Soda Pop Public Relations Celebrates 6 Years in Ojai at Caravan Outpost

Each year, I get the joy of photographing these amazing women to celebrate the Soda Pop PR anniversary. SPPR was founded by Dyan Offut in Los Angeles, and they're such a fun bunch!

Why My Morning Routine Makes Me a Better Photographer

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A morning routine is a powerful thing. After reading countless articles about how the most powerful CEOs, artists and entrepreneurs always credit their morning routine with a vast amount of success, of course, I HAD to give it a try. And it was worth every early morning.

I mean, these were extra early mornings. For 30 days, I started waking up at 5:00 a.m. to get a jump on six activities: meditation, journaling, exercise, reading, visualization and affirmations. And let me tell you—it worked. My mind started to be calmer during photo shoots. My injuries started to come in more frequently. I was booking more travel photography work. And though I've always been proud of the art I create for my couples, my methods started to improve. The meditation practice taught me to take a breath during shoots, calm my mind, see better what's in front of me and how it can become art. I was able to connect with my couples better. 

Yes, my new morning routine rocked my world. Do you have one? I want to hear about it! Comment below, let's chat. 

Bubbly + Romantic Engagement at Sunset Cliffs, San Diego

I always encourage my couples to bring props—Lauren + Todd definitely took their engagement session to the next level by popping some bubbly over the rocky Sunset Cliffs in San Diego! I can't wait to photograph their fall wedding!

Sweet + Romantic Wedding at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

Congratulations, Jess + Caleb! The emotion and joy of your wedding day is absolutely inspiring and I'm so honored to have photographed it! 

Venue: Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

Dress: David's Bridal

Wedding Why: When should I book my wedding photographer?

Me photographing one of my 2016 couples (as a brunette, obviously—gotta keep it fun!).

Me photographing one of my 2016 couples (as a brunette, obviously—gotta keep it fun!).

There's a lot to be overwhelmed by when it comes to wedding planning, and those of us who work in the wedding industry understand exactly how you feel: stressed, overwhelmed, crazed, and a little bit sleepy—you'll stay up more than a few nights planning that seating chart. 

You have a million questions about wedding planning, but let me take this one off your plate: "When should I book my photographer?"

Soon! Yes, really soon. Like, 9-12 months before your wedding date, soon. Let's back up a bit. When you book your wedding vendors, the first thing they'll ask you is your wedding date. Of all the choices you have to make for your wedding, start there: Picking your wedding date is priority No. 1.

From there, your second step is to choose a planner, who will help you organize everything else. From there, you'll nail down your photographer and your wedding venue. 

Yes, 9 or even 12 months out seems really early, but in wedding planning terms, you're right on time. We book early and often, so our weekends fill up fast, and there are only so many to go around. 

If you have any burning whys of your wedding day, send them to me! My "wedding why" series is here to answer them. Email court@daybreakanddusk.com with your Qs or to inquire about my 2018 wedding dates (it's already that time of year!). 

xo,

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Modern Greenery Wedding at The York Manor in Los Angeles

This sweet couple—I love how much joy and absolute giddiness radiates from their faces when they're around each other. Congratulations on a beautiful wedding, Molly + Kris!

Event planning: Event Science // Venue: The York Manor // Florals: Confetti + Bloom // Hair + Makeup: Dominique Calvillo // Dress: David's Bridal // Tux: Groom Studio Weddings // Catering: Iconic Catering

The 8 Biggest Wedding Trends for 2017

Wedding season is in full swing, especially in Southern California. I recently attended WeddingWire World 2017, which had many wedding-industry experts speaking. Notably, Mindy Weiss, event designer extraordinaire, treated the crowd to her take on the biggest wedding trends this year.

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Colors: Green, White + Beyond

Green and white has been a popular combo in the last few wedding seasons, but now we're seeing these two with additional pops of color in creative ways. Accents of peaches and pinks for a softer touch, and even the vessels are giving us some added brightness with blues. 

Big Accents: Marble Everything

Accents pieces are stealing the show with marble everything: dishes, invites, furniture, cakes, etc. It goes with any color and fits in any celebration. Plus, accents are also having a mixed-metal moment: rose gold, gold and platinum are mixing together for a unique touch. Silver and gold are particularly fabulous together. 

