Indiana, PA Wedding Photographer
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Are you planning a wedding that is full of personal details, DIY centerpieces, or make it yourself decor, but need some major advice so the end result doesn't leave guests saying, "what the...?" Meet Brittney and Alex. This super fun couple loves all things Disney, superhero, Netflix, and pop culture - just to name a few - and were determined to have a wedding that felt like a party but was still infused with personality! Everything about their day, down to choosing the venue, was carefully curated to be totally "them." Even their dogs were a part of the ceremony! Dexter the ringpupper and Hazel the flower dog totally stole the show (and the awesome ceremony was literally a show, complete with choreography, stage lighting, and theater curtains)! 

So how can you learn from their months of planning, crafting, and creating their pop culture themed wedding and make it fit YOUR theme? Brittney and Alex were kind enough to answer some questions about the entire process, including sharing some helpful resources, and got honest about the big questions they had to ask themselves when deciding what direction to go! I hope you find her wisdom invaluable as you plan your own totally unique wedding!

Q: How did you incorporate your personality into your details?

A: Alex and I both love our pop culture references, getting down to a funky beat, and entertaining. We truly believe a wedding should be a celebration of who the couple is, both together and separately. When we took on the idea of having a pop culture wedding, many ideas flowed through our minds (Pinterest didn't hurt either!) and when realized we had so many TV Shows, Movies, Games, and Characters we loved, why not feature them at their own table? We took that idea one step further and tried to match our family and friends to the themes they would enjoy and it couldn't have worked out any better. Hours upon hours were spent scouring flea markets, garage sales, the internet, and my parents attic crawl space to find old toys and games. The outcome was everything we wanted, and more. As for our ceremony, this was going to be the happiest day of our lives and we wanted our music and surprise movie trailer to showcase that! Don't be afraid to think outside the box! When your groomsmen take it upon themselves to sway back and forth on the stage like N*Sync backup dancers to the processional, you know you've done a good job. 

Q: How did you choose what interests of yours were important enough to incorporate?

A: The two of us sat down together and made a list of our interests, both common and otherwise. Upon determining what size wedding we wanted, we were able to decide how many tables and in turn, what themes would make the cut! We knew right away the themes that were most important to us, Disney, Batman, Harry Potter, and Marvel were priority and from there we chose based off of our guests. This day was about them too! Everyone joining us in one way or another has shaped us into who we are and we wanted to celebrate them as well. What a joy it was to see the reactions as our guests walked around to see the other themes. It also helped the guests who didn't know each other to mingle a little more. 

Q: What was the biggest challenge for making DIY elements?

A: First things first... Pinterest at some point in your life will do you dirty. You will think you're Martha Stewart. Some of you may be. I'm a pretty good crafter but Martha I am not. Alex and I wanted to incorporate wine bottles as vases because they're a super affordable option, aka free from friends and family who like a little wine in the evening. We thought we were doing a good thing by painting them months in advance and an article on Pinterest told us how to store them. A few weeks out from the wedding we unpacked them to take a peek. Surprise! Most of them had pretty decent scuffs and paint chips - enough that they would need to be painted all over again. So much time down the drain! But, here comes my dad out of nowhere to the rescue with custom wine bottle labels he designed himself! We covered some of the scuffs with the labels, turned the good sides facing out on the rest and just like that, no wasted time. Another DIY challenge was the fact that we wanted to have actual toys or trinkets at each table. While this made our theme really shine and our guests had some props to play with (you know who you are) I don't know if either of us will ever get the grime off from sticking our arms elbow deep in totes of old McDonald toys at flea markets. 

Q: What were some helpful resources you discovered while creating your details?

