The Engagement of Liz and Joe

We are so thrilled to be sharing this amazing love story of J.Starr Couple Liz and Joe!  With their wedding fast approaching we wanted to give a glimpse at some of their beautiful engagement photos along with sharing a bit about this lovely couple ~

Liz and Joe met at work in June of 2010.  Their first impressions of each other (as told to us by Joe) were “Honestly the first thing I thought was can her jeans get any shorter on her calves and she was thinking who is this bald headed guy staring at me!”  Eventually the couple started talking at work the following November and Joe asked Liz to go to a Phoenix Suns vs Chicago Bulls basketball game. 

Liz and Joe casually dated for three years and then made it official in 2013!  They admit they don’t know the exact date of when it happened, but Joe was the first to say “I love you” (right as he was going into a knee surgery!).  Joe knew on the first date that he could see himself spending the rest of my life with Liz.  For Liz, she doesn't really identify a specific moment....because she knows now that the feeling she's had from the first moment they spent time together one-one-one that they were always meant to be together.

This couple got engaged on the beach in Rocky Point, Mexico on November 19, 2016.  The engagement was a total surprise!  Joe kept telling Liz that he could see himself proposing in the spring of 2017, just to give her a hard time (because Liz loves the holidays and a proposal would make it even more magical).   Joe even continued to tell Liz's friends that he'd probably propose in the spring, just to throw them all off!  What meant the most during the whole experience was that the holidays were Liz's favorite time of the year and that this was going to be the first time the couple were going back to Chicago to meet her family for Christmas.  Joe wanted to make it extra special for her.

Thank you for sharing your story with us Liz and Joe!  We can’t wait for your big day!

Remedies for Wedding Planning Burn Out

It’s very common for me, as a Wedding Planner to hear couples say they are “DONE” with the wedding plans. It’s a lot of work, ten times more than you can imagine until you’re “in it.” Planning a Wedding is comparable to having a second job (no joke). This is especially true if you haven’t hired a professional planner and attempt handling everything yourself. Today I wanted to share a few suggestions of things you can do when you’re feeling burned out.


1.) Go and a date with your spouse to be. Set a rule that this is a “no wedding talk” date night. Do something fun and relaxing and simply enjoy!


2.) Consult with your Wedding Planner. Unload your list of concerns and questions on to a professional. A Planner will help to calm your nerves and prioritize your to do lists.


3.) Exercise. Take your stress to the gym. You’re future wedding day body will thank you.


4.) Sign Off! Treat yourself to a “social media free” weekend. One of the hardest parts of planning a wedding these days is all the online distractions. Seeing all the ideas, suggestions, and articles can completely overwhelm a person…especially Pinterest.


5.) Indulge in a spa day. Enough said, right? Let all the knots melt away with a massage followed by soaking in the hot tubs.

The Engagement of Tori and Connor

We are so excited to be sharing the engagement story of our amazing J.Starr Couple ~ Tori and Connor!  We are finalizing all the beautiful details for their big day (that is approaching fast!) but we wanted to take a moment to share a little bit more about this amazing couple and their sweet engagement.

Tori and Connor's love story began their junior year of high school in 2006 when they met in one of their classes.  Tori's first impression of her future husband was "OH, he's cute!! (literally, that simple!)".   After many years, Connor finally texted Tori on November 8, 2011 to be his girlfriend...conveniently while she was on her way to his house...but apparently he couldn't wait!

Tori and Connor dated a total of 6 years before the engagement and on their wedding day they will have been together for 7 years and 2 days exactly!  Tori tells us that she knew Connor was the one she wanted to marry the moment she first laid eyes on him; she just knew.  As with all relationships, it was not all rainbows and unicorns. Within their first 5 years of knowing each other, the couple experienced what could possibly be the most ups and downs ever.  However Tori and Connor believe those experiences molded them into the couple they are now and they couldn't be happier!

The engagement for this amazing couple occurred on Christmas Eve 2017 at their home.  Connor tried to make it a surprise but Tori claims she screwed it up for him.  She was headed back from dinner at her grandparents house on Christmas Eve and she generally texts Connor when she is on her way home, except for that one time of course!  When Tori arrived home and went inside, Connor was nowhere to be found.  Tori tells us she went on my merry way grabbing the bags of presents that she had left in the downstairs bathroom and then magically, Connor appears!  So, there he goes, gettin' down on one knee and proposing to Tori (not in the suit that he had planned to wear, but in Tori's least favorite of all time workout shirt of his) and all Tori remembers saying was, "Oh my gosh, YES!! But do we have to do this while I'm standing in the bathroom?!".  But in the end, the couple has a great story behind it all and will remember it forever!

Tori tells us that what matters most about finally getting married is the fact that they are finally here!  Tori has been dreaming of this since she first met him...he just needed the time to figure it out ;)

Thank you for sharing your story with us Tori! We are so excited for your special day! 

Things that Might Scare You When Planning Your Wedding (And how to overcome them!)

Losing a Bridal Party Member
It happens, it happens all the time. Try not to let this upset you too much. Being in a wedding is a big commitment time wise and financially. Just because someone can no longer be involved, doesn’t mean that they don’t love you and cherish your friendships.

Having Equal Party Members
Remember, your bridal party “numbers” (amounts on each side) don’t have to “match.” There are no set rules. It much more important that you do what “feels” right not necessary what you think will “look” right.

Rain in Forecast
It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it can really rock a couples’ world on a wedding day. This is why it’s extremely important to always make sure that they venue you choose has a contingency plan for bad weather. And just try and keep this in the back of your mind while planning. Sometimes “indoor” spaces can look quite romantic, especially with the rain falling outside. Just know at the end of the day, we humans can only control so much. Your day, becomes your story.

Being Over Budget
I’ve never once heard a person say, “oh wow, planning a Wedding is less expensive than I thought it was going to be.” Weddings are expensive and there are a lot of accumulating expenses that pop up along the way. That’s way is critical to really lay out your budget ahead of time before you book anything. This will save you a lot of time and heartache along the way.

5 Questions to Consider, Before Meeting with Your Wedding Planner

Dear Newly Engaged Couples,

Are you feeling completely overwhelmed and worried that while you thought this should be the "happiest" time in your life is actually one of the most "stressful". Well... lemme tell ya, you're not alone, all couples feel this way right after they get engaged and before they select their venue and lock down their date. I tell all newly engaged couples to take a deep breath and relax, because the very beginning stages of the Wedding Planning process are the hardest.

Reason being, you go from complete elation (We're Engaged!) to complete exhaustion (Oh, wow...we had no idea how many factors are involved!) Again, hang in there, laying your "Wedding Foundation" is the hardest.

This is the exact reason why you need a Wedding Planner. Most planners offer a complimentary initial consultation to better explain all that's involved in the Wedding planning process and will go over in detail the differences in planning services they offer.

Prior to your consultation, here are some things to consider:

1.) What time of the year do you have in mind? I encourage you not to get "set" on a specific date if possible.


2.) What type of style are you looking for in your venue? Luxury Resort? Museum? Country Club, Modern? Private Home?


3.) Do you have a budget in mind? Is anyone contributing to your budget, or are you paying for it yourselves? If you have no idea to start, not to worry Wedding Planners will help to educate you on what's realistic.


4.) What is the approximate size of your guest list?


5.) What aspects of the Wedding are most important to you? Culinary? Design/Décor? Entertainment?

7 Ways to Save on Venue Decor

1.) Book a venue that you naturally absolutely LOVE. Before the linens, chair covers, flowers, etc. Make sure you love the grounds of the venue. Is it clean? Is the landscape well manicured? Does it speak to you? Is it your style? Do you simply enjoy strolling the grounds? Do you want to dine there for dinner? If you answered YES, then guess what? You don’t necessary need to spend tons of money on additional décor. Don’t work against the venue; let the venue you’ve already selected for your venue be the overall look and foundation for your Wedding Day. Choose a color palette that is a naturally enhancement to the venue, chose centerpieces that work with the room.

