There is SO MUCH anticipation when it comes to choosing your wedding dress. You want to feel AMAZING in it, you want him to cry when he sees you (and he will!), you want everyone to stop and have a major OMG moment when they see you – your dress has to be PERFECT.
And we SO get it!
Team Swales Fact: between the current and former members of Team Swales, four are engaged and planning their weddings. So, that pretty much makes us wedding dress purchasing experts.
Here’s the reality…there are an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to choosing your dress and we are telling you – you NEED a plan before you go shopping. And, when it comes to making that plan? We think there are three absolutely invaluable things that you should definitely think about when you begin the process of finding your dress.Before you start shopping.
1. Banana, Apple, Pear…why they hell are we suddenly fruit?!
No, every dress will not look good on you…or on anyone. But, there are plenty of ones that will – there are certain styles for every figure – so make sure you take the time to learn which ones are right for you. Seriously, who wants to waste their time trying on dresses that just won’t work?!
2. Know Your Dresses
Look at magazines, websites, and catalogs – find out what you like and pull a look book together. We know you want to find the perfect dress and you can only do that if you know exactly what you’re looking for!
3. Find Your Dream Team
We have all seen just how wrong an entourage can go (Say Yes to the Dress anyone?!) so it’s INCREDIBLY important to bring the right people with you when it’s time to go shopping for the dress. This is the day when it actually is all about you – choose your backup accordingly.
Have you finished your homework? Really? OK.
Now, it’s time to go SHOPPI….wait!
There are a couple more things we HAVE to share with you that you might not have thought about. We never even thought of them until our creative, clever and exceedingly RESOURCEFUL brides came up with these ideas!
Designer Gowns: Go Big or Stay Home!
Alex’s gown, by Reem Acra, is a fairytale made reality. The gorgeous, detailed bodice, accented with subtle sparkles, is the perfect complement to the smooth, clean skirt full of volume. Alex’s dress is timeless and chic – absolutely ideal for her Marie Antoinette inspired, downright stunning wedding day.
Bridget traveled all the way to New York City to find her dream dress by Vera Wang. The mermaid silhouette fits Bridget’s figure to a tee and I love how the ruching moves down from the bodice into the voluminous skirt creating a softness that still maintains a timeless, elegant glamour.
There are SO many different wedding dress designers – all with very distinct visions – and it can be incredibly overwhelming to try and find the right one for you. So look over these lists, browse the collections, and find your perfect match.
And, if you’ve found THE dress but have no idea who designed it? Click below and learn how to figure it out – even if all you have is an image.
Rachael’s dress was worn by three generations of women (herself, her mother, and her grandmother – 65 years ago!). She worked with Meki Couture to bring the dress into the modern day without losing any of its vintage charm or history.
With a beautiful lace bodice opening into a drop-waist, a-line skirt and a stunningly dramatic open back, Rachael’s dress was, and still is, an amazing, gorgeous family heirloom that will forever tell the stories of the three incredible women who have worn it.
And, our favorite part is that guests actually thought Grandma wore that low back 65 years ago. OMG! ::laughing::
Jackie’s dress, by Daughters of Simone, is a perfect example of the timeless beauty and elegance a re-envisioned vintage wedding dress can possess.
With a flowing, graceful train and a sophisticated lace bodice, this wedding dress is truly one-of-a-kind and full of rich history. We are BIG fans of Daughters of Simone and the work they do with repurposing vintage wedding dresses!
Kate decided to have her unique wedding dress custom made by Meki Couture right here in Rochester, NY. She worked with them to bring her vision to life and create a dress that reflected her perfectly. The soft pink coloring and distinctive lace detailing makes this a stand-alone gown full of beauty and character.
Re-purposed, vintage, custom made…sounds good right?! Here are some excellent places to learn more.
Reuse. Recycle. Renew!
Jillian found this wedding dress secondhand and gently used and there is no way you would ever know that it didn’t step straight off the runway or was made just for her. I can’t get enough of the beyond gorgeous open back and all of the stunning lace – Jillian’s dress may have been worn before but nothing else could have suited her so perfectly.
