out of town 4/19-29: getting married!


I can't quite believe it, but our wedding has finally arrived!

We have a wedding to photograph in Mexico shortly after our own wedding, so we are taking the week before our wedding as vacation instead of a traditional honeymoon. I am not bringing a laptop with me (shocking!) and hope to turn off my cell phone as much as possible, so will reply to all messages when I get back on April 29th- married!

Thank you all so much for your friendship and support. Have a wonderful week! Hugs!

album: Kristin & Jesse


Loving Christina's flush album design for Kristin and Jesse's elopement in Mexico last month. The simple design and white background work well with the feel of the destination event. Here are a few of my most favorite pages!

Click here for Kristin and Jesse's original blog post.
And their slideshow can be found here.

vendor tour: Traci Romano Events hosts Sara Gabriel Veiling & Headpieces


business: Traci Romano Events
location: South Norwalk, CT
phone number: 203.354.9791

business: Sara Gabriel Veiling & Headpieces
headquarters: Denver, CO
phone number: 720.855.1111

Traci Romano, you'll recall, is my guardian angel who saved me from my wedding dress emergency by graciously offering me anything in her store in Connecticut last weekend. This weekend, I drove back down to pick up my dress, check out the minor alterations it needed (looks fantastic!), and meet veiling specialist Sara Gabriel who was in town for a trunk show at Traci's boutique (bonus!).

Although Traci's primary business is event planning, her retail space is a bridal haven of designer dresses, chic accessories, high-end invitations and creative gifts, all perfectly placed in an historic yet modern waterfront building. It's the sort of atmosphere that caters to the individual with champagne taste, not the masses (speaking of, we had mimosas!).

Traci carries gorgeous gowns by designers like Amy Kuschel, Jane Wang, Rosa Clara, Cymbeline Paris (mine!), Christos and Nicole Miller among others.

She also has an extensive collection of bridal baubles.

Her shop was busy, busy as Sara Gabriel set up a temporary office for the weekend.

Sara is based in Denver, but travels the country throughout the year visiting her accounts and hosting trunk shows. I had been emailing with Traci about ordering one of Sara's birdcage veils when she came to my aid with a whole new dress. You can imagine my excitement when I discovered Sara would be visiting Traci's shop for a trunk show of all her veils so I could try that veil on in person, with its creator!

This is Sara, as adorably fun as she is talented. She started making veils and accessories for girlfriends who were getting married 10 years ago and hasn't looked back since.

I love her elegant vintage look, and the added whimsy of feathers, to her pieces.

She brought her entire collection of accessories and veils to Traci's shop. I love that each piece has its own name.

Traci triple-booked two days of appointments with brides for Sara, many of whom are Traci's clients. I think I may have won furthest traveled, but I was also impressed to see brides from Manhattan cross the bridge.

Sara talked to each bride about the style of her dress and event, working together to find the veil and accessories to match.

Traci models one of the flowers.

She thought Sara needed to model one, too.

It appeared to be a successful trip, with lots of interest and many orders.

I'm thrilled with a Sara Gabriel purchase of my own.

As I was leaving, I chuckled when I spotted this book and snapped a picture given the relevance of my experience, and then noticed it was written by Kleinfeld! How appropriate!

What a fun afternoon!! Thanks, ladies! It was a perfect follow-up to the dress stress of the preceding weeks. I can now confidently say that I am ready! Weehoo!!

Fitness for a Cure 2009


Sherri Laffey Sarrouf possesses an obscene amount of energy, godly grace and ridiculous strength. She began Fitness for a Cure to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital with a simple idea 10 years ago: help raise funds for ill children through exercise. And now, more than $1.2 million raised and counting, that simple idea has exploded and continues to gain momentum capturing the hearts of many along the way. I was honored to photograph this special anniversary gala in Nashua, New Hampshire, last weekend. And in June I will join the Performance Team, documenting their bi-annual trip to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis.

I got involved three years ago because my stepmother Paula is on the planning committee. Sherri is her aerobics instructor at Gold's Gym in Nashua (and Sherri teaches at the Gold's in Tewskbury, MA, as well). The camaraderie and fun among this group is contagious, and makes me wish I lived closer to see these people on a weekly basis at the gym instead of just yearly at this event.

Their annual show is an all-day affair with a daytime program for children featuring ice cream and face painting, speakers and tributes, and of course the fitness show- a rocking, fast-moving, get-up-and-dance high-energy performance. The evening show is much of the same, only formal, and includes dinner, a silent and a live auction, too. This year's evening show sold out, a whopping 400 tickets. What recession? It was wonderful to see so much warmth and giving to such an extraordinary cause.

Please enjoy a slideshow I put together for the team and St. Jude's below, or click here to view in a separate window.

This is Sherri, seriously one of the most fun, kind people I have ever met.

The day started with ice cream for the wee ones (not so healthy, but very fun to photograph the mess).

These are all the children who raised money for the event on their own by donating their birthday gift money, for instance, or hosting a talent show at their school, etc. How sweet!

Stylists from Cassandra Salon in Nashua cut long ponytails off for Locks of Love.

During the evening show, Sherri's mom received an award. She was shocked, and so touched. Sherri wanted posed photos of all the award recipients and sponsors, but I couldn't resist this sweet emotion from mom.

This is Dwight Tosh, St. Jude's 17th patient, now 60 years old and cancer free for more than 40 years. He gave a moving speech about his memories of the hospital, and how it has affected his life since.

