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Weddings  |  Families  |  Editorial

The Blog

Happy Thanksgiving week, friends! To celebrate the occasion, I am sharing my ALL-TIME favorite Thanksgiving recipe and a gorgeous styled shoot I did with Over the Top Events as well!!

First off, I just have to say- I LOVE my job. Let me tell you why that is. One: I have met some of my absolute best friends because of this job! People I would have never met had I not stepped into the wedding industry. Two: As someone who has never exactly been one to follow rules, I love the freedom and flexibility that comes with my job. I am a blessed and very thankful gal!

I hope you’ll give the dressing a go! If you do, let me know what you think ūüėČ

Enjoy, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipe

I’m not going to lie- this stuffing is a TOTAL game-changer for any Thanksgiving feast! It is one of my absolute favorite parts of Thanksgiving Day and I’m drooling at the thought of cooking it in just a few days! Are you ready for this?!

INGREDIENTS:

-One box of Mrs. Cubbinson’s seasoned dressing
-1/2 cup celery, chopped
-1/2 cup onion, chopped
-2 sticks of butter
-1 cup of brown sugar
-1.5 cups of chicken broth
-1 tablespoon sage
-1 tablespoon rosemary
-1 pound of ground sausage (spicy, if you like!)
-1.5 cups of bacon pieces
-1.5 cups of crushed pecans or roasted chestnuts

DIRECTIONS:

Brown the ground sausage and set aside. Cook the bacon and set aside. Crumble the bacon when cool.

Prepare Ms. Cubbison’s dressing as directed (don’t forget to preheat the oven!). Saute celery and onions in butter as directed. Add the chicken broth. Add more broth if you want a less dry texture.

Combine with the dressing, brown sugar and pecans.

Add the sage, rosemary, and meat.

Note: For extra flavor and added cholesterol boost, add the sausage and bacon grease to the mixture.

Bake in a glass casserole pan for 15-20 minutes in a preheated 375-degree oven, or until brown.

About the Styled Shoot

I collaborated with Over the Top Events for this styled shoot. And let me tell you, it was a total DREAM. Not only did they style the shoot, but they did the florals, too! Alex and Heidi are amazing and so creative. I LOVED working with them!

The shoot took place at a private ranch in Mapleton, Utah and it was just so dang dreamy. Take a look at the pics below and you’ll see exactly what I mean!








What to Wear as a Wedding Vendor

As a wedding vendor, it can be easy to get bored with a black on black wardrobe. When I got married, every single onf of my vendors wore black. To this day, it is still deemed as “vendor appropriate”.

My wedding planner was a different story, however. Dalise LOVES the color purple. Every time we met, the gal had something purple on. Whether it was her lavender colored nails or a cardigan to go alongside her blouse, purple was always involved. The way she kept purple by her side at all times as a wedding vendor totally inspired me.

Color Me Happy

While black is slimming and beautiful — because let’s be honest, black is AMAZING — it’s just not me. If you know me, you know I’m loud and obnoxious (in the best way, of course!) and I have always been okay with being in the spotlight. That being said, I’m totally okay if people know who I am based off what I’m wearing.

If you were to look at my closet, the first thing you would notice is that it is completely organized by color. As much as I love monochromatic colors, I have a TON of patterns and different colors. You’ll also notice that I don’t really have a color that’s bigger than the other when it comes to my wardrobe. I have just as many grays as I do blues. I have just as many oranges as I do hunter greens. You get the picture, right? I LOVE COLORS!

That being said, I love incorporating who I am into what I wear as a professional in the wedding industry. I really am a believer in that there are plenty of ways in which you can incorporate colors and still come across as a professional without having to look boring in black. Although….my black jumpsuit (from Piper and Scoot) is a HUGE staple in my shooting wardrobe…and yes I have it in 4 colors!

