Wedding Planning Timeline | 10 Months Before

If you’re planning a wedding for the end of next year, it may seem like a long ways off, but today I’ll be sharing all the things you can do right now, well in advance, to make sure that crunch time doesn’t get too stressful. The things I’m talking about today are things I’ve classified as tasks you should handle 10 months before your wedding, but there is no time like the present to get all these things planned, and you are more than welcome to treat this more like a rough guideline when planning your own big day. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series!

 
ten months before your wedding planning checklist tips for brides
 

If you’re getting married abroad, or if you know that your wedding day is going to be during a busy time of year for your friends and family, be sure to send out your save the dates super far in advance. Ten months before the big day is a good time to start letting everyone know, “Hey! I’m getting married this day, so if you care about me at all, please save this day to celebrate with me because I want you there!” People will appreciate the head’s up so that they can get to planning their accommodations, work schedules, and travel details.

Other people that would appreciate this level of advance notice are your band, your photographer, and your videographer. These are all people who would probably like to discuss their contribution to your event at an official meeting, so scheduling them ahead of time will make sure you can get a spot on the calendar of your favorite vendors. As a photographer, I especially appreciate a client who comes to me far in advance of their wedding date as it allows me to plan trips and other sessions and get a feel for when my busy season will be.

Another thing you can work on at this time is to begin your wedding dress research. The perfect dress might prove to be a little more elusive than you’re thinking, so give yourself PLENTY of time to visit boutiques, order samples, and meet with designers. You’ll really appreciate starting early when it comes time for all the other wedding-related tasks and you know that this one is already taken care of.

After you’ve booked your photographer, now would be a great time to plan your engagement photos. These would be fun to include in your save the dates, and by planning this far ahead, you can also have a little bit more say in what type of season and setting you take your photos in. Taking professional photos with your fiancé also gives you the chance to try out some professional hair and make-up artists for the big day, too.

Finally, this is about when you should start a wedding registry. Once you’ve sent out your save the dates, the congratulations will start rolling in, and wouldn’t it be absolutely lovely if you had a place you could direct the kind souls asking about what they can get you two to help you start your life together? Sites like Zola.com make it super easy for you to register for things from around the web, and your family will appreciate the convenience!

Stay tuned for more wedding planning tips and to see my suggestions for things you can be working on during the 9th month before your wedding day!

let’s plan an adventure together!

 

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7 Fall Traditions I Never Miss

Weather your ideal season encourages skinny dipping, calls for hibernation under a knitted blanket, or is even one where “all you need is a light jacket” (really hoping you know which movie I am referencing), there is much to look forward to year round. So, I hope that you will take advantage of some of my never-miss fall traditions. I promise that they will make even you summer-mourners fully embrace the splendor that is, “fall.”

 
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1. Pumpkin Patch - With so much goodness packed into one outing, a trip to the pumpkin patch makes it to the tippy-top of my fall to-do list. It is norm for most venues to include amenities such as corn mazes, hayrides, slides, farm animals, & cheap by-the-pound pumpkin prices. The inexpensive admission prices further add to the draw. So, whether you’re out with your girlfriends, on a cutesy seasonal date, or making memories with your young family, a trip to the pumpkin patch is a sure win.

2. Apple Picking - Half of fall’s allure revolves around the all-spice added into every baked treat. And when said “baked-treat” is fresh from the tree, your taste buds are sure to sing. So be sure to add apple picking to your weekend to-do list. Your stomach & family photo album (because is there anything more picturesque than an apple orchard?) will thank you.

3. Bonfire - When a certain refreshing crispness graces the air, I know that autumn has arrived. I love that cool feeling whispering against my skin. That feeling is amplified by the warmth of a bonfire glowing on your face. Add nature’s brilliant fall hues, the smokey air (am I the only one who loves the smell of embers?), a marshmallow in your mouth, and cuddling with someone cute? There really is nothing better.

4. Haunted House - It nearly takes me a whole year for my heart to stop thudding & to replenish my courage, but when the year-mark rolls around, there is no question as to weather I will go again. Haunted houses are exhilarating, comical, and dang fun. And boys, if you’re looking for an excuse to have a girl cling to your hand, look no further.

5. Pumpkin Treats - Need I say more? Throw some chocolate chips into the mix, and I swear the stars align.

6. Pumpkin Carving - Embrace the mess; the slime & gore is all part of the fun! For some added spirit, crank up your favorite Halloween classic. Then with a spoon in one hand, and knife in the other, you are fully equipped to create your doorstep’s newest accessory.

