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How to

How to Plan an Elopement Wedding

You need an elopement checklist. Here’s the thing with elopements – people usually elope and get married quick(ly)(er) specifically because they don’t want to deal with actually planning a WEDDING. So when you ‘plan’ your elopement – you generally want things to be as simple as possible.

Wait. No. You want things to be SIMPLER THAN POSSIBLE. (At least that sounds cool right?…)

elopement checklist and planning

How to Plan an Elopement Wedding (with an elopement checklist)

Okay! So you don’t really want to PLAN plan your elopement – but you want a few things to actually happen and generally not have it be some kind of sh*tshow right? Yes. Right. Probably. I hope so.

SO first – what do you need for your elopement?

  • Rings! – it’s nice to still exchange wedding bands/rings – so have some and bring them to your ceremony
  • Vows – even if you’ve chosen a super simple courthouse wedding, it’s nice to be able to say a few words of your own to the person you’re promising all your love.
  • Photographer – Amazing photographers are super easy to find now – and there are millions of them. Literally, millions. And TBH you can always find one that will work with your budget and still do a great job. Especially if you’re eloping on a weekday. Seriously – email your favorite wedding photographer and see if they’d be interested in photographing your ceremony, some family formals, and a short portrait session of the two of you – and they’ll give you their fee – which should be considerably less than their full day wedding package. (So you’l want to ask for 3 hours of coverage tops, and during a weekday.)
  • Hair & Makeup – hey you still want to look GREAT
  • Outfit! – See above – you still want to look GREAT – and your photographer will appreciate it!
  • Travel Plans – now that you’re saving a ton by not paying to feed and entertain 150 people – you can spend that money on a great TRIP. So get that wedding ceremony out of the way and plan a great honeymoon – or just get married ON that trip.
  • Flowers! If you want flowers – just go buy flowers. Seriously. I know you were already going to do that anyway. Grocery store or actual florist shop – just go buy a bundle of flowers you like, wrap the stems in some ribbon and pins and DONE. (but don’t tell any florists I said this.)
  • A plan to party with everyone later… – oh yeah – so tell people that you’re eloping right now but you plan on having a BIG actual party with everyone later. That’ll make most people feel better (because you know, what they think about YOUR wedding is Soooooooo important…) and then you’re actually off the hook for the most part. I mean… you don’t actually need to have that big party 6 months down the line. You’ll have been married for 6+ months at that point and you’ll have other things to spend money on/do than feeding and getting 150 people drunk. Or not. Whatevs. It’s cool.

elopement checklist and planning

And there you go! A perfectly sensible elopement checklist. How to plan-ish your elopement! Done. Now go do everything else.

Need help with your wedding schedule timeline? Try this.

Want more help? Try our friends at APW.

Or contact us for your wedding.


The Number One Tip to Personalizing Your Wedding

Atlanta Wedding Photographer, Monday Night Brewing, LeahAndMark & Co.

We Make Amazing Wedding Photos for You

I know. If you’re reading this then you probably know how I write and I probably know that some of you just wanna say F*ck all the wedding decorations! No one remembers the chairs/ the flowers/ the centerpieces! I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about everything else and that.

When you start thinking about what it means to personalize your wedding – most people think about how they’re going to decorate their reception. Or make their wedding cake special and specific to them. Or what colors they should use. Or the food. Going down the list of things and seeing how they can make it more “personal”. Whatever that means.

Atlanta New Year's Eve Wedding | NYE 2017 | Wimbish House

What does it mean to personalize your wedding? Does it mean going through a catalog of things, or collection of Pinterest boards and finding the items that could mean something about the two of you? Finding the items that somehow randomly relate to what you and your partner are?

You really want to personalize your wedding? Tell your story. Share your story with all of your guests.

That’s where you begin. That’s the core of how you go about personalizing your wedding. You can pick things, colors, and decorations you like – but you should also find different ways to show your guests aspects of your relationship with each other. Your history together. Meaningful items that show where you come from, or tell how you came together – and that show your lives and adventures together up to this point. Your wedding isn’t just a celebration of this one ceremony, or day. It’s a celebration of the time you’ve spent together, the time you will spend together – and your love.

