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micro weddings

Micro Weddings: Discover Why Keeping it Small is a Good Thing

Micro weddings. What is a “micro wedding” and why has it become such a talked about thing? We know that event planning has had to adapt to the changing culture of weddings during and in the wake of this pandemic. BUT, that isn’t a negative thing! It is in fact, quite awesome!

Micro weddings refer to your guest count (usually under 50) and timeframe with your venue. That’s it. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have an over-the-top wedding or you have to cut out vendors or decor you’ve dreamed of… it simply means you keep the guest count slightly smaller and instead of inviting the world, you invite those that mean the most to you. Then, you work within a slightly shorter timeframe on property with the venue you love.

 

 

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What does this mean for you? This means that you get to get married. You get to have your close friends and family watch you say I Do. You get to dance with your new spouse as newlyweds. You get to have those you care the most about send you off in style as you start your life.

 

Ok maybe you have to shift a few things around at your venue… BUT silver linings folks! So, it is a smaller guest count then you expected (silver lining: you can splurge on the extra hors d’oeuvres since your catering guest count is smaller). You may have some out-of-town folks that can’t make it (silver lining: those hotel goody bags can be swapped for a late-night snack for guests). 

 

Logistics example: Your venue has a ceremony space that can, with the new regulations for the foreseeable future, only fit 50% of your desired guest count. Silver lining: the reception space at the venue is PLENTY big.

  • Solution 1: have your entire event in the reception space and flip the room (meaning set up for ceremony gets flipped to reception set up with the help of perhaps a few   extra staff and a creative cocktail hour).
  • Solution 2: you keep your ceremony guest count smaller and everyone else joins in for the reception fun. Both solutions have loved ones witnessing your “I Dos” and both solutions involve your loved vendors and space.

 

How to make the most of it? The amount of time you have at your venue, and your access to use of the property will be different depending on the venue. Here are a few tips on how you can maximize the time you have on property at your venue:

 

  • Hair and makeup: consider getting your hair and makeup done OFF property. That way a significant amount of time at your venue won’t be spent with you and your bridal party sitting in chairs. Recommendation: find a hotel room or salon close by your venue so that you don’t hit traffic and possibly delay what time you do have.

 

  • Utilize off property photography time: Ok so we couldn’t NOT include this! This could be done multiple ways. First, get everything done off property (think hotel room/salon), then take some individuals (bridals/groom’s shots) and separate wedding party pics OFF site but nearby the venue. THEN when you land at the venue, do a first look immediately so that you can do “newlywed” pictures first. That makes the timeframe normally spent getting ready, being pictures instead. You could even consider doing all of the family photos beforehand also. Then after the ceremony, the cocktail hour/family photos would transition more quickly to reception resulting in a streamlined timeline and more time with your guests. Second option, an after-shoot. We love these! This means after your exit, you meet the photography at another designated location and, if it’s nighttime, get some night photography… or crash a Whataburger… All exciting ideas that can be explored OFF property.

 

  • Skip the formal cake cutting: Please note I did NOT say to skip the cake! The cake is such a beautiful and delicious way to add décor and tradition to your event. BUT, you don’t need to have the DJ announce that you’re cutting the cake, then wait for everyone to gather around, then cut it and everyone claps. Let your photographer and parents know that you’ll be cutting the cake at the end of this song, then go do it. May seem trivial, but it will likely save 15 minutes that could be dance, dance time.

 

  • Seated dinner: Think about it… you took a loooooooong, deep breath thinking about catering for 200. Now, you only have to think about feeding 50. This means that you now have it in the budget to splurge with a more intimate, seated meal. It also means that the time it would take for your guests to walk through a buffet line can be spent listening to toasts or mingling instead.

 

Side note: If you’re concerned about some guests you would have included not being able to come, whether that be due to a reduced guest count or necessary travel to attend that just can’t happen right now, consider streaming the event or at least the ceremony portion. We’ve seen so many options from creative streaming by a professional videographer (Brockstar Videos being one example) to Facebook Live events in a private group, this is one way to get creative with a bit more inclusivity, minus the headcount.

 

Micro weddings do not mean a small wedding experience. The saying, “Less is More” is true for a reason! A micro wedding is perfect for the couple that wants to focus and spend most of their time and budget on the details, which they would not be able to do with 200 guests. Micro weddings are not events to cut corners and reduce the experience, but rather an opportunity to get the designer dress you were eyeing or have the top tier, plated dinner you wanted. Micro weddings are planned with intimacy and experience in mind. 

 

If you’d like to hear more about micro weddings, elopements, minimonies and sequel weddings, check out our conversation on the Life as Art podcast. There are so many choices for weddings, including the size and overall style of your wedding day. As we ALWAYS say, keep it true to you and your forever person and it will be perfect!

