We are excited (and surprised to say because it has gone SO quickly) that we’re coming up on our 100th wedding as wedding photographers. What?! Yep. . . you read that correctly. We’ll be shooting our one hundredth wedding next month.

After witnessing and photographing so many weddings and wedding receptions, we have a few words of advice for brides & grooms: your reception is what you make it! We’re sure you’ve heard that saying “Life is what you make it.” Well, the same is true for wedding receptions. wedding reception at The Lake Club Poland OhioWant everyone to dance? Then DANCE! Your friends and family will follow suit. Want everyone to have a great time? Then let loose yourself. Don’t worry about a thing & just allow yourself to be in the moment and ENJOY! wedding reception at The Lake Club Poland OhioYou may be thinking that as a bride or a groom you’re expected to behave a certain way. Well, we’re here to say that you are- you’re expected to be yourself and have fun!:)That’s it! Once you have gone to all of the work and effort of planning a wedding and the day has finally arrived, you’re there! You’ve made it! Relax, enjoy, have a great time, step back with your new spouse and take it all in, dance, eat dinner AND cake AND cookies, kiss your spouse, hug your best friends, kick off your shoes, and have a blast! Your guests will follow suit & everyone will remember your wedding reception as one of their favorites.Cleveland Wedding PhotographyThe Lake Club Poland Ohio wedding photography

Karlee & Aaron’s wedding officiant said it best: “I see Aaron as a no-nonsense, to-the-point, simple guy. And I see Karlee very much the same. . . go-with-the-flow, easygoing, and laid back. Together they complement one another & love one another well.” He was so right! These two are so easy to get along with; you meet them & they’re your friends. That’s why it was no surprise that their wedding day was relaxed, fun, and beautiful. Not only did these two vow their lives to one another, but they also officially became a family with their adorable nearly two-year-old son Bryce! Little dude is a heartbreaker! Just wait until you see him in his gray tux!

I met Karlee & the bridesmaids at Allure in Boardman.
Karlee’s eyes are such a gorgeous, unique color!Josh was with Aaron & the groomsmen at Aaron’s. Little Bryce was running around being 2.:)Karlee’s late father got to walk her down the aisle in spirit as she wore his photo in a locket on her bridal bouquet.Something Unique was the florist.Aaron & Karlee got each other wedding day gifts.He sprinted down that aisle toward his daddy. It was downright adorable.Then the beautiful bride walked down the aisle toward her groom.Their wedding was one of the most special and lovely ceremonies I’ve ever witnessed. The officiant had so many beautiful words for the couple.On a scale of zero to happy. . . I’d say they’re about at an ecstatic.;)We stopped by Lanterman’s Mill on one of the busiest days of the year so far! The weather was perfect & the place was absolutely packed! The overflow parking was almost full! Thankfully we were able to make it look like they were the only ones in the park.:)FYI for any Youngstown brides reading this: Mill Creek Park now requires that your limo has a permit to go anywhere in the park other than Fellows Riverside Garden. Just contact MCP for more info. Most local limo companies will know what to do for this, too.They are so stinkin’ cute!I looooooove the yellow & gray.Like I said, it was a stunning day!Don’t you just love Spring?! These two gave us plenty of time on their wedding day for photos so they got lots of bride & groom portraits.:)This tree is rather magical! This would be an amazing image for a huge canvas. The reception was at Mahoning Valley Country Club.Cookies galore! Gotta love Youngstown weddings!The Cake Boutique made this beauty.The Maid of Honor and Best Man were close by for the cake cutting because . . . they had a little surprise for them! It was funny and everyone got a kick out of it.This spotlight dance with their son was very special & we’re so glad he’ll have these photos to admire when he gets older. His parents really love him.We snuck them away during sunset for a few minutes. Karlee & Aaron, thank you guys again so much for choosing us to photograph your wedding day! We know you’ll have an amazing life together! ♥

 

Dear Tenley,

Some women can say that they’ve always wanted nothing more than to be a mother. I’m not one of those women. I never said never to having kids, but I had doubts. There were times I was uncertain. I doubted my ability to be nurturing. Would I live up to everything I believe a mother should be? Would I be enough? What if being a mom didn’t come naturally to me?

