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Excited and inspired by the upcoming 3-day weekend, we thought we would give a special shout-out to all our military brides this Memorial Day week.
Bella Pictures has been privileged to photograph many military weddings and we know that planning one can be tricky if you don’t know all the protocols – and finding the right information isn’t always easy. We want to share some of the beautiful moments we have captured over the years in our wedding photography, as well as tips and best practices we have learned from our amazing military brides and their families.
If you are in the military, you have the option of wearing your dress uniform just as the groom is required to wear his. The difference with the ladies is that you have the option of choosing to wear the dress of your dreams instead. We’re sure you have been busy adding beautiful dress over beautiful dress to your Pinterest inspiration board, so if it is your dream, why not take advantage of all those gorgeous ideas? We love the idea of a white dress with red lipstick and navy accents to really make that regal military look “pop”.
Military members within the wedding party typically wear full ceremonial dress uniforms with their military decorations serving as boutonnieres (so for the boys in uniform – no flowers for you). The color of the uniform will depend on the season; blue is typically used in the winter and white in the summer. Other items include white gloves and swords for those in the Navy and Coast Guard and sabers for those in the Army or Marine Corps.
If the groom wears a sword or saber, then the bride stands to his right at the altar in order to avoid the blade.
Bridesmaids get to wear what bridesmaids always get to wear…fabulous dresses in bright tangerine (or whatever color you decide). You can even mix up the colors for greater impact - a red, white and blue bridesmaid dress theme would make for some stunning wedding photos.
If you are having a more formal wedding, we have noticed that most brides seat their military members by rank and title so captains sit by captains and sergeants sit by sergeants. If you are not familiar with military ranks, it’s a good idea to learn them now – or at least the ranks of those attending – so you can introduce your military guests to the civilians in attendance.
The arch of sabers is what really sets a military wedding apart from a civilian service.
When the bride and groom leave the service and enter the archway lined by honor guards holding the ceremonial weapons, tradition dictates that as you pass through the arch, the last two bearers drop their sabers or swords, forming a cross to block the path. The groom then kisses his bride (make sure you hold it long enough for another super sweet picture).
The crossed swords are then raised for the couple to pass through. The bearer on the bride's side, as she passes by, gently swats the bride on the back side and says something along the lines of, "Welcome to the Army, Ma'am." Again, this is all done to your comfort, so decide together where (and if) you want to have the arch and if you want this particular welcome from the military.
One of the best (and potentially most funny) wedding photography moments is the cutting of the cake. And, of course, the military puts its own unique spin on this tradition. On command, the saber or cutlass bearers enter the reception room in formation in front of the wedding cake, facing each other. The bride and groom pass beneath the sword/saber arch again and approach the cake. The groom hands his new bride his unsheathed sword/ saber, and with his hands over hers, they cut the first piece of cake together. An incredibly romantic photo opportunity, if you ask us.
All weddings are special and one of the most important days a couple can experience in their journey together. However, military weddings – steeped in tradition, patriotism and emotion – have just a little something extra going for them and we salute all those brave brides and grooms taking the plunge together. Share with us your special day (you know we love the stories) in the comments section or on our Facebook page and we may feature your wedding here!
With Mother’s day quickly approaching, we were inspired to write a post featuring different ways to honor a very special woman on your very special day.
For many of our brides, they call that woman “mom”, but many others may also be known as “grandmother”, “aunt” or “daughter”. Whomever it is in your life that holds a special place in your heart, we thought this the perfect opportunity to share some memorable moments and ideas.
While weddings are an exciting time for you and everyone in your family, it can also be a big day for the moms. Taking a moment to acknowledge their love and support can be as simple as giving them a flower when you arrive at the front of the aisle or thanking them in your speech at the reception or even rehearsal dinner.
Dads always seem to get the spotlight at the wedding – walking down the aisle and the first dance – but there are ways you can incorporate the ladies, as well. Have both parents walk you down the aisle or ask your mom or grandma to bless the rings. Invite her to do a reading or be part of the unity candle ceremony. Include pictures of you and your mom in the slideshow. Duplicate one or two elements from her wedding, like her bouquet, or put out her wedding photos as part of the décor (this also has the added bonus of contributing to a vintage theme).
Another idea is to ask your officiant to mention any deceased parents or grandparents in a special prayer during the ceremony. Make a note in the program honoring the deceased and recognizing their influence in your lives.
Some of our brides also have the unique pleasure of celebrating this time with their own children. There are many great ways to incorporate your kids into the day, from having them be part of the bridal party to including them in the ceremony or even sharing your first dance with them.
