Before having kids, photo shoots were so easy! Pick a date, find a location, wear a cute outfit, smile, pose, and done! In a few weeks you'll have some great photos to add to your gallery wall or send to family and friends. Photo shoots with kids is a different ballgame.
After my husband and I had kids we started doing family photo shoots together to mark certain milestones or around holidays. I soon learmed how stressful photo shoots with kids can be. Nothing stresses me out more than family photo shoot day, (not even weddings)! No matter how far ahead I plan or how prepared I am, the day of the photo shoot always creates a lot of anxiety and stress.
Why? Well, for one, kids are ticking time bombs. They are unpredictable, they don't have the best understanding of time, they get bored, cranky, hungry, tired, and can really test your patience. Second, there is just so much that needs to get done that day! It's a lot of work just getting everyone ready and out the door on time on a normal day, let alone photo shoot day.
Of course, not all family photo shoots are stressful and hectic, it depends on the ages of the kids. For the purpose of this post, I am mostly referring to toddlers and babies, 5 years and under.
Despite how difficult photo shoots can be with young kids, I do love them simply because kids grow so fast! It's amazing to have photos to look back on and to see how your family changes over time and to create those memories together. I really enjoy having new photos to frame for my home and to send to family and friends too.
I like to schedule photo shoots once or twice a year and have been doing them regularly since my son was born in 2016. Since then I have learned a few things. Here are a few tips for creating a stress-free family photo shoot.
1. Hire a Professional Photographer Who Works with Kids
This is so important! Not every photographer knows how to work with kids and how to make them feel comfortable. There are some photographers who just understand how to relate to kids, how to talk to them, how to make them laugh and smile on cue, and make the photo shoot fun. This is a special talent! They know kids don't always cooperate, have moments where they act out, cry and don't want listen, but they know how to work through those difficult moments and still make the most of it. They know how to work fast and take lots of pictures before the kids get super tired and cranky. Kids have short attention spans and photographers know that, which leads me to tip number 2!
2. Keep it Short and Sweet
A lot of family photographers offer mini sessions now which is amazing! They do this for a reason. They know that kids can't last more than 30 minutes so to optimize your session and get the most out of it they offer quick "mini" sessions for parents with young children. The session usually involves shooting at one location for 20-30 minutes and moving quickly before the kids (and parents) start to lose it. This is the reason mini sessions are the way to go! You can get a lot great shots in a shorter amount of time. Some photographers offer discounts during certain times of the year, usually in the fall or around the holidays which is the perfect time to get some family photos taken that can be used for your holiday cards or gifts!
3. Plan Your Session Months in Advance
Photographers are busy so I always make sure to book our session a few months in advance to ensure they have a date available that works for me and my family. I like to take advantage of that time to get things organized such as coordinating our outfits, scheduling hair cuts for the boys, and beauty appointments for myself. During this time I also look for outfit ideas and inspiration, consider the weather and where the photo shoot is taking place to make sure our look fits in with the setting and time of year. This leads me to my next tip, tip number 3!
4. Do Coordinate Your Style (But Don't Match Exactly)
I like to coordinate a look that is (1) appropriate for the time of year and (2) looks polished and put together. I am not a fan of matching outfits where everyone dresses in the same colors. For example, white tees and blue jeans, or any monochromatic look. I enjoy seeing photos where each family member wears a different color that compliments the other colors in the group. This makes the photos look fresh, modern and shows your personality and unique style. Don't worry if you aren't sure what colors work well together, there are many online tools to help, such as this interactive color wheel from Canva.
5. Plan Around the Naptime
With little ones it is so important to work around naptimes for most of life's events but especially when it comes to photo shoots. Well rested kids will last longer, follow directions better, have more fun and cause you a lot less stress. Happy and rested kids make for much better photos! Plan your session early in the morning hours before peak sun or later in the afternoon/evening depending on your dinner and bedtime routine. Find a time of day when the kids have the most energy such as after a nap but not too close to bedtime as the later it gets, the more likely they are to feel tired as the sun starts to go down.