7. Hammocking - If you’re up for adding a little granola into your life, then this is for you! The serenity of the sunlight peeking through those brilliant fall leaves is unbeatable, making the fall my favorite time to hammock

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Wedding Planning Timeline | 11 Months Before

How is wedding planning going? I hope you’ve had fun starting to day dream and build up your Pinterest board with ideas and inspiration for the big day. If you pace yourself with the planning and remember to outsource as much as you can to minimize stress, this can be a really fun time that brings you closer to your fiancé.

Today I’m sharing a few things that I think you could be taking care of this eleventh month before your wedding day. Check out our last post on this topic to see what things should already be handled one year prior to your wedding or earlier!

 
wedding planning timeline what to do eleven months before your wedding prep checklist
 

The first task I’m setting for you for this month is to decide if you want to hire a wedding planner. Here are the benefits to hiring a wedding planner: they’re well-versed in all the language and processes for weddings and understand better than you how things work best, they have lots of connections, they can refer you to great vendors, and they’ll take the day-of stress off your plate by handling all the last-minute things, and the things you need to be doing during the event like handing out final payments, making sure the rentals get returned, coordinating the transportation, etc. There are many other reasons, but these are just a few in support of outsourcing the bulk of the wedding planning to an expert.

Now that you’ve decided if you’ll be planning every last detail yourself or with help, you can make some bigger decisions like choosing a venue for the ceremony and your reception. Remember your budget and don’t let this reservation eat up too much of your finances. There are still so many more financial preparations and planning to come! Consider simplifying things by having your ceremony at the same place as your reception. Saves you the cost of transporting your bridal party to the second location and the cost of printing up additional directions, but it also saves you a ton of time and potentially money on the reservation of the space.

Next, you can book your officiant. This is one of the earliest things you want to work on, especially if you find your preferred officiant to be in demand. Choose someone that you have a special bond to or who you truly admire. It can make the big day even more special if your officiant is a friend or loved one! Give them plenty of heads up so they can be prepared, and they’ll appreciate you for it.

Now that the date and location are set for your wedding, it’s time to start gathering addresses for the friends and family that you’ll be inviting to your big day. My suggestion is to start a shared Guest List Google spreadsheet with columns for all the details you need (last name, first name, spouse (if applicable), full address, RSVP, dinner choice, plus one, etc). Share this spreadsheet with your fiancé and maybe even a few family members, like the mothers, and then ask them to help you gather all this information for both sides of the family. This Guest List will come in super handy later when you need to do a quick sort or count of who’s coming and other details so that you can tell your vendors.

And finally, in addition to your officiant, you should give your bridesmaids and groomsmen plenty of time to prepare for the big day by asking them to be part of your wedding party several months before your wedding. This gives you all enough time to prepare however you see fit, planning activities with your bridal party, ordering suits and dresses, arranging travel and clearing your calendar, etc. Show them how much you appreciate them and want them to be part of this special day in your life with a little gift as you ask them to join your wedding party.

Stay tuned for more wedding planning tips and to see my suggestions for things you can be working on during your 10th month before your wedding day!

let’s plan an adventure together!

 

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How Traveling Strengthens Your Marriage

My husband and I are coming up on our SECOND wedding anniversary, and in that short period of time, we’ve been on a bajillion trips together, both in and out of the country. Traveling with your sweetheart can be such a tender, romantic thing, but when you travel as frequently as we do, it actually turns into a crash course on communication and conflict resolution. In a good way, always a good way.

 
traveling with your spouse will help strengthen your marriage by teaching you communication skills and allowing you to grow closer together
 

We love traveling so much and love to share all about our travels because we do it in a way that doesn’t break the bank. One of the biggest questions I get all the time is how we find the time or money to travel so frequently, and while that’s another post topic entirely, it actually falls hand-in-hand with what I wanted to talk about today.

Traveling with your spouse allows you several unique opportunities for growing as individuals and as a couple. Take a look at what I’ve learned below and if that doesn’t make you want to run away together as globetrotting romantics, I don’t know what will.

Using an agreed-upon travel budget shows respect for each other and our mutual goals.

Most newlyweds hit this point of understanding fairly soon after the wedding where all of a sudden they realize that finances need to be communicated and shared. No more weekend retail therapy when hubby’s saving for grad school. The latest video game will probably need to stay on the shelf at the game store until you get a handle on all the rent and deposits and bills that you’ve both taken on, together.

Very early on, Matt and I established that (a) travel was a priority for both of us and (b) that we respected each other and ourselves enough to not put any large amount of pressure or burden on our budget by traveling irresponsibly. We started to set aside a small amount every month dedicated exclusively for planning trips, and it was well within our budget to do so at that small increment. This travel budget allows us to spend quality time together that we need without stressing either of us out financially.

