Easter Fashion 2019 | Arden Photography

Easter is quickly approaching and if you haven’t had the time to figure out what you will be clad in, don’t fret quite yet. Easter is typically viewed as a conservative holiday having most people attend church and family affairs. So, since it’s a day to celebrate, of course you want to look (and feel) your absolute best! Below are a few color and style options for a last-minute search to help you queue in what you’re looking for.

Easter Color Palette:

  • Pastels:

    • Blush

    • Lavender

    • Peach

Pastels are always a spring must. These soft colors compliment a wide variety of skin tones, while also bringing color to your wardrobe in a more subdued manner.

  • Brights:

    • Kelly Green

    • Yellow

Kelly Green has gotten extremely popular over the past couple of months, and it won’t stop now. Green is a strong, statement color, so it can be left simple with only the color to admire, or you can accessorize it in a way to subdue the color. Yellow can be a bit off-putting and it doesn’t suit everyone with the right confidence, anyone can pull it off with their own flattering, joy-inducing shade.

  • Neutrals:

    • Jade

    • Navy

If you want to go a little more under the radar these neutral shades have got your back (literally). Jade is a muted version of its brighter counterpart previously mentioned if you still want to add color to your ‘fit. Navy is a softer version of black, but is still just as flattering! It will also keep you from getting as hot if you were wearing black in this Alabama weather.

Easter Style Watch:

  • Wrap dresses

    • This SUPER flattering style of dress hits you right where it matters at your waist, brings it in, and hides anything underneath its overlay structure.

  • Maxi dresses

    • Chic and comfortable. What more could you ask for? Maxi dresses come in so many styles, you’ll be sure to find one that fits your personality to a ‘T.’

  • Jumpsuits/Rompers

    • Skip trying to find a two-part ensemble, and go straight to the rack filled with jumpsuits and rompers. Pants or shorts, you get to decide, but jumpsuits and rompers come in a variety of styles sure enough to fit what you’re going for this Easter holiday.

  • Coulettes

    • Remember the galcho? Well this is it’s hotter, older sister. Coulettes are usually cropped and flare at the ankle. A high-waisted version of this pant pared with a nice, blouse, and a clean heel, can bring a boss babe vibe to any get-together,

Wedding Day: Beauty Essentials Checklist | Arden Photography

It is REALLY easy to get wrapped up in how the big picture of your wedding day is going to look like. We’ve all been in that position of last-minute, impulse packing, and when you arrive at your destination, you realize you have forgotten the tiniest detail that makes all of the difference. So, here’s to you! I made a quick and easy list, beauty edition, for you to check off on your wedding day. Say bye-bye to having to turn that car around or sprinting through a Walgreens, and say hello to a relaxing, stress-free pampering sesh!

  • Lipstick color of choice

    • If you have a h&mu team, they’ll most likely have lip colors to use, but it’s always nice to have one of your own to touch up throughout the day and keep your lip color intact and fresh.

  • Hairspray

    • A LOT of things can occur right before that special moment of walking down the aisle, especially with your mane. Having a travel-sized hairspray handy can keep those fly-aways out of your face and secure any undesired loose business.

  • Bobby pins/Hair elastics

    • As previously stated, hair can be very unpredictable. Having a couple of bobby pins/hair elastics laying around can be useful if hair goes array.

  • Lash glue

    • If you wear fake lashes, lash glue is a must! Emotions will be flowing, or at least your allergies might, and watery eyes can lead to lashes falling right off. Lash glue on hand is perfect for fixing up any teary-eyed issues.

  • Makeup brush

    • Taking pictures before your ceremony can quickly make anyone get an undesired, “oily” glow. A makeup brush that you’ve used with your personal powder, or even one with no product on it, can blot the oiliness right off of your face.

  • Teasing comb

    • Fix fly-aways or add some volume to your locks. Most teasing combs are small in stature, so they’re easy to tote around.

  • Waterproof mascara

    • Keep those lashes locked into place and free from worry about happy tears.

  • Tweezers

    • Tweezers are never not useful and can be used for a variety of actions like: plucking eyebrows, putting on lashes, fixing jewelry, etc.

  • Nail polish

    • Ever have one of those “why do bad things happen to good people” moments? At least that’s my exact thoughts when I chip a nail. Stowing away your nail color will prevent that thought from even starting to run across your mind (and keep the mani fresh for those up-close ring shots).