My Wedding Vendor Wardrobe

When it comes to LDS weddings, there are usually about 50-100 people at the temple waiting for the bride to come out of the temple. With  temple weddings, there are multiple brides getting married at the same time. Meaning, you could have four brides getting married at the same temple with no idea as to who is going to come out first. Thus, I find myself wearing brighter pops of colors at these weddings because I want their guests to know who their photographer is amongst the crowd.

As for traditional weddings, I find myself wearing more monochromatic colors because I am literally in the center aisle and in front of so many people. However, I still keep things fun! For example, if it’s a summer wedding I’ll wear a cute skirt and a nice blouse that allows me to not die of heat. Or, I’ll wear a nice dress.

Despite what type of wedding it is that I am shooting, I like for the way I dress to show my couples that their wedding means more to me than just black jeans and a black tee shirt. I truly believe it makes them feel more valued.

Where I Shop

J. Crew (Outlet! Don’t get it twisted, I’m a mom on a budget!)
Piper and Scoot
Bohme
Roolee
Called to Surf
Gap (Occasionally)
Nordstrom (Rack)

More Inspiration

Did you enjoy this read about my wardrobe? If so, be sure to take a look at my post on Tips for Working Moms for Work & Home Life Balance!

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Keep calm on your big day by creating a day-of wedding timeline. Today on the blog, I’m sharing the ideal timeline to help get you started! Be sure to use the wisdom of your coordinator and photographer to craft a timeline unique to your wedding day!¬†

The Importance of a Wedding Day Timeline

When I got married, I literally knew nothing about planning a wedding. This included setting a timeline for my day. I was pretty clueless. Lucky for me, however, I had a BOMB photographer (Carly) and wedding coordinator (Dalise) to educate me on all things wedding and how the day should flow!

I was a bride who opted for a first look with my man, which meant adding hours of coverage to ensure I could also have my photographer there for my sparkler exit, too! Yes, I wanted it all! How lucky I was to have had a photographer put so much hard work into such a long day!

I love the story my wedding day captures tell and I loved how our wedding day went by with very few hiccups- all thanks to my wonderful coordinator and photographer! They were the true power team!

Why You Need a Coordinator

If you are considering NOT having a coordinator and hoping the day will form and take shape on its own, I suggest looking over your budget one more time and finding money in the couch cushions if you must have ‚ÄĒat the very least ‚ÄĒa “day of” wedding coordinator. Besides a wonderful photographer, it will be some of the best money you will spend!

So, in effort to educate my brides, and future brides (or pretty much anyone thinking they will be planning a wedding in the near future‚Ķ.mine or not) I have put together an ideal wedding timeline from a photographer’s standpoint. This timeline includes a “first look” because honestly, I LOVE them and truly believe every bride needs one!

Every wedding day has its own uniqueness, and this can obviously be adjusted based on ceremony time, but in my opinion, this is a great starting point!

Be sure to grab your free copy of the ideal wedding timeline below!

10 Things to Consider When Creating Your Timeline

1. Remember to consider travel time to and from your ceremony and reception location(s).

2.  Remember you are investing in photography. These images are all that remain after the day comes to an end. Do yourself (and your photographer) a HUGE favor and give them as much time as possible for portraits. You will not regret it.

3.  Wedding days go by quickly. Try to give your photographer time to photograph your details untouched. After all, it is a reflection of all your hard work!

4. Remind your family to remain in one place until family formals are over. It will streamline the family portraits and make everything run smooth. I also do my best to encourage brides to send over a shot list prior to the big day so that no family picture gets left out.

5. Allow a little extra time during bridal prep. For some reason, this is what can cause the biggest delay. It is always a good idea to give a little bit of flex room.

6. To allow all your details to get some camera time, have all your details gathered together for when your photographer arrives (rings, shoes, bouquet, invitations, perfume, jewelry, etc).

7. Remember to EAT. This one seems like a no brainer, but trust me- make an effort to eat and stay hydrated.

8. Hire a hair/make up artist specifically for the bride, and another (or two depending on how large your bridal party/what your budget is) so that everyone can be ready on time and together.

