Tag Archives: real wedding

destination wedding details
As a Minnesota girl, I was super excited when my friend Janelle asked me to shoot her wedding in Merritt Island, Florida. The weather was getting pretty chilly in my hometown at that time, so I was eager to visit the beaches of sunny Florida!

Thomas and Janelle's Florida Wedding

Thomas and Janelle’s big day was held at a gorgeous rental house on the Banana River, and the ceremony was at the edge of beautiful woods covered in Spanish moss. The whole thing was so picturesque, which worked really well for me as the photographer!

destination wedding details

Janelle took care of many of the details herself, which was a great personal touch to the whole event. She pre-made bridal party bouquets of dried flowers, and then added fresh flowers to the same bouquets on the day of the wedding. Centerpieces were simple and adorable, made of bottles, hole-punched tin cans, and more dried and fresh flowers. The dessert was even homemade – two kinds of bread pudding, the groom’s specialty!

view from Banana River

The reception was held on the edge of the river, right by the huge dock going out into the water. The dock was also beautifully lit with hole-punched cans and candles, which made it one of many cozy retreats for guests who needed a break from dancing.

Congratulations, Tomas and Janelle! It was truly a day to remember.

Blake & Maurina's Military Wedding
In honor of Veteran’s Day, we’re featuring a real wedding — military style! Meet Blake and Maurina Rondeau. Their friendship began in eighth grade band class. After being friends for quite some time, Blake asked Maurina to be his girlfriend in the stairwell of their high school. The two would remain good friends through high school and post secondary endeavors.

In 2010, Blake came home to Minnesota from being stationed as a Marine in Camp Pendleton, California. While home on pre-deployment leave, he asked Maurina to coffee at the Caribou Coffee shop they had often visited throughout high school. They were only supposed to talk a couple of hours, but the hours turned into an all-day event. Later that night they went to Wild Bill’s and danced the night away until finally they had to separate. Blake leaned in and kissed Maurina as the snow fell and they said their goodbyes.

Blake was deployed overseas for ten months while Maurina finished college. They Skyped and sent letters to one another as often as they could. She kept him motivated with care packages from home and he would try to call whenever possible. She was waiting at the airport with his family when he made it home from deployment. They had managed time and distance and made the pledge to never separate themselves again.

Blake & Maurina's Military Wedding

They were married on an unusually cool day in July of 2013. They ran in and out between rain showers to capture as many pictures as possible. The ceremony was held in Eagan, Minnesota and the reception was held at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center. They had just over 250 guests attend and it made for a loud and joyful reception.

Thank you to Meg Ann Photography for sharing photos of Blake and Maurina’s beautiful wedding.

Travis and Brooke's wedding
Travis and Brooke's wedding

I was first introduced to you about a month ago, when I shared my engagement pictures of Travis and me. Well, I just got my wedding pictures back and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! I couldn’t wait to share them with you.

Travis and I got married on May 18, 2013 (two days from my birthday!) at my hometown church in a small rural area. We both knew my pastor really well since I am very involved in my church. Although I’m from a small town, there was nothing “small” about my wedding. We had almost 300 guests, but that doesn’t mean we broke the bank! We found ways to save wherever we could, and we still stayed within our wedding budget.

The Big Day
We couldn’t have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect, and there were only a few minor slip-ups, which nobody noticed except for me. Our photographer, Jenn, did a great job of capturing our day. She knew from the get-go that I LOVE pictures, and I’m very detail-oriented. She wants to make your vision her vision when she’s photographing you — one of the many reasons we went with her. There were some specific shots I wanted (especially the scene from the movie Bridesmaids — my favorite movie!) and she was more than happy to do them.