  • Water

    • As funny as it may sound, forgetting to stay hydrated is really easy when you’re getting ready for that smooch of a lifetime. Not only does it keep you from being parched, but drinking a lot of water several weeks before your wedding can help clear up skin and your digestive tract.

What to Consider... Bridal Hair Tips from Hair Stylist Amanda Sturgis | Arden Photography

Amanda Sturgis is a cosmetologist with a specialization in hair cut & color based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She works at Salon Studios in Northport, Alabama.

With over 25 years under her belt, Amanda has seen it all in the cosmetology world. Bleach fails, the “I thought it was going to turn out this color” plea, & bad cuts galore have yet to deter her from this passion. Rather, she welcomes it with open arms to help get her client’s back to their most comfortable & confident state. Amanda makes it her goal to have her clients not only happy, but also educated so that they know why she may recommend something different from their original hair excursion. Healthy hair is a priority when you sit down in her salon chair.

Primarily a salon hair stylist with a devoted clientele, weddings are far & few between, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had her fair share of preparing lovely brides on their wedding.

Below are a few tips & considerations to make when thinking about YOUR big day’s locks:

  • Enhance what you’ve been naturally given.

    • You want to look & feel like the best version of yourself on your wedding day.

  • The hair style you choose should be dependent on your dress style and the time of day, time of year, & theme of your wedding.

    • To make everything look cohesive & to feel the most comfortable, you’ll want to be aware of your wedding-day decisions prior to setting your mind onto a hair style.

  • Soft, natural curls & updos are on trend right now.

    • Be unique & do what makes you happy. If that’s following trends because you like the style & the way it makes you feel, then go for it. If not, talk it out with your hair stylist to create a style that enhances your beauty the most and makes you feel unique during your celebration.

  • If styling your hair with elastics and/or bobby pins, make sure they match your hair color or are translucent.

    • Pesky hair ties/bobby pins can distract from your hair style in pictures and in person. Have your stylist hide them within the hair style or use something similar to your hair color so that they will blend right in.

  • When using hair spray, make sure it doesn’t leave a film over your hair and that your hair still has movement.

    • Too many a times people feel that for a hair style to stay, they have to spray a TON of hairspray into their hair, yet if you have a quality hairspray your hair style should stay intact all day long without leaving it looking and feeling crunchy.

Photo by: Kali Sturgis

Photo by: Kali Sturgis


Makeup Tips from Birmingham H&MU Artist Madeline Hulsey | Arden Photography

Madeline Hulsey is a professional hair & make-up artist based in Birmingham, Alabama. She works at Wildflower Hair and Nail Studio in Mountain Brook, Alabama. Madeline, better known as Maddie, specializes in hair cutting & coloring, & she has been doing hair & makeup as a career since she was 16 years old.

Maddie never meets a stranger. Her kind-hearted, bubbly personality always leaves her customers feeling enlightened & joyous by her radiant character.

Working in the beauty community for several years now, Maddie knows a thing or two when it comes to preparing her brides & bridal parties, albeit she would never admit that herself.

Here are a few quick & easy tips Maddie swears by to leave your wedding day, at least the hair & makeup aspect, a little more stress-free:

  • Sometimes… less is more. On your wedding day, ensure to enhance your beauty instead of reinventing an entirely new look.

    • You want people to appreciate the beauty you already have shining within you.

  • HYDRATE.

    • Water keeps your skin replenished and gives it that top-notch bridal glow.

  • Get plenty of rest. You would be surprised with how much a few extra hours of sleep helps on your big day.

    • More sleep = clear skin, reduced stress, less fatigue, & less bloating.

  • Skincare is KEY for a refreshed look. Start a stable skincare routine a few months out from your wedding.

    • By giving yourself enough time in between finding out what skin products work for you & your big celebration, your skin will be thanking you for giving it that little extra attention & time, & you will be feeling unstoppable.

  • Make sure your in love with your trial run.

    • If you’re not feeling something during your trial, you most likely won’t be feeling it on your wedding day either. Ask questions or suggest something you want to do. It is YOUR big day after all, we just want to make you feel comfortable & special.

  • Get a lip color you adore & take it to your trial.

    • This allows you not to have to worry about pesky touch-ups after the hair & make-up team head out. Some artists give you a complimentary lip color, but that isn’t the case all of the time.