We love to hear and share these kinds of creative ideas and special moments with all of our Bella readers. Leave a comment below or post on our Facebook page your great idea and you could see it here!
This past Sunday, April 22nd, was Earth Day and in honor of the earth friendly celebration we’ve gathered together some fun ideas and easy tips to make your wedding a success while still being eco-conscious.
A good way to reduce your carbon footprint is to hold the wedding ceremony and reception in the same venue. Or, plan for group transportation, which is not only a great way to reduce nasty emissions, but is an added perk for your guests. In bigger cities, parking and traffic is difficult. Providing transportation, like a van or bus, also allows for your guests to relax, have fun and enjoy the wedding day.
Choosing local, sustainable and organic foods for your wedding menu is not only a good choice for the earth, it’s also good for your community, yourself and your guests. Local means it hasn’t had to travel very far, it’s fresh and that you are supporting your community of farmers and food suppliers. Organic means less pesticides going in you and your guests. All of this makes for a delicious menu at your wedding that you can be proud to serve.
Show off your creativity with signage and other printed materials by using recycled paper, or better yet, no paper at all! Repurpose wood, old signs, anything you can think of to cut out waste and add a touch of cleverness to your wedding. For instance, instead of individual escort cards, use a large blackboard as a seating chart.
If you'd like to give favors, then flower seeds, potted plants and edible gifts are a great idea – less waste and more love to spread. You can even use potted plants instead of cut flower arrangements for the tables, making this a great economic, as well as earth friendly, alternative.
Vintage is in! Whether it’s a family heirloom or some treasure you found in a vintage shop, this is the perfect time to be a little (or a lot) sentimental and show off your originality by incorporating family jewelry, your grandmother’s dress or cute vintage accent pieces into your wedding day.
There are a lot of great ideas and options to help make your special day the perfect combination of unique, beautiful and good for the earth. Share with us your crafty ideas in the comments section or on our Facebook page
For those couples who are having (or even just considering) a church ceremony, we want to pass on some advice and tips that will ensure incredible wedding photos. From vaulted ceilings to grand frescoes, the possibilities for amazing ceremony pictures are endless.
Keep in mind that churches – like many religious institutions – have special regulations. In order to make this process as smooth as possible for you, we have come up with a helpful list to consider while planning the photography for your big day.
Religious venues generally have some photography regulations they would like you to follow. You should find out their requirements ahead of time so there are no big surprises that day.
Timing is key when planning the photos for a church wedding. Churches have pretty busy schedules on the weekend, so may only be able to grant you a limited amount of time before and after the ceremony for portrait shots. We suggest you find out the following:
Because there may be some time limits and guidelines to remember, passing along all the information you gather to your photographer will help your day run more smoothly.
Wherever you decide to have your ceremony, empowering your Bella Pictures photographer with solid information, such as a timeline and “must-have” shot list, will ensure they capture your special day just the way you want it.
Share you story with us. Did you have your ceremony in a church? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page and we may feature your wedding!
As you prepare for the BIG DAY, there are a lot of details that you are probably in the midst of perfecting to ensure that everything goes exactly as planned.
While there are a lot of things that we can control (wedding favors, flowers, the shoes) there is one big thing we cannot…the weather. As spring rolls into summer, bringing the rains with it, there is the possibility that your sunny skies may suddenly turn grey.
We know that a rainy wedding is on the top of the “wedding day disasters” list, but we think there is a great opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade and wanted to share our top 3 tips for making your rainy wedding fabulous.
We asked our Bella Pictures Photo Coaches for their expert advice on how to achieve beautiful photographs when it’s raining, and here is what they had to say:
You may have picked a ceremony or reception spot that is outdoors, but see if there is a good indoor space that would work for the portraits. You can ask your venue if they have special or dramatic lighting (usually reserved for things like first dances) that can be used during the photo-shoot.
If you absolutely have to have that outdoor shot, pare down your group. That way, if there are good-weather breaks, you and the photographer won’t have to chase down a large, scattered group.
Bring some towels, a hairdryer and some extra shoes for walking around in. Better yet, bring some fun, cute rain boots to wear in the photos!
Scope out the space ahead of time and see where it may get muddy and cross those spots off your list.
Find colorful umbrellas for you, your wedding party and your guests. Those are sure to brighten up any photos.
Place the towels or small blankets and some garbage bags on the wet floor while taking photos to keep the bottom of your dress clean.
If you are willing to sacrifice getting wet for good photos, it may be worth the extra primp time afterwards. But remember, as long as you look like you’re having fun, the pictures will reflect that. Rain or shine, this is your special day to enjoy and cherish.
