Team Swales’ own Ali Dean is getting married!
OK…so the actual wedding date isn’t until 2015 but still, we CAN’T WAIT. We even got to photograph the proposal (in full on stealth mode!) and still can’t get over Ali’s ‘yes’ face. Because Ali and Zach are such an amazing couple – and we are ridiculously excited for their big day – we asked Ali for behind-the-scenes access to all of her wedding planning adventures. And…spoiler alert…it is going to be an INCREDIBLE journey.
From Ali Dean….
When I was ten years old, my Aunt Anne asked me if I would play the violin in her wedding that fall and I was so honored to be given such an important task. The day of the wedding – a gorgeous, sun-bathed September afternoon – I stood at the end of the aisle and watched as the guests took their seats. My Uncle stood patiently underneath the arbor waiting for the ceremony to begin. When it was time, I began to play my violin. I watched my Aunt Anne walk down the aisle, arm-in-arm with my Grandpa, in the most stunning gown. Everything about that day was magical. It was the day I fell in love with weddings. And, it was the day I began dreaming of my own.
Immediately, I began collecting every wedding magazine I could get my hands on and spent hours online looking up wedding dresses, flowers, bouquets, centerpieces and saving the images to my computer desktop. I was constantly stopping into jewelry stores and looking at rings. I even bought my own wedding shoes and dressing robe well before I was actually engaged. Pretty much anything wedding I was obsessed with and I haven’t stopped since.
Twelve years later, Zach, my boyfriend of nearly seven years, asked me to be his wife. The proposal was incredible and, thanks to Tammy, fully, beautifully, and sneakily photographed. I had no idea it was coming. Seriously, the week before Zach proposed I had been joking about how it would be years before anything like that could possibly happen.
Zach asked me to go for a walk on the beach near my parent’s house. Well, really he insisted – it was pouring rain, freezing cold, and beyond windy so I wasn’t interested in walking anywhere. I guess I should also add that Zach had been giving me small gifts throughout the day (mostly involving elephants – my FAVORITE animal!) but I was still absolutely oblivious to his plans. It wasn’t until Zach stopped, put down his umbrella, and got down on one knee that I realized what was happening. I was speechless, in complete disbelief, AND I didn’t even know Tammy was hiding out in the bushes capturing every incredible moment for us.
Zach asking me to marry him was (to date) the most incredible moment of my life. And now we get to create our own dream wedding together.
Family is so important to Zach and me. Most of my inspiration has grown out of my family and I really want our wedding day to be focused on that. Our ceremony is going to take place at my Grandma’s house, Bonnie Castle Farm Bed & Breakfast, which is also where my Aunt Anne was married. As for the reception, we’re going to hold it at my family’s restaurant, Skipper’s Landing, which is pretty much where I grew up. I’ve also drawn a lot of inspiration from the women in my family. Every wedding gown in my family has had long sleeves and I definitely plan on keeping that tradition alive.
My Aunt Anne owns Cure Organic Farm in Boulder, CO and over the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time with her there on the farm – it’s one of the places where I feel most comfortable and at home – and it’s really given me some amazing inspiration. I want our wedding to have a natural, dreamy, and organic feel to everything. I’m thinking lots of gold and soft, romantic colors like creams and blushes. I can see tables filled with candles in mercury glass holders, herbs and succulents housed in simple terrariums, and moss and greenery overflowing everywhere. I also LOVE bees – my Aunt Anne keeps bees at her farm in Colorado and I’ve helped her harvest the honey. The whole process, from taking the honey from the hives to filtering and bottling it, is so amazing as are the bees who produce it and I really want to pay homage to that with small honeybee accents throughout the entire design.
We have so much time before the wedding, but I can already feel it flying by. It’s still hard to believe that the day I’ve been dreaming about and planning for so long is on its way here. Some days I still feel like the ten year old girl I was – enchanted with the wonder and whimsy and magic of a fairytale wedding day – and it’s amazing to be taking all those dreams and shaping them into reality. It may be over a year until our wedding, and we have a TON more to do, but I couldn’t be more excited to be Mrs. Reed.