This might require some extra work that you hadn’t thought about (I’m sorry – but it’s true). You may have to sit down together and actually write out the story of YOU (you both) and go over your history together. Right from when you met, to when you broke up that first time (or 2nd, or 3rd time) to when you supported each other through the really difficult moments. And all of your successes along the way that led you to this point. Let’s be clear – beyond all the cheese and annoying wedding industry marketing – you’re making history. Your wedding is a historical moment in your lives.

No matter how cynical I might be at times – I realize how special weddings are – and I’m reminded of their importance during every. single. ceremony. Getting married is an amazing thing – the culmination of a relationship up to this point in life – and at the same time just a marker on the way to greater things. Another event to add to the story of you two.

How do you personalize your wedding? Find ways to share your story with your guests.

(and make sure your photographer takes photos of EVERYTHING.)


THE MOST ULTIMATE Wedding Planning Calendar Schedule and Timeline

If you’ve never cracked open a wedding planning book or guide – most of them are geared around a planning time frame of 1 year. For example – what should you be doing 12 months away from your wedding day? What about 9 months? Or 6 months? Or 2 months? Yeah. Stuff like that. But really – it’s like this. You start out thinking – great – a whole year. PLENTY OF TIME. Plenty. So much time I’m just going to throw away half of it and do nothing. And then all of a sudden 2 months away from your wedding you’re freaking out, vomiting tulle and champagne and wishing that you had at least glanced at what you were ‘supposed’ to be doing over the past 8 months. You can avoid all of that vomit. Well – at least some of it.

SO. Lets get to it right?

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Sample Wedding Planning Timeline – ONE YEAR

12+ Months

  • It’s all fun at this point – one of the first things you should do (if you haven’t already) – is start day dreaming (envisioning) what your wedding could look like. Simple things – think in broad strokes and ideas. Outside? In a church? 
  • Get your budget numbers sorted out.
  • Book your venues. All that envisioning and day dreaming you did up above? Start hunting down the reality version of those things. Find that perfect farm barn. Or that perfect industrial warehouse. Or that perfect… whatever…
  • Hire the wedding vendors (pros) that you MUST HAVE. Like if you need an amazing, ridiculously good and silly wedding photographer – hire them. ASAP. If you want a specific band to play your reception – book them NOW. YES – you can always find wedding vendors for your wedding – but if they’re GREAT – they might get booked by other people first.
  • Start searching for your wedding dress/wedding suit/wedding outfit

Atlanta; Macon; Georgia; Wedding; Timeline; Schedule; Photographer; LeahAndMark & Co.

9-11 Months

  • Order your save the dates (you can go through a designer and have them personally, custom made or you can order them thru templates online. 
  • Propose to your wedding party – I know – WTF “propose”. Basically – ask people if they would be in your wedding party. Sometimes it’s an honor, sometimes it’s a big fucken hassle. Whether it’s an honor or a hassle is largely dependent on you.
  • Create a wedding website. Because it’s 2017 and even hamsters celebrating their birthday have websites.
  • Book your photographer, florists, musicians, and any other vendors for your wedding.
  • Did I mention that you should book your photographer?
  • Order your wedding dress (or suit) and schedule fittings
  • Choose your bridesmaids dresses/bridesmaids suits – and get the groomsmen/persons suits in line as well (make sure people order them!)
  • Start registering (that means you’re supposed to go to 2 stores and ‘register’ – make a list of things people can buy for you as gifts for your wedding! – and totally put everything on there.)

6-8 Months

  • Plan out your ceremony – talk with your officiant and of course your partner – and plan out what all will go on during your ceremony.
  • Book your honeymoon trip! (cause that part is AWESOME)
  • Send those save-the-dates out to people!
  • Order your invitations and then also your thank-you notes
  • Find and hire a day-of coordinator for your wedding (or a wedding planner if you’ve gotten this far and you’re going CRAZY)
  • Schedule beauty trials (hair and makeup) – guys too if you want. 
  • Start planning out your rehearsal dinner. Where and who and when.

Atlanta; Macon; Georgia; Wedding; Timeline; Schedule; Photographer; LeahAndMark & Co.

