Do you remember those moments on your first date with your now-spouse? You were excited. . . maybe a little nervous. . . perhaps even giddy? You blushed when he complimented your eyes. You truly took notice when her hand brushed against yours. You took the time to look into one another’s eyes when you talked. Cell phones weren’t within arm’s reach going off with texts or Facebook alerts. You were courting one another. You flirted. You were complimentary. You were probably even playful. Erica_Chris_Pioneer-Trails-Tree-Farm_Poland-Public-Library_Poland-Village-Park_The-Mocha-House_Youngstown-OH-Wedding-Photographers_0032Just because you’re an “old married couple” now shouldn’t mean that those fun, cute, flirty attributes of your relationship should stop! In fact, now that time has tested your relationship, those attributes are even more important to keeping a spark alive between you. So today we encourage you married couples: pinch his booty, compliment her smile, kiss him like you mean it, and be truly present with one another as you enjoy being together. Your marriage is beautiful. Your spouse deserves the best of you & to feel special, loved, and wanted each day.
LeAnn_Jered_Cherry-Valley-Coke-Ovens-Rustic-Country-Engagement-Youngstown-Oh-Wedding-Photography_0032

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Josh & I are on maternity leave as of Monday. Our baby is due Sunday, February 22, which is 4 days away. Whoa!:)

So we took some time yesterday to do a Pinterest project that we’ve had the materials for since . . . well. . . awhile ago.;)You know how it is.

We made personalized home decor for our bedroom & I think it looks fantastic!

We love music. We love LOVE. We love our wedding. We love thinking back upon that amazing day. We love remembering the vows that we made to each other. Soooooo, we made canvas art with the lyrics on it to our first dance song from our wedding day. Super sentimental & personal. Perfection. Our inspiration for the project came from this blog.

Here are a few of our favorite first dance photos since we’re feeling all nostalgic after our DIY project.:)Photo credit: Inlux Photo.

DJMenning_W_0529DJMenning_W_0530DJMenning_W_0532This one is hanging in our living room:DJMenning_W_0536Yes, Josh played the “Danielle Guitar” during the part of the song when the music kicks in harder.:)(2:29 if you’re wondering; we linked to the song below).
DJMenning_W_0541DJMenning_W_0542DJMenning_W_0543So we’d love to share with you the step-by-step of how we made the lyrics canvases.

1. Gather the materials:
a. Canvases. These can be any size you want. We got canvases from Hobby Lobby. If you want to make your project like we did, you’ll need nine canvases (all the same size as each other).
b. Mod Podge
c. Cardstock
d. Some kind of computer program to design the printables that’ll get glued onto the canvases. We used Photoshop.
e. Sponge or paint brush to apply the mod podge.

CL_0003CL_00042. Design the pages with the song lyrics in whichever computer program you want to use. You can choose any font/combination of fonts that you want! Get creative & have fun! Make sure you design them to be the correct size so they’ll fit exactly on the canvases. This doesn’t mean that they’ll fit exactly to the cardstock you print them on; you may have to cut the cardstock.
3. Print the designs onto the cardstock.

CL_00024. Cut the cardstock if necessary to fit it to the dimensions of the canvases.

CL_0001CL_0005CL_00065. Put a thin layer of Mod Podge onto a canvas. Line up the cardstock with the lyrics design so that it’ll fit directly onto the canvas. Stick it- stick it good.:)

CL_00076. Layer the Mod Podge on top of the design. Layering the Mod Podge on thinly works best. Slopping it on thick will not look good.

CL_00087. Repeat steps 5 and 6 with each canvas until they’re all finished. NOTE: There will be bubbles. You will get frustrated & think that the bubbles are not going to go away & that the canvases look terrible and that you’ll never hang them on your wall. You will do that if you’re like me anyway. Then you’ll remember that I said this would happen and that the bubbles will go away after the canvases sit overnight. You’ll think, “Ugh, these bubbles won’t go away. They’re so ugly!” But, trust me! They’ll settle & the canvases will look great.:)
8. Add layers of Mod Podge once the canvases are dry (about 20 minutes) if desired. The more layers of Mod Podge you add, the more textured the canvases will look. We added two layers, but you could certainly add more if you wanted.
9. Measure, line up, and hang the canvases. You can hang them however you like, but we liked them with just a small space in between (about a half inch).
CL_0009CL_0010
CL_001210. Stand back and admire.:)

We like this project because it’s so personal and unique. If you’re wondering, our first dance song at our wedding reception was “Your Guardian Angel” by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. We’ve photographed nearly 100 weddings & we’ve yet to see anyone else dance to this song. We’re weird & we like it!