9. If you haven’t already, consider hiring a wedding day coordinator. Review the wedding day timeline with your coordinator and photographer to make sure everyone is on the same page.

10. Take a deep breath. Relax, smile and, most importantly, SOAK IT IN!

Download Your Timeline

Download my “Here Comes the Guide: How to Plan Your Timeline” guide today- created with you in mind, for the sake of your sanity!

XO
Brooke

 

Wedding Flowers on a Budget

When it comes to selecting wedding flowers and the floral decor you’ve dreamed of for your wedding, you want the added romance and beauty but not always the price. So how do you add a stunning floral centerpiece to each table, or and eye catching bouquet without breaking the bank? Here are a few tips brides have shared with me that I couldn’t wait to pass on. You can still make those wedding flower dreams come true!

Peach floral decor | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Floral centerpiece for wedding in peach and white | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer

Eye Catching Wedding Decor

Ever heard the saying, go big or go home? That’s what we are talking about here. If you don’t have the budget to go all out and decorate every table, chair and well, person, with fresh flowers then settle on a few main, eye catching areas at your wedding that you really want to emphasize and make what money you can spend on floral decor speak for itself. Between the sweetheart’s table and the bridal bouquet, you don’t want to skimp on either.

Sweetheart’s Table

Look at the statement this centerpiece is making on the sweetheart’s table! It’s demanding attention!¬† Think about your reception and what is going to be featured most in all of the pictures from your evening. While you are sitting at that table with your sweetheart, celebrating and toasting together, what do you want to have as the focus complimenting the two of you?

Bridal Bouquet

The bridal bouquet is something you don’t want to skimp on. You have to LOVE it because it is going to be front and center with you as you are photographed all day long with it… from detail pics, to getting ready, to bridal portraits, and then romantic portraits with your man. Make sure your budget has room for the bouquet you want, one that says something about you and about your style.

Peach tart sits on a table set for wedding | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Wedding table decor | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer

Take a Look Outdoors and Then Buy Wholesale

It’s probably unrealistic for you and your fiance to be traipsing through the outdoors gathering flowers for your wedding but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a look at what is in season. If you’re having a fall wedding, match your decor and color scheme to flowers that will be in season. Buying flowers that are in season means they are readily available and will be cheaper than out of season options. BUY WHOLESALE! Wholesale flowers are much cheaper than floral shops. You can find flower wholesalers online, some even offering additional sales and discounts, or even check out (gasp!) your local Sam’s Club and Costco. True story, brides do it.

Beautiful floral centerpiece with peach, white, and green | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer

Get More For Your Money

If you have a limited budget for floral decor at your wedding than make your money go further buy choosing from these less expensive flowers.

  • Roses – A classic flower that can be¬† relatively inexpensive if you shop smart and do your homework.
  • Hydrangeas – Adding a stem or two is all you need to make a wedding centerpiece which is perfect for keeping you on track with a smaller budget.
  • Carnations – Perfect for a filler or check out pinterest for a million more ideas on how this flower is versatile and so much more than a filler.
  • Lilies – These are simple elegant and romantic. Enough said.
  • Gerbera Daisies – Perfect if you are looking to add a pop of bright colors
  • Daisies – Daisies are a spray flower which means they have more than one bloom on their stem which makes them an ideal flower to fill in spaces on bouquets and centerpieces.
  • Alstroemeria –¬† These are delicate looking flowers but are hardy and can survive the big day in a bouquet like a champ! With three to five gorgeous blooms on each stem, they also make a great filler flower.

Peach tart is centered in place setting for wedding | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding PhotographerWedding table decor | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer

Mix and Match Flowers of All One Color

If you’re looking to stick to one color that doesn’t mean you have to stick to only using one flower. Mixing floral choices within a bouquet gives it depth and texture and each flower adds it’s own unique layer of beauty. And if you are looking to save on bouquets keep those bridesmaid bouquets small. Keeping them small doesn’t mean they can’t still pack a punch. It also means it will leave you more room in your budget to focus on the bridal bouquet.

