Kaysha Weiner Photographer »

Over the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some pretty amazing people! The crazy wonderful wedding day ride is made even more enjoyable when you can work with a great group of people. These vendors become your support system, and by choosing the right team, you’ll assure a smooth an memorable wedding day. With engagement season in full swing, I had to take a moment to spotlight one of my all time favorite planners, the lovely Courtney Caplin Cotter.

I’m thrilled to have Courtney of The Joy Parade here to share more about her business, style and approach to wedding planning. She’s also included some amazing advice for the newly engaged, so take note, and you will quickly see why she is truly one of the best!

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Tell us a little bit about how you got started in weddings?  
I got started in weddings after I spent some time evaluating what I liked about my corporate entertainment job, and what I didn’t. I spent over 12 years as a stage manager doing both large scale theatrical shows and various sized events from movie premieres to gala dinners. I learned so many wonderful skill along the way, and made some fantastic lasting relationships (it’s where I met my Husband!) but I found myself feeling like I wanted to produce something more meaningful then just a show or an event for a company. I wanted to find a field where I could apply all of the things I loved about my entertainment position, as well as be able to apply the expertise I had invested in and developed over the years. I felt like weddings was something I was drawn to. Planning a wedding is the perfect mix of producing a unique and meaningful event, developing relationships, making people happy, and being part of a team! Plus, who doesn’t love a kick-ass party!

How would you describe your artistic style?  
I have a nice mix of clean, earthy, androgyny along with a clever, sophisticated, graceful side. I am drawn to unique spaces that can be enhanced by what each couple can infuse into their event.

What inspires you?
Every couple has their own story and their own personalities to share. I get excited at each opportunity to create something new and different that distinctly represents each of my clients.

I personally believe in…
– laughing so hard you can’t see because your cheeks are encroaching on your eye space.
– remembering to believe in your self-worth.
– both the thrill of the untraditional and the calming beauty of tradition.
– pink wedding dresses, a first look and monogrammed Converse, if that’s what strikes your fancy.
– the strength of a handshake and eye contact when speaking to someone.
– relentlessly searching for the passion in all things.

What do you love about weddings?  
What I love most is the overwhelming feeling of joy and love that surrounds the wedding day. Not just from the couple, but from all of the friends and family too. I know a wedding has been successful when all of the guests, and the vendor team look just as happy as the couple getting married. I love the planning process of working towards attaining that feeling. Unbroken moments of joy that span into an entire day.

What are the most important factors couples should consider when choosing a planner?
I think the most important factors to consider when choosing a planner are the following: Do you know what a planner’s job function is? If you aren’t sure, or even if you think you do, it’s great to ask each person you are interviewing. Everyone’s process is a little different as well as the way they prioritize each event structure. Know what you want out of a planner  – Strong organization skills? High creative concept? Strong prop building skills? Someone to really KEEP things on track the day of the wedding? A strong voice of reason to keep your creative vision on track because you love Pintrest just a little too much ;-). Do you like them as people, meaning – Are you comfortable telling them when you do, and don’t like something? Are you receptive to listening to their honest feedback even if it’s not what you were hoping to hear? Are you confident in their abilities to effectively manage your wedding day? Do they understand your vision for your day?

This is important even if they’re just coordinating your wedding. Why? Because that will ensure that throughout the process – from choosing vendors, to making detail decisions, all the way to making good choices if last minute changes or issues should arise; they will have clear understanding of what you want to achieve and can make the best decision to maintain you vision.

What sets you apart from others in your field?  
I come from a corporate entertainment background versus a hospitality based field (food service or hotels as an example). I believe this gives me a unique perspective in producing events as well as how I handle situations and myself the day of an event. Though the years I’ve honed my skills for pre-planing and foreseeing issues before they arise along with keeping a cool and clear head for troubleshooting on the fly. I’ve also become comfortable with adapting to a multitude of personalities which really comes in handy on the wedding day when emotions can run a little wild at times.

