Dear Brides: Planning Your Honeymoon!

First, I just want to take a second to pat myself on the back for the fact that this is my SECOND blog post in a week.  Let's not get our hopes up that this magic will continue, though.  I know myself too well!

Anyways!

In my last blog post, I shared some insights in regards to choosing the perfect wedding venue [if you missed it, get back there and read it!] from the perspective of one of my amazing brides, Crystal!  Today, I'm taking you in a different direction--honeymoons!  Ah, yes--Once all of the wedding chaos is said and done, you're left with all of the goodness that is your first ever trip as newlyweds.  

Depending on the couple, honeymoons can look very different; An all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, a quaint cabin in the mountains, or maybe a road trip across the country.  No matter which honeymoon is most appealing, a lot of thought needs to go into the planning process, from destination to affordability! 

Today, I'm going to share the experience Kalene, one of my June brides this year!  Kalene and her husband, James, went to none other than Portugal for their honeymoon!  Here's her experience with planning that incredible trip!

"We had never been to Portugal before! We chose it as our honeymoon destination because we were looking for something a little different/out-of-the-ordinary for our first trip as a married couple. While we love the beach life, we were excited to explore history, culture, and food in an area of the World where neither of us had been before. 

"we were looking for something a little different/out- of-the-ordinary for our first trip as a married couple."

We used the "Hopper" app to find the best price for our flight and feel like we got a steal! Once we had the dates of the flights/arrivals, we then set about researching the most affordable lodging options - we were booking on a budget and found that AirBnB offered really fantastic locations with amenities we were hoping for.

We knew we wanted to spend time in Lisbon, and chose an apartment situated in the heart of the main historical and shopping attractions in the capitol city. We were able to find a quaint place that even had a kitchen (excellent for drinks, dinners, and reheating leftovers) and one that also featured a washing machine so we didn't have to pack as much/travel lighter.

Our next destination in the country was an area much less traveled by tourists; however, with some reading on Trip Advisor chats/message boards we found the bus route that could affordably get us from one city to the next and purchased those tickets in-advance online. AirBnB unfortunately did not offer fantastic options to stay at this tiny town, so we booked on Hotels.com a small bed and breakast that suited our needs. We loved saving money on the first meal of the day by having it included in our lodging price.

"We loved it and would do it all over again."

We did not book any excursions ahead of time and used WiFi while abroad to research the best places to see and eat! It was an adventure to say the least, but we loved it and would do it all over again."

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Thank you so much, Kalene, for sharing your insights with us!  Brides: What resources have you used when planning your honeymoon?!

Dear Brides: How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Venue

CONGRATULATIONS: YOU'RE ENGAGED!

It happened.  You're engaged and thus begins the insanity + excitement that is planning your wedding! You scroll through Pinterest for hours on end, buy every wedding magazine in existence, pick out a wedding planner that you may not even write in, + start to plan out how you can make your dream wedding a reality.

Wedding planning is no easy task, which is why I've talked with some of my amazing brides + asked them to share the triumphs + struggles of their wedding planning process.  My goal is for you to read their stories + let it help guide you through your own wedding planning! 

My first bride I'd like to introduce you to is Crystal.  She + her fiancee, Tyler, are getting married this November [YAY!] in Mt. Joy, PA.  Read below to see the process that Crystal + Tyler experienced to find the perfect venue for their big day: The Cameron Estate Inn.

"Initially Tyler and I had discussed a destination wedding that featured a location that suited our personalities, such as holding it at a lodge in one of our nation's national parks (we love the outdoors!). Though that would have been beautiful and likely kept guest count (and thus, cost) down, it would have likely inadvertently led to the omission of some pretty important individuals as well. At my age I feel so greatly blessed to be able to say that I still have all 4 of my grandparents, with each pair having been happily married for 60+ years and highly involved in my life growing up. I didn't like the idea of a plane ride getting between their presence at Tyler and I's wedding, so local it was!