You have the opportunity to explore new places, together.

Whenever we go somewhere that one of us has been before, that person kind of acts as a tour guide, and the other relies heavily on the repeat visitor’s guidance to get around. When we travel somewhere new, however, we each kind of take on some ownership and responsibility to do the research on the place we’re visiting and find good deals and places we want to see.

We learn to trust each other’s judgement, too, because we tend to be “off-the-beaten-path” explorers, and it comes in handy to have a second person to bounce ideas off of and to adventure with.

We get to benefit from quality time spent together in a fun setting.

Traveling together is dedicating time to focus on just you two. No one has to wake up at 7:00am for work the next day, and neither of you need to worry about who did the dishes last. You can simply be together and enjoy the activities you have planned.

Vacations are a time for relaxation, and while they say that you should strive to make your normal, everyday life feel like a vacation, you’ll never fully achieve that level of “we have no obligations to anyone today” freedom until you dedicate time away from home.

Make it a priority to take a well-deserved break from your daily life to go somewhere new and exciting with your spouse and you won’t regret it! Traveling has always been a great way for me and Matthew to further our relationship, and it’s one of the things I look forward to most of all whenever we book a new trip.

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Wedding Planning Timeline | 12 Months Before

Congratulations on your engagement! I’m so excited for you, because marriage is the best ever! As you prepare and plan for your big day, you’re sure to have a lot of questions, especially if this is your first time doing this (which it probably is!). I’ve been to almost a hundred weddings in my time as a photographer, so I’ve seen it all. All the mistakes and successes, all the planning woes, and all the forgotten pieces.

Take advantage of the tips I’m share here and stay tuned for the future posts as I outline what I know to be the best checklist for making sure everything gets done before the big day. Today we’ll be talking about the things you should work on a whole year before your wedding.

 
wedding planning checklist 12 months before the wedding things you should do a year before you get married wedding prep timeline
 

The first thing you’ll need to do, as most every other bit of planning relies on this, is set your wedding date. Make sure that neither you nor your fiancé have conflicting plans on the proposed date, and it’s also a good idea to double check with the important people in your life before you finalize a date and set it in stone.

The next thing I recommend doing is having a party to celebrate your engagement. Planning a wedding can get a little hectic, but I want you to remember why you’re doing this and let yourself feel the love from those around you who want to celebrate your love with you! This is a chance for you to sit back revel in the joy from your recent engagement before things get harried and technical.

Before you start getting too far into planning, you and your fiancé should also discuss your budget for your wedding. Will you be funding it just the two of you? Will your parents or anyone else be contributing? This may even factor into your actual wedding date. Ask the tough questions now to get them out of the way and make sure you’re on the same page. You should also have this discussion with anyone else financially contributing to your wedding planning. Knowing the finances ahead of time will keep things operating smoothly down the road, and will help you avoid rocky situations. Especially when it comes to family, you want to show the utmost respect for all those involved because it can be an emotional time! You’ll be better off for having this conversation sooner rather than later.

Another thing I find it most helpful to plan early on is to decide on a number of guests and put together a tentative guest list. With your budget in mind, work together to make a list of the most important people in your lives with whom you want to share your special day. Be respectful of each other’s feelings and sensitive to any unique situations. I’d rather pay $20 a head for a couple extra people to avoid burning bridges and ruining a friendship, any day.

The last task I’d give to you for this month, a whole year before your wedding day, is to start a Pinterest account, if you don’t already have one. Pinterest is a treasure trove of helpful information and beautiful inspiration to help you with visualizing and actually planning your wedding. You can easily pin the things you want to remember and find related pins, which is especially helpful once you’ve chosen your theme and your colors - it makes it a breeze to see other decor examples or styles that fit your aesthetic all in one place!

Check back soon for more wedding planning tips and to see what you should be doing 11 months before your wedding day! Now that I’m married, I love sharing this valuable information I’ve learned that I’m never going to have the chance to implement when planning my own wedding every again. Take my knowledge and put it to good use!

let’s plan an adventure together!

 

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5 Things I Do to Stay Adventurous + Spontaneous

Honest moment: As much as I love it, running a business sometimes can go against my nature. I’m a very laid-back, spontaneous person at heart, and sometimes I’m just not down for all the organization and planning ahead that comes with keeping a successful business. I love to live life to the fullest, and I believe I can do that by giving myself freedom to follow my heart instead of my head.

