Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Wedding Story | Northwest Arkansas Wedding Photographer

Once upon a time, my husband and I were planning a wedding.  We had serious discussions on just what kind of wedding it was going to be and a Halloween themed wedding was actually a major contender.   We LOVE Halloween and all things horror and spooky, so a fun costumed wedding seemed like a really perfect idea to us.  Part of the theme involved groomsmen wearing these 'living' skull latex masks that were glued straight to the face and moved with the facial muscles.  We were also thinking of a medieval themed wedding.  I thought the idea of all of John's best friends in tunics with their long hair was just amazing.  It's probably a good thing I had never heard of Game of Thrones at that point!

  In the end, however, we decided to do a more traditional wedding.  We picked a venue.  I was looking at dresses.  I was buying wedding magazines for inspiration.  (What?  This was pre-Pinterest.  I've been married forever.)  But I was also asking about once a week, "You sure you don't want to elope?" I was only half-joking.   I had it stuck in my head that I was going to do something that would embarrass me as I was walking down the aisle.  John, though, wanted a wedding.  He was one of the very last of his friends to get married and he wanted to do it 'right.'

This is why, only three months after we became engaged, what he said to me one day in our little apartment completely shocked me.  I was knitting on the couch and he was reading in the chair when suddenly he said, "Soooo...  you want to go get a marriage license?"  I stared at him for a long time before I realized he wasn't joking, then I jumped up and grabbed the keys.

As we were driving to get it, we quickly discussed our plan.  Sometime within the month we would have a super small ceremony with a justice of the peace and our closest friends and family.  It would be small, sweet, and simple.  It was December, so it would probably have to be indoors, and we were brainstorming location ideas as we were walking to the car after we had purchased our license.  When you receive a marriage license, they also give you an info sheet of contact numbers for Justices of the Peace, so I decided to call one just to find out his availability, his rates, and any other information we needed, such as witnesses. 

What he said next would change everything.

"Well, if you have a fella and can meet me in half an hour, we can do it today."

And just like that, our spur of the moment idea to plan a simple, quiet ceremony became a spur of the moment idea to get married THAT DAY.

He wore flannel.  I had on jeans and a golden cardigan.  We met the JP in a little gazebo in a small park on a rapidly getting colder December day.  We have exactly three photos of the day before our little digital camera's batteries died.  One of the gazebo, one of us smiling at the camera, one of us kissing. 

We've talked about a vow renewal.  It may happen some day, but I would really want something quiet in the woods with our kids and a small handful of people.  Something not much different than what we did a decade ago, only this time we would have a photographer. ;)  In the mean time, I take thousands of photos of the two of us and our family.  It makes me happy. 

I recently took a photo of my wedding ring just so it would get some love.  I haven't worn it in years and years, but I adore what it represents, so I wanted it documented.  <3

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tips for Brides and Grooms | The First Look | Northwest Arkansas Wedding Photographer

Most of my couples either know that the First Look is not for them or they know for sure that they do want to do it, but once in awhile I have a bride and groom who haven't put a lot of thought into it either way and want some more information before they decide.  This blog post is for those of you who haven't decided or who may not even know a First Look from a First Kiss.

Um, what exactly is a First Look?


Let's start with the basics and find out just what exactly is a First Look.  Quite simply, a First Look is when a bride and groom have decided that they are going to meet each other before the ceremony.  Yes, before the ceremony.  I can see some of you twitching right now and thinking, "You aren't supposed to see each other before the bride walks down the aisle!!! Are you crazy??" and that's okay.  First Looks are not for everyone.  Just like every wedding is beautiful, special, and unique for each couple, so is the decision to do or not to do a First Look.  And I'm completely fine either way.  Really. I know you've all heard stories of photographers insisting that their couples do a First Look, but that's not me.  I'm here to capture your story in beautiful images no matter how it is told. 




Sooooo, why DO people decide to do a First Look?

There are so many answers to that! 

Some couples decide to do a First Look because they aren't afraid of breaking tradition and they would rather free up time after the ceremony.  By choosing to do a First Look, they can then take the family formals before the ceremony and leave only wedding party and bride and groom portraits after the ceremony.  Maybe their wedding is later in the day and they know that there will not be light left after the ceremony and they really want natural light portraits.  Or maybe they want to actually be able to mingle with their guests at cocktail hour, so they do a First Look so they can do ALL of the portraits before the ceremony.  If this is the option for you, I will ask for at least ten minutes with the new Mr. and Mrs. after the ceremony just to get some portraits of the two of you after you are officially husband and wife.  Plus, you'll both have your wedding bands on for the portraits!