"Though [a destination wedding] would have been beautiful and likely kept guest count (and thus, cost) down, it would have likely inadvertently led to the omission of some pretty important individuals as well."

To narrow the field, we first ruled out barn venues - I know that they're very much "in" right now and Tyler and I have both attended beautiful weddings at rustic, barn venues; however, I grew up on a dairy farm and have spent many early mornings and long days milking cows, feeding calves, and unloading hay wagons in barns, so I opted for something different for my personal wedding day. Next, nothing too urban - we're outdoors people, remember? Thirdly, it had to have an amazing back-up rain location. Tyler and I had agreed that if we were going to make the financial investment in a venue, we didn't want to worry about the weather, we wanted to know that it would be just as beautiful and organized an event indoors as it would have been outdoors.

"If we were going to make the financial investment in a venue, we didn't want to worry about the weather, we wanted to know that it would be just as beautiful and organized an event indoors as it would have been outdoors."

Ironically enough, the venue that we have selected showed us their rain back-up location and my jaw dropped: it's a beautiful building with black marble flooring, breathtaking chandeliers, and large glass windows that stretch from nearly ceiling to floor and cover half the building. Tyler made the joke to the tour guide that, "She hasn't done this anywhere else," and we ended up switching from pursuing one of their outdoor ceremony locations to making that 'rain back-up' our first choice.

"When it's all said and done, it's just one day and I like to keep that in perspective."

Lastly, cost was of course important. I just graduated grad school in 2017 and Tyler is another 2 years out from his graduate graduation, so our venue had to be budget-friendly. Whether they were all-inclusive and gave one total sticker price, or you had to calculate each individual cost (cutlery, linens, etc), I was crunching numbers. When it's all said and done, it's just one day, and I like to keep that in perspective.

With all this being said, Tyler and I are both in awe of our venue, and we can't wait for everyone to see it! On a smaller scale, bonus perks to our venue further include: their 1 wedding/day policy (we won't have to share the grounds with another party), having access to the buildings to decorate the day before (since we're a Friday wedding), availability to be on the grounds as early as 8 am the day of the wedding, and some overnight rooms are available for our out-of-town guests should they so choose. (You can rent out the whole inn and have a "porch after-party" after the reception, but we opted not to pursue that option due to lack of need for that many rooms.)

Least important details while venue-hunting were what I consider the "extras", such as including parking attendants, featuring a horse-drawn carriage or an antique car on-site, and either featuring or being within walking distance of a hotel."

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Can you see why I'm so thankful to have this girl as one of my brides?!  Your venue is an incredibly important part of your wedding day, so take the time to plan it out and make sure it's the perfect place for YOU!

WHY I LOVE THE GOAL DIGGER PODCAST (and you should too!)

So I'm not usually a podcast person...

Unless, of course, I'm listening to my boyfriend's podcast (check it out if you've got a sick sense of humor--It's called Matt and Shane's Secret Podcast & it's pretty hilarious).  BUT what I'm getting at is I never thought of podcasts as a resource for professional + personal development for my photography business.  

But then, I was introduced to a podcast that totally changed my mindset in regards to my business.

My good friend (+ photography mentor) Ashley Kemmer told me that I NEEDED to listen to the Goal Digger Podcast hosted by photographer and business genius Jenna Kutcher.  A few weeks ago I decided to give it a listen, and now I am literally HOOKED.  

Whether you're a photographer or not, everyone needs to give this podcast a listen.

  Here's 3 reasons why:

1.  It's MOTIVATING : 

I have read my fair share of personal/professional development books and followed enough Instagram "influencers" to learn that a LOT of what they're sharing is more about bragging about all of the places they've traveled, people they've met, etc. instead of sharing HOW they actually got there.  As a photographer who is trying to GROW, I want to hear HOW to make it happen.  Don't get me wrong, I love to imagine myself shooting a wedding on an island or mountain top, but I've gotta grow before I get there!  Jenna shares SO much advice about how to grow a business and what goes into making it happen.  

