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10 Tips For Amazing Engagement Photos

Engagement photos are often the first time you, as a couple, will have pictures taken professionally. Admittedly, it can be a little nerve-racking but the amazing AVE Styles, who dreamt up this adorable e-sesh, is here to spill the beans on achieving those gorgeous captures for yourself. Melissa Jill worked her magic behind the camera and we honest to goodness can’t get enough.

Engagement Photo Tips
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Whimsical Summer Chicago Wedding

Some weddings are romantic, some are adorable; others are whimsical, and some just look like one fun party. This Chicago celebration is all of that and more. A beautiful bride, gorgeous florals, cool venue, and a gelato AND cookie bar make this celebration unlike any other. Cristina G caught every smile and this gallery leaves me feeling very jealous of all those lucky guests.


From Cristina G Photography… There are some weddings that are too beautiful to be real so when you are there taking all this beauty into your camera, you pinch yourself hard to be sure you are not dreaming. Holly & Dan’s wedding was one for the books. And more real then any wedding I have ever photographed. The love for each other is so big, you can feel it when you are around them. You can see it all the way inside Dan’s heart as he is embracing Holly, eyes closed, holding her tight. And if that weren’t enough, they sprinkled it onto every single detail of their magical day.

From The Bride… We met in the theater in 2007. We were cast in one of the best and most romantic musicals of all time, “West Side Story.” Daniel played “Baby John” and I was a dancer and “girlfriend of Diesel” in the “Jet” gang. We became great friends through long rehearsals and the run of the show. We started dating and realized very quickly we were good for each other’s soul. We dated for seven years which took us from our hometown Milwaukee, WI to Chicago, IL. Along the way we “grew up” together, became best friends, held each other’s hand through really hard times, and supported each other through our greatest successes. Being struggling artists is not easy, but Daniel is the person you want at the finish line when you have nothing left and I’m the person encouraging you along the way. 

It was in year six when the proposal happened. We had finally found our place in Chicago. I was coming home on a rainy evening from work and messaged Dan to see if he’d pick me up from the train to avoid the wet walk home. He replied “I’m at work babe.” I walked home and noticed on the front door to our building, was taped a white envelope that said “Holly.” Inside read a list of reasons why Dan loved me. I walked up the three flights of stairs to another envelope – more reasons. I paused, knowing what was going on, and took a deep breath. Inside I found more letters, flowers, and pictures of our 6 year journey scattered everywhere amongst candles! I walked through our apartment and found more letters leading me to our back porch. I opened the door and found Dan, in a fancy suit surrounded by twinkle lights with our song playing. He got down on one knee and opened the box. In true fashion, I swore like a sailor, and said YES! The ring was custom made by Dan and is spectacular!

Photography: Cristina G Photography | Wedding Planner: Soiree Weddings & Events | Florist: Vale Of Enna | Wedding Dress: Rivini | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bella Bridesmaid - Johanna August | Catering: Jewell Catering | Makeup Artist: Shannon O'Brien MUA | Hair Stylist: Jane Roberts Salon - Kelly Cunningham | DJ: DJK Entertainment | Mens Attire: Jos A Bank | Ceremony & Reception: Salvage One | Gelato Cart: Black Dog Gelato | Musicians: Acoustic Generation | Transportation: Loyalty Limo

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Colorful Summer Wedding at The Villa San Juan

Dressed in the brightest of colors on the sunniest of days, this wedding is what summertime bliss is truly all about. It’s a day kissed by that California pretty and designed alongside the talented Intertwined Events..and those textured blooms by Floral Occasions? Don’t even get me started. Ray Kang worked his photo genius behind the camera and believe it or not, the party is just getting started.


From The Bride…I never pictured my dream wedding while growing up but the few things I did know were the color scheme – bright oranges, yellows and corals – and a location that had natural beauty. Thankfully, we found The Villa, a turn-of-the-century Spanish home, whose charm and elegance filled in our blank canvas quite quickly. The setting of the Villa and my love for nature inspired our invitations and decor. Every table had a distinct pair of antique brass birds, and at each place setting there was a favor of goat milk soap, handmade by the friendly Camlon Farms who we met at a farmer’s market.

The warm July day was expected and thankfully our wedding coordinator, Katie Webb, suggested program fans coupled with parasols, which helped our guests avoid melting in the summer sun. The Villa staff, Michelle, Rachel and Keith, couldn’t have been better and we are grateful to them for going beyond our expectations with their responsiveness, friendliness and professionalism. The food and drinks from Iva Lee’s were delicious and their service was fantastic. Floral Occasions’ vivid arrangements punctuated the day which was captured by our favorite photographer-in-a-bow tie, Ray Kang, and film crew, 4120 Productions. Our hope is that our kids will enjoy looking at these memories as much as we enjoyed seeing our parents’ and grandparents’ wedding days. All of this was icing on the three-tiered Swiss made cake provided by Sweet Art – heavenly for both our eyes and tastebuds.

For the ceremony, we borrowed and adapted a tradition from the Jewish faith called the Seven Blessings, which turned out to be a highlight of the day. Seven guests, chosen by us, gave their thoughts on a specific word (passion, playfulness, gratitude, etc.) that would help lead to a happy marriage. Not only was it deeply satisfying to hear these blessings, but it finally gave us the privilege to take in the ceremony, as all eyes were on our speakers and not on us.

In the end, all of these details added up to a wedding we couldn’t have possibly imagined but was exactly what we wanted – intimate, heartfelt and fun.