Making the decision to become a mother is momentous; I didn’t take it lightly. When I do something, I commit and give it nothing less than my best. That’s how your Grandma & Papa raised me and I knew if I made the decision to bring a child into the world, that I had better be ready to sacrifice for that child & be there for that child throughout every single step of his or her life. Making the decision was a process. Your dad & I prayed about the decision individually and together. We took some time to decide. Once we did decide to try to have a baby, I loved you already. Just the thought of you was beyond exciting to me.

Once you were in mommy’s belly, I couldn’t wait for you to get here! I loved feeling you rumble around and kick & seeing the look of wonder on your daddy’s face when he felt you move, too. In those quiet moments when I laid in bed at night feeling you move or in those moments when I was surrounded by people and activity, but you and I were sharing a private moment as you rolled and stretched inside my womb, I thought that those doubts I had harbored before having you would melt away the moment I saw you. I loved you so much even though I hadn’t yet officially met you, and I didn’t even know if you would be a boy or a girl.Mini_Menning_Maternity_0002Then you were HERE! You were in my arms. You were the most beautiful sight & I couldn’t even have imagined the joy I’d feel in my heart when I saw you for the first time if I had tried. That moment was indescribable. I had been your mom since before you were born, of course, but in that moment you became mine to hold on earth. God had entrusted you to me & I was elated. I felt blessed beyond measure. I couldn’t take my eyes off you.TKB_0001But if I’m really honest with you, the doubts I had about my mothering abilities haven’t melted away. But even though the doubts I had about whether I’d be the mother you deserve are not gone, I know that I can overcome them. I know that I can be the mother that you deserve because the love that I have for you will allow me to be nothing less. The little details aren’t all figured out yet, but we’re figuring them out together as we go. It hasn’t been easy, but I’d trade none of it! Being your mom is more than a privilege. I know now that I was meant to be your mom. God had a plan for me and for you. There is a quote that I believe sums it up quite perfectly: “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” -Elizabeth StoneT-2-M_0005You’re not walking around quite yet, but you have certainly stolen my heart. Thank you for being you in all of your glorious beauty. Thank you for being gracious with me as I figure things out as a new mommy. Thank you for allowing me to see your dad as a father to a baby girl; I didn’t think it was possible for me to love him any more than I already do. . . but then you came along & my love for your dad grew exponentially. In your 10 short weeks of life, you’ve brought more joy to mine than is imaginable! Thank you for making this Mother’s Day a happy one for me, Tenley. I love you.