Fresh + Flowery Cakes

Fresh flowers are the perfect cake decoration these days, usually wrapping up and around the different layers. Plus, we've also seen a trend in downplaying the cake cutting—no one wants to stop the party or the dancing.

Creative Placecards

Placecards are moving away from traditional paper and into your local hardware store. Tiles are more popular than ever, whether from local tile stores or even remnants from home depot.

Unstructured Flowers

The big bouquet is back! They're taking on interesting shapes that are unstructured and wild (you know I love that). This also means that brides will have to hold them a bit differently because they're so large—some brides are even cradling these wild creations.

Creative Cocktail Hour

For couples who don't want to do a full bar during cocktail hour, they're getting creative by offering interactive drink experiences: wine tastings and beer gardens with craft brews have been on tap for a lot of weddings this year. Afterward, there's a full open bar for guests at the reception.

Music with No Sound

Seriously, silent discos are all the rage. When the newlyweds want to keep the music going late and loud but don't want to offend the neighbors, DJs and event planners are providing headphones for silent discos. That's right, all the guests wear headphones, which is the only place the music can be heard. It's surprisingly fun, and the guests really let loose. 

Comfort Food at All Hours

Rehearsal dinners are becoming more casual, and food trucks are still a big element (we see a ton of in-n-out trucks here in Southern California). There is more comfort food being served for the wedding dinner, including beef, fish and basket of fries, which people looooove right after cocktail hour while waiting for the first course. For the after party, couples are bringing in local food from outside vendors, like food trucks, street tacos, hot dogs, grilled cheese and pizza. Speaking of the after party, it has become an entire party to plan on its own. Couples want to keep the night going, and they don't hesitate to turn up the volume on the fun at the after party.

4 Must-Haves for Styling Your Engagement Photos

This is the question I get most often: What should I wear for my photos? These are my top 4 must-haves (and must-dos) for styling your engagement session.

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1. Basic, Not Boring

You want your personality to shine through in photos, of course. But I always recommend avoiding logos or prints that will outshine you in photos. Logos tend to be the first object that the eyes travel to in photos—when they should be looking at your beautiful faces. Pick solid colors or designs that give interest to your photos but don't overwhelm the scene.

2. Bright is Better

Yes, go bright! We all gravitate toward wearing dark colors in photos because they're flattering, but don't underestimate the power of a pop of color in your engagement session. Here in Los Angeles, we're typically visiting beaches, forests and country spots for photos, so wearing bright pinks, reds, oranges and yellows will separate you more from the background and make you stand out against a backdrop of green fields, blue skies and neutral (ok, golden) beaches.

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3. Comfortable Clothes Make a Comfortable Shoot

If anything is obvious in photos, it's an uncomfortable smile. I want you to relax! Hang out, have fun, let your hair down and enjoy the afternoon. (Some couples have been known to bring a flask and take a quick shot pre-photos—but you didn't hear it from me.) And if you're wearing comfy clothes that you feel confident in, then that confidence will show up in your photos and take your look to a whole new level.

4. Try Your Hair and Makeup Team

Ladies... this. Over and over again. You'll have to do hair and makeup trials before your wedding day, and it should definitely be right before your engagement session. You'll get a sneak peek at how you're beauty will look and feel in person and in photos—plus, it will answer some important questions: Will my lipstick rub off during our first kiss? Will my foundation melt in the sun? Will my eyeliner smudge if I start to perspire? These are all must-knows!

How to Throw a Wedding That is True to Your Wild Heart

Start with the dream. 

If you could plan any wedding, no matter the budget, what would it look like? Would it be in the middle of Yosemite surrounded by your closest friends and family? Would it be a five-star hotel in the middle of Los Angeles with three hundred of your closest family and friends?

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Hold on to that vision. Scale your dream to match your budget. And don't let anyone else's opinions about the flowers or the location or the color scheme sway you. 

If you want to throw a wild + fearless wedding, just remember this one thing: That's ok.

You want the name cards to be in the shape of dinos? That's ok.

You want bright orange and neon pink as your color scheme? That's ok.

You don't want the DJ to play YMCA? That's definitely ok. With pretty much everyone.

You want to skip the garter toss? Hey babe, that's totally ok. 

There will be a lot of opinions that fill up your wedding day, but the only ones that matter are yours and your future spouse. Don't feel like you have to stick to tradition or please everyone. Make it your day—one that is full of your unique personality and endless love. To throw a wedding that's rooted in what you really want rather than what everyone else says you're supposed to do? That's pretty wild. And fearless.