“I will never let you fall
I’ll stand up with you forever
I’ll be there for you through it all
Even if saving you sends me to heaven.”

Let us know if you decide to tackle this fun DIY home decor project! We’d love to see your finished product on your wall! You could even hang it next to a first dance photo. . . that’d be beautiful!

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Any Parks & Recreation fans out there? We enjoy it because it’s the perfect mixture of sarcastic & sweet. Leslie Knope is endearing & annoying all at the same time & we love her for it. Here’s her take on what Galentine’s Day is all about:

Leslie’s a little intense & eats way too much whipped cream, but she has a point. We *should* celebrate our lady friends! Since Leslie is right, that’s what we’ll do today on the blog. In honor of Galentine’s Day, here are our favorite moments between besties that we’ve captured on wedding days:

Brooke_Dan_Mill-Creek-Rose-Garden-St-Lucy-Banquet-Center-Youngstown-OH-Wedding_0025Brooke_Dan_Mill-Creek-Rose-Garden-St-Lucy-Banquet-Center-Youngstown-OH-Wedding_0141Christina_Craig_W_1123Brielle_Josh_W_0577Brielle_Josh_W_1043Angela_John_W_0117Tara_Chris_W_0975Tara_Chris_W_1298Suzie_Bobby_W_0815Megan_Chris_W_0629Elaina_Craig_W_0214Erin_Jared_W_0196Michele_Jeff_W_0328The ultimate gal pals. . . mom & daughter.:)Devon_Dustin_W_0334Emma_Mike_W_0675Katie_Ben_W_0290Callie_Patrick_W_0422Melissa_Marshall_W_0112Courtney_Ed_W_0112Andrea_Jesse_W_0240Emily_Bryan_W_1417Emily_Bryan_W_1418Jennifer_Zac_W_0755Jennifer_Zac_W_0760And I can’t forget two of my favorite gals, Ashley & Kristin. Love you ladies!Ashley_Nic_W_0316We should celebrate our friendships- the ones who’ve been there for us through our awkward phases, our bad breakups, and our family drama. . . the first ones we called when we met the guy we’d eventually marry. . . the ones who know us sometimes better than we know ourselves. . . the ones we can exchange a glance with & communicate exactly what we’re thinking. Those friendships are important & we’re so blessed to have them! Tell your friends you love them today.:)Happy Galentine’s Day!

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Y’all know we photograph weddings and engagement sessions primarily, but we also occasionally photograph families. And it’s fun. . . lots of fun!  We didn’t blog many of our family sessions last year so we’re going to choose a few of our favorites to share with you now. We love that these photos are brightening the walls and homes of beautiful families!:)

We especially love when our past wedding couples ask us to photograph them with their newest little family members!:)Melissa & Robbie’s little Evelyn is beautiful!

Swedin_0001I think this one is downright hilarious! Evelyn screamed & these were her grandparents’ reactions.