Even though it seems counter-intuitive, I do think that I’ve flourished as a photographer and as a small business owner because of this adventure-led passion that has coaxed me into chasing dreams I might not otherwise have thought possible if I were doing everything “by the book”.

Today I’m sharing five ways I structure my life to allow more spontaneity in my schedule and activities and to fuel my adventurous side.

I wait to fill in my schedule until the last minute.

Just coming out of a busy summer where I had back-to-back sessions almost daily, it’s hard to get back to a schedule where some nights are free or where I have entire weekends without an out-of-town trip planned. I actually love this, even if it means I don’t have work, because I get to create my own.

Just recently I was faced with an open Friday night and Saturday and I knew it was open for a week or so, but I just left it open, and when that time rolled around, I was hit with an urge to drive all the way down to the Grand Canyon to do a sunrise shoot on Saturday morning with some friends who were willing to also drive through the night to meet me there. It was one of the most beautiful sessions I’ve ever done, and I think that allowing myself the inspiration to leave that time open was such a gift.

Another thing I love to do with free time when it gets down to it is to gift a session on social media or to a friend. I call them up and say, “Hey, wanna go shooting tonight?” and then we both get some lovely photos and I feel like I was productive. I love these no-pressure sessions where I can try out new things and practice new skills without worrying about wasting the client’s time.

My husband and I set aside each month into a Travel fund.

One of the biggest responses I hear when I suggest to people that they go travel somewhere is that they don’t have the money, or that traveling is too expensive. Sometimes I consider it my life’s mission to educate everyone on how to have a big adventure traveling somewhere new without breaking the bank, but I know that it’s still going to require money in the form of preparation, travel expenses, time off, etc.

To combat this, or at least give us a fighting chance at actually taking those trips we always wanna take, Matthew and I have a standing travel fund within our family budget where we keep money dedicated to trips together and it makes it so much easier to spontaneously book that fun getaway when we know we already have some money saved up.

I follow a few travel sites and social accounts that post awesome deals, and I love that I have the freedom to take advantage of these deals when they come along since I already have that money set aside so that it’s not eating away at our personal budget where we need money for food and rent, etc.

I practice purposeful minimalism in my routines.

I know some people shy away from “minimalism” as if it means “less” or “nothing”, and it sounds super hippy dippy for me to mention even now, but I truly believe that by establishing a purpose for everything you let into your life, or by getting rid of the “clutter”, you can actually be more free to do the fun, adventurous things.

When I travel, I know I can get by with packing light and be just fine. I don’t wear a ton of make-up, but the products I do use are small and compact and made for easy travel. I’m an expert at making an outfit out of anything, and it really helps when I’m only packing a few outfits for a week’s stay.

I don’t have too many “habits”, either. The things I do regularly or as part of my daily routine are all easily commuted to a new location or put on hold while I’m away on an adventure. To me, it’s just simpler to not be committed to a gym membership, an expensive habit, or a pet that would require me to make lots of extra planning and preparation before I head out. I know that may change as I enter into a new season of life, but for now, this is the routine that works for me.

I prioritize relationships and connections with clients/friends.

I’ve always felt a strong pull to maintain certain relationships with past clients, and now I know why as some of these clients have become some of my greatest friends. I don’t consider time between visits or physical distance to be a burden to weaken a friendship, and as a result, I’m able to maintain these relationships with people who are willing to drive through the night to meet me at Horseshoe bend, just for fun. People who share my passion for adventure and spontaneity hold a special place in my heart, and I’m so grateful for them.

Also, you never know who has connections and where when you’re planning a trip, and I’ve found it helpful to ask friends for recommendations of where to stay and what to do. Sometimes it saves us money, and other times it just makes the trip ten times more special as we get to do something or meet someone significant.

I always look forward to my next goal, and I’m never content with just standing still.

One of the main things with being adventurous is that you have to want it. You have to yearn to go outside your home and do something fun, even if it requires taking a risk or being courageous in a way you’re not used to. If I was simply satisfied with where I’m at and never looked to learn or grow, I’d never be living such a wonderful life as I am now, with a thriving business, and a wonderful relationship with my husband.

Sometimes I feel a bit insecure about my inability to stay put, and I know it can drive Matthew crazy. But I honestly feel like my best self, like I’m living my best life, when I’m striving for more and expecting the universe to give me more in exchange for my spontaneity and adventurous efforts.

If you feel stagnant or like you’re bored with life, I urge you to consider adjusting your routine or your expectations to allow more freedom and spontaneous adventures like this. It will change your life in ways that you never expect, as I find mine changes all the time outside of my control. It’s wonderful and exciting, and it’s the only way I want to live.

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