Engagement Session at Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks, California

I love this time of year, when weddings are being planned and it's time to photograph engagement sessions. Kaitlyn + Allen have a lot of adventure in store, and I can't wait for their fall wedding!

Call Me Bossy: Holly Gray, Events by Holly Gray

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Tell us a little about yourself and the road that led you to starting your business. Where does your creative fire come from and how do you feed it?

My creative fire came from the spark of always standing out. As a younger person, it meant being the loudest in the room, coordinating when everyone else matched and raising my hand first. As an older person, my desire to stand out comes without effort. In my business, Events by Holly Gray, this translates to choosing rainbow over white, skipping instead of walking and cake instead of salad. The road that led my to who I am today was not a straight one, but it was well-traveled and so worth the wait. 

What was the biggest obstacle to starting your business? What challenges have you faced and how did you conquer them?

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The biggest obstacle for me was continuing to be positive through the ups and downs. I was lucky in that I found clients right off that bat. But, like life,  business comes with highs and lows. In the times when works is scarce, the right clients aren't coming your way or you feel defeated by self-doubt I always find turning to those around you who bring you up, have faith in you and make you laugh till milk comes out your nose is always key! 

What have you loved most about this adventure in being a GirlBoss? What have you loved least Despite the hard parts, how do you keep such a sunny + sweet outlook? Or, on a difficult day, how do you push yourself to keep going?

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Well, as someone who, for most of their adult career worked in a room with a desk, an unforgiving boss and a lack of creative freedom, I love that I make my own life. In that I mean, it is all up to me. I make all the rules, do things that way I want to do them and answer only to myself. It is not always easy though. Juggling all aspects of your life and business is not a walk in the park. It's long hours, many sacrifices and the occasional (depending on the time of the month) crying breakdown fit with a pint of ice cream. The hardest part of being a GirlBoss for me is the lack of security. I am a single women. There is no one else in my life to fall back on financially. I have to make it all work. That is a lot of pressure. BUT, that pressure keeps me motived and very proud of myself at the end of the day when I finally get to hit the pillow at night. 

What do you see in the future for your business, and how will you get there? 

I see growth and moving toward taking on more specific clients and events that fit truly my business model, mentality and aline with my creative vision. Basically, I want to work only with clients who have big personalities, creative minds, a keen sense of humor and who "get it." I want to know that every client/couple I work with is half human/half unicorn. They are out there, and I will find them. 

What the best piece of advice for women who are interested in starting a business? 

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Don't try and do it all for the love of beans! Outsource. outsource, outsource. For me, I am not great with web design and the back end of my website. I have tried and failed. SO, I pay a wonderful women who is great at it (shout out to Parisa of Web Couture) to do it for me. It pays for me to pay someone who is better at it.  I spend less time being frantic about my website which means I can focus on other projects that suite me more. You don't have to be Super Woman to be a great GirlBoss, you just have to think like one! 

What do you wish you had known when you started?

How to be better at math. I know that sounds funny, but it's true. Math and budgeting is such a helpful skill to have when you own your own business. Of course, I've gotten better with it over the years but I still have to take off both shoes to count sometimes...HA! 


Holly Gray Vitals

Website: eventsbyhollygray.com

Instagram: eventsbyhollygray

Facebook: Events by Holly Gray

Pinterest: EBHollyGray


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Engagement Session at Alta Laguna Park

Talk about wild hearts—Jess + Caleb are so sweet in expressing their love for each other, and these quiet trails in Alta Laguna Park were the perfect setting. Their joy catches on, and I can't wait for their upcoming May wedding! 

Wedding Why: Why Do I Need a First Look?

We have a special guest on the blog this week! Wedding Coordinator Karen Betancourt of Karen Marie Events is discussing why brides should do a first look on their wedding day. Yes, it's a very special moment when your groom sees you walking down the aisle in your dress for the first time. But, what if it were just as special, even if you did a first look? I'll let Karen tell you more about how she became a first-look convert:

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One of the questions I ask our brides is if they are doing first look. Only about 50% of them know what it is, so for those that don’t, let me explain: First look is a time, before the wedding ceremony, where your photographer will choose a setting to stage the first time you see each other. Typically, the groom has his back turned as his bride walks up to him from behind. The photographer captures this private moment while he turns around and the bride and groom  have their “first look.”