4-5 Months

  • Confirm and/or finalize your floral design with your florist
  • Send out your wedding invitations
  • Go through all of your wedding contracts and refresh yourself on what you’ve hired people to do 
  • Complete and confirm your wedding cake or dessert order
  • Buy your wedding rings 
  • Setup and plan your transportation for your wedding day (often overlooked)

Example Wedding Planning Schedule and Timeline 


  • Look up and Find out what the process is to acquire a local marriage license – local to the city/state/country where you will be getting married
  • Finalize your ceremony (what is actually happening during your ceremony) with your officiant


  • This is when you mail your wedding invitations! (usually 6-8 weeks away). 
  • You’ll want to send out invites much earlier if you’re having a destination wedding or at least letting people that live FARRR away a bit more time to do some travel planning
  • Work on your wedding vows – write them – copy them – steal them – whatever. Work on them.
  • You’ll be having your first dress fitting around this time (oh and apparently you’re supposed to bring undergarments and shoes)
  • Get your reception food menu finalized with your caterer
  • Create a timeline for your wedding weekend (or at least the day before, and the DAY OF) – and then give/share that with your wedding party and other vendors (this is where having a planner can make EVERYTHING easier)

Atlanta; Macon; Georgia; Wedding; Timeline; Schedule; Photographer; LeahAndMark & Co.


  • If you have MUST-HAVE photos – make a list and send that over to your photographer (we actually have people do this at the two month mark – but we’re open to all suggestions from our couples at any times. Suggestions from uncles, cousins, and other people at your wedding?… we’ll humor them… and then tell them to go to the bar…)


  • You should have a FINAL HEADCOUNT of guests – share that number with your caterer and planner
  • Complete and finish your dinner seating chart 
  • Go to your last dress fitting (YES!)
  • Designate specific people for specific task – give them JOBS. Because that’s what friends and family are for right?
  • Make sure all of your beauty appointments and planning is… planned and scheduled.

2-3 DAYS (WUT)

  • Steam your dress(es) and/or suit(s)!
  • Tell your Planner that they’re doing an amazing job
  • Tell your Photographer that they’re talented and amazing people (they’re artists so you know they have self esteem issues)

1 Day BEFORE! 

  • Give the marriage license to your officiant (or put someone else in charge of that – seriously)
  • Rehearse your ceremony with all the participants
  • Have dinner with your family and close friends!
  • Try to get some sleep okay?! YEssssssssssss. 

See? That’s all there is to it. One year OF YOUR LIFE. 

Also – Thanks.



Mark Tioxon


How to have a completely stress free wedding

Weddings are bonkers. I’m not sure they were always this way – but today – they’re often just flat out crazy bonkers full of bonker balls and more bonker bonkers. (Say bonkers again! I dare you!)

SO. You want to have a stress-free wedding. Is that possible? I mean yes – of course it’s possible. But how do you do that? I googled it. And many of the tips consists of basically doing as much planning up front as possible. And/or paying someone else to take on the stress so you don’t have to stress – which means that you hired a great wedding planner to do everything for you. 

How to have a Stress-Free Wedding

That’s just transferring the stress. Unless you don’t have to stress out about money. Many of us do. We’re not supposed to because ‘money isn’t real’ – but it’s real enough to our tiny brains that it might as well be real. (I’ve been listening to too much Alan Watts lately so bear with me.)

Oh yeah. Back to it. How do you have a completely stress free wedding? IDK. Be dead. That’s about the only way to be completely stress free. (But even the dead don’t seem to be stress free sometimes – that’s why they’re like, haunting us or you know, hanging out around.) OH. Right. Focus. 

Atlanta Wedding Photographers LeahAndMark & Co.

OKAY. The way to have a completely stress free wedding IS……. to just get married and then have your wedding later. (Like elopement style.) BOOM! Take that! Ha! NO seriously. It’s totally a viable option. What’s getting married anyway? I mean – ‘legally’ it’s some paperwork. Spiritually it’s two people being all I promise these things to you. Community-wise it’s people around you that celebrate your Union and LOVE… Arguably – it’s NOT most of what the wedding industry and magazines are selling. Unless you’re talking about amazing wedding photos. Those are ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED or else you’re just not really getting married. (I kidddddddddd. No I don’t.) (Yes I do.)

SO. You get married. And then you’re like – aw yeah f*ckers try to stress me out now! I’m already married! HA! 

