WEDDING INSPIRATION // copper + grey

Ever since returning from South Africa, I have been digging copper. I’ve always been a huge fan of the metals, especially silver and gold, but currently copper is my number one. In honor of my love for copper, this month’s wedding inspiration palette is copper and cement / grey. The inspiration is industrial, rustic and modern all in one. If you want to see more of this color palette inspiration be sure to follow the copper + grey inspiration board and me on pinterest.

wedding color inspiration // copper and grey cement

IMAGE CREDITS // copper twigs via Poppy Talk // copper thank you cards via Cocorrina // groom via the Wedding Chicks // copper escort tags via Pinterest // living room via We Heart It // table setting via Intimate Weddings // copper planters via Julia Kostreva //  bouquet via the Bridal Detective // wedding favors via the Wedding Chicks // bridesmaids via  The Wedding Scoop // moscow mule via Amazon // copper cake photography by Karen Buckle Photography

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10 THINGS A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER WANTS YOU TO KNOW

Planning a wedding can be completely overwhelming. There are a million details and so many things to worry about. However when the day is over, the one thing you are left with are your wedding photos. You want them to be amazing, right? Today, I am sharing 10 things a wedding photographer wants you to know to ensure your photos are the best ever.

1 | It is important you like your photographer’s work AND personality : Brides, you are likely going to spend more time with your photographer than you will your new husband on your wedding day. Make sure you like him or her. Ask yourself if you would want to hang out with him or her outside of your wedding. I’m happy to say many of my brides became friends throughout the process, and it made documenting their wedding day extra special!

Brittany Bekas Photography - 10 Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know

2 | Timelines are crucial for ensuring you get all the photos you want : Your wedding day goes by in the blink of an eye. Talk to your photographer months before your wedding to ensure you are aligned on a schedule for the day. Your photographer will be able to help you understand how much time is needed to get great getting ready photos and how many locations for bride and groom photos are realistic given the timeline.

Brittany Bekas Photography - 10 Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know

3 | Get ready in a bright room and try to keep it clean : Getting ready can be stressful especially when you have a ton of people in the space with you. Shoes get tossed around the room. Empty champagne glasses and water bottles cover the tables. Snacks are everywhere. Ask your wedding party to keep one area of your getting ready location as clean as possible. Ideally, this area would be the room with the most natural light to ensure clean, beautiful getting ready images. This goes for the guys too!

Brittany Bekas Photography - 10 Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know

4 | Your photographer is limited by the ceremony restrictions : If your ceremony location restricts photographers from standing in the center aisle or going up on the balcony, then your photographer might not be able to get that beautiful photo of you walking down the aisle with your dad from above or get the straight-on photo of your first kiss. Is flash not allowed AND it is really dark inside your church / hotel? It is likely your photos will be really grainy, so your photographer can abide by the rules. Your photographer has to work with what they are given, so understand the rules of your ceremony location and if possible, see if any are flexible. Your photographer will thank you and your photos will too!

Brittany Bekas Photography - 10 Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know

5 | Your dress is probably going to get dirty : In a dream world, white dresses would not show an ounce of dirt. But, this is nearly impossible because white shows everything. Sigh. If you go into the day knowing your dress is going to get a little dirty, it will save you from stressing about it all day. You know all those gorgeous photos in open fields, inside old barns and wandering through the city? Well those images are not created without a little dirt getting on your beautiful dress. So if you are dreaming of these images, be open to the fact that your dress might get dirty (but it will be worth it!).

Brittany Bekas Photography - 10 Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know

6 | Consider an unplugged wedding ceremony : Ask your guests to put away their iPads, phones and cameras for the ceremony (and maybe even the reception). You will allow your guests to simply be present and enjoy the wedding while your photographer can do the job you hired him / her for. Your photographer will be thrilled that they do not have to worry about one of your guests jumping in the aisle with their iPad during your first kiss or fight against Uncle Bob’s flash during your first dance. Trust me, I have seen it happen, and you do not want one of your guests ruining that priceless moment for you when you have spent so much money hiring a professional.

Brittany Bekas Photography - 10 Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know

7 | Light is EVERYTHING : Light determines everything in photography, so good light can make or break your photos. Late afternoon light (about an hour from sunset) is best for your wedding photos as the light is warm, soft and beautiful … basically a photographer’s dream scenario. The light during the middle of the day is generally harsh and does not photograph as nicely and may mean your photographer cannot photograph the landmarks you want in your photos because he / she is fighting against harsh shadows and unflattering light.

If you are planning an outdoor ceremony, keep the sun in mind as well. Overcast days help afternoon light as they soften harsh shadows, however ceremonies later in the day tend to have better lighting. It is also important to think of how the light will be during your ceremony. Will you and your bridesmaids be standing in the sun while the guys are in the shade? Will you walk down the aisle from shade into sunlight? If so, both will be tricky scenarios for your photographer to manage.

