#SMPWedding101 – Engagement Shoot Style Advice

You get engaged and the questions start coming; it’s easy to lose yourself in the flurry of it all. But we can’t say it enough: savor this special time and make any opportunity a fun one, including your engagement pics! It’s the perfect time to practice those picture perfect smiles and show off your own style. But it can also be a bit daunting when deciding what to don so we checked in with Allison Koehler of AOK Style + Planning to get her advice – and don’t miss the special discount she’s offering right now!

Couples almost always ask their wedding photographers what they should wear for their engagement shoot. It makes sense; for your wedding, there is more or less a formula to the clothing you’ll be wearing. But for the engagement shoot, the possibilities are endless, which can be intimidating.

So, why should you work with a stylist for your engagement shoot?

Save Time

I constantly hear from clients that they’ve been scouring the web looking for that perfect coat, dress, what have you, and can’t find it anywhere. When we work together, you’ll leave the searching to me. I’ll do the scouring, and present you and your partner with 30-40 pieces that are uniquely you.

Save Money

For each session, we work within a budget, the goal being to come under that budget by purchasing pieces you love, and working with what you already own. If you have a pair of jeans that are perfect for you, wear them for the shoot! The goal is to capture you and your partner as you are, and using pieces you already own helps set the tone for an authentic shoot. When we have an in-home fitting, we’ll see which pieces work, and how to combine old and new pieces for the perfect look.

Treat Yourself

Trust me when I say, hiring a vendor who takes some stress away from wedding planning is worth it. If you love clothes but hate shopping, treat yourself to a unique experience so you can reap the reward of incredible photos. You’ll thank yourself!

** From now until Valentine’s Day, I’m offering a discount on my services to couples who were engaged over the holidays! I would absolutely love to work with you! **

Winter Engagement Outfit Inspiration
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Winter Engagement Outfit Inspiration
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Allure Bridals
Williams Sonoma
Ada Diamonds

We’re excited to share that Shine invitations is currently offering FREE SHIPPING on orders over $500 (US orders only) as well as a free sample kit featuring the invitation of your choice, color charts, paper samples, and an example Save the Date! Don’t miss out!


For our California Brides… Discount from The Ranch at Laguna Beach

For our New England Brides.. Discount from Long’s Jewelers

For our Tri-state Brides… Discount from Femina Photo + Design, and giveaways from NST PicturesOLLI STUDIO and Sole East Resort!

For our Southeast Brides… Discount from The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village

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Style Advice : AOK Style + Planning

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Homestyle Wedding Inspired By Dinner at Grandma’s

When this photographer-turned-bride set out to plan her own wedding day, inspiration struck from an unlikely spot. “We took the feel of our wedding day from one of our favorite days of the week – Sunday’s spent at Josh’s grandparents’ house for dinner.” Opting for homestyle foods and locally grown flowers, their farm wedding was thoughtfully designed from start to finish. See it through the lens of Julie Cate right this way.


From the Bride… This being my own wedding, I’m quite excited to share our inspiration and everything that went into our special day.

Our inspiration began from the location Joshua, my fiancé proposed at. It was next to a river that we always go swimming at – the path there is full of ferns and the most beautiful sounds of the water flowing, and the birds and insects singing. We also took the feel of our wedding day from one of our favorite days of the week – Sunday’s spent at Josh’s grandparents’ house for dinner. We chose home-style foods that were all sourced locally.

Since I’m a photographer and florist in the wedding industry, photography and flowers were the most important things on my list to choose. I chose Julie Cate after looking through many photographers’ full albums of wedding days – something I would absolutely recommend when booking a photographer. Our florist was Local Color Flowers because their passion of locally grown flowers is just amazing. There is so much romance in each flower from our day because I know they were chosen and hand picked by people who have a passion for growing flowers in Maryland. We settled on a burnt orange, rust, brown-pink palette to compliment the season and to contrast the rest of our color palette which was cooler tones of blues and greys. We had ferns lining our ceremony aisle to relive the moment we decided to journey towards marriage at the river Josh proposed at.

We set the tone with our invites for our guests with the help from Julie Ha Calligraphy – we wanted to incorporate the natural feel of the florals and ferns, but also pull in a little of my husband’s love of antiques by making them feel as though they were old letters. Julie did such an incredible job of hand coloring the paper, tearing the edges and crafting such beautiful calligraphy.

Our venue we choose last minute in May after our original venue got shut down (sigh). It couldn’t have been more of a blessing though. Glen Ellen Farm was the most perfect venue for us, from the love of historic details (our cocktail hour was in barn ruins), the love of farming flowers (the owner is constantly keeping care of her flower plots that she hopes to continue growing), and just the peaceful sounds of birds, sights of deer and wildflower paths. Glen Ellen was the place that fully pulled everything together for us.

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Photography: Julie Cate Photography | Floral Design: Local Color Flowers | Wedding Dress: Leanne Marshall | Invitations: Julie Ha Calligraphy | Venue: Glen Ellen Farm | Hair/makeup: JKW Beauty | Major Flower Farmer: Butterbee Farm | Veil: Love Veils

SMP Favorite Find…BoomBox!

Remember when you were a kid and you used to collect birthday cards and movie stubs and pictures of your someday wedding and you’d store it all in an old shoebox that you decorated with puffy paint and stickers? Ladies, meet your childhood keepsake box’s bigger, WAY cooler sister (and if we’re being honest…the prettier one), Boombox. An uber gorgeous keepsake box filled with personalized, just-for-you notes, well wishes and gorgeous photographs (we love you, Jose Villa) from the people you love most in the world.