Photography: Ray Kang | Floral Design: Floral Occasions - Stacey | Wedding Dress: Lazaro | Cake: Sweet Art | Catering: Iva Lee's Catering | Hair: Two Tone Umbrella - Denise Empey | DJ: Divel Entertainment - Keith | Harpist: Naomi Alter | Event Planning And Design: Intertwined Events | MakeUp: Melissa Hennessee | Rentals: Signature Party Rentals | Video: Pure Cinema Productions | Wedding Venue: The Villa San Juan Capistrano

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Bridal Shower Flower Workshop

As a bride-to-be, this inspirational shower captured by Anouschka Rokebrand is only feeds my floral crown obsession. Filled with fragrant blooms made for snipping, the loft space of Avenue Lifestyle Studio was perfectly transformed by Holly Marder {Avenue Lifestyle} into a creative and casual party. Join me in toasting the future and donning a halo of blooms while scrolling through the gallery here.

From Avenue LifestyleFor this bridal shower inspirations shoot, floral wreaths were the inspiration. I wanted to create an event where the bride-to-be’s closest friends could gather together in celebration of the imminent nuptials by participating in a floral wreath making workshop. The setting was organic, natural, light, feminine and whimsical. Pretty and ever-so-slightly utilitarian. The primary elements used to convey this included wood, terra-cotta, linen and cotton.

Everything the attendees needed to create their own fresh flower headband was set out for them at their own personal workstation at one central trestle-legged work table. Each station included a pair of scissors, florist wire and tape, a custom-made note to write to the bride-to-be and a paint dipped pencil. Terra-cotta pots filled with fresh flowers and herbs lined the centre of the table, ready to be made into headbands, while cafe lights were suspended from wooden beams above the table added a touch of romance to the setting. After a productive workshop, the bride-to-be and her leading ladies sipped Prosecco while admiring their self created floral headband in an antique mirror.

For this shoot, Stijlvolle Trouwkaarten, provided us with a custom stationery suite which highlighted the organic aesthetic that I wanted to give the entire event. Simplistic yet classic with natural elements and a nod to the wreath.

A whimsical draping of the most delicate climbing blossom suspended softly above the food table, a delicious spread which ensured our busy bride-to-be and her friends were well catered for. The menu included: a salad of foraged flowers and leafy greens; goats cheese, honey and mint blinis; artichoke, pear and parma ham tartlets; balsamic and mint soaked grilled aubergine on crusty ciabata; and the most heavenly flat peach cake with vanilla and sage cream cheese icing. The food and food styling was done by the expert hand of Amsterdam based food stylist Ajda Mehmet. Beautiful bone and silver cutlery and mismatched vintage cream crockery by Hélène Millot Furnishings were used to serve all of Ajda’s delicacies, while her fine crystal vintage wine glasses and champagne flutes had the girls sipping prosecco in style!

How to Create a Fresh Flower Headband:

ONE | Start by cutting a length of aluminum wire (about 20cm long) using wire cutters after measuring it over your head from ear to ear. Prepare short lengths of florist wire for later, as well as several lengths of florist tape, cut into thin strips (you’ll thank me later when you’re not grappling to wrap a fat piece of tape around a tiny little opening). Twist a long length of florist tape tightly around the aluminum wire and press it in with your fingertips so it sticks. You should feel a sticky residue from the tape on your fingertips.

TWO | Prepare several clusters of flowers of two or three varieties each and secure by wrapping the stems in florist tape. For example, combine a spring of rosemary and a small cluster of hydrangea. The fuller you want your floral headband, the fuller these bunches can be. For a more delicate headband, use no more than three stems per cluster.

THREE | From one end of your tape-wrapped wire (about 5cm from the end of the wire), attach one of your flower clusters tightly wrapping a small strip of florist tape. Press it down to secure. Attach the second little cluster to the wire in the same way, following the same direction as the first.

FOUR | Continue adding flower clusters in the same way along the length of your wire, using the thin pieces of tape you prepared earlier to attach the taped up stems to the aluminum wire. Stems should all be going in the same direction. You might need a little more strength in some areas, in which case use a short length of florist wire and wrap it around the area, pressing it down carefully to secure it with the tip of the wire cutters.

FIVE | Keep working your way around the length of wire until you are pleased with the way it looks, as well as the balance of flowers, foliage and colour. Your final cluster should end about 5cm away from the end of the wire.

SIX | To finish off the headband, cut two lengths of natural twine (about 20cm each) and knot tightly to each side of the headband, just beneath the last cluster of flowers. Wrap the twine along the remainder of the wire on each end, knotting it off tightly and the end. Leave about 10-15cm extra twine on each end to be able to fasten it to your head. Voila! You should have yourself a beautiful headpiece made from fresh flowers.

Photography: Anouschka Rokebrand | Stationery: Stijlvolle Trouwkaarten | Assistance: Jessica Van Der Liende | Cafe Lights: Allekabels | Floral Assistance: Jennifer Laarman | Food Styling: Ajda Mehmet | Glass, Flatware & Sideplates: Hélène Millot Furnishings | Hay Kitchen Scissors & Marble Tray: Hay Amsterdam | Studio: Avenue Lifestyle Studio | Styling & Creative Direction: Holly Marder {Avenue Lifestyle} | Table Linens, Wooden Boards & Chairs: Dille & Kamille | Wooden Side Plates: Verterra Dinnerware