Okay. Sure there are logistics – but much fewer than all the planning that goes into the BIG GIANT IDEA OF A WEDDING. And you might get some blowback from your family – but come on. It’s your life. 

IT’S YOUR LIFE. (Both of you.)

Simple Wedding Ideas With No Stress

And that means that other people will just deal. They will. And you know what. No one is going to kill you. They’ll still want to celebrate with you somehow – but they won’t kill you. 

But really. As I write this – I’m asking myself WTF AM I DOING. I basically have a job because people spend A LOT OF MONEY on WEDDINGS. There aren’t any real photographers that make an actually good living off of just ‘elopements’. (I know I know – sure there are. They’ll email me. But come on – we know they’re not making a living off of just elopements.) 

Maybe I’m just… I like you to have options. All of them. I want you to have all the options you want and not think that you have to go through with some kind of wedding that you don’t want. 

But if you don’t want amazing wedding photography – then you’re dead to me. DEAD TO ME.


Mark Tioxon


How to DIY Your Wedding Day Hair (or not)

I know. WUT? How could anyone possibly do their own hair on their wedding day? The thought of such a thing is flat out BONKERS.

Except for the part where you probably generally do your own hair most of the time. Of course – doing your own ‘wedding day’ hair depends on what and how you want your hair to be on your wedding day (say ‘wedding day’ again – I dare you to!)

How to Do Your Own Wedding Day Hair (or Not)

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Sugarboo Farms | Blairsville, GA

Over the past 8+ years I’ve been photographing weddings – I’ve seen a lot. People doing their own hair (shock) people doing their own makeup (OMG!) and then of course people just sitting there while everyone else fixes them up. You may or may not know what you want right now – if you want a professional hair stylist or make up artist to take care of you – or a friend – or you’ll just do it all yourself. So where do you begin?

An easy start is your wedding dress (or you know – suit – or jumper or… outfit.)


If you’ve already selected your wedding dress – then you can start to envision what hairstyle would be good or most flattering for YOU, in your DRESS. If you want to show off your neck, or if you want to highlight your five-head (I joke!) or if you want a flower crown or antlers (seriously – antlers? why is that a trend?!… of course if you’re wearing antlers for your wedding then I LOVE YOU.) ummm Oh yeah – tastefully messy and unkept in the back or some kind of bump-it up-do… right – you can imagine/visualize what you may look like with a certain hairstyle and how it’ll compliment your dress. Well – how it’ll compliment YOU.

So start collecting photos of potential hairstyles.


And then try to do them yourself. Try to do them with a friend. If you can’t do them well – then that means you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT DIY your wedding day hair. Makes sense right? If you happen to be able to do your own wedding hair during your test – hair spray the F*ck out of it, throw in 200 bobby pins and wear it all day long to see how it holds. See what adjustments or fixes you’d have to do throughout the day. Basically – TEST IT OUT.

Atlanta Wedding Photographers LeahAndMark & Co.

Again – if you can’t do your own hair – that’s okay.

Either change the hairstyle you want for your wedding or just hire a hairstylist. (It’s really that simple.) You may decide that hey – maybe you DO like a simple style and you CAN do that. Or you decide – NO. This has to be done right and you need GIGANTIC TEXAS HAIR reaching up to hi-five GOD HERSELF.


Now remember – you want to look good TO YOU. I know you’ll ask other people what they think – but make sure that you feel comfortable with your hairstyle and how it feels and looks. Because you’re about to have four billion photos taken and that hair will probably be in almost ALL of them.



6 Tips for Planning a Last Minute Wedding

Planning a last minute wedding doesn’t have to be a super crazy, or impossible task. In fact – what does last minute mean anyway? Obviously if you decide to get married next week – that would be last minute. But what if you only gave yourself 3 months to plan your wedding? or 6 months? Or 9 months? Are those still last minute weddings? Yes, and no, and kind of. Well – anything under 6 months is closer to the ‘last minute’ category than 9 months and longer. Alright – glad we got that bit of nonsense out of the way.

The whole wedding industry is built on this idea of a year timeline for planning your wedding.

Arizona Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Navajo | Cameron Trading Post

How to Plan a Last Minute Wedding

But hey. Don’t worry – it’s okay. There are ALWAYS wedding venues and vendors available for you no matter the date. You just might have to be extremely flexible and creative to make it all work.

