How to Get Epic Sunset Wedding and Engagement Photos with Your Photographer

Summer's here, and that means longer days of gorgeous sunshine. So it's the perfect time to brush up on how to capture great sunset photos with your photographer at your wedding or engagement session. 

Timing

The most important factor in achieving epic sunset photos is, of course, timing. You’ll want to start at least 30 minutes prior to the actual sunset time, when the sun dips below the horizon. If it’s a cloudy day, you may even want to start an hour before sunset, as the sun will tend to disappear earlier. You can find the sunset time for your wedding or engagement session date and location in most cell phone weather apps, and online at www.timeanddate.com .

If you want sunset photos at your wedding, this will involve some careful planning to make sure you’ve given yourself enough time in your schedule. At a minimum, your wedding ceremony should start 1.5 hours before sunset. This will give you 30 minutes for your ceremony, 5 minutes afterward to sign the license, and roughly 20 minutes for some family portraits. Then you’ll have a good 30 - 40 minutes of golden light to work with for those gorgeous sunset photos. Planning in advance is key, so that everyone--the wedding coordinator, DJ/MC, caterer, etc.--are all on the same page, and know when to start your reception and how to keep your guests occupied in the meantime.

Comfort

To get a clear, unobstructed view of the sky at your wedding venue or portrait location, you may have to do a little walking. So bring some comfy shoes (flats or sneakers) that you can do a little offroading in. You can always change back into your dress shoes or heels once you get to the best spot for sunset pics.

Lighting

It seems like taking sunset photos is pretty simple--just point and shoot. That might be okay for a dark silhouette of the two of you against a bright sky. But to get a truly exceptional sunset photo, your photographer will need to work a little lighting magic. This involves some off-camera flash, to light you up in relation to that colorful, glowing sky. Your photographer should be working with at least 2 off-camera flashes to set up a nice ratio of light, so that your photo has depth and the lighting has direction. They may even use a third or fourth flash to help brighten up part of the foreground closest to you--think trees, vegetation, etc.--so that your photo is truly dimensional and not flat.

State of Mind

It goes without saying that the happier your state of mind, the better your photos will turn out. Working with a photographer, especially if this is your first time getting professional photos, can require a bit of patience on your part as they change lenses, meter the light, set up flashes, and of course pose you. If this is your engagement session, take some time to reflect with your partner on how excited you are for your upcoming wedding! Forget that there is a camera following you, and remember that the point of all this is that you are with the most important, lovely person in your life. The moments your photographer captures of your natural expressions toward each other will be the images you’ll cherish over time. If this is your wedding, chances are that this is the first time you are alone together as newlyweds! So let the stress melt away and get cozy with each other while your guests are enjoying cocktail hour.

Posing

You’ve probably spent a lot of time on Pinterest curating a board of your favorite poses. So share your top 5 with your photographer. This will help them understand your unique personality and style. Also don’t forget to be open to posing guidance from your photographer. They have the experience to know which angles are the most flattering for your respective body types, and will help you get every detail--hands, clothes, hair--into the right place. Above all, know that some of the best “poses” actually happen when the two of you just relax and hang out together. So don’t be afraid to be yourself with your partner. Remember that your photographer wants you to look good too!

Be sure to check out our Pinterest board for even more sunset photo inspiration!

Now get out there and create some beautiful memories!

Cosplay, Superhero Comic Book Wedding

davidorrphotography_cosplay-wedding

Newly engaged couples often feel overwhelmed by the traditions and expectations that go into planning their wedding day. But the truth is that you can break away from tradition, while still creating a special event that your guests will love attending. JeriLyn and Randy are the perfect example of a couple that made their wedding day truly their own, in a way that both celebrated their unique hobbies and loves (comic books, cosplay, gaming, superheroes), while still honoring and actively involving their family and guests. JeriLyn and Randy were awesome enough to share the details of their wedding day, and even some DIY and cost-saving wedding planning tips.

davidorrphotography_costume-wedding

How did you come to select the theme for your wedding day? Why was this important to you?

Randy: "Instead of a traditional wedding where you buy/rent clothes and supplies that we knew we were only going to use once before throwing in a mothball-ridden closet for years to come, we decided we wanted to do something we could reuse. Because we are both so heavily inspired by comics, movies and games, and attend MANY pop-culture conventions in a business and pleasurable capacity (as well as a lot of our friends and family) we felt doing a sort of 'cosplay' themed wedding was ideal. People could dress up as their favorite characters/people and the costumes could be reused. We now use our outfits as our 'cosplay' clothes at conventions we attend."