As a traditionalist, I was not so crazy about the idea when I first heard of it either. Doesn’t the bride want to have the surprise of seeing her husband to be as she is walking down the aisle and vice versa? Isn’t it more for the convenience of the photographer because they can get all of the wedding party photographs finished before the ceremony? As I was soon to find out, this was not necessarily so—and as a result, I became a first-look convert.

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When my own daughter got married, she was totally against first look, having been brought up by me, her very traditional mother. However, at the last minute she changed her mind. I now look back and treasure the decision she made. When I look back at the private moments caught in time—when her groom turned and looked at her in awe for the first time, twirled her, kissed her and cried—those are the most memorable pictures of their wedding day and they make me emotional each and every time I look back at them. At the time, it made both of them very emotional too. Most importantly, it allowed them some private time to be alone and really take in what was happening. They had a chance to relax and breathe before the wedding really began and to cherish the step they were about to take.

The first look created a sense of relaxation for all as well. It allowed the bridal party and all of the parents and close family to take their photos before the wedding so there was no rushing around. This allowed for everyone to spend some together time, laugh and it seemed to take some of the pressure off of everyone. There was even a moment where the flower girl and my grandson, a sign bearer, were sweetly conversing with each other while waiting for their picture. Captured by the photographer, it was one of the sweetest photos of the day!

Taking pictures before the ceremony also allows the bridal party to enjoy the cocktail hour instead of being absent for photos. The bride and groom can be more relaxed during the their portraits after the ceremony and usually catch some of the cocktail hour, too. 

Of course, the question is, "Do the bride and groom lose the surprise of walking down the aisle when they do first look?" I think not. While I feel the first look photos capture the essence of their love, it does not by any means take away from the traditional “walk down the aisle for the first time we see each other” experience either.

As with any bride, when they walk down the aisle, she really doesn’t focus on the groom until the very last steps, so it’s really more of a one-way view for the groom until the bride is near the end. She is more nervous about “the walk,” all the people watching, the need to acknowledge them and of course, not getting too emotional while approaching her groom while arm in arm with her father. But once in her final steps, she still experiences that catch-your-breath emotion as she heads towards her groom to take his hand.

The groom, gazing at her as she walks down the aisle, even though he has already seen her and spent time with her, is still very much surprised, just from a different perspective than the first look. The reality of the ceremony starting and their life together still creates the beautiful, emotional photo opportunities as in any traditional wedding.

Yes, it is more convenient for your photographer, mainly because they are not pressured to get all of the photos done in a short timeframe during cocktail hour. This allows them the opportunity to take even more shots and also to have more creativity in their work. The end result is a broader portfolio of pictures for your selection.

I think first look is definitely a combination of the best of both worlds and rather than detracting, it just adds another element of intimacy a bride and groom would not otherwise have.

I couldn't have said it better! Ask Karen for more bridal Qs at karenmarieevents@gmail.com, and you can contact me at daybreakduskphoto@gmail.com

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Wedding at The Langham Huntington Pasadena

I love intimate weddings, and this one was extra special since it was set against the grand backdrop of the Langham Huntington Pasadena. Eddie and Dan Dan were so wonderful and welcoming and had a beautiful wedding day! Planning: The Yes Story // Florals: InFlower // Venue: The Langham

Call Me Bossy: Kirsten Paige, Wedding Dress Designer

Tell us a little about yourself and the road that led you to starting your business. Where does your creative fire come from and how do you feed it?

A little bit about myself… I’m a 25 year old, non-traditional bridal dress designer based in Southern California. I'm a lover of lipstick, cake and of course my Midwest roots. I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated from the University of Missouri–Columbia, receiving a degree in Textile and Apparel Management with a business minor.  My company, Kirsten Paige, was founded on July 4, 2014, after one of the most influential conversations with my father. I will never forget, moments before my biggest interview (mind you this interview was with one of the largest bridal brands in NYC), my dad asked me, “Why would you want to design for someone else when you can design for yourself?” That one sentence carried with me throughout the entire interview. After that interview I knew the moment walking out the door I was meant to created Kirsten Paige. What can I say, my family is made of entrepreneurs. 

My creative fire comes from various things such as movies, architecture, or things I’d love to wear but haven’t seen in the industry. When I get together with other creatives it fuels me to strive to create something new and fresh for myself however, sometimes I get into slumps—which is totally okay. What I do is take a step back and focus on other tasks. It’s like writers block, but for design, and when I least expect it I create my favorite gown when I don’t overthink.