Bridesmaids movie picture

Brooke's wedding dressdress hanging in churchYes, I did have my dogs in my wedding. I treat my family’s German shepherds, Harley and Chopper (can you guess that my dad is into motorcycles?), like my children. My pastor was so great about letting me have them there to take pictures. They clean up nice for farm dogs, don’t they? Harley and Chopper

German Shepherds and Brooke

Our reception was everything we could’ve hoped for. We had guests sign a photo board
(from Ann’s) along with a photo guest book that I made online. For Travis and I, we had the “I Do” toasting flutes (also from Ann’s) at the head table. They were really cute and added a nice touch to our reception. Guest Book Alternative

Wedding Toasting Flutes

Make sure to stop back on our blog tomorrow to hear about my planning process, as well as more pictures from the big day!

photo of jackie and jason in the ocean surf at sunset
wedding photo of jackie and jason

As a photographer, it’s probably obvious I would be super excited to get my own wedding photos back. Well, it has finally happened, and I would love to share my photos and Jamaican wedding experience with all the Ann’s brides out there! I am lucky to have some very talented photographers as friends, so I made a deal with my friend Steve from Steve Harvey Photography to pay for his flight and hotel if he would photograph my wedding. A win-win for us both!


Let’s start at the beginning… my now husband, Jason, first caught my eye at my friends’ wedding, of all places, as a groomsman. It took about half a year for us to start dating, and 3½ years after that Jason proposed to me at a lighthouse just north of San Francisco. We are both passionate about traveling, so it was no surprise we would be having a destination wedding. Jason also had developed a slight obsession with Jamaica after traveling there with his Jamaican cousin a couple times, and I had always wanted to go there, so it was a great fit for us.


A good friend of mine had gotten married in Jamaica a couple years prior, and had great things to say about her venue, Kuyaba Negril. So we decided to vacation there a year ahead of our wedding date to make sure it was right for us. Sure enough, it was perfect!


A year later, our big day finally arrived. We were overjoyed to have about 35 friends and family members from the States join us, as well as some of our friends who live in Jamaica. Our wedding party was small: two of my best friends from high school, Jason’s best friend since childhood and his brother.

photo of the wedding party on the beach

In true Jamaican fashion, the whole day was very laid back. We got ready in a friend’s hotel suite, and had our first meeting on the scenic Kuyaba grounds just outside of the room.

wedding photos at the resort in jamaica

Then we all crammed into a van and took a jaunt to the local golf club for more photos, and arrived back at Kuyaba just in time for the ceremony to start 10 minutes late…but nobody cared since we were in Jamaica!

photos of the bridal party at a golf course in jamaica

We had one of our good friends officiate our wedding, and a local minister was there to witness for legal purposes. The ceremony was beautiful, but the public beach posed its own unique distractions! Tourists in bikinis were watching the entire ceremony, and we had a pretty major disruption by one of the locals. All in all, none of that mattered much to us, but it is definitely something to keep in mind for anyone planning a beach wedding.

photos of the wedding ceremony on the beach

We dipped our feet in the water and took some sunset beach photos after the ceremony, and enjoyed an amazing dinner and drinks after sunset.

photo of jackie and jason in the ocean surf at sunset

dinner with kabobs, rice, veggies and other jamaican style food

When we got back to our room, we were surprised with a message spelled out on the bed in flowers (yes, those red fuzzy things are plants!) and a bouquet of fresh tropical flowers. A perfect end to a perfect day!

resort staff decorates the room with flowers

Make sure to stop back to our blog in a couple days to see more about our beautiful Jamaican wedding! I’ll tell you all about my experience planning a destination wedding and how I saved money, and I’ll share more photos and details from the big day.

Terry & Kristi's Real Wedding
Terry & Kristi's Real Wedding - Part 3

Photos Courtesy of Kendra Elizabeth Photography and Terry & Kristi's Family

The Ceremony Venue

My husband and I got married on June 16th, 2012, at the church where we are members. We got to know the pastor very well through marriage counseling. He is awesome! He took the time to tailor our ceremony to our personalities and the challenges we may have in our relationship. It was perfect. My only regret is not having it videotaped.

Our church has a gorgeous, ornamental alter and beautiful stained glass windows, so we didn’t feel the need to decorate a lot. We rented candelabras, white bows and ivy from the church to decorate the ends of the pews, which the church’s wedding coordinator’s took care of.

