My Experience at the 2019 Event Nation Bridal Expo

Another year has gone by and I’ve finished another bridal show. I’ve been doing bridal shows off and on (mainly on) for the past 8 years. Over the past 5 years, I’ve mainly been focusing on the Event Nation Bridal Expo. There are others in Fayetteville, but I like this one the best. I already talked about why brides should go to a bridal show, so today, I’m going to share my experience at the 2019 Event Nation Bridal Expo.

My Experience at the 2019 Event Nation Bridal Expo

Not all bridal shows are the same. They can actually be quite different. It really depends on the location, what they offer, and the people running it.

2019 Event Nation Bridal Expo

My normal setup. This was from a few years ago.

For the longest time, this show has been in Rogers at the John Q. Hammons center, but this year it was at the Fayetteville Town Center. There are positive and negative things about each. John Q. Hammons is extremely large, has lots of parking, and good lighting, but it is in Rogers and the loading area isn’t covered. There have been several times it rained, and we had to run through it.

The Town Center has a parking garage, so we didn’t have to worry about the weather. The only issue with that was that there was a long wait at the elevators. Another big, big plus is that the Town Center let us set up on the day before the show, and John Q. didn’t. The one small issue I had with this show was the lighting. For some reason it was really dark, so you couldn’t really see my booth or my photos. They had to keep the blinds down on the windows so some booths wouldn’t get blinded, but I didn’t really understand why they couldn’t turn on more lights. Next time, I’ll just bring my own lights.

The Event Nation Bridal Expo does offer some nice extras. They do a grand prize giveaway to draw in a crowd, and any vendor could add something to it. It’s a good way to get your name in front of everyone. They also allow you to put info in the bags for a small fee. The most useful extra is they give you contact information for the couples before the show (those that pre-register) and those that show up.

The last thing that makes this show work is the people. I’ve had a really good experience with the people that run it. They are always visible and extremely helpful. Other shows don’t have enough workers or aren’t quick to respond and help.

The numbers seemed a bit down this year at the 2019 Event Nation Bridal Expo, but that might have been due to the snow. Still, I had several good conversations, and as long as I book one couple, I’m happy. It’s only been a few days, so hopefully I’ll hear from a few brides in the next couple of days. Anyway, I enjoy this show, and it has been helpful in the past. I plan on attending more in the future.

Wedding at the Garden Room: Matt & Annie

At this point in my life, it is very rare that any of my friends get married. I’m 35 so most of them got married a long time ago. I love my couples and enjoy getting to know them, but it’s just not the same as being there for someone I’ve known for a long time. The last wedding of a friend was probably 3 years ago, so I was so happy to get to be there for Annie and Matt’s wedding at the Garden Room.

Annie and Matt’s wedding at the Garden Room

I’ve mentioned this before in their engagement session, but it’s worth saying again. I’ve known these two since junior high, and they have been together that long!!! That’s like 19 years. Anyway, I’m so happy for these two, and I’m glad I could be there to capture it all.

pumpkin wedding decorationssigned guitar for wedding

Matt and Annie weren’t looking to have the biggest wedding ever. It was more about the people there and the relationships, but it was still beautiful. The Garden Room was decorated with all these cool pumpkins and Matt had a special guitar for people to sign.

outside wedding at the Garden Roomwide shot of outside Garden Roomgroom getting hit in face with rice

Outside at the Garden Room doesn’t really need much decoration. It’s pretty the way it is. Annie did something interesting that I’d never seen. She had the chairs setup toward the bridge instead of the stage. This let them walk from the inside versus the back walkway.

wedding party celebrating

There were so many fun things in the short time I was there. On each chair there was a little paper cone with lavender. The plan was to throw it as they exited the ceremony. Well, most people forgot, but the last ones didn’t and really nailed Matt in the face. It was glorious.

bride looking over shouldercouple portrait at the Garden Roomwedding portrait with beautiful leaves

The best part of the day for me was the people. It was great getting to see Matt and Annie, but I also all of his groomsmen were my buddies. After a few hours of photographing, I got to put my stuff away and hang out and talk to them. Some of these guys I hadn’t seen in 3 years, so it really was special.

father daughter dance at Garden Roomhug at end of father daughter dance

All weddings are special, but Annie and Matt’s wedding at the Garden Room meant even more to me. I’ve known these two for a long time and they’ve been together for as long. It made me so happy to see them get married and to hang out with my old friends.