Brittany Bekas Photography - 10 Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know

8 | Good photos take time : Beautiful bride and groom photos do not happen in 10 minutes. Instead, your photographer needs time to create gorgeous images. This may mean having a first look to allocate a whole hour before the wedding for photos of just the two of you or it may mean sneaking out of your reception to soak up the last few minutes of golden light before sunset. Either way, know that the more time you allocate for your bride and groom photos, the more variety you will have when the day is over.

Brittany Bekas Photography - 10 Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know

9 | Have your caterer feed your photographer when your guests are eating :  Caterers usually feed your vendors after all your guests. However, most photographers will not be shooting while people are eating (no one likes their photo taken with a mouthful of food). Instead, have your photographer eat when the head table does to maximize the time they are taking photos of things that are important to you like your first dance, toasts, cake cutting, or your flower girls on the dance floor.

Brittany Bekas Photography - 10 Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know

10 | Enjoy your day! : A happy bride is the prettiest bride. Simple, but true. While some brides spend months / years planning their best day ever, things will go wrong. Don’t sweat the details. Instead, take time to make little memories. Smile. Laugh. Slow down. Cherish every minute of the day celebrating with friends, family, and your love. When you are enjoying the day, your photographer will be there documenting authentic, happy moments. And trust me, those photos will mean the most to you.

Brittany Bekas Photography - 10 Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know

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5 REASONS YOU SHOULD TAKE ENGAGEMENT PICTURES

When I meet with couples, they often ask “Should we have engagement photos taken?” My answer is always a YES! I think engagement sessions are a must. Here are 5 reasons why I think every couple should have engagement photos taken prior to their wedding.

5 Rasons You Should Take Engagement Pictures

1. GET COMFORTABLE IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA : Unless you are a model, celebrity or musician, you likely haven’t been in front of a professional camera since your high school senior photos. It can be totally nerve-racking, hello HUGE camera and equally HUGE camera lens. I was extremely nervous (despite being around cameras all the time) when my friend photographed my business headshots for me but 15 minutes into the session, I relaxed … and it was FUN! An engagement sessions allows both you and your love time to get used to the camera. You get to practice posing, cuddling and kissing – all while still ensuring you have “skinny” arms. ;) Come the wedding day, you are complete naturals and completely confident.

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2. DOCUMENT THIS SPECIAL TIME IN YOUR LIVES : You are in love with your best friend. You are planning a wedding and your future together. It is beyond exciting and such a huge experience in your lives, but one that will go by so fast in between the decisions of cake flavors and bridesmaids dresses. I believe big moments should be preserved and being engaged is one of those experiences. You may want to use the photos of you two to decorate your future home or use them for save-the-dates. Either way, setting aside a couple hours amidst the stress of planning to be together and document your love is so special and important.

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3. BECOME FRIENDS WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER : Engagement sessions give you a chance to get to know your photographer even better. You may have already met with him or her before booking, but your engagement session is another time to learn more about your photographer – as a persoan. I love that I have time with my couples alone before the wedding. It gives me a chance to learn how they met, what they are most excited about for their wedding, what they love to do in their free time, and their favorite restaurants / movies / vacations, etc. And as we create beautiful photos, they learn about me – what things I adore, my favorite travel destinations and how I love grilled cheese. I like to think (and hope!) we become friends, so come the wedding day, I’m walking in as someone you know and love.

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4. LEARN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER’S STYLE :  You fell in love with your photographer’s work online, but how does he/she create those images. During your engagement session, you learn what your photographer expects of you during your photo session. My couples learn all my crazy names for certain poses (hello, I-missed-you-so-much-slow-motion-kiss-in-the-pouring-rain kiss), why I ask them to walk a certain way, and how I expect them to react when I give them unique directions. Some of my requests can sound a little strange at first but come the wedding day, my clients 100% trust me because they have already experienced working with me.

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5. FALL IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER AGAIN : My number one goal of every engagement session is for my clients to have fun and walk away a little more in love. Sure, I want to create some beautiful photos too, but I want the experience to be romantic and memorable. Engagement sessions are a great way to step away from your wedding to-do list (and all the stress that comes with that) and remind each other how much you adore each other. Between the hugging, kissing and whispering of sweet nothings in each other’s ears, I hope you will leave your session completely smitten and even more excited to spend your lives together.

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If you were unsure about scheduling an engagement session, I hope this post inspires you to book a session with your wedding photographer. I adore photographing engagement sessions for all of the above reasons and more! I love them so much, I include a complimentary session in all my wedding collections, so all of my clients get to experience it.

To view even more of my engagement photos of my fabulous couples – Go Here!