Here are a few tips and ideas to help you plan your last minute wedding.

  • Check availability on the off/unpopular dates/days
    • Since many of the busiest (and arguably best) venues are often booked 12 months in advance – that doesn’t mean that you should rule them out. Saturdays are probably going to be impossible but maybe they have a Sunday available. Or maybe they have a Friday available. Check availability for all three of those days and at different times – maybe you’ll get lucky. And if you’re really wild and crazy – some venues might even be available for a Thursday evening. I know – Thursday evening wedding? Hey – people get married whenever they want. Maybe you’ll discover that you don’t mind getting married on a Thursday evening and saving a good bit of money in the process. Or maybe not.
  • Ceremony & Reception in the same location
    • If you weren’t already thinking of having your ceremony and reception at the same venue – now would be a good time to give that option some serious consideration. One location for everything literally simplifies nearly everything – and you don’t have to search for two locations (that was some pretty good circle talk right?) Plus you have a better chance of consolidating some of your fees.
  • Be creative and have an open mind about everything
    • When it’s a last minute wedding – you need to have an open mind about almost everything. But that can be a benefit! All of a sudden you can do whatever you want AND you have the legit excuse of ‘it’s a last minute wedding’ – so you HAVE to not spend the money on crazy amounts of flowers or decorations that you don’t want or really any other wedding things that you were told you ‘MUST HAVE’.
  • Call. Email. Skype.
    • Your available time to check out venues, meet with potential vendors, and everyone else is very limited or nonexistent. SO. Use technology. Instead of meeting with everyone in person – talk to them on the phone, video conference over skype/facebook/facetime – even if you spend an hour talking to a vendor over the phone you won’t be spending the 1 hour of travel time and the $5 for coffee. Of course you can have a sit down with your wedding team in person once you’ve booked them and they’re hired.
  • Packaged Deals are Your Friend
    • If you find a venue that has a package that takes care of EVERYTHING – give that some serious thought.
    • If your DJ provides a photobooth and/or videography – consider going with them
    • If your wedding planner also does floral design – GO WITH THEM
    • Consolidating your vendors can save you a lot of energy and probably some money
  • Contact Mark at LeahAndMark & Co.
    • Because Mark is ridiculous and crazy and he will photography your wedding next week if he’s not doing anything else. Literally. He WILL.


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How Many People Should You Invite to Your Wedding?

Figuring out where your wedding is taking place (the venue(s)) generally requires that you have an idea of how many guests you’ll be having attend. So. How many people should you invite to your wedding? How do you figure out how many people?

You could just pick a number from your head – how about 50? Or 100? What about 150? Too many? Too little?

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How Many Wedding Guests Should You Invite?

Start from the biggest number and then work your way down. Basically – first write down everyone you can think of that you may have to or want to invite. Family is usually easiest to write down first. Get all those names and count. Oh and are you allowing children to attend? Make sure you count all the kids too. Then your closest friends and even some of your work folks (if you like them.)

This first count would include all the people you ‘should’ invite – even if you don’t necessarily want them to attend… like distant relatives… or co-workers. Don’t worry – when it comes down to it – you can just cut them from the list. But get that initial count and make it as high as you can. It’s often much easier to take away people from this imaginary list than it is to add them later.

Atlanta Wedding Planning Tips


So that’s your initial guest list – and it’s BLOATED. Now. The other thing you may need to take into consideration is anyone that your parents may want to invite to your wedding. Of course this depends on your relationship with your parents and then their relationship with your wedding budget. If they’re providing a portion (or most or all) of the budget for your wedding then honestly – they get to invite a few people of their choosing. Of course – there are always exceptions to that guideline. But tread lightly… and do ask your parents if there are any of their friends that they would like to have as guests at your wedding. Even if you already know the answer – it’s still a nice gesture to ASK your parents and include them. Trust me, they’ll really appreciate the effort.

Alright! Now you have a giant giant guest list with way more people than you ever wanted, possibly attending your wedding. How does that number feel to you? Too high? Surprisingly low? Strange? Well here – let me tell you that there is no ‘right’ number for how many guests you should have at your wedding. So get that out of your head. Your wedding is YOUR wedding.