Have you had to deal with the elements taking over your wedding day? Share you tips and stories of rainy day weddings with us in the comments or on Facebook and your photos could be featured here.
Kids are adorable. They bring a rush of energy everywhere they go, they love to giggle and play, and in our experience, they're incredibly photogenic. Here's the catch - they also need constant stimulation to keep from getting bored. This brings up the age-old question that can trouble a bride and groom: host a kid-friendly wedding, or suggest they stay home with the sitter?
For those of you hoping to include young ones on your big day, here are some tips:
Lots of kids would rather jump in the mud than put on formalwear, so if you approach dressing up as an engaging activity in itself, they're more likely to warm up to the idea.
Many kids love to play grownup, so if they are given tasks that make them feel important, they're less likely to get bored. Whether it's ring bearer, flower girl or usher, a child that's preoccupied with a Big Kid role has less time to be idle and get into mischief.
The reception is the perfect place for everyone - including the kids - to have fun. Play fun music and let the kids dance away all that energy. Set up a kiddie corner with coloring books or other games and activities. Provide fun snacks to munch on and bubbles to blow in celebration. There are plenty of ways to create a kid-friendly wedding reception.
Whatever your wedding style, all it takes is a little planning beforehand that considers how kids will fit in or not. If you choose to have a kid-friendly wedding, we hope this insight will help your wedding day go off as smoothly as possible. If you'd like help planning the photography portion of your wedding, call us at 888.556.7590.
Dancing is a classic way for people to let loose and connect with each other, and moments like these create a perfect opportunity for great wedding dance photography.
With the formal ceremony over and the loving feelings running on high, the reception is the time to relax and have fun. By enjoying yourself in the moment, you’re less likely to be self-conscious – leading to candid special moments captured on camera.
This couple was photographed sharing sweet smiles during their first dance...
... while these happy pairs were caught having a blast.
But wedding dance photography doesn’t have to be limited to the reception. Have a little fun during the portrait section of your day by dancing. It can help the two of you focus on each other, ease camera-shy feelings, and lead to unique portraits.
This silhouette shot of the couple at sunset is made even more striking with a bit of dancing...
... and the energy and movement of dance adds a burst of joy into this awesome shot.
Wedding dance photography isn't the only type of imagery that can feature special moments. Even if you don't care to dance, the key to these great photos is that they are candid, special moments. Just focus on enjoying yourself and your photos will reflect the emotions of your day! To see more great photos of special moments, visit our Portfolio Page.
Whatever you have in mind, our digital retouching artists can work magic with your pictures. Here are the most popular digital retouching services that are requested by couples.
The Groom's cake is a huge trend in weddings right now. Usually the groom's cake is a gift from the bride to the groom and is designed around a hobby or interest of the grooms. A lot of the time the cakes are sports related depicting the groom's favorite sport or team, but the possibilities are endless! Here are a few photos of our favorite groom's cakes we have taken!
One of the most important aspects for any wedding, is the selection of flowers, from the bouquet, to the table settings, and even the groom's boutonniere. There are many different ways to spice up a plain black suit on your wedding day. Some grooms opt for a very clean look with simple colors and classic flowers such as roses and tulips. Other grooms choose to use brighter, more exotic flower arrangements and incorporate aspects of nature. Now that you have your boutonniere in order, make sure you take a look our wedding day checklist for grooms.
Strapless with Detail: On her big day, Caroline opted for a classic and sleek empire waist dress with simple beaded details. Her minimal make-up and modest jewelry choices are perfect for the "laid-back" bride.
Simple with Bold Accessories: Mikaela took a simple white dress and accessorized it with bold and bright statement pieces for a chic look. This pairing is both fun and trendy!
Old Hollywood Glam: Kristi's dress is a tribute to the glamour of the 1940's; paired with bold make-up and no jewelry, this dress is a statement of its own.
Vintage: This vintage gown that Kelly chose for her wedding looks amazing with all her vintage accessories (earrings, veil, and ring!)
Couture Gown: For Tovah's New Year’s Eve Wedding, she went for a dress as extravagant as the event. Her pink wedding/party dress is a great option for the non-traditional bride.
Sheer with Embroidered Details: Kristen's simple and elegant dress is perfect for the classic bride. She opted to pair her dress with other classic staples like a long veil, pearls and a simple updo.
Princess Gown: Cristina's style of dress is the number one choice for many brides. It's classic and elegant and when paired with a tiara, it will really make you feel like a princess on your big day!
