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Blossom’s Bewildered Bridal Blog

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    Posted: 9/01/2005 at 1:36pm

I originally told myself I wasn't going to bother with a journal, but browsing through the journals on this board has been both fun and informative, so I figured I'd jump in! Maybe something I write will help a bride sometime in the future; I hope so, since I've gotten so much help here myself, and I'd like to return the favor. Besides, I've realized that a journal is a good way to record my thoughts on various aspects of the wedding planning process so I don't have to consult my faulty long-term memory banks when it comes time to write a vendor report. So here I am...

Wedding planning is really confusing...
Where to start? I know convention dictates that I tell the story of how FI and I met, and how we arrived at this stage in our relationship, but compared to all the wonderful stories I've read here, ours is very boring, so I'll save that for later. I suppose I should begin by commenting on the title of my journal. "Bewildered" is the key word; did anyone else feel like hyperventilating the first few times they saw a wedding planning checklist? The sheer number of tasks and the level of detail required were overwhelming. We debated long and hard about whether or not we even wanted to have a wedding—besides the time and effort involved, we're quiet people and really dread being the center of attention, so, in some respects, a wedding seemed contraindicated—but we ultimately decided to go ahead with a small one.

Why have a wedding at all?
Given our reservations, I think we surprised ourselves a little by opting to go the wedding route instead of eloping. But here's why we made our decision:

  • We feel that marriage vows are to be taken seriously, and we want to have a ceremony infused with rituals and symbolism that truly reflect our views on marriage and who we are as people; we didn't think this was possible with a civil ceremony
  • We want to be able to mark the transition into our new life together with a meaningful, out-of-the-ordinary event that we can look back on fondly
  • We both have a handful of special people with whom we want to share this important moment in our lives; we don't care about having a big party, but when we contemplated not having those few people present when we exchange vows, it made us feel a little sad

That came out a little muddled, but I thought it was important to write down our reasons for having a wedding. Now, if I get stressed and/or frustrated with wedding planning, I can read and remember why we're doing this.

What we've learned so far
We've already been through a lot of emotional ups and downs in the short time we've been planning our wedding. It took us three months of searching—we visited 65 sites—before we finally settled on our ceremony/reception location; and our families have thrown in a few complications along the way (as do most families, I don't doubt!). But, in the process, we've met some really nice people who've given us some great advice, and I thought I'd record a few of their words of wisdom here:

  • Finding a site is the hardest part; the rest will fall into place
    We spoke to several wedding coordinators, and they all said this. And we're finding it's true, thank goodness! If it was all as hard as finding our site turned out to be, I'd have thrown in the towel long ago.
  • Focus on one task at a time
    Oh, so I don't have to tackle that whole wedding planning checklist at once? Phew!
  • Take a day off from wedding planning every week
    Boy, this is a hard one to follow; it becomes an obsession, doesn't it? But really essential, I think; in the months before our marriage, it's just as important to have time to concentrate on growing our relationship as to plan the wedding.

Well, I guess I've spewed out enough ramblings for my first journal entry. Next time—the story of how FI and I met and got engaged (trust me, you'll be completely underwhelmed).



Edited by Blossom
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Originally posted by Blossom Blossom wrote:

did anyone else feel like hyperventilating the first few times they saw a wedding planning checklist? The sheer number of tasks and the level of detail required were overwhelming.

oh.. yeah.. i sometimes just wish we were eloping! checklists can be scary but i think it's worth it.. welcome to the addicting world of journaling!!!

1 corinthians 13:4-7


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Blossom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 9/01/2005 at 5:39pm

itsmars—Thanks for visiting my journal!

Well, in my last post, I wrote that I would tell the story of how we met, so here goes...

How we met...or...Seeking a man with a good sense of humor and a lifetime warranty
The short version: We met online. Clicked instantly. Lived happily ever after. The end.