(JeriLyn and Randy make amazing collectible art glass pieces. You can catch them at the upcoming Phoenix Comicon on May 25 - 28th, 2017 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Visit FireChilde Glass Studio for more info.)

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How did you encourage guests to participate?

Randy: "It didn't take too much encouragement as a lot of our friends and family are as quirky as us and really enjoyed the experience. An added bonus was that Halloween was a week and a half prior to our special occasion, which made the costume-building process as difficult or as easy as people really wanted to make it. Also, the promise of free booze helped a lot."

davidorrphotography_comic-book-bouquet

Describe any personal or handmade touches that you incorporated in your wedding.

Randy: "We had made flower bouquets (including the bride's) out of paper flowers we painstakingly made out of comic books that were repurposed from our comic shop, as they were just titles the shop had amassed but couldn't really sell. (Fun fact: the more violent the comic book, the prettier the flower... because blood.) We also used some of our favorite comic book titles as table decorations for people to read and look at while dining, and to take as party favors."

"We also wanted to avoid having a traditional wedding cake as they're not something people typically go gaga over anyway. It was actually suggested to us to do a big stack of donuts, which were a big hit with our guests (out of 8-9 dozen, we walked away with a small box of 6 donuts at the end of the evening). It definitely was a fun addition that we feel was better than a traditional cake."

Tell us about the design of the wedding dress. Did JeriLyn make it herself? What inspired her? What were the advantages of doing a custom-designed dress versus purchasing from a chain store?

Randy: "The wedding dress was basically made from pieces and parts we'd found from different vendors at the conventions we attend. The inception was from JeriLyn's love for Superman... so she dubbed herself the 'Bride-of-Steel,' and we worked around that. The outfit consisted of a black leather corset, a black skirt with white petticoats, a Victorian-era high collar, white button-down shirt with frills, a leather Victorian-era riding hat (that we emblazoned with a silver and black Superman logo), black and white 'spat'-esque boots (later exchanged for black Chuck Taylors for dancing later), and a silver Superman pendant on a silver chain."

davidorrphotography_superhero-wedding-dress

"The main advantage of doing a custom designed outfit was really the fact that we were able to help out a lot of the other vendors we attend conventions with, and not throwing money at a big chain store that wouldn't consider my ideas but would rather show me the dresses worn by a hundred other brides that day alone. It was a treat to spread our joy around to independent artists who we've known for years. We also have the opportunity to mix-and-match aspects of this outfit into other designs in the future for other fun events."

davidorrphotography_superhero-groom

Tell us about the design of the groom’s suit. Did Randy make it himself? What inspired him?

JeriLyn: "Randy's "Bat-Groom" outfit was inspired by his favorite character Batman (obviously). The relationship between Batman and Superman over the years has been (what we describe as) a 'Bro-mance.' They always have one another's back and rely on each other in times of need. His costume was a little less elaborate as it consisted of a regular black button-down shirt, a black vest with silver striping, black jeans with a Batman belt buckle, black Chuck Taylor shoes and a giant top hat with the Batman logo on the front. It was simple, but matched the overall fun-aesthetic we were going for."

Were there any special traditions that were a part of your wedding day?

Randy: "The only semi-"traditional" aspect was we had decided that we wouldn't see each other as soon as we hit the venue until the moment of the ceremony. Other than that, we were making it as easy-going and stressfree as possible. Throwing tradition out the window allowed us to really cut loose and not adhere to a bunch of rigid guidelines that'd sap the fun out of the whole process. The only real stress was being the center of attention and making damned fools of ourselves in front of our most cherished people ... and even that was great."

What were some of your favorite moments from your wedding day?

JeriLyn: "As generic of a statement as this is... the vows. We had them written for us by one of our best friends who knows us to a "T". Being able to speak words that were funny and eloquent to my husband-to-be was a great feeling because normally I just stare at him slack-jawed and drooling on myself wondering how I got so lucky. But honestly, the whole thing feels like a quick blur and I loved every moment."

davidorrphotography_comic-book-vows

Randy: "As JeriLyn said, the vows were my favorite part. Talking about superheroes and cats and bad comic movies right before getting hitched was a good laugh for us as well as our guests. My other favorite is that David Orr piled us in his vehicle right after the ceremony, and we went down to our comic book shop (about a block away), and we had a good time goofing off and having pictures taken."

davidorrphotography_comic-book-wedding

How did you come to select the location for your wedding? What was special about this place to you?