6. Snacks, Snacks, Snacks. Need I Say More??
Seriously though, snacks are key. Make sure your kids are well fed before the photo shoot and have lots of snacks and water readily available should a hangry meltdown arise. You'll want to keep snacking to a minimum so choose foods that can be eaten quickly and are also not going to ruin any outfits (no chocolate or cheetos). For example, things like string cheese, grapes, baby carrots, maybe a handful of pretzels, dried fruit and nuts are good options, depending on your dietary restrictions and ages of the children. Bonus tip, if you are concerned about clothes getting messy, bring extra clothes to keep in the car as backup!
7. Embrace the Chaos
Being in the event industry, I've learned that things don't always go according to plan. Photo shoots are no different. No matter how much you prepare some things may not go the way you expect. It's best to let go of your expectations and try and enjoy yourself during your photo shoot session. You only have a certain amount of time with your photographer so make the most of it and get as many shots as you can. Poses are great but not realistic for the duration of the shoot. Kids are silly, they get distracted easy, and move constantly! It's so hard to keep them still and looking in the right direction. It's ok! Some of the best photos we have are the ones where we aren't looking at the camera. I love the candid moments that show our fun, silly and sometimes messy side. That's real life with kids. So embrace it all while you still can.
Photos by @beth_armsheimer_photo
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As a Wedding Planner it's my job to always recommend that couples use professionals when it comes to their wedding day. This is the ONE day you have been planning for months, (maybe years), and it should be done right!
Using professionals such as DJs, caterers, photographers and other service providers will eliminate risk and reduce overall worry and stress knowing you are in good hands and working with people who are experts in their field!
DJs are no exception! They are the backbone of the wedding helping to keep things on track. DJs and Wedding Planners work together to make sure that what needs to happen happens on time! In addition to that, they also provide an endless amount of music selections and are masteres at bringing the fun! The energy they bring to the wedding is infectious and gets people excited.
Whenever I hear from a bride or groom that they want to use a friend to play music at their wedding, I think, why? Why would you do that? This is not a birthday or random party. This is YOUR WEDDING! This is not the time to put that kind of trust in your friend. Let them enjoy the wedding as a guest and let the professionals do the work!
Here are a few of the reasons I always recommend professional DJs over your friend.
1. DJs can provide music and sound systems in multiple locations. This is esepcially important if you are using more than one space at your wedding venue with your guests traveling from one area to another. DJs have all the necessary sound equipment needed to make sure you have music playing for the ceremony, cocktail area and the reception.
2. DJs do more than play music. They make announcements during the wedding and let people know when and where things are happening. They announce the wedding party for the grand entrance, they let guests know when dinner is being served, when the first dance is going to take place, when the cake will be cut and any other announcements that need to be made. Timing is so important at weddings and DJs are great at making sure things are staying on track and moving along.
3. In addition to their vast assortment of music they also provide endless amounts of energy to your party! They are great at reading a room and making adjustments as needed. They love to enertain and see people having fun. That is their job and why they are so good at what they do! A professional DJ will make sure people are dancing, enjoying the music and having a great time. You and your guests will appreciate the lively atmosphere and the experience only a DJ can create.
4. Many DJs now offer other services such as lighting for the dance floor, disco balls, glow sticks and photo booths to add that something extra to your event. These add-ons will enhance the overall wedding experience and keep the crowd entertained all night long! Be sure to ask your DJ about other services or extras they can provide. As an added bonus, some DJs will offer discounts when booking multiple services.
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At some point while you are planning your wedding the question of having a family friendly event that includes young children vs an adult only affair will come up and can be a very tricky topic to navigate.
If the thought of having children at your wedding presents a lot of challenges you may prefer to limit the number of children or exclude them completely. Either way, you will need to find ways to explain your decision to your guests without upsetting or offending them if possible.
Here are some tips to help you make a decision that works for you without ruffling too many feathers.
Discuss and Decide - Early
You and your fiance need to have an honest discussion about this topic and how you feel about having children at your wedding so that you can make a decision early on in the planning stages. When making your guest list, make a note of how many children each family member or friend has as well as their ages. The number of children in attendance can significantly add to your wedding budget and overall headcount. Ask yourselves if you are comfortable including children and the additional costs you may incur by doing so.