Love,
MomTenley_Kay_0002IMG_0602IMG_1025

I am so excited to share this wedding with you today for MANY reasons! First, and most importantly, Jacqueline & Anthony love each other so much & it’s very apparent. Their love is beautiful & emotional & I cannot wait until you see the photos during their wedding ceremony. One of their guests came up to them after the wedding & said, “There wasn’t a dry eye in that church!” And she was right! That’s what wedding days should be all about, right?! The beauty of love & the commitment two people make to each other for life. Not only were Jackie & Anthony committing to one another, though, but they were committing to each other as a family with daughter Cecelia. They took vows to her, as well, which was a definite tear jerker for us having just had a daughter of our own a couple of months ago! The love this family shares is inspiring & you’ll be able to feel it through your computer screen or phone when scrolling through these images. And not only that, you’ll get the pleasure of seeing the amazing gold sparkly wedding details! Jackie was deliberate and thoughtful in her curating of wedding day details & that is evident! You’ll LOVE this wedding!
Her blinged out Badgley Mischka shoes were very pretty!She got this fun clutch from Etsy.Her hair & makeup teams came on site to beautify the ladies, which is always a plus! Charlott & Sarah from Le’ Shoppe did a great job with hair!Karisa Tondo-Kramer did a stunning job with airbrush makeup. She is so great at what she does & she makes her own lipstick! You can make your own personal shade with her, too. Jackie did that for her wedding day. Check out Karisa’s Facebook page & give her a “Like” to see what she’s up to in the makeup world.This wedding dress. . . I have no words!Nikki’s Perfect Petal Designs did such a lovely job with the wedding day flowers! And she was super nice. The sparkly, flowy bridesmaids dresses are from Etsy.Jackie’s Maid of Honor (her cousin) gave her such a sweet gift. She had a good luck pin attached to a piece of her own wedding dress. Jackie was very touched by the thoughtfulness. And she wore it down the aisle with her.:)Karisa at work! Here’s her website.While I was with the ladies at the church, Josh was with the guys at Anthony’s. Anthony was also on his shoe game.:)Jackie & Anthony got personalized shades for their entire (large) bridal party, which worked out really well since their wedding day was full of beautiful sunshine.This guy is all smiles.While I was with Jackie photographing hair & makeup, she told me that she really wished her dog could be there and be a part of the wedding day. Josh snapped this great shot of him. Isn’t he so cute?!Quick tip for all you brides-to-be out there- if it’s possible, have your bridesmaids ready & in their gowns before they assist you with getting into yours. The photos look prettier.:)Jackie & Anthony exchanged gifts delivered to one another by their daughter Celia. She is so pretty and mature. She looked beautiful in her bridesmaid dress.This moment speaks for itself. So powerful. So emotional. They didn’t see one another before the ceremony, but they got to hold hands and have their officiant pray over their marriage. Tears!What a picturesque day for a wedding! Sunny and 75. . . sounds like a country song. Heather, you have the voice of an angel. This girl had everyone in tears with her rendition of Ave Maria.I loved this bridal party’s style!Then we had my favorite time of the day! Bride & groom portraits!Stunning! I called it way back when during their engagement session. Jacqueline. . . you make a gorgeous bride!Their reception venue looked magical with the gold accents and sparkly lights everywhere.Oh My Cakes made this beauty!Their signature drink:Their first dance was incredibly romantic. It was like there was no one else in the room.Jackie had to sneak a couple of extra bites of cake & Anthony got a kick out of it.Sneaking away during the reception for a few minutes is worth it.:)Jacqueline & Anthony, you two are amazing, so generous, and absolutely perfect for each other. We’re so blessed to have clients like you & loved sharing your wedding day with you! We wish you so many years of happiness!

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This subject has been on my mind for a very long time. I’ve thought it over many different ways & decided it’s finally time to just blog it. Who cares if a couple of people get offended?

Josh & I got married in 2010. We can’t even explain how much wedding guests have changed since then! In just five short years, there has been a huge shift in the way that wedding guests behave & we’re pretty sure it has a direct correlation with the prevalence of social media in everyday life. People want that instant gratification of taking a photo and immediately posting it to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc (pick your poison). Guests seem to want to “win” by posting the photo of the bride & groom’s first kiss before anyone else. Sometimes guests spoil surprises on the wedding day by posting photos to social media before it’s appropriate. This is certainly not the first blog post written about this subject! It’s all over the Internet!

In 2010, when I walked down the aisle, I saw my guests’ smiling faces and their eyes misty with tears. I felt their encouragement and their excitement for me. (All of our professional wedding photos were taken by Inlux Photo).DJMenning_W_0188(The woman all the way in the back is the professional videographer we hired).DJMenning_W_0189DJMenning_W_0190DJMenning_W_0191No one, not one single person, was holding their cell phone in front of their face or in the aisle.  I remember walking down the aisle and seeing my family members and friends looking at me. We made eye contact. Some of them winked at me. All of them smiled. I saw some shed tears. It truly set the tone for the wedding ceremony.