The Reception Venue

We had our reception at Farmamerica, a venue dedicated to preserving a bit of Minnesota’s farm history. The land is home to a 1850s farm, a 1930s farm, a country church and a schoolhouse. These made great backdrops for our outdoor photos. Our reception was in the Minnesota Agricultural Interpretive Center (a.k.a. visitor’s center). The tables and dance floor were set up in the ballroom. The guest book table, cake table, food and bar were set up just outside the ballroom.

How We Saved

1. When choosing wedding vendors, we did two things to help keep prices low. We used local vendors as much as possible, and we used our connections for the rest. All of our wedding vendors were wonderful.

2. I purchased my dress from a store that includes alterations in the price of the dress. I chose a dress that fit my personality and figure, at a cost that was much lower than most dresses ($671).

3. We are members at the church where we had our ceremony, and that made it very affordable. We paid $140 for the ceremony, wedding coordinators, the pastor and the decorations for the church. We did hire a musician, but she was also a member of the church and gave us a very good price.

4. We chose the local bakery for our cake, and found out she does catering, too. We had a buffet to avoid additional costs of table service. We chose plastic plates, plastic silverware and paper napkins to keep prices low. We bought them online to save even more money. We chose a small, decorated cake for display and sheet cakes for our guests.

5. The caterer’s mother was the local florist, so the caterer recommended decorating the cake with fresh flowers to match our bouquets (super cheap). Our bouquets included inexpensive flowers, such as gerbera daisies, alstroemeria, mini carnations and a variety of greens.

6. Our reception venue did not have a liquor license, so we brought in liquor and beer ourselves. This allowed us to offer unlimited free drinks to our guests. We used plastic cups for the drinks and can coolers, which doubled as favors, to keep the beer cold. The venue had a portable bar we could rent, which had unlimited soda.

7. My stepdaughter works part-time for a DJ. Naturally, she asked him to DJ the dance at our wedding. He also brought the pink up-lighting we used to enhance the decorations.

8. My husband and I set a budget before we started planning and agreed to stick to it, but we both chose one thing that was most important to us to splurge on. That happened to be photography. We felt it was important to have quality pictures to remember our wedding day. We interviewed ten different photographers, but the ones we liked were out of our price range. My sister’s friend, who is a photographer herself, helped us out. She found us five different photographers who were available on our wedding day in our price range. She recommended one in particular, which is the person we chose. Her price was excellent for two photographers, unlimited time and rights to reproduce the images.

So there you have it.  All the things we did to have a beautiful wedding on a $15,000 budget. Feel free to comment!  We’re more than happy to answer your questions.

Photos Courtesy of Kendra Elizabeth Photography and Terry & Kristi’s Family.

Terry & Kristi's Wedding - Part 2

Terry & Kristi's Wedding - Part 2

Our wedding turned out absolutely wonderful. There were things we could have done better, but I wouldn’t change them for the world. We had 200 guests at our wedding, served a full meal, had unlimited drinks and beer, and a dance with a DJ — all for about $15,000. What was even better is that our vendors, friends and family were so great that we didn’t have to worry about a thing on the day of our wedding. We were able to enjoy every minute of it.

Planning the Wedding

I don’t consider myself a fashionable person, and I hate decorating. I’m not good at it. So when it came time to plan the wedding, I kept things simple. I started with the color fuchsia and from there we chose our invitation. We wanted an invitation that was simple, yet formal enough for a wedding. We chose Ann’s Filigree Perch invitation with black ink. Filigree Perch is a thermography invitation, which means the ink is raised. That made the invitation elegant yet simple. After choosing our invitation, we decided our colors would be fuchsia, black and white.  I wanted my bouquet to be full of bright colors, including fuchsia to match the bridesmaids’ dresses and some greens to balance it out. We planned our reception decorations using the flowers from the bouquet and the filigree design from our invitations.

Planning the Reception Decorations

You might remember me mentioning above how much I hate decorating. Well, planning our reception décor was probably the most difficult thing for me. We were on a budget, but I didn’t want it to be so plain that it was boring.