2.) White lights hung outdoors and candles spilling everywhere else can do wonders to any space, and they are very cost effective.

3.) Don’t go over the top on all your centerpieces. Remember…less is truly more. If you do tall over the top floral on some tables, do smaller low centers (or non floral centers, such as candles) on the other tables.

4.) Repurpose your flower. After the Ceremony has concluded and all of your guests have been transitioned over to the cocktail hour, have your Ceremony Floral moved into your reception. Your guests will never know the difference, as they will not be returning to the ceremony space again. Just be sure whoever moves your floral pieces (be it your Wedding Planner or Florist) be very discreet when moving the pieces…meaning use back entry doors to the ballroom/reception room so that they don’t walk thru the guests.

5.) Personalize. Remember as beautiful as the Wedding Day may be….what guests usually remember most are the moments/elements that were personalized. Use your story to guide you. Include memories, photos, and your favorite quotes into special areas of your Wedding.

6.) Ask your professional vendors for their advice. Don’t be shy; vendors know firsthand how expensive weddings are. Ask them what they would do to keep things looking beautiful yet cost effective.

7.) Under exactly what the venue already includes. Know what kind of house linens they offer, napkins, etc. Do they offer any centerpiece options? Even if you don’t utilize them for the Reception, perhaps you can use some of their glassware for the Cocktail Hour, every little bit helps.

Be encouraged, sweet friends. You don’t have to have a million dollar budget to have a gorgeous wedding, I promise. Be smart, be resourceful, and most importantly be creative. Your wedding will be beautiful and special, because it’s yours

Choosing Music for Your Wedding Day

Choosing the music for your Wedding Day isn’t something that you can do in one setting. Especially if you desire to create a soundtrack for your most special day that is meaningful to you as a couple. This should be a fun part of the planning process, not a stressful part. Here a few tips….

1.) Start Early. Keep a list on your phone or a small notebook with you at all times. As you naturally hear songs that you love, write them down.

2.) Take a trip down memory lane. Often times some of our most favorite songs aren’t necessarily current ones. Explore songs from the past, experiment with your Pandora or Spotify stations, and take notes.

3.) Ask your DJ. Often times, DJs have software planning systems that contain a full list of tons and tons of songs. This makes it super easy for you to go through and flag songs that you like and love. This is also great for flagging songs that you do not want played. Perhaps there are songs from past relationships that you want to add to do the “do not play” list, or simply songs that just don’t fit your style or that you really don’t like.

Most importantly, choose music that speaks to you, your style, and your story. Music is such an important part of personalizing your day. Don’t wait until the very end to make your song choices, start in the beginning and have fun with the process.

 

Photography: LIV Photography | Venue: Wild Horse Pass

The Story of Katie & Miles

First Impressions 

Upon their early days of dating, Katie had talked up her amazing dog~ Jake to Miles, *certain* that Miles would LOVE him.When Katie brought her beloved doggie Jake, over to Mile's condo to meet for the first time....Jake strategically left his MARK in every.single.room in Mile's condo, all over the perfect white carpet!


Katie said her Jake had *never* done anything like that before. Thankfully though, Miles & Jake have worked it out and our now friends.

How They Met?

After looking for love in all the wrong places, Katie was dared by her friends to try Tinder, where she met Miles. He asked her out, but let her pick where they would meet. She decided on Four Peaks Brewery, and her first impression of him was how cute he is. (He shared the same thought!) They clicked right away, knowing they were both looking for a serious relationship. 

Katie and Miles dated for 2 years before their engagement. Miles booked a room at the L'Auburge Resort, where he proposed at Serenity Point. Katie had no idea what Miles was planning- they had been to Sedona many times, and he told her she didn't need to pack anything fancy. Miles had gone to ask Katie's parents while she was at work before they left for the weekend. After the proposal, Katie Face-timed her parents and they were waiting by the phone in anticipation. They were over the moon! 

 

And today, November 2nd, 2018 these two will marry, and we couldn't be more honored to share in this most special day with them! 

Photography by: Birdsong Photography

5 Top Questions Regarding the Rehearsal Dinner

Who Pays for the Rehearsal Dinner?

In a traditional wedding (one where the parents of the bride are paying for the wedding) it is still custom for the groom’s parents to pay for the rehearsal dinner. In a more modern wedding (where the couple getting married is paying for the wedding) it’s an option for either set of parents to pay for the rehearsal dinner or the couple themselves will pay for it.


Who is supposed to be invited to the Rehearsal Dinner?

Typically the entire bridal party (and their dates), immediate family and any extended family members (who have traveled in for the wedding) are invited to the Rehearsal Dinner. If you don’t invite the out of town family members to the rehearsal dinner, then it’s common to invite them to a post wedding brunch.


Do I have to invite the bridal party member’s dates to the Rehearsal Dinner?

Yes, in order for you bridal attendant to feel most comfortable, it is a nice gesture to invite their date to the Rehearsal Dinner also.

 

How formal does my dinner need to be?

It does not need to be formal at all! In fact, I encourage not making it formal as you don’t want it to compete too much with the wedding. Instead, consider doing a fun theme and play it up!
Western Night – BBQ
Italian Night – Mobsters
Mexican Food – Fiesta

When does the Rehearsal Dinner usually take place?

The Rehearsal Dinner takes place following the Rehearsal Ceremony. People often confuse this two different things.
The Rehearsal Ceremony= takes place at the church or venue that you will be getting married at.
The Rehearsal Dinner = is following the Rehearsal Ceremony, typically being held at restaurant or private residence.

Romantic Outdoor Wedding at the Four Seasons Scottsdale


Today, I'm so thrilled to share with you the beautifully romantic wedding day of Toni & Edward that took place back on March 31st of this year at the incredible, Four Season's Resort Scottsdale. 

Toni and Eddie put meaning into every detail of their wedding decisions.  They wanted their day to be a true reflection of who they are individually but also as couple.  Making sure that their guests felt extraordinarily special was important to them.  

Their picturesque ceremony took place among the stunning grounds of the Four Seasons.  One of the most endearing parts was how Toni's mother danced her down the aisle.  All of their special elements were built into their ceremony~fire, water and a ton of personality.  

The overall look of their wedding aesthetic was "classic with a twist." The day was filled with gold textures, clean linens, and lots of flowing greenery and wispy florals.  The dinner reception took place as the day turned to night with the most breath taking views of the Arizona desert below the delicately strung bistro lights.  

The night ended as all the guests danced the night away to the incredible sound of the "Lucky Devil's Band." 

 

Thank you so much to Toni and Eddie,  I wish you many more incredible days together, now as Husband and Wife.  

Venue: Four Season Resort Scottsdale at Troon North | Photography: Still Life Studios | Videography: Ethington Productions | Ceremony: Rev. Richard Rogers | Floral: Butterfly Petals | Entertainment: Lucky Devils Band | Bridal Fashion: Brilliant Bridal | Beauty: Linda Valenzula Salon | Planning: J. Starr Stylized Weddings

Remember the BIG Picture

Hello sweet friends!

I really think taking some extra time to do nice things for your loved ones is so important. This is especially true for couples who are planning a Wedding, because Wedding Planning can be very stressful!

That is why it’s incredibly important to remember the BIG picture. Take a moment to let go of the rsvp list, let go of all the haunting incoming invoices to pay, let go of all the details and just be together. I highly recommend going a date and having a rule about “No Wedding Discussions.” Feeling stuck on ideas as of what to do…well, it’s a good thing I’m a sucker for sentiment…


~ Take if back to where it all began, and recreate your first date.

~ Write out top ten lists about why you love each other.

~ Have dinner at your Wedding Venue location (if possible). Just remember no “wedding talk!”

~ Create a dinner at home, get dressed up, enjoy over candlelight. 

~ Go for a drive, listen to music, make out like teenagers.


