6 Ways to Avoid a Bad Wedding Photographer

  
Picking a wedding photographer is one of the first big decisions in the wedding planning process. You have to think about budget, style, location, personality… But even after those considerations, there are a few more tips that you may not think of at first, but will be sure to help. Here is a quick list of things to think about, along with a snipet of how I learned these things the hard way. Hold on tight- it’s about to get real. 

  1. To get the best service, make sure your photographer does this as their FULL TIME job. If they have other distractions, you will not get their full attention, and this can be a huge problem. My photographer did weddings as a side job, so my pictures were not her first priority. Therefore, the quality of her work with me suffered immensely. 
  2. Meet your potential photographer in person before you decide.  This is the only way to really get to know their personality. If you love them online, but they are less than impressive in person, don’t feel like you still have to hire them. Choose someone you are compatable with. When my husband and I met our photographer in person, he thought she had no energy and didn’t take initiative in learning about what we wanted. I wish I would have take his comments more to heart, because she ended up not being compatable with us. I wish we would have chosen someone else. 
  3. They should always get back to you within 24 hours of contact if they are a real professional. Communication is key when you are wedding planning. If you don’t hear from them after a day, maybe that’s alright with you- but two days is unacceptable! If you have trouble setting up appointments or there is a lack of communication in the beginning- it will only get worse. There were times my photographer did not answer my emails/texts/calls for TWO WEEKS. There is no excuse for this. It’s 2015, people. Don’t believe the bull that they ‘didn’t have service.’
  4. Make sure they can handle being a director, especially when you give them a list of ‘must have’ snapshots. Things get busy and you will forget if you wanted a picture with your second cousin twice removed. Don’t get too specific for the entire day, but at least have a list for the church pictures. This will help move things along without people getting frustrated. Be sure your photographer can direct large groups so these get done in a timely manner. I had a list for my photographer, and she didn’t get them all. She had the list on her phone, not printed out, and kept having to unlock the screen and scroll back to where she left off. It took forever, and she missed quite a few. She didn’t direct people where to stand, what angles to get, and so our pictures did not look on point. 
  5. Be extremely specific in your contract about what you will be given in your wedding package, and WHEN you will receive it. After the wedding day is done, you should receive the items you paid for, but you should get them without too much of a wait. I would say 4-6 weeks is a very generous amount of time to give a photographer. Have a specific date you will have your picture by, even if you decide 3 months is an ok time for you- HAVE IT IN WRITING. My photographer told us she would have everything done in about 2-3 months. I was not aware that this is longer than normal, so I agreed. However this was not written in our contract. We didn’t get our pictures until FIVE MONTHS after our wedding. 
  6. Lastly, if you are dissatisfied, ask for compensation. Your wedding day is the most important day of your life. The photographer has one of the most important jobs of the day- capturing the memories. If you get your pictures back and they are not what you expected, communicate this to your photographer. It is ok to ask for some money back if you are not happy. You paid for their services, and if those services were not delivered, it needs to be fixed. After not getting our pictures back for five months, having no communication from our photographer, and being extremely unhappy with the pictures we finally got- we asked for a partial refund. We did get some money back. While it doesn’t fix our crappy wedding pictures, at least we stood our ground and communicated how unhappy we were. 

Now, I hope I have not made you afraid about choosing a wedding photographer. Remember, we are all human and have lives that can sometimes cause a wrinkle in plans. However, watch for signs that a photographer may not be the one for you. Read reviews, look at their online galleries, ask how many weddings they have photographed, ask your married friends who they would suggest,  grill them as much as you want to ensure you will get exactly what you want for your big day.  Once you have chosen your photographer, congratulations! Coming soon will be a suggested ‘must have’ snapshot list, so stay tuned! Happy (wedding photographer) hunting!

~Eleni

Keeping it clean, while keeping it sane

tidy tips

If we could just make our houses stay perfect forever… Unfortunately, dust collects again, dust bunnies resurrect under the stove, and clothes keep getting dirty.  We will never have perfect homes.  Except for those certain people.  You know those kind of people who are like…

sorryforthemess

But anyway, for normal people like us, I’ve developed a few techniques to fend off even the greatest messes!  I’ve forced these habits upon myself, not to make my house perfect, but to create a little more order in my life.  There’s something about walking into a clean house at the end of a long day at work, or waking up to a kitchen where last night’s dinner doesn’t linger.  I hope these tips can help you keep a tidy house, while not making you a crazy person!

Make your bed everyday, even though it sucks sometimes.

