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/
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
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.
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
From Bridget & Dylan….
Bridget: I guess you could call my inspiration for the wedding Hampton-chic. I wanted it to be super classy and sophisticated but not stuffy or overly formal – just a simple, classic beauty. For the colors, I chose soft pinks and whites in order to keep that feel. We had peonies and white roses with chevron on the table numbers. The chevron actually tied everything together because we also used it on our save-the-dates and invitations.
Dylan and I did pretty much everything ourselves. It was pretty hectic! We’re both teachers and were in the middle of wrapping up the school year at the same time as we were trying to get everything done for the wedding.
Dylan: There were a lot of late nights. It would be 2am and we would just look at each other, sort of shrug and keep pushing through.
Bridget: Even though it was stressful doing everything ourselves, we did get lucky with the invitations. Dylan’s sister has a print studio here and she did all our invitations as a wedding gift.
The whole week before our wedding it poured and when I woke up that morning it was still raining. I was sure it wouldn’t stop but by the time I was getting ready it cleared up and turned into an absolutely beautiful day. I got ready at the Del Monte and it was super low key. I only had three bridesmaids and we just took our time and relaxed.
Dylan: My morning was spent at Lake Ontario with my three boys and one of their friends. The five of us had stayed overnight and then got ready there before heading to the church. It was really nice to have that time together – just the boys.
Bridget: We got married at Christ Episcopal Church in Pittsford. The whole day feels like such a blur! It went by so fast but it was perfect.
Dylan: Bridget and I decided not to do a first look – we really wanted the first time we saw each other to be when Bridget walked down the aisle – and the mystery behind the design of the dress had become a sort of running joke.
Bridget: I bought my dress in New York and even though Dylan traveled there with me he wasn’t allowed to actually see it. My mother came with us on one of the trips and when we met Dylan afterwards she told him, ‘Oh it’s so pretty. It has huge tulle sleeves and lots of glitter!’ That’s when it began.
Dylan: I knew it was going to be beautiful but when she came into the church, it took my breath away.
Bridget: Dylan and I hand-picked all of our readings. We chose a traditional Irish blessing and a passage from 1 Corinthians. We also included Dylan’s three boys in the ceremony, which was incredibly special. We decided to do traditional vows but we also wanted to say something personal to each other and the boys, so we each wrote a letter to each other and the boys and then read them during the ceremony.
From the moment we got engaged, we really tried to incorporate the boys into the whole process. They even came to our cake tasting with us! We wanted them to feel like they really helped bring the day to life. It was wonderful to see them become such a big part of the day.
Dylan: There is a great image of Bridget and the boys while she is giving her speech to them. Seeing that moment captured in time is just truly amazing.
Bridget: During the recessional we chose the song ‘Home’ by Phillip Phillips, which we love. A girl from the church played it on the piano and it was really pretty and happy – everyone was clapping. It was also the song we were introduced to at our reception, so it was a special way to tie it all together.
Dylan has a huge family, so most of the guests at the wedding were family and only a small group were friends. It was incredibly special to celebrate with all the people who we are so close to. The man who married us is actually Dylan’s cousin’s husband. He said a prayer during the toasts and two of Dylan’s cousins did a comical skit about love – they do it at all the family weddings – and it was very funny and sweet.
Dylan did his mother/son dance at the same time I did my father/daughter dance. Then, we had our first dance afterwards to ‘All this Time’ by One Republic. We spent so much time in our kitchen practicing and every time we’d get so emotional. All we kept saying was, ‘How are we going to do this at the wedding without losing it?!’ But we ended up being totally fine, which was a relief.
Dylan: My family loves celebrations – especially dancing and singing – so after a few hours, as people began to clear out, my family pretty much took over and it became a gigantic dancing, sing-along party. We were so loud! But at the end of the night, when we were all singing and dancing together, that was my favorite part. I loved that part.
Bridget: For both of us, having the kids incorporated was a hugely special part of the day. Doing our portraits during cocktail hour was also really nice – it gave us time to just be on our own and away from everything for a little bit. And I loved the speech that my maid of honor gave. It completely blew me away.
There isn’t anything about the day itself that I would change but getting everything done and perfect beforehand was incredibly stressful. In hindsight I would definitely have given away some of the responsibility to friends and family.
As far as advice goes, the biggest thing I would say is delegate, delegate, delegate! Take full advantage of all of the resources you have and don’t be afraid to ask for help. And, don’t stress out over all the little details. At the end of the day, no one’s going to remember their place card or the centerpieces or the linens. Even if something goes wrong, no one knows it was supposed to be different. They won’t even notice. The only other thing is to spend your money thoughtfully – make sure to think about the things that are most important to you and build you budget around those items. We spent our money on the photographer, the band, and an open bar. If nothing else, that’s what made the party. And the amazing images we have from our day will be with us forever, even if the memories fade.
As always, here are the wonderful vendors who helped make this beautiful day come together!
Photography: Tammy Swales Studio. Ceremony: Christ Episcopal Church. Reception: Oak Hill Country Club. Save-the-Dates/Invitations: French Press. Catering/Cake: Oak Hill Country Club. Additional Desserts: Village Bakery and Cafe. Flowers: The Topiary. Band: Orient Express. Wedding Dress/Veil: Vera Wang New York. Bridal Shoes: Badgley Mischka. Earrings: Kendra Scott. Groom/Groomsmen: Tommy Hilfiger. Groom’s Sons: J. Crew Crewcuts. Bridesmaid Dresses: Dessy After Six. Linens: Simply Beautiful Events. Hair/Makeup: Scott Miller.