Permalink to 5 Lies the Wedding Industry Is Selling (But We’re Not Buying)

5 Lies the Wedding Industry Is Selling (But We’re Not Buying)

I love weddings. Weddings are the soul of my work as a photographer. But they’re also the foundation of a multi-billion dollar industry rife with questionable traditions and irrational expenses. Before you dive into wedding planning, here are five myths you need to identify — and dismiss! — the moment they show their ugly faces.

1.) It’s the bride’s day.

This is absurd for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that many weddings don’t even HAVE a bride. What if neither of you is a bride? What if both of you are brides? What if the word “bride” makes you want to punch babies? Whose day is it then?

Gender sensitivity aside, the notion that ONE person is the primary focus of the wedding day is ridiculous. Your wedding day belongs to both you and your partner, and to your loved ones who have gathered to celebrate. Don’t be selfish. And don’t let anyone put selfishness upon you, as if “it’s MY day” is an honorable and precious sentiment. It’s not. The only thing honorable and precious at a wedding is the love.

Here is your new mantra: “It’s OUR day.” Because it is. And together, you can do anything.


2.) Your guests need favors.

If you hang around at a wedding after the newlyweds have left, you’ll see the cleaning staff swarm the room, tossing baggies of monogrammed candies and sachets of loose-leaf tea into the garbage. Before you drop money on landfill fodder, ask yourself one question: Will my guests actually use these favors? Shocking though it may be, once your guests have enjoyed an adult beverage (or three), they’re not going home to plant a tree with that packet of elm seeds you adorned with a ribbon and presented in the center of their dinner plate.

If giving small gifts to people is one of your great joys in life, then make sure the gifts are thoughtful. My favorite wedding favors of 2013 were vintage records taken from the groom’s personal collection. Each guest’s place setting was marked with an album hand-picked by the couple to celebrate that guest’s presence. Not a single record was left behind.


3.) You shouldn’t see your spouse-to-be until the ceremony.

I realized how ingrained this ritual has become when one couple told me they wouldn’t see one another until their ceremony because, “Isn’t that in the Bible somewhere?” (No, it isn’t.)

You already know you won’t spend much time with your guests on your wedding day. But many couples don’t consider how little time they’ll get to spend with each other. Between all the meeting, greeting, drinking, and dancing, if you don’t see your partner until the ceremony, it’s likely that you’ll spend more time with your photographer than with the love of your life. To me, that’s just crazy talk.

What are your alternatives? Connect over brunch on the morning of your wedding; take a walk together before the chaos sets in; or (yes, I’ll say it) get ready together. Just be in the same space while makeup is applied and ties are tied. Your wedding day belongs to both of you. Share as much of it as you possibly can.

4.) You must have a wedding party.

I was flipping through a friend’s wedding album when she began pointing out her bridesmaids. “We aren’t really friends anymore… We lost touch after a few years… I only asked her to be a bridesmaid because I didn’t want to offend her…” Out of eight bridesmaids, only three of them were still involved in my friend’s life in any meaningful way.

Sadly, many couples feel pressured to have a large wedding party, even when their relationships with those individuals aren’t especially strong. And the social stigma of refusing this “terrific honor” often traps the attendants-to-be into spending money they don’t have on weddings they don’t care about.

Before you ask your friends to drop a week’s income on outfits they will not wear again (I don’t care what the salesperson told you), put serious thought into who you truly want by your side at your wedding. Maybe it’s your mom or your grandfather. Maybe it’s that one close friend you’ve known since grade school. Maybe it’s… nobody. No choice is the wrong choice, as long as it’s your choice.

5.) This is the most important day of your life.

Don’t make me cry. If your wedding day is the most important day of your life, you are bound for a future of insignificance and monotony.

Yes, your wedding day marks the start of a new journey, the establishment of a new family. But it is just one important day in your life.

You will have other parties. You will make new friends. Your family will grow with the addition of cats and dogs and maybe even real human children. You will buy a house, travel to amazing places, get your dream job.

Your life will be full of so many wonderful, terrible, important days, that eventually your wedding will fade to a sweet haze of a memory, with only your photographs to recall your dad’s mismatched socks or your cake with the very definite lean to the left.