We have been doing free portrait sessions in San Francisco since January, which have been a big hit! Here are a few of the beautiful shots. You can use your free portraits for save the date cards, engagement announcements or however you like ' they are yours to keep. Schedule your free portrait session for the month of April!
We had free portrait sessions at Clark's Landing in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ last month. Check out this beautiful venue!
The WeddingWire Bride's Choice Awards ™ recognizes the top local wedding professionals from the WeddingWire Network that demonstrate excellence in quality service, responsiveness and professionalism. This year's winners represent the top five percent of WeddingWire's vendor community.
Your wedding photography is a record of your big day that you will keep forever and be able to pass on to your children and grandchildren.
Your wedding day is one of the most important events of your life, so you'll want to be sure to capture every beautiful, memorable moment.
Jaret Rieana and Tommy took advantage of the beautiful and urban city of San Francisco. The couple opted to have an industrial style engagement session at Fort Point right below the Golden Gate Bridge. Of course they did not miss the opportunity to take a picture with the bridge itself! Visit out planning section for San Francisco engagement photography hot spots!
Table settings endow your wedding theme with utmost exquisiteness. Elaborate table settings may compliment your wedding theme and colors, or may be set up to make a statement in and of itself. With so many color, crystal, and china combinations to choose from, its easy to make a table setting your own. Here are some of our favorite table setting photos!
Just like cake toppers, you can add some flair to your wedding cake with some exquisite details. Details make your cake unique and portray your wedding theme in full extravagance; no seashell or starfish cake details are unwarranted on a beach-themed wedding! Here are some of our favorite cake details. Don't forget to check out our creative cake toppers!
Today Proposition 8, which was passed last November banning same-sex marriage in California, was overturned and ruled unconstitutional! Bella Pictures was there on the first day gay marriage was legal in San Francisco back in June of 2008 capturing happy married couples as they exited City Hall. We've been photographing same-sex ceremonies since Bella Pictures started in 2005 and continue to be a supporter of Equal Rights.
Using sparklers at your wedding are becoming an increasingly popular trend. Along with birdseed and bubbles, sparklers are a great way to celebrate the "spark" between the newlyweds. When you think of sparklers, you probably think of Fourth of July and celebrating America when you were a kid, but why not bring that sense of fun and excitement to one of the most important days of your life? They also make for some fun photographs!
Persian weddings typically happen in 2 stages. The first being the "Aghd" which is considered the ceremony where the bride and groom sign a marriage contract. The second stage is the reception called the "Jashn-e Aroosi' where a celebration and feasts take place which can last several days. Some of the traditions are featured below:
A scarf or shawl is held over the bride and groom's head throughout the ceremony by happily married female relatives.
The Sofreh-ye Aghd is a table on which many items are placed to represent many good things for the couple and to guard them from harm. Most notably is the mirror that is always placed on the table. The mirror which represents fate should be the way in which the groom sees his bride's face for the first time after she takes off her veil.
A bowl of gold coins representing health and prosperity is set out on the "Sofreh-ye Aghd".
A tray of multi-colored herbs and spices ( Sini-ye Aatel-O-Baatel) is also set out on the "Sofreh-ye Aghd" to guard the couple from evil. The seven herbs and spices are poppy seeds, wild rice, angelica, salt, nigella seeds, black tea and frankincense.
A copy of the couple's Holy Book is placed on the table as well to symbolize God's blessing for the couple.
A decorated flatbread adorned with nigella seeds symbolizes prosperity for the couple's life from there on out.
An assortment of sweets and pastries including the Persian staple Baklava is shared with the guests after the ceremony.
A basket of pomegranates and apples are placed on the table representing the hope for a joyous future.
Usually a wedding cake is a staple at most wedding receptions, but lately we have been seeing a trend of having different wedding deserts. The most common alternative to a wedding cake are cupcakes; they're easy to eat and can be easily arranged into a shape of a cake. Other alternatives include cheesecake, tiramisu, parfaits and a variety of assorted goodies! Here are a few photos of our favorite cake alternatives.
Golf/Country Clubs are ideal locations for weddings and receptions because of their versatility. You can decide to have an outdoor wedding on the greens or an indoor reception in the club itself. One thing that is a must: wedding photos on the fairway with it's sloping hills and abundance of greenery. Here are a few of our favorite photos taken at Golf/Country Club weddings!
The topper for your cake is a great way to express who you are as a couple in style and personality. Finding the perfect mini-representation of you and your fiance is very easy nowadays with the variety of options out there now ranging from the traditional to the comical. Here are a few of our favorite cake toppers over the past couple of years we found to be unique and portray the couple very well!
