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Golden Hour Tutorial: How To Get Magical Wedding Photos & Video

It should come as no surprise that we’re wedding photography and film junkies ’round these parts. After all, this little ‘ol blog is fueled by pretty imagery and film. So today, we’ve teamed up with the talents at Epic Motion and Curtis Wiklund Photography to chat about the prime time of your wedding day to capture those magical, sunlit moments: Golden Hour.

From Epic Motion… There are certain things in life where timing really matters. If you’re a business owner, you know that you can launch a new product at any time and may have okay results, but if you launch it at just the right time when your customers are going to take the most notice, you will get the most out of your money spent.

Maybe you work in marketing and know that if you send a tweet at midnight, less people might read it than if you wait until, say 10:00 am. Experienced shoppers know when to strike to get the best deals, and farmers know when to plant to yield the best crop.

As wedding filmmakers shooting mostly in natural light (not using external lights), and as natural light photographers will attest to, timing matters when it comes to getting the most memorable shots. So much of our work revolves around chasing the best light and often chasing 1 hour of the day in particular. It’s called Golden Hour and it’s the small window of time when that light is going to produce magical results that no other time of day can offer.

Check out the video to find out when that is and how you can work with your videographer and photographer to make sure they can get shots of you during that time.

Photography: Curtis Wiklund Photography | Cinematography: Epic Motion | Floral Design: Flourish Event Design | Music: Jonathan Neme

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Cinematography
Epic Motion
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Intimate Wedding in the Woods

Love is limitless as this couple discovered when they canceled their original plans and opted for a woodland ceremony surrounded by close family and furry friends. The sprinkling sky didn’t stop The Days Design from curating an exceptionally romantic day filled with vintage tea cups and bright blooms, and Kelly Sweet’s camera caught every last bit. See it all right here!

Colors
Seasons
Summer

From The Bride & Groom…When planning our dream wedding, we hit a few bumps. We lost our first venue due to poor management. With less than a year left we booked another venue, but the style was completely different. We basically had to start planning from scratch. Six months before the wedding I got laid off from my job. That’s when we decided to plan something more intimate and budget friendly.

We ditched the venue (and our $1,200 deposit) in favor of Nature. We got married in the Sanctuary Woods Nature Preserve near Lake Macatawa in Holland, MI. Instead of having the 200 guests we originally planned on, we invited only our parents, wedding party, and furry friends.

Because of the intimate style, we were able to have the most amazing “Alice In Wonderland” inspired Tea Party. Shelby from The Days Design came out to set up the beautiful table and flowers in the pouring rain. She did an amazing job, despite the circumstances. We are so thankful for all of her help.

Our amazing cake came from Second Floor Bakery in Holland, MI. We decided to go big for drama, and the humidity and rain melted the fondant in the most spectacular way. So Mad Tea Party!

From the beginning I knew that the photography was the most important part (besides marrying the man of my dreams, of course) to me. I could not have asked for a more amazing, talented and patient photographer. Not only did Kelly Sweet follow us through the woods in the rain, while carrying her equipment; she also made the most out of the unexpected weather, and gave us creative, magazine worthy photos that we will pass on to our grandchildren.

Prior to the ceremony we laid out a circle of rocks for us to stand in. We placed the Rose Quartz, (a gift from Holly at Mother Moon in Saugatuck), at the top of the circle. The procession began and we walked in towards the circle and LaRissa invited us into the circle to start our ceremony. A lovely poem was read by LaRissa that described the union and symbolism of being out in the woods surrounded by nature. We exchanged our vows and placed our rings and declared our love.

After our vows we drank from a chalice (from Sweetwater Pottery in Montana) to bless our union. We invited our loved ones into our circle to drink from the cup as we were all united as a whole. As we walked out of the ceremony circle, now united as husband and wife, our guests threw seeded confetti that will bloom into wildflowers. After the ceremony we moved to the table where we sat as a family and made rounds of toasts and had cake together before the night ended.

My best advice to couples planning their big day is this; Spending tons of money doesn’t make your day perfect and you can’t control the weather, what makes your day perfect is the love that you’re celebrating and nothing can change that.

