James & Elizabeth | Rustic Wedding at Peacock River Ranch | Gatesville, Texas

 Bride and groom exchange vows during their rustic wedding ceremony at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

We’re so excited to share the first 2018 wedding here on the blog! This past weekend we joined James & Elizabeth for their beautiful and perfectly-them wedding day at Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville, Texas. You may remember these two J&M Sweethearts from their romantic engagement session by the river. Do you remember how James proposed to Elizabeth back on New Year’s while they were fishing together, one of their favorite things to do? We kept the important theme of the Bosque River in their love story, photographing their engagement portraits at Brazos Park East. And just as their engagement session told the story of their engagement, their wedding day pulled together all the things that defined them as a couple and perfectly told the story of them.

There were the soft, romantic touches of the lace on Elizabeth’s dress, and the bridesmaids’ turquoise dresses too. But paired with the lace were the cowboy boots that highlighted their love for the country and how one of their favorite things to do is go two-stepping together. The romance and the country continued to blend together well in the burlap and lace table runners, the twine and lace in the invitations, and the baby’s breath and sunflowers in the centerpieces. Even Peacock River Ranch, with its expansive views of green pastures marked by a wooden fence line, kept the romance of the country in the guest’s mind as they watched James & Elizabeth become husband and wife.

Their wedding details also pointed to the importance of relationships in their life. Elizabeth glued a penny in her boot, dated 1988, the year she & James were born. On her bouquet, she pinned treasured items to stand for her “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” as well as remember her late father. James’ mother made all the floral arrangements, including Elizabeth’s bouquet. Elizabeth’s friends, Erik and Stella Johnson from Cuppiecakes in McGregor, made the cake and cupcakes for the reception. Most of the gorgeous hand-lettered signs were made by Morgan Johnson with Watercrest Mill, while the remaining signs and invitations were done by Elizabeth, her soon-to-be mother-in-law, or her dear friend, Brandi. With the help of friends and family, these Sweethearts planned the perfect rustic wedding, full of romantic details and sentimental elements.

But James & Elizabeth’s love story wasn’t only in the details. It was in the face of every person at their wedding. Family and friends came from all over the country to celebrate the love of these two Sweethearts. This love was felt throughout the day during so many touching moments - when Elizabeth and her dad were teary-eyed when they first saw one another, when Elizabeth smiled through happy tears at her first look with James, when they both laughed and cried a little while exchanging their vows, and when Elizabeth’s sister began crying during her toast and then laughing through her tears. And after dancing the night away, James & Elizabeth were showered with the bright lights of sparklers held high by friends and family, ready to walk into their next adventure.

 Turquoise, sunflower, burlap and lace wedding details at a rustic wedding ceremony at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Reception details at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Wedding rings tied in knot of twine lace wedding dress
 Sunflowers and baby's breath centerpieces at rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Bride glued a penny in her boot on her wedding day - rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Wedding ring and invitation details at a rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Flower girl and ring bearers wearing their ring security shirts - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Bride's mother buttons up her wedding gown and adjusts her veil - Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Bride's first look with her dad - Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Father of the bride kisses her cheek at their first look - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Bridesmaids in turquoise lace dresses and cowboy boots -Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Bride walks up to groom during their first look 
 Groom sees bride for the first time at their wedding - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Bride and groom embrace in a green pasture at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Bride in a lace wedding dress holds her groom in his cowboy hat - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Groomsmen in jeans and tan vests and bridesmaids in turquoise dresses and boots - Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Bride in lace wedding gown poses in green pasture on her wedding day - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Bride and bridesmaids pose along wooden fence - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Dad walks his daughter down the aisle at Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Bride and groom kiss at the end of their wedding ceremony at Peacock River Ranch Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Unique guest book idea at wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Cake and cupcake display at wedding reception - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Bride and groom share a first dance during their reception at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Father dances with his daughter on her wedding day - Peacock River Ranch - Gatesville TX - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Rustic wedding at Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
 Wedding ring casts a heart-shaped shadow in Bible - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Reception at Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Sunset portraits with the bride and groom - Reception at Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Groom kisses his bride with sunset behind them at Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Reception at Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Reception at Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Reception at Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Reception at Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Bride's parents dance at Reception at Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Reception at Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography
 Bride and groom hold one another surrounded by sparklers - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

Dear James & Elizabeth,

Your wedding day was magical and so full of love! We pray the love you felt that day is a firm foundation for your marriage to grow on. And as you return to life at home with your pups and your normal routine, we hope you remember the joy and love of this day every time you look back at your pictures.