Images from featured micro wedding at Silver Sycamore

 

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The Formula for 1 Epic Houston Engagement Session

For quite some time now, we have preached unique engagement sessions. We’ve have done podcasts,
blogs, and posts screaming UNIQUE ENGAGEMENT SESSION! And to that end, we have had the pleasure
of photographing quite a few unique sessions in a variety of spaces. BUT we have NEVER had the
experience we are here now to share…

Cliff Notes to Awesomeness:
Step 1: Pictures with fur babies. And a ukulele.
Step 2: Pictures in the rainforest.
Step 3: Pictures with PENGUINS.

Ok, now let’s expound on quite possibly one of the most unique combination of engagement session
locations we’ve ever shot. To begin, we will go back to the planning process. When we first spoke with
Sasha and Sean about their perfect engagement session, they started with their backgrounds. They met
while Sasha was working at and Sean was volunteering at the penguin exhibit at Moody Gardens in
Galveston, Texas. They said, “so it’d be awesome to take some with the penguins.” Our response, “um
yeah, we should do that” (insert giddy schoolkid geeking out about chilling and shooting with real
penguins).

 

 

The more we got into the planning process, the more and more excited we got. This friends, is why you
have open and honest communication with your photographer. And exactly why you should put your
hobbies, interests, and ideas out there, no matter how unique and different they seem.

So planning… logistics are KEY! We knew that we couldn’t have an epic engagement session in these
amazing locations without some guidelines. Luckily, our couple knew the management team at Moody
Gardens, so we started there. We got the timing for the penguins first (still in shock we got to hang with
penguins), since we knew this was our ultimate goal. Given the fact that the shoot with the penguins
was on the same property as the rainforest, we went to that management team next.

Moving on, the rainforest. Both Sasha and Sean are nature people. And Sean works in the rainforest at
Moody Gardens. Talk about a perfect combo for an epic engagement session. Assuming the logistics and
timing worked out, this was the perfect setup with the perfect couple to have the perfect engagement
session.

 

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What are the rules for shooting at a famed (and busy) tourist destination on Galveston Island? During
normal times, probably just the usual. However, during a global pandemic… it’s a whole new ballgame.
Masks were a given, but social distancing at a tourist attraction is tricky. Luckily, we were photographing
clients who knew folks in high places. This meant that we got into the rainforest prior to opening. The
only downside was the restriction that we had to be done shooting and our couple masked back up prior
to customers coming in. Other then that, we got to hang out with parrots, monkeys and birds for an
hour.

To end the planning process, we knew how important Sasha and Sean’s spice girls were to them. And by
spice girls, we mean Cinnamon and Cayenne, their dogs. We knew we needed to get those fur babies into

a part of the session. It was just a slight matter of logistics, which with willing clients and willing

photographers you just make it happen.

 

 

Through it all, the only concern we had (well there was a second one but more on that later) was gear
related. Going from the humidity of shooting outside with the dogs, to the car, to the intense humidity
of the rainforest, to the 40-degree weather with the penguins… that’s a lot to ask of camera gear. Our
answer: factoring in an extra 10 minutes at each location so that our gear could acclimate to it’s new
environment.

Now, let’s go back to the penguins. And our second concern. How do you contain your excitement when
you are literally IN a penguin exhibit doing what you love?! You don’t. You let it shine loud and proud
and act like a giddy schoolkid! Let us set the stage.

 

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We are in the “holding room” to let our gear acclimate and get ready for the final stage of an already
epic engagement session. When Sasha said “let’s start with Houston. He’s a King penguin,” we said,
“ok sure.” A minute later, in walks the penguin whisperer with Houston, who is roughly the size of our
3-year-old daughter and absolutely beautiful. He is standing tall and walking in with a swagger. Literally, the
dude had swagger. We take some posed pictures, he flexes and sings a few times, we pet him
(ahhhhhhh!) and off he goes.

Next up in the holding room, we are chatting about the king penguin when we hear… them. I don’t
know if you know this, but penguins can be LOUD. It sounded like an excited class of kindergarteners
about to burst into the room. Instead, in walk 2 of the cutest Macaroni penguins you’ll ever see. They
were torn between playing with Sasha and Sean and posing for pictures, so they did both.

 

 

Now, we probably would’ve been pumped with everything we had already taken, but as we said before
you have to do epic when epic is due. As our aquatic friends join up with the rest of
their colony, right behind them are two animal lovers and 2 photographers about to live out
a dream. Sasha and Sean got busy feeding these guys, and we got busy shooting. And while one of us
got cuddles and some lovely attention from the cutest Gentoo penguin ever, the other got his tushy pecked at and toes nibbled on
every time he bent down for a picture. The penguin whisperer made sure nothing drastic happened, but
it (for one of us at least) made for an even more memorable engagement session.