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SPOTLIGHT // lbrown design + paperie

I have a bit of an obsession with design especially graphic design, so when I first met Lindsay of LBrown Design & Paperie, I immediately adored her. Anyone that can dream up big ideas and make them beautiful is a rockstar in my mind, and that is exactly what Lindsay does. From innovative save-the-date-cards to glitzy wedding invitations with custom lined envelopes to beautiful dinner menus, Lindsay knows how to take your aesthetic and transform it in into gorgeous paper goods. From modern to glam, to pretty to timeless, her designs are unique and designed just for you. Best of all, she shares a design space with Christine Janda Design & Events at 910 N. Damen Ave in Chicago.

I am so thrilled to introduce you to Lindsay! Today, she is sharing how she became a graphic designer, her favorite things to design and what she thinks is the next big trends in the wedding industry for 2015. Come learn more about her and take a little peak at some of her beautiful work! I promise you will not be disappointed.

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What do you specialize in? 
LBrown Design & Paperie specializes in custom invitations suites for weddings and events. My experience in events provides me with a unique perspective; thinking outside the box to provide clients with one-of-a-kind paper suites.

From spray painted wedding invitations to textural silk and lace menu embellishments, I personally works with every client on every little detail of their wedding or event, providing custom designed save the dates, invitations, escort cards, thank you notes and more.

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How did you get started?
It is hard to believe that I actually got my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and student taught 2nd grade. After graduating, I worked at a children’s bookstore in Chicago where I had complete creative freedom and designed graphics for children’s onesies and t-shirts and they were a huge hit!

I met with the head of the intern program and a large ad agency and she suggested that go to design school to build a design portfolio. After researching many different design schools, I ended up going to Chicago Portfolio School, a one-year advertising school that focused on art direction, copywriting and design. I went the design route.

I have had several different design jobs from designing website to iPhone apps to product development and packaging of children’s toys. While at these jobs I designed invitations for my friends that were getting married and loved it. I landed a job at a small event company designing invitations and absolutely loved it. After about a year and a half, I started my own company and have not looked back!

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What inspires you/your work?
Design inspiration can come from just about anywhere. From department store window displays to magazine ads. I also follow a lot of paper and event designers on Instagram and Facebook, I love keeping up with what is already out there and seeing how I can make it better and different.

What do you like to do in your free time?
One of my favorite things is live music; blues, jazz, piano bars. You name it! I love being a tourists in my own city, and exploring its neighborhoods. There are so many cool and new places popping up around Chicago.

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What’s a fun fact about you that your clients may not know?
I love art shows and supporting local artists. It is so fun to find one-of-a-kind pieces; from jewelry to furniture. If you walked into my apartment you would see everything from a stained glass mural of the Chicago skyline to old CTA signs. One word to describe my personal design taste is “eclectic”.

What is one of your favorite thing to design and why?
Invitations! Since there are so many components that go into a wedding suite, I can really get creative with each aspect of the suite, using design elements in different ways.

I also love corporate branding from logos, business cards, websites and marketing materials. If allows me to switch gears a bit and design something a little different- away from weddings and events.

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What is trending in the event / wedding industry now?
I’ve seen a departure from the classic white and gold, or silver and navy invitations. One of the biggest paper trends for 2015 is COLOR and mixed metals especially rose gold and copper. A fun twist to silver and gold.

I always love to incorporate something a little unexpected. Whether it is a pop of color with the RSVP envelope or playing with different patterns and textures with the paper choice. Have something in your head but haven’t seen it on Pinterest? Chances are I can create it. Spray paint, dyes, ribbons and more – I love to get my hands on it all!

Last but not least, my personal favorite trend is envelope liners done in unique ways. Like sheet music of your first song or a black and white photo of the Chicago Skyline taken from your engagement session. The options are endless.

What trend are you tired of seeing?
The monogram is a timeless, classic icon that I love custom designing for my couples. Where it’s typically utilized can get a bit tired, if only placed on the dance floor and in your return address stamp.

Your invitation sets the tone for your wedding and your monogram can help convey this sentiment through design. Printed on welcome bags for guests to receive upon arrival, in your ceremony programs, on food tags placed in hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour, on photo booth props (even included on the film strip keepsake), on favor tags and more.

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What is your favorite part about your job?
Where do I even start?! I am so fortunate to be able to wake up and do what I love every single day. I love connecting with each and every client and seeing their vision come to life through their invitations and paper details. Since I design everything custom, it is fun to think out side of the box and come up with something that the client may not be expecting, but still love!

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CONTACT + SOCIAL MEDIA
To see more of Lindsay’s work or to contact Lindsay, be sure to check out LBrown Design + Paperie. 

