Bridal Show Tips



Many brides tell me that they are thoroughly overwhelmed the first time they attend a bridal show, so I thought it might be good to lay out a few guidelines to help you make the most of your time.

Here are tips to get the maximum benefit from any show:

  • Before you go to any show, print several sheets of adhesive address labels with your name, contact information, AND wedding date.  If you have not yet set a wedding date, add something like Spring 2018.  Quickly peel off a label and stick it on an inquiry sheet at any booth that you would like to receive additional information.
  • Bring your checkbook – you just might want to book or hold a date.  High demand dates go quickly.  September and October dates book quickly here in our area.  It’s prime wedding season, and many vendors like venues and photographers book a year out!
  • Bring family and friends you trust, and whose opinion matter.  But be careful of the size of your group because too many opinions, and you could be overwhelmed with indecision.
  • Invite your groom, but take him only if he wants to have a voice in this part of the wedding planning.  If this is not his thing, don’t torture him!  (Note:  At our April 23rd, 2017 My Dream Wedding Show in April he can tour all the OLD VINTAGE CARS at the Gateway Classic Event Space, while you plan your wedding.  Plus, we are offering a FREE, complimentary photo of you and your groom with a vintage car.) 
  • Know what you are looking for and what’s your budget.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
  • Be ready with phrases such as, “I’ll think about that.”  And always give yourself a set amount of time and make a decision.  One of the biggest causes of stress in wedding planning is not making decisions on a timely basis…and then things start to really back up and you’ll find yourself in a spin trying to finalize decisions.

Whether your wedding is a few months away or an entire year, a bridal show will help you pull everything together.


TIPS about PHOTOGRAPHY for Your Wedding Day (Part 2 of 2)




Great Wedding Dress Photos

A couple tips to for better wedding dress photos before you put it on. – Bring a nice hanger. A nice wooden hanger is a lot better than those cheap plastic ones. It doesn’t need to be one of the fancy ones with your name written in wire.  Be sure there’s a place to hang it that’s clutter free. I often take the dress out of the dressing area for a better background, but sometimes there just isn’t a good place to hang it. Take all the cardboard and stuffing out.  Be sure there’s someone to help the photographer. It’s hard enough moving the dress around without a ton of camera gear to deal with too. A helper can open doors, keep the train off the floor, or make sure the groom doesn’t get an accidental peek if he’s getting ready in the same general area.

Do I have to do a first look?

Absolutely not! First looks are done when the bride and groom choose to see each other and do run-around photos before the ceremony; usually when the ceremony is late in the day. A first look offers an opportunity for the groom to have a great reaction the first time he sees the love of his life in her wedding finest. It makes for great photos and gives you both a little time together. However, it is by no means a requirement. How long does a first look take? Schedule about 15 minutes for a first look. It typically takes a few minutes to get everyone in place. Once you see each other, spend a little time together. Don’t rush. I have only two “rules” for couples during their first look. Rule one: whichever side the photographer is standing is the side the groom should turn to see his bride-to-be. That way you get photos of his expression, not the back of his head. Rule two: DON’T play to the camera. Just make the moment real, genuine, and amazing. What about Pinterest? Getting ready photos These are some of my favorite photos of the day. The air is charged with excitement and there’s so much happening it’s the perfect setting for real memories.


DON’T play to the camera.  

Don’t put your dress on before the photographer arrives. DON’T split up photographers If you have two photographers for your wedding day, do NOT split them up (one with the guys, one with the ladies, for instance). Unless your photographers produce photos that are generic and vanilla you’re going to get two very different looks from each. It makes for terrible story telling. Seriously, why would you want to pick photographers that produce bland look-alike photos anyway?

Where to get ready.

To get ready together, yet apart If your venue doesn’t have a place to get ready,find a nearby hotel.  Your photographer can go back and forth between groups yet there’s almost no risk of seeing each other. No, you DON’T want to split up photographers and have one stay with the ladies while the other stays with the guys. All photographers have a unique look and style (or should, at least) and splitting them up like that creates a disjointed story when looking at the combined photos. It’s better to have one photographer run back and forth. Make your photographer sweat a little!

What is the point of wedding photography?

Is it to preserve memories, to feel like a star for the day, or just because someone told you you need a photographer? The answer is different for different couples. Make an honest assessment of your desires before selecting a photographer, otherwise your photos might not match your expectations. The best candid photos in the world won’t satisfy if you’re looking for “fashion shoot” photography. If you feel the main point of wedding photography is to preserve real memories, pick a photographer that captures candid moments that tell a story or convey emotion. Posed photos or smile-for-the-camera images aren’t real memories.

Tips about PHOTOGRAPHY for Your Wedding Day (Part 1 of 2)




How much time do you need for photography on the wedding day?

A good rule of thumb is to plan about 30 minutes for family formals at the church or ceremony location and between 1.5 and 2.5 hours for creative (out-and-about) photos. Seriously, after a couple hours it gets very tiring, so don’t try to do photos for four or five hours. Also, keep the family formals short by focusing on only the most important groupings rather than every possible combination you can think of.