I know it seems pointless.  “I’m going to mess it up later anyway, so who cares?”  Just try it for a week.  You’ll feel totally awesome when you crawl into a pretty bed instead of a wadded up pile of blankets.  Take a few minutes in the morning to make the bed.

Everything has a place, and everything goes back to that place.

Simple, yet oh so tempting to ignore.  “Why would I sort through this mail when I could just leave it here on the counter?  It’s junk anyway.”  6 days a week of junk mail can start piling up real quick.

Organizers. They’ll change your life.

I may have an obsession with re-purposing organizers.

It’s okay to have a junk drawer.

I know I said everything has a place.  Well, I kind of lied – not everything.  You’re going to collect random stuff and you won’t know what to do with it.  Do not fret, I’m here to tell you it’s perfectly fine to have a drawer to swiftly dump stuff into when visitors stop by.  I won’t tell.

Destination: somewhere else.

My husband and I are big fans of our outgoing box.  We always have something waiting to go to a parent’s house, a letter to be mailed, etc.  Instead of leaving that stuff to float around the house just asking to be forgotten, we throw it in a safe spot where we know we’ll see it on our way out the door.

Keeping up with the Kardashians…and the dishes.

So you’re on a Netflix binge.  One dinner plate + dessert + a few drinks + suddenly time to go to bed if you want to wake up in time for work = a small mountain of dishes in the sink (or more likely, on the coffee table).  Take a minute to throw your dishes in the dishwasher, or at least rinse them.  No clutter, no bugs, more clean dishes for tomorrow night!

These techniques are easy, but they only work as habits – that’s the hard part.  Hope they can make your life a little more tidy!

~Megan

Mrs. Who?: Changing your name after marriage

When it comes to weddings and marriage, there are a lot of things you don’t realize you don’t know how to do until it’s time to do it.  Lighting your unity candle, cutting your wedding cake, packing for your honeymoon, and above all – changing your name.  Here’s a few tips if you don’t know where to start.  Don’t expect it to happen quickly – it will take a few months to get everything finalized.  Good luck, Mrs!

Name Change.jpg

~Megan

Watch me whip! Then add the Bailey’s…

  
There’s only one more day to prepare for Thanksgiving! I am sure you have all of your baking done (if not, good luck to you…)- BUT, did you remember the whipped cream to top your delicious pies (or to top off your post-dinner coffee)? You’re saying, ‘Of course! Cool whip was on sale last week, so I am covered.’ But I say to you, why wouldn’t you want to dazzle your guests by making a homeade, no sugar added, liqueur infused, delicious whipped cream? It’s quick, easy, and will be sure to impress. 

All you need is:

  • Electric mixer
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 3 packets of stevia
  • 1 tablespoon *your choice* liqueur

The process is a piece of cake! I mean pie…I mean, you put it ON your pie… Just keep reading. 

  1. Pour heavy whipping cream into a bowl that will hold at least TWICE as much as is poured in. It will expand as you whip it. 
  2. Whip the cream using an electric mixer on a medium setting (I had mine on 2 or 3, highest setting is 5). 
  3. Keep on whipping until the liquid begins to thicken. 
  4. Add your stevia and choice of liqueur. ~I use Bailey’s, or an off-brand Irish creme liqueur. Kahlua, or other coffee liqueurs would also be delicious.~
  5. Keep on whipping until you get the desired fluffiness of your whipped cream. (Could take about 10-15 minutes) 
    whipping cream
    This is before and after whipping for 15 minutes. See the thickeness difference? Patience is key.
     

My mom told me this recipe, and I can’t get enough. You can add more or less stevia based on your taste, and if you want more liqueur taste- add a little at a time until it fits! 

This is guaranteed to bring your Thanksgiving pies and your dessert coffee to the next level. Enjoy!

~Eleni 

Easy biscotti recipe!

  

 As winter approaches, my favorite thing to battle the chilly weather is having some hot chocolate or coffee while I wear my fuzzy socks and cuddle under a blanket with my puppy (or husband…I guess). Sometimes a hot drink needs a little something extra, and biscotti can really hit the spot. Below is a biscotti recipe that takes around an hour to complete. Happy baking!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup toasted almond (slivered is best)
  • 1/4 lb butter (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 orange, zest… Fresh!
  • 1/2 cup chopped cranberries

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  2. Cream the butter and sugar. 
  3. Add the eggs. 
  4. Mix those until smooth. 
  5. Add the orange zest and almond extract. 
  6. Continue mixing until it’s blended well. 
  7. Separately mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift this mixture into the wet mixture. 
  8. Stir in desired amount of slivered almonds and cranberries. 
  9. On a FLOURED board (dough will be very sticky), divide the dough in half and make two long rolls. See picture above to get an idea on size and shape. 
  10. Place the rolls lengthwise onto a cookie sheet. 
  11. Bake the rolls for 25 minutes 
  12. Take out of the oven and keep on the cookie sheet. Let us sit/cool for 5 minutes.
  13. Using a very sharp knife, slice the rolls diagonally into ~1/2 inch thick slices. Be patient here or they may crumble. 
  14. Lay the slices on their side on the cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes. 
  15. Turn the slices onto their other side and bake another 8 minutes. 
  16. Remove and cool the biscotti on a cooling rack. 