Love, J&M

 Groom dips bride and kisses her during their sparkler exit - Peacock River Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography

Venue | Peacock River Ranch

Planner | Brandi Lott

Rentals | Priceless Moments Photo booth

Officiant | Rev. Scott Kerschner

Videographer | 4 Rivers Videography

Florist | Crystal Klepper, mother of the groom

Baker | Cuppiecakes

Ceremony Musicians | Grazioso String Quartet

DJ | Hannemann-Thomas Productions

Caterer | Bare Bone's BBQ

Hair | Amy Lynn, Hair Artist

Make up | Elizabeth Tindell

Signage | Morgan Johnson with Watercrest Mill

Transportation | Legacy Limousines of Waco


Want us to help you remember the love you felt on your wedding day for years to come?

Check out our J&M Weddings here-

How to hire your wedding photographer

Photo by Jason & Melaina Photography - www.JasonAndMelaina.com

It’s Engagement Season so we’re writing some helpful blog posts for all you recently engaged sweethearts out there! Last time we wrote about the first 5 things you need to do after getting engaged. (If you missed it, check it out here!) #5 on that list was to book these 3 wedding professionals - your venue, your planner/coordinator, and your photographer(s).

But what’s the best way to book your photographer? When you start talking to potential photographers you found on Google or referrals from friends, how do you know who is right for you?

In today’s post, we’re going to outline the 4 things to consider when booking your wedding photographer(s). Considering these 4 things will help you make an educated decision and find the perfect photographer for you!

PORTFOLIO

When you start checking out photographers’ websites and social media accounts, the first thing you want to look at is their portfolio so you can learn their style. There are so many different ways photographers shoot their images, and edit their images, so you need to find a photographer who does what you love.

As your looking at different photographers, notice what type of wedding photos draw you in. Take a look at what pins you’re saving to you Wedding Pinterest board and see if there’s a dominant style there. Because you really, really want to choose a photographer who already shoots and edits in the style you love. Otherwise the whole process is going to be a headache for both of you!

3 popular photography styles you’ll see in wedding photography are Portraiture, Lifestyle, and Artistic.*

www.jasonandmelaina.com - Jason and Melaina Photography

-Portraiture can look more traditional or classic, or even swing more into the editorial realm (think high-fashion model type poses). This style focuses on posed portraits, getting you all the traditional portraits you think of when you think of wedding photography. This is a great style for you if you want some model-worthy type images of you and your groom to hang up in your new home.

-Lifestyle wedding photography falls more in the realm of photojournalism and documentary. This style focuses on capturing the moments of your wedding as they happen. There will be some direction in posing, but most of the images you’ll see in their portfolio are moments that occurred naturally on a wedding day. If it’s important to you to remember all the little moments of your wedding day, and see the ones you missed, this is your preferred style.

-The artistic style focuses on getting epic photos of the couple. Think colored smoke bombs, shooting through a prism, focusing a lot on light and shadows, interesting angles. If you love wedding photography that’s outside-the-box, this is definitely your style.

*Side note- a good professional photographer will be able to do all 3 of these styles, and will mostly use a blend of them on your wedding day. A lifestyle photographer isn’t going to not take your family formal portraits, and a portraiture photographer isn’t going to refuse to photograph the best man’s toast unless he can pose him. But each photographer has a favorite style tbh, so find a photographer who showcases the style you prefer most.

A quick word about editing style - just like shooting style, each photographer has a preferred editing style as well. Some love kicking up the contrast and editing their wedding images with a dark and moody vibe. Others prefer focusing on the highlights and editing with a light and airy vibe. Still others prefer offering their couples neutral edits that are clean and true to what your eye sees. It’s best to figure which editing style you prefer and find a photographer who excels in that style, so you can get the wedding photographs you want.

 Heirloom linen wedding album with slate gray cover

PACKAGES

Keeping with our alliteration, the next thing you want to look at when you start narrowing down your preferred photographers list is what is included in their packages.

-Look at how many hours of coverage are included. Ask yourself what events of your wedding day are the most important for you to be photographed. Do you want lots of photos of you and your bridesmaids getting ready and probably need full day coverage, or would 6 hours of coverage for your ceremony, family formals, and most of the reception be enough for you?

-See how many photographers are offered and know what you prefer, and who exactly will be photographing your wedding day. Is there only 1 photographer all day, 1 photographer with a second one joining in at the ceremony only, 2 photographers the whole day? If having 2 photographers is important to you, make sure that’s included in the packages or at least is an available add-on. Some photographers have associate photographers who photograph weddings under their business name. Make sure to note which photographer you will have for your day and decide if that’s okay.

-Decide what products and services you want and see if they are included. Do you need an engagement session? Want an album? Can’t wait to share all the digital images on your Facebook page? Make sure the photographer provides the product you want either in the packages you’re looking at or as additional add-ons.