Bill and Nancy Noyes' son Matt, a patient of St. Jude and dear friend to Fitness for a Cure, died of a brain tumor last year. This was an emotional public appearance for them, oy, and where the tissues came out for me. Wow. Matt's story is an incredible one and you can read all about it, his foundation and the work his parents are doing to keep his legacy alive here. If you live in Maine, you should also learn about the work Bill is doing, Dentists With a Dream. Bill is a dentist practicing in Biddeford.

St. Jude board member Camille, and husband of Sherri, addressed the crowd on the numbers, the need and the amazing success stories of the hospital.

There was an incredible silent auction with so many items it required a printed directory to navigate the options.

And of course, there was dancing. Sherri begins each show with a disclaimer: they are not professionally trained dancers, they just like to have a good time. It shows (the latter, not the former)!

There are 75 dancers in the performance team, with ages ranging from first grade children to adults (there are some tots in training, too).

A few facts about St. Jude's:
- The daily operating cost is $1,267,349.00.
- 85.3% of every dollar received goes directly to the hospital.
- St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where no child is ever denied treatment because of the family's inability to pay.
- St. Jude has developed protocols that have helped push survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20% to more than 70% overall.

wedding prep plan Part 4: balance


We intentionally planned our big day for April, typically a quiet month for work before wedding season begins in New England. In addition to regular 10-5ish hours at the studio all week, the orange appointments on the calendar above are wedding related tasks, blue are photo assignments or meetings, and pink are routine doctor visits and such.

Despite how insane that orange calendar looks, it has been the ideal time to focus my energy on wedding preparations and pull back from work a bit (In a month or two, that calendar will be saturated with blue). This has been an experiment of sorts as I don't usually spend this much effort/time/money on myself; I am always pouring my heart and soul into my business (not to mention J, the dogs, family, etc). It's a funny, delicate dance we do, trying to wear so many hats in so many different areas of life and maintain such perfect balance.

Balance. We all want it, but does anyone actually practice it perfectly?

I am lucky that I've had the opportunity to build that "me-time" into my schedule seeing as I am my own boss and the keeper of my schedule. I'm also lucky that J has been involved in this process and done a good chunk of the legwork. Wedding planning is darn hard work!

The best bit of advice I can give at this point to soon-to-be-brides (not yet having followed this through to see if I'm actually right) is to enjoy this process as much as you are able. When we first got engaged, I sat down with a mound of bridal magazines and my eyes lit up with all the possibilities. I quickly put those in the recycling bin because I never wanted to be the bride who is all engrossed in the plans, 24/7, exploring and exhausting every possible wedding trend. Working in the wedding industry gave me incredible insight, and also a bit of a handicap.

We decided on a destination wedding to experience a warm weather climate and do something different than what we photograph in New England every weekend in the summer. That's it, plain and simple. And we kept circling back to that goal each time Ms. Stewart's intricate influence dared tempt me. I've really loved working with J on our vision to create an event that reflects us as a couple and our personalities. My favorite part, I think, was the night we stayed up late and wrote our ceremony. We laughed, got goosebumps and opened our eyes a bit wider with a greater excitement for April 25th and all that it means.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind with a derailed cardio schedule because of a minor knee injury (Overuse. Go figure. All better now, phew!), invitations printed in a not-so-perfect hue and, oh yeah, that minor panic of finding another wedding dress! And while I've lost sleep and shed tears, I've also accomplished a lot and sought the best solutions possible, never once forgetting the Big Picture significance of these little hurdles. My Nana likes to say the phrase 'This too shall pass' (ironically the way Traci closed her email to me at the beginning of my Palm Sunday adventure last week). And it does. Things happen; keep moving forward.

If you're not a planner, or even if you are, keeping a Steno pad handy to jot things down and keep a running To Do list has been super helpful. We also created a detailed Excel spreadsheet of all of our contacts, payments paid and due dates for balances still owed. I hate charting money because it makes my stomach turn to watch my savings spent, but it has been helpful to get the numbers down on paper instead of floating around in my head. We could have pulled off our wedding for less money, but our vision was really important to us. We sacrificed a less expensive dinner at a restaurant, for instance, for the feel we're after of an intimate dinner party catered by friends at our private villa and the associated extra costs for doing so. My advice? Definitely outline a budget, but realize that what you think your wedding will cost is usually considerably less than what you end up spending. Achieving harmony with a wedding budget is very touchy, and the one area I hear causes couples the most strife.

To maintain good zen between us, J and I look forward to nightly shared dinners and the opportunity to slow down, catch our breath and check in with each other. We've also taken this one step further, and invested in some couples counseling a few times a month. I have been a talking couch client since my parents divorced when I was 8, learning at a very young age to talk through conflict/feelings/issues toward resolution. J and I decided this would be a healthy practice for us to do together, working toward a stronger foundation as we start this next chapter as Mr. and Mrs. I can't say enough good things about the experience and am so surprised how much deeper we've peeked into what makes us work as a couple and individuals in those 60 minute sessions. It's hard work, but I would encourage all couples to commit the time to focus that finely on your relationship's core.

When all is said and done, it is just one day. But gosh, what a glorious one day it will be!! J and I have grown so much closer over the last 10 months planning, in a way only understood by married couples who can appreciate and remember the teamwork involved. We really rallied together! Had we eloped (our Plan A) it would have been simpler, yes. But I am not sure we would have had such a rewarding biproduct of the planning: a stronger us.

Sharing every detail of my personal process with you has been a fun reflection, and I'm so grateful for your kind feedback and advice as we are literally just days away from the main event. Your love and friendship means the world to us, and we cannot wait to share all the fantastic details of how everything unfolds- soon!

Part 1 (eating)
Part 2 (exercise)
Part 3 (beauty)

(Click the thumbnail below to enlarge if you're curious to read that crazy calendar)

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