I’ve had weddings with guests numbers as small as 3-5 and then upwards of 400 people. Of course the 400 people is on the extreme side. Wedding attendance between 40-150 people is probably the most common range. I know – that’s still a big range. But because of spaces and blocks and how things work out – the ranges of guests counts are more like this:

  • 40-80
  • 80-120
  • 120-150
  • 150-200

Right. So making the list. You have the big BIG list of EVERYONE. Now pick a number range you like. Okay. Now be ruthless and remove all the people you would like to remove. I mean it – be ruthless.

Atlanta Wedding Photographers LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | | Vintage | Modern | High Museum of Art Atlanta | Atlanta Botanical Gardens | W Hotel Midtown

Now what’s that number? Is it really low? Still too high? You may realize that you have some wiggle room and you can add a few back. You may realize that you really do want some of those people attending and it would be strange that they weren’t there.

The thing is – you don’t save too much money in the difference of feeding 20 less people. So if you have the room – and you actually like those people – feel great that you can invite them to your wedding and put them back on the list!

Now add spaces for 10 more people to that list. Especially if you’re at the early stages of your wedding planning. You’ll need that extra unreserved space. Because inevitably you’ll forget someone – or more family will appear out of nowhere or or or. But go into your venue hunting and planning with a slightly larger guest count and see how that count can be accommodated. You don’t want to be AT YOUR LIMIT right from the start. It’ll hurt later on – trust me.

Alright! Get to it!



This Post is about Destination Weddings in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Destination Weddings are awesome! Well – they can be awesome.

But where do you begin?

I don’t know either – but here’s what I know – if you’re looking to cut down on the number of people attending your wedding… HAVE A DESTINATION WEDDING.

Basically – make sure that the people you REALLY want at your wedding, can attended/fly/make it there – and then everyone else… they’re on their own man. And most of them won’t be able to make it. Seriously. Work peoples? Ha. Someone has to stay behind while you’re away on a beach. Lame relatives? They’re lame so they were probably only coming for the free food and drinks AND they weren’t going to give you a good gift anyway.

Best friends? Of course they’ll be there. THEY WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES. (unless they’re preggers or something – that’s an alright excuse.)

Oh – and here’s a PRO TIP – don’t invite anyone that will make the trip all about them – and not all about you guys getting married.

Because F*ck that.

Oh yeah. I should probably include some actual tips on how to have a destination wedding in Playa del Carmen, Mexico (like the title of this post suggests.)

Well – first check out this video from Cassi & Nick’s wedding!

SO. Tips.

1. Work with a travel agency/operator. 

Sure you can piece everything together – but NO. Don’t do that. Get help. A travel agency is especially helpful for your guests – because the agency will do all of the organizing and then all you have to do is check up on things. Who’s booked their trip, who hasn’t – stuff like that. But you don’t have to do any of the flights/hotels/airport transfer organizing.

2. Be available to your guests.

You are basically inviting them on vacation with you. SO HAVE A VACATION WITH THEM. Especially if it’s a few days/week of time. Don’t hide in your room. Spend time with everyone you invited. Whether that’s a planned dinner/lunch every day or taking over a corner of the pool (or a whole pool). Don’t leave anyone out – even the introverts. (but you’re not their butler/doormat/ concierge either.)

3. Arrive a few days before your wedding day and leave a few days after your wedding day. 

You get a few days to start relaxing before your wedding – and then a few days after to party!

4. Decide on how much you actually care about your wedding photos. 

Your options are basically – hire the resort photographer, or bring your own. Obviously bringing your own is going to cost you way more money – but the photos will be WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY MORE. More better. More awesome. More everything. It’s not a bad choice to take a chance with the resort photographer – if you don’t give any fucks about your wedding photos.


Look. If you’re having a destination wedding and you’re not having any fun – then that’s actually a REALLY BAD THING. Because dammit – not having fun at your big fancy wedding ‘back home’ was exactly what you were trying to avoid by having a destination wedding with fewer people. So SOMETHING IS WRONG IF YOU’RE NOT HAVING FUN. Fix whatever that is ASAP. Kill it. Squash it. Send that person home. Whatever it takes. Don’t put up with it.

6. If you’re having your wedding down in Playa del Carmen – hire this lady and rent all of your decor from her instead of having the hotel do it, and instead of flying down 10 suitcases full of decorations.