How many places should I stop at for wedding day photos?

I’m a firm believer that less is more. Pick one or two really good spots rather than a bunch all over town. Travel time eats up your day like you wouldn’t believe. For Wedding day runaround photos apply the 50/50 rule: Remember it’s YOUR day after all. Some couples are so obsessed with getting photos of the entire wedding party they forget to get any of just the two of them. Those romantic, just the-two-of-you moments are special. No less than 50% of your runaround photos should be of just the two of you, and bonus points if it’s closer to 75%. Yes, get some great shots with the entire wedding party, but then give them a break and have some one-on-one time. Wedding day runaround photos – keep it casual DON’T over pose with the runaround photos. We all want those dynamic photos, yes, but your photography should capture who you are. Your relationship. Your personality. Your unique facial expressions and body language when you’re together. You can’t tell the story of who you really are through generic glamor poses. There will always be an element of staging, but it should balance well with natural expression. It’s a hard balance to get right.

How many family formals should I do?

Everyone will thank you and you’ll have a better time on your wedding day if you keep family formal photos short. 30 minutes is the goal to shoot for! That means you’re going to need to focus on the MOST IMPORTANT groups and accept that you’re probably not going to get every possible combination of groupings. I always have the “big four” in mind (bride alone, groom alone, B+G together, and entire wedding party). After that, six to ten groups should be all you should try to do. Larger groups take longer to set up, so if you have several big groups keep the total number of shots small.

Tips to keep formal photos short.

Keep the list small. Have a helper who can organize the next group while the photographer is working with the current one.  Don’t think up shots on the spot.  Don’t try to get separate photos with each bridesmaid and groomsman.  It’s faster and less stress as a group.  Make sure no one getting their photo taken disappears into the bathroom.!  Don’t let anyone take over.  Mom, Grandma, or Uncle Joe always have ideas for photos they think are great. Don’t let them hijack your limited time. – Don’t let guests snap photos. It’s not about limiting anyone, it’s about time management. These “Oh, just one” snaps build up and can literally double the time it would otherwise take.   No talking when in front of the camera! Again, time management. Waiting for people to finish a conversation adds to the total time significantly.

This is the first part of a 2-part post.  Check back tomorrow for the 2nd part.

Guest Blogger – Patrick Pope Photography (

Wedding Day – Emergency Kit

Every bride should have an emergency kit handy on her wedding day.  Anticipating anything big or small that can go wrong is the key to staying calm.  I’ve seen just about every major and minor mishap including a bride who forgot to bring shoes for her wedding.  No problem – we just stop on the way to the wedding and bought a pair of white shoes –  in her wedding dress and with her veil on.  (It made for an interesting story to tell!)  I’ve seen the best man having to make a quick run back home for the marriage license, over-tanned bridesmaids, groomsmen without socks, and the simple things like a vest that needed buttons re-attached.

So, I’ve decided to create a list of items for your Wedding Day Survival Kit for you.  You can also download this list from out Helpful Information section as well.  Also make sure to check out the “Checklist of Wedding Day Essential Items” as well in the Helpful Information section as well.  This is an itemized list of everything you should remember to bring for your wedding.

I am a big believe in lists as you can tell.  But – if you have a list, and check the list, your will have peace of mind knowing that everything is in order.


  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Tooth Brush/Paste
  • Teeth Wipes
  • Dental Floss
  • Tic Tacs
  • Breath Spray
  • Mouthwash
  • Tampons
  • Chapstick
  • Band Aids
  • Kleenex
  • Tweezers
  • Deodorant
  • Skin Lotion
  • Baby Powder
  • Make Up Remover
  • Face Wipes
  • Q-Tips
  • Comb/Brush
  • Hair Spray
  • Bobby Pines
  • Nail File
  • Clear Nail Polish
  • Mirror
  • Black Ribbon – Nude Ribbon
  • Black Socks
  • Extra Earring Backs
  • Heel Protectors for Walking on Grass
  • Chalk
  • Tide “Stain” Remover Pen
  • Dryer Sheets for Static
  • Sewing Kit
  • Hot Glue or Krazy Glue
  • Rubber Bands
  • Lighter/Matches
  • Eyeglass Repair Kit
  • Batteries
  • Medicine – Benadryl, Advil, Asprin, Antacid
  • Double Face Tape
  • Pearl Corsage Pins
  • Safety Pins
  • Bug Repellent
  • Q Tips
  • Eye Drops
  • Straws
  • Eye Drops
  • Smelling Salts
  • 2 White Shirt Buttons
  • Scotch Tape

Don’t wait to the last week.  Start collecting everything now, and put your items in a small carry bag.

Brides – Submit your Most Disliked Cheesy, Pinterest Type Posed Wedding Photos

Over the years I have talked to many wedding professional photographers who hate shooting those “cheesy” Pinterest type photos.  The new trend is more candid and storytelling images, but that doesn’t mean these “posed” shots have disappeared.   Perhaps it’s the bridal party running down a hill, or it’s the bridal party jumping in the air.   What’s your most disliked photo?  Submit your photos to and we will share them with you in the next few weeks.  We will take the top ten and allow you to VOTE for your most disliked at our April 23, 2017 BRIDAL SHOW, My Dream Wedding – Illinois, at the Gateway Classic Car Expo Center in O’Fallon, ILLINOIS.