2. It's REAL:

Dude.  Jenna is a millionaire photographer and business woman, and yet she is probably one of the most relatable people I've EVER heard speak about owning a successful business and just life in general.  She shares thoughts on the triumphs and struggles of being an entrepreneur, marriage, body image, productivity, mindfulness, balance, fitness, and so much more.  This podcast isn't just about PROFESSIONAL development.  It's about PERSONAL development.  Additionally, she has a shit ton of guests on the show who are able to share their own stories in regards to life experiences and business.  I can't think of anything better than that.

3. It's EMPOWERING:

It's no secret that Jenna Kutcher is a BOSS when it comes to running her business and empowering women to be the best versions of themselves.  But, she's even better at making her listeners believe that it IS possible to be incredibly successful and spend your life doing what you love most, as long as you're willing to put in the effort.  As a photographer, it can be incredibly overwhelming to see so many other people going after the same pursuits.  Jenna's podcast reminds listeners that ANYTHING is possible, and that it's going to take some time for it all to work out.  Whether you're doing photography, interior design, or have an Etsy shop, it IS possible for you to succeed!

ADDED BONUS: It's FREE!

I don't think this needs an explanation.  FREE advice on living your best life and being an entrepreneur?  Come on, now.  

So then--go give it a listen!

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Just like that, ONE YEAR DOWN!

I became a photographer one year ago.

"A year?  Has it already been that long?"

Oh yes, my friend, it has.  A year ago, I bought a camera and literally threw myself into this business that I knew absolutely nothing about.  Despite my lack of knowledge, I had created a website, made a photography Instagram, and had headshots taken, all within a WEEK.  I kept telling myself, "Go big or go home," when in reality, it was my overly active brain forcing me to give all my time and energy into a new hobby that I wanted to try.  In all honesty, I wasn't sure that I'd fully commit if I didn't go all in.  Either that, or people wouldn't take me seriously so I'd lose interest.

Little did I know, this hobby would turn into a passion.

Quickly, I realized that photography was something I needed in my life, and that if I wanted to be good at it, I needed to put in a lot of time to make it happen.  I wanted to know anything and everything I could about photography.  I spent hours participating in webinars and photography courses.  I followed anyone and everyone I could on social media who had anything to do with photography, so that I could learn their style and develop my own from it.  I asked questions: SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. I made photographer friends who inspired me to push myself and my creativity [I'm looking at you, Ashley Kemmer!].  

Now, here I am, filled with gratitude + joy.

One year later, and I am so thankful for every experience I have had in this incredible industry. While at times it has been more frustrating than encouraging, I have learned to have patience and have faith in myself.  Through this adventure, I have met so many new people and traveled to new places.  I cannot wait to see where this next year takes me! 

--Caitlin

PS.  Enjoy this cute picture of my pup, because I also got him a year ago and I love him to pieces.

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This has nothing to do with photography, but you should read it anyways.

Lent.

Every year for basically every year of my life, I chose to give up some kind of food for lent.  French fries, candy, pretty much anything that wasn't good for me.  Inevitably, I'd cave, feel guilty for a day, then remind myself that YOLO and I should eat whatever I want, whenever I want.

This year is different.

Yep, I've still given up soda + french fries, and inevitably, I've caved on both [tots are apparently still fries & I got a free soda at Chipotle--I don't turn down free food items].  BUT it's different this year because I also chose to give up social media.

Yes. I know. I'm a wild woman.

No Facebook.  No Instagram.  NADA.  Both apps deleted from my phone.  But how can I possibly exist without being connected to everyone and everything every second of every day?!  Well my friends, let me tell you...I am averaging 1.5 hours more sleep each night [at LEAST.  Last night I was asleep at 7:30--WTF], feel more calm + happy, feel RESTED when I wake up in the morning, & find myself not giving two shits [or any shits, really] about what is happening on the internet for the first time in a very long time.  