DSC_4228-2Playa Del Carmen | Mexico | Destination Wedding | Cancun | LeahAndMark & Co.DSC_5093Wedding-Grooms-Suits-001DSC_5118Playa Del Carmen | Mexico | Destination Wedding | Cancun | LeahAndMark & Co.DSC_5438Playa Del Carmen | Mexico | Destination Wedding | Cancun | LeahAndMark & Co.

Playa Del Carmen. Wedding. Destination. Mexico. Riviera. Cancun. Tips. How to. Planning. Video.

This Post is About Having a NYE (New Year’s Eve) Wedding

Let’s get to it.

If you’re planning on having your wedding on New Year’s Eve – it better be a great party. Like a GREAT PARTY.

Otherwise you fail your guests. Sure – you can take comfort in the whole “my guests just want to celebrate us getting married blahblahblah” – not on New Year’s Eve. Of course they do want you to be happy and get married – but chances are good that they also, definitely want a great party. A great NYE Party. So that’s what you’re putting on. OR ELSE.

Or else you’re putting on some low key affair and asking people to have a low key NYE. That’s cool too. If you’re inviting 30 people.

If you’re inviting 200 people – party the f*ck up and make it happen. You’re the one who hijacked their holiday.

But no pressure.

IT’S GOING TO BE AWESOME AND AMAZING! (check out the slow-mo sparkler exit in the video below!)

You just have to do a few things (even though I don’t like saying ‘you have to do this…’).

But first – check out this video from a NYE wedding/party we photographed earlier this year.

1. Have your ceremony at an appropriate time.

Because really – you’re asking people to stay until at least midnight – and probably more like 1am+. So don’t have your ceremony at 5pm. Later, 7 or 8pm is great.

2. Bring on the New Year’s Celebration.

When you have your wedding on other holidays (4th of July, Memorial Day, etc.) you can probably get away with making it ONLY about your day and your wedding. Mmmmm, not NYE. Your wedding is on NYE. So have a NYE party – with the accompanying stuff – hats, noise makers, tiaras, whatever you can find – stock up and have plenty. Because then it’s also a semi costume party (and everyone loves a costume party where they didn’t actually have to come up with their own costume.)

3. No dry wedding.

IDK. Sorry I have to say this…. uhhhhh… seriously come on – NYE? Dry wedding? WTF. Just no.

4. Don’t be cheap. Don’t skimp. 

Okay. Usually I’m all like – hey it’s your wedding! Do whatever you want! Go budget style. Go REALLY budget style. But not on New Year’s Eve. It’s your choice to have a wedding on New Year’s Eve – it’s your choice to make it as great as possible for your guests – and if it’s lame – that will be YOUR CHOICE as well.

But again. No pressure.

NYE Wedding; New Year's Eve Wedding; Tips; How to; Ideas; LeahAndMark & Co. NYE Wedding; New Year's Eve Wedding; Tips; How to; Ideas; LeahAndMark & Co.


New Year’s Eve Wedding. Tips. Ideas. How. To. Advice. Mistakes. Planning. Acworth. Ga. The Conservatory. LeahAndMark & Co.

How to Create and Make a Wedding Budget

How to Plan, Make, Create, a Wedding Budget

First. Honesty.

Modern weddings often cost way too much. It’s true. You know this.

How much do weddings cost? How much will YOUR wedding cost?

It matters AND doesn’t matter. Because really – you CAN get married and have a wedding too. So yeah. How DO you create a wedding budget? How do you make a wedding budget?

1. Do some research.

Most of us don’t worry in any kind of event-facilitation-capacity. Basically – we don’t plan and put on regular events for more than 30 people. So most of us really don’t have any clue about everything needed for such an event, nevermind the costs that are involved. But you will have to do some research and find out what things cost in your area (or the area where you plan on having your wedding take place.) Major vendors such as venues and caterers are easy to find. Start finding price sheets or get quotes just to see what things cost. Even if they’re way out of your target price range – you have some idea of what the ballpark looks like.


2. Decide what you really want to spend.

Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should spend. You decide how much you want to spend and then go from there. Not the other way around. Remember that. Seriously. Remember that.

Also remember that not everything is worth it.