The longer, more realistic version: This online dating business was really hard for me to stomach at first. It seemed so strange; you had to fill out a form listing your ideal mate's specifications—age, income, ethnicity, religion, length of warranty, etc. I felt like I was shopping for a major appliance! But after six years of no dates (literally not even one!), I was getting tired of never meeting anyone promising, and I eventually reconciled myself to the concept by reasoning that it was just another way to meet people. I honestly didn't hold out much hope that I would find my future husband through the Internet, but I thought I might make some friends along the way.

My first few forays into the world of online dating didn't go so well. Then, in May 2004, I got an e-mail from FI. I looked at his profile, which basically revealed next to nothing about what he was like, his interests, etc.; he didn't even have a picture posted. BUT it did give me a glimpse into one important aspect of his personality—his sense of humor. What he had written was so quirky and cute that it made me laugh out loud. So I went ahead and replied to him, and over the next week, we exchanged e-mails everyday. It's interesting the things you learn about a person when your main mode of communication is written versus spoken. You don't make a lot of "small talk," like you would if you were talking face to face. Instead, you chat about your favorite childhood books that you consider old friends; about the subjects you have a passion for (in my case, literature and dogs; ancient history and astronomy for FI); about your beloved pets and how much they've enriched your life. And you find out right away if the person you're corresponding with can construct a grammatically correct sentence (one of my pet peeves; the last guy I dated wrote horribly sloppy e-mails, and it drove me crazy!).

So when we actually met in person, in a sense, we already knew each other fairly well. It was very comfortable—we walked and talked, ate dinner, laughed, talked some more, watched a movie, talked and laughed some more. And from that first date, our relationship has basically gone along pretty smoothly. One of the things that had frustrated me in previous relationships was how much effort it took to communicate effectively with each other. But with FI, it's been easy. I'll often start to tell him something and not even bother to finish what I'm saying because I can see he already understands. Of course, we've had our rough moments, too, but we always seem to work things out quickly. So I count myself pretty lucky!

The non-proposal
Not much of a story here. This May, as we were approaching the one-year anniversary of our first date, we started talking about getting married and decided to do it. We even did things a little backwards; we began looking at wedding sites and then realized we'd better actually decide to get married before meandering any further down the matrimonial path!

I wrote that the story of our engagement was boring, and I was right, wasn't I? We were thinking of concocting a more exciting cover story to tell our friends and family. FI wanted to say that he proposed while bungee jumping out of a hot-air balloon, but maybe that's a bit of a stretch. If you've got a better idea, we're open to any and all suggestions!



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Just a quick post before going to bed tonight to brag on FI a little. He brought me flowers this evening to say "thank you" for doing so much work planning the wedding! He can be such a sweetheart sometimes...
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Since I just started keeping a journal, and we’ve been planning for several months already, I'll have to play catch-up to document what we’ve done up to this point. So I’ll list the vendors we’ve booked to date, then describe our planning process in more detail.

Our terrific vendors!
Who we've booked so far:

Reception/Ceremony Site: Ponte Winery, Temecula

Coordinator: Melissa Barrad, I Do...Weddings

Photographer: John Mireles, Ventana Photography

Ceremony Musicians: String quartet through Joyful Spirits Music

We’ve also met with several DJs and are deciding between two. Next up is the florist, which we hope to book this month.

The great wedding site search
As I mentioned earlier, we got engaged in May 2005 and spent the next three months looking for a wedding site. It was a horrible experience that I never want to go through again!!! To make a long story a little shorter, we spent every weekend over the next few months scouting out sites, most of which weren’t quite right. We did find a few sites that we liked, but, for one reason or another, we just couldn't make up our minds to go with any of them. It felt like we were paralyzed with indecision, and I was terribly grumpy as a result. I’m fortunate that FI was so tolerant of my mood swings, although he probably wanted to strangle me at times.