  • Make sure your hair is freshly colored and shiny for your big day.

    • Of course, only if you want to. Fresh color and conditioning treatments just give your hair that extra luster you’ll be appreciating looking back at photographs.

  • Lashes are a MUST!

    • They make your eyes appear more wide awake & bright, & they pull together the final touches of any makeup look.

    • You can also get them customized with individual lashes so that you can control the lash intensity, volume, & length.

Photo by: Arden Upton

Photo by: Arden Upton

Photo by: Arden Upton

Photo by: Arden Upton

Photo by: Arden Upton

Photo by: Arden Upton

Wedding Makeup Tips from Miss Alabama USA 2019 Hannah McMurphy | Arden Photography

Being present in the pageant world has taught the current Miss Alabama USA, Hannah McMurphy, a ton about makeup: what looks good, what doesn’t, and a whole lot of trial and error. But, before her current namesake, and prior to being fully invested in the pageant community, Hannah worked, and still works, as a hair and makeup artist for weddings, pageants, and formal events.

Despite weddings and pageants having vastly different end-products, one ending with a ring on one’s finger and the other, hopefully, a crown atop one’s head, they do share some commonalities in the makeup realm. When approaching makeup in both the wedding and pageant style, here are a few tips and tricks your local Alabama representative has dubbed as fool-proof:

  • Eyelashes are a MUST! They tie together the look and add extra glam and definition to the eyes.

  • Brows are SO important! Fill those babies in, and remember they’re sisters NOT twins.

    • “Usually a shade range of one to three shades lighter or darker of your natural hair color is the safe zone for brow fill-in color.”

  • Bronzing your face gives more dimension and liveliness to your features. Don’t be scared of it! Just remember to build the color up.

  • For a “snatched” looking nose, contour along the bridge of your nose, not on the sides as that can make it look wider. Go in with a highlight and lightly apply it in a thin, but blended, line down your bridge. For added contour, take an under-eye powder and place it along the sides of your nose around the contoured area. This will blend the wider parts of your nose into your face and accentuate only the contoured part.

  • A good under-eye powder will brighten up your face, make it appear more open, and clean up any fall-out.

    • “Under-eye powder is GREAT in moderation. Don’t put too much on, though, it can flash back with flash photography and make you appear like you have white circles under your eyes.”

      • Try: bareMinerals Well Rested Under Eye Powder Concealer

  • Slightly over line your lips for a poutier look.

    • “This tip can go south very fast. You only want to over line the fullest part of your lips right above the natural lip line. I always use a gloss, too, to pack a little more punch.”

Photo: Arden Upton  H&MU: Madeleine Hulsey

Photo: Arden Upton

H&MU: Madeleine Hulsey

Photo: GrantFoto  H&MU: Makenna Henning

Photo: GrantFoto

H&MU: Makenna Henning

Photo: Arden Upton  H&MU: Madeleine Hulsey

Photo: Arden Upton

H&MU: Madeleine Hulsey

Photo: Austin Ryde  H&MU: Austin Ryde

Photo: Austin Ryde

H&MU: Austin Ryde

Makeup Go-To's for Weddings from H&MU Artist Kali Sturgis | Arden Photography

Hi! Kali, here! Not only am I Arden’s intern, but I also do hair and makeup for weddings, pageants, and formal events.

When I think weddings, I think glowing bride. And by glowing, I mean highlight, highlight, and oh, did I mention, highlight?

My go-to makeup for brides and bridesmaids, unless if they know specifically what they want and/or provide examples, is light, shimmery eye shadows, dewy skin, and nude, pink-y lips. I feel that this look gives enough drama to the client while also not taking away from their natural beauty. Enhancing is the goal.