Feeling social? Follow her on INSTAGRAM // FACEBOOK // TWITTER

A special thanks to Christine Janda Design & Events for the event design and floral in the featured photos.

Every month, I’ll be featuring one of my favorite industry peers, so be sure to check back next month to see who else I adore!

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SPOTLIGHT // christine janda design + events

I am so excited to finally be kicking off this monthly series : SPOTLIGHT. Every month, I’ll be sharing a little Q&A session from some of my favorite creatives in the wedding and event world. Each and every one of the businesses, I feature are AMAZING, and I would recommend them a million times to you all. Many have become dear friends over the years of working together, and for the first post, I am talking to one of my FAVORITE people …. my best friend, Christine.

I am quite thrilled to introduce you to the extremely talented event planner and floral designer, Christine of Christine Janda Design and Events. If you are looking for someone to dream up amazing ideas, coordinate all the little details, and / or create stunning floral arrangements for your wedding day (or events), then look no further. Sure, I am a little biased (she is my BFF), but just look at some of her beautiful work and you will see why! She is fabulous. Christine recently open her own studio space at 910 N. Damen Ave, Chicago, and I couldn’t be more excited for her.

Today, Christine is sharing how she became an event planner and floral designer, her favorite trends for 2015 and what she does in her free time. Come learn more about her and see some of her beautiful designs from her launch party.

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What do you specialize in? 

We specialize in full-service wedding and event planning, flowers and design. As a wedding planner we work with couples from start to finish. From finding that perfect venue to budget management, flowers, design and everything in between.

As a florist, our client’s love that we take holistic approach to their wedding planning, AND flowers. I know their venue, invitation design, lighting and linen colors – this transcends seamlessly to their floral and decor. The CJDE team is the perfect mix of organizational Type A planning while bursting to the seams with creativity.

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How did you get started?

From an early age I have always been creative. I cooked, sewed and crafted with my Mom for as long as I can remember. We used to always design silk flowers for our home which is where I began 15+ years ago. I am entirely self taught with flowers, having read a bazillion books and spending endless hours practicing and perfecting my ever evolving designs.

Like Brittany, I, too, started in advertising as an account executive at Chicago’s largest agencies DraftFCB and Leo Burnett. There I managed numerous TV shoots in LA and New York as well as events ranging from fashion shows to concerts. My advertising career provided me with the best training for moving into the world of events. Client and budget management and execution. This sums up event planning!

Following my advertising career I planned, designed and executed numerous weddings, social and corporate events as Event Director for the boutique event planning and florist company, A Perfect Event. After 3 years, I made the leap to fulfill my dream of opening my own business.

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What inspires you/your work?

Absolutely everything around me. I subscribe to every wedding, design and fashion magazine where I tear out endless pages every month. My favorite holiday tabletop design in 2014 was inspired by Kendall Jenner’s fashion spread in Vogue – so fun, filled with texture, surprising prints and flirty combos. It transcended into a lacey black runner accented with sparkle, burgundy and red floral filled with textural berries and flirty foliage and beautiful place cards which accented mis-matched gold lantern ornaments. The perfect “accessory” that made the table.

From a planning perspective, seeing the entire wedding come together and unfold always inspires me. I work with my clients for over a year at times. We work together on every last detail, becoming dear friends in the process, and nothing beats the feeling of seeing them on cloud nine on their big day.

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What do you like to do in your free time?

I have always loved cooking and trying new recipes. Many of my friends (including Britt!) thought I would end up in culinary school. It’s why I love working with caterers so much as I am often a big part of menu selections for my client’s weddings and parties. In my free time, I love hosting wine and small bite nights with my girls. Champagne is always a must at my soirees.

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What’s a fun fact about you that your clients may not know?

I traveled through Thailand with my Mom, which was her first time returning since she moved to Chicago 30+ years ago. It was the most beautiful, life-changing trip filled with meeting family for the first time, riding an elephant, petting a tiger, trying the most amazing food (sticky rice with mango and spicy hot curries) and visiting an orchid farm. To this day, orchids hold a special place in my heart as it reminds me of this journey with my darling mother. If you have met her, you would understand how much fun this would be!

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What is one of your favorite venues to work at and why?

I adore Gallery 1028. Accent the industrial, rustic space with chandeliers and an abundance of romantic candlelight and nothing is more beautiful.

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What is trending in the event / wedding industry now?

Finding ways to let your personality as a couple shine. Having your save the dates include a photo taken at your favorite local brewery (the most fun engagement shoot spot!), incorporating one flower from your mother’s bouquet into yours, having the groom’s award winning bbq rub packaged into individual favors for the perfect takeaway. There are so many ways to inject your personality into your big day – these make the most beautiful, special weddings and your guests will love the thought and care you put into your planning.