Kourtny’s bridal session at the Ravington

Yay! I can share Kourtny’s bridal session now! That’s always the hardest part about bridal sessions…the waiting! Well, the wait is over, so I’m excited to show off Kourtny’s bridal session at the Ravington.

Kourtny’s bridal session at the Ravington

Kourtney is awesome! You might remember her from her engagement session back about 6 months ago. Both Kourtny and Chris were in Mayflower when I was teaching and coaching there. I had Chris in football, but I didn’t really know Kourtny, just her brother. Anyway, it’s been so much fun seeing these two all grown up and being part of their wedding.

window of bridal suite at the Ravingtonwhite bridal suitebridal portrait in a mirror

The Ravington is always beautiful, so I knew we’d have a great time. A lot of wedding dresses have tons of bling and ruffles, but Kourtny’s dress was very simple and smooth. I think it worked perfect for her and her personality.

bridal shot on stairs of Ravington

 

As always, there were a few difficulties we had to overcome. The first one was her necklace. It had somehow got twisted and tied in a knot. My hands were way to big to try to fix it. Luckily, Kourtny brought a friend to take care of it. Next, it was a bit wet outside, so we tried to do most things inside first.

front door of the Ravingtonsilhouette bridal portrait in doorwaybridal portrait in the Ravington courtyard

We worked in the bridal suite, the entrance, and in front of the large green doors. We even went upstairs and did some fun shots in the guys’ area. They’ve got this cool raven portrait and all these leather chairs. It’s a great place for the guys.

groom's room at the Ravington

After all of that, we went outside. I just love the courtyard at the Ravington. It’s got all this stone work and lights. It’s really amazing at night! We also used the giant ivy wall behind the building.

wide shot of brick at the Ravingtonbridal portrait with bricks and ivy

Kourtny’s bridal session at the Ravington was relatively quick. I think we were there maybe an hour and a half. It always amazes me at what you can get done if you have an awesome client, someone to help, and really move. I loved this whole session, and I can’t wait to share her wedding day as well.

Open House at The Barn at the Springs

Sometimes I spend a lot of time by myself running my business. It’s not like other businesses that have 10 or 10,000 employees; it’s just me. I email, edit, market, and do everything by myself. This isn’t really a horrible thing, but I do really enjoy working with other wedding vendors on the big day. I get to work with the wedding coordinator, DJ, and venue to make sure things go smoothly. I get to see the beautiful cake and flowers that the florist and baker made. It really all is a collaboration to make a wedding work. A few Sundays ago, I was lucky to get to be part of the Open House at The Barn at the Springs. It was a fun event where five vendors (photographer, florist, venue, caterer, and bartender) got to create a mini wedding experience for about 70 brides.

Open House at The Barn at the Springs

 

The venue was decorated by Bloom flowers. There were two ceremony sites set up plus several tables for a reception. This gave the brides a chance to see what the Barn at the Springs would look like and also just get some general idea for flower arrangements.

The Event Group brought snacks for people. I didn’t get to really see the food or try it, but what I did see was the service. The Event Group does more than just prepare food; they provide service. They bring people to take care of things and make the day go by smoother.

Koon’s Saloon Mobile Bar Service was set up next to me, and they were keeping everyone happy and refreshed. They brought an assortment of beer and whine, and they were also making a signature drink. A lot of the times, couples will just hire a random person to be their bartender. With Koon’s Saloon Mobile Bar Service, you get the delicious drinks, but he also has a really fun, outgoing personality to go with it.

For my area, I had a few albums out and was showing off some of our wedding videos. I was also trying to take photos of couples and print them off. Looking back at it, I think I was trying to do too much. I should have just focused on talking to people and giving them advice. Still, I had a great time!

This was my first ever open house to be part of. I’m so glad The Barn at the Springs asked me to be part of it. I love their venue and above everything else, they are super kind people. If you’re looking for any of your wedding vendors still, please check out the wonderful ones above.

5 Reasons to Go to a Bridal Show

It is definitely engagement season! The majority of engagements happen between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and I’ve been talking to a lot of couples. Last week, I was at the Barn at the Springs open house, and there were about 100 brides there. One week from today, I will be at the Event Nation Bridal Expo at the Fayetteville Town Center. These type of events are great opportunities for brides. Not all brides attend these events, so I thought I’d share 5 Reasons to go to a bridal show.