Contrary to most beauty routines, I usually start with the eyes. This allows easier clean up of fall-out and less stress on the artist for accidents. I lightly fill-in the brows before starting eyeshadow, and then I come back in with an eyeshadow primer and/or concealer to clean up the brow and prime the eyes for eyeshadow. Eyebrows are SO important because they are what frame one of the most important features of your face. The key with eyeshadow is to BLEND and build the color. It is a lot easier to make an eye darker than to lighten it up. Pearls and champagnes make for beautiful brow bone, inner corner, and inner eye highlight and ultimately brighten up the eyes and make them appear brighter and more awake. From there, I tend to stick to neutral, warm browns and light oranges as transition shades in the crease, and bronze and deep browns for the outer corner. Whatever I use on the lid, I drag down below the lower lash line. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT to pull together the eyeshadow. It makes the eyeshadow look complete and balances the eye out. If someone likes darker eyeshadows, I’ll add dark gray or black to the outer corner, but like I said earlier, it is much easier to ask the client what they would prefer after the final look is complete. People ALWAYS have different thoughts on what natural and glam makeup look like, so it’s much easier to build up the color than try to take away. For eyeliner, I stick to browns in the waterline because it is not as harsh as black, and on the lid, I usually only use a deep brown or black eyeshadow on a thin angled brush to have a soft, smokier look.

On to lashes! A good mascara is a must, and I love L’Oreal’s Lash Paradise… waterproof of course. We’re talking about the chance of tears looking pretty high, always happy ones though. I always recommend fake lashes to every client. To me, they pull together any look and add extra glam to the bridal party. If clients are wary about strip lashes, individual lashes are a great alternative. They tend to feel less invasive, and they can be built up to suit any person’s preference. The great thing about fake lashes, too, is that they’ll come off when you wash your makeup off!

After eyes, I move on to foundation, cleaning up any fall-out around the eye before applying. Doing it in this order is just preference, though. Personally, I feel that it can make for a cleaner, accident-free session. Regarding foundation, you don’t want something cake-y or drying, so I try to steer myself toward light-to-medium coverage foundations like Fenty Beauty or Estee Lauder. I usually use a damp beauty blender to pat on the foundation onto the client’s face. The beauty blender allows you to control the coverage of the foundation pretty well, so as not to cover up too much. Unless if asked to do so, we LOVE to see brides’ and bridesmaids’ freckles and moles! After foundation, I’ll use concealer to get the under-eye and spot treat any additional problem areas. Remember the goal is to enhance, not cover up.

Once base is complete, I usually go in with a baking or banana powder and set along the under eye, across the forehead, down the bridge of the nose, on the chin, and underneath the hollows of the cheek. To me, this adds extra definition and dimension to the face. A bronzer/contour powder is used next to shade and add more color to the client’s face. It is very important to make sure that whatever shading color you are using is not too orange or too gray. We don’t want Cheetos or the Walking Dead to be present at the ceremony. Then I go in with blush on the apples of the cheek. I tend to be attracted more to rosy pinks, corals, and peaches because I feel they give the most natural looking “blushing bride” face.

Then, to my FAVORITE part. H I G H L I G H T. To me, highlight adds that extra glow, sparkle, and oomph to any bridal makeup. I usually go for champagnes, golds, pearls, and light pink highlighters, as they seem to blend more seamlessly into the skin and compliment a wide array of complexions. I place it along the high points of the cheekbones, lightly down the bridge of the nose, on the cupid’s bow, center of the chin, and my favorite spot ABOVE the brows.

After finishing the face, I do the lips. Most of the time the bride or bridesmaid know what colors they want to use, have to use, or prefer, but if not my go-to is a nude or light berry pink. I fill in their lips with a corresponding lipliner color first, as this prevents lip color from bleeding and allows the color to stay longer and be more vivid. Then, I go in with the desired lip color. I tend to be drawn to lip glosses more so than lipsticks, but it’s always up to the client’s preferences.

Lastly, to set everything in place I use a setting spray (Morphe’s is one of my faves), and then I lightly pat in the setting spray with the previously used damp beauty blender, as I have found that this melds the makeup more seamlessly into the skin.

Photo by: Arden Upton  H&MU: Kali Sturgis

Photo by: Arden Upton

H&MU: Kali Sturgis

Photo by: Arden Upton  H&MU: Kali Sturgis

Photo by: Arden Upton

H&MU: Kali Sturgis

Photo by: Arden Upton  H&MU: Kali Sturgis

Photo by: Arden Upton

H&MU: Kali Sturgis

What you need to know about Wedding Cakes 2015: Trends

While pulling together the details of your wedding, you can't forget about the last sweet touch… the wedding cake. Between the creamy icing and the flavorful cake, it's sure to bring smiles to all of your guests. Narrowing in on inspiration can be a little overwhelming. So, we've pulled together a few trends for 2015 (with a little help from The Knot) to help you!