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What trend are you tired of seeing?

There isn’t one trend I’m truly “over”. The popular chicken and beef option for an entree can be dressed up. Love Mexican flavors? Skirt steak with chimichurri sauce and chicken mole would be delicious. The popular tall floral centerpiece can be revamped while opting for a more loose and organic design instead of the perfect pave sphere of roses. Love the traditional pave look? Go for bold color vs. soft pastels. Everything old is new again and that goes for each and every wedding trend.

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What is your favorite part about your job?

In the end of the day, I am surrounded by client’s celebrating some of their most important, cherished days of their lives. All while being surrounded by flowers and all things beautiful. I have the best job in the world.

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For more information or to contact Christine, be sure to check out Christine Janda Design and Events. Feeling social? Follow her on INSTAGRAM // FACEBOOK // TWITTER

A special thanks to L Brown Design and Paperie for all of the beautiful paper and invitation design featured in the photos and Truffleberry Market for all the yummy hors d’oeuvres.

Every month, I’ll be featuring one of my favorite industry peers, so be sure to check back next month to see who else I adore!

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HOW TO GET PRETTY PHOTOS OF YOUR WEDDING DETAILS

Let’s face it. My brides (and grooms) spend months planning their weddings. Debating about weather to have jade green or emerald green in the color palette (yes, guys, there is a difference….). So much time goes into every little detail, and it is my job to document every detail beautifully.

One of my favorite portions of the day to document wedding details is during bridal preparations. I love stylizing each detail to make pretty photos for the wedding photo narrative.

Here are a few tips for brides to ensure your photographer (or myself) document beautiful bridal wedding details.

1. HAVE YOUR VEIL OR DRESS AVAILABLE TO USE AS THE BACKGROUND : I swoon when a bride has a beautiful veil because it is the perfect background for jewelry, shoes, and invitations. Lace is always gorgeous. Not wearing a veil?! Don’t worry – sometimes I will use a bridesmaid’s dress to bring in the colors of your wedding day into the photo story or I will borrow your gown to showcase the beadwork / lace / ruffles.

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2. HAVE A SPECIAL HANGER FOR YOUR DRESS : There is nothing that makes me more sad than walking into a bride’s getting ready location to see their GORGEOUS gown on a plastic hanger. Yes, that ugly hanger that came with the beautiful dress. I love a custom hanger, but a pretty wooden or a stain hanger will also make your dress look like the star it is.

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3. SET ASIDE A FULL INVITATION SUITE : Be sure to include all the envelopes and it is even better if you have an addressed suite including a stamp(s). It is often the detail most brides forget to bring on the wedding day, but it is such an important one. I love photographing rings and jewelry on invitations. It also helps to tell the story of your day when placed in a wedding book.

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4. BRING EXTRA FLOWERS or ACCESSORIES : Loose flowers that match your bouquet / centerpieces (or even a couple boutonnieres), ribbons, twine, or lace all are perfect items to set aside with your wedding details so that I can stylize your invitation suite, jewelry, wedding bands, etc to perfection.

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5.HAVE ALL THE RINGS WITH THE BRIDE : I try to photograph the wedding bands with my bride’s engagement ring during bridal prep, so it is helpful to have all the rings at the bride’s getting ready location. I generally have all the accessories and details there so it will match all of the wedding details perfectly.

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6. KEEP A SPOT NEAR A WINDOW CLEAN : I always look for beautiful natural light when I photograph my bride’s details. This is almost always near a window, so it is helpful to have a little nook in the space that is clutter free.

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7. INCORPORATE ELEMENTS THAT REFLECT YOU AS A COUPLE : This is a great way to really bring your personalities as a couple out in your wedding details. Do you love to travel? Have a map set aside. Or is your wedding in a major city or a fun destination? Pick up a postcard before the wedding, and I can photograph your rings on it. Not wearing your mom’s dress, but you have a piece of lace from it? I’ll use it to photograph your details.

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8. GATHER ALL OF YOUR DETAILS INTO ONE SPOT : I encourage all my brides to set aside all of their details into one spot so I can photograph everything once I arrive. This includes your dress, special hanger, veil, hair accessories, shoes, jewelry, perfume, wedding bands / engagement ring, wedding invitation suite, handwritten vows, wedding gifts, bouquets, purse, etc along with any ribbons, fabrics, flowers for the photos. Have your maid-of-honor or another bridesmaid in charge off everything, so I can make gorgeous details for your wedding book.

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MOMENT of the MONTH // august

Reception photos can be some of the best candid photos of a wedding day. Everyone is having fun, shaking their butts off and all around celebrating. While I love capturing everyone getting their groove on, I’m a sucker for little kids dancing at wedding receptions. There is something so innocent, adorable, and carefree about them dancing. I mean how could you not look at this photo and think “how cute are they?!”. These two cuties captured at Jen and Mike’s wedding are August’s moment of the month.