"I HAVE NO IDEA HOW YOU'RE DOING IT. I COULD NEVER GIVE UP SOCIAL MEDIA."

I've heard that above statement from 5+ people and all I have to say is "YOU CAN [+ YOU NEED TO]."  I am actually BEGGING YOU to delete the apps from your phone RIGHT NOW.

Let's go.  Navigate away from this page for a second and go delete all of your social media apps from your phone.

DO IT.

Now, take a big deep breath.  Congrats!  You've done it!  Now, revel in all that is REAL LIFE.  Go for a walk, read a book, cook some food, and drink some tea [I suggest Tazo's Passion tea--it's magenta and delicious].  Take the next few days to ENJOY the goodness that is being without social media at your fingertips every second of the day.  Take it all in.  You can thank me later.

[[[SIDE NOTE: That all being said, this does NOT count as me breaking lent.  It's basically me standing on a tiny soap box, asking you to join me in this newfound joy. I'm doing you a huge favor.]]]

Love love love,

--Caitlin

[PS.  Thanks to my dear friend Ashley Kemmer Photography for snapping this photo of me at the wedding we shot together last weekend.  You da bomb.]

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SCHULER FAMILY >> MBG, PA

Guys, I haven't blogged since November 22.  YIKES.  I did so well for a few weeks, and then the holidays hit and I totally lost track of time [[and this blog]].  That being said, I hope that you all had a wonderful December + holiday season.  Now we're a few days into 2018, and I seriously could not be more excited about all of the opportunities planned for this year.  It's going to be a busy one, but I know it'll be so good!

ANYWAYS.  This entry is not to focus on how awful I am at blogging, but rather, to focus on the Schuler family!  This family of 3 [[and almost 4!]] was so much fun to shoot!  My sister came along, too [what's up, Bri!] and it was so nice to have her there, shooting alongside me!  We got to go to a farm, which was new + beautiful!  I love love loved my time with this sweet family!

Meet the Schuler Family!

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MARISA & MILA >> MBG, PA

Meet Marisa & Mila!

My beautiful cousin & niece!  These two were my first official session wayyyyy back when I started photography.  I'm so happy I had the opportunity to take their photos again, now that I have much more experience & understanding with photography (ha!).  Little Chickadee is 3 now, so we took a few mom + daughter photos as well as Mila's 3 year old photos!

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SEHAR FAMILY >> HBG, PA

Meet the Sehar family!

I had the opportunity to work with this adorable family back when I first started my photography business, so I was THRILLED when Erica reached out to see if I could take their holiday photos!  Despite it being a bit chilly, these kids did a GREAT job and were of course, as cute as can be!  

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LUCAS WEDDING >> HBG, PA

Meet Ally & Mike!

I was SO beyond happy to have the opportunity to shoot this wedding.  I hadn't met Ally prior to her wedding day, but I just knew that we would get along and I was SO RIGHT!  This girl was seriously the definition of a relaxed bride on her wedding day.  Calm, collected, & ready to get married!  Their wedding & ceremony were all so beautiful [FYI, I 100% will cry during your wedding if I'm your photographer, so prepare yourself] & it was so clear how much Ally & Mike love one another!  I was so happy that I could take part in their special day!  

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KEYSER FAMILY >> MESSIAH COLLEGE

Meet the Keyser Family!

Candi & I work together, and I was super excited when she reached out to me to see if I could photograph her family for their Christmas cards.  We got really lucky with unusually warm weather, lots of sunshine, & 3 teenage boys who were cooperative!  3 cheers for that!

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DEAN'S FIRST BIRTHDAY >> MBG, PA

MEET MY NEPHEW, DEAN.