What advice do you have for newly engaged couples?
This answer has a few layers :-)

Firstly: before you Pin, plan,  book the venue, or start the registry –  Nail down that guest count. Include your parents or anyone else that might have a say in who is getting invited. Do a pie in the sky list, everyone you can think to invite then whittle down from there. Having a preliminary guest count in place will also aid you in coming up with a realistic budget.

Second: Figure out a budget – If you don’t have a number right out of the gate, a great way to get an idea of what it might be would be to look into the average cost of a wedding in your area and how those weddings compare to what you may want. You can then estimate up or down depending on your personal situation. If you want a sit down dinner with a farm-to-table multi course dinner, at a killer venue, and the best dance band in town for your closest 150 friends and family – have an idea of what that cost may be before you start booking a venue and vendors. Likewise for a backyard wedding soiree with a similar sized guest count. Yes, you can always do a wedding on any kind of budget, and those are just as awesome as a more lavish event but be realistic about what you can afford and what your personal abilities are to DIY.

Third: I really do suggest hiring a planner or coordinator. They will keep you focused and on track, they can whittle down the mountain of available wedding vendors to a manageable amount of vetted professionals they know will execute your wedding day the way you want it to be. They have the ability to aid you with helpful guidance and will be a dose of realism along the way. The day of the wedding they will be on site to oversee set up and tear down along with keeping a timeline of the day so you can relax and focus on each other and all of your friends and family. They’ll make sure you and all of they key players are in your places ready to go for all of the big events taking place the wedding day.

Most importantly: Set aside time for yourselves along the way – a periodic date night. Don’t talk about the wedding, just enjoy the company of each other. Maybe do things you did together when you first started dating. Planning a wedding can be stressful – even if you don’t have budgetary constraints, its a highly emotional time for both of you, and your families. It can get tense, take the time you need to keep your relationship in focus because that’s what really matters.

Find out more about The Joy Parade
Website  |  Instagram  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest

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It’s hard to believe we are in the last days of 2014! Over the next week I will be taking some time off blogging to relax and refocus. Before the days slip away I wanted to wish you all a joyous holiday season, and a blessed New Year! Thank you for helping make 2014 a wild success, and here’s to an even better 2015!

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Special thanks to We Lived Happily Ever After for the adorable snowflake graphics! 

Looking back on my wedding season I am both happy (to have a few weekends off) and sad to see the year come to a close. Each year my couples let me into their lives, open their hearts to me, and choose me to document the start of their marriage. This is an incredible honor and one of the many joys of being a wedding photographer. This year especially has been full of so many new and inspiring experiences, traveling across the country, and each wedding more beautiful than the last.

I am content to close out 2014 with these incredible couples, who have taught me so much about life, love, and myself. Each hold a very special place in my heart and I hope their lives together are just as beautiful as their weddings were. So here’s to you, my newlyweds! Thank you for making this such an amazing year of growth, learning and laughter!

 Louisa & Josh’s Disneyland Hotel Wedding

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Shay & Joe’s Environmental Nature Center Wedding 

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Chrissy & Russell’s Richard Nixon Library Wedding

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Nahall & John’s Casino San Clemente Wedding

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Andrea & David’s Summit House Restaurant Wedding 

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Amee & Amit’s Malibou Lake Mountain Club Wedding

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Samantha & Tannon’s Oak Creek Golf Club Wedding

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Amanda & Ethan’s Seattle MOHAI Wedding

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Library Inspired Smog Shoppe Wedding

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Elizabeth & Muhammad’s Huntington Library Elopement

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Alyson & Scott’s Laguna Cliffs Marriott Wedding

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Katie & Sazi’s Destination Maine Wedding

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Pink & Navy Old Ranch Country Club Wedding

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Carrie & Justin’s Retro Ranch Wedding

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Tara & Matt’s Historic Cottage San Clemente Wedding

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  • Rachelle - So many beautiful images. Congrats on such a successful year!