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WEDDING FAMILY FORMALS // my approach + tips

I know that family formals are one of the most important parts of the wedding day.  After all, these are the people who have be there for the bride and groom for years and years and it is so important that I make sure I photograph them with everyone near and dear. Yet more often than not, it seems like the wedding family formals can be a bit rushed and a little chaotic (at times!).

I thought it would be helpful for all my couples and brides-to-be to to write a blog post on some tips on how to make the most out of your time for family photos on your wedding day.

wedding family formals tips // brittany bekas photography - wedding photography based in chicago, illinois

1. Send a detailed group list to your photographer before the wedding. This list should include all the possible combinations and should list out the name and relation of each person in the photo. This means instead of saying bride with mom, brother and sister, it would say, bride (Bianca) with mom (Kathy), brother (Mike) and sister (Laura). It is helpful to know how many different photos we need so that when Uncle Bob is asking if he can go to cocktail hour or the flower girls need to use the bathroom, I will know we got all the photos on the list before they go MIA.

wedding family formals tips // brittany bekas photography - wedding photography based in chicago, illinois

2. Weather permitting, choose a location outside of the church/ceremony site. I get to photograph some of the most gorgeous ceremonies in stunning churches / venues, but being able to get outside in natural light always makes for the best photos. Feel free to suggest a couple location ideas before the wedding, and I will be sure to find the one with the best light on your special day.

wedding family formals tips // brittany bekas photography - wedding photography based in chicago, illinois

3. Remind anyone who will be in the family photos to be on time or to not leave after the ceremony ends. I suggest sending an email the week of the wedding and also reminding them at the rehearsal that they are needed for photographs either before or after the ceremony (depending on your schedule). Otherwise, Uncle Bob might run off to grab a cocktail, and we will either decide to take the photo without him or we will have to wait for someone to find him … only taking away from time for other photos.

wedding family formals tips // brittany bekas photography - wedding photography based in chicago, illinois

4. Have a designated family wrangler. It is extremely helpful to have a sister / brother /aunt / uncle on both the bride’s and groom’s side to help gather up all the VIPs for family photos. While my assistant and I have a list, we do not know who everyone is, so it helps when we have someone that knows the family and  can go find them if they are missing.wedding family formals tips // brittany bekas photography - wedding photography based in chicago, illinois

5. Act like you actually like each other and have FUN! Yes, squeeze in nice and close. And when you think you are close enough, get one step closer. Give hugs and kisses. Even if it just for a moment. Because these moments end up as the best photos … even better than the one where everyone is smiling and looking at the camera. And they show that you are a loving family … and isn’t that what you are about?!

wedding family formals tips // brittany bekas photography - wedding photography based in chicago, illinois

 

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WEDDING VENUE // orchard ridge farm in rockton, illinois

the pavillion at orchard ridge orchard in rockton, illinois // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois

I think I was born a city girl. For years, I (and all my friends and family) thought after I graduated from college I would run off to the Big Apple and never return. But I stayed in Chicago … the perfect city for me. Trust me, I am far from a country girl (although I do love me some cowboy boots) …. but lately I have found myself gravitating to places and spaces outside of my normal “lust” list.

So when the team at The Pavillion at Orchard Ridge Farms in Rockton, Illinois invited me and a bunch of other wedding professionals to come up for a visit, I was so excited! Getting outside of the city for a few hours is sometimes just what a creative needs, and let me tell you – the whole experience was a breath of fresh air (literally!).

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Brides!!! If you are looking for a gorgeous country backdrop with touches of glam … this is your jam! For real. Between the perfectly decorated Coppersone Inn, a 7-bedroom bed and breakfast across the field, a stunning orchard for a ceremony site, and the most incredible reception space … it is pretty much perfect! The food, catered by Henricis, was delicious …. from the presentation to the taste! And the speciality cocktails were so different from your typical wedding cocktail and tasted like a dream.

I want to thank again everyone involved in the afternoon for all their hardwork. It is an amazing venue, and I promise you … the team is beyond exceptional! Brides …. you better move on this place because it is hot, hot, hot!

VENUE >> the pavillion at orchard ridge farm // FLORAL + DESIGN >> revel decor // CATERING >> henricis

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WEDDING INSPIRATION // navy + peach

This month’s wedding inspiration is all about summer peaches and dark blues. It is the perfect color palette for a spring or summer wedding. Add in stripes for a preppy, nautical look or pick a bold print for a more contemporary style. Gold accents work amazing with this color as an accent color!

wedding inspiration - peach + navy // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois

If you want to see more of this color palette inspiration be sure to follow the peach + navy inspiration board and me on pinterest.