After driving all over the county and checking out some 50-plus sites, we finally concluded that maybe what we were looking for didn't exist in San Diego, and we reluctantly decided to expand our search to Temecula. Most of the places we looked at there didn’t suit us, either, but we finally found THE site: Ponte Winery. We were early for our appointment with the coordinator there, so we stopped to eat lunch at Ponte’s outdoor restaurant first. The view from the terrace was gorgeous, with rows of grape trellises as far as the eye could see, and the mountains in the distance. The whole effect of the place was so peaceful. As we sat there, I thought, “This is it!” I didn’t say anything to FI immediately, though, because we’d had such a hard time with our search, and I didn’t want to be disappointed if it didn’t work out. So I headed into our meeting with a lot of trepidation. And there were definitely some issues we had to iron out, but I won’t bore you with the gory details; suffice it to say, the following week, we called and booked our wedding at Ponte for July 2006, and we couldn’t be happier!

In retrospect, I think we had such a difficult time because we had very specific criteria for our site: appropriately sized for our small guest list (30-40 people), a natural garden setting for the ceremony (but not a formal or tropical garden), quiet and private (a really big one for us), a location with a unique character that would allow my dogs on the grounds to participate in the ceremony, an indoor option for the reception. Not being city people, we wanted our ceremony site to be literally surrounded by nature, with no dominant views of the city skyline, boats, or other man-made objects. We also had some quirky dislikes (rose bushes, Spanish-style architecture, gazebos). I guess you could say we’re really, really picky people. But even though our pickiness caused us a lot of grief, I’m glad we held out for what we wanted and didn’t settle.

I love Ponte because it has such contrasting elements. It’s rustic yet has a certain elegance about it (“barn chic,” I think was the term I read in an article about Ponte); the vineyards and garden convey nature’s wild, larger-than-life quality, yet there’s a sense of order and structure, as well; and the expansiveness of the ceremony site has such a contrasting ambiance to the intimacy of the barrel room (where our reception will be held). Here are a few pictures we took while we were there:

The tasting room (view from the parking lot--you feel like you're in the midst of the vineyards from the moment you drive in):

The ceremony site (the arch belongs to Ponte):

The gardens and fountain:


The barrel room (it holds 100 people max; there's also a permanent tent that accommodates about 300):

The vineyards and mountains:

Grapes! (gorgeous in July—so lush and colorful):

Well, it's getting late; I'll post more about our other vendors some other time.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jrtmom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 9/05/2005 at 8:35am

Welcome to journaling Blossom. I don't think your engagement story was boring at all. Sounds kinda like mine

DH and I went to Ponte Winery a few months ago for wine tasting. It is BEAUTIFUL! I'm glad you got the hardest part over with. Now for the fun stuff, CAKE TASTING!



Edited by jrtmom
Happily Ever After...

Wedding Journal
Vendor Report

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jrtmom—Thanks for the welcome, and I'm glad you thought Ponte was beautiful, too! I checked out your links and enjoyed the stories of how you and your husband met and got engaged; I always think it's so nice when people meet through a mutual interest. And congratulations on your recent marriage!!!

Oops, mental lapse!
Wow, I can't believe I forgot to include one of our most important vendors of all—our officiant—in my last post! And we've finally decided on a DJ, too; so here's my updated vendor list:

Reception/Ceremony Site: Ponte Winery, Temecula

Coordinator: Melissa Barrad, I Do...Weddings

Officiant: Darwin Mann, a retired minister who’s a member of our church

Photographer: John Mireles, Ventana Photography

Ceremony Musicians: String quartet through Joyful Spirits Music

DJ: Mick Scrivener, Elite British DJ

More later...



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The runner-up sites
Now that I’ve posted our vendors and related the saga of our site search, I thought I’d list a couple other sites we liked and considered; they’re special enough that they deserve some mention.

Amy Strong Castle/Mt. Woodson Golf Club, Ramona: I won’t write too much about this location, since a number of BI brides have gotten married (or are getting married) there and have already posted a lot of good information. I just wanted to note that we liked the uniqueness and character of the stone castle, as well as the size of the living room for our small guest list—big enough to have a sit-down meal and still have some room for dancing, but not too overwhelmingly large. The grounds are also green and picturesque—lots of great places for photos. We were tempted to book there, but we were concerned that the site fee might be a bit too much for us, and we didn’t care for the fact that the ceremony site is so close to the access road. In general, though, a beautiful venue.