I have an amazing timeline with plenty of time for portraits, so why else would I do a First Look?


Some people are so nervous before their wedding day and want nothing more than a few moments alone to calm down with the person they love.  Or they want the time when they first see each other to be followed with the freedom to embrace, whisper to each other, hug, and kiss.  You can't really do that at the alter!  




I really want to go with tradition and wait until the walk to the alter to see each other, but I still like the idea of a First Look.  What about me?


Even though none of my brides have opted to go this route, there are tons of brides out there who wanted the best of both worlds and I think it is great.  All you have to do is look through Pinterest and see some really sweet examples.  Some that stick out in my mind:  having a door physically between the couple so they can't see each other, but they are able to hold hands, exchange gifts or letters  or having the groom wear a blindfold so they can still touch and hug but the big reveal is still saved for that walk down the aisle.  If this sounds like something you are interested in, let's brainstorm ideas!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Throw Back Thursday | Northwest Arkansas Photographer

It's Thursday and I'm jumping on the Throwback Thursday bandwagon!  I'm throwing it alllll the way back to the long ago time of the beginning of March. ;)

We decided to make a weekend trip to Dallas to hit Ikea (our first trip!!) and go to the Dallas World Aquarium.    
John and I hadn't been to the Aquarium in almost ten years when our oldest daughter was a baby, so it was really great to watch the girls experience it. 

It was a pretty sweet day. 

Here are just a handful of all the photos.  I decided that I wouldn't torture you with the hundreds of photos I took, but if you ever come to my house, I may show you their pages in my Project Life albums.  ;)

I think I know a couple of guys who would kill for that mustache.

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     I didn't think I was going to get a photo of this guy.  He was a busy little thing and wouldn't be still.

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This sloth was so cool.  They have him out in the open with no cage with his little trees.  You can get right under him.  He had his head tucked under his arm for most of the time we watched him, but he did look up just for a moment.  :)

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   Is it just me or does this frog look like he is plotting something??

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Hands down, the jelly fish are always my favorite when we visit an aquarium.  I love them so much.

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   The girls loved them, too.      

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It was a really packed day and everyone seemed to want to hang out in the shark tunnel.  I don't blame them.  It's kind of awe inspiring to see all the creatures swimming all around you. 

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Looove this.

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Ugly little guy, yeah?


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   Of course, no trip is complete without a silly bathroom selfie, right?  Even if the reflection does make it look like my kid is licking a faucet. 


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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tips for Brides and Grooms | Getting Ready | Northwest Arkansas Wedding Photographer

Welcome to the first of many posts that will focus on tips for a smooth(er) wedding day for my lovely brides.  And their grooms.  Grooms are important, too.  ;)

One of my favorite parts of a wedding is the getting ready portion of the day.  The excitement just keeps building and building, everyone is so happy, and it's always fun to see someone go from their everyday loveliness to their "I'm Marrying My Love" loveliness.  It's pretty amazing and an honor to witness.  Every now and then, though, I see stress seep into this part of the day when there is no need for it.  I hope to be able to help eliminate some of that stress so that my brides can do what they are supposed to be doing: getting ready to be joined with someone they are madly in love with and start the next chapter of their lives together. 

1. Plan Enough Time


This is a big one.  So many times a bride will underestimate how much time it is going to take for her and her bridesmaids to go through hair and make-up.  Or she forgot just how long it took to lace up  her dress at her last fitting.  These oversights can eat into a getting ready timeline quickly, leaving a bride growing more and more stressed during what should be a relaxed and happy time.

A little padding in the getting ready schedule will help save the day!

  • Talk to your make-up artist and hair stylist (if they are not the same person) and add on 10 minutes or so to their estimate for each girl.  
  • Do a trial run for yourself so you know exactly what to expect. 
  •  Remember to time how long it takes for you to get completely in your dress and then add on a few minutes because you know your mom is going to be super nervous. 

If these extra bits of time are not needed, you just gave yourself built in time just to relax and soak up the last few moments before you become a Mrs!  