Randy: "We wanted to be in an area we frequent fairly often. Regency Garden is about two blocks away from the Mesa Arts Center where JeriLyn works and also really close to our comic book shop we frequent as well. We found Regency kind of by chance. The well-deserved awesome reviews, located in an area we know and frequent, with extremely nice employees and they already had David Orr working as their photographer (which we didn't know until our initial visit when we all bumped into each other at the venue the first day), and the fact it was fantastic looking with reasonable pricing and all inclusive... it felt like it was meant to be."

What advice do you have for couples who are planning their wedding? (Best ways to incorporate a theme, tips to keep costs down, pitfalls to avoid, etc.)

Randy: "Simply put, walk in with a bit of skepticism. Wedding magazines, bridal expos, traditions being jammed down your throat, et cetera ... these resources are meant to sell you something that was already used a hundred times over. There's no need to spend tons of money on customized party favors that guests are going to toss in the trash the next month or that big elaborate stark white dress that will never be seen after that special day. So what if it's 'tradition' to do this, that or the other thing ... whose tradition? This is your day. You or someone you are close to are the one footing the bill. Why would you want it to be the next generic one sold out of an overpriced catalog? You be you--don't let tradition get in the way."

JeriLyn: "You know those folks who are hired with the venue typically? The 'wedding coordinators' ... listen to them. There's no need to micromanage since these folks do hundreds of events a year. They'll certainly know what is unique, what is overdone and what is possible ... and they'll be the first ones to tell you. Also, keep things simple. The more elaborate it is, the more expensive, labor intensive and stressful things become. As much as I want a hundred pure white doves to be released over my head from a hot air balloon with me and my husband's name on it ... it just seems like a lot of unnecessary work for something that people will say 'huh... that was cool. Okay, where's the bar?' "

 

Come see David Orr speak on the Phoenix Comicon wedding panel "Geek Weddings on a Budget": Friday, May 26, 2017 at 12noon at the Phoenix Convention Center.

21 Creative Ways How To Use Your Engagement Photos

By Amanda Orr

davidorrphotography_engagements-in-phoenix

At David Orr Photography, we like to think of an engagement photo session as more of a date night, but we’re following along behind a camera, encouraging couples to try fun poses in natural light scenarios. We could walk around downtown Phoenix together, explore the scenic Sonoran desert, soak up the fragrance of fresh desert flowers at local gardens, and basically get out on the town—or even out of town to a gorgeous Arizona destination! Our job is to capture the two of you in love, in a beautiful setting, naturally enjoying your time together.

So, what on earth are we going to do with all these engagement images, you ask?

Oh, there’s lots you can do—here are some suggestions below on sharing these images of your personal style with your friends and family before and after the wedding, and a few resources we searched high and low for on the web to share with you!


Engagement Photo Uses Before the Wedding:

davidorrphotography_save-the-dates

Save the Dates

Be it a printed card you mail out to your guest list at least 6 months ahead (especially for those traveling from out of town), or a simple postcard, your guests are bound to get excited to see a glimpse of what’s to come! When you hire us, we’ll provide you access to our online invitation shop. You’ll be able to order and customize your own invitations, save the dates, thank you cards and more with our easy online system. Select fine-art papers, hand-pressed foils and lined envelopes!

Bride and Groom Website or Blog

Nowadays it is becoming more common to create a personalized website to share registry information, maps to venues and general information about the wedding festivities for guests—go ahead and sprinkle in some creative engagement shots to tell your love story and build upon your unique wedding theme!

davidorrphotography_invitations

Invitations

At least 3 months before, the wedding guests will expect to see the official announcement and invite to RSVP. Images designed into the invite make for a great historic and formal keepsake.

Stickers

Think photo booth style; you could have a little fun with your facial expressions when taking photos. Decorate your invites with that fun personality. Visit stickeryou.com

Timeline

Show your guests a chronological retrospective on how you found your way to each other—design a large chalkboard, corkboard, or magnet board of major life events, and then add in photos from your childhood, first car, high school graduation, college days, etc., all the way up to the present engagement.