GORGEOUS photos tucked inside the box by Jose Villa…not nearly as gorgeous photos snapped of the box itself by me, Abby Larson.

We don’t often post about products on SMP but this one, founded by the lovely and super smart #girlboss, Christina Geist, was just so perfect for you soon-to-be’s, we couldn’t resist.

Because Boombox is truly the PERFECT wedding gift and we didn’t think we could keep the find all to ourselves.

Just think..the sweet sentiments from your friends, the well-worn advice from your beloved grandparents, the nearly-naked-saggy-diaper-while-blowing-bubbles-in-your-backyard memories of you two gifted so generously from both sets of parents, all housed beautifully in a gorgeous keepsake box that would chic-up any coffee table or shelf, perched in such a way that you would actually open it. And show it off. And love it over and over again. Can you imagine?

Boombox brings all of those incredible memories – that I promise you will fly right by on your wedding day – together into one absolutely beautiful keepsake. And they make it SO easy for huge or small groups alike to contribute truly personalized, totally individualized notes and well wishes to celebrate what just might be the best day of your entire life.

Okay, we’ve done our job. The rest is on you. Pass this post on to your moms or dads or maids of honor and let them take over the heavy lifting. And if you need more convincing, just pop on over to Boombox and see for yourself!

xo, Abby

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Host the Ultimate Invitation Assembly Party

Sometimes “getting there” is almost as fun as the destination itself and that sentiment certainly holds true in wedding planning. Just take this Minneapolis couple who took the “chore” out of invitation assembly by making it a full-blown party. Along with industry pros, Jill Elaine Designs, Rosann KoniecznyMaven and more, they rounded up drinks, donuts, and good friends to turn a tedious task into an evening to remember. See all the fun in the gallery captured by Lucas Botz and snag tips to host your own Invite Assembly Party from Park Place Planning & Events.

Make Sure You Have Adequate Space: A large table to spread out on is key so you have enough room for all of your suite pieces and space for assembly.

Set the Tone: Have some fun beverages and lite bites but keep them away from your pretty stationery. Upbeat music to keep the group going is key!

Have a Plan: Assemble a suite ahead of time so you know and can show your guests the proper steps and order of assembly. Consider setting up a cute diagram or list to help direct your friends.

Pick Up Your Stamps Ahead of Time: Just remember to get your suite weighed ahead of time at the post office you plan to mail from so you know exactly how much postage your suite requires.

HAVE FUN! This should be a fun part of your wedding planning experience!

From the Planner… As a wedding planner I want my couples to enjoy every minute of the process– from finding the perfect location to the last dance and everything in between; I want the whole experience to be memorable and as stress-free as possible. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of work required to assemble a wedding suite so when it came time to plan my sister’s wedding, I partnered with the talented Jill Elaine to surprise her with an assembly party. Putting the invitation together… together was not only more efficient, it was the perfect excuse to gather family and friends to celebrate another step in this beautiful journey. We spent the morning indulging in donuts and coffee and catching up on each other’s lives outside of wedding planning. We also succeeded in folding, stamping, stuffing, and sealing 80 invitations. I love being able to look back and see my sister and her fiancé’s smiles. I was honored to create and share this moment with them.

From the Bride… I know I shock no one when I say that weddings are a lot of work (even weddings where your maid of honor is a professional planner), so I was thrilled when I learned that Ty and I would have help putting together our beautifully designed but rather elaborately constructed invitations. I was even more excited when I learned that the day would also involve drinks and donuts as well as my family and friends. I highly recommend turning menial planning tasks into parties whenever possible; not only does it save you work, it allows you to spend quality time with those closest to you before things really get crazy.

From the Designer… As a custom stationery designer, I try to take the “chore” out of assembling the wedding invitation suite. It should be a fun part of the planning process– a time to get together with family and friends to celebrate your upcoming nuptials and check an item off your to-do list at the same time. I adore packaging, so many times my clients and I will dream up a beautiful way to present the wedding invitation suite to their guests. Unfortunately, assembling a beautifully packaged invitation usually involves a number of time-consuming steps. This was certainly the case with Anna and Ty. The invitation was packaged with a translucent vellum paper, tied with a gold string, and affixed with a wax seal. To simplify the process, we put together an assembly to-do list: seven steps that hung on the wall to serve as a how-to as well as an art piece. I’m very lucky to be studio neighbors with LAB Minneapolis, a light-filled, beautiful open space with large tables perfect for invitation assembly. But you could easily host an assembly party at your home, an artist’s studio, or a private room at your favorite restaurant or coffee shop. Turn the process into a get-together with food, cocktails, and good company, and celebrate sending out your first invitation together as a couple.

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Photography: Lucas Botz Photography | Floral Design: Maven | Bakery: A Baker's Wife | Stationery: Jill Elaine Designs | Hair: River Jade | Attire: Hazel & Rose | Calligraphy + Silk Ribbon: Shasta Bell Calligraphy | Chair Rentals: The Seatery | Invitation Calligraphy: Rosann Konieczny Calligrapher | Invitation Illustration: Carrie DeBacker | Planning: Park Place Planning & Events | Rental Space: LAB MPLS | Rentals + Styling: Collected Rentals | Ring Box: The Mrs Box

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