Now, obviously, we are VISUAL people, especially when it comes to wedding inspirations, and as much as we know you’ll love hearing from Ali let’s be serious….you want to SEE what she’s thinking. Luckily for you, we’ve got the hookup! Click the link to see her Ali Gets Married: WEDDING Inspiration! Pinterest board filled with all her incredible inspirations. http://www.pinterest.com/tammy_swales/ali-gets-married-wedding-inspiration/
I love seeing what all the top wedding dress designers are coming up with for the new 2014 fall season. The International Bridal Market in New York City was held this year on October 12th-14th and the wedding dresses that walked the runway were beyond incredible. I decided to put together some of my favorite 2014 trends (and wedding gowns!) to inspire you. Get ready for some serious bridal envy!
These wedding gowns captivate the 20’s socialite in all of us. With figure hugging silhouettes and jaw-dropping embellishments, these designer dresses will leave you yearning for a lost era of society parties, darkened speakeasies and grandiose dreams.
Off the Shoulder
Whether it’s a wisp of organza, elegant lace, or simple sleeves, off the shoulder is the neckline of the season. Lending an air of sophistication with a hint of drama and suggestive curve of your collar bone, these wedding dresses are super stylish and will definitely leave everyone wanting more.
Whether it’s bright and bold, a subtle whisper, or glittering metallic, colored wedding gowns are here to stay. While white remains a never-go-wrong classic, designers this season are opting for something a little spicier. These soft blushes, stunning golds, and shimmering greys will have you leaving white behind for a unique and colorful statement.
WOW. I am so honored to say I was voted Best Photographer last week for Best of Rochester. I have to say thank you to all the incredible people who voted for me and, OF COURSE, my beyond amazing team and all the people who keep me sane and give me endless support every day. I truly could not have done it without all of you.
I live and breathe for the job I do – I don’t know, in that case is it even considered work?! – and I love every moment of it. There have been so many changes in my life recently – my growing team, the unbelievable magazine we created, the wedding season drawing to a close (and getting ready to gear up for the next one!) – it feels so good to know I have the support of such a huge community. It feels good to get back to basics and to remember the power of speaking through images. And, it feels good to know I’m not the only one who loves what I do.
So, what I really want to say is thank you. Thank you SO much.
P.S. For the complete list (which is filled with some of the most extraordinary businesses and individuals in Rochester) go to http://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/rochester/best-of-rochester-2013/Content?oid=2290598. Seriously, make sure to check it out!
I’ve shot some amazing day after sessions and I have to say, they can be SO much fun. Don’t let the name fool you, it doesn’t have to be the actual day after your wedding. Really, it can be a week, a month, even a year later. The point is that it lets you get dressed up in your wedding best and have some incredible portraits taken.
So, why do a day after session? Honestly, the reasons can be endless – just for fun definitely springs to mind! – but let me tell you the three reason I think day after sessions can be a great decision.
1. You don’t want to worry about getting your dress dirty before you walk down the aisle but you do want some stunning poses. No one wants to get married or attend their reception in a dirty dress but we all know how incredible portraits taken on the beach or in the woods or sprawling in a field can look. Day after sessions give you the opportunity to take all of the crazy portraits you want without worrying about your clothes. Don’t get me wrong – we’re not talking about a trash the dress session here – but a little dirt is bound to happen and this way there is absolutely no reason to stress about it.
2. You have a super busy wedding day and don’t have much time for portraits AND/OR you want to be able to spend all of your cocktail hour and reception with family and friends. Your wedding day will be the most wonderful and the most hectic day of your life. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time to get all the portraits you want, especially if you don’t want to sacrifice your time at the party to get them. A day after session means you can make sure you get the gorgeous portraits you want. And the best part? There is no time crunch! You get to be relaxed, go to multiple locations, chose any time of day and just enjoy your time together as husband and wife without the pressure to rush back to your guests.