Swedin_0013We loved photographing this adorable family at their home. They have a beautiful property & the sun was glowing gorgeously (even though it was a bit chilly).Sluss_0001Their daughter Maisyn is so cute & fun!Sluss_0118Sluss_0057Sluss_0023This little guy! Wesley warmed our hearts. He has been through so much in his short life, as you can see from his surgery scar. His mom and dad are absolute troopers & have remained positive in the midst of all of these challenges. We were honored to have the opportunity to capture these memories for them once Wesley got home from the hospital.Wesley_0001Wesley_0023Wesley_0028Wesley_0035Wesley_0038Wesley_0051We spent a beautiful Fall afternoon with Molly, Stephen, and James in the Pittsburgh area. They’re such a wonderful family & they even took us to dinner after the session. . . always appreciated. . . especially by a pregnant lady!:)Slaughter_0011Slaughter_0062Their smiles are contagious!Slaughter_0090Slaughter_0096Slaughter_0137And we always try to get a few photos with just mom & dad during a family session.:)Slaughter_0172It was yet another stunning Fall day during our session with Sara, Ryan, & Easton. She had just turned one at the time & she was FULL of smiles! She melted our hearts! And it’s so evident how much she is loved.Ogrodnik_0015Ogrodnik_0018Ogrodnik_0045Ogrodnik_0079Ogrodnik_0087Ogrodnik_0101Ogrodnik_0115Ogrodnik_0138Those bib overalls were perfect for her sitting in the cornfield photos!Ogrodnik_0171Ogrodnik_0211We had a lot of fun with this awesome family of five. . . soon to be a family of six. These cute kids’ momma was expecting during this session, but she was so early along that no one knew quite yet.:)Postle_0019Postle_0089Postle_0029Postle_0057They’re so adorable! And we loved the Christmas cards they sent out with these images on them!Postle_0084Postle_0126Postle_0201Postle_0258Postle_0270Postle_0279Postle_0301Postle_0324We had fun at Mill Creek Park with Amanda, DJ, and their kids. They are all so very full of personality! The kids were hams so that made the session really enjoyable. We’re pretty sure they had fun, too.;)Kridler_0077Kridler_0097Kridler_0142Kridler_0173Kridler_0239Kridler_0245At the end of a family session, we let the kids’ true selves emerge. Kridler_0263Kridler_0298Jill, Matt, and their girls are adorable.Griffith_0001Griffith_0014I promise that this is a nice hug.Griffith_0026Griffith_0045Griffith_0051Griffith_0058Griffith_0114Griffith_0140Griffith_0142Griffith_0143Griffith_0177This was a huge family session with the whole fam! Grandma, Grandpa, their kids, and their grandkids all jumped in!Lisko_0040Lisko_0042Lisko_0098Lisko_0110And we get the privilege of shooting for my beautiful sister and her awesome family! We had a few sessions with them last year:

Laverie_Twins_00Laverie_Twins_04Addison_3-Year_00Addison_3-Year_01Laverie_0001Laverie_0002Laverie_0003twin_0004twin_0006twin_0012twin_0013twin_0023twin_0024Laverie_Children_00We loved shooting Nicole & Chad’s maternity session. They are wedding clients so it’s always fun to see wedding clients’ families grow!
Nicole_Chad_M_00Nicole_Chad_M_01These boys were SOOOOO cute & they’re getting a little brother soon!

Davis_0007Davis_0012Davis_0022Davis_0027Davis_0045Parker had a grand time for his one-year session!Parker-1-Year_01Layton- OMG, what a cutie he is!Layton_00Layton_6-Month-Firestone-Park-Columbiana-OH-Child-Photography_0002Layton_6-Month-Firestone-Park-Columbiana-OH-Child-Photography_0005Pretty little Bristol turned one. We love her & her parents!Bristol_1-Year_01Bristol_1-Year_0002Bristol_1-Year_Fellows-Riverside-Gardens-Mill-Creek-Youngstown-OH-Baby-Photography_0016Bristol_1-Year_Fellows-Riverside-Gardens-Mill-Creek-Youngstown-OH-Baby-Photography_0033It wasn’t technically a family session, but we were so happy to shoot a few family portraits for these great people during our Small Business Showcase of Generations Coffee House.Generations_32Generations_33Generations_37Can’t believe this adorable guy is over a year old now!Generations_38And this cutie turned three last year so we took some photos of him at his house. He is always hard to catch, but we got him.:)Tallen_00-3-YearFamily photo sessions are so important. We love that our clients will have these memories forever & really love that the kids will get to look back at the photos someday and remember playing and goofing around with their parents & siblings.