Oak Creek Manor, Fallbrook: I haven’t seen this property mentioned on this board much, but it was our first choice in the early stages of our search. This is a beautiful four-diamond bed-and-breakfast located in the country. The grounds are fairly extensive, with a little creek, pond, and gazebo for the ceremony site—we loved the gentle, peaceful ambiance. The owner has impeccable taste and keeps the property in immaculate condition; we liked her a lot and thought she would have put on a really nice event for us. Another plus was the complete privacy—to book a wedding there, you have to rent the entire Manor (four rooms) for the night of, so there would be no one else on the premises. To top it all off, the honeymoon suite is huge and gorgeous—a wonderful place for the bridal party to get ready and for a newly married couple to spend their wedding night!

The main issue was that receptions have to be held outdoors, and only registered guests of the Manor are allowed inside. We were worried that it might be too cold, or too hot, and FI was particularly concerned that the impact of the Manor might be diminished if our wedding guests weren't allowed inside. But for anyone looking to have an outdoor countryside wedding, I'd really recommend this place. One cautionary note—spring would probably be the est time for a wedding at Oak Creek Manor. We visited it for the first time in May, and it was lovely; but when we went back to look at it again in June, the water level in the creek had receded quite a bit, and it looked pretty murky.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ~ABC~ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 9/07/2005 at 3:25am

 FlowersHi Blossom! 


    I just finished reading your journal and as itsmars put it, Welcome to the wonderful & addicting world of BI and congratulations on your "engagement"  and upcoming wedding. I really enjoy your style of journaling was having a few out loud laughs myself. I liked it when you said:

Originally posted by Blossom Blossom wrote:

a journal is a good way to record my thoughts on various aspects of the wedding planning process so I don't have to consult my faulty long-term memory banks when it comes time to write a vendor report.

How very true! I especially liked the "faulty long-term memory banks", sometimes I find that even my short term falls into that category depending on how much I've got going on in my life

   You were correct about journaling being a helping hand to wedding organization as well as a trove of ideas & money saving tips, it has been a godsend for many brides & bride-to-be's (like moi! ) I liked your "note-to-self & fiance": your reasons on why have a wedding at all. It's a great way to remain motivated and inspired and it's a good idea for those that don't have the "wedding or bust" mind set in order to do just that. And there is no doubt that your journal will be helpful as you are already posting recommendations for the other venues that you've visited!

 

Originally posted by Blossom Blossom wrote:

Focus on one task at a time
Oh, so I don't have to tackle that whole wedding planning checklist at once?

Definitely not. I totally understand how you felt about this, until I learned about BI, I think I was more than hyperventilating thinking about all that I needed to plan for!  Thanks to the advice and support of all the women on here I'm at least keeping it together.

    Something else that I could relate to is how you and your FI met because that is how Jayson and I met. Communicating via email was very helpful for us because in "real life" Jayson tends to be very shy. However, after our initial nerve racking "in-real-life" experience, communicating came very readily between the two of us and look where we are today! Holding Hands

    Congrats on finally finding a venue that's fits all your requirements. Can't ask for anything better! I've never been to Ponte Winery myself, so I was happy to see that you posted pictures. It really is beautiful w/ a rustic but elegant feel to it! Glad to know that everything else thus far is falling into place! Til next time, take care & keep on journalizing!

Kisses



Edited by ~ABC~
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ABC's Journal
May 6, 2006!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Blossom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 9/08/2005 at 1:56am

~ABC~—Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to write such thoughtful comments! It’s nice to feel welcome here. I’m also glad you got a few chuckles out of my journal—my sense of humor isn’t always appreciated, as I’m told it’s a little “different.” In fact, certain members of my family have accused me of having NO sense of humor at all (as if that’s humanly possible).

 

I see you’re getting married at the Japanese Friendship Garden! FI and I love the serenity and simplicity of the garden’s design, and especially the koi pond. I had forgotten to mention in my previous post that we also seriously considered the JFG for our wedding, but we reluctantly concluded that Balboa Park has a little too much activity for us. It’s a beautiful place, though.

And, I just have to say:

Holding Hands

This is the cutest emoticon I have ever seen!