Wedding ring sits sits over foliage | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Drinks sit on platter on table decorated with wedding flowers | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer

Add Extra Accents and Mix the Real with a Few Fakes

Adding accents yourself like ribbon, tulle, or other less expensive greenery as fillers means bouquets and centerpieces don’t have to be all about the flowers.¬† Heading to your local Hobby Lobby or craft story and purchasing items there means additional discounts and money saving. They love to have these items on sale on a regular basis. You may even want to check out the artificial flower selection while you’re there and see what you can get away with adding to your real flowers. It’s no secret that fake flowers are super cheap but combining them with real flowers won’t make them look that way. If you want to purchase fake flowers online there are many wedding websites that have fake flowers that look very real and blend nicely.

 

Bride holds wedding cake | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer WEdding invitations in peach and white | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding PhotographerBride holds bouquet of peach and white | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Fall outdoor wedding ideas | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Bride makeup and hair up do | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Garden Park Ward bridals | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Black and white of bride holding bouquet | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Wedding bouquet for bride for fall wedding | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographerbride looks at bouquet | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding PhotographerBride stands alone next to columns | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Wedding up do for bride's hair | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding PhotographerFall makeup for bride | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Bride looks into the distance | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Bride stands next to pond at Garden Park Ward | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding PhotographerGarden Park Ward Bridals | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding PhotographerSprays of greenery surround bouquet | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding PhotographerBride clutches bouquet | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Bride shows ring and bouquet in close up | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding PhotographerWedding flowers on a budget | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Bride stands on stairs and looks in to the distance | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Fall bridal ideas | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Fall colors for wedding | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer Bridal gown with lace and sheer back | Brooke Bakken | Utah Wedding Photographer

Your wedding day is what you have dreamed about since you were a little girl. Don’t let your floral budget intimidate you if it is smaller than you’d like. With these tips you can have a beautiful and romantic day and still have those floral additions you’ve dreamed of.

 

Schedule your wedding or bridal package with me today and don’t forget the flowers.

XOXOXO – Brooke

 

 

||VENDORS||

PLANNER/FLORIST: Over the Top Events

HAIR and MAKEUP ARTIST: Janelle Ingram  Instagram: @janelleingram

CAKE : Flour and Flourish

DRESS: Bridal Closet

Your Destination Wedding

When it comes to planning your destination wedding, you don’t want to miss these 5 must-read ideas that will make planning your perfect day a breeze! ¬†Did any of you just picture yourself standing at your beachside wedding when I said breeze? That tropical reference wasn’t completely unintended. It’s your day and you want it to be a picture-perfect resemblance of what those expectations are floating around in your head. Well, I’m here to help. Follow these 5 tips to make your destination wedding planning run smoothly, in turn, making your destination wedding day exactly what you want it to be.

Location

First up, let’s talk about the location. When selecting a destination make it a place that is meaningful to the two of you or somewhere you have always wanted to go. You want to make it mean something!!! ¬†It will become part of your love story if it isn’t already. It can be a reflection of who you both are and what you love. Let it add to your wedding day while you soak up the experience of having all of your closest loved ones surrounding you in your hand-picked paradise.

Hire Professionals (Photographers/Videographers)

This is a big one in my book. You’ve traveled all this way, the last thing you want is to be stuck with a resort photographer that you don’t love. The location you choose might not always have a photographer/videographer that is going to give you what you want so it’s ABSOLUTELY okay to bring your own photographer along. ¬†You want someone that you are comfortable with that you KNOW will capture you and your day just the way you want to remember it forever.

Guests

Your guests love you enough to join you at your destination so this is a biggie! Be sure to consider your guest traveling time and accommodations in relation to the venue. I always like to say to stay within a 10-minute radius of the venue. You will want all of your friends and family close. The last thing you want to happen is to have them stuck clear across town. Also, keep in mind the time of year when selecting a date for your destination wedding. Keep in mind holidays, school breaks and other events your guests may be faced with in joining you at your destination.