5 Reasons to Go to a Bridal Show

1. Win Prizes

Throughout the years, my father has been in a lot of trade shows. Every time I’d go, I would walk around and fill out forms and try to win prizes. A few years ago, I won a drill set, and I know my grandmother won a TV once.

5 Reasons to Go to a Bridal Show

It is very common for wedding vendors to give out prizes at a bridal show. It can be something small or something extremely valuable. I’ve given away engagement sessions, photo booths, and even full wedding coverage once. I will be giving away something again this year, so come to my booth and see what you can win!

2. Get Ideas

There are so many different options for decorating and planning a wedding, and brides can look at all the magazines and websites, but that doesn’t mean they are seeing everything. There are still other ideas out there.

kids table at wedding reception

Most wedding vendors will decorate their booths with photos or other examples of their work. If you just walk around and look at each booth, you’ll probably see something you’ve never considered.

I know with me, plenty of brides have looked at my photos and been surprised. I do things a bit differently. Most brides are use to seeing all the photos in natural light, but I love doing things in the dark and using a flash.

3. Meet Vendors

If you were buying a car, would you make you decision based only on the exterior? I sure hope not! You’d want to know all of the features and go for a test drive. The same is true for the wedding world. You need to meet the vendors in person.

Bryan Striegler Bio image

There is more to a vendor than just the product. You wouldn’t hire a baker if he or she was a jerk, no matter how good the cakes are. I think that’s extremely important. The way people make you feel will affect your overall perception of something. Again, if the baker was mean, when you eat that cake and when you look at photos of the cake, you will remember how you felt.

A bridal show is a great chance to get to meet vendors face to face. You can talk to them, ask them questions, and get a chance to see their personalities. My favorite thing about bridal shows is getting to talk to couples and meet new people.

4. Have fun

Everything about weddings should fun, and that includes going to bridal shows. Each bridal show will be a little bit different on what’s happening, but I think there are some things that happen at every event.

Every bridal show I’ve been to has free food drinks. This will usually include cake and food from vendors and occasionally alcoholic drinks. I like food, so it’s always enjoyable to try it all out.

funny group photo at the back of the chapel ruinsMost shows will have some kind of entertainment. This could be a fashion show or some kind of participation activity. I’ve seen DJs teaching dances and several different types of competitions.

If you really want to have fun, bring your friends. Weddings are about your closest family and friends, so bring some of them with you to the bridal show. This will give you someone to talk to and make you feel more comfortable.

5. Not Expensive

Everyone knows how expensive weddings can be, but bridal shows really aren’t that expensive. In general, they cost somewhere between $5-$25 to get in. It really varies from event to event and place to place. There are some that are also free or vendors have a certain number of tickets to give out.

In the end, I think it is definitely worth it to go to a bridal show. Even if you’re spending $25 per person, the chance to win prizes, get ideas and information from vendors, and have fun is worth so much more.

Conclusion

I highly suggest newly engaged couples go to a bridal show. It will only take up a few hours of your time and a few dollars, but you’ll get so much back in return. I hope these 5 reasons to go to a bridal show convinced you to come see me on Sunday. I’m really looking forward to it. Come out and say hi!

 

Northwest Arkansas Wedding Venue Guide

When I look back at my wedding, there are so many things that I wish I could change. I think part of the problem was that I was young and didn’t really care about weddings at that time. I just was going along for the ride. It also didn’t help that we didn’t have a ton of money, but still there were things we could have done with our budget. A big part of the problem is we just didn’t know what we were doing. That’s why I do my best to educate and help as many couples as possible, and I just finished something big. It took me a few months to do it, but I finished my Northwest Arkansas Wedding Venue Guide.

Northwest Arkansas Wedding Venue Guide

There are tons of great wedding venues in Northwest Arkansas and new ones are opening up every year. It can be extremely confusing and difficult work to find the right one. You have to look at prices, location, capacity, rules, and of course, the way it looks. After looking and searching though them all, your head will probably be spinning with all the details.

Northwest Arkansas Wedding Venue Guide

That’s why I created this wedding venue guide. I’ve gathered all the basic information you need to know, added some photos, and organized it all into one place. With the guide, you can quickly scroll through the different venues and compare one to another.