Since then, cell phone technology has changed at warp speed. Cell phone cameras have more megapixels than a lot of point and shoot cameras do as I type this in 2015. And now when brides walk down the aisle on their wedding days, they see a sea of cell phones.Nicole_Cody_Cleveland-Public-Library_Windows-On-the-River_Cleveland-OH-Wedding-Photography_0016Devon_Dustin_Friends-Christian-Church_Salem-OH_Mill-Creek-Park_The-Embassy_Youngstown-OH-Wedding-Photography_0021Erica_John_Holy-Triniy-Parish_Mountaineer-Casino_East-Liverpool-OH_Youngstown-OH-Wedding-Photographers_0018Jenna_Ryan_St-Pauls-Butler_The-White-Barn_Prospect-PA_Youngstown-OH-Wedding-Photographers_0021Karlee_Aaron_0030Maybe we should just ignore it and not say anything about it. Is it our place as wedding photographers to care about this issue? Or should we simply “go with it?” Our approach to photographing weddings is largely photojournalistic anyway. . . maybe we should just document it as it happens without interjecting our own personal views? It’s 2015 and guests take photos with their cell phones at weddings. Maybe we shouldn’t try to change that and we should just do our job. We do that, of course. After we’ve gotten the shots we know our couples will want (them at the altar exchanging vows, them exchanging rings, their first kiss. . . ) we get creative with what’s going on during the ceremony. But just because we do that doesn’t mean that we don’t care about our brides & grooms and the way that their guests behave during the wedding ceremony. We see it every weekend & we want our couples to have the best possible experience they can on their wedding day & receive the best possible professional photos they can! We don’t want guests’ behavior to adversely affect the professional photographs for which the bride & groom have paid! That’s what us educating people on the option of having an unplugged wedding is all about. We want our couples to receive the best photographs possible; therefore, we feel obligated to address this issue.Sarah_AJ_St-James-Chapel_Rose-Garden_North-Lima-DQ_Antones-Banquet-Centre_Youngstown-OH-Wedding-Photographers_0042Brittney_Tyler_W_0711In wedding guests’ hands, there might be the occasional point and shoot, DSLR, or even an old school disposable camera that clicks and winds (I’m lookin’ at you, all you grannies. hehe ). But mostly there are cell phones. We completely understand the desire to capture those moments! Of course, we do! Guests are sharing in those moments because the bride and/or groom are dear to them. It makes sense that guests would want a photo or two to document that moment in time. But honestly, what doesn’t make a bit of sense to me is why a guest at a wedding would want to take photos with their cell phone throughout the entire wedding ceremony from beginning to end and never actually be in the moment of the day and witness the ceremony. Scientific research has been conducted on this subject & it is clear every time- people do not recall events that they were caught up photographing as well as they recall them when they were unplugged from their devices and taking in the event in real time without trying to take any photos. One researcher said this: “When people rely on technology to remember for them — counting on the camera to record the event and thus not needing to attend to it fully themselves — it can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences.” She calls it the “photo-taking impairment effect.” Here’s another article on the subject if you’re into that sort of thing & love reading like I do.

And if wedding guests were really honest with themselves, they’d admit that they do absolutely nothing with the photos they take with their cell phones on wedding days. They share them on social media, but beyond that those photos sit on their cell phone until their cell phone is too full and running out of space. Then they delete those photos to make room for new ones. Or they get a new cell phone because they’re due for an upgrade and those photos are either lost forever or sit on that cell phone that never even gets turned on again. This is a totally separate topic for a different day, but I have to mention it- this generation is the most photographed generation, but those captured memories are fleeting- most are never printed, some are deleted, the vast majority never exist beyond the digital. And the digital disappears as new technology emerges. How many old computers have you gotten rid of in your life? What happened to the photos on those computers? Has anyone used a floppy disc lately? Some of you probably don’t even know what a floppy disc is, which completely supports my point! Digital is fleeting & temporary. Even if you have digital photos on discs, USBs, or hard drives, how often do you actually get them out and look at them and enjoy them? Do you even know where they are or have them organized so that you can pinpoint which disc is your honeymoon photos and which is your family vacation from 2009? #PrintYourPhotos! And please read this article by Mike Yost Photography! He is speaking directly to my heart! But I digress. . . back to the topic of the day- unplugged wedding ceremonies!