When you find yourself panicking because your invitations look more purple than eggplant, it’s time to stop, take a deep breath, and remember that this isn’t the most important day. Your wedding day is one very important day in a series of important days that will make up all the days of your very full, very rich, very wonderful life.


You can also find this article published on Huffington Post.


Permalink to Benjamin Is New Here | At Home | Atlanta, GA

Benjamin Is New Here | At Home | Atlanta, GA

I met little Benjamin’s mom at a wedding — she’s one-half of the brilliant wedding planning team Wedding Belles!  It was so lovely to hear from her again and be asked to photograph her sweet baby son.  Check out his cute nautical-themed nursery!

Benjamin with his mom and dad…

The whole family…

The happy grandparents…


Permalink to January Workshops: What Have I Agreed To?!?

January Workshops: What Have I Agreed To?!?

1/10 Update: In case you missed the live broadcast, scroll down to WATCH BrandsmashTV’s Episode 1: Succeeding In Business!  I had such a lovely time with Kara Wahlgren, Sue B. Zimmerman, Jennifer Rozenbaum, Caitlin McKay, and Mike Allebach.  Thank you, m’dears!


ALSO:

If you happen to be in the Philly area at the end of January and want to hear some good stuff from some SUPER smart people about marketing without breaking the bankYOU SHOULD BE AT THIS WORKSHOP!  Okay, maybe I’m not “super smart,” but a decade in the wedding industry has taught me a thing or two about building a business you love that will love you back!

I’ll be coaching a segment on organic growth and authenticity in business.  Come see me — and the other incredible presenters who will be teaching their little hearts out!

If you discovered this class through my blog, then you WIN, because I’m giving my followers $100 OFF their registration.  Click the image below, and use the code AnneAlmasy at checkout.  Woot!


Permalink to Rae & Daniel | Backlot & Downtown | Hampton, GA

Rae & Daniel | Backlot & Downtown | Hampton, GA

This is literally the very first photo on my card, the photo I took right after I told Rae and Daniel, “Just relax, I’m only testing the light.”  Only five minutes before, in the car, Rae had insisted, “I’m nervous.  I look bad in pictures.”  And to that I say: Shut up, Rae. You’re stunning.

I feel okay telling Rae to shut up, because she’s marrying my friend Daniel, who I’ve known since… well, since forever.  Daniel’s family, not in blood but in spirit.  And I’m beyond excited that the girl he told me about a couple years back, the girl he said was “probably too good” for him, the girl who was “beautiful and smart and nerdy and funny” — that girl said yes to being Daniel’s wife.

So now I’m making engagement pictures for the kid who played guitar at my wedding almost ten (!!!) year ago.  Good lord…  I love you two!


Permalink to Mary & Mark | Bradford House | Flowery Branch, GA

Mary & Mark | Bradford House | Flowery Branch, GA

I knew Mary online only, through mutual friends, when she booked me for her wedding.  This kind of trust is incredibly humbling — and pretty terrifying!  When I finally had the chance to personally meet Mary & Mark in September, I knew we would get along fabulously.  Mark reminded me of my own husband: low key and laid back and kind.  And Mary was all sparkle and light and joy, bursting with energy and overflowing love for Mark.  Celebrating with the two of them just four days before Christmas was the perfect way to end my 2013!

Ceremony & Reception: Bradford House & Gardens
Flowers: The Elegant Urn
Music: Amazing Sounds

I loved these two little ring bearers.  After a few cutesy, smiling shots, I asked them for their best tough guy poses.  This is what I got:

I seriously thought Mary might burst with happiness!

You wouldn’t know it, but it kept raining… on and off… on and off… like some feisty god’s child was playing with a sprinkler.  These ladies were such troopers, planting their heels in the soft ground, brushing rainwater off their gowns, and braving the cold!  Mary, in particular, seemed as comfortable in the elements as if we were on set somewhere!

Mary and her dad…

LOVE!!!

Mary & Mark’s families:

Joining their guests in the big house…

Back across the bridge from the big house to hit the dance floor!

2013 was the year of messy, mischievous cake-cuttings — and Mary & Mark’s was no exception! I would probably have punched Dan if he’d shoved cake in my face at our wedding, but GAH I love photographing stuff like this!

FAVORITE.

I always wonder what kids are thinking when they watch adults partaking in crazy wedding rituals…

It’s not a party ’til the groom has tried on the veil…

Two of the aforementioned mutual friends…

…and two more, being tall and in love on the dance floor.

