Horseshoe Bay Resort Wedding

Wedding Planning Advice from Former Brides | Waco Wedding Photographer

Bridal Gown and Teal Bridesmaids Dress hanging together in bridal getting ready room at Moon River Ranch

When we walk alongside our J&M Brides as they are planning their weddings, year in and year out, wedding planning becomes second-nature to us. But we know for the majority of J&M Brides, this is their one and only  wedding, and their first time planning a wedding. 

Even if you helped plan your sister's or best friend's wedding last year, the amount of decisions needed to be made for your own big day can still seem overwhelming. (Trust us, we remember our own wedding planning journey!)

So we reached out to some of our close friends and former J&M Brides to ask them what one piece of wedding planning advice they'd offer a bride-to-be in the middle of wedding planning. And we wanted to share those nuggets of wisdom with you. So let's pretend you just gained a handful of big sisters/BFFs who have gone down the aisle before you and want to help you learn from their experiences.


Groom sings to bride, emotional father-daughter dance, wedding photography in Waco Texas and Horseshoe Bay
"Hire a professional wedding photographer and videographer as soon as possible. Don't rely on your family and friends (unless they are professionals who you hired). When you hire professionals, they are focused on previous conversations y'all have had about what you expect from them. They won't be distracted by having convos with people they know at the wedding. They will be focused on the two of you and capturing beautiful moments that you would otherwise completely forget about! Unfortunately we did not hire a videographer and relied on a good friend with a nice video camera. We don't have a wedding video. Let's just say this is a topic we don't discuss even 8 years later! Hire professionals. That's what I learned!
Also, find a couple who had been married a while and ask them to mentor y'all throughout this engagement and first year of marriage. It's always helpful to have a couple in your life who is not family and has experience in marriage. The advice and wisdom they can provide for you will be priceless.  - Kelly


Waco Texas bride has hair styled on wedding day while bridesmaids look on
Stay organized and provide an agenda for the wedding weekend so everyone is on the same page. I'm a crazy planner (it's the teacher in me) so it made it so easy for everyone to know where to be and when to be there. I got complimented on this by a lot of our wedding party who had been in previous weddings where they would have to constantly text to figure out where they needed to be and when. Also create a spreadsheet of hair and makeup and times and give your bridesmaids the totals beforehand so they have cash or check ready to speed up that process. This made it a very smooth process and my hair dresser greatly appreciated it-especially since I had 10 bridesmaids, a junior bridesmaid, a flower girl, and mothers and grandmas that had to be done. - Ashlee
Bride and grooms look lovingly at one another during weddings in Waco TX and Victoria TX
Two things: 
It's ok to say you don't like something, like an idea or suggestion. It's your wedding. Just be gracious. Also, if something doesn't turn out the way you want it or you can't do something you wanted to, don't let it steal your joy. Choose joy!
Ok, three things, haha: Remember to cherish this time you have with your family and friends, during the planning process and in the day of. Remember to take "mental snapshots" of how you felt, how he looked at you, etc. You'll flip through those in your head over the years more times than you will a photo album. - Myka
Waco TX bride and groom hold hands before wedding ceremony at Carleen Bright Arboretum
We both picked three things that were important to us for our wedding. We really tried to make sure those things came out the way we wanted and it was ok if all the other details weren't exactly perfect. It helped us focus on what was important (the marriage) and also love our wedding without a lot of stress or unmet expectations. - Dache
Waco TX bride walks toward groom during a "first look" before their wedding ceremony

We hope these suggestions from real-life brides help you as you plan your dream wedding day. And if you, dear reader, have any other nuggets of wisdom for brides-to-be leave them in the comments below!

Mike & Rachel | Horsehoe Bay Resort Wedding

Remember Rachel, our fun-loving, warm-hearted, bling-and-blue loving bride? The one, who along with her fiance Mike, have infectious energy and warmth-giving smiles?

Well, get ready to hear all about their wedding day.

When I think on this wedding, there are so many things I want to tell you. Like how we had never been to the Horseshoe Bay Resort before and when Jason and I walked out to see the venue the morning of the wedding day, my jaw dropped. I took my phone out and instagrammed the empty ceremony site, captioning it "Our office for today," and so many people liked and commented about how beautiful it was. When we met with Rachel previously she had told us she picked Horseshoe Bay Resort as her wedding venue before she was ever engaged, based simply on how beautiful she thought it was when she attended a work Christmas party there one year. After seeing it with my own eyes, I completely understood how she decided on her wedding venue long before it was needed.

I want to tell you how Mike and Rachel did something fun and unique in that Mike's three beautiful daughters served as his "groomsmaids," and Rachel's two brothers and her best friend served as her "bridesmen." There was something so sweet in seeing these three girls standing up beside their daddy on his wedding day, and when Rachel's best friend gave his toast as the official "man of honor," it was clear that of course he was the perfect choice of who should be standing up beside Rachel as she married Mike.

I want to tell you how there was so much love shared between everyone in this wedding, between Rachel and her soon-to-be-official daughters, between Mike and Rachel's brothers, between close friends and extended family, that it was honestly hard to distinguish the different "sides" at this wedding. There's a popular sign often displayed at weddings, "Today two families become one, so pick a seat not a side." Everyone at Mike and Rachel's wedding already got that memo it seemed, because all day long it felt like we were with one very large, loving family that included anyone Mike and Rachel had ever meet. And every single person there loved Mike and Rachel, and just wanted to be a part of their love story.

And last, but definitely not least, I want to tell you about their wedding reception. I mentioned previously how Mike and Rachel are in the Texas Heatwave band. All there band-mates attended their wedding, but then also played the reception. And it made for such a memorably fun reception unlike anything we've ever experienced. Earlier in the day, Jason and I were tasked with getting Rachel to "show us the wedding ceremony site" and to keep her there so she wouldn't accidentally overhear Mike rehearsing the song he was to sing to her that evening. And when it was time to sing to his new bride, Mike confidently took the mic and sang to Rachel while they danced, backed by his own band who loved this couple so much.

Rachel had adorned her cordless mic with pink jewels, and it was something to behold seeing the bride weaving her way through a dance floor of her closest friends and family while belting out the likes of Lady Gaga into a blinged-out mic. The dance floor was constantly full and the music was amazing, because the bride and groom and their band kept the party going until the last possible moment.

And when it was all said and done, and Mike and Rachel ran through the sparkler-waving throng of their loved ones seeing them off onto their honeymoon, Jason and I felt like we had just been at such an amazing party with such a loving group of people we gushed about how much fun we had all the way to our hotel.

Congratulations once again, Mike and Rachel. Thank you so much for letting us be a fly on the wall of your amazing wedding story.