Jordan Leigh + Josiah//Wedding

Where do I even begin with these two? I have known Jordan Leigh & Josiah pretty much my entire life. They are like brothers & sisters to me. Being a part of their wedding felt like being at huge family reunion, all of our close childhood friends, gathered around to celebrate their marriage. 

They have been dating for YEARS, and here is an old throw back picture I took at Josiah's high school graduation party of their 2013 young love. Its been beautiful to not only watch these two become husband & wife, but to see how their relationship has grown over the years and how they have individually become the most caring, Godly, hard working & creative human beings.

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Jordan Leigh's mom wrote me such an encouraging letter, thanking me for photographing their wedding. She said, 'You clearly have a God given talent & calling, and its a joy to see you use it. You bring glory to His name & He provides for you through it. What a lovely way to dance with your Creator! The photos are lovely. Whenever I look at them, I get to experience the wedding more fully because you caught things I didn't see!" THIS is why I love what I do. I get to be a part of people's lives, stories, & special moments. I get to give them a gift they can relive over & over. And my heart & passion, above giving people images they will treasure forever, is to make much of my Creator. To glorify Him. To point people to Him. I feel like such a failure at this daily, but by His grace, I'm thankful He uses weak, inadequate people like me to glorify Him. YOU can as well. You don't have to be a missionary or work at a church to make an impact for the Lord. Do it wherever you are, at whatever you do. The Bible says, "Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people.

Jordan Leigh & Josiah, you'll always be so special to me! Thank you for years of friendship & for many more to come (since we live so close to each other again!!) 

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Gary + Nicole // SC Wedding at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

When I think of a "perfect wedding" this day comes to mind. Gary & Nicole got married on a Thursday afternoon at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens in Charleston, surrounded by green grass, low hanging oak trees full of moss, peacocks roaming the grounds, and their closest friends & family. They served cookies & doughnuts, danced under twinkling lights overlooking the water, and all huddled around the campfire as the sun went down. Dreamy, right?? 

Not only was their wedding absolutely perfect, but these two are such wonderful people. They were laid back, truly enjoyed their day, and loved on every single person that attended their wedding. PLUS they are a super attractive couple! We joked as we took their photos after the wedding that these photos would help them jump start their modeling career ;) But seriously, these two were so great to work with & made me feel like a friend and not just their photographer, which always makes for an enjoyable experience. Love you two, and I'm still so so happy you let me photograph your special day! 

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Micayla & Wade // Wedding

I am sitting on my back porch, fingers hovering the keys, a white page staring blank before me. I am trying find the words that will match the feelings I have in my heart for these two and their sweet wedding. Not sure if I can do it justice, but its worth a try. 

Micayla and Wade are some of the sweetest people you will ever meet. They both come from very large families, Micayla being the oldest of 9 and Wade being one of 11 (their family photos was the largest one I've ever taken..scroll down to see!) So, to say they love people really well is an understatement. As a photographer, I do lots of observing. Lots of watching. While I was photographing their wedding day, a few things I observed about these two was their selfless hearts, their kind spirits, and their genuine love for people. 

As a bride, its easy to get caught up in the idea that this day is all about you. Yet, the entire day, I watched Micayla selflessly serve others and put other's needs above her own. One of her sisters asked her to help with her makeup, and Micayla joyfully did it. Another asked her to fix her hair, and she joyfully did it. As she was running around getting ready she came over to me and asked if she could do anything for ME or if I needed anything. I was blown away the entire day at how she loved & served others, despite the fact that it was "her" wedding. 

Wade was kind to everyone he came in contact with that day. I was in the middle of photographing all the family photos and he looked over at me and said, "You're doing a great job Kathleen, we are super thankful for you!" Every word that I heard come out of his mouth was encouraging and kind & it was a true blessing to watch. 

Their love for their family & friends was extremely evident. I think they spoke to every single person that was at their wedding and genuinely loved on everyone that was there. I teared up watching the love that this family has for each other and how excited they were for the 2 families to become one. Micayla & Wade, your wedding refreshed my spirits and made me thankful that I get to be a part of special days like yours. The love you guys have for Jesus, each other, your family & friends challenged ME, because you love like Jesus. I am thrilled that you two get to experience the gift of marriage & I know many people will be impacted through it.

Much love to you guys. xoxo

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How to plan a wedding...budget style.

This is the time of year for wedding planning! Every week I get inquiries from brides who have recently gotten engaged and are starting the planning process. It's such an exciting season of life as a bride, but it can also become very stressful & expensive. According to The Knot, the average American wedding costs $30,000. That is just crazy to me! When I got engaged, there was no way my college student budget was going to allow me to have a $30,000 wedding. Plus, my sister had JUST gotten married 4 months before I got engaged, and my parents didn't have a lot of funds to dish out to me. So I had to make my wedding happen on a small budget. 

 I know, it might be weird to you that I'm posting a blog about how to save money on your wedding day when I am IN the wedding industry and make a living off people getting married. But I was also a bride just a few months ago, had a killer wedding, and pulled it off on a small budget. So, for all those brides getting married this year, I wanted to share a few tips on how I saved money and planned my wedding on a budget. 