Okay, on to some more details about our wedding planning to date:

Help, we have no idea what we’re doing!
After two months of fruitlessly hunting for our site, we were feeling pretty desperate. If we couldn’t even figure out the first step, how in the world would we manage to plan a whole wedding? We were obviously bumbling idiots who needed major help. BI to the rescue! We found the names of several good wedding coordinators on this board and set up meetings with them. After talking to five, we decided to go with the much-loved-by-BI-brides Melissa Barrad of I Do…Weddings! Although all the coordinators we spoke to seemed very nice and helpful, Melissa struck us as a little more detail oriented than the others, as well as extremely motivated to go the extra mile for her brides. We also liked that she’s a full-time coordinator; a couple of others we spoke to do wedding coordination in addition to holding down full-time jobs during the week (which would have been fine with us if we only wanted a day-of coordinator, but since we wanted some extra help with our planning, we felt more comfortable hiring someone who would be available during the day). And, finally, Melissa was the only one who made me feel a little calmer about the wedding planning process. She has several pre-set packages listed on her Web site (http://www.sdweddingplanner.com), but she created a custom package for us that includes month-of coordination plus some extra in-person meetings, as well as unlimited phone/e-mail support. Coincidentally, around the time we were ready to hire Melissa, we found our site, so we were off to the races!

And…they’re off!

May, June, and July were really frustrating months for us, since we were limited in what we could plan until we had our site. But, in August, we were finally able to start planning in earnest. And plan we did, with a vengeance! I had already spent a few months scouring the BI board and vendors’ Web sites (I’m a research fiend) and knew which vendors we were interested in, so it was just a matter of setting up appointments, meeting with people, and making our picks. In four weeks, we managed to book our photographer, officiant, DJ, and ceremony musicians. Although we love the vendors we’ve chosen, almost everyone we met with was great, and I’m almost a little sad that we can’t hire them all!

 

Be sure to hire a photographer with a quick wit, a clean suit and who remembers to take off the lens cap
That was written on a postcard given to us by our photographer, John Mireles of Ventana Photography, so I thought I’d pass along the tip. Actually, John’s sense of humor is one of the things that jumped out at us when we looked at his Web site (http://www.ventanaphotography.com ), and one of the reasons why we booked him. You see, we have a little photographic problem—FI can’t smile on cue. He gets really tense and manages to contort his mouth into a weird wavy line that doesn’t photograph well at all. In other words, he looks like this: . So we really needed a photographer we felt comfortable with, one who has a knack for drawing out natural, relaxed expressions. John certainly fits that bill—the subjects in his photos always look like they’re expressing genuine emotion. But that’s definitely not all; he also has incredible photographic, editing, and graphic design skills—a true artist. He was so articulate in his explanations about why he felt a particular photo was effective, why he chose certain combinations of photos to tell a story or create the greatest visual impact, etc. Some of the other photographers we met with had an intuitive sense of these things, but they couldn’t really explain why they made the decisions they did, etc. Although that might not seem like a big deal—after all, the photographer is there to take pictures, not to write a book—it demonstrated to us the clarity of John’s creative vision; and we wanted someone with that type of vision to put together an album that tells the story of our day in the most effective way possible.

 

Booking John was a huge splurge for us—he’s not inexpensive—but photography is our biggest priority, so we felt it was worth it. We know the photographs are one of the few things we’ll have to remember the wedding by, and they’re doubly important to us because we’re not hiring a videographer (I have no desire to see myself on video—it gives me the creeps). And, so far, John has been great to work with. He’s very professional and always responds quickly to e-mails and phone calls. We’re looking forward to doing our engagement pics with him in a few months.

A small aside: If you’re interested in hiring John for your photography, there are a couple of things you might want to know. First, his engagement sessions are more extensive than most photographers’ standard one-hour sessions. He basically spends the afternoon with the couple, taking photos at any location in San Diego or Los Angeles County. He showed us some e-pics taken at Joshua Tree, and he also mentioned that he took one couple’s e-pics in Julian. If you’re like us and a little (or a lot) camera-shy, the longer session might break the ice and help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera. Second, if you order an album from him, although he does allow you some input into the photos that are included, he generally likes to choose them himself. He told us that he used to let couples choose, but they didn’t always select photos that best told the story of the wedding. He started choosing the photos himself because he feels the albums come out better that way. We’re totally fine with letting him do this, since we trust his abilities, but if you want to retain a lot of creative control, this is something you might want to consider.