Feel free to follow our work & adventures here:

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We recently received an email from one of our awesome 2015 brides who is thinking about wedding day logistics & getting her timeline ready. . . her wedding is in September & we’re so super stoked she’s planning those details now & asking for our input! We LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE helping our couples with their wedding day timelines! We want all of our brides & grooms to have the best and most ultimate wedding day experience possible & get the most out of the day in terms of having a meaningful, happy, beautiful, and sacred wedding ceremony to be bound to the love of their life (most important part, right?!); having fun with each other & their family & their friends; getting to speak with all of the guests they’ve invited to share in the day; and, of course, getting beautiful portraits of the two of them, relaxed & mantle-worthy family formal photos, fun & classic bridal party portraits, and silly & emotional candid moments throughout the entire day. The thing is, if we don’t help you & give you advice with the timing of events prior to the wedding day, it’s out of our hands on the wedding day. We don’t mean to sound harsh, but if you decide not to take our advice about your timeline & then you end up only having 5 minutes for bride & groom portraits, we’ll shoot as quickly & as creatively as we possibly can within that timeframe, but those definitely are not optimal conditions for us to create art. So please contact us early and often. . . we’re serious when we say we really love to help! You can also read this Wedding Day Timeline post we wrote awhile ago.

Abby_Corey_East-Fairfield-United-Methodist-Church_Firestone-Park-Columbiana-OH-Avion-on-the-Water-Youngstown-OH-Wedding-Photographers_0046One question our 2015 bride asked in her email to us was about the receiving line. She said that she wanted to know our opinion on receiving lines & that she knows it’s time consuming, but it’s also a great way to ensure that the bride & groom get to at least say hi and thank each guest for coming to celebrate with them. So after photographing nearly 100 weddings with way differing timelines and many different numbers of guests, we can confidently say that receiving lines can be GREAT and receiving lines can be . . . not great.:)It depends on how you arrange your timeline & how you plan for it.

Jamie_Joe_W_1050Receiving lines are a great way to make sure that you’ll get to greet each guest and thank him/her for sharing in your day! Greeting and thanking each guest at your wedding is a MUST. And we’re sure it’s something you want to do. Oftentimes, having a receiving line is the best way to accomplish this task without missing anyone. There are caveats to this rule- if you have fewer than 50 or 75 guests or so, you can almost definitely get around to greet each guest during your 4 hour reception (and even more so if you’re planning on having a cocktail hour). If you’re having over 100 guests or, like many of our clients, more than 250, it’s almost impossible to get around to greet and thank each guest at your reception unless you’re planning on spending the entire 4 or so hours doing so. . . say goodbye to eating, cake cutting, dancing, and just being in the moment to enjoy yourselves. You’ll be going around to tables for most of the evening and feeling pulled in a thousand different directions trying to catch up with old college friends and say hi to your mom’s friend who’s standing in your peripheral vision just waiting to get her turn. It’s daunting with that many guests & having a receiving line is one way to accomplish the goal of getting to talk with everyone. Plus, you’ll be standing right next to your new spouse (yay!) so you can introduce him/her to people he/she hasn’t met yet. Sometimes when you’re going around to tables at the reception, you get caught up somewhere and can get separated so you may not be able to introduce your spouse to people they haven’t met yet.

Brooke_Matt_W_0816

Now that we’ve established the positive aspects to a receiving line, we’re pretty sure you might be asking, “What could be bad about having a receiving line?” Well, the act of having the receiving line isn’t bad, but it can be a negative thing if you don’t plan ample time into your wedding day timeline for a receiving line. We’ve also photographed weddings that weren’t supposed to have a receiving line due to time constraints between the ceremony & reception, but a receiving line inadvertently ended up happening. That’s where planning comes in! Here’s an excerpt from our Wedding Day Timeline blog: We unfortunately see [accidental receiving lines] happen pretty often. The bride & groom get married, they’re extremely excited, they are standing together hugging and kissing in the area just outside of the church or ceremony location, and their guests (who are naturally excited, too) start filing out of the church/venue. If you’re standing there, they’re, of course, going to come over to you and talk to you and hug you. It’s a natural response. We’re not saying that receiving lines are inherently bad. They’re great when they’re intended and when time is allocated for them (approximately 45 minutes for 150 guests). They’re not so great when you didn’t have a first look, you want to have all of your formal photos taken during the time between the ceremony and the reception, and the amount of time is only an hour or 90 minutes. To avoid accidental receiving lines, escape to a secluded area immediately after the ceremony. Don’t just stand in the back where everyone will be exiting.  It’ll be fun just being alone anyway! And have your officiant announce that guests can make their way to the reception. That way, there’ll be no confusion/lingering.”