Hope you enjoy the recipe, get to dippin’!

~Eleni

     

    What to do on your Hawaiian Honeymoon

    What to do on your Hawaiian Honeymoon

    Hawaiian Honeymoon

    Romance? Check. Sun and sand? Check. Adventure? Check.  The most amazing time of my life?  Double check.  If you’ve always dreamt of spending your honeymoon in a tropical paradise – Hawaii is the place for you!  Tyler and I spent a week on the island of Maui.  I had never been anywhere off the mainland of the United States.  Hawaii is actually a lot further away than I though (it always has it’s own little box positioned conveniently on the bottom left corner of U.S. maps).    When we booked our Hawaiian honeymoon, it was a pretty surreal feeling.  You start answering a lot of questions like, “How long will you stay??”, “Why don’t you just go to Florida?”, and “Oh wow, how long does it take to get there?” (which you answer with a confident “11 hours”, even though you feel a twinge of panic when you think about flying over the Pacific).  Let me tell you a little bit about some of our favorite Maui spots.  If you’re planning your own trip, consider these ideas, or if you’re just curious, keep on reading!

    Maui Resort
    Battling some serious jet lag right now.
    Walking on the beach
    My Heaven on Earth.
    • This isn’t really a “must see”, it’s more of a suggestion.  Tyler and I have never been big spenders.  In fact, we’re quite the opposite.  We booked our trip through Costco Travel.  (You have to have a Costco membership.)  I did some price comparisons and we ended up saving  thousands of dollars.  Plus, it made things SO easy.  Everything is online.  We were able to book our flights, hotel, car rental, and activities all in one spot.  If you plan on staying at a resort,  there are a lot of hidden “resort fees” (beach access, room service, valet parking, etc.) that are basically just a sneaky way to make their rates appear cheaper upon first glance.  Just make sure you do your research!  Bonus:  Instead of paying jacked up tourist prices, if you have a Costco membership, stop by the Costco on Maui.   Everything is priced the same as on the mainland.  Tyler and I stocked up on some breakfast and lunch food to save some money!
    Maui Costco
    You can get 50,000X the Honey Nut Cheerios for half the price!
    • Makena (Muh-kayna) and Wailea (Why-Leia):  Take a drive around and see how the wealthy people live.  You wouldn’t believe some of the incredible houses around there.  Also, just a fun fact, Oprah owns a GIANT house up on one of the mountains and had her own road built straight down to Wailea because she loves it that much.  While you’re out that way, stop at Big Beach in Makena State Park.  Absolutely breathtaking!
    Big Beach, Makena State Park
    Big Beach in Makena State Park. -sigh-
    • Kayaking Snorkel Tour:  Tyler and I signed up for a guided snorkel tour in Wailea.  We took a two-person kayak out to a the coral reef where you can see the most beautiful colorful fish that you will only find in Hawaii and, if you’re lucky, sea turtles!!  We got to see a young green sea turtle swimming around the coral reef.  I’m pretty sure my heart stopped for a moment.  I was freaking out.  One thing to keep in mind, don’t chase them around and try to touch them.  First of all, it’s illegal, and second of all, it’s really annoying for everyone else.  There was a guy on our tour who started chasing this poor  turtle around, pointing at it as if we couldn’t see it.  Don’t be that guy.  Note:  If you tend to get sea sick (like me), take Dramamine an hour beforehand and go on the earliest tour possible.  The water tends to get choppy as the wind picks up later in the day – a recipe for nausea.  I am the queen of motion sickness – if I can do it, so can you!
    Lil John sea turtle
    Pretty much our snorkeling experience.
    Volcano
    Okay, so I don’t have any cool underwater photos, but here’s a  volcano!
    • Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice:  THESE ARE NO ORDINARY SNOW CONES.  Once we discovered Ululani’s, we went there every single day until our trip was over.  It’s like a middle ground between snow cones and sorbet.  They have a huge list of homemade syrup flavors (they use real cane sugar, that’s the secret!).  You can even get ice cream underneath.  I have a mad addiction now, which is too bad because I think they’re only in Hawaii.  The prices are very reasonable, as well.  Do yourself a favor and just go with the small, or if you’re obsessive like me, the medium.
    Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice
    I MISS THIS.  Also, I ate Tyler’s when mine was gone…
    • Old Lahaina Luau:  We actually booked this luau through our Costco Travel package.  We had no idea what to expect.  I thought maybe we’d get some pork, sit on some folding chairs and watch a few hula dancers.  We show up and there are wait staff showing people to their reserved seats, asking you if you want a Mai Tai (the answer is “yes”), there’s an open bar, unearthing of the traditional pig, and an INCREDIBLE view.  We were in shock for about 30 minutes.  We sat at a table with three other couples and ate the best food we’ve ever had from the buffet.  They performed a traditional hula dance that told the legend of Hawaii’s beginnings.  There was singing, and drums, and insane hula dancing – my mind was blown at that point.  Then our waiter brought us a tray full of Hawaiian desserts (-heart stops beating-).  I’m just saying, if you want to see a luau, this is the one to see.
    Tyler and I at the Old Lahaina Luau
    Excuse us, Pineapple.
    Old Lahaina Luau Hula Dancing
    Postcard? Nope, just Hawaii. Every picture is a postcard.
    • Hana Highway:  If you like adventure, this one’s for you.  Take the trip of a lifetime through the winding roads (and I mean winding) of Haleakala’s rainforest (Haleakala is Maui’s eastern volcano)..  It’s a white-knuckle-inducing 50-something mile drive over 54 one-lane bridges and around more than 600 hairpin turns.  This is not for the faint of heart.  Many locals use this road as their everyday commute, including big scary dump trucks (see photo below).  There are SO many cool stops along the way.  I would highly recommend downloading the GyPSy Guide: Road to Hana app.  It’s a GPS based map with a narrator to guide you.  The GPS part is important because you won’t have cell service 99% of the time.  Some of favorite memories from Hawaii we credit to our little GyPSy friend.  Stay tuned for a post about our Hana Highway adventure!
    Dump truck on Hana Highway
    Oh, hi. We had to reverse down the side of the mountain until the truck could fit through. Anxious moments…