Photo Tree Card Holder

It’s fun to give photo gifts to guests. Hang framed engagement photos or image porcelain ornaments from either a traditional wire cardholder tree or a crafted bundling of strong, decorative limbs from a craft store. This is a great way to make a striking display: pinterest.com/davidorrphoto/engagement-photo-uses

davidorrphotography_signature-book

Photo Guest Signature Book

One of our most popular products, our stylish Signature Books allow you to share your Engagement photos, and your guests can sign and write personal dedications in your unique, lay-flat book. We’ll take care of the design, so all you have to do is choose between Hard Cover or Padded Cover, for only $150. Schedule your engagement session here: davidorrphotography.com/portraits-contact

Photo Candy Tins

Ever seen an image printed directly on an aluminum tin? It’s so cool! Or you could have a photo printed directly to a porcelain keepsake box—either way, if there’s candy inside, it will be a big hit. Visit Evermine.com

Ceramic Photo Tile

You could customize a special message, add a monogram, or place your wedding date on top of your image, and then have it glazed onto a tile.

Photo Confetti

Sprinkle some fun expressions with different pics on the guests’ tables. Check out Photofetti: photofetti.com

Photo Hershey’s Kisses

Use up that same confetti and glue it to the bottom of a Kiss!

Bottle Cap Magnets

Don’t throw out those beer bottle caps–I mean soda caps–just yet. All you need are some small magnets, scissors for cutting up pics, Diamond Glaze for cap filling, and a glue gun. Here’s a resource: bottlecapco.com

davidorrphotography_pinterest-engagement-photo-uses

Be Sure to Follow David Orr Photography on Pinterest!

For more ideas on using your Engagement photos, go here: pinterest.com/davidorrphoto/engagement-photo-uses

Trivia Cards

On one side you’ve got a cute photo of you two, and on the other side are fun questions about your lives. Then have your DJ ask a series of those questions during the reception. The first table to answer correctly will get to be next at the chow buffet line!

Photo Cookies

Just what everyone wants, to eat your beautiful faces! If you have a great sense of humor and like to eat cookies, check out the Picture PerfectTM Collection by Eleni’s: elenis.com

Photo Lollipops

Or if you prefer a different method to savor your likeness, there’s chocolate lollipops from Beau-Coup: beau-coup.com/personalized-chocolate-lollipops.htm

Photo Wine Bottles

Your guests will love this splurge! Design your own photo wine label with Bottle Your Brand: bottleyourbrand.com/personalized-wine-labels/weddings

Soda Pop Bottles

Jones Soda comes in a variety of refreshing flavors and colors, and you can add your engagement photo to label the soda: jonessoda.com/

Photo Vases

Your DJ can help you craft a guest game to give away your special photo vase centerpieces at each table: http://bit.ly/14Db0Jn

davidorrphotography_videos

Slideshow

Sure, you could opt to create a PowerPoint or Keynote slideshow, or David Orr Photography can show you a modern take on visual entertainment for your guests. Our music video slideshow is definitely not boring, and just $95! Watch one: davidorrphotography.com/music-video-slideshow

Engagement & Wedding Photo Uses After the Wedding

Thank You Cards

Come full circle with your theme and send your guests folded image cards—but now that the wedding is over, you could add in a wedding photo instead!

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Metal Prints, Artistic Shapes

With a variety of cool shapes and sizes, you could create a memorable wall of image-fused aluminum prints, with a shiny or satin matte finish to reflect your personal style. Ask us for more info: davidorrphotography.com/contactusform/

Canvas Wraps and Gallery Clusters

Canvas wraps are a frameless, ready-to-hang, wall-sized presentation of your favorite wedding moment. Depending on your taste, you can select high gloss, glossy or satin matte finish, and even create a cluster of different image canvases, slices, or arrangements.

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If you want to learn more about how to get your own gallery cluster prints, start here:

davidorrphotography.com/wall-photo-prints

Maid (Matron) of Honor To-Do Checklist

By Amanda Orr

Guess what, you’ve just been asked to be the Maid of Honor! Congrats, girlfriend! Now what? You’re probably wondering what a maid or matron of honor (MOH) does, and what are the expectations?

Maid of Honor in black_David Orr Photography

Sure, you’ll have a big job to do, but it’s a great excuse to create one of the most rewarding and fun memories in yours (and the bride’s) lifetime. The bride knows that she can count on you for anything. Yup, sounds like a big responsibility! But don’t despair; below is a checklist of the MOH basics, ready to guide you through this exciting role.