Children are Unpredictable
Not only can adding children to your wedding have an impact on your budget, children are are also quite unpredictable in their behavior. Consider the type of venue where your wedding is taking place. Is this venue family friendly? Is there enough space for children to play or run around? Will the parents be responsible enough to monitor them and keep watch on what they're doing so they aren't being disruptive during important moments? These are some questions to consider and to discuss with your partner and possibly your families if you have concerns.
Tell Your Guests
Once you have decided it is important to let your guests know your expectations and make it clear what the plan is for having children at the wedding or not. If you are not inviting children, explain your reasons either in person, over the phone, in an email or on your wedding website.
If you decided to only have a few children present (if they are part of the wedding ceremony for example) explain that to your guests. Tell your guests that are not able to bring their children that you have a limit on your headcount and are unfortunately unable to accommodate every family member. Offer your apologies and a possible solution such as a babysitting service if they need to hire someone for the evening. Some guests may not understand your reasoning, but this is your wedding and you don't have to explain yourself too much. You get the final say.
Having a Family Affair
If you do decide a family friendly affair is what you want, make some arrangements to help entertain the children who will be attending such as a fun craft table with games, coloring books, puzzles and other fun activities to keep them occupied.
Have a children's menu that is different from your "adult" menu. Very small children and infants won't each much or their parents may bring them special meals and snacks to eat. For older children it may be a good idea to offer a few choices such as pizza, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, french fries, fruit and a special dessert that is less formal and smaller portions.
Hire a children's entertainer such as a face painter, balloonist or magician to provide a fun element for a short time during the wedding reception. Adding and interactive and engaging element to the wedding that they don't get to experience often is not only fun but also memorable for everyone.
Consider enlisting help through a local babysitting service. There are many babysitting or nanny services available for just this sort of thing. They arrive at your venue and set up a special area for children such as a separate room and create a safe and fun space for them to gather and play together during times that you agree to. They often bring age appropriate games, activities and toys to entertain children which is included in their fees, giving you one less thing to worry about! If your wedding is quite formal they can also serve dinner away from where the adults are seated. This works well if you plan to have toasts and speeches during dinner and don't want any disruptions.
Remember, It's Your Day!
Remember, this is your day so you get to decide what is best for you. Just know that not everyone will agree with your choices and that's ok. You will never be able to please everyone and it's not your job to do so. As long as you and your partner make the decision together and stick to it you'll be fine in the end.
Grace Tyler Photography by Jamie Fredrickson
Brooke Borough Photography
Many couples I consult with seem to want to have the quickest ceremony possible and then move on to the reception. They say things like "we just want it to be fun!" or "we just want to have a party!" That's all great.
But there is also something to say about a wedding ceremony and the reason FOR the party. People are there to have fun of course, but they're also there to witness the two people who are joining their lives together. The couple who is getting MARRIED and making a HUGE commitment to each other. That is the reason the wedding is even taking place.
So please put some thought into it and don't rush! You'll get to enjoy the party soon enough. Take time to write your vows and make it meaningful. Get creative. Include loved ones. Play your favorite music. Set the tone for the day and the mood you want everyone to feel. This is your moment. The one you've been planning for months (or years)! You will have plenty of other reasons to party and celebrate for the rest of your life. But your wedding... that is different. You only get one of those (if you're lucky).
IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A PARTY, HAVE A PARTY.
IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A WEDDING, THEN PLAN AN ACTUAL WEDDING.
THERE'S A DIFFERENCE.
What makes a wedding different than other events is tradition. And I guarantee your guests who are flying across country or driving across state lines to get to the wedding want to see some of those traditions. There are certain expectations that people have when it comes to weddings. Maybe you're not the traditional type and you want to do things your way. I get that. But a wedding needs to feel like a wedding and not just a dinner party or some random event.
What are some of the most common wedding traditions?
1. A ring exchange
2. Wedding vows
3. A bridal bouquet
4. Bride being escorted down the aisle
5. Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
6. Serving wedding cake
7. The first dance
8. Dances with parents
9. Toasts and speeches
10. A bouquet and/or garter toss
You don't have to incorporate all of these and you can certaintly put your own spin on some of them. There are ways to get creative when it comes to weddings and making them feel personal and unique. It doesn't need to feel like your grandma's wedding day but a little bit of those old school values and tried and true traditions will go a long way in making your wedding day a memorable one for all.