-And finally, figure out how your wedding photos will be delivered to you and if that’s what you prefer. Some photographers provide print quality digital images with a print release (so you can print your photos yourself), delivered to you either through an online gallery or on a USB/disc. Other photographers provide web quality digital images to their couples for social media sharing but only offer print or products ordered through their studio. Make sure and discuss with potential photographers how they will deliver your wedding photos to you so you know what to expect.

PROFESSIONALISM

Speaking of how different photographers structure their business, the third thing you want to consider when picking your wedding photographers is their professionalism. It’s important to say here that we’re not meaning you need to pick the photographer with the most experience. Years of experience do not necessarily equal professionalism. Instead, you want to look at the way the photographer runs their business and make sure they have good business practices that protect you. Almost every other type of photography session can be redone, but your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event that can’t be replaced or rescheduled. So it’s SO IMPORTANT you chose a photographer you trust who will take care of you before, during, and after this once-in-a-lifetime event.

texas-wedding-photograhers-hiring_0004.jpg

Things you want to look for when evaluating the professionalism of your wedding photographer are-

  • Do they have a contract that protects you and outlines well the process of working with them?

  • How do they secure and backup the images they take on your wedding day?

  • In case of a life-or-death emergency on their end, do they have professional backup photographers who could replace them on your wedding day?

  • How is their communication with you? Do you feel like you can be honest with them? Do they respond back to your emails in a timely manner?

  • How prepared are they to shoot in the rain, or in a dark building? A lot of planning goes into a wedding day, of course, but sometimes last minute changes happen. You’ll want a photographer who can shoot in any given circumstance on short notice.

PERSONALITY

Checking out a photographer’s portfolio, packages and professionalism are important and common practices when picking your wedding photographer. But something that’s just as important and often gets overlooked is making sure you enjoy your wedding photographer’s personality.

Photo by Jason & Melaina Photography - www.JasonAndMelaina.com

You know who is going to be with you the most on your wedding day? Maybe even more than your mama or your groom? Your photographer!! Especially if you book a full day of coverage, your photographer is going to be by your side from when you begin makeup and hair until the moment you and your husband drive off in the limo. So it’s super important that you like your photographer and mesh well with them! If you feel uncomfortable around someone, you don’t want that person following your every move on an already emotional day. You’ll be uncomfortable, they’ll probably be uncomfortable, and that’s not a fun way to remember your wedding day. So as you chat on the phone, skype, email and/or meet in person with photographers, make sure you enjoy them and want them with you on this special day!


Those are our top 4 things you MUST consider when you're booking your wedding photographer! 

  1. Check out their portfolio to make sure it shows what you love
  2. See if their packages include what you want
  3. Make sure they're professional enough to cover this once-in-a-lifetime event, and
  4. Have a conversation with them to make sure they're the person you want beside you on your wedding day!

If you do these 4 things, you'll find the photographer of your dreams, they'll find an couple to work with, and everyone will live happily ever after!

 

Did you find this article helpful? Please share the love with anyone else you know who's planning their dream wedding!

The first 5 things you need to do after you get engaged

 A groom hugs his fiance while she shows off her engagement ring during their engagement portrait session in Waco, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

Woo-whoo! You just had the most magical moment of your life and have a sparkly ring on your left hand to show for it! But after the initial shock wears off, you may look at all the wedding planning to do and wonder, "What do I do next?"

So in this installment of our Bride Advice series, we're sharing the first 5 things you need to do after you say, "Yes!" Read on to learn from our experience as wedding professionals, and as fiances who planned our own wedding!

 A groom dips his fiance and kisses her during their engagement portrait session near the Suspension Bridge in Waco, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

1. ENJOY IT!

It can be tempting once you get a ring on your finger to immediately start wedding planning. But before you do, take a little time to enjoy the excitement of getting engaged! You just had the love of your life ask you to be his wife and spend the rest of your life with him. Don’t let the planning process overshadow the significance of what just happened!

And don't just enjoy it now, figure out how you can keep enjoying this time! Wedding planning can get stressful. There are a lot of decisions for you to make, and everyone will be looking to you for answers. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful process if you keep the big picture in mind. You’re not just planning a big party, you’re planning the celebration of your marriage. So vow now to enjoy the process, and when stress comes, to take a step back and look at the big picture.