A little more about our photographer search: We wanted a photojournalistic style with a minimum of posed formal photos with the families, and some informally posed shots of the two of us. Besides John Mireles, we interviewed six photographers, most of whom were on the higher end price-wise. They were all great, so I want to jot down a few notes about each of them:


Amy and Maurice Wright, Weddings by Amy
http://www.weddingsbyamy.com
A husband-and-wife team; they’re both great people, and I’m sorry we won’t get a chance to know them better. You can tell by looking at the pictures on their Web site that they really value photos that capture all the small moments and emotions of the day. They’re good, solid photographers, and their prices were the most affordable of all the photographers we interviewed.


Mindy Sonshine, Mindy Sonshine Photography
http://www.mindysonshine.com
Another husband-and-wife team; we met with Mindy by herself, but we had also met Mike previously at a bridal show and liked him. Mindy has such an intuitive, creative eye; we really enjoyed viewing her work. Her album designs are also pretty nice—clean and contemporary. She was our second choice, but we didn’t think she was as technically strong as John Mireles. I also want to add that Mindy is just a really, really nice person; she encouraged us to shop around and not allow any vendors to pressure us to make hasty decisions, and she offered us a discount on an album since we’re having a small Sunday wedding.


Skip O’Donnell, A Wish Photograf
http://www.awishphotograf.com
Another photographer with a great, creative eye. Skip’s background is in commercial photography, and he has a lot of experience with lighting. He does focus primarily on photojournalistic shots, but we got the impression that he takes more formal shots than most of the other photographers we spoke to. We didn’t get as good a feel for his work as the others, since we met with him at a coffee house instead of his studio, and he only had a limited amount of work to show us, but what we saw was great.


Josh and Sandra Tomkins, Josh Tomkins Photography
http://www.joshtomkinsphotography.com
Yet another husband-and-wife team, young and very nice. They take beautiful photos, and we were so impressed with Josh’s technical knowledge of photography. He’s very passionate about what he does, and it was fun to hear him talk. Unlike most photographers these days, he still shoots a lot of film but is starting to shoot a little digital, as well. He showed us the difference between photos taken with film and digitally, and I was amazed—the digital photos were very clean and sharp, but flat; the film photos were a little grainy but had more depth, which gave them a more artistic quality. We might have chosen them, but we didn’t care much for his album designs. He has a somewhat traditional layout style; very nice and aesthetically pleasing, but we prefer a more contemporary look. 


Tande Di-Lanatta, Di-Lanatta’s Photography
http://www.dilanattas.com
Tande is a really nice lady, very European; I believe she’s originally from
Italy. Her background is in fashion photography, and her work definitely has that fashion flair. Her photos are beautiful, and she fully edits all the proofs; she also adds some interesting effects such as tinting. In addition, she’s a talented graphic designer, and her albums are quite unique. She uses European and Japanese album companies, so they look very different from the typical Leather Craftsmen style album. We didn’t go with Tande because FI and I just couldn’t see ourselves looking as glamorous as all the couples in the work she showed us; but if you’re interested in a fashion photography style, you should definitely look into using Tande.


Christofer Jae, Christofer Jae Photography
http://www.christoferjae.com
Chris also does beautiful work, similar to Tande’s. He’s got a great eye and takes gorgeous detail shots; he also designs very nice albums. We enjoyed talking with him, and he seemed very accommodating. Again, as with Tande’s photography, we just couldn’t visualize ourselves in his photos; but definitely consider him if you’re looking for a photographer who does elegant, sophisticated work.


Wow, time just snuck by while I was writing this! It's getting so late; I was going to write a little more about what we learned from our photographer search, but I'll have to save that for another post...


Edited by Blossom
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