Whatever you do, just remember to savor these moments. Planning a wedding is a struggle for all couples, allow yourself some grace. These moments are just preparing you for your possible future child raising years (which is even more crazy! Wink Wink). Life if precious, enjoy these times.

3 Stylizing Tips for Your Wedding Cake

Let’s dig right in.

Wedding cakes are expensive. They often rang in price from 6.00 per person upwards to 12.00 per person. A cake is not only a delicious treat after your meal, but also serves as an art piece for your wedding day. And, like any beautiful masterpiece, you wedding cake deserve to be showcased properly. Here are a few tips on how to make your wedding cake really stand out.

1. Elevate. It’s important that cake doesn’t get pushed into a dark corner. Ask ahead of time exactly where your cake is going to be displayed. Consider placing your cake up on a high top table, so it sits above your cake and guests tables.

2. Lighting. Consider adding a pin spot lighting to your cake. It’s a simple yet dramatic way to really highlight your cake.

3. Linens. You can really “dress up” your cake by adding some gorgeous specialty linens to your cake table. Just remember to choose linens that enhance your cake design, not work against it. 

Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Dress

1. Do your research. Be sure to go into your dressing appointment having a solid idea as to the type of dress you desire. Make sure you have chosen a dress type that compliments your figure the best, don’t just choose a dress because it’s the latest style.


2. Style your hair and make up the day you go dress shopping and be sure to wear nice undergarments (as chances are you may have a few people helping you try on your gowns). Overall, do your best to make sure that you feel good about your appearance.
Bring heels to try on with your dresses.


3. Don’t feel obligated to bring your entire bridal party. Sometimes finding the “right” dress can be stressful, and having too many opinions makes things difficult.


4. Make sure that the salesperson makes you feel special and truly understands and cares about the type of dress that you are looking for.


5. Don’t expect to find your dress in one day, and don’t feel pressured to find your dress in one day. You deserve to feel beautiful, comfortable, and excited about your wedding dress.

Photography: Daniel Kim Photography | Venue: El Chorro

Cassandra & Tom (engagement)

We are so looking forward to celebrating our J. Starr Couple, Tom & Cassandra! With their wedding day around the corner, we asked them to share their engagement story. 

Tom & Cassandra met at a mutual friend’s son’s third birthday party. Tom had come without his kids, and each of the friends hinted that they were both single and then introduced them to each other. They talked a lot that night and shared and In-and-Out chocolate/strawberry shake that Tom raved about, and Cassandra quickly fell in love with! Tom’s first impression of Cassandra was how B-E-A-utiful she was, and smart too! Cassandra thought how cute Tom was, and wondered if he was single. She was surprised to hear he had children, a little nervous but quickly decided that it didn’t matter and wanted to get to know him.

 

The night they met, Tom walked Cassandra to her car after the party, (as she carried the books, bags and games she had brought to the party). He asked for her number. She waited anxiously all day for his message, doubting that he would even reach out. He eventually texted her and they had dinner the next night at Los Taquitos.

 

Tom & Cassandra dated for two years before he proposed. He knew she was the one shortly after meeting, and he knew if he didn’t snag her soon someone else would!  Cassandra knew Tom was the one when she met his family. His sisters each described to her how he seemed to have changed since meeting her, and how she was such a positive influence on not only him, but also his kids.

 

When Tom & Cassandra started their relationship, he was running his own business and she was completing her doctorate program. Tom stood by Cassandra’s side during her schooling, and they even endured a long-distance relationship during her internship in Tucson. Cassandra always made it a point to go out of her way to see Tom and his children.

 

Tom thought about how he could surprise Cassandra with a well thought out creative, romantic, and elaborate event but when he had her ring in his hand, he wasn’t patient enough to wait. Tom surprised Cassandra on their two-year anniversary when she came home from work. She came home to a freshly mowed lawn, 4-dozen roses, candles and a handwritten love note. After she read the note, she turned to him and he dropped on one knee and popped the question. She replied with “Totally!” and couldn’t let him go. The most meaningful part to Cassandra was that he included her parents! After she said yes, they came out of the bedroom to congratulate them and share dinner. It was very special to all of them!

The Engagement of Beckie & Curt

We are so excited to be sharing the engagement story of our amazing J.Starr Couple, Beckie and Curt, whose wedding day is approaching fast!  The pair first met while taking out the garbage after Curt moved in across the street from Beckie.  Her first impression of him was that he was very handsome and easy to talk to.  Beckie told us they talked by the garbage can for 45 minutes and it felt like 5 minutes.  Curt made the first move and asked Beckie out on their first real date and they dates for 2 years before becoming engaged.  Beckie knew he was special and different from anyone else the moment she met him and knew he was the  one within a few weeks of knowing him. 

The couple moved in together after about a year and half of dating (which consisted of Beckie walking her stuff across the street :) ). Then less than two weeks later Curt was in a position where he needed to move back to Nebraska.  It was a touch decision but the pair did it together.  Fast forward after 9 months to Nebraska, Beckie and Curt realized Arizona is where they were meant to be.  Now after lots of packing and unpacking, the two are finally in a beautiful new home together in Arizona.  During those difficult months of figuring out where their life together should be, Beckie told Curt “I love you everywhere and always”. That has been their motto ever since

Beckie and Curt became engaged at The Montelucia. Curt decorated the couple's room with flowers and candles. He had their favorite songs playing. Then he took Beckie out to the balcony with a beautiful view at sunset and got on his knee finally asking Beckie to be his wife.  Beckie told us the engagement was a complete surprise and what meant the most to her was that Curt did all of the special things just for her to have the most amazing moment.

Photography: Still Life Studios

How to Feel Beautiful On Your Wedding Day

You deserve to feel beautiful on your Wedding Day. Careful preparation can definitely help you to feel your best.

Here are some tips to ensure these plans run smoothly:

1.) Have Your Hair & Make Up Artist Come to YOU!
Please don't spend your precious time on the day of your wedding stressed about timing and traffic. Hire professionals who will come to your home or your hotel. It's important for you feel as relaxed as possible and be able to enjoy all aspects of your day.

2.) Really consider who and how many people will be around you while you're getting ready. Do not feel obligated to have your entire bridal around you the entire day, which can often be overwhelming and chaotic. Perhaps consider getting ready with your Maid of Honor and Mom and allowing your other bridal party members to get ready in another area.

3.) Always, do a hair and makeup trial beforehand. Make sure you love the way you look and make sure that you love the professionals that you've hired. Take photos and notes of your trial and be sure and bring those along on the day of your Wedding to refresh your beauty's team minds.

Stylistically, Who are You?

Hello Friends!


Let’s discuss….”Stylistically, Who Are You?”


Once you’ve ruled out everything you don’t want …how do you determine what you do want? This is part of the process that isn’t easy…even the most creative people struggle to pull their inner style of themselves to be displayed in an artistic fashion. But there are some simple ways to help you with this process.

1.) Look around your home…do you see a pattern in color? Is your home formal or cozy? What feeling do you get when you walk into your home? Or if anything, what do you wish was the feeling you felt when you walk into your home?
• Traditional
• Personalized
• Urban Glam
• Modern
• Organic & Natural
Write down notes on what you see and feel?

2.) Do the same with your closet. Really study your clothing…they will speak to you. Do the same for your fiancées clothing (remember you will need a blend both your styles)

3.) What are you special interests? What do you love to do? What do you love to do together?
• Cooking
• Outdoors
• Museums
• Sports
• Music
• Travel

4.) Let’s talk sound. Who are your favorite musical artists? That type of you music do gravitate towards? How about your fiancée? Don’t be afraid if your tastes differ, that makes for a good a blend.

5.) If you had to pick three words to describe to describe how you want your wedding to look, which words would they be?

Once you’ve taken some time to really study stylistically who you are…you find your planning process will be become easier. As always I highly recommend hiring a Wedding Planner/Designer to take your thoughts to the next level. A Planner /Designer will create mood boards for you to absorb and choose the best direction for your Wedding Day. Try not to get overwhelmed. Couples put a lot of pressure for wanting to make everything “perfect.” Please remember, the most memorable wedding aren’t perfect, they are “different.” And you can achieve a “different” wedding when you pour your personality into your selections.