There is absolutely NO RULE that says you need to purchase a newly made wedding dress…seriously, even the most critical eye won’t be able to tell that it’s only new to you. Plus, a secondhand dress can be a smart way to save some extra money or find an otherwise outrageously priced gown for a realistic amount.
So, get going already! Your dress is out there, waiting for you – it’s time to say yes to YOUR dress! And if you like this blog post? — SHARE IT! xoxo
From Amy and Evan….
Evan asked me to marry him in July of 2012. Earlier that the summer, I had made an off-hand comment to my riding instructor and close friends, Carrie, that Evan is such bad liar there was no way he would be able to actually surprise me when he decided to propose. Little did I know, she took that information and made it her mission to be sure Evan managed to surprise me. She and Evan then proceeded to hatch a crazy, elaborate plan to ask me to marry him.
The plan was for Carrie to take me out on a trail ride and wind our way around to the spot where Evan would propose. They chose a lone tree way out in one of the fields (the farm is about 365 acres!) where Evan would wait for us. The morning of the proposal Evan went out to the farm super early to make sure he would be completely ready by the time we got there. I was supposed to meet Carrie for a morning ride but didn’t wake up until noon so poor Evan, who had taken the entire day off from work, ended up just sitting around for nearly four hours.
Carrie and I rode out on our normal route so I definitely wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary to happen. When we came around a bend and into the clearing, I saw someone sitting out under the tree with what looked like a suitcase. I have terrible eyesight and I had no idea it was Evan! I was convinced he was some sort of vagabond about to kidnap and murder both Carrie and me. Evan had to actually get up and come over to us before I realized it was him. I was so confused – I just kept repeating, over and over, ‘What are you doing here?!’
Evan brought me over to the tree where he had set up the most elaborate picnic I’ve ever seen. There was champagne and chocolate covered strawberries – it was beautiful. Then, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was definitely the easiest, ‘Yes,’ I’ve ever had to say. The ring was beyond amazing – he had had my grandmother’s stone reset – and even though I knew what it would look like, I was still stunned when I actually saw it for the first time. So, mission accomplished – Evan completely surprised me!
Carrie’s farm is gorgeous – just endless rolling fields – and we’ve shared so many memories there (some of the most important ones!) I always worried about how my love of horses would affect the relationships in my life – it’s such a huge commitment of time and money – but Evan is so supportive and invested in my riding. The sport has come to mean a lot to him as well – really, it’s a lifestyle – and Evan loves being a part of that world with me. Evan has always admired my passion for horses and he’s always in my corner. He is so incredibly patient and caring. I can’t begin to describe how phenomenal it is to have him in my life. We balance each other perfectly.
Being able to be photographed at my favorite place in the whole world was amazing. It was great practice for the wedding – we learned how to relax and just be ourselves in front of the camera – which was invaluable. We didn’t realize how well a photograph can show the love between two people. We look back at the pictures and see our relationship captured perfectly. The images show so many different sides of us – as individuals and as a couple. I love the series of photos where I am dressed all in white, barefoot and crazy-haired, with a tank that reads, ‘This one’s a keeper,’ and Evan is decked out like a GQ model. It’s the best reflection of our personalities and how perfectly we fit together.
I wouldn’t trade those images or the time we spent together having them taken for anything! We’re so thankful we did an engagement session. It gave us the best opportunity ever to just have some time together. It allowed us reconnect and have fun together, just being ourselves and enjoying each other, during the chaos of bringing our wedding together. That was one of the best things about the experience. The time we spent together and the memories we made – all at this incredibly special location – are definitely some of the best of our lives!
I’ve been thinking about creating Happy Magazine for the past two years. You know that feeling when an idea lives in your head and won’t go away?! This magazine FORCED its way into reality.
Think about photography blogs…mostly we just post images and write about them, right? And, I thought, isn’t that, kind of, what a magazine is? So, in my head, it became no big deal…I mean how hard could it really be?! I want people to see my images in context. I want them to see the stories they tell – not just random blog posting!! I want to have a PURPOSE DAMMIT! ::shaking head::
I was so naïve.
Magazines, it turns out, have their own organizational rules…which clearly I did NOT understand. I remember the exact moment a friend of mine came over to the studio and (after telling me how proud he was that I was even attempting to do something like this) he proceeded to, over the course of two hours, RIP it to SHREDS.