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  • Splurge on what's important, save on what's not. Everyone has things they value and are willing to spend money on. For some, it might be that they have a LOVE for music & want a live band at their reception, and are willing to pay $3,000 to have one. Some might have a lot of friends and family that they want to attend their wedding, and are willing to pay $4,000 for a venue that will hold everyone. MY hope is that you value quality photos to remember your wedding day by, and splurge on a professional photographer ;) Whatever that may be for you, decide on what you value, splurge on that one thing, and then try to find more affordable alternatives for everything else. 
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  • Read your vendor's fine print. I got married at a beautiful venue that wasn't outrageously expensive. However, in their contract, booking them as my venue meant that I agreed to using their rental company for all my tables, chairs, and any additional needs. That rental company was not the most affordable option I could have used, but I agreed to the contract and had to use them. Make sure you are aware of all the fine print to keep you on budget & prevent any unexpected expenses. 
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  • Buy dried flowers & make bouquets yourself. As a photographer, I LOVE it when my brides use professional florists because large & creative bouquets add such a beautiful element to the photographs. I also have friends who are florists, and I am constantly advertising for them because they are true artists and I love photographing their work. However, using live flowers can get costly very quickly. So what I did on my wedding day was order a ton of dried flowers (from Curious Country Creations online), had a fun, bouquet building night with all my bridesmaids, but then had a professional florist make my bouquet with live flowers. This saved me some money, but then also provided the funds for me to splurge on my bouquet. I'd highly recommend this because professionally done bridal bouquets make for beautiful photos.  Another way to save money in this area would be to hire a professional to make all your bouquets, but then add a different element to the dinner tables, instead of large flower arrangements, which will save you a lot of money. (Bouquets below done by Lexi Woodward)
  • Do as MUCH DIY stuff as possible. For my wedding, anything I could do myself (or could bribe my family members or close friends to do), I did. My sister has beautiful handwriting and she did all the hand lettering for my invitation. My other sister & I actually designed my invitation. My sister made our wedding cake. My dad and I made flower & candle holders out of wood for the table center pieces. I made a wedding music playlist on Spotify and had my uncle (who has tons of sound equipment) DJ the reception. I had these huge, wire, plant holders that were on the main wall of the venue that my best friend & I made by hand. My sisters & best friend raided the woods near our house the day before my wedding to gather greenery & vines to use as decorations for the reception. There are TONS of things you can do yourself. Sure, it might take time & some extra thought, but it can cut costs tremendously! I had so much fun creating unique elements for my wedding and made lasting memories with my family & friends in the process. (Below are some images from my wedding of things we made ourselves. Photos by Julie Mixon) 
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  • Have a pot-luck reception. I know this sounds crazy and kinda impossible. Yet, this is probably where I saved the MOST money on my wedding day. On average, caterers charge about $20-$30 per head at a wedding, and if you invite 200 guests, that is somewhere between $4,000- $6,000 you will spend, just on FOOD alone! Unreal. At my wedding, my parents provided the meat for everyone, and the rest of the food was brought in by our guests. We had a food sign up sheet online that people filled out, so we were aware of how much food would be provided. It sounds pretty ghetto, but seriously, it was the greatest idea. There was SUCH a variety of mouth- watering, home cooked dishes, breads, and desserts and we had more than enough to feed everyone! It was such a blessing and I tell all my brides to consider this on their wedding day if possible! 
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There are so many things I'm glad I did on my wedding day, and other things I wished I would have done differently. I love any chance I get to help my brides (and brides in general), and I think one way is by sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. It also saddens me to watch so many people go into debt because of their wedding, or spend so much time, energy and money on their wedding, and neglect their future marriage. My heart for my couples is that they have thriving marriages, not just a killer wedding. These tips might not work for everyone, and I'm sure there are better/more affordable alternatives than these, but I hope these will help you has you begin your wedding day planning, in order for you to have a killer, affordable wedding AND a thriving marriage. xoxo

Quincy + Rachel

If I am not careful, weddings can kinda grow stale to me. Its just another day, just another wedding, just another couple. Yet, this couple helped refresh my spirit and come to a deeper appreciation for shooting weddings. I think in our culture today, marriage isn't viewed as a sacred, lifelong commitment anymore. Weddings are just a thing people do and an excuses for people to get wasted. Being married isn't about a committed relationship, but rather about the status. I don't mean to be rude or speak for every wedding & marriage, I have just seen this a lot over the past 5 years of shooting weddings. However, it is SO refreshing to witness a wedding where a couple values and celebrates marriage in the way God intended it to be; for life, for joy & for Him. 

Quincy & Rachel's wedding day was a true celebration of the gift of marriage God has given.  SO full of love and joy. Their entire wedding party was thrilled for them, so many happy tears were shed, and there was so much evident love between Rachel & Quincy. As I was taking their photos after the ceremony, I told each of them to tell one another something they love about each other. I took a few steps back and shot from a distance, but watching them exalt and shower each other with words of genuine love was SO touching. I think I teared up about 39 times that day, watching Rachel & her dad's first look, hearing all the prayers her bridesmaids said over her, and watching Quincy & his mom during their mother son dance (which I shouldn't have been crying over that because I barely know them!) 

All this to say, their wedding reminded me of how special marriage truly is, it helped me remember WHY I love shooting weddings, and it was just overall so much fun. Their wedding posse was super fun and the weather & lighting that day was a photographer's DREAM! Sorry about the overload of photos...I am the worst at narrowing down photos from wedding days to post! Hope you all can feel the love & joy that marked their wedding day as you look through these photos. Thank you again Quincy & Rachel for loving the Lord & each other like you do. It was a blessing to ME to witness you two become husband and wife xoxo

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