Sparklers to end the night:

This wedding was brought to you by:


(Anne)


Permalink to Small Success, Big Fulfillment

Small Success, Big Fulfillment

Coach Taylor said it best: “Success is not a goal. It’s a by-product.”

He was, of course, paraphrasing Eleanor Roosevelt’s wise words on happiness, but for a small business owner, success and happiness may be one and the same. Personally, I’d call it “fulfillment.”

For me, success is a feeling. I may look at someone else’s nice home, big income, or killer wardrobe and think, “Wow, they’re successful.” But I know that my life could mirror theirs, fancy-for-fancy, and I’d still be scrambling to catch up because I wouldn’t feel fulfilled.

2013 brought me several beautiful moments of success — perhaps not successes by anyone else’s standards, but successes nonetheless, because I knew I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. In honor of the new year, these are my top five most fulfilling moments of 2013, the experiences that made me feel truly, irrevocably successful in life, love, and work.

5. I didn’t get a tattoo. Silly, I know.  I entered my 30′s CERTAIN I was finally ready to get my tattoo. But as the past couple of years inched by, I’ve struggled with finding the right artist, choosing exactly where my tattoo would go, and finalizing precisely what it would say or be. One day, in my car, I heard a beautiful NPR piece discussing our tendency to underestimate how much we change as we grow older. According to the study, any given age we tend to believe we’ve finally become who we will be (more or less) for the rest of our lives. But the truth is, we change constantly throughout our lives. Ask a person how different they are from the person they were ten years ago, and regardless of their current age, they will invariable say, “I’m a completely different person now!” Finally accepting that I’m still changing allowed me to just drop the whole tattoo thing — for now. In the meantime, I’ll be pinning them on Pinterest.

4. I fell in love with photographing families. When I finished photo school, the first thing I did was burn the family portrait I’d been required to include in my portfolio — that’s how utterly atrocious it was. (Honestly, I wish I still had it just so I could show you. You would probably vomit.) But this year, as the Christmas cards started rolling in with photos of the beautiful families I’ve photographed throughout the year, I realized: I LOVE to photograph families, and I’m finally, at last, pretty okay at it.  I’m so thankful to the hundreds of families who have allowed me to learn from them over the years.  I never knew I could love wrangling toddlers and exhausted parents — but I do!

3. I outsourced 80% of my editing. This was my 2013 New Year’s resolution, and I’m proud to say I stuck to it. I brought my co-tographer Erin Schopf in to edit for me, and her hard work every week has kept me on track, improved my finished product, and given me more time to do what I love: make pictures!

2. I stayed married. In 2014 I will celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary with my husband. If you’re married, you know that every year you are married is a year that you fought for. Some years are blissfully smooth and easy, and some years are so damn hard you really do wonder how you’ll ever make it. Thankfully, 2013 was one of the smooth years for Dan and me, but we’ve had other years that were incredibly challenging. I am immensely thankful for his unwavering commitment to us as a team, and his constant, active love for me. I’m sure we could survive without one another, but I honestly wouldn’t want to.

1. I followed my gut. I’ve never been scared of confrontation, per se, but I don’t seek it out either. So I’m not sure what I thought would happen when I decided it was a good idea to post, live on the internet, a letter I’d written about something I believed so strongly, it simply couldn’t go unsaid. The chaos that followed felt unravelling at times, but I know so much more now than I did before about myself, my industry, and the world around me. Most importantly, I am convinced ever more deeply in my soul that we are all in this together.  In the aftermath, I spoke with two people whose business prowess, creative agility, and social understanding I have tremendous respect for.  I asked if they had just one piece of advice they would mind sharing with my frazzled, overwhelmed, caught-offguard self.  After a thoughtful moment, they responded in sync, “Follow your gut.”  As life takes me down new paths and I find myself in unfamiliar places again and again, that simple wisdom remains the most valuable.

As I hit restart and begin fresh with a brand new year ahead of me, I reject success as a goal, and instead strive for greater compassion, renewed creativity, and strengthened friendships. This may not result in more money or more things, but I do not doubt the resulting fulfillment. And that?  Right there?  That’s success.  2014 is going to be a year rich with success; it is already a year big on fulfillment.

Happy New Year!

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