Photography: Brooke Photography

7 Questions You Should Ask Your Photographer

One of the most common things I hear in the wedding industry are horror stories about peoples past wedding photography experiences, it just breaks my heart....please don't make a mistake by choosing a photographer based on their "inexpensive" price, please........I beg you!  

When it's all said and done, the only thing you have left are your cherished memories. 

 

7 Questions You Should Ask Your Photographer...........
(By: Still Life Studios) 

1.) What's your photographic style on a typical wedding day and can I see a complete wedding?
This question is a bit tricky. Remember the photographer wants your business and may want to sell you the style they know you're after.  There are lots of buzz words and confusing ideas about photographic style. Traditional is typically considered a bad thing, with photo journalist perhaps being the most sought after "style".  What is most important is that the photographer's style makes the most sense to you and connects with your emotional center.  If you see samples on their website and love the work then ask to see a complete wedding from the photographer. If you can see the same style in a full wedding then this gives you a pretty good sense of the photographer's eye. Asking to see a wedding should be a piece of cake for the photographer since they should have plenty of recent weddings online for you to look at and review by asking for the password.  You might als make sure they are actually shoot a few weddings as this may tell you how successful they are currently.  As for us (Still Life Studios) ...we shoot in a Documentary Style which means we capture the majority of your wedding day by being there but not directing you.  We are there to answer questions and help if needed but wae love the natural moments that happen without our direction.  We also capture in a Fashion Style for a small portion of time...during the Bridal Party photos we help your party to be at ease and relax, have a little fun. This requires some direction for us but it turns out to be good time.   During the Bride and Groom session we also jump in and give you direction since moments like walking down a busy street in your wedding dress don't just happen...we send a little prompting your way and let your personalites take over.  We like to assist in bringing out the model within you. Work it baby! What's your style?

2.)  Is this your career and full-time business?
This gets to the heart of several things and that is, "Is this just a hobby? Something for side cash? Are you adequately trained?"  Don't ask these though...they might be considered offensive but we think it makes a difference to know that your teams knows what they're doing, and that they do this for love AND survival! That way you know that your photographer(s) are going to make sure they are constantly on their toes to ensure your needs are met and that you are super happy with the results.  Would you trust your spleen to someone who just dabbles in surgery?

3.)  Are you running a legitimate business?
Or are you just some random person with a camera? Because anyone can become a "photographer" by buying a camera and selling their services, this is just one way you know that they play by the rules of the state by carrying actual business liability insurance, paying taxes and also that they have common sense.  Bad apple photographers can go to jail for selling photography and not paying taxes.  You also want to know that they treat customers and clients and won't rip you off.

4.) Do you have adequate back up equipment?
Each of our photographers come with mulitple camera bodies and an assortment of lenses, flashes, and various other equipment.  It's electronic and equipment fails on occasion, even when you buy the best (like we do).  You want to make sure your photographer has a back up plan, because Murphy's Law exists and sometimes things go wrong.  For example, if something of ours does fail, you will never know it because we reach for other equipment we have eagerly awaiting use in the bag.  If you aren't careful, you photographer may have to wipe the dust off that film camera (if they brought a back up along) which has its own set of risks, or they might have to use the disposables you bought for the tables, unless of course you're prepared to bring the expensive backup equipment for your lesser priced photographer....

5.) Who's got your back?
This is a serious question.  You are going to embark on one of the most dreamed about events of your life.  The last thing you want is someone not making it to your big day.  Accidents, sickness, and emergencies can and do happen.  No one can guarantee your day will be void of any problem, but the answer to this question can certainly put you at ease concerning your photographer.  Our studio has a dedicated team of photographers who have all had extensive training in the Still Life Studios style.  You can rest knowing that if there were a problem, we have backup photographers who are prepped to step in. 

6.)  Do you sell/include the disc in your packages?
This can be a double-edged sword for an answer.  Most brides think this is the most important thing they can ask.  Sometimes I wonder if it's because the bridal magazines say so.  Can this be important? Yes, but maybe not for the reasons you think.  Many brides want a disc so they can go and get cheap prints make at a corner store.  This cracks us up! Since you are hiring a photographer to take professional pictures, you might also consider letting them make sure it's professionally printed.  (yes printing on professional paper at a professional lab has big advantages) and has all the final treatments to best fit the size and circumstance of the pictures you want to display so proudly.  Ask what the photographer charges for reprints.  You may find that all the extra work they put into the print may cost quite a bit more than the drug store photo lab but they worked up the image to perfection and will stand behind it if anything was to be amiss. 

7.)  What measures do you take to protect my photographic memories?
Many of our clients don't buy a disc and yet, they still want to make sure their images are safe-that they can come back and get copies at some point in the future.  You want to make sure that your photography studio has routine methods of safely protecting your images. Besides having routine storing methods of protecting your images on your wedding day, we backup your images to multiple hard drives as soon as we reach the office.  In addition to that, we make a third copy of your images once they are posted online (within a week!) and then they are placed in your client file.  In an effort to also avoid the dangers of fire or other disaster we take your images to an offise location for storage.  No that you know we are serious about protecting your memories, this might be a good time to think about how you are protecting your own personal photographs...

For more information contact: Still Life Studios at
(480) 985-3959/www.stilllifestudios.com

Candlelit Intimacy at the JW Marriott Scottdale Camelback

Greetings All!
Today, I'm so happy to share with you the intimately stunning wedding day of Kory and Monjur that took place back on April 14th of this year at the majestic, JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa.

 

Kory, a serious minded beauty was completely relaxed and full of joy on her wedding day to Monjur. It was quite apparent, that when Monjur was around her, the weight of the world simply melted away. Monjur, always had a smile and was simply smitten by his beautiful bride and together they truly relished in an intimate celebration among family and friends.


Their sweet ceremony took place in a small garden right in the heart of the resort followed by a candlelit dinner inside the Private Dining Room of the award winning Rita's Kitchen.


The day was filled full of lush romantic florals in various shades of pink with touches of greenery and curly willow weaved in. The reception room completely took your breath away as you entered. The room was illuminated in endless candlelight in a variety of levels.
Kory and Monjur really soaked in their family and friends in this intimate setting enjoying exquisite cuisine followed by live outdoor music. It was truly a day filled with real moments and many laughs among loved ones.

Thank you so much to Kory and Monjur, I wish you many more celebrations . Thank you for allowing us to share in your day.

All Things Stationery & Oils Event

Awe yes, when the Arizona heat kicks in and wedding season slows~ we love to dive into creative collaborations! And we were so honored to be able to do this with one of Arizona's most insanely talented people: Heidi of Idieh Design & Heart Yourself Collective. Yes, Heidi and I wanted to bring some of my beloved J.Starr Clients together along with some of my team members to chat all things wedding invitations/stationery and then followed it up with explaining how essential oils can help wedding couples throughout their wedding planning process.

But we didn't want to stop there, nope....we wanted to keep spreading the LOVE. So with that said, listed below are Heidi's best pieces of advice for all things Stationery & Oils.

