{ Pictured Above: My wedding ring after 15 years of marriage. }

I am a wedding photographer with a secret.

I love weddings, I live for them.  They make me feel like I’m walking on air when I’m in the moment with my camera.  It wasn’t always this way. After second shooting multiple weddings for an amazing wedding photographer I discovered I love weddings.

My secret:  Planning my own wedding over 15 years ago felt like a chore.  Looking back, I’m thankful for my wedding. We had a small wedding with our closest family and friends, less than 50 people.   It will always be one of the biggest milestones in my life, and I will never forget how nervous and excited all at once I was as I took my husband’s hand and said my vows.

Here is some timeless wedding planning advice from me to you.

Outdoor Ceremony at the Minneapolis Marriott Southwest with 3 wedding officiants!

Pick A Wedding Officiant You LOVE.

Our officiant was amazing.  He was a retired judge who regularly preformed weddings.  The clerk who helped us with our marriage license gave us his name.  We talked with him about what our ceremony meant to us.  He worded everything perfectly, we felt like it was “our” ceremony and our guests enjoyed it.  My parents were a little concerend because we did a non-religious ceremony, and even they complimented him.


Invitation DIY. Designed by the couple who met working at a tea shop.

Follow Up On Referrals From Your Vendors

We had so many names in the hat for officiants, for clothing, for cakes.  It was a small at home wedding, so really those were the only things we wanted.  Everyone we knew had an opinion.  It was overwhelming.  WeddingWire and the Knot did not exist.  Pinterest was not yet invented.  Apps for wedding planning….nope! We had referrals, wedding magazines, and a phone book.  (Scary, I know! ) We called the officiant the clerk recommended first and loved him so much our search was over.  It was the easiest part of planning.


An intimate evening wedding ceremony at St. John Lutheran Church in Belle Plaine that was followed by a family dinner.

Don’t Let A Small Guest List or Budget Deter You From Planning

This was the mistake that made me not enjoy planning the wedding and get lazy about things.  I took the concept of “small wedding” and “budget” way too seriously.  Abandon your all or nothing attitude, and do what you can do.   I was embarrassed that I couldn’t treat my family to a raging party or have the giant guest list some of my friends had.  Don’t avoid looking at wedding ideas because you think all of it is expensive and unattainable.  I could have used bridal magazines to help me be creative about doing things myself.   I was a DIY bride loooong before Pinterest.


Cake by Muddy Paws Cheesecake.
Cheesecake with strawberries by Muddy Paws Cheesecake.

Have Yummy Cake

The cake was the saving grace of my wedding, and much easier to splurge on than the rest of the food.  Our wedding was a 4 hour affair.  What we wanted most was special time with family, followed by a weekend to enjoy each other’s company.  We had DIY buffet of fresh fruits, cheeses, and meats.  It was better than average.  But the cake…. It was freaking amazing!   We ordered way too much of it.  It was so good we had cake for breakfast many times after the wedding.  People STILL talk about that cake.

Wedding photo shoot at the Como Conservatory for a small elopement at Hennepin County Court House in December.

{See the Rest of Erica and Fabian’s wedding pictures here}

Communicate With Your Photographer To Make a Plan For Capturing Your Day

Who ever you hire for your wedding photography, talk to them.  A lot.  About everything.  Make sure you trust them completely.  Make sure you are on the same page.  I was the bride who said “Whatever you do is fine, as long as it’s on black and white film, because I love black and white film.”  And that was my mistake.  That’s all my photographer had to go on.

Even though I trusted my photographer, and she was talented at taking pictures, I feel like I totally failed at communication.  Tell your photographer exactly how and why you want to remember your wedding.  Open up and let them in on what’s important to you.  Do this right away in the beginning of your photographer search, because it will help you find the right person to shoot your wedding.

  Do not assume your photographer will know you want simply because they go married too.  No two couples are a like.  Weddings have a different meaning to every single couple.    As a wedding photographer I now ask my clients tons of questions so we are on the same page come the wedding day.

If you are planning a non-traditional wedding or elopement I’d love to hear more about it and see if I might be the photographer you need.  Wedding of all sizes are worth celebrating!

Connect with me via my contact page and let’s chat!


{BONUS:  Click here to see my wedding cake from October of 2000.  Byerly’s Bakery STILL uses the design, and their cakes are amazing.}