3. Who doesn’t want an excuse to put on their wedding dress again and PLAY?! Let’s be honest, we all dream of running through a field in our wedding gown or playing in the trees or sinking our feet into the sand while the waves rush up on the beach. So, stop dreaming and do it! Romp and play and have fun. Not only will the images be amazing but you’ll have a blast and that little girl who’s still inside you and just wants to flop down in the flowers in her big ball gown will get to be very, very happy.
Here are four of my couples who decided to do a day after session. I LOVE how beautiful and intimate and playful these images are. Plus, we had so much fun shooting them and that, for me, is really what matters!
Jocelyn & Joe
Katie & Aaron
Jess & Dave
Jillian & Kevin
Destination wedding….That’s something of a loaded term. Too often, we think of a gigantic production – massive resort settings, hundreds of guests, and everything staged to perfection. But after spending ten days in Maui with a family of seven (three couples and one young daughter) for one, WOW did I have to rethink what it means to have a destination wedding! Tu & Vuong got married but that wasn’t all that this incredible adventure was about. Taho & Guy renewed their vows and Thep & Bao had their engagement session. These ten days weren’t about a singular celebration of one couple or one experience – it was about the love in this family and the new, if varied, bonds they were creating and my time there was definitely one of the most AMAZING experiences of my life.
We began with a trip on the Road to Hana – (which took a total of TWELVE hours!!) – but was an absolutely beautiful (if death defying LOL) experience. The modern road follows the same path that sugar plantation workers took from Pa’ai to Hana centuries ago and it twists and turns like nobody’s business. But – despite the switchbacks, single car stretches, cliff edges (with no guard rail!) and car-sick passengers – it was an incredible adventure. We drove past (and stopped and saw) some gorgeous waterfalls, ocean views, and an endless stretch of tropical rainforest.
Tu & Vuong were married (and Taho & Guy renewed their vows in a separate ceremony) on the beach with the sun glistening off the ocean and the sound of waves lapping against the shore. Both ceremonies were traditional Hawaiian wedding ceremonies. To signal the start of the wedding, a conch shell (and I mean, a HUGE conch shell) was blown towards all four points of the compass to call the diving presence to the ceremony. The couples wore stunning leis – the men’s made from woven maile leaves and the women’s from multiple strands of white ginger blossoms – connecting the couple as husband and wife and each couple’s hands were bound together with multiple strands of small, colorful shells signifying the same. It was a truly special moment as the they said, ‘I do,’ surrounded only by their closest loved ones and the spectacular landscape.
The next morning we drove to the top of Mount Haleakala where we watched the most MAGNIFICENT sunrise I’ve ever seen. It was a completely different world up above the clouds. Traditionally, the summit of Haleakala was a sacred site and in Hawaiian it means House of Sun. It actually looks like the sun is rising up from the depths of the mountain’s volcanic crater! As the sun rose a hush settled over the mountain and an unexplained reverence filled us. I can’t even begin to describe what it felt like looking out above the clouds – just light and color and endless sky – there truly aren’t words.
I shot Tu & Voung’s day after session and parts of Thep & Bao’s engagement as we traveled back down the mountain. I didn’t think much could impress me after witnessing that spectacular sunrise – nothing else could be THAT beautiful….I was SO wrong. It was dark when we made our assent and driving back down was like entering a new world. The sights and smells were overpowering as the land literally opened up below us.
The whole experience was like something out of a fantasy – you just couldn’t believe a landscape this beautiful and a culture this rich really exists – I felt like I’d won a lottery ticket! My time in Maui opened my eyes to some of the most awe-inspiring sights and moments of my life. You don’t need to have a large or extravagant destination wedding – Hell, you don’t even have to have a ‘wedding’ – you can make your day anything you want! The intimacy of this experience was amazing. It wasn’t overwhelming or outrageous. It was touching and special and personal and filled with rich culture. It was better than anything I could have imagined and WAY more than any expected destination wedding could be.