This post has been years in the making. Throughout that time I have noticed several tricks my couples have used when choosing their outfits. Clothing really does play a huge role in the overall look and style of a shoot, so by taking these tips into consideration you’ll be on the way to the perfect engagement photos.

In addition to the suggestions below, be sure to check out my ‘What to Wear’ Pinterest board for inspiration. I am constantly adding to this collection of images and its a great place to start. There are also great styling services like Stitch Fix, that will choose outfits for you based off your style and budget. This is super fun, and I have had several brides wear these items for the engagement sessions!

What to wear for your engagement shoot

Pick Two Outfits
To get the most variation out of your shoot, I recommend picking two outfits: a casual look and then something a little more dressy. This doesn’t have to mean heals and a dress if that’s not your style. But by choosing two distinct looks you’ll essentially have 2 engagement sessions in 1, score!

Complimentary Colors
When choosing colors, don’t be afraid of any particular shade or pattern. If it looks good on you and your skin tone, go for it! You do not need to match colors exactly between you and your fiancé, but as a general rule choosing complimentary colors looks best. Think beyond the blue jeans and white shirts, and more to date night outfits.

Follow the Pattern Rule
So you have a cute outfit, but your fiancé still needs something to wear. Choosing one outfit can be hard enough, but if you follow the pattern rule you’ll create a cohesive look between the two of you. The rule goes as follows: If your wearing a pattern, put him in mostly solids. If he is wearing a pattern, choose solids for yourself. Super simple, but this is a fool proof way to pair two outfits together.

Add Layers
Scarves, jackets, hats, you name it! Including these types of layers makes any combination feel a little more put together and adds that complete look.

No Logos
Stay away from choosing items with large or distracting logos across them. This can kill the look of your shoot because the viewers eyes will go directly to the logo, instead of you (where the attention should be).

Keep Your Location in Mind
Don’t forget to keep the overall look of your location in mind. If your planning on apple picking, riding boots with rich jewel tones is the perfect choice. Try to also keep the practically of your choices in mind. High heals may not be the best idea for a sandy beach, or rustic hiking trails. This doesn’t mean you can’t wear your heals, but be sure to bring flip flops or something you can quickly change into between shots. The most important thing is to feel comfortable in the clothes (and shoes) you picked, otherwise that will show in the photos.

Accessorize
Adding a pop of color with a chunky necklace, layered bracelets, or blinged out earrings can really be the finishing touch your ensemble needs. This is mostly a tip for the ladies, but guys can add to their look with belts, playful socks, and sharp looking shoes. Get creative, and this is your an opportunity to really show off your personal style.

Don’t Forget Hair & Makeup
Although not technically clothing related, don’t forget about hair and makeup for your engagement shoot. You will look at theses photos for YEARS, so splurging on some pampering to look and feel your best is always a good idea. Check out DryBar for the perfect hair, and Blushington for makeup. Both are great local resources if you don’t already have a beauty stylist.

Camera Ready
This may seem obvious, but make sure your final selections are pressed, hanging nicely and camera ready on the day of your shoot. Although I have many photo tricks, I cannot do anything to help stained or wrinkled clothing.

I will leave you with one last thought… rules are meant to be broken. So if you have an out of the box idea, or your not sure if something will work, email me over a few photos. I’m happy to help narrow down your selection, and give additional advice for your particular shoot!

My 2015 couples have been killing their engagement sessions! If this is any indication of the upcoming wedding season, I am in store for a beautiful New Year.

When Carley asked me if sequins photographed well, I got excited, like REALLY excited!! I love when my couples show off their style, and this look as beyond perfect for Carley’s bright a warm personality. I know I say this after every shoot, but I had such a great time with these two!! They come alive when they are together, and you can just feel their connection through the photos.

So excited for these love birds, and I cannot wait for their wedding next year with Pure Lavish Events!

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