Elise Nicole Photo
Thank you to the amazing team of vendors and everyone involved in making this day so special for these two lovely people!
Wedding Coordination: Gatherings for Good
Venue: Santa Barbara Women's Club
Catering: Lucca Truck
Bartending: Simply Cocktails
Rentals: The Tent Merchant
Photography: NPO Photography
Ceremony Music: The Desk Set
DJ: Val-Mar Records
Flower arrangements: Gathered Blooms
Cake: Lele Patisserie
Guest Book Typewriter: Simon Kiefer
I am selling my gorgeous San Patrick Eresma dress that I love so much! I've been holding on to it since my wedding in 2015 and am hoping to find someone who will love it just as much as I did! This dress exceeded my expectations! It was not what I imagined my dress to be but once I tried it on in the shop I knew this was THE ONE! I knew as soon as I put it on. I felt like a bride!
To see more pictures of me wearing the dress, check out the blog post I did on my very own wedding day!
Photos by James & Jess
Description: Beautiful strapless wedding dress, size 6. Sweetheart neckline, floral lace details and gemstone embroidery. Fitted with mermaid ruffled skirt. More pics can be found online of this style. (Google: San Patrick Eresma Wedding Dress)
This stunning dress can be yours for only $399!
(Shipping and handling fees not included)
For inquiries, please contact email@example.com.
Located in California. Shipping available within the USA. Contact me for details!
Thank you to the talented team who helped make this an amazing day for our lovely couple!
Wedding Coordination: Gatherings for Good
Venue/Catering: Riviera Mansion
Rentals: Discount Party Rentals
DJ: Prince William
Flowers: Ranay Schmandt
Dessert: Enjoy Cupcakes
Bride's Makeup: Chi Beauty Artistry
Photography: Native Heart Photography
Videography: Foster Films
Tucked away off Highway 246 and minutes from Solvang and Buellton, CA is a gorgeous sprawling family owned event space that is a total hidden gem and a must see for anyone wanting a private outdoor wedding in the heart of wine country along the beautiful central coast of California. We recently had the pleasure of coordinating Cris and Allison's wedding at La Arboleda and the pictures speak for themselves. This venue has something for everyone.
This rustic romantic getaway includes two separate suites for the couple to get ready in, a built in bar and kitchen, covered dining and dance area, built in stage, paved walkways, lush gardens and an abundance of natural surroundings. For this wedding the bride chose white and pink floral arrangements created by Bella Florist for her bouquet and centerpieces which complimented the natural beauty of the space perfecly.
Keeping with the natural and rustic look, the family style tables were decorated with a neutral runner across the center topped with gold votives and gorgeous blooms in wooden containers. Wine barrels were spread throughout the venue and used as cocktail tables. Guests were treated to a lovely meal starting with antipasto during cocktail hour followed by authentic Italian wood-fired pizzas made on-site and fresh green salads catered by Santa Barbara restaurant Bettina Pizzeria.
Dessert included an lavish assortment of delicious mini cupcakes in a variety of flavors from another Santa Barbara favorite, Enjoy Cupcakes. The Bride, Groom and their guests danced to music provided by the ever popular and always entertaining DJ Zeke who also provided the photo booth for an extra bit of fun.
This was one unforgettable day that we were so thankful to have been part of. Congrats to the happy couple!
This wedding was simply stunning! Thank you to the amazing team who helped make their day so special!
Wedding Coordination: Gatherings for Good
Venue: La Arboleda
Catering: Bettina Pizzeria
Staffing: Central Coast Party Helpers
Bartending: Bottles & Ice
Rentals: Santa Ynez Valley Elite Events
Music: DJ Zeke
Photo Booth: DJ Zeke
Flowers: Bella Florist
Dessert: Enjoy Cupcakes
Bride's Makeup: Renee Jean Makeup
Photo/Video: My World Productions
Transportation: Next Adventure Tours & Tastings
Guest Accommodations: The Sideways Inn
Image: Danielle Honea Phototography
Brenda Cali is a professionally trained Wedding Consultant and plans a variety of social and corporate events.