Naked: A naked cake is perfect for any summertime wedding. Just adorn it with some fresh flowers and get ready to surprise your guests with a new take on the "icing on the cake". 

Buttercream: This smooth and rich icing delivers simplicity to any wedding cake. The thickness of the icing allows for textured design, making it perfect for any wedding with a rustic vibe. 

White on White: The classic white wedding cake has always been in style; however, 2015 is imagining new ways to recreate this cake. Simple embellishments along the sides and uniquely shaped tiers are proving to be the new way to display "white on white" style. 

Ruffled: Giving off a "light and airy" feel, this elegant trend is perfect for any type of wedding. If your looking for a pop of color, think about showering the cake with dainty flowers or add a funky topper. 

Woodland: This ethereal theme gives a fairytale-feel to any outdoors reception. You can even carry on the theme by showcasing the cake on a wooden stand and surrounding it in a halo of branches. 

Monogrammed: We know that everyone in the south loves a good monogram, but 2015 greets this style with a fresh take. Why not showcase your new last name by highlighting it in your cake? We love the idea of showcasing your monogram with bright colors and fresh designs. 

The Scent of a Woman

My mother used to say that a real woman needs a signature scent, something she can always be recognized by, a fragrance that will remind people of her, even if someone else is wearing the scent.

I love this ideology. It is so reminiscent of Old Hollywood, when women never left the house without a good shade of lipstick, their heels, and a beautiful fabric hat. This was the dawning of the era of the celebrity fragrance endorsement.

No one can forget the infamous words of the iconic Marilyn Monroe when after being asked what she wore to bed, giggled, smiled demurely and whispered in her breathy voice, "Why, only Chanel No. 5 of course!" No doubt that was the chart topping Christmas gift that year. The unforgettable Elizabeth Taylor created the fragrance White Diamonds though it is rumored that her personal signature scent was actually Bal A Versailles by Jean Desprez. 

Tips to Leave Your Scent Lingering: 

Spray your scent on your bed pillows, or your man's so he is reminded of you and will drift to sleep with sweet dreams of the two of you. Spritz any cards, letters, or invites you are sending out. Your friends and family will begin to relate the scent to you without even realizing it! Spray the perfume in your hair when you are getting ready in the morning. The scent will stay with you all day, and will linger in your wake as you walk away! 


Arden Ward Upton's Expert Advice: Fall Bridal Makeup

There is something about the deep hues of fall that compliment a woman so beautifully – just look at what happens to Mother Nature this time of year! The rust colored leaves, the golden sunlit rays, the red, ripe berries and apples; it is easy to see how this inspires makeup trends.

For your fall wedding, envision wine-stained lips, classic reds, magenta shadow-swept eyes, and hints of metallic gold and silver. If you aren’t accustomed to wearing a lot of color, incorporate it subtly. Apply just a pop of metallic gold shadow on the inner corner of your lids. You could opt for a bolder burgundy lip color and go for the bare minimum everywhere else. Remember to keep your favorite product on hand for touch-ups, and after quick stolen kisses with the groom ;) 

Check out a few of my brides who opted for a splash of color other than in their floral decor!

I am in love with these beautiful bridal makeup looks! Perfect for the fall bride!

Top left image: www.aubresbridal.com; Top right image: Chris Nicholls; Bottom image: www.rockmywedding.co.uk

Top left image: www.aubresbridal.com; Top right image: Chris Nicholls; Bottom image: www.rockmywedding.co.uk

If you are a bolder bride who loves trying different makeup trends, be brave, and opt for one of these jaw-dropping palettes! 

Top image: www.thewingedlady.com; Bottom left image: Smashbox.com; Bottom right image: www.thefashionfox.co.za

Top image: www.thewingedlady.com; Bottom left image: Smashbox.com; Bottom right image: www.thefashionfox.co.za

A few of my favorite fall products are courtesy of Smashbox cosmetics. This makeup line was engineered by photographers - of course I love it! Work a few of these products into your fall beauty regimen and you'll battle Mother Nature for the prettiest colors this season! 

Limitless 15 Hour Wear Cream Shadow in Riches (click for link)

Limitless 15 Hour Wear Cream Shadow in Riches (click for link)

Always Sharp 3D Liner in Gunmetal (click for link)

Always Sharp 3D Liner in Gunmetal (click for link)

Be Legendary Long-wear Lip Lacquer in After Dark (click for link)

Be Legendary Long-wear Lip Lacquer in After Dark (click for link)

No matter what color your lips or eyes are, nothing will be able to compare to that beautiful bridal glow you'll have on the day of your wedding. Now if only we could get someone to bottle that up! 