We end our journey across this great country with the West coast! We bring you some of our favorite wedding portraits from Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle. Check out the beaches of California and the lush greenery of Washington state. Wherever you live, we hope you have a Happy 4th of July weekend!
Our stop today brings us to the mountains of Denver, Colorado. With its amazing vistas, Denver is an ideal location for nature ladened wedding portraits. Visit our planning section to see ideal locations for wedding portraits in Denver. Check back tomorrow where we will end our journey across the country with the beautiful West coast!
We are continuing our journey across the county and today we are stopping in the South; bringing you our favorite wedding photos from Dallas, Austin, Houston and Atlanta. Check back tomorrow where we venture into the mountains of Colorado!
Today's stop across the country brings us to the midwest; which to many people is the heart of America. Here are some of our favorite wedding portraits from Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Detroit! Check back tomorrow where we will feature our favorite wedding photos from the South!
In honor of Independence Day, this week we are bringing you some of our favorite wedding photos from across the nation. Today we are starting with the East coast; which includes photos from New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Miami! Check out our posts all week long as we move across the country featuring our favorite wedding portraits.
Winery weddings are very romantic and can lend themselves to some beautiful photography (and an ample amount of wine!). The usual rolling hills and lush greenery of wine country provides the perfect backdrop for a dream wedding ceremony. You can take the reception inside and celebrate among the many barrels of wine where you can practice the adage to "eat, drink and be merry". Be sure to visit our planning article on wine country weddings!
Here at Bella, we shoot a lof of gorgeous weddings steeped in Indian traditions from Hindu to Bengali ceremonies. Here are a few of our favorite photos of Indian weddings from the past couple of years. Visit our planning section to read more about Indian weddings traditions!
Getting to and from your wedding can be a stylish affair. It can range from the traditional limousine to the non-traditional speedboat! Here are a few of our favorite shots of fun and unique modes of transportation. Check out our planning section for more ideas for wedding transportation! Head over to our Facebook page and let us know the mode of transportation you are planning to use for your wedding day!
Philadelphia, the Birthplace of America, is loaded with plentiful picturesque locales for your wedding photo session. Historic haunts, stately museums and spacious parks make up the city’s vast & varied landscape. Below are a few favorite spots for capturing your special day.
Although it generally takes far less time for a groom to get ready than his bride, it is still a very important part of the Big Day. It is a time for the groom to bond with his groomsman and maybe have a drink to calm the nerves! He can always count on his Best Man to help him with that tricky tie and his mom to pin the boutineer just right. Make sure you plan enough time to capture both the bride and the groom getting ready, which is where a second photographer comes in handy. Check out the Bride's Edition!
There are many things to consider when choosing the jewelry you'll wear for your wedding with number one being the style of your dress. You definitely want to find something that compliments it well and doesn't outshine the dress. When choosing a necklace be aware of your neckline as some dress styles don't warrant a necklace. Another thing to consider are the colors in your wedding. Brides are increasingly stepping away from the traditional pearl or diamond jewelry and opting for colored stones that match their wedding colors. Whatever jewelry you choose to adorn yourself with, rest assured that you'll at least have your something old, something new, something borrowed or something blue!
In honor of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, here are a few of our favorite photos from weddings with Asian traditions; ranging from Chinese Tea Ceremonies to Thai Blessings. The majority of our Asian tradition photography comes from Chinese weddings, visit our planning section to read more about those traditions.
When planning your wedding day shot list with your photographer, make sure to let them know all of the details you want remembered, including your wedding rings! Here are a few creative ways to have your wedding rings photographed. Bright colors, textures and fun patterns in the background always help to capture your perfect ring shot. Check out our planning section for other must-have shots!
Studio Blue is the smart photography solution for the budget-savvy bride. Studio Blue offers a modern approach to capturing lifelong wedding memories at an affordable price, with introductory pricing starting at $1,250. Start building your package today!
The Lurie Garden | This beautiful spot in the heart of Millennium Park is great for colorful photos and perfect for spring engagements.
Cloud Gate | One of Chicago's most visited sites, this amazing structure is bound to offer you some great pictures and a fish eye view of the chicago skyline!
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion | This outdoor concert venue designed by Frank Gehry is a perfect place if you want photos with an industrial and modern feel to them.
See more Chicago Engagement Session ideas!
We have been doing free portrait sessions in Los Angeles since January, which have been a big hit! Here are a few of the beautiful shots. You can use your free portraits for save the date cards, engagement announcements or however you like ' they are yours to keep. Schedule your free portrait session for the month of April!
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