Less is More

First and foremost, a destination wedding is about YOU and the commitment you are making!! Believe me, you don’t need to be worrying about fancy centerpieces or having a fancy ballroom with high floral centerpieces that make a statement. You are the statement! ¬†And the destination is complimenting it. Don’t be afraid to stick with local flowers, fruit, and food. In this Tulum, Mexico destination wedding, pineapples were used for centerpieces which created a complement to the surroundings. The atmosphere stayed consistent to the location with colorful chairs that the venue had on hand. Not to mention, desert florals are easy to buy in the local market and create interest while keeping with the destination being the theme.

Hire a Planner

Here’s another one, you need to trust me on. You need a professional by your side to take care of any issues that happen if and when things go wrong at the last minute. I don’t want you to even lift a finger on your wedding day!!! ¬†If you don’t have a planner that accompanies you to the location then make sure the venue has a killer on-site wedding coordinator. ¬†You want that person by your side to answer questions while you focus on your day!

Grab Your Freebie

Are you a bride-to-be? If so, I created the perfect wedding timeline and would love for you to grab a copy! Download it here.

Schedule Your Professionals

Now that you have all the tips to planning the destination wedding of your dreams, make sure you hire a professional to capture every moment and detail of your day. It just so happens that I know a good one you can call. ūüėČ

XOXOXO
Brooke

Beach wedding destination | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer

Beach wedding ceremony set up | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer

Bridal bouquet | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer

Bride and Groom kiss on beach | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer

Local flare at destination wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding PhotographerTulum Mexico destination wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Tropical scenery at destination wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Grooms suit | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Toast before the wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer
Suits for groomsmen | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding PhotographerWedding gown for beach wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Wedding gown and tropical flower bouquet | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Bridesmaid dresses pink | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Tulum Mexico destination wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding PhotographerTropical destination wedding venues | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Couple enjoys destination wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Wedding party at Mexico destination wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer
Tulum Mexico wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Destination wedding for friends and family | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer

Cutest of the wedding party | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer

Beach wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Floral centerpieces for wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Chairs and flowers at wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Local flowers at destination wedding in Mexico | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Destination wedding centerpieces | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Destination wedding centerpieces | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Wedding ceremony on the beach | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer Beach wedding | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer

Wedding party at destination wedding in Mexico | Brooke Bakken | Destination Wedding Photographer

So I think that EVERYONE in the world is getting engaged right now! My Facebook feed is blowing up with Relationship Status changes! So, I thought this would be the perfect time to share a little advice. But DON’T WORRY! It’s not advice from me. This is advice FOR brides FROM five brides of mine who have recently gone through this whole wedding planning thing. So they are totally legit. And to make things all pretty, I included some gorgeous spring bridals with amazing blooms by Blushing Rose Floral for you to oooh and ahh over!

Advice for brides by destination wedding photographer Brooke Bakken

Advice For Brides

Bride #1

My advice for brides? After you think you’ve found THE¬†dress, go home and think about it for 24 hours! You want to be completely in LOVE with your dress and not just jump the gun because you’re excited to find a dress! I learned the hard way and was not completely in love! I got it altered so I liked it more but was not ever “in love” with my dress… biggest regret by far!

Real clients of wedding photographer Brooke Bakken share advice for brides

Bride #2

Wedding planning is a full-time job! But it’s a BLAST. It was a really cool experience to personalize all the small details of our ‘Big Day’. We wanted our wedding to be “very us”– so who better to plan than myself & my groom! If you don’t have the time to plan the entire thing yourself (because there are so many little details you don’t even consider)– then get a wedding planner! No matter what, at least get a Day of Coordinator to take the stress out of the actual day. Totally worth it.Blushing Rose Floral bridal bouquet by destination wedding photographer Brooke Bakken

Wedding Must-Dos: First look! Such a precious moment between the two lovebirds. And it’s one of the few moments in the day that you get to spend alone!