Surviving the Ceremony: Emergency Wedding Kit

*Read with Australian accent for authenticity*

On today’s episode of “Surviving the Ceremony”, we take a look at how to make it out alive on the biggest day of your life! Torn dress hem!? Run in your stockings!? Fainting bridesmaids!? We can teach you how to solve all that, and still have a good time! Grab onto your veils mates, it’s going to be a wild wedding survival!

Every bride has an idea of what she thinks she might need on the big day. We are here to tell you there are things you’ll probably forget, things you will need, and things you might want to have just in case. Compose a list, gather everything together, and place it all in a handy-dandy case that can easily be accessed at any point in time. Small tackle boxes are great for this kind of thing (if you love being crafty, you could even decorate it with glitter or spray paint in your wedding colors!). Baby diaper bags are also a great option – lots of pockets. You could even gift your bridesmaids with clutches that come pre-stocked with a few of these items, so that you’ll be ready for anything at any moment’s notice.

Essentials::

  • Aspirin or pain reliever of choice
  • Mini first-aid kit – extra band aids
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Tape – every kind imaginable (duct tape, scotch tape, double-sided tape)
  • Safety pins
  • Bobby pins/hair ties
  • Eye drops
  • Tissues
  • Dental floss
  • Nail file
  • Touch-up nail polish
  • Tweezers
  • Baby powder
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton balls
  • Lint roller
  • Sunblock
  • Scissors

Just-In-Case::

  • Chalk – use to cover minor stains or smudges on your dress
  • Clear nail polish – use to prevent runs in stockings/tights
  • Super glue – you will use this for something (jewelry, décor, etc.)
  • Smelling salts – remind your wedding party not to lock their knees!
  • Bleach pen
  • Allergy medicine
  • White sheet – for bride to sit on if necessary
  • Medicated pads – typically found with the hemorrhoid creams, great for swollen/puffy eyes if tears have been shed!
  • Extra undergarments – you never know!
  • Cell phone charger
  • Extension cords
  • Tums/Pepto

Not to be Over-looked::

  • Umbrella
  • Pen/Notebook – secret notes for the groom
  • Makeup
  • Hair spray
  • Breath mints/spray
  • Deodorant
  • Perfume
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks
  • Q-tips – use with a little lotion to remove mascara runs!
  • Cash – don’t forget to tip your hair stylist/makeup artist/bartender
  • Tampons – just in case!
  • Straws – to prevent lipstick smudging when hydrating
  • Razors

Yes, this seems like a lot of stuff, but the good Girl Scout knows to always be prepared. Think small – travel size, divide up certain things. You’ll be amazed at what you do actually use and will need - and the things you don’t use: well you’ll be incredibly grateful it was there either way.

Now you are ready to venture into the wild, a beautiful bride with all the tools to… SURVIVE THE CEREMONY! 

Pinch Provisions Minimergency© Kit (click for link)

Pinch Provisions Minimergency© Kit (click for link)

Minimergency© Bridesmaids Kit (click for link)

Minimergency© Bridesmaids Kit (click for link)

Open Bar: To Have or To Have Not

Have you seen that Internet e-card floating around social media? The one that’s all, “We’re having an open bar! Oh… and a wedding.” This is hilarious to me because as a wedding guest, I like to know whether or not there will be free alcohol. We are there to celebrate two people coming together to declare their love and unify as one for the rest of their lives! Your friends and guests want to celebrate with you, dance with you, laugh with you, and revel in the glowing light of your love - and everyone enjoys dancing a bit more after one or two adult beverages.

Choosing whether or not to do an open bar is one of the most stressful decisions you’ll make while planning the wedding.

First off, there’s the family politics of the game: do both families drink? Will anyone be offended by the presence of alcohol? Or do they get a little too rowdy after one too many drinks – because being featured on Cops rather than Weddings Weekly isn’t exactly every bride’s dream.

Second: the budget *insert dramatic score*. Is there room for an open bar in your budget? This can often be one of the biggest expenses of a wedding.

And last but certainly not least: how do you feel about it? On some levels, having an open bar might feel like it diminishes the importance of the ceremony at hand. Are you here for my husband and I, or are you here to eat and drink for free?