IMAGE CREDITS [top to bottom, right to left] : peach cocktail // navy striped flats // peach diamond // peach and navy kings table // flower crown via style me pretty; photography by kristina curtis photography // stripped invitations via etsy // peach bouquet; photography by wren and field// peach striped straws // table numbers via style me pretty; photography by kt merry // peach cookies // navy groomswear from nordstrom //peach cake via elizabeth anne designs; photography by charlie & juliet // peach and silver tassels // striped navy and peach table via southern weddings; photography by justin demutiss photography

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WHY A FIRST LOOK FOR YOUR WEDDING DAY

Should I do a first look or should I stick to tradition? It is a question that nearly all of my couples are faced with. But as first looks become more and more of the norm, I have found that I am explaining the process and benefits less and less. Why? Because my brides already know they want a first look. (Just like I know that when I get married … I will 100% opt to see my groom beforehand).

why you should have a first look // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois

So what happens during a first look? I scout out the perfect private location before the ceremony, and I set up my dapper groom with his back towards my gorgeous bride. Myself and my assistant stand back and photograph the moment with zoom lenses as my bride slowly approaches her groom … so that the moment is entirely theirs. It is their moment to cry (what every girl hopes for when her groom sees her for the first time), laugh, hug, kiss, twirl and just take in everything. No one expects anyone to react in any way and all of your friends and family are not starring at your every move. It is intimate and emotional …. and in that moment you still have the surprise and wow factor that happens as you come down the aisle.

why you should have a first look // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois

I can’t hide it from my couples that I LOVE first looks. But if they still aren’t 100% sold on the idea, here are a few other reasons why I think first looks are amazing.

why you should have a first look // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois

>> YOU GET TIME ALONE TOGETHER : Your wedding day goes by so fast! But by opting for a first look, you can slow it down a little. You have almost a whole hour set aside for just photos of the two of you. You can whisper sweet nothings into each other’s ears and sneak in little kisses. After all, the day is all about you, so you deserve time to just be …. together!

why you should have a first look // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois

>> YOU CAN SMILE, CRY, HUG AND KISS THE MOMENT YOU SEE EACH OTHER FOR THE FIRST TIME WITHOUT EVERYONE WATCHING YOUR REACTION : Brides often worry that by seeing each other before the ceremony, they won’t get that “reaction” they hoped for as they come down the isle. But let’s face it. Grooms are nervous. They are standing in front of hundreds of people as they watch for that same “reaction” the bride is looking for. With a first look, you are in a private area where the two of you can have that special moment to yourselves. You can tell your groom how handsome he looks, and he can get teary-eyed. Because it is just you two.

why you should have a first look // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois

>> YOU GET MORE PHOTOS OF THE TWO OF YOU : My couples that opt for a first look get almost twice as many photos of them together. Why? We start with photos of the two of you, so if things are off schedule or a bridesmaid is having a fashion crisis, the time doesn’t get cut out from the photos of the two.

why you should have a first look // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois

>> THE DAY FEELS LESS STRESSFUL : After getting ready, you have time together followed by time with your closest friends and family. My couples who choose a first look, love that they get all of their photos done before the ceremony. They don’t have to rush out after the first kiss to try to crunch in all the photos they want in just one hour.

why you should have a first look // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois

>> YOU DON’T HAVE TO MISS COCKTAIL HOUR : You know that fun little hour where you get to visit with all your friends and family who traveled near and far to be with you on your special day … you get to be there … for the whole time! And you don’t have to miss all those yummy cocktail hor d’vous you spent hours picking out. :)

why you should have a first look // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois

I love it when my couples choose to see each other before their ceremony. The photos are magical and the moment is forever captured. But if tradition is more your style, don’t fret! You will still have amazing photos. After all, every couple has to design their dream day. I am just grateful I am there to tell their story. 

PHOTO CREDIT // All images taken by Brittany Bekas Photography. Images 1,2,4, 7 were photographed for Cassandra Photo. Image 3 photographed for Jill Tiongco Photography.

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MOMENT of the MONTH // april

I have been wanting to add a “MOMENT of the MONTH” post to my monthly blogging schedule for months now. Coming from a photojournalism background, it just made sense for me to find a way to highlight images that capture perfect moments. The images that will be featured here over the next few months might not be a part of the original wedding/session blog post or they might not end up as a canvas in my clients’ homes, but they are images that tell a story.

I had a HARD time picking the first MOMENT of the MONTH but as I thought back to 2013, there was one moment that stood out for me. My stunning bride, Ashley, was not having a first look with her groom, Matt, so I suggested we do a first look with her Dad. She loved the idea, but she didn’t think there would be a great reaction to capture.