A year ago this past Saturday, my little sister gave birth to a little boy who changed my whole life.  Dean is the sweetest, happiest baby, and this past weekend we celebrated his first birthday [which also happens to be the same day as my mom's birthday! HOW SPECIAL, RIGHT?!].  It goes without saying that this boy is the light of our life, & I am so thankful every single day to be his aunt.  I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I loved taking them.

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MORGAN FAMILY >> MBG, PA

If I've said it once [I have], I've said it a million times [I definitely have].  I. LOVE. FALL. One thing that makes fall even better was my session yesterday with the world's cutest golden doodle named Dunkin & his super sweet parents!  The weather was seriously PERFECT & I love watching Dunkin hop all around off his leash.  We even got to go for a long walk--such a great way to spend a Tuesday evening!  Meet the Morgan family!

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ROME FAMILY >> MBG, PA

Let me start by saying that I ADORE this family.  Amber & I met when I taught bootcamp classes, so I was thrilled when she reached out to me to take her family photos!  Her kids are the absolute sweetest--They played all of the games I suggested & had no problem screaming at the top of their lungs when I asked them to!  This summer/fall weather + shining sun made for a beautiful session! 

 

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Til next time,

Caitlin

BOEHM WEDDING >> HBG, PA

Hello first blog post in one month!

So then!  I was SO incredibly fortunate to work with another photographer from the area, Lindsay Gray [I'll post her link at the end of this page!] to second shoot my FIRST WEDDING EVER.  It just so happened that this wedding was for a lovely gal I already knew from the gym, so it worked out perfectly!  Despite all of my nerves [I think I ate an entire pack of gum throughout the day], it was seriously an amazing day. 

Lauren & Jeremy are a HILARIOUS couple.  It's clear how much they love each other & they literally have the best support system of friends + family around.  Their day was a huge party, & I am so thankful that I got to participate in the festivities!

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LOCATION: St. Patrick's Cathedral, HBG + The Peter Allen House

HAIR+ MAKEUP: Hair & Makeup by Nikki D

PHOTOGRAPHER: Lindsay Gray Photography [photos on this page done by ME!] 

FLOWERS:

Til next time,

Caitlin

STYLED SHOOT >> HARRISBURG, PA

I'd never participated in a styled shoot before and I was SO excited about it!  I met with two other fabulous photographers from the Lancaster area.  We took part in a styled wedding shoot at the capital in Harrisburg and it was PERFECT.  I've seriously never seen a more beautiful bride in my entire life, so the photos were so easy to take!  They also had the cutest pup on the planet, so that was an extra plus!  I can't wait for future wedding opportunities that come my way!

 

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L. FAMILY >> BOILING SPRINGS, PA

Hello, hello!

Can I just say that I LOVE family sessions and I LOVE summer sunlight?  Oh my goodness.  I had the best time with my dear friend Brenna & her sweet family last week!  She suggested the location, which was a place I had never visited before.  But when I got there...willow trees for DAYS.  It was perfect!

Brenna & her husband Patrick brought their daughter, Tallulah, for a family session and it was wonderful.  This family is strong.  While T is only 3 months old, this family has had to endure plenty of ups & downs, but they have come out on top every single time.  They are resilient, they are lovely, & they are already so supportive of their sweet girl.  I love them to pieces and am so thankful that I had this opportunity.

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Til next time,

Caitlin

S. FAMILY >> HERSHEY, PA

Hello, hello!

This past week, I had the opportunity to photograph the SWEETEST set of siblings!  Everett, Colemann, & Whitney were so much fun to spend time with, and I loved watching their interactions with one another.  We struck some ninja poses & party poses, and also practiced making all different kinds of faces!  Luckily we were able to fit our entire session in before a huge storm hit!  The location [Bullfrog Valley Park & Trail] actually flooded later that evening, so I am super thankful we were able to get out of there before that happened!  

Erica, thank you SO MUCH for letting me photograph your beautiful family.  They are kind, they are sweet, and they are so adventurous! 

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Til next time,

Caitlin