These are the questions you will have to address before you ever start tasting cocktails. And if after deciding yes, you do indeed want your wedding to also be a rocking party, then read on to learn a bit more about price and definitions of the phrase, “open bar.”

This is the *average* breakdown of what a liquor shopping list looks like for 100 guests:

Beer: 5-6 cases                                 

Whiskey: 1 liter

Bourbon: 1 liter

Gin: 2-3 liters

Scotch: 2 liters

Light Rum: 1 liter

Vodka: 5 liters

Tequila: 1 liter

Champagne: 1½ cases

Red Wine: 2 cases

White Wine: 3½ cases

Dry Vermouth: 1 bottle

Sweet Vermouth: 1 bottle

The keyword here is “average.” You know best what your family and friends will drink. If no one you know drinks scotch – scratch that from the list. If you know that you and yours are mostly beer drinkers, be sure to buy more or go with the keg option instead. Also this list does not include mixers, syrups, or garnishes, so be sure to factor that in as well.

The next important thing is understanding exactly what “open bar” means. There are a few other options instead of having an entirely open and fully stocked free bar.

Definitions:

Open Bar: Guests do not pay at all; they can drink anything and everything they want. Generally, the payment plan works as charging per person per hour.

Hosted Bar: This is essentially an open bar: guests do not pay and can drink anything and everything they want. However, instead of charging per hour, each drink made is rung up and at the end of the night, the final bill is charged to the host.

Limited Bar: This can be when there is a limited selection of drinks like beer and wine; or it can be when the hosts choose to set specific drinking times like toasts or for an hour after dinner.

Cash Bar: The guests pay to drink - just like any other bar.  

There is some wiggle room in all of these. If you want to do a limited bar with beer and wine, but you have a few friends who drink only vodka, then get creative! Add on one signature cocktail in the color of your wedding. Blue bridesmaid dresses – Blue Hawaiian cocktails! Big Alabama fan – Crimson Tide cocktails! (click the link for the recipes!)

There are always inexpensive shortcuts you can find when planning a wedding on a budget (and honestly who isn’t these days). Those pictures of you and your besties getting down on the dance floor will be some of your absolute favorites. The one candid shot of your groom and his friends toasting out on the balcony, one of your favorites. Not saying, of course, that there needs to be alcohol present to have a beautiful and fun affair. But, hey, if it helps the chances that all of your guests will get out there and spontaneously break into the “Thriller” dance, then it is totally worth it. #yolo (too much?…Probably) 

Tell me what you think about having an open bar! Do you think cash bars are acceptable? If you've got any fun and crazy cocktail recipes, throw them in! 

Fall Flowers for a Fall Wedding: Arden Photography

Can you feel it? Fall is so close, you can almost reach out and grab it. With the change of season comes an abundance of beautiful warm colors, golden sunlight, and a new array of flowers to choose for your fall wedding. Think rich, velvety reds and wines, keep-you-warm-at-night oranges, balmy, buttery yellows, and smooth creams (…is anyone else hungry now?).

Choose an arrangement that has a lot of texture and will break up the bright colors a bit. It is fall so take full advantage of it - include oak leaves, branches or tree bark, feathers, or dried wheat springs. Warm metals will really set off those colors, display them with copper vases or rose gold ribbons. A few of our favorite fall blooms are: calla lilies, carnations, sunflowers,  dahlias, celosia, billy balls, and roses. 

Here is to chilly nights by the fire, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin spice lattes! Fall, you have our hearts <3 <3 

Top 5 Must Have Wedding Photos

You have fantasized about this day since the first episode of Full House when Uncle Jesse came walking down the stairs with that signature grin of his… say it with me ladies, “John Stamos.” You pictured the dress, him lifting your veil, the first kiss, the first dance – all of it! And while John Stamos might not be the man at the altar in reality, you still want that picture-perfect wedding! The big day can go by so fast that it’ll be like a blur in your memory. This is why the photos are such a big deal – you’ll have these forever! This is the list of our top five must have wedding photos featuring some of the best memories you will make.

1.    Mom Arranging Bride’s Gown

Getting a snap of mom tying up your dress, clasping your necklace, or pulling your veil down is something both of you will cherish for years to come.