Before the Wedding:

  • Enjoy being that go-to-person the bride can come to about anything on her mind when it comes to her wedding. You’re that special person she can lean on to share her thoughts, seek advice and vent off wedding stress. And just remember, laughter is the best medicine for stress.

  • Help the bride research dress styles and go with her for preliminary fittings! Remember, all bridesmaids will purchase their own wedding dresses and shoes.

  • Communicate with bridesmaids on when to purchase their bridesmaid dresses, fittings, jewelry, shoes, etc. within a certain time frame.

wedding dress hangers
spring wedding dresses
  • Help find gift registration options, send out invitations, and assist with table seating assignments.

  • The maid of honor usually hosts, organizes and pays for the bridal shower, and is usually in charge of all bachelorette party festivities. But don’t forget to recruit and include the bridesmaids for planning help!

  • Gracefully delegating tasks to bridesmaids is a great way to include everyone in on the fun. Don’t try and do it all yourself! Consider having one bridesmaid organize games or activities for the shower. Another bridesmaid can help track gifts that are given to the bride at the shower and during the reception. And another bridesmaid could coordinate with the groomsmen on decorating a surprise getaway car!

  • Be sure to inform the bridesmaids of when and where to show up for the rehearsal, as well as the following rehearsal dinner event.

  • Get a copy of the Wedding Day timeline and photography schedule from the bride, and discuss this information with the bridesmaids--make sure they understand the times they need to be available for photos!

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  • Plan ahead with the bridesmaids to know exactly how much time is needed to get their hair and makeup done, how long it takes to drive from one location to another, and what they need to bring with them to help the bride get ready.

  • Team up with the bride to help her create an emergency kit for the wedding day. This could include a bag full of safety pins, cotton swabs, tissues, lip gloss, touch-up makeup, bandaids, water bottles, flip flops, scissors, bobby pins, lotion, chewing gum, chocolate bars--think about anything that the bride might need in a pinch!

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  • Prepare a toast. And don’t be shy; practice in front of a few folks to get the nerves out. And don’t make the toast too long; a good rule of thumb is to keep the toast between 2 - 5 minutes.

On the Wedding Day

  • Have a healthy, full breakfast; today is going to be a calorie-burning day!

  • Keep the bridesmaids alert and on time; be sure they know what the schedule for the day is, and text them the schedule again if needed. (TIP: If you think you have a bridesmaid(s) who is(are) chronically late, tell them to be ready 1 hour before you actually need them to be--this is a great trick to keep them on track.)

maid of honor robe_David Orr Photography
bridesmaid toasts

Plan some fun moments for the bride while she is getting ready, like a Champagne toast, before she puts her dress on! These moments will keep the wedding day stress-free, and make for great photos!

bridesmaid robes

Help the bride get her dress on. The mother of the bride may be there for most of the preparations--like jewelry--but you may be asked to help with the bride’s veil, lacing the back of the dress, or placing shoes on her feet.

bride shoes_David Orr Photography
dressing the bride_David Orr Photography
bridal makeup_David Orr Photography
  • Keep the bride laughing. Today may be full of to-do’s and tasks, but make it fun, carefree and memorable!

  • When the flowers arrive, be sure to get the bouquets distributed to each bridesmaid and bride before the photography begins!

  • Recruit bridesmaids to help pin the boutonnières onto the groomsmen--be sure the photographer is available to catch this moment!

beautiful bride_David Orr Photography
bridal bouquets_David Orr Photography
  • Before the ceremony starts, hold the groom’s ring! Keep it in a safe place for easy access!

  • Help the bride with her gown train and veil before, during and after the ceremony. You may be asked to assist with straightening and arranging the dress during the photos, and you may have to bustle the dress before the reception!

  • After the bride makes her way down the aisle, she’ll pass her bouquet to you to hold during the ceremony.

maid of honor_David Orr Photography
  • You’ll be an official witness by signing the marriage license.

  • During the reception, you may be asked to dance with the best man. And you may be introduced with him during the grand entrance or introductions!