What was the biggest obstacle to starting your business? What challenges have you faced and how did you conquer them?

The biggest obstacle to staring my business what where the world to start?! For example where to find my fabric suppliers? How much fabric to order? How to file legal documents? What documents do I even have to fill out? How do I create a website? And the list went on. A few valuable things I’ve learned to conquer these challenges is becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. What I mean by that is push yourself out of your comfort zone. Everyone constantly learns something new and it is never silly to ask for help. Something I recently faced was filing legal paperwork for my business to continue selling and manufacturing when I moved to California from Missouri. Mind you I knew nothing about this topic until I did my research and called the California Board of Equalization. I called a million times until I finally completed all the paperwork requirements and here I am. I felt silly not knowing all the information but I became comfortable with being uncomfortable, and now calling them is no problem!

What have you loved most about this adventure in being an girlboss? What Have you loved least (and despite the hard parts, how do you keep such a bright outlook? Or, on a difficult day, how do you push yourself to keep going?)

What I’ve loved most about this adventure of being a girl boss is how far I can push my limits and the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment after achieving what I think is the impossible. Of course there are always highs and lows however, when I bite off more than I can chew I just have to take a step back and look the big picture. Sometimes I think, "why do I do this to myself? Why do I care so much? What is the point?" But then, when I see a bride truly happy and overjoyed about finding her perfect dress, every stress or low point vanishes. Luckily, I also have a HUGE support system!    

What do you see in the future for your business?

What I see for my company in the future is that we would be in boutiques all over the country as well as expanding into evening wear and bridesmaid gowns. Then eventually owning various boutiques strictly carrying Kirsten Paige. To achieve these goals, I set a 5 and a 10-year plan, all the while keeping in mind that life happens and everything doesn’t always happen to plan. However, I’m hoping the direction of the company will expand rather quickly into boutiques within the year. Our brand awareness will rise as well as profits, expanding the company with more employees allowing me more time to allocate to design and branch into evening and bridesmaid markets. 

What the best piece of advice for women who are interested in starting a business? What do you wish you had known when you started?

The best piece of advice for women who are interested in starting a business is SHOOT FOR THE STARS! Seriously….super cheesy right?! But it is so true! Find those people who inspire you and push you to strive for your largest dream. That is what my family always reminded me. You can do anything you want, you just have to put your mind to it and put the work forth. Nothing happens overnight, but slowly results will show!

What I wish I had knew when I started was that no one ever has everything together. The best of the best in my industry always faces new challenges. Looking back I needed the challenges that I hated most to be where I am today. Without facing those difficult struggles I wouldn’t be able to overcome my new challenges that come forward. There will always be something new that you didn’t expect to face, but you just have to push forward and then laugh about it afterward!


Kirsten Paige Vitals

Website: www.kirstenpaige.com

Instagram: @kirstenpaige

Facebook: FB.com/kirstenpaigebridal

Pinterest: pinterest.com/kirstenpaige


Engagement Session at Mt. Baldy

I love engagement season! Engagement session are always fun and laid-back, with lots of laughs and a little goofing off (and if there's snow in the mountains like our trip to Mt. Baldy, maybe a little shoe-skiing). Molly + Kris' wedding at The York Manor, planned by Event Science, is just a few months away—I can't wait to work with this amazing creative team!

Engagement Session at El Dorado Park in Long Beach, California

Engagements sessions are so important for many reasons (besides being picked up and twirled around by your future husband): I love meeting my couples in person and learning what makes them come alive in front of my camera. So when your wedding day comes around, I already know how to make you laugh! Though it's usually my couples who make each other laugh, just like Ashley + Shane. We traveled down to Long Beach for their engagement session, and it was such a sweet afternoon!

Tea for Two at Luxe Linen by Events by Holly Gray

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What a fun collaboration! Holly of Events by Holly Gray put together this lovely tablescape, on display at Luxe Linen in Beverly Hill through February. Stop by and check it out! Linens: Luxe Linen // Design + Planning: Events by Holly Gray // Papergoods: GoGoSnap Vintage Stationary // Vintage Rentals: DIY LA Bride // Pastries: Mwokaji Cakery // Photography: Daybreak + Dusk