2. Don't Forget the Details!

It's during the getting ready part of the day, usually when I first get there and the bride is still in the beginning stages of hair and make-up, that I shoot the detail shots.  These are wonderful for helping tell the story of the day, especially if they are something that are near and dear to the couple's hearts, or something that was a DIY labor of love.  And they are just so fun to shoot!  :) 

Details to consider bringing into the getting ready room:
  • both sets of rings
  • shoes
  • bridal jewelry
  • a spare copy of the invitation 
  • a nice hanger for the wedding dress 



3. Flowers


Flowers are gorgeous!  And often they are a big part of the theme of the day, so you may want to consider having the flowers delivered to the getting ready room instead of the church or venue.  This ensures that they will be available not only for detail shots, but also for any photos with the bride that happen before the ceremony.




5. Bridesmaids 


Who doesn't love having a few hours with their closest friends, especially before such an important day?  Some of my favorite photos are the ones with the bride and her girls in the getting ready room.  They are so happy and excited and sometimes there are tears and it is just so, so beautiful. 

Things to consider concerning bridesmaids:

  • have them get their hair and make-up done first.  This means that they are looking their best in the photos as you are getting ready.
  • I love when brides give their girls matching or coordinating t-shirts, tank tops, or robes to wear before they put on their dresses.  Not only is it an awesome gift, but it also takes away any stress for them about what they should wear for the beginning of the day.   And yes, it looks awesome in photos. :)
  • have them get into their dresses shortly before it is time for you to get into yours.  This gives a beautiful, polished look to everyone in the photos.
 

 This also applies to your mom if she is also getting ready with the bride.


6. Cut the Clutter

In my perfect little wedding world, all my brides would get married in huge, gorgeous rooms with amazing windows to let in the best natural light I've ever seen.  There would be so much room that there would be no problem at all getting a clear, beautiful view of the bride everywhere she goes. 

In reality, my brides often get ready in small rooms.  Hotel rooms, offices, guest bedrooms, dining rooms.  Even when there is a lovely room provided by the venue, when you add in everyone that wants or needs to be there for the bride as she gets ready, it can seem much, much smaller.  And with every person in the room, the clutter grows, it just can't be helped.  So, what do you do to make sure that a rogue plastic bag from that last minute run to the store, a leftover soda can or someone's hot pink suitcase doesn't pop up in photos? 
 
  • Designate an area in a corner as far from the action as possible to throw coats, store bags, and put the trashcan.  This way it is easier to avoid the clutter in the photos. 
  • Consider getting matching cups for water or wine.  Then they become part of the wedding day details and the story of the day!



    I hope you enjoyed my first post in my Tips for Brides and Grooms and that you found it incredibly helpful!


Friday, February 28, 2014

So Special! | Northwest Arkansas Wedding Photographer




So, I had these grand plans of doing a special for February in honor of Valentine's Day, much like I did for my Beauty Boudoir clients.  I was able to tell a handful of wedding inquiries about it, but then suddenly my inbox was really quiet.  So quiet it was eerie.  Finally I decided to go poking around in my server and realized that my email wasn't working.  And hadn't been working for at least two weeks!  *face palm* 

Not the thing you want to have happen around the day of love when EVERYONE is getting engaged, right? 

Well, my mistake is going to benefit you, if you are planning a wedding and are looking for a photographer! Anyone who books a wedding with RLP throughout the month of March will get 10% off of their collection.  So, email me, let's go grab a coffee and chat about your wedding!

Monday, February 24, 2014

The G Fam |Northwest Arkansas Family Photographer

Ahh, I just love this session!  These guys are incredibly near and dear to my heart and getting to capture them in front of my camera just makes me so super happy. 

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He was so good for the camera!  He did an excellent job.

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This guy cracks me up.  He wasn't as impressed with the camera as his twin was.  He was much more interested in going and climbing on the tree house at this location.  I understand, I do.  Tree houses are so much cooler than I am. 

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He wanted to pick his own pose and spot for his photo.  I think he did a pretty good job!

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This little beauty was SO over me by this point and wanted nothing to do with me or the camera.  It's okay, she's still gorgeous. 

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And we got to take photos of mom and dad alone for a little bit.  I am a big believer in getting at least a handful of photos of the parents only during family sessions.  So many couples don't have portraits of themselves after the kiddos start to come. 
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I am so in love with this one. 

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Waiting for Baby | Northwest Arkansas Maternity Photographer

This family is so special to me.  Jen and I have been friends since we were freshmen in college.  I admire and look up to her so much.  She's pretty awesome.  :)

They tried for so long to have this baby and I was so honored to be able to take maternity photos for them.  It was really fun that there was a light dusting of snow all over the place.  (You know, back before we were all  SO OVER snow) They've since had this little cutie and you'll see her in future blog posts!


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Then we went inside and took a few in the super adorable nursery.

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