A: As I mentioned earlier, think outside the box. Like far outside the box. I'm pretty sure the two of us took a high speed train from the box and never looked back. Point is, make the wedding about the two of you. We have never been fans of "normal wedding food" so we decided on a gourmet burger bar. We've received dozens of compliments on how great our food was already!  Alex and his groomsmen are all pretty big super hero/comic nerds so their boutonnieres featured their favorite lego characters. The two of us we so set on our name being on a movie theater marquee and because of that, we made amazing friendships through Amplify Church. It was a chance meeting after I googled "Indiana movie theater" and found out there was already a church where we wanted to get married! Also, don't be afraid to showcase the things you love. You will get odd looks if you choose to have a unique wedding. Try explaining to people that you're having a Game of Thrones table and you need 300 thumbtacks to make a dragon egg or that somehow purchasing the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter makes sense for your wedding. They won't see your vision until they walk into the room. But they also won't soon forget your wedding

Q: What advice do you have for brides to encourage them to be as unique as they want?

A: Above all, enjoy the process! We had a longer engagement than most couples and it allowed us to get every detail just the way we wanted and also allowed us the time to get everything accomplished without too much stress. There. Will. Always. Be. Stress. It's just a matter of managing it. There will be things that go wrong, there will be people that will disappoint, there will be ideas that fall short of expectation, and there will be the one thing you "couldn't live without" that you forget about until the week of your wedding. Pick the things that are important to you and build your budget around that. Flowers aren't your thing? Don't spend money on them!  We realized photos and video would last forever so we made sure to budget accordingly!  Our day was everything we wanted and more and that was largely because we stayed true to ourselves. We couldn't be happier with the outcome. 

Can't wait to see how it turned out? You will definitely not want to miss the highlights of this amazing day! Scroll on to see the "highlight reel"!

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Ceremony: Amplify Church @ The Indiana Theater | Reception/CateringIndiana Country Club  

Gown/Bridesmaid Dresses: Stella York from White Lace Bridal   | Hair/Makeup: Fringe Salon Co  

Rings: Lorelli's in Indiana Engagement Ring  Invitations: Vistaprint  

Florals: DIY silk flowers from Amazon | Cake: Jordan Hirak

Favors: Pittsburgh Popcorn Company | DJ: Royal Heir DJ Services

Videographer: Dylan | Photographer: Jill Gearhart Photography

Decor: DIY | Other Rentals/Vendors: Pittsburgh Wedding Flea Market


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How to Prepare for an Out of State Wedding | Indiana, PA Wedding Photographer at Blue Spruce Park
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Are you thinking about eloping, or at least getting married in another state and are dreading the process of figuring out licenses, picking vendors, and choosing locations? This past week I had the honor of photographing a sweet couple from Arkansas who eloped here in Indiana, PA! 

Tara and Cliff have been together 8 years, and tour the county together in a motorhome, traveling to whatever city Cliff's job takes them. Luckily for me, they ended up in Indiana and our good friend Google brought us together! Tara was sweet enough to share some advice from her experience of planning a small, low-key elopement in another town! Here's what she had to say:

What's The First Step?

I would start out by saying search for an officiant first! (Interestingly enough, this proved to be the hardest part for Tara and Cliff, and luckily my pastor at church was available!) If there is something you can’t seem to find just ask everyone you encounter on a daily basis. The checkout girl at the grocery store, your neighbors, the UPS delivery guy or your photographer!

What Documents are Needed?

There were no special documents needed. Just the bride and groom and their drivers licenses. Some states have a waiting period after the marriage license is issued and some don’t. So check on that pretty early in the game!

How Do You Find a Vendor?

Facebook reviews were my best friend when it came to dress alterations and flower shops. I’m not sure what I would have done without the internet and a whole lot of luck! 

I hope you enjoy some highlights from their super sweet elopement - the bridal party was certainly the cutest I've ever seen!

  • Venue: Blue Spruce Lodge
  • Dress: Altar'd State
  • Cake: Giant Eagle
  • Dress Alterations: Holliday Alterations
  • Photographer: Jill Gearhart Photography
  • Hair and Makeup: bride
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