Top 2017 Wedding Trends Revealed by The Knot

The Knot Wedding Trends Report for 2017

Reduced Carbon Footprint Fetes
Hosting an incredible wedding while also reducing the carbon footprint is on trend in 2017. For food and flowers, opt for in season and locally sourced. Earth-friendly invitations can be made by printing with soy-based inks on recycled paper. For place cards, forget the paper and have a calligrapher write each guest’s name on stones that can be kept as personalized favors afterward. Once the guests have gone home, don’t toss the flowers. Donate to a hospital or nursing home to spread joy to others.

Ask for What You Really Want
From cash to camping gear and even museum memberships, couples can ask for just about anything today—including supporting a cause close to heart. Charity registries are on the rise and couples can register for a charity on For each gift purchased, The Knot will donate to their chosen cause.

The Ultimate Guest Gifting Lounge
This fun twist on the hotel welcome bag is ideal for destination weddings. Instead of stuffing and delivering them yourself, let your guests do the work. Set up a room full of swag like snacks, drinks and local sweet treats and let guests choose their favorite items. This also gives you the opportunity to meet and greet guests in person when they arrive.

Icebreaker Guest Games
Weddings today are an all weekend affair, so it’s essential your guests meet and get to know each other. What better way to get your guests mixing and mingling than with the ultimate grown-up icebreaker: games. Personalized Mad Libs about your first encounter and crossword puzzles that keep guests guessing your favorite date spot are great ways to break the ice before the ceremony or during the cocktail hour. Lawn games like croquet, horseshoes and corn hole are perfect for promoting new friendship at an outdoor wedding or cocktail hour. 

Exceptional Entertainment
When it comes to entertainment, couples are pulling out all the stops to entertain their guests. Aerialists, acrobats, live painters and even choirs belting out Beyoncé have made their way into weddings. If that’s too trendy, try a traditional route with music, but pair it with a performance—like a classical quartet and ballerinas in tutus. Have a noise ordinance at your outdoor locale? Host a “silent disco” where guests wear headphones and dance to their own beat.

One With Nature
If you ­­­­­can’t celebrate under the stars, bring the outside in. Add oversize potted trees and shrubbery to a ballroom for an enchanted forest look. Natural elements like wood and stone can be incorporated into your table settings, and hanging flowers over tables or the dance floor creates an instant wow factor. 

Image Mapping Technology
Want to turn your indoor venue into a lush garden, but don’t have the budget for thousands of flowers and potted trees? Try a new projection technology called image mapping that allows you to transform a space with lighting and moving pictures. Give your ceremony and reception its own special vibe by changing scenes from one to the next. You can even use this technology on your wedding cake. Not only is this trend tech forward, it benefits the environment and will save you money on flowers and décor.

Metallic Dresses & Breezy Silhouettes
Metallic dresses—think tasteful gold threading and silver beading—flooded the runways during Bridal Fashion Week. Wearing a metallic dress may seem like a bold move, but it’s perfect for a sophisticated, evening affair. Also big this year, effortless dresses with flowing fabrics. They’re a must-have for providing a lightweight, ethereal vibe for destination weddings or even to wear for a second look. Detachable skirts, floral embellishments and off-the-shoulder looks will also make an appearance on the aisle.

Formal Portrait Studios
There’s a new twist on the traditional photo booth: portrait studios. Just like the traditional photo booth, there’s a designated space and sometimes props, but instead of posing with feather boas and silly sunglasses, a live photographer asks you to vogue for the camera. The result is a glamorous, intimate portrait in your finest attire. Also in for 2017 is the live illustrator who walks the party sketching guests throughout the night.

Translucent Cakes
The new take on the naked cake is the translucent cake. Instead of totally bare tiers, translucent cakes have a thin veil of frosting with just a bit of the cake showing. Typically iced in buttercream, these sweet delights are topped with fresh flowers or in-season fruits that hint at the flavors of the cake filling. 

Furry Friends
The hottest wedding guests of 2017 have four legs and supersoft coats. From bunnies and donkeys to llamas and pigs, couples having rustic barn weddings are incorporating farm animals into the wedding day.

A Moveable Feast
With food trucks and passed multicourse meals, the sit-down dinner is starting to be replaced with more interactive options. Set up stations that feature your favorite eats, like a raw bar with a waiter live-shucking oysters or wine and cheese pairings with an on-site sommelier. If you don’t want to forgo a plated dinner, host a cool cocktail hour and serve the main meal family style for a twist on tradition.

So, what are you doing for your wedding that is unique and reflects who you are as a couple?  The best answer submitted by Friday, March 10th, 2017 receives 2 FREE Tickets to the Chocolate Festival Bridal Show on Sunday, March 19th, 2017 at Bear Creek Golf Club.  Send you submissions to