I do have to give you just a heads up. I don’t have every single venue listed that’s in Northwest Arkansas. I tried to focus on the ones that I personally had worked at and had some first hand experience. Just because a venue isn’t listed does not mean it isn’t amazing. The wedding venue guide also isn’t made to be your one stop shop for a venue. The guide is more of a starting point. Do more research. Look at their sites and reviews. Go visit the place.

If you’re interested in downloading our Northwest Arkansas wedding venue guide, simply follow this link and fill in your information. I hope it is extremely helpful, and please let me know if you have questions about a venue or any other help with anything else. Happy planning!

Intimate Wedding at St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable: Keith and Marie

This past year I’ve had some really big weddings. There have been some where every seat was taken and the dance floor was packed all night. These weddings are usually very extravagant, last for hours, and cost a lot of money. Occasionally, though, I get to do something a bit different like for Keith and Marie’s Intimate Wedding at St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable.

Intimate Wedding at St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable

st. catherine's at bell gable for elopements

Keith and Marie weren’t looking to have a gigantic wedding. They invited their close family and friends and did have some food and cake, but this was a short wedding. I think I was there about two hours. The focus was more on what really matters and that was them getting married.

bride with father before wedding ceremonysmall wedding ceremony at st. catherine's at bell gable

Everything took place at St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable, and it was wonderful. St. Catherine’s has several options, but it is usually for smaller, quicker weddings. It’s the perfect place for an elopement or people that don’t want all the fuss, but it is also extremely beautiful and can work for bigger weddings.

wedding rings in flowerswedding cake with flowers on topIntimate Wedding at St. Catherine's at Bell Gable

The ceremony was inside the stone chapel, and then the reception was down near the creek. The ceremony was maybe 30 minutes, so the majority of the time was left for chatting and eating. I did get a chance to do a few portraits with Keith and Marie. My favorite was of them sitting on a bench with the chapel in the background. It was a bit difficult to pull off. They were in the shade, so I needed to use a flash on them, but there was a hill right in front of them. Eventually, I was able to move things around to get the flash to stay.

small wedding ceremonywedding couple in front of St. Catherine's at Bell Gable

Keith and Marie was so easy to work with through the whole process. Like I said earlier, their focus seemed to be more on their marriage than all the other things. They just smiled and went along with it all, and that was really nice.

I don’t do a lot of short, intimate weddings, but it was a nice change. I still got to know the couple and I had enough time to capture some fun photos. Keith and Marie proved that your wedding doesn’t have to be huge to be a big success.

My puppy!
My puppy!

Having Pets at a Wedding

My last year of college, I worked at a doggy daycare in Fayetteville. It was one of my favorite jobs. I love dogs, so it was awesome to get to play with all types of dogs and get paid for it. I still love dogs and all types of creatures (reptiles, guinea pigs, ferrets). Currently, I have a 60ish pound Bernese Mountain dog puppy.  I always love talking to my couples about their furry friends, and sometimes they are wanting to incorporate them into the wedding. Here’s my thoughts on pets at a wedding.

Having Pets at a Wedding

The first thing to consider is the pet’s behavior. Is your dog well behaved or does he or she go nuts? Will you be able to control him or her or will it be more of a pain than it’s worth? This doesn’t mean you can’t have your pet involved in your wedding, but it might limit things. It might limit where the pet can be, what it can do, and how long it’s around. For example, most pets need to go home before the reception. A few weeks ago I did have a dog that was at the reception, but that’s rare.

Bernese mountain dog driving a truck

My puppy!

So, what all can you do with pets at a wedding? The most common thing I’ve seen is the pet being involved in the engagement shoot. Engagement shoots are relatively short, so you don’t have to worry about the pet being behaved for a long period of time. It’s also not as formal, so if something goes wrong, it’s not a big deal. You can also bring a long a helper, and it’s not like they are missing something important like on the wedding day.

engagement photo dog wearing sign

Besides the engagement session, I’ve also seen pets help out with the ceremony. The most common is walking down the aisle or bringing the rings. Again, your pet needs to be well behaved to pull this off. You could tie a pillow to them or put something on their collar. I wouldn’t actually put the ring on the pet, though. That’s kind of scary. I’ve also seen someone carry the pet down the aisle (if the pet is small enough).

dog in wedding ceremony

Make your proposal unique to who you two are

I’m sure there are other things you can do with your pet at your wedding. The pet could dance with everyone at the reception. Maybe the pet could do the exit with you. Be creative and see what you can come up with.