  • Last but not least, it’s toast time! Good thing you’ve practiced. It’s now or never. You totally got this!  

maid of honor toast_David Orr Photography

Our Take on Fun Wedding Trends for 2017

By Amanda Orr

Each year we look forward to learning what the design experts are predicting will be the latest wedding trends. Below are a few fun ideas we’ve photographed along with some resources on where to find these goodies. Be sure to follow David Orr Photography on Pinterest, as we will continue to add more trends as 2017 progresses!

https://www.pinterest.com/davidorrphoto/2017-wedding-trends/

As for colors, we’ve noticed that 2017 has started off strong with nautical blues and navy hues this winter wedding season. However, we’ve also noticed how tangerine, peach, and fuchsias are trending as a perfect segue into early spring or summer, especially here in the Valley of the Sun where it feels like spring most of the winter.

Bring back that fun tradition of something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue to your wedding, with darker hues of mysterious blue!

Bring back that fun tradition of something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue to your wedding, with darker hues of mysterious blue!

Adding extra sparkle to your wedding decor and bridal fashion is highly welcome. We’ve seen examples of shimmering table settings, geode cakes, glittery dresses, dazzling displays and decorations, plus lots and lots of bling eye candy.  We love the antique brooch bouquets. Put Grandma’s antique costume jewelry to good use! You won’t have to worry about your flowers wilting, ever! And having glitzy yet comfy wedding shoes may sound like an oxymoron, but more and more rhinestone appliqued tennis shoes are covering brides’ feet. Use the search term “embellished sneakers” on Polyvore.com or Lyst.com to find the latest fashions.

Diamonds never go out of fashion. For the fellas, “brushed black tungsten rings” are a nice complement to white diamonds. For the ladies, vintage wedding ring designs are growing in popularity--search “vintage engagement rings” on Helzberg.com to see a beautiful collection of rings in one spot!

The color “kale” is showing up everywhere this year, and if you are having a wedding in Phoenix, florals with succulents are must-haves to show off that color. Our friend Corrina Chavez at The Studio at Cactus Flower of Scottsdale is an awesome resource we must give a shout out to, as she has helped guide many of our wedding couples with beautiful floral plans, be it centerpieces, boutonnières, or bouquets. An artist we also want to give mention to is upcoming bowtie designer Thistle and Pine who was a best man at one of our weddings. We fell in love with the craftsmanship and deep colors of his custom feather bowties.

Warm, orange hues and copper metallics are another wonderful way to celebrate with some Arizona flair. Just check out the gorgeous copper charger below. Or how about using your cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres to add a splash of color (and flavor): we love grilled cheese sandwiches, so why not pair them with a shot of tomato bisque? Mmmmmm. Now, you may have heard about the 2016 donut walls--well, we think this idea should continue into 2017 too! As for cupcakes, we found some yummy how-to recipes to make your cupcakes sparkle with edible glitter by Shari’s Berries.

Other wedding trends we’re stoked about: superhero and comic book themes! Give your groom a special Superman treat and bring back the groom’s cake with some comic book style! Or order a one-of-a-kind comic book bouquet! You can also deck out yours and your groomsmen’s sleeves with superhero cufflinks! And our favorite sweet tooth trend on the rise is rock candy favors paired with crystal geode wedding cakes--just leave the kryptonite at home!

Hope you enjoyed these trendy wedding ideas! Be sure to pin them for your wedding planning reference onto your Pinterest boards. :)

Date Night Ideas for Your Phoenix Engagement Sesson

By Amanda Orr

The New Year has begun, and right now the temperature in the Valley of the Sun is simply perfect. This is the time of year to get out and get some fresh air; heck, it’s the very reason why we all live in Phoenix in the first place. It’s beautiful out during the winter months. And if you happen to be engaged (or just madly in love) and want to do something special for your main squeeze, we have some fun ideas to share with you.

If you were thinking about Engagement photos, but wanted to step it up a notch and do more than just pose in front of a camera, consider trying a Date Night Engagement Session around town, where there’s fun and romantic things to do! After you’ve got your engagement photos wrapped up, don’t end the date there; take your fiancé to a special restaurant, nearby art gallery, bike or horseback ride, or even sushi class to name a few!

Here’s a few of our personal favorite date night places in the valley that we’ve introduced couples to:

Phoenix:

Phoenix Art Museum, the Contemporary Exhibit
We love The Phoenix Art Museum because it makes for a very modern and creative environment for portraits. The museum features traveling exhibitions as well as an impressive permanent collection. And its diverse exhibits give way to very cool backdrops--what can we say, it’s a great place for the creative photo lovers. There’s even a restaurant on campus called Palette; we recommend the crab cakes! Or if you’re a Broadway lover, catch a show next door at the adjacent Phoenix Theatre.
http://www.phxart.org/collection/contemporary

Desert Botanical Garden
In the middle of this desert city is an oasis of flora, exotic cactus, and growing architectural displays. We visit this place often with our couples, and we always find something new to see and do. The Desert Botanical Garden is a very popular place, but couples can still get lost in the beautiful sanctuary of secret nooks, shaded trails, and lush landscapes, making it feel like a little private paradise. There’s also great annual events, so plan ahead to get your engagement photos done before you kick back to enjoy your evening in the garden!