I had tears in my eyes behind the camera as I photographed the beautiful moment of a father seeing his little girl all grown up dressed in her wedding dress.

moment of the month : april // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois moment of the month : april // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois

It is moments like these that I capture that make me fall in love with my job over and over again.

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WHAT to WEAR // boho engagement session

Maybe it was the long days of beaching or the carefree spirit of traveling like a gypsy for months, but I am utterly, totally obsessed with all things boho lately. Flower crowns, fringe, denim …. swoon. I cannot get enough. So for this WHAT to WEAR, I designed a look that I want in my closet, but a look that is so perfect spring and all my boho sistas out there. Rock this look in a huge open field of flowers or amidst the forest. Dreamy images are sure to come.

what to wear // boho engagement wardrobe inspiration // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in Chicago, Illinois

Want to buy something featured in this look? If so, click here to find out where you can order it or just use the color palette as inspiration to come up with your own look for your photo shoot. Need more wardrobe ideas for your engagement session? Be sure to follow my inspiration boards on pinterest.

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WEDDING INSPIRATION // blush + strawberry

One of my goals this year for my blog (and business) was to help educate my clients and readers. This blog is so many things to me, but more than anything I want it to be a place of inspiration (that’s what all the creative/right brains love, right?).

I adore weddings. You all know that. And I love dreaming up styled shoots, so I thought it would be a fun monthly series for all my brides and wedding obsessed readers to create a wedding inspiration board each month. Yes, I’m putting to use all the hours I spend pinning and sharing it with you!

In honor of the month of LOVE, February is all about blush pink and strawberry red. The inspiration is romantic, organic and airy .. perfect for an outdoor wedding. If you want to see more of this color palette inspiration be sure to follow the blush + strawberry inspiration board and me on pinterest.

wedding color inspiration // blush pink and strawberry red // brittany bekas photography

IMAGE CREDITS : bride // apples // signature drink // bouquet // glasses // raspberries // leaves // mini cakes // mailbox // boutonnieres // invitations // groom // centerpiece  

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BEST LOCATIONS FOR BRIDES + GROOMS TO GET READY AT in CHICAGO

My brides (and grooms!) are simply amazing because they value the photographs from their wedding day so much that lately they have been emailing me lots of great questions on how to get the best photos on their wedding day. I LOVE it when my brides look to me for advice, and I am happy to help!

One of my 2014 brides emailed me last week asking me about the best places to get ready at. This is something that sometimes gets overlooked in the planning, but it can really help make getting ready photos so much more amazing. Often times the getting ready location is at a bride’s family home while others opt for a trendy hotel. Where ever the location, here are some things that I look for when picking out the best spaces to get ready at. (This list is  for both my beautiful brides and dapper grooms.)

Best Chicago locations for brides getting ready for wedding // Brittany Bekas Photography | www.brittanybekas.com // Chicago wedding photographer

>> Natural light: I am a natural light photographer, so having a room that is full of natural light, not lamps and lightbulbs, is best. This allows for beautiful portraits and natural skin tones.

>> Large windows: Any window is better than no windows, but spaces with floor to ceiling windows or large windows (and lots of them) is ideal. It is best to have a room with north and south facing windows for the best light throughout the day.

>> Suites or larger spaces: If your budget allows, a bigger room or bridal suite allows everyone more space when getting ready … especially if you will have your wedding party getting ready with you.

>> Light colored walls: Rooms with white or cream walls are best as they act as a natural reflector for all of the natural light entering the room. If possible try to stay away from rooms with bold colors like green or pink as the wall colors will make everyone’s skin tones look unhealthy.

>> Interesting decor: A space where the decor matches the theme/aesthetic of your wedding day is ideal, especially if you will be getting a wedding album as it will help to tell the story of your day  cohesively. The decor will be used for a lot of your detail photographs (dress, jewelry, earrings, etc) as well as environmental elements  for portraits.

>> Uncluttered spaces: Messes and clutter only distract from my brides/grooms, so spaces that are simple and clean are best. Don’t worry, if there is clutter, we can move it out of the way for the photos, but I always ask my brides/grooms to try to keep any mess to one small section of the room so it doesn’t end up in their photos.

Best Chicago locations for brides getting ready for wedding // Brittany Bekas Photography | www.brittanybekas.com // Chicago wedding photographer

Need some ideas on some hotels that I love to photograph in? Here is a small list (in no particular order) of some of my favorite spaces in Chicago and around.

>> the Wit

>> W hotel

>> James

>> Blackstone Hotel

>> Hotel Palomar

>> Sofitel Chicago Water Tower 

>> Trump Hotel

>> Hotel Sax

>> Dana Hotel

>> ALOFT

>> Westin

Any other spaces you love? Let me know!

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