I've been talking a LOT about wedding planning lately.  I am surrounded by brides to be's emails and phone chats and even my friends are planning their weddings.  So I feel like getting out all the information and ideas I can to you all.  I seen this recent post on Martha Stewart Weddings that was so perfect I wanted to share it on social media (Click HERE to read it)  It stated 11 things your wedding photographer wants to tell you. My favorite was considering light into your day and how it will affect your photos, etc. I was going to do a blog post on that But then I thought,  I bet brides do not want my advice, it's their wedding and maybe they don't care what me or Martha Stewart has to say.  I bet however, she would love to hear from a past bride who has already gone through this experience. Girls with common interests stick together and love advice! So I have asked Maggie a past bride of mine who had a fantastic summer wedding at Justin Trails Resort and has now taken her creativity to new lengths! She is one year into a amazing business called Simply Maggie Made.  She is a beautiful person inside and out and I have asked her to co-blog this post with me!  I think you will really enjoy her advice! A HUGE thanks and BIG hug to Maggie for sweetly taking time out of her day to help me with this! I already know it will touch many brides and help them navigate this wedding photography stage of planning!

1. What was your favorite memory from the wedding? The first look, hands down! Of course a wedding is about celebrating your union in the company of those you love most, but my goodness…the moments I was able to share alone with my husband during our first look will forever be in my memory. Ironically, when Dani first mentioned it, I thought, “No way!” I had thought I wanted the traditional reveal where everyone sees the bride at the same time as the groom. So I sat on it for a few days and finally agreed to do the first look. I am forever grateful that I did! What Dani captured in those moments was very raw and precious to my husband and I alike.

2. What could you have done without? I’m actually going to touch on what I’m glad we did go without…wedding favors! Oh yes, I said it! Instead of spending hundreds or more on mini plastic bubble bottles, burlap bags full of mints, or beverage coozies…which will more than likely end up left behind or sadly, in the trash I highly suggest you truly consider the importance here. Of course, to each their own; but I came to understand after being at my fair share of weddings aside from planning my own, that it is the last thing that your guests will truly care about.

Instead, we just made sure they were fed really great food and had something good to drink! Two years from now no one is going to tell you how much they loved the adorable favors but rather they will remember how great the party was! Besides, simplicity is really becoming the name of the game these days when it comes to weddings, I fully embrace this change in pace as it provides you with the ability to really make the day your own!

3. What is your best advice for planning brides? Just breathe...and remember that no matter what does or doesn’t happen on your wedding day, the most important thing is that you came to marry the person you love the most! If you keep that in mind, I promise your entire day will be AMAZING! Also, waterproof mascara and double stick tape will be your best friend.

4. Looking back, what was the MOST important? Location, Location, Location! We wanted to be sure that the venue location not only accommodated our guests as much as possible, but also spoke to our own personalities and the general atmosphere we wanted for that day. Justin Trails did all those things and more…with the gorgeous restored open barn to the rolling hills covered in Queen Anne’s lace as a backdrop, quaint little cottages for our wedding party and guests, it really did serve to be a cornerstone of our amazing day! It was so great seeing everyone walk around the grounds at their own leisure, rather than being confined to a single room or specific area. I believe that aspect alone allowed for a very relaxed and enjoyable afternoon, just as we had hoped!

5. What did you plan/Book first? Dress, venue, Photographer ? Ironically enough, our venue was the first thing we booked in our hometown of Dubuque, IA. This booking fell through and after the initial panic it lead us to Sparta, WI. In specific, the Justin Trails Resort. We hadn’t selected a photographer yet so we began looking in the Sparta area as well, which led us to book our photographer Dani next! Food & DJ followed and the rest is a planning blur!

On the dress…I didn’t go to any bridal boutiques, I ordered my dress off of Etsy from a shop that was overseas; I’m crazy right!? Even though I did have to get it altered a few times, the dress was one of my favorite aspects of the wedding and cost less than the cake and cookies on the dessert table…being the foodie I am, I wanted to ensure we had more funds for that J!

6. How many hours did you book? was it enough? would you change it? We booked only 6 hours with Dani! At first we did consider adding on an hour or two, but after walking through the wedding timeline with her and realizing that the most important parts i.e; ceremony, first look, first dance, etc., would be covered during this time we decided it was more than sufficient. Another deciding factor was keeping in mind Dani is a natural light photographer, where working with the sun is a rather important factor…we decided it best to stick with 6 hours.

I can still recall from the questionnaire that I filled out for Dani, to get a hold on what we really wanted out of the pictures, was for her to capture the candid emotion and laughter of that day and I can say with 100% certainty and with only 6 hours of shooting, she did just that! Any time we look at pictures from that day, it takes us right back to that moment. I also found the amount of time to be relaxed in the fact that while Justin and I were preoccupied with greeting guests or just enjoying the day, she was able to capture on her own those candid moments of guests, our décor, and the general splendor of the day and venue!

7. What do you think of a second shooter? I feel this relates closely to the amount of hours you prefer to have your photographer(s) there. If you’re leaning towards less time and feel you absolutely must have very specific shots and a lot of each, perhaps two shooters will benefit you and vice versa for a longer session, one shooter would definitely suffice!

However, we’re all individuals and this is no different for a photographer. Each one has their own style of shooting and you booked or are interested in that initial one for that very reason, so bringing another into the mix, even when on the same team, brings the potential for a great deal of shots but with different styles. Try to keep this in mind as you will have to go through all of these photos and decide in the end which ones to order, while the rest remain on a hard drive in your side table drawer for the unforeseeable future! As always, it’s all up to personal preference; but I truly feel less is more here!

8. If you could have the same wedding over again, what would you change? Not.a.thing. I know this probably sounds a bit pretentious or that I convinced myself I’m the greatest wedding planner of all. Not even close. We kept everything as simple as possible for a reason, from the table settings, lack of wedding favors, impromptu grand entrance, all of it, so even if something went “wrong” it would all still be alright! I promise you that you’ll be far to the preoccupied with the thoughts of marrying that handsome fella waiting for you in a tux to worry your mind with how everything will play out that day!

9. A bride looking for a photographer, what is your advice to her? Can you build a relationship with your photographer? I don’t mean of the romantic persuasion, but one

that is based on trust and comfort? I can guarantee that if you do not get the best vibes or find yourselves able to be casual around your potential photographer than your pictures will certainly reflect that!

Whether you book one for the engagement session, wedding or both together it is certain that the combination of you both not being used to a camera focusing on you and not feeling comfortable with your photographer, likely will land you with a collection of pictures full of awkward smiles and poses no matter how great the photographer is. I highly suggest you do your best to meet with your potential photographer face to face or via an avenue such as skype, which will really help to determine if you can make magic happen J.

10. Anything else? As easy as it is to be focused on this day for yourself (after all you will hear it called your day hundreds of times before it’s come and gone) remember that your guests have certainly spent their own money and even more importantly, their time to be part of it. Give your heartfelt thanks for all those people who have joined you.

If you make everyone feel welcome, it will certainly set the tone for their willingness to have a great day and help you celebrate the best they can! Even if something does go wrong, you’ll have a venue full of people eager to make it right. Aside from this, as it was advice I received myself from a married couple prior to our own big day, was to be sure to find a moment between the both of us to take in the day. The day will certainly fly by and you will appreciate that you took a moment to soak it all in, it is another memory of only ours, that we share and enjoy to this day!

See Maggie and Justin's full wedding preview HERE.