QUANTITY
Remember you only need an invite PER HOUSEHOLD and not per person. Many couples will think they need 200 invitations when inviting 200 guests, but in reality, it's probably somewhere between 100-115 based on the number of couples versus singles on your list. *PRO TIP: Order 10-15 extra invitations outside of your final count to accommodate for return invites due to wrong address, any people you might add last minute, to replace those that get lost in the mail (it happens!), and a couple "clean" invites for photos and keepsakes.*

TIMELINE
Saves the dates typically go out 4-6 months in advance (veer more on the 6 month side if it's a destination wedding) to inform your guests of SOME of the details for the upcoming celebration so they can pencil it in on their calendar. Include information such as names, date, city/state, website (if you have one) and informing them that an invitation is to follow.
Wedding invitations typically head out the door 8-10 weeks in advance. This allows adequate time for the guests to receive the invitations & to send in their RSVP. The couple then has a week or two to follow up with all of the guests who don't RSVP (as some just won't do it) and then the catering staff usually needs to know final guest counts 1-2 weeks prior to your big day. *PRO TIP: No matter when you send out your invitations (unless you are running way behind), request that your guests RSVP a month from the day you plan to send them out. That way there is some urgency when the invitations arrive to send the RSVP back immediately versus it getting thrown into the endless pile of mail and forgotten.*

ONLINE INVITATIONS vs. CUSTOM INVITATIONS

When deciding if you want to order invitations online or go the route of hiring a custom stationery designer (like myself!), there are some things to consider. Is it important to you to infuse you and your fiancé's personality into the suite to have it feel really personal and unique-to-you? Do you have a specific design in mind that you are envisioning to communicate the overall vibe of your wedding? Do you like the creative process and being able to guide the direction of the design along the way? Are you having a wedding that has unique events outside of your wedding day, such as a welcome party, a day-after brunch, etc.? Are only certain guests invited to certain events or maybe it's a full weekend of parties for all of the guests, but lots of information to deliver? Working with a designer allows you to really customize your suite to fit all of your needs. Overall, if you answered "YES" to any of these questions, the custom route is going to be your best option. It allows you to receive the most unique--to-you design while offering up all of the perks to really customize it to your needs and wants.
Find more wedding tips and advice on all things stationery, make sure to check out idieh design's Girl Talk Series.
Benefits of Using Essential Oils throughout the Planning Process

BALANCE

Essential oils bring BALANCE to the body — they do NOT give nor take away. They detox & create harmony for each individual through the power of natural solutions. Essential oils allow your body to find it's own special balance - all with what you already have inside you. And, that's simply magical, especially throughout the planning process where couples find themselves overwhelmed, overly emotional, and quite exhausted with all of the planning.

WAYS TO USE OILS
The three ways in which you can use oils is aromatically, topically and internally. Here are examples of each in preparing for your big day.
Aromatically: Dropping a few drops between your hands and inhaling or diffusing essential oils are the most common ways that people experience the power of plant magic. Maybe you diffuse some citrus oils in your bridal suite on the day of your wedding to set the uplifting tone of the day. Or maybe you drop a few drops of Lavender between your hands, rub them together, and inhale to help calm those nerves before marrying the man of your dreams.
Topically: Apply doTERRA Motivate, the encouraging blend, on your wrists or behind your neck to get you through all the decision-making throughout the planning process. The extra boost will keep you moving forward to tackle the things you keep putting off. Or, when life seems to always be go, go, GO throughout this stage of your life, apply doTERRA Forgive, the renewing blend, to your pulse points and heart throughout the day to feel grounded and content.
Internally: Finding yourself not sleeping well with all you have to do? Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a veggie capsule & take internally to calm the body and send you off to dreamland. Wanting to make sure you stay healthy throughout the planning process? Take 2-3 drops of doTERRA OnGuard, the protective blend, for an immunity boost.

QUALITY MATTERS
When using oils, buying them at the grocery store is not the same as getting them from a trusted source. doTERRA offers the most tested and most trusted oils that, in turn, are the most effective. The plants that provide the oils are harvested in their natural habitats. doTERRA oils are verified pure and free of fillers and harmful contaminants (which can't be said for those purchased off Amazon or at a local grocer). And, they are tested by a third party to ensure authenticity and potency. If you are interested in more info about essential oils and how to bring more natural solutions into your home, I would love to be your oil guide! Send me an email at heidi@heartyourselfcollective.com and make sure to follow us on Instagram.

*Special thank you to Lauren of Gainey Ranch Golf Club for allowing us to host our meet up at your property. And a special thank you so Andrea from A Bakeshop for providing amazing cookie favors. And of course thank you to Heidi for your many talents and insights and to my clients and team members who attended!! xo

 

Bohemian Romance Found at the Royal Palms

Hello All!  Today, I'm absolutely thrilled to share with you the beautiful wedding day of Krista and Lorenzo that took place back on April 15th of this year at the effortlessly intimate and romantic, Royal Palms Resort.  

There's was no doubt that the moment I met Krista, I just knew she was meant to be my J.Starr Bride and I was meant to be her Wedding Planner.  Krista had meaning behind every part of her story, you can just tell this is how she lives her life~ and that was just so endearing to me.  And then I met Lorenzo, and he was just as charming as Krista had described.  These two were perfect together.  

One thing that really stood out to me was the authenticity that these two poured into their day.  They wanted their wedding day to truly be a reflection of who they are.  Krista wore her mama's wedding gown and flowers in her hair.  She looked so beautiful, but truly what shined was her happiness. Krista was all smiles the entire day, she was inspiring to watch.  And Lorenzo, he was so gracious to everyone throughout the day.  

From their displayed family moments, to the reception room filled with succulents~ again every item that was a part of their day held such special meaning to this couple.  My favorite part of the entire day was watching the first dance as Husband and Wife to John Legend's "Save Room."  All of their guests were standing up surrounding them in that moment and Krista & Lorenzo's genuine LOVE for each other and all their loved ones, was never more apparent.  

 

History was made on this day for such a lovely couple~and I was so completely honored to be a small part of it.  


Thank you so much Krista & Lorenzo, may your love story continue to be filled with authenticity and joy~ always.  

Venue: Royal Palms Resort and Spa | Photography: Griffith Imaging | Planning: J.Starr Stylized Weddings | Entertainment: Miguel de Maria | Officiant: Mike Kennedy | Hair & Make-Up: Pearl Espinoza | Stationary: Prisma Graphics | Entertainment (DJ): SKM Entertainment | Florals: The Wildflower AZ

An Outer Space Tea Party Celebration

Dear Hunter,

Two Sundays ago,  you turned TWO!  You were sent into orbit by your two favorite aliens.  Oh, my little guy how you have certainly BLASTED off.  You RUN (fast), you HOP (a lot), and you GRIN 95% of the day.  In short, you not only kick my booty, but also your Daddy's and your sisters~ you are CONSTANT.  But you little Tigercat,  definitely make our world so much BRIGHTER. 

 

Life of course, was busier than ever but we knew that your 2nd Birthday deserved to be CELEBRATED!  I asked your sisters what the "Theme" should be for your party?  I believe at first they said "Dinosaurs" as that was your theme last year...then Emma suggested "Mickey Mouse" which would have been cute, but somehow we landed on "Space." I'm thinking this may have had something to do with the fact that your Daddy LOVES space.

We started preparing for your par-tay  the day before.  YES, only the day before.  

Theme, check! 

Guests Invited (Us + "Grammie Gee & Pa," "Uncle Chase," and "Great Grandpa Jim & Pam"), check!

Menu Created, (Super Easy Peasy yet Thematic), check! 

Décor Decided Upon, check!  Since it was Mother's Day, somewhat your "Space" Themed morphed into an "Outer Space Tea Party." This is what happens when I have your sister's design it~ using only décor items that that we already had ;) I kinda LOVED it. 

White Smoke Bombs, check! (left over from one of Mommy's Wedding Magazine Photo Shoots)

A Pair of Alien Sisters, check! (It did help that your sister Emma, looks like the girl from the show  "Stranger Things" at the moment~due to the recent hair cut she gave herself.) 

An handmade UFO, check!  Yes, your Daddy somehow pulled this together using your Fisher Price Car, cardboard, a can of spray paint, tape, and a plastic sword.  

 

We were ready to CELEBRATE YOU Little Boy!  And oh how we did.  Thank you for being ours. 

 

Love, Mommy & Daddy 

 

How to Choose the Right Venue Style for Your Wedding

Happy Wednesday Friends!

Let’s jump right in…. after you become engaged the first BIG decision you will need to make is selecting your Wedding Venue. This can often times be the most stressful part of the planning process, because there are so many different variables to consider. With all of these things to consider, this part of the process can be very emotionally draining.
Here are some tips for making this process a little easier on yourself before you even start to begin looking at venues!