Sarah_Kevin_St-Michaels-Church_Fellows-Riverside-Gardens_Urban-Wedding-Photos_Drakes-Landing_Youngstown-OH-Wedding-Photographers_0036If you have time built in for a receiving line because of a first look or because of a large time gap in between your ceremony & reception, here are a few details you might want to know about the logistics of a receiving line:

Where/when- You can choose to have a receiving line immediately following the ceremony at the church/venue or you can have a receiving line as guests arrive to the reception venue. Make sure you’re in a space that accommodates the guests in line as well as you two & your parents and that guests who cannot stand for long periods of time can pass through the area to go be seated without having to stand in line. We’ve seen couples release guests by row after the ceremony and that approach works, too! An aside- if you have ample time in between your ceremony & reception, we’ve found that one of the most convenient and comfortable timelines is to have the ceremony, hide so you don’t have an accidental receiving line at the ceremony venue & ask your officiant to announce to the guests that they can proceed to the reception, have time for family formals, bridal party portraits, and bride & groom portraits, get to the reception venue before all of the guests, enjoy a relaxed meal with your bridal party and parents, freshen up, then greet guests in a receiving line as they enter. That way, guests can immediately enjoy their meals upon arrival and will not have to be dismissed by table or wait in long lines. This only works if there are hours in between your ceremony and reception- if you’re interested in taking this approach, ask us about the specific number of hours you’ll need & we’ll help based on your unique situation.

Sarah_AJ_W_1006Who- Traditionally, the bride’s parents (hosts of the wedding) stood first in line to greet guests, followed by the bride & groom, and, finally, followed by the groom’s parents. These traditions have changed throughout the years & the order of people in line isn’t the most important thing. The most important thing is that the bride & groom are there to greet and thank guests. The rest can be tweaked based on your unique situation. Grandparents can also participate in the receiving line if they would like to and are able. Also, you may wonder how to deal with a situation involving divorced parents. The following is from The Knot:This may be one of the stickier situations you’ll encounter when orchestrating the big day, and the resolution often depends on the relationships between the relevant parties. If your parents are divorced, they should not stand next to one another in line — even if they are sharing hosting duties — as this gives the impression that they are still a couple. Instead, place Mom on one side of you and the groom, then the groom’s parents, then Dad. If this arrangement doesn’t sit well, consider placing another family member or an honor attendant between them. And what about stepparents? Should you include them too? That depends: Do you have a good relationship with them? Is your mom/dad capable of sharing this duty with your stepmom/dad with civility and grace? You should strive to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. If this arrangement gets the green light, simply have your father stand with his new wife, and your mother with her new husband. This way guests will understand the relationships.” We’d add that you should be open and communicate well with all of the parents before this situation arises (well before the wedding day) in order to make sure that everyone is comfortable with it ahead of time to avoid any awkwardness or hurt feelings.

Wedding party members may stand in the receiving line, too, but it’s not necessary. It’s completely up to you & honestly we think it’s unnecessary unless the wedding party members are close family members.

Lauren_Jordan_W_0892To sum up, receiving lines or releasing rows are amazing ways to exchange heartfelt greetings and thank yous with your guests. These are the people whom you invited to share in one of the biggest days of your life. . . that means they’re important to you & you definitely want to at least get the chance to say hi and thank you! As long as you incorporate enough time into your wedding day to have a receiving line or to release rows, it’s a wonderful time full of happiness that you won’t forget. Just don’t be surprised if your veil gets yanked with hugs (you may want to take it out if possible).:)We hope this helped with your wedding planning &, like we said, we’re here to help our couples so ask us any questions you have before the big day arrives!Carissa_Josh_W_0783

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