    If you’re looking for a vacation that is equal parts relaxation and adventure, Maui is the place to go!  You can’t possibly take advantage of everything Maui has to offer in one week, but we certainly tried!  What is your dream vacation?  Let us know in the comments!

    *Please note:  This is not a sponsored post.  All links are for your convenience and curiosity! :-)*

    ~Megan

    Easy Lemon Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

    Easy Lemon Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

    image

    No Fall or Winter season is complete without a hearty pasta recipe.  The best part about this recipe is that it cuts a few calories here and there.  We have to save some calories for lots and lots of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving!  This a delicious and easy dinner for a chilly night at home!

     

    Easy Lemon Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

    Prep time:  30 minutes

    Serves:  6

    Husband rating:  3.5 out of 5 Han SolosHan Solo Scale

    12 oz dry pasta (Fettuccine, Spaghetti, Rotini… your choice!  Even better if it’s whole grain!)

    1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled and sliced into strips

    4 cups broccoli florets

    2 Tbsp butter

    3 Tbsp garlic powder

    3 Tbsp flour

    1 ¾ cups skim or 1% milk

    Salt and freshly ground pepper

    4 oz. light cream cheese, diced into cubes

    1 ½ cup (1.5 oz.) finely shredded parmesan, plus more for serving

    3 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

    3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

    • Prepare pasta in salted water.  Unless you have frozen steam-in-bag broccoli (my favorite!), add broccoli to the boiling pasta in the last 5 minutes.  Drain together.
      • Note:  I used Vermicelli Spaghetti noodles because I had a bunch I needed to use up..  Fettuccine noodles would be more traditional, but use whatever you want!  
      • Another note:  If you haven’t already cooked your chicken, now would be a good time.  I usually fry the strips of chicken in a pan with a tablespoon of oil.
    • In a large and deep skillet or pot, melt butter over medium heat, then add garlic and flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  While whisking slowly, pour milk into flour mixture.  Whisk vigorously to smooth any lumps.  Add in cream cheese and parmesan – whisk until melted.  Keep stirring until smooth.  Mix in heavy cream and lemon juice (I prefer more lemon in mine!).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  
    • Once sauce is ready, stir in drained pasta, broccoli and chicken.  Add milk to create a thinner sauce, if desired.
    • Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan and enjoy!

    ~Megan

    Inspired by Cooking Classy, Light Fettuccine Alfredo