While we understand guests’ desire to take photos, we understand and support unplugged wedding ceremonies for so many reasons! What’s an unplugged wedding ceremony? It’s a wedding ceremony during which the bride & groom respectfully request that guests refrain from taking photographs. The bride & groom want their guests to share in the wedding ceremony fully by being present and in the moment. They do not want them to experience the wedding from behind the lens of their cameras/cell phones. After all, the bride & groom have hired professional wedding photographers to do just that. The professional photographers can do their job and allow guests to experience and enjoy the wedding ceremony. This also allows the bride & groom to enjoy the ceremony more. As I mentioned above, the bride will see her guests’ faces as she walks down the aisle. And the groom will get to better view his bride as she walks down the aisle. If guests aren’t trying to get the shot of the bride coming down the aisle, they’ll be a lot less likely to step into the aisle or lean into the aisle, which will give the groom a clearer view of his soon-to-be wife. Win-win, if you ask us! For those of you asking, what about guests who want a photograph of the bride coming down the aisle? What about guests who want a photograph of the bride & groom exchanging their vows? The bride & groom can share their professional photos with those guests (I guarantee that less than 2% of wedding guests want a printed photo of those moments. The vast majority of those guests taking cell phone photos of those moments are not going to do anything with those photos beyond maybe sharing them (in all of their blurry and underexposed glory) on social media). Most professional wedding photographers now offer guests the option to purchase prints of wedding photos. A lot of professional wedding photographers provide the bride & groom with digital copies of the photographs and a printing release so they can print photos for themselves and their guests if desired. The bride and groom can also share the professional photos on social media in most cases. Therefore, guests have no reason to complain if the bride & groom request that they refrain from taking photos during the wedding ceremony.

Another great reason to have an unplugged ceremony? Wedding guests have become obnoxious with their photo taking. Please don’t get me wrong- 95% of wedding guests are wonderful, considerate, and want the bride & groom to enjoy their day! It’s that 5% who give the rest a bad name. Those guests who step into the aisle to get their photo while the bride is walking toward the groom, blocking the groom from seeing his bride. Those guests who use their flash, causing the bride to see spots and causing the professional photographer’s photo to be overexposed. Those guests who step in front of professional photographers who were hired by the bride & groom and ruin the photos of special moments that’ll never happen again. We could share photos of these things occurring on wedding days we’ve photographed, but I will refrain from doing so because I don’t want to embarrass people. I can point you to other blogs who have done so, though. Go here. Or here. If the officiant makes an announcement that the bride & groom have asked all guests to truly enjoy the wedding ceremony and refrain from taking photos during the ceremony, a couple of people will still take a few photos, but you won’t have 50% of the people with a phone in their face as the bride walks down the aisle and you won’t have obnoxious behavior because you’ve cut it off at the pass. You can also choose to inform guests of your desire for an unplugged wedding ceremony with a sign or in the program. (Email us if you’d like sample wording. Or just Google it or look it up on Pinterest).Malory_Davion_UMC-Fairfield_Avion-on-the-Water_Youngstown-OH-Wedding-Photography_0007Kelli_Paul_W_41Please don’t misinterpret this blog post as us whining, “Guests are big old meanies who get in OUR way because we’re SO important!” That is not our attitude in posting this at all! Our intention in posting this is to bring awareness to this issue & to allow brides & grooms this option on their wedding day. If this is something you’re interested in doing, reach out to us & we’ll help you make it happen. The wedding ceremony is the most sacred time of the day & your guests should respect your wishes if you ask them not to take photographs during it. All that said, we shoot weddings all of the time that are not unplugged weddings & we just go with whatever happens. We’re not going to get ourselves all in a tizzy because people get in our way. We’ll simply adjust. And that’s the beauty of having both of us there during the wedding ceremony. If an overzealous guest gets in front of one of us during a key moment, there’s another one of us shooting away.  Either way, unplugged or not, we sincerely hope your wedding day is everything you want it to be!