1. Consider hiring a Wedding Planner. Wedding Planning is overwhelming, no doubt about that! But did you know that many valley planners offer an initial complimentary consultation? Take that time to meet with a Professional to best understand what services are offered. It will be well worth your time and possible investment.


2. Finalize (best guess) your estimated Guest Count. This is very important as each venue has a different capacity.


3. Agree upon an overall Wedding Budget that you both feel comfortable with. (again consult with your Planner to educate on you on overall average Wedding Expenses.)


4. Decide logistically what part of the valley you desire to host your wedding in.


5. Have an ideal date in mind…at least the year and month.

Once you have your foundation laid then you start talking about your desired style. Please do not torture yourself by wasting your precious time touring venues that don’t match any of your needs. I think it’s common that once a couple gets engaged they instantly start touring venues (because naturally you’re excited) but that is not a good use of time or your emotional energy.  The good news is…Arizona has SEVERAL venue options…and now that you have grasp on your guest count, budget, demographics, and ideal dates…this process will be much easier for you!

 

A Royal Palms Wedding, Full of Romantic Ambiance

Hello All, I'm so excited to share this Royal Palms Resort Wedding with you today! This extraordinary day took place five months ago and viewing this photos is such a refreshing reminder of how beautiful this day truly was. 

There is no doubt that this wedding tugged at my heart a little more being that the beautiful bride Emmy, has a twin sister Jenny.  And being that I have twin daughters myself~ this was a special experience for me to able to witness that twin sister bond on a wedding day.  Seeing the happiness they had for each other was truly endearing and when Jenny the Maid of Honor delivered her speech she had me in tears. 

Emmy had impeccable taste.  She new wanted to keep her wedding day looking simple, refined and classic~ while adding in personal uniqueness of their style and personality.  She was incredible wise to make her design decisions based off the naturally beautiful existing ambiance of the Royal Palms property.   Additionally, she incorporated the Spanish wrought iron elements and added in touches of gold and loads of candlelight.  

Additionally, their dinner reception took place outdoors~ under the palms trees and hanging bistro lights.  The guests were able to watch the sun set over Camelback Mountain as they dined.  It was truly an exquisite experience.  Emmy shined throughout the entire day with her calm demeanor and classic beauty.  And Dwain just captured all of our hearts that day.  There's no doubt how much he loves his Bride and he let that be known as he toasted her the most heartfelt speech in front of all of their guests.

This day was nothing short of true dream.  And I was so completely honored to be a part of it.  

 

Thank you so much Emmy and Dwain, and congratulations on your recent move the Valley of the Sun.  What a beautiful way to continue your love story.  

Venue: Royal Palms Resort and Spa | Photography: Katrina Wallace Photographers | Planning: J.Starr Stylized Weddings | Florals: Avant Garde | DJ: Starz Entertainment | Guitarist: Miguel de Maria | Hair & Make-Up: Linda Valenzuela | Stationary: Freed Hands | Officiant: John Holton | Transportation: Ollie the Trolley

12 Ways to Add Meaning to a Milestone Celebration

Grandpa Jim’s 90th Birthday Party

This past November all of my family members (on my dad’s side) gathered to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th Birthday Celebration! In planning this party with my family, I keep a few things in mind and implemented them into our planning process that helped to really add meaningfulness into this joyous occasion. Today I’m sharing those helpful ways to inspire you for your next milestone gathering.

 

Private Facebook Group for Communication/Include Family Members/Delegate Tasks

Creating a Private Facebook Group is smart way to keep your entire family members (well at least those on FB), involved and included in the planning process. Then they can decide how involved they desire to be or they can simply turn off the notifications and only tune in once in a while. This is extremely helpful when deciding upon the date, the time, the venue, the overall theme, and delegating tasks.

Have A Theme.

Yes, all “great” celebrations truly need a theme of some kind. This is really a sneaky (SMART) tip at being able to keep your budget in check. You see, if you give the party a “relaxed” theme to begin with, this automatically saves you from feeling like your décor needs to be over the top. The theme should make sense and really be true reflection of the guest of honor.

Incorporate your theme into the décor.

The theme should be communicated through the invitation first and foremost. Next it should be carried through on your tables and any other fun areas that can use a little décor and personalization such as the chairs, high top tables, welcome area, and the cake.


Display family photos and memorabilia, and signage.

Nothing make a milestone event more heartfelt than being able to view old family photos. This is such an easy way to add meaning. And signage is a big deal. Having a welcome sign is great way to greet guests into the experience.


Have a Plan for the Timeline.

Having a timeline for any type of gathering is a must. Never assume that you’ll make plan during the actual party, that’s not possible. You’ll be too busy chatting with guests to make any sort of on the spot decisions. This doesn’t mean you need to plan for something happening every minute of the gathering, but a simple timeline creates a flow that is needed when gathering people.


Plan for Family Group Photos.

If possible (especially with large families) arrange for your family members to arrive early, before the party begins. At this time everyone will have fresh faces and attention spans. It’s more realistic to plan for your family to arrive a preset time before the party, then scrambling trying to group everyone at the tail end of the event.


Involve the guests.

Plan for the guest of honor to have something meaningful to take home. Consider setting out a box of note cards, envelopes and pens. Encourage them to jot down their favorite memories for the guest of honor to read later, after the party. It’s a little melancholy when a celebration is over, this is nice way for the guest to have something else look forward to and enjoy.

 

Arrange for a Master of Ceremonies.

If you’re budget will allow, hiring an emcee/dj will make your job as the host, much more enjoyable. Once you’ve planned everything out, turning over the timeline to the Emcee is HUGE. Now, they become in charge of the flow, and lend a real “voice” (which is needed) to the event.


Be thoughtful with your music selections.

The music needs to make sense. If you can arrange for live music during cocktail hour, there’s nothing better. Next, create a playlist that the guest of honor will appreciate, music that they love. Also, choose some “feel good” classic party songs that help to fill a dance floor.


The cake is a big deal!

A great way to incorporate your overall theme is in the cake, especially when it comes to a milestone (like 90!). And be sure to make this a big part of the celebration. Arrange for the guest of honor to be brought out in front of everyone for this momentous moment.


Slideshows, always.

Never underestimate the power of a slideshow. Make sure it’s located in a visible area and preplan when it will scroll. Remember to turn it off during the presentation part of the celebration so it doesn’t distract from the happenings. The best time to showcase a scrolling slideshow is during cocktail hour and again after the planned festivities have concluded, during the dancing reception.


Involve Loved Ones.

Arrange for those closest to the guest of honor to be involved in some way. This could be through a planned speech, a family trivia game, really any kind of sentimental delivery. These are usually the moments that mean the most to the guest of honor and are the parts of the celebration that stand out the most to the guests in attendance.

5 Tips for Selecting the Members of Your Bridal Party

Hello Friends,
Let’s talk about choosing your bridal party. I’ve had many brides and grooms express their many concerns when it comes to this task. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, because there are a lot of emotions and expectations involved. Today I’ve put together a few thoughts I would like to consider before selecting your “tribe.”


1.) The Honor
Who really deserves it? Often time people base their bridal party selections on obligation (well, I was in their wedding, or I have to all of my sisters) rather than selecting people who simply feel right. Really think about who you turn to in times of joy and trouble. Ask yourself who makes you feel special; who do you have fun times with?


2.) The Time Commitment
Being involved with a wedding involves a lot of time. There’s the dress shopping, the fitting, the accessories, the bridal shower, the bachelorette party, the rehearsal ceremony, the rehearsal dinner, of course the wedding day. Really think about whether or not this person has the time to commit. If you’re uncertain, feel free to ask them directly. To some friends, it might not matter how much time is involved, while others it might place great stress upon.