Here are 3 upcoming Desert Botanical Garden events we recommend:

Corks and Cactus
Feb 18 - 19
If you are a wine lover, you can sample up to 40 different boutique wines in the middle of the garden!
https://www.dbg.org/events/corks-cactus

Music in the Garden
Get your tickets to the Spring Music in the Garden concert series, live performances by some of Arizona’s best bands and musicians!
https://www.dbg.org/music-garden

The Seasonal Table Dinner Series
Jan 19 - Mar 2
Sip on some wine and dine in the open air of our beautiful Sonoran Desert with a customized menu designed by top Arizona Chefs!
https://www.dbg.org/events/seasonal-table-dinner-series-0


Tempe:

Downtown Tempe is an exciting, busy place to have fun taking photos within the surrounding urban environment and college town. Not to mention some of the best cuisine you can find in the valley. Plan ahead for wearing comfortable shoes, because walking is a must!

NCounter
I love restaurants that serve brunch all day. NCounter brings a modern twist to their menu and a cool environment to lounge in as well. This is a great place to refuel and reconnect after an engagement session!
http://www.ncounter.com/

Caffe Boa
This is not your typical wine and cheese place, oh no. The food is sensational, morning, noon and night, with seasonal entries from local farmers. I even feel a little more sophisticated after I dine here. And this place is close to many photo areas--a definite favorite.  
http://www.cafeboa.com/#about

6th Street Market
Oct - May, Sundays, 10AM - 4PM
Over 30 local artisans, food booths, and live music--need I say more?  http://www.downtowntempe.com/explore/6th-street-market

Tempe Town Lake Pedal Boat & Bike Rentals
Tempe Town Lake Parks and Recreation

After an afternoon of waterfront portraits, there’s other fun ways to interact and be active. Consider renting some bikes and cruising the 2.5 miles of paths around the lake. Or take a spin right on the water with a pedal boat or kayak. Other recreational delights include horseback trail rides, and hiking in the adjacent Papago Park and LoPiano Bosque Habitat.
http://boats4rent.com/tempe-az/tempe-town/
http://www.tempe.gov/city-hall/community-development/tempe-town-lake/paths-parks-and-recreation


Gilbert:

Liberty Market
Downtown Gilbert is booming with new restaurants, shops, and outdoor spaces. If you like that old heritage, rustic brick and mortar type of feel, you’ll love getting engagement photos taken here. And afterward, head over to Liberty Market to enjoy a massive menu of organic and local farmed cuisine in a retro cafe!  
http://www.libertymarket.com/

Blue Wasabi’s Sushi School
Take a class together and learn how to make exotic and flavorful sushi rolls, while turning your tongue blue with dollops of wasabi! Didn’t you know wasabi is the new mint? LOL.
http://bluewasabisushi.com/sushi-class-blue-wasabi-gilbert/

Gilbert Art Walk
Oct - Mar, 1st and 3rd Saturdays, 9AM - 1PM
Enjoy handmade goods--everything from art and food to ceramics and woodwork--all from local vendors! Plus, this event coincides with the Gilbert Farmers’ Market across the street! And pets are welcome, so bring along your pooch to participate in your portraits and then explore the art show.
http://www.gilbertartwalk.com/

Joyride Taco House
Saving one of the best for last, this is a wonderful place to wet your whistle with a tasty cocktail and indulge in as many street tacos as you can handle. Plus the place is so tubular; everything from the chairs to the bar and even the bathrooms are uber shabby chic. Truly a great place to take your date after hanging out with us photographers.
http://joyridetacohouse.com/

If you are looking to do something extra special during your engagement session and need some help planning something unique, give us a ring! We have lots more ideas to share.

How to Make Your Pet a Part of Your Wedding Day

Want to include all of your family members in your wedding day, even the furry ones? We say, go for it! Here are our tips on how to safely incorporate man’s best friend in your wedding day celebration.