One other thing to look into before you plan all of these fun things. Talk to your venue about their rules. Some are going to be very strict while others won’t care. It’s better to figure this out way in advance before you get our heart set on something.

Pets at a wedding

I love all types of pets, and it’s always fun for me when I get to meet new animals. Did any of you have pets at your wedding? I’d love to hear what you did and how that turned out.

Picking an Interesting Wedding Date: Stacey and Scot

Weddings photographers have an interesting work schedule. Most people work Monday through Friday, but the majority of my work is normally done on the weekends. Stacey and Scot’s wedding was a nice change because they picked an interesting wedding date. It was on a Wednesday!

Picking an Interesting Wedding Date: Stacey and Scot

I’ve talked about picking a wedding date before, and a lot of people will choose a date based off of interesting numbers or something special. It might be something like 12/12/12 or 2/4/6.

groom at st. anthony'sgroomsmen picking up groom

With Stacey and Scot, it was something extremely special and interesting. I don’t know at what point they figured this out, but their parents’ got married on the same date. What are the chances of that? They decided to choose that date as well, and it happened to fall in the middle of the week.

The wedding was at St. Anthony’s on the Creek, and everything was beautiful there as always. Most Joyful Day did a great job making sure everything was in place and things went smoothly. 

One of the highlights of the day was the first look on the really cool looking bridge. Scot was was emotional, but what stuck out the most to me was that they stopped and prayed together. That really shows what is important to the two of them. Another extremely interesting part of the day was a little surprise Scot put together at the reception. Stacey is a big Elvis fan, so Scot got the officiant to sing “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Friday and Sunday weddings are becoming more popular, but it is pretty rare to have a Wednesday wedding, and I loved being there for Stacey and Scot’s wedding day. It is a date that was special to both of them, and now they can now remember their wedding day as well as their parents’ weddings all on the same day. If you have a special connection to your wedding date, I’d love to hear the story.

 

2018 Arkansas Wedding Wrap Up

I can’t believe it’s 2019. That fact hasn’t really sunk in yet, but when I look at my calendar, there it is. I’m sure other people feel the same way, and it seems like this happens every year. The year goes by so quickly. I think it’s partially because of my job. I book people 7-12 months before their wedding, so I’m always looking ahead and not as much on the present. Anyway, 2018 was an amazing year, and I thought I’d share a 2018 Arkansas wedding wrap up.

2018 Arkansas Wedding Wrap Up

2018 Arkansas Wedding couples

One of my favorite things about being a wedding photographer is meeting all types of different people. The world is an interesting and diverse place, and I always love learning about my couples. This year, I had several teachers, people in the medical field, a few cowboys, and people in the service world. I even had a police officer, so that could be helpful.

2018 Wedding Memories

Each wedding is truly unique. Brides plan all types of interesting things, and then there are some things that are completely unexpected. These memories are what really make me laugh and have a good time on the wedding day.

cowboys jumping and dancing at wedding

I had a lot of fun in 2018, but I can’t share every single memory, but I will share some of the more interesting ones. I had two over the top exits within a day of each other. Kourtny and Chris had a snowstorm of confetti and Bianca and Tacker had some sparklers that created a ridiculous amount of smoke. In both cases, it was hard to see but still made for a good time. There was  plenty of intense dancing. We had a cowboy dance competition from the movie 8 Seconds during Ethan’s wedding, and Jonathan taught everyone a new dance (the wedding party also had some crazy moves). I also got to watch two old friends get married after being together for 19 years.

swings at Wilson Park

Changes in 2019

I’m always looking for ways to improve and give my couples a better experience. One of my big goals for 2019 is making things faster: communication, smoother wedding day schedules, and delivering the final products. I run this whole thing by myself, so it can be overwhelming at times. I’m looking into automating some of the things that I do on a regular basis and possibly getting some help with editing.

2018 Arkansas Wedding Wrap Up

You Guys Rock!

Thanks to everyone that let me be a part of their wedding in 2018. It means so much to me that people choose me to photograph their wedding, and that this is my job. I’m really looking forward to 2019. I’ve got several weddings coming up in the next few months and plenty more for the rest of the year. If you know someone that recently got engaged, I’d really appreciate you passing my information along to them. Have a great year everyone!