 

3.) The Expense
Being involved in a wedding can be quite expensive. The wardrobe, the possible travel, the alternations, professional hair and makeup, plus possible requested time off of work. Not to mention gifts along for each celebration….it can be a lot. Again, if you’re uncertain ask your friend and try to best estimate an amount ahead of time to share with them.

 

4.) The Great Expectations
Really think about whether or not this person will meet the expectations you’ve created in your mind and heart. Are you expecting the members of your bridal to be able to attend all the functions (bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner) or are you okay with them possibly needing to skip some of these times? Will this person be excited and joyful about your wedding day or will they be negative and voice their complaints along the way?
5.) The Fun Factor
A great ingredient to a great wedding day is a fun and active bridal party. Some of the best dance floors are being rocked out by the bridal party. Members of the bridal party feel special, they feel honored, therefore they are more likely to cut loose and have a great time supporting you and your most special day.

Classic Gainey Ranch Winter Wedding

Greetings All!  I'm so excited to share this beautiful Gainey Ranch Golf Club Wedding with you today! This lovely day took place on December 16th, 2017, closing out the year in a big way for Sarah and Jordan.  

One thing I knew for sure, right from the beginning, was that this wedding was truly going to be a family affair.  From the very first phone calls that came in to discuss wedding planning services~ first a phone call from Cindy ,the Mother of the Groom, then followed by a phone call from Berta, the Mother of the Bride.  My first in person meeting was with both sets of parents, while Sarah and Jordan were busy working.  I was so touched and amused by the true friendships between their parents. They were a wedding planning team~ that knew who to handle all the stressful wedding planning details and decisions through laughter.  

I actually didn't get to meet Sarah & Jordan until the tail end of the wedding planning process and I was impressed with their partnership and laid back approach to embracing the wedding day.  It was also apparent that they were a true team and were ready to make everything official.  

The wedding day took place at the always enchanting Gainey Ranch Golf Club.  The wedding day was filled with delightful touches of ivory and flowing greenery~ matching the natural elements of the setting so perfectly.  To bring in touches of winter and sophistication, a strong shade of navy was highlighted in both the gorgeous wardrobe and table linens.  But most importantly what stood out was the humorous tone not only among the parents and family but also the bridal party.  This group was very comfortable together and knew how to have fun.  

One of most memorable moments from this day was witnessing the reactions from Sarah's bridesmaid and family when she initially  walked out in her wedding dress for the first time. As a Wedding Planner, these moments are some of the heartfelt perks.  Shortly after, I helped Sarah down the elevator and led her to the spot where her handsome groom was awaiting her arrival for their "First Look."  There I witnessed their entire bridal party and immediate family members gathered at the windows in awe of watching this special moment.  There was so much joy and sweet tears shed by all that love Sarah and Jordan.  And this was just the beginning of their magical day. All that followed was truly spectacular~ from the personalized ceremony, to the confetti cannon grand entrance, followed by the surprise firework display.  This was wedding day to remember.  


Sarah, Jordan, Berta, Bill, Steve & Cindy~  thank you for allowing me to join your wedding planning process at the tail end.  I know that decision involved a great deal of trust.  Thank you for allowing my team  and me that honor.  What an amazing way to begin a marriage~ here a few of my favorite moments from your day! 

View Jordan and Sarah's Wedding Day Highlight Video: HERE
View My Candid/Personal "Behind the Scenes Clips" : HERE

CREATIVE PARTNER TEAM

Venue: Gainey Ranch Golf Club | Wedding Planning: Jennifer Starr | Beauty: Kensington Makeup | Cinema: J&P Media Group | Entertainment: Got You Covered | Florals: The Wildflower AZ | Photography: Robert Godridge Photography | Rentals & Décor: Tremaine Ranch

Our Honest Survival Tips for Parenting Small Children

I sat across from Justin last Saturday in a small Thai restaurant eating lunch.  We were alone, we were in public, we could have a real fluid  conversation ~this was rare.  I told him about my goals for blogging moving forward, explained to him how much I missed blogging consistently (as I had been able to do in years past.) 

He of course encouraged me keep to pushing forward through the thick of all the responsibilities and daily tasks because he knows how much joy writing, sharing, and creating brings to me.  Yet, we also recognized that we are still in the "thick" of parenting small children, and with that comes exhaustion and endurance.

You see it wasn't that long ago that Justin and I had many conversations about whether or not to have a third child after having our twin girls. Justin being the realist and me being the dreamer talked a lot about this, a lot.  I knew shortly after having my twins, that I was meant to have another.  I remember so many people telling me "yeah, twins....you only have to go through this one time."  

My heart would sink each time I would hear this.  ONE time!?  One time experiencing pregnancy, one time experiencing birth, one time experiencing newborn cuddles, one time going through each phase....smiles, words, steps. One time starting pre-school, and on and on.  Granted YES, these "one times" were multiplied but still.  That's a lot all at once.

Justin knew it too, deep down I think he was always on the same page as me, he's just too logical to admit it.  He would tell me many times "Jennifer, having a third child will impact our lives greatly.  All of our other goals will take longer, life will be harder, and this will most definitely impact your business, you will have to be okay with continued  slow yet, steady growth."  Okay, we both decided~ we "knew" what we were in for and we decided to add another child to our family. 

Within (no joke) a few weeks after having our "final" deciding conversation about both wanting this~ BOOM.  I was pregnant, and Justin was shocked.  So shocked that when I told him over a fancy dinner lakeside at the "Chart House" he couldn't even eat his meal.

 Fast forward nine months.... our little blonde burst of sunshine: Hunter Starr entered our world full of tiger cat growls and great big smiles.  And after the amazing months of newborn magic, reality set in.  LIFE WAS HARD, damn hard.  

Everything that Justin had pre-warned me about was happening.  Life was busier and more challenging than ever.  We had had 3 children in 3.5 years.  And it took (and is still) taking some big adjustments.  But throughout this journey and phase in our life we've learned and come to realized a handful of things that I thought we would share with you today.

Survival Tips for Parents of Young Children: 

1.) Weekly Date Nights, whatever it takessomething that has been amazing is going on a weekly date night.  At first the idea seems kind of silly.  Once a week?  Who has time for that, the budget for that, is once a week really needed?  That's what we used to think until we realized that we were no longer able to have actual conversations unless all the kids were sleeping.  Now we look forward to them so much.  They are short and fairly simple, but it's weekly reprieve that we can always look forward too.  Even if it means that we are both exhausted, at least we're together.  We feel so fortunate to have found someone we trust be able to watch our littles once a week.  This was a challenge before, as both Justin's parents have passed away and my parents live 50 minutes away.  But someway, somehow we found someone and we've been able to carry on with weekly date nights (for the most part) for the last 13 months.  

2.) Consistent Communication about finances, scheduling.  We have busy lives.  Justin works about 50 hours a week, and I run my growing business and I'm the primary caregiver to my children (twin 5 year old girls & a 1 year old little boy.)   And then, I'm a sucker for all things fun. If there's an event of any kind, I'm always going to try my hardest to get us there.  While I'm still working on creating more "white space" in on our calendar, there are a few things we've learned to help keep us better in sync.  Once a week (usually on Sundays) while our little guy is napping and the girls are supposedly in "quiet time" we try and crank out our schedule and pay bills.  I use an old fashion, super simple paper calendar planner (with monthly view) paired with our shared google calendar.  I prefer to use the handwritten planner first (I'm a visual person) and then insert everything in our google calendar next.  We've realized that it's nearly impossible to remember everything on a day to day basis (especially with my diverse schedule) so chatting it out on a weekly basis helps immensely. And money, we've found that in order for us to be on the same page with our budget and financial goals we have to sit down together and pay our bills and plan. 

3.) Staycations.  Prior to having children "Staycations" seemed lame.  But now, oh how the tides turn....because "Staycations" are GOLD.  We try and manage 2 to 3 a year.  They are easy, relaxed, and amazing.  We've realized that any time we get "away" from the kiddos is meant to be for guilt-free relaxation.  We've learned that these escapes aren't meant for adventure and outings...they are meant to do nothing~ and nowadays we even make it goal to never even leave the resort at all.  