Photography: Kelly Sweet Photography | Event Design: The Days Design | Floral Design: The Days Design | Wedding Dress: Vera Wang | Cake: Second Floor Bakery | Ceremony Venue: Sanctuary Woods Nature Preserve | Calligraphy: Emiline Designs | Men's Attire: Lord West | Furniture Rental: The Rental Company

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Modern Blue Dress Barn Wedding

On top of all the modern charm that this wedding holds, including pink peonies you could take a bite out of and ruffled coral bridesmaids dresses, it is jam-packed with love of the sweetest variety. Highway 61 Films captured moments that will warm your heart in their beautiful film, from a flower girl wiping away her tears at the powerful ceremony to the buzzing reception and ear-to-ear grins. For even more, check out the full gallery from Studio 6.23!

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
Barn
Styles
Rustic

From the beautiful Bride…It’s an annual tradition of Matt and I to go to the Ohio State and Michigan State football games. We’ve gone every single year since the year we first started dating. (2 years running.) The week prior to the game, Matt let me know we were to tailgate with his co-workers that happen to be Michigan State Alumni. (My alma mater, not Matt’s, so I was very excited to be surrounded by more MSU fans than Ohio State.) Fast forward to 1 week later, September 29th, the day of the big game. Both teams were top BIG 10 teams so it just-so-happens to be an even bigger rival year than the years’ prior. Keeping tradition alive, Matt decides to take me on a detour to a Cider Mill to pick up homemade donuts and cider to bring to the tailgate on the way to East Lansing. Still not expecting anything and running extremely late, I agree to make the detour and pick up the cider and donuts. Now, if anyone has ever experienced warm, gooey, homemade donuts from a Michigan cider mill, you’ll know how upset I was to not be able to eat these delicious treats due to my Celiac disease. While contemplating eating a donut and feeling sick for the rest of the day, Matt goes to the car and grabs a brown, greasy, paper lunch bag and hands it to me. “I made them for you.” He says. I open the bag to find a handful of homemade Gluten Free donuts. The engagement ring was SUPPOSED to be hiding within the bag of donuts and instead, it is sitting right on top of them. Matt gets down on one knee and asks me to marry him. To make this long story a little shorter, I spent the next 45 minutes in the car thinking we were going to share our engagement with co-workers of his that I hardly knew. We arrive in East Lansing to a surprise tailgate party with my entire family and all of my best friends from Michigan and Chicago. People traveled hundreds of miles to share this special day with us and I still get butterflies every time I think about it!

Planning ended up being a little more difficult for me than I had originally thought. My Pinterest boards seemed to be scattered and trying to narrow down a handful of ideas/details seemed to be impossible for the girl who loved EVERYTHING. That’s when hiring Aletha at Pearl’s Events, LLC changed my life. She helped me narrow down an idea that was 100% different and everything Matt and I ever wanted. We’ve been to what seems like a million weddings and we wanted something different; something no one else had. When Aletha suggested the idea of a NO burlap, GLAM barn theme, we went with it. When people hear “Barn Wedding”, majority assume: “burlap.” That’s exactly what we didn’t want. The more glitz, glam, gold, and “Southern” charm, the better for us! (We are Charlotte natives now!) We started with the flowers by Elizabeth at Posh Petals. She had done weddings at the Blue Dress Barn before and was thrilled to try something different. Aletha and her team were also excited for the “Southern Glam” theme. Our photographers (Ben + Mindy at Studio 6.23 also happen to own “Fancy Fray,” a vintage wedding furniture rental company. It was so convenient to be able to talk photography as well as pew seating for 250, couch rentals for family seating and lounge area, coral doors for our entrance, etc. Having the ability to work with vendors that had previously done weddings at the Blue Dress Barn made the planning process a lot less stressful than originally imagined. As for the entertainment and other vendors, we went with Carolyn Berry at Two Unique for catering. They were the wild card for us who had never done a wedding at the barn before. To follow my own words of advice (below), I trusted the professionals and they delivered above and beyond our wildest dreams! Our photographers, Ben + Mindy at Studio 6.23 were amazingly sweet and so easy to work with, and Jason and his crew at Highway 61 films were absolutely fantastic and created one of the most beautiful cinematic wedding videos we’ve ever seen.