2.    The “First Look”

This is a controversial one. Some couples want to wait until they’re together at the altar to see each other for the first time. But we love it when couples do a “first look.” It’s special, the one moment you and your very soon-to-be husband can just admire each other with no one else around (but us photogs of course!). Even if you choose not to do this, that moment when he first sees you coming down the aisle, is a gorgeous memory to capture.

3.    Bride and Groom Holding Hands at the Altar

Right after you hand off your bouquet, and before the rings are exchanged, there’s an instant where you and your groom clasp hands while you declare your vows. This stands out as that moment of unity.

4.    Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dances

There is so much emotion to capture while you twirl about on the dance floor. Dad whispers something to his daughter and you see her tear up. Mom laughs and smiles at her son as he says something about “crazy Aunt Millie over there.” They are so proud of you, and this is worthy of every photo album ever.

5.    The Big Send Off

We’ve seen couples do some truly unique exit strategies – this is hands down why it is one of our favorite captures! Everything from old Volkswagen buses, café racer motorcycles, golf carts, and Gatsby-esque Rolls Royces have been used to whisk off the new couple to their happily ever after!

The truth is that there are tons of must have photos on your wedding day. Everything should be captured from beginning to end, so that you’ll always have those memories. That’s our job, but it’s also what we love…. And John Stamos ;)

Hot Tips for a Winter Wedding

Generally when someone mentions the word “wedding,” you immediately picture a spring or summer outdoor affair with lots of sunshine, flowers in bloom, and strapless gowns. But what if I told you that there is a wholly forgotten wedding season where just about everything is less expensive, with readymade décor, and a warm glow in everyone’s hearts. Hearing “Jingle Bells” yet? That’s right – winter weddings. Here are a few reasons why you should consider one.

Cost-Efficient for the Budget-Savvy Bride

 The most popular months for weddings are May through October, so during the winter off-season you have the chance to negotiate better prices with venues, vendors, even your honeymoon. Ask if there is some wiggle room in the rates or if they can waive certain fees if they require them. We’ve heard that the venue of your dreams might offer a Friday discount for a Saturday wedding during the off-season – this can shave off thousands of dollars for some!

You also have the better luck of choosing the date you want at the venue you want. More availability equals less competition for you. I mean who wants to wait five years out for a June 6th wedding at The Plaza (you’ve seen Bride Wars, right?). 

Winter, for me, is all about the holidays and you certainly do not have to incorporate them into your big day, but your piggy bank might thank you if you did. Think about it – that is a whole bunch of free decorations for you: twinkling Christmas lights, glittering ornaments, fresh pine, and bright red poinsettias – what a gold mine! And most of those things come standard at venues, churches, and hotels during the holiday season. I say – embrace it! Winter weddings, themed or otherwise, are rare in the glossy pages of all the bridal magazines.

*And if you choose a date right after December 25th shout out for the clearance prices on all that Christmas swag!*

Menu, Flowers, and Favors

Planning the menu should be fun for this time of year. Keep the chilly weather in mind, and think about serving warm soup, winter squash, and a variety of yummy drinks like spiked hot chocolate, eggnog, and spiced wine (set out candy canes as drink stirrers!). You could use gingerbread houses as edible centerpieces.

Flowers this time of year could get costly. Instead prepare arrangements with flowers and plants that are in-season: garland, glittered branches, pinecones, and fresh berries. Just grab everything off your fireplace mantle at home and carry it down the aisle!

Send your guests home with their own do-it-yourself hot cocoa mix in mason jars, or an ornament that commemorates the day. We’ve seen jingle bells used too!

Photos

Remember that it gets dark earlier in the winter. If you want your wedding portraits taken outside, be sure to plan accordingly. Opt for a pre-ceremony photo shoot. And if you’re imagining snow-covered trees in the background, stock up on fake snow spray or choose a destination wedding to Colorado – because Alabama.

Scout out public decorations and light installments. Colored Christmas lights will make for gorgeous bokeh-filled backgrounds and these can be found at public parks or even your local zoo (Zoolight Safari at the Birmingham Zoo). Train stations, hotels, ice-skating rinks, window displays at malls and toy stores, and roaring fires all make for fantastic winter-themed photos!

There are tons of ideas out there to make your winter wedding a truly spectacular event. No matter how cold it is outside, all that love in your heart will fill you with warmth (but maybe supply your guests with hand warmers, just in case)!