 

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So what is the moral of this story, TALK TO YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER! We will get just as excited as you
guys to make your dream engagement session happen. As photographers, we can produce fantastic
shots in a variety of places, but when you start bringing the ukulele and the rainforest and the penguins
into the conversation, it’s game on let’s go. Unique wedding ideas amp us up. They amp the
client up to get dream pictures. So, GO BIG OR GO HOME. No idea is too big, no thought is too small.

 

 

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Top 10 Houston Area Wedding Venues

In a city with thousands of wedding and event venue choices, there are some that stand out. Your wedding venue needs to speak to who you are as a couple. When you tour the space, you should be able to picture saying “I Do” there. Some venues may need creativity to make it yours, but it is still yours. Others are picture perfect as is and you just need the clothing and guests. Whether it be for their unique nature, their overall aesthetic or what they offer to a client, you do not want to miss out on at least touring these Top 10 Houston Area Wedding and Event Venues.

 

Silver Sycamore

wedding photographyhttps://www.silversycamore.com/

5111 Pine Ave Pasadena, Tx

Silver Sycamore is a town within itself, literally. Not many guests pull up to an event and walk under a sign announcing this as “Your Town.” The uniqueness of this venue is unreal. There are even sleeping quarters for up to 20 guests. This is not just an event space – it is a resort! There are tiny homes made from reclaimed barn wood. There is a café with amazing food serving up breakfast, brunch, and lunch. There is a town with an entire bridal cottage, jail (groom’s quarters), a saloon (bar, intimate event space and guests’ quarters), and an entire main street to host the perfect Party in the Street. We would be remised to not mention the show-stopping White Wedding Chapel made with pine wood, chandeliers, and high wooden ceilings. With so many ceremony and reception site options, this is not only customizable but a true gem for you and your guests!

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Olde Dobbin Station

wedding photography at Old Dobbin Stationhttp://www.oldedobbinstation.com/

2849 Old Dobbin Rd, Montgomery, TX

Initially an old pumping station used by oil companies, Olde Dobbin Station is a perfect combination of a vintage feel and restored convenience. The look and feel of the newly renovated chapel is stunning, almost ethereal. The bridal cottage is quaint, but beautiful and covered in ivy which makes the photographer in us super happy. And the reception building has plenty of space to customize to your needs. The grounds are beautiful and from wedding prep to wedding exit, you’ll feel transported to another time and place. You feel transformed when you are at this event venue and your guests will absolutely enjoy the sites.

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The Oaks at Oak Plantation

His and Hers Foto wedding photographyhttps://www.theoaksatoakplantation.com/

19706 FM 521 Rd, Rosharon, TX  77583

Settled on a 500-acre working ranch, The Oaks at Oak Plantation has a mix of rustic elegance,Texas history and southern charm. Named appropriately for the giant oaks on the property, this venue has an expansive ballroom, a beautiful outdoor ceremony site right under the oaks, six guest rooms for out-of-town guests and a honeymoon suite for the wedded couple. The amenities included are unreal, and the bridal suite and groom’s quarters are bigger than some houses, not to mention they include a game room, massage chairs, self-serve bar areas, and several salon-style hair and makeup stations.

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Historic Heights Fire Station

wedding photographyhttps://heightsfirestationvenue.com/

107 W 12th St, Houston, TX 77008

Built in 1914, The Historic Heights Fire Station is nestled in the heart of the Heights district and has been many things throughout its life. Now a wedding and event venue, the Heights Fire Station has been fully renovated to its original grandeur. What’s cool about this venue is that while it can host ceremonies and receptions within its building, there is Marmion Park (featuring the stunning Kaiser Pavilion) close by that can also host your outdoor ceremony. If you are looking for a historic building close to downtown, this is IT. If you want a vintage feel with modern luxury, look no further.

 

 

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The Carriage House

wedding photographyhttps://www.thecarriagehousehouston.com/

3845 Sapp Rd Conroe, Tx

At The Carriage House, you’ve got inside options, you’ve got outdoor options, you’ve got seasons and windows and color and elegance. From the outdoor ceremony site nestled in right by the creek and surrounded by trees, to the beautiful chapel with the standout red door and floor to ceiling windows, they have nailed the ceremony site feels. And the reception hall can fit up to 300 guests with plenty of dance floor and customizable options to make the space your own.