We started out thinking we were going to have to buy or rent all of the pieces for the decorations, and then take the time to assemble them. We did a bit of shopping around and found the rental prices for vases, table cloths and lighting to be very expensive. Plus, we would be the ones decorating the reception venue before the wedding. My mother-in-law suggested we see how much it would cost for a decorator to do it.

The Decorator

We met with the decorator at her showroom and she had all kinds of centerpieces and other displays. I would never have been able to come up with these ideas on my own. She told us to pick items as if we were going to be able to afford everything we wanted. When she told us to dream big, we were a bit scared of the price tag. About a week later she sent us the estimate. It was too much, but not so much that we couldn’t handle it if we did some trimming. We met with her again to make some changes.  She pointed out the more expensive items and gave us some alternatives that cost less. We ended up choosing four different centerpieces to have on the tables. Our initial estimate was $1,400. After adjusting our centerpieces and removing a few items that were not needed, our new estimate was $1,200. The estimates were based on 300 guests, but we ended up having only 200. In the end, we paid $1,050 for the decorations and decorating services. They set it all up, and they took it all down. It was stress free and gorgeous!

Suggestions for Decorating

A good rule of thumb when shopping for centerpieces is the higher the centerpiece the higher the price.  Choose multiple styles of centerpieces that range in price. Use the expensive centerpieces less and the inexpensive ones more. This works out really well because taller, more expensive centerpieces can block the guest’s view of the people sitting across from them.

Another way to save a ton of money on wedding decorations is to use silk flowers instead of real flowers. If we had used real flowers in our centerpieces, we would have had an additional $500+ in costs. As you can see by the pictures, our centerpieces were beautiful and the overall look of the room was gorgeous.

Come back tomorrow for more pictures of the wedding and to find out how I saved money when choosing our venues and vendors. We’d love to hear what you think or answer questions if you have any. Just leave a comment on this post and we will respond.

Photos Courtesy of Kendra Elizabeth Photography.

Becky and Andrew's Country Wedding
Becky and Andrew were married in Montgomery, Minnesota, at Shepherd’s Hill Farm. We asked Becky to share a few photos from the wedding day and her inspiration behind creating such a gorgeous look.

“Andrew and I met in college, became friends and started dating about a year later. We laugh all the time, which is why we became friends in the first place 🙂 Andrew and I dated for 6 years so I had lots of time to think about what I wanted for a wedding, which was great because we only had about two and a half months to plan everything (we got engaged July 22). 

Shepherd’s Hill Farm is a beautiful property with a hundred-year-old restored barn that fit my vision for the reception and a big space outside for the ceremony. My grandmother offered Andrew my great grandmother’s wedding band set from the 40s, which ended up being kind of the inspiration for the whole wedding from the invites to the food and the décor details. Everything sort of fell into place perfectly. Lots of friends and family were involved in different ways (I had lots of help!).

I shot weddings all summer with Erin Benner (Angelic Jewel Photography) and was so happy to collaborate with her on my wedding shoot that fall! We had so much fun with the engagement shoot, too.”

Becky and Andrew's Country Wedding 

To see more of the adorable wedding details, check back tomorrow!

The Happy Couple - Danny and Rachel
Today is the last day of Real Wedding week, and that means we get to see what the couple chose for their budget-friendly weeding invitation! The winner is…

Option 2! Forever and Always

 Rachel and Danny's Invitation

Rachel and Danny really loved the elegance and romance of the Forever and Always wedding invitation, but they also liked the accents from the other invitations. They chose to add a green rhinestone to the invite’s design and they punched holes at the top of the invitation to thread with ecru satin ribbon. They added a coordinating envelope liner to complete this gorgeous ensemble. 

 Rachel and Danny saved money on postage for the R.S.V.P. by utilizing an online R.S.V.P. service. They had the website and a few instructions printed on the respond card instead of the traditional response wording. This option is becoming more and more common among today’s couples, and can be done with any invitation. Just call Ann’s customer service team to put in a custom order for no extra charge.