He floored me. Because, to be perfectly honest, I thought what I had done was pretty great. I was in LOVE with my stuff! And that, usually, is a pretty dangerous place to be. I call it being caught up in your own fabulousness…those moments when you can’t see beyond what you ARE SURE is amazing.
Once I heard the critique (delivered VERY kindly by the way) I realized I was missing the MOST important thing—the fact that the WHOLE POINT of doing this was NOT ABOUT ME. I had lost my way a little bit.
I knew I wanted to tell stories but not MY stories…I wanted to tell my CLIENT’S stories. There are SO MANY INCREDIBLE STORIES behind the images I take and why they exist. My clients become my friends and they are INSPIRING!
That was a huge shift for me.
Happy Magazine started out as MY BABY but ended up becoming the adopted child of SO MANY people. You can’t possibly create something that has ANY depth without others. I was an idiot for thinking otherwise.
I learned SO much. SO MUCH. About myself, about my team, about my clients. And I’m so OVERWHELMINGLY proud of each of us. We MADE this thing and…it’s GOOD!
This first issue focuses on women, their perseverance and strength, how to take better photographs and beginning to wholeheartedly embrace WHO YOU ARE. I hope it inspires you to stop being afraid. To be bold. And, to see how important being in photographs really is! It’s a message I will NEVER get tired of giving.
We built Happy around telling the stories of our clients but still struggled with the idea of HOW to organize them in a comprehensive interesting way.
And so, the sub-topic arrived…
Our plan is to produce 5(ish)—LOL—magazines over the course of the next year.
We started, obviously, with Happy Girl but have some amazing things to follow…
Happy Beast (Animals…not men)
Happy Inc. (Thanks Kathy Kurz for the great title idea!)
Happy Weddings (I mean….obviously)
Happy Seniors (High School…not elderly)
Happy Endings (Boudoir…PS I love this name!)
Happy Magazine will live primarily online but we’ve found a source that will print in small quantities so you can, if you want to have a REAL LIVE COPY, order your own!!
And, we invite the people who are featured in the magazine to give us advertisements—we don’t charge for them—because we believe in networking and CONNECTION. We love all the people in our world and want to support what they are doing! So, if any of them resonate with you, pick up the phone and TELL THEM! I think we should all support each other MORE—wouldn’t that make us all MUCH happier?!
Building a Community of Awesome!
I want to put a little HAPPY in your day and some WONDER in your life. And so, I will leave you with this…Get happy, be bold, and ENJOY!!
(Don’t forget to sign up to be on our “see the next issue FIRST” list!)
Yup. It was cold. So cold that that my fingers were sticking to my equipment. (That’s cold.)
But who cares?
Neil and Jess braved 12 degree temps and a snow storm for their session. I wore jeans (WHAT was I thinking) and got completely soaked.
Dana and Mike were fearless on their wedding day and we did ALL their photographs outside! I was so into it I forgot to put on my coat! Yeah. The whole day outside in a shirt. Go Tam. ::laughing shaking head.::
So. First let me show you:
Then let me TELL you:
Jillian and Kevin are getting married in October. In Hilton Head, SC. Think that’s going to be amazing?! yeah. me too. ::grin::
Kevin recently opened this super cool performance and repair shop called The Little Speed Shop — and it was the COOLEST location to shoot in…let’s see…I had a BMW…a Maserati…a workshop…yeah. I was TOTALLY feelin’ it! So we played. And played. And then the sun set in this amazing burst of color…
I felt like I was in a movie. Right?
And it lends itself to the conversation about sessions. Jillian and Kevin had a strong point of view from which they wanted the session to go — and that was unbelievably fun! The more thought you put into a session (with me, fo course, never alone!) — the more personal it becomes. It really is about you. About what’s important to you. And if the MOST important thing is that you are TOGETHER — then we’ll just wander around and find cool spots to shoot in. That’s equally as fun too. Just bring cool clothes. And a Maserati.
I’m kidding about the Maserati. I just like typing Maserati. It’s even more fun to say… (you know you just said it in your mind. bonus if you said it outloud!)
Yeah. It’s alllll good!