4.) Individual Time.  Truth is, I think I get more of individual time than Justin.  But that's probably because I'm with the crew more than him and he fears my sanity more than I do his. But yes, from time to time I've found that I function best if I can get a little time completely to myself (and not work related.) My escape is usually a reflexology place down the road where I never have to make an appointment at.  I also think a weekend get-away is in my future to visit one of my best girlfriends.  

5.) Adult Meltdowns.  And knowing that adult meltdowns are a normal part of having small children.  (so long as you don't have more than your children do.) It's intense, like way intense and so constant.  I think feeling like you're losing it once in awhile (or once a week) is totally normal.  

6.) Acknowledgement that this stage isn't forever.  "The days are long, the years are short." No better statement could be truer in this stage of life.  Now that my twins are five I have more perspective on this, the years seem to be flying by faster than ever, although sometimes the day are painstakingly long.  

7.) Recognition of differences, strengths and weaknesses. I rarely share about "parenthood" stuff and I've always been terrified to join a "Mom's Group."  I think the reason being because "parenthood" is the hardest role ever.  It's so easy to beat yourself up about not feeling like you're doing a great job.  But one thing I've learned is that everyone parents totally differently and there's no wrong or right way to do anything.  I think the secret is to try to do everything you can to make yourself a happy person and ultimately your happiness is the greatest gift you can give your child.   

8.) Choose what to surrender, and being okay with that.  For us, we've surrendered our home.  Honest truth, sad but true.  What I mean is that we haven't done a single home décor project in five years.  Yes, it pains me, because I LOVE everything design related and I'm a big believer in your surroundings having a big effect on your mood.  But this truth is, like Justin always says....when you have twins (followed by their active little brother) constantly picking up our home is much like trying to books on the shelf during a earthquake. For me, I like to say having three children, 3.5 years apart and cleaning the home feels a lot like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreo cookies~ kinda impossible.  And anytime that my children are sleeping (aside from my regularly scheduled work days, when I have our sitter), I'm working on my business ~ before they wake up, during pre-school/nap time, and sometimes after they go to sleep at night.  And I'm so grateful that Justin totally supports this.  Now as the girls are older, and we only have one toddler...I'm starting to notice a difference, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I know that one day I will have a pretty home again, but I also know that I'll miss my children no longer being babies even more.   

9.) Endurance, progress and motion.  I'm constantly reminding myself just to keep going.  It's unrealistic to think that I'm going to get a BIG job done in one setting.  It's more realistic to always making small steps that eventually turn into achieving big goals.  I think giving yourself a true "block of time" and giving it all you got within that block is a huge game changer.  Sure at the end of the night I don't feel like I've aced my daily to do list, but it does feel great to know that I was able to "touch" on all the areas of my life that are important to me.  

Bottom line, it's just about surviving and remembering that *this* stage of life is hard on everyone.  Try your best to be strong, be happy, and remind yourself that you're doing an amazing job.  

 

 

Venue: SoHo63 | Photography: Matt Wheeler - Owner of Still Life Studios | Make Up: Makeup By Diana

8 Questions to Ask When You Are Interviewing Wedding DJs

Hello!

Lets delve into the entertainment world! What do you want to know when looking for your DJ? Below are 8 questions I recommend asking when you’re interviewing DJs.


1. How long have you been a DJ and how many weddings have you done?
It’s important to make sure that you are hiring a seasoned professional. The DJ has a huge responsibility in the success of your reception. It’s important to make sure that he/she is confident and fully able to provide the exact vibe that you are looking for.

2. Have you played at my venue before?
You’ll want to make sure that your DJ is familiar with your venue. This is important in terms of load in, set up (where the outlets are, what areas extension cords can run through) and how to set up the equipment to provide the best overall sound for the evening. If the DJ hasn’t played at your venue before, that’s okay. Just make sure that he/she is willing to do a walk thru of the venue space prior to the wedding day.

3. Will you serve as my emcee (master of ceremonies) during the reception? Do you have a video of yourself in action that I can see?
Some companies offer djs and emcees separately, while other companies offer a DJ/Emcee service (same person). Make sure that you have hired a “voice” of your evening to handle the flow of all of your important moments: grand entrance, first dance, toasts, cake cutting and all the other special events throughout the night. The next step is to make sure you “like their voice”. They will set the tone for your entire evening and it’s important that you like their style, how they sound on a mic, and handle a crowd.

4. Are you insured?
You want to make sure that you are hiring a legitimate company for your most special day. Because the truth is anyone can purchase equipment and call themselves a “DJ”. It is incredibly important that this company carries business liability insurance, pays taxes, and has insured equipment.

5. What attire will you wear at my wedding?
Don’t be shy, this is a must ask question! Your DJ must be dressed appropriately; all eyes will be looking at him/her from time to time.

6. Can I select my own songs?
Often times DJs will allow you pick up to a certain amount of songs to give them a good feel as what your music taste is like. They might even ask you to provide them with a “don’t play” list. This could contain the Macarena, the chicken dance, or maybe is past “songs” of your old boyfriends and girlfriends.


7. What is included in your services? What are items (if any) do you offer?
Do they provide a set up for the both the ceremony and reception? What about the cocktail hour? Do they bring back up equipment (just in case)? Do they provide their table(s)? Do they offer uplighting? Gobo light? Photobooths, etc?

8. What is the back up plan if you get sick or have a pop up emergency and you are unable to be at my wedding?
Does he/she work with a team? Do they have other professional djs they can call upon that offer a similar style and service to themselves? Has this ever happened before and how was it handled? Be sure that this person has your most special covered in a worst case scenario.

 

 

Romantic Seville Golf & Country Club Wedding

Oh, friends, I'm so excited to share this Seville Golf and Country Club Wedding with you today! It’s hard for me to believe that this wedding actually took place 4 months ago! I think time flies extra fast during Arizona's most beautiful months.


This wedding was especially endearing to me, as it was the first time I actually started imagining what it would be like to be the "Mother of the Bride" myself one day.  And the reason for that was because of how extraordinary the relationship was between Jessica (the Bride) and Terri (the Mother of the Bride.) So close that Jessica wore her mom's very own wedding dress (with a few modifications.) And when it was time for Jessica to have her dress bustled for the reception Terri had her very own Maid of Honor helping Jessica, along with Jessica's Maid of Honor. It was such a beautiful full circle meaningful moment to witness.


Additionally, Jessica and Bryan's (the Groom) families were so warm and fun. The entire day was filled with laughter, joy, and fun moments. And I think that was a largely because of Jessica and Bryan's relationship, it was quite obvious that they were very best friends, who truly treasured their time with their family, friends, and also each other.


The wedding day took place at the always romantic Seville Golf and Country Club. Every part of their day was filled with a personal touch of some kind and paired with gorgeous florals by Blume Events. But what stuck out to us most was the humor and sincerity of Jessica, Bryan, and everyone around them.


The second our team walked onto property, we were greeted with a huge hug and smile that made us feel like family. As a Wedding Planner, there is nothing you want more than for your clients to truly surrender all their thoughts about planning and details and enjoy and really savor the day.  In that moment, I knew, we had gained Terri and Jessica's trust and allowed them to step into their roles 100% ~as Bride and Mother of Bride and experience one of life's most beautiful days.

 

Jessica, Bryan and Terri, thank you for allowing us to be part of your family for the day. It was truly an honor, and we’re so excited for you to see a few of our many favorites moments!

View Bryan & Jessica's Wedding Day Highlight Video:  HERE 

View my personal "Behind the Scenes Clips" :  HERE 

 

CREATIVE PARTNER TEAM

Photography/Cinema : Steponme Photography | Planner: Jennifer Starr | Florals: Blume Events | DJ/Emcee: Matt Richardson | Officiant: Ryan Centers | Cake: Sue Jacobs Cakes | Linens: Southwick Linens | Venue: Seville Golf and Country Club