Rachel and Danny also saved money on their wedding by inviting a certain amount of guests to the ceremony/dinner, but had other invitations printed for guests invited to the dance portion only. This allowed them to save money on food at the dinner reception yet still have extended friends and family join in the celebration later on. Very smart!

And finally, photos from the big day…

Danny and Rachel in the Church

Rachel and Danny at the church.

 Rachel with her Bridesmaids

Rachel with her Bridesmaids

Danny with his Groomsmen

Danny with his Groomsmen

The Happy Couple - Danny and Rachel

The Happy Couple – Danny and Rachel

*Photos Courtesy of  David Svendsen, New Sky Photography

Thank you so much to Rachel and Danny! We love the amazing budget-savvy ideas you came up with for your wedding invitations. Congratulations on a beautiful wedding and we wish you many years of happiness.

Option #2 - Forever & Always Separate and Send
When Rachel and Danny came to us for advice on budget-friendly invitations, we decided to throw together a few different ideas. After careful consideration of their needs, we narrowed the choices down to three invitations.

Which one will they choose?

Here are some things we considered when coming up with options:

• Wedding Look – Rachel and Danny’s wedding colors were champagne, sage and brown. They wanted a look that was elegant with touches of flair.

• Affordable Accents – We looked at things like ribbon and rhinestones, which could be added to most invitations for a little extra pizzazz without adding cost.

• Guest Count -Rachel and Danny knew a smaller wedding would help them save money, and fewer invitations means less time assembling. This frees up time for fun, DIY accents!

• Money-Saving Details – To keep the cost as low as possible, we looked at easy money-savers like different formatting options, postcard responses and all-in-one invitations.

Option 1: Dreamy – Seal and Send Invitation

Option #1 - Dreamy Seal and Send Invitation

The Invite: Seal and Send invitations feature an all-in-one design, which means the wedding wording and reception wording are printed on the invitation and a detachable response postcard is included at the bottom. Response postcards require less postage. Another nice thing about seal and sends is they are self-mailing. Just fold, seal and send!

The Extras: The swirl design featured on the Dreamy invitation is elegant all on its own, but we added a sparkling rhinestone between the couple’s names for an easy touch of glamour.

The Cost: $99.99 per 100. All necessary pieces included! $3.99 per sheet of 25 rhinestones.

Option 2: Forever and Always – Separate and Send Invitation

Option #2 - Forever & Always Separate and Send

The Invite: Separate and Send invitations come as complete, coordinated stationery sets. Each invitation comes with two enclosure cards (respond card and reception card) on one convenient sheet. The enclosure cards are perforated for easy separation. Invitation envelopes and respond card envelopes are also included.

The Extras: The “forever and always” design creates such a beautiful element on this invitation, we wanted to accent this meaningful phrase with a clear rhinestone. We also chose lined envelopes to coordinate beautifully with the ensemble.

The Cost: $129.99 per 100. All necessary pieces included! $3.99 per sheet of 25 rhinestones. An additional $20 for lined envelopes.

Option 3:  Elegant Filigree – Invitation

Option #3 Elegant Filigree Invitation

A traditional-style invitation featuring a gate-fold front and luxurious embossing. The cost of this invitation will be higher since enclosures are sold separately. Rachel and Danny would need both the reception and respond cards, but this is still an affordable option especially for a traditional invitation ensemble with rich embossing.

The Extras: The gate-fold closure of this invitation makes it a unique choice. We decided to tie it closed with a shiny satin ribbon. We also added a lined envelope to coordinate.

The Cost: Invitations are $69.99 per 100. Reception cards are $46.99 per 100 and Respond Cards are $51.99 per 100. Satin Ribbon is $28.99 per 100-yard roll, which can also be used on decorations, bouquets and gifts. An additional $20 for lined envelopes.

Let us know which invitation is your favorite and what you like about it. We’ll reveal Danny and Rachel’s choice on Friday along with some fabulous photos of the big day!