Matt and I were married in Benton Harbor, Michigan. About 2 hours from his hometown of Chicago, IL, and 3.5 hours from my hometown in Detroit, Michigan. It was the perfect in-the-middle “destination” wedding for the couple that didn’t really want a FULL destination wedding. We wanted a party, something our family and friends would never forget. We started the weekend out at the Painted Turtle Inn for the rehearsal dinner. A backyard BBQ and Pig Roast with everyone invited to the wedding. (I think 150+ total people showed up.) It was very important to us that everyone willing to spend the time and money to come to our wedding be included in ALL of the wedding festivities. Red and white checkered tablecloths, sunflowers and wild flowers picked from a field adorned the tables, and we were able to welcome all of our family and friends to an unforgettable weekend.

I recently quit my full-time advertising job to become a yoga teacher. While Matt woke up with a hearty breakfast catered at the Painted Turtle Inn, I greeted any guest who wanted to join me at the beach for a morning yoga session. About 15 people showed up and for some, it was their very first yoga class ever. What an amazing feeling to wake up, share an hour of yoga with the ones you love, and marry the love of your life a few hours after that! After yoga, my bridesmaids and I went back to our rental house in downtown St. Joseph to start and finish pampering sessions. It was so beautiful to spend the day every woman who has made such an important impact on my life! (3 mothers, 4 sisters, 5 nieces, and my 5 very best friends!) When pampering was finished, we took a limo to the barn. All except for myself exited the limo and I patiently waited for my father who I had not yet seen. He arrived alone in his camper (Yep, CAMPER!) that he had been using to cart the rest of our very large family in for the weekend. It was here that him and I had our “special” moment that we had been waiting for our entire lives. The moment had finally come for us to walk down the aisle together. We waited behind a tree for the song to come on that I knew I would walk to the moment I first heard it. “Just Say Yes” by Snow Patrol ended (the song the bridal party and Matt walked to) and “Come to Me” by Goo Goo Dolls started. I told my dad “just 30 more seconds” as Aletha at Pearls Events, LLC informed me I could start walking. It was a very special moment that I needed. (Note to future brides: TAKE that moment!) :) As I turned the corner and saw Matt standing there next to my step-father who was performing the ceremony (his first ceremony ever!) I couldn’t help but feel as though no moment, past or present, could be better than this.

We really wanted our wedding to include something for everyone. Prior to the ceremony, guests could enjoy Macarons from Le Petit Macaron in 4 different flavors, water and our signature drinks. The post-ceremony, cocktail hour included our signature drinks once again, with an heirloom tomato bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, cigar bar, corn hole games, as well as a giant “Jenga” game. After the wonderfully catered dinner from “Two Unique,” guests crowded the dance floor for a concert-like reception performance from the native Chicago band “Final Say.” If guests tired of dancing, the lawn games, cigar bar, bon-fire pit and fro-yo dessert truck were open for business all night long. With half of the guests being from the Motor City, we rented a 1967 classic Chevrolet truck for our photo booth from Pat Moran Chevrolet in Detroit. Guests could sit in the front seat and rev the engine, or, pile in the back for pictures taken by Ben + Mindy the entire night.

Words of advice for future brides DON’T STRESS and TRUST the professionals! They know what they’re doing.

Photography: Studio 6.23 | Cinematography: Highway 61 Films | Planner: Pearls Events | Floral Design: Posh Petals | Wedding Dress: Modern Trousseau | Invitations: Love, Jessica Handmade Invitations | Ceremony Venue: Blue Dress Barn | Reception Venue: Blue Dress Barn | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Lula Kate, Studio Bridesmaid | Catering: Two Unique | Band: Final Say | Groom's Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Bar: With A Twist | Event Design : Pearls Events | Fro-Yo Dessert: Spoonlickers | Photo Booth: Pat Moran Chevrolet | Vintage Wedding Rentals: Fancy Fray

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
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These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here