Must-Haves: Open bar (duh!), videographer and photobooth! My guests seemed to really enjoy taking silly photos with props. Also a plus: If the photobooth company provides a guestbook where friends & family can paste in their prints and write a little message, definitely include that! So funny to read all of the little notes the next day.Bridals in the orchard by Utah wedding photographer Brooke BakkenThe best advice for brides I can give? If I could do it all over again, I would worry less about cutting corners to save money. I was so worried about staying in budget that I didn’t invite everyone I wanted to and went with a smaller venue to save cash. Looking back, I would have spent a couple thousand for the extra space and the extra people. Oh, also, LISTEN TO YOUR DJ BEFORE YOU HIRE HIM! My DJ had all 5-star reviews on Yelp and was affordable, so I hired him. Sadly, he didn’t play anything on my “must play” list and didn’t really grasp the overall feel or vibe of my wedding day. Big disappointment. But, overall the day¬†was still my highlight of 2016! And did I mention my photographer was amazing???¬†(AWWW, thank you!)

Spring wedding bouquet by Blushing Rose Floral, a Utah wedding vendor

Bride #3

My number one piece of advice for brides planning their wedding is¬†to use¬†theknot.com¬†for a checklist! You can put in your wedding date, and it gives you a month-by-month list of things you need to do! It’s super helpful!¬† Spring bridals in the orchard with advice for brides by Utah wedding photographer Brooke Bakken

Bride #4

Here’s my¬†Advice for Brides:
1) Discuss the wedding budget with your babe and parents thoroughly and openly. If under a tight budget, a beautiful wedding CAN STILL be achieved, and your big day is not worth arguing over money for!
2) On your big day– CHILL OUT! My biggest regret is that I did not take the time to relax and enjoy my big day for what it was. I was worrying about my bridesmaids, my makeup, the reception decor, if people would show up, and so on and so forth…and I am sure that I would have enjoyed my wedding day that much more had I just CHILLED OUT! Relax and remember that this is YOUR day!
3) MUST HAVES: A BANGIN’ photographer and a BANGIN’ videographer! These photos and videos will be your only way to relive your big day over and over again!

Spring bridals in the Orchard by Brooke Bakken Photography

Bride #5

The best advice for brides I can give is that no matter how well you plan, or how far in advance you plan, there will be things that come up out of your control. Learn that you are going to have to be flexible and roll with the punches, or else the whole process will be overwhelming and you will forget to enjoy the journey! Spring bridal bouquet idea with advice for brides by Brooke Bakken PhotographySpring bridals in the Provo Orchard by Utah wedding photographer Brooke Bakken Bridals in the spring with pink blush bouquet by Utah wedding photographer Brooke Bakken Modest wedding dress with a spring wedding bouquet by destination photographer Brooke Bakken Blush blooms for spring bridals in the orchard by Utah wedding photographer Brooke Bakken

These amazing brides of mine have given you some AMAZING advice to help you plan for your big day! I would love to chat with you about how I can help capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments and make your day run as smoothly as possible. So

Give me a Shout!

So, he FINALLY popped the questions? YAY! You’re engaged! Wait…what now? Don’t worry…after shooting literally HUNDREDS of weddings, I am here to share with you 5 things to put at the TOP of your Wedding To Do List! To assist me and make things pretty, you can also oooh and aahh over this romantic winter proposal I got to shoot last weekend! This proposal was set up by the AMAZING team at The Yes Girls!