1)    Check with your wedding venue. Remember to ask your ceremony and reception sites for permission first before bringing along your furbaby.

2)    Think about your pet’s personality. Do they have the right temperament to be around dozens of people? Will they enjoy all the added attention? If your pet has not previously had obedience training, consider enrolling in some classes in the months leading up to your wedding day.

3)    Designate a petsitter. This can be a family member or guest who is great with animals, and is willing to watch and manage your pet for as long as they are attending the wedding. There will be several times throughout your wedding day (ceremony vows, dancing, etc.) where you just won’t be able to keep an eye on your furbaby. This petsitter can make sure your pet is ready for their walk down the ceremony aisle, and then take them somewhere safe while you celebrate.

4)    Bring water and treats. Think of all the things that you would need to keep a human baby happy and comfortable at a wedding. You’ll want to bring all of these things for your furbaby too! Water is essential to keep your dog hydrated, especially if you have them dressed up in their own tux or dress, which can add a lot of heat! Also bring along their favorite treats, to keep their energy up and to perk up those ears when it’s portrait time!

5)    Watch out for items toxic to your pet. There are a lot of poisonous hazards at weddings that could harm your pet--chocolate, flowers (lilies in particular), and alcohol to name a few--so make sure Fido is on a leash and supervised at all times.

6)    Accessorize your pet rather than dressing it up. Pets don’t perspire like their human counterparts, so a lot of extra clothing can really raise their temperature. Instead, try a silk flower, tiara, special collar, or bowtie.

7)    Bring grooming tools. This can be their favorite brush or comb, which serves the dual purpose of keeping them looking sharp, and also soothing and calming them around the dozens of extra humans they don’t normally interact with.

8)    Bring clean up supplies. Pack plastic baggies to clean up after any unexpected "accidents." And maybe even a cloth or paper towel if your pet is prone to a queasy stomach with all the added excitement.

9)    Consider taking your pet home after the ceremony and group photos. Your pet most likely won’t have the same stamina as you do to dance the night away, so it might be a good idea to have your petsitter run them home quickly before the reception begins. If home is too far, bring along their crate/kennel, and set up a quiet place for them to sleep, either inside your wedding venue or at your hotel. Just keep in mind that an idle pet can be a destructive one, so make sure your furbaby is safely and comfortably contained!

Lauren and John's creekside wedding in Sedona, Arizona

Lauren and John were wedded in an intimate outdoor ceremony against the backdrop of Sedona, Arizona's gorgeous Cathedral Rock. Lauren and John kindly shared their story with us and what made their wedding day special. Read on for the details! 

Wedding day preparations began at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock. Lauren was helped with her final dress preparations by her mother and mother-in-law.

Lauren tells us about her wedding dress: "My mother and I went shopping together for my wedding dress. We found it at a store for a huge discount. I fell in love with it and the price, lol!"

We just love the unique, embroidered floral style of this gown!

The rough leather of John's boots made a cool textural backdrop for the wedding rings! Lauren tells us about the proposal: "John wanted our proposal to be our first special memory in our new home together. It was just John and I in the home when he proposed in the kitchen. We then went to Melting Pot to celebrate our engagement."

John was gifted a special 21-year-old Glenfiddich Scotch Whisky in celebration of his wedding day.

Lauren tells us about another special wedding tradition that she incorporated into her wedding day: "Something old was I attached my great grandmother’s ring to my bouquet of flowers for the event. Our biggest surprise on our wedding day was my grandmother crying when she saw her mother’s ring on my bouquet."

It was truly a very emotional and special moment for all involved. 

The tall grass and lush vegetation along Oak Creek made for a beautiful setting for Lauren and John's bridal portraits. Lauren explains why they chose the red rocks of Sedona as the location for their wedding ceremony: "Sedona, Arizona was John and I’s first trip together as a couple. We felt it was only fitting to get married there since we love it there and we love the outdoors." 

Lauren and John chose to have their elopement-style wedding ceremony witnessed only by their parents and immediate family. Lauren explains: "We are definitely not young teeny boppers anymore. We are more practical and simple people. We care more about the moment than things. We felt having an intimate small wedding fit both of us more than a huge expensive wedding. It was everything and more of what we hoped for."

We couldn't agree more!

Lauren and John's advice for couples who are currently planning their wedding? "Make it what you want, not what everyone else wants. Be selfish, be free, and make sure you take time to soak it in."

Well said! Congrats Lauren and John!