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Waters Edge

WE-6https://www.thewatersedgehtx.com/

3901 NASA Road 1, El Lago, Tx 77586

A sunset over ocean water is hard to come by in the greater Houston-Galveston area. But not here. Waters Edge features a stunning customizable pergola with a palm tree lined aisle to set the perfect stage for your waterfront ceremony. The enclosed reception space has floor to ceiling glass doors that allow our guests to enjoy the natural beauty of the Texas Bay Area. The bridal suite is spacious and perfect for your beauty needs on the wedding day. From the moment you drive onto the property to the moment you walk down the palm tree-lined aisle to the moment you drive off; you will feel elegant and special.

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The Bryan Museum

Galveston Texas wedding photographyhttps://thebryanmuseum.org/weddings-events/

1315 21 st Street Galveston, Tx  77550

If you head down to the island, you’ll see an unbelievably unique event venue. The Bryan Museum has a bit of everything. It has beautiful landscaping, a bridal cottage and groom’s quarters you will not have seen anything like in the Houston-Galveston area and a variety of spaces to choose from. AND it’s on Galveston Island, so your guests can make a weekend of it and enjoy the beach and Strand at the same time. Our favorite combo of locations is the Gazebo (for the ceremony) and the Conservatory (for the reception). This charming gazebo is covered with jasmine and accented with a chandelier. The Conservatory is one-of-a-kind, with emerald-green glass, metalwork and nestled amongst beautiful landscaping. This place has a touch of historic, a touch of mystical and a whole lot of elegance. The images you’ll get from this venue is incredible and well worth a trip to the island to see.

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Big Sky Barn

BSB-4https://www.bigskybarn.com/

13576 Forest Lane Montgomery, TX 77356

Rustic and elegant and luxurious… there are many words to describe Big Sky Barn. But this place has a lot of everything. A bridal suite with modern finishes, makeup stations to die for, and space for days (and the natural light, holy moly!). The groom’s quarter are equally delightful with space, tv, games and drinks. The chapel area with the giant windows (more natural light!)… The giant reception hall with rustic charm, reclaimed wood and gorgeous finishes, mile high ceilings… The charming wood-filled grounds… the covered bridge that’s (photographically speaking) to die for… BUT, it’s not a hidden secret anymore so be sure to call for your tour soon.

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Still Waters Ranch

wedding photographyhttps://www.thestillwatersranch.com/

2352 County Rd 165, Alvin, TX

Located on 16 acres in Alvin, Still Waters Ranch is a brand-new farmhouse style venue. Not many event spaces can easily host up to 350 guests, but Still Waters Ranch can do it with a dance floor. With indoor and outdoor entertainment options, your guests will enjoy every bit of your event in this tranquil setting. There are spacious suites for both of you to get ready, including private bathrooms and space to relax before your nuptials. As newlyweds, you will get to enjoy saying I Do in an open aired (enclosed is possible) wedding chapel with beautiful views. Then you get to celebrate in style in the reception hall with vaulted ceilings, giant chandeliers with Southern charm, separate coffee bar, and plenty of space for your guests to really have some fun. This place is booking up quickly, schedule your tour soon.

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Hughes Manor

HM-5http://www.hughesmanor.com/

2811 Washington Ave Houston, Tx

Unique on this list, Hughes Manor blends modern luxury with industrial chic. Centrally located in the Washington-Heights District, this space gives an opulent grandeur to its events. Indoor and Outdoor space provide options for your guests to roam. The 360-degree indoor/outdoor bar is spectacular, the grounds (used for ceremony site, cocktail hour, outdoor mingling) is gorgeous, and the amenities included is icing on the cake. While still relatively new to the Houston event scene, Hughes Manor has already become a trendy gem. If you want to steer away from the rustic, barn look popular in Texas these days and want an elegant and timeless backdrop, Hughes Manor is a great space for you.

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When the venue choices are nearly endless in your area, you have to go with what “feels” right… Our Top 10 Houston are Wedding and Event venues fit several “feels” options. Whether you want a western town and rustic feel, an otherworldly transported feel, or an opulent or industrial chic feel… this list has it all! Big caveat here: make sure you schedule your tour sooner rather than later. If any of these venues are secrets now, they won’t be for long. Unique venues, and all of these, only schedule ONE event per day. That means ONE wedding. If you have a specific date in mind or even a specific month, you want to get it on the books. From the customer service these venues provide, to the aesthetic these venues have, to the experience your guests will share – these venues are amazing!

 

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TOP 8 WAYS TO GET FIT FOR YOUR WEDDING!

 

By: Courtney Skiles

If you’re recently engaged, about to get engaged or planning a vow renewal the chances are you’re also considering what you’re going to look like as you walk down the aisle in your dream dress. Of the 2.3 million American weddings every year, 80 percent of brides
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