Engagement season is in full swing around here!Winter proposal details by Brooke Bakken Photography

1. Make your Wedding Budget

YUCK! Does this really have to be the first thing on your Wedding To Do List? Sorry, but it really does. Imagine you skip this step and forge ahead with no idea of your budget…you find wedding vendors and fall completely in love, only to realize later that you can’t afford them. BUZZ KILL! Set aside a quiet night at home to sit down with your fiance (and parents, if they are involved with the financial side).¬†Make a list of wedding expenses (use Wedding Budget sheet to help you remember everything). Then prioritize. What is the absolute most important to you? It might be the photography? Maybe it’s your dress? Line them up. Then break up your budget by percentage you want to spend on each item. You may have to change things around as you plan, but at least this gives you a jumping off point!You're the Jelly to My Peanut Butter

2. Book your Wedding Venue

The SECOND¬†thing that should be on your Wedding To Do List once you are officially engaged is to start shopping for your wedding venue. Venues, especially popular ones, tend to book up…some as much as 2 years in advance! DON’T WORRY though if you have less time than that to plan…there are so many beautiful wedding venues out there to fit every budget, style, and wedding timeline. Start with an online search for wedding venues in the area you want to get married in. Make a list of your 10 favorites, then sort them according to budget. Set aside a few days for you and your fiance to dedicate to touring venues. Call ahead to set up a tour of your top 5 choices. When choosing your venue, make sure to ask the right questions. Find out what exactly is included and what is NOT. Can you use your own caterer? What about the alcohol policy? Are there restrictions on open flames (this will be a big deal if you want candles or an sparkler exit)! Do they do the setup and cleanup? Will you be provided with a personal event manager who will be with you every step of the way?She Said Yes! Now find out what to do to plan your wedding!

3. Book your Wedding Photographer

Of course I am a HUGE advocate for booking your photographer early…whether it’s me or one of my thousands of amazing colleagues. But did you know that most wedding photographers are booked for the entire year by the end of January? YEP! Again, start with an online search. Referrals from past friends can also be an awesome resource for finding a wedding photographer. Make a list of your top 5 then set up consultations. I can’t stress enough how important a consultation is! In-person, if possible, but Skype works well too. You are going to be spending a LOT of time with this person, and it will be the most intimate of your relationships with wedding vendors. You need to make sure you have a good vibe and mesh well.Proposal down on one knee in winter by Brooke Bakken Photography

4. Find your Wedding Dress

Already, you might say? But my wedding isn’t for 12 months! That may be true, BUT here are a few things to consider. First, most wedding dresses are not purchased “Off the Rack.” They are custom ordered to fit your measurements. Some dresses can take as much as 8 months to arrive (don’t worry, there are a lot that take only 2 months). Once it comes, you then have several fittings and alterations to make sure it is absolutely perfect! The last thing you want to do is be stressing that your dress won’t be here in time for the wedding. Also, if you plan on taking bridal portraits, you will want to have your dress in plenty of time to get your photos back and print enlargements to display at your wedding!Winter dip kiss at a Utah proposal by Brooke Bakken Photography

5. Decide on your Wedding Party

It’s SUCH a tough decision to decide who will be in your wedding party, especially the coveted roles of Best Man and Maid of Honor. But, the sooner you finalize it, the sooner friends and family will stop bugging you about it. First, make a list of potential bridesmaids and groomsmen. Then, look at your budget. How many can you afford to have in your wedding party? And how many do you even want? Some brides want a small wedding party while some want as many as they can afford! You will need to provide the bridesmaid dresses and tuxedo rental, as well as possibly hair and makeup for your bridesmaids (at least for your Maid of Honor). Plus, it is customary to give each member of the wedding party a thank you gift on the day of the wedding. Once you have decided the number, look at your list again. This is the tough part. Try not to break up any “groups.” For instance, if you are having one sister-in-law, you should probably include all of them. Same with friend groups. If 4 of you are a close-knit group, try to avoid excluding anyone. In the end, though, realize that this is YOUR WEDDING! Feelings are important, but true friends will love you whether or not they are in the wedding party.

So there you have it! The 5 things to put at the TOP of your Wedding To Do List!

5 Things to Put at the TOP of Your Wedding To Do List by Brooke Bakken PhotographyTop 5 Things to Put at the TOP of your Wedding To Do List
Winter kiss by Brooke Bakken Photography
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