 A groom kisses his fiance's cheek during their engagement portrait session in Dallas, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

2. Plan for your marriage

Speaking of big picture, the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do immediately after getting engaged is not wedding planning, but marriage planning! Seriously, if you get nothing else out of this blog, remember that. Maybe you and your sweetie have already had long conversations about the type of marriage you want...or maybe not. But either way, now is the time to plan for the success of your marriage. Take some marriage courses, meet with a marriage therapist or your officiant for some premarital counseling, or at the very least, have some honest conversations about what you want your marriage to look like. We believe this step is so important we gift our Sweethearts a copy of The 5 Love Languages to help them have these marriage-planning conversations. Because when the ceremony is over and you have all your wedding images in an album on your coffee table, the daily task of living in your marriage begins...and keeps going day-in and day-out for years to come.

 A view from the balcony during a catholic wedding ceremony in Sweet Home, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

3. Determine the type of wedding you both want

There are as many unique wedding styles as there are couples, so start talking about what you like...or what you definitely don’t. A massive party in a hotel ballroom with hundreds of guests? Eloping on the side of a mountain with just you two, your officiant and a photographer? Something in between? Talk through what type of couple you are and what ceremony is perfect for y'all.

Decide what season you want to be married in, or if there is a specific date you'd like as your wedding date. Think ahead of life changes coming up in your calendar (i.e., graduations or new jobs) and figure out how those affect your wedding planning and/or date.  Realistically consider how long you need to plan to achieve the wedding you want. If your busy schedule or the type of wedding you want doesn’t allow for a quick planning process, you may need to push the wedding date back a few months or into next year.

 A summer wedding ceremony at Stone Hall at The Springs in McKinney, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

4. Budget!

The next thing you really, really, really should do is create a budget for your wedding. We know, budgeting is not exciting or glamorous. It’s so much more fun to pick out a wedding dress or go taste-testing for your cake. But trust us, having a budget allows you to make smart decisions when planning your wedding. Every consultation you have with wedding professionals will go so much more smoothly if you have at least a ballpark idea of what you can spend on their services.

Having a budget also helps you know what’s important to you. Because if you’ve always dreamed of having certain flowers at your wedding and then discover it’ll cost hundreds more than you thought, you can decide if there are other areas of your budget you can adjust...or figure out an acceptable alternative for your floral arrangements.

So talk with your fiance, talk with your parents (if they’re contributing to the budget), and figure out what you realistically can and want to spend on your wedding. If you need help figuring out your budget, you can reach out to wedding planners for a budget consultation. This is a meeting where you can talk about your wedding plans and an expert will help you craft a budget for your big day. Two central Texas planners we love who offer this service are Taylor Bible Weddings and Karla McNeill Events. A planner’s knowledge of the realistic cost of weddings in your area is extremely valuable, and they can even help guide you in the best ways to get the most out of your budget and have the wedding of your dreams.

 A groom and bride embraces with a sunset behind them on their wedding day at Bear Creek in Gatesville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

5. Book your big 3 wedding professionals

Once you have a budget in place, you can now start ticking off all the actual planning to-dos on your list. But of all your tasks, there are 3 big wedding professionals' services you need to book ASAP after getting engaged.

  • Your venue - Where you are going to get married is one of the first decisions you need to make, because this is a huge factor in the date of your ceremony. If you have a specific date in mind, you’ll need to find a venue who has that date available. If you have a general time of year in mind for your wedding, picking a venue will help you pick your wedding date based on their availability. Some venues, particularly ones whose main purpose is weddings, book months or even a year out. So you don’t want to wait in securing your venue, especially if you want a certain date, or a certain venue!

  • Your planner/day-of coordinator - We’ve already highlighted the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons you should have a wedding planner on the blog, so we won’t discuss that here. But if you’re even thinking you need a planner or day-of services with a wedding coordinator, you should hire this wedding professional very soon after getting engaged. She or he will be able to help you plan your budget, design your dream wedding, and help connect you with the perfect-for-you wedding professionals who will make your dream a reality.

  • Your photographer(s) - We don't list your photographers next because we’re photographers and we think we're the most important. Trust us, we don't think that. No, the reason you should book your photographers ASAP is because our calendars get full fast, especially if you are getting married on a popular day (like say, Saturday 8-18-18). Most other wedding professionals have a team working for them and have the ability to commit to more than one wedding any given day. But unless your photographer has associates working for them, they can only photograph one wedding a day. And once they’re booked, they’re booked. So you really don’t want to wait to book your photographer and then not be able to get the one you want because they’re already photographing someone else’s wedding on your day.

    (Not sure how to pick out the perfect photographer for your wedding day? Stay tuned for our blog post covering that topic next week!)

If you do these 5 things ASAP after getting engaged, you'll set you and your Sweetheart up for success and have great memories of the time you planned your wedding!

Did any of these 5 steps seem surprising, or super helpful? Let us know in the comments below!