Atlanta Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Phoenix Weddings | Desert

3. Write It All Down.

Don’t hold anything in your head. Don’t estimate if you have exact numbers. Write it all down. Everything. Write down everything related to your wedding that you will have to spend money on. EVERYTHING. Add it up. Add it ALL UP.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

4. Decide what is actually, actually important to you. 

Seat covers costing too much money? F*ck em. Hand written calligraphy invitations more than you want to spend? F*ck em. Decide what is important to you and keep it. Everything else – is on the list of things that can be CUT if it needs to be. Those are your two lists.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.


Atlanta. Georgia. North Carolina. Wedding. Photographer. Create. Wedding. Budget. Make. How to.


How to DIY Your Wedding Photography

(Good/Great) Wedding photography isn’t cheap.

But you’re still going to ask yourself – is there a way to DIY my wedding photography? Or maybe you’ll ask yourself – how can I get decent wedding photography without paying the ridiculous rates that professional wedding photographers charge these days?

Well. Okay. I’ll tell you how to DIY your wedding photography. Seriously.

1. Ask specific people to take photos at your wedding. 

Sounds obvious right? YES. It IS obvious but you must also make sure that they understand what you are asking. Make it clear to them that you want THEM to take the semi-or-completely-OFFICIAL photos of your wedding day. If that sounds like too much pressure for one friend to handle – spread it out over several friends/family. Let them know they’re part of your official ‘photography team’ for your wedding day.

How to DIY wedding photography

2. Break it up throughout the day.

Each person doesn’t have to take photos the entire time. You can give them blocks of time. Like three friends during the ceremony. And three different friends during the reception. Or whatever. Oh – and let them know you’re not expecting art. Just clear, not blurry shots of what’s going on.

Atlanta Wedding Videographer | Hora

3. Write a list of photos you absolutely want (a shot list)

A few weeks before every wedding – I send my clients an online form for them to fill out. The form collects the final information for the wedding day – such as the schedule and addresses. There is also a section where they can enter any specific shots that they absolutely want. Whether it’s photos of heirloom jewelry, special gifts, or special groupings of friends that I might not know about – they can write it down so that I know to MAKE SURE I get it. Do the same thing for your friends. Don’t go crazy – but if you do have a few ideas – share them with your friends that are being so gracious as to photograph your wedding.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Wedding Portfolio

4. If possible – provide them with cameras.

This is easier than you think. You can also just purchase 10 instafilm cameras and pass those around. Or you can rent a couple digital cameras and do the same thing. OR if you’re brave – just ask people to use whatever camera they can get their hands on – and you’ll understand. Remember – you’re opting to DIY your wedding photographer – you get what you get. That doesn’t mean that it’ll be bad, or horrible – but have some real expectations. Of course – providing the gear to your friends can only help things along.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | | Vintage | Rustic | Modern | King Plow Arts Center

5. Have a Plan to Collect Your Photos

If you’re DIY’ing your wedding photography – then you definitely, definitely, DEFINITELY should create a hashtag for your wedding. And make sure it’s posted so that everyone KNOWS to use your wedding hashtag. That’ll make it easier to find all those random instagram/twitter/facebook images from your wedding day.

As far as the photos from your friend-photographer team? Collect their memory cards. Or better yet – if they provided the camera, then YOU may want to provide the memory cards. That way all you have to do it collect the cards at the end of night (or designate a friend to do it) and you HAVE THE PHOTOS. No chasing down people weeks later, hoping they didn’t lose or erase the photos from that day.


6. Hire someone ELSE to edit your photos

Seriously. Of course if you didn’t end up with too many photos – then you can probably edit them yourself. But if you ended up with hundreds photos… you may want to ask a favor from another friend… | Atlanta Wedding Photographers

7. Just let it all go and believe that it’s all going to work out.

Look. Photos just might not be your thing. That’s okay. Seriously. It’s O.K.

When you make the decision to DIY your wedding photography – you need to also make the decision to not really give a f*ck if things go… not that great. You have to be okay with possibly not having as many photos as you would’ve liked. Or not having photos that meet the quality you were hoping for.

You can find just as many ‘success’ stories of couples that went DIY with their wedding photography, as you can find horror stories. So don’t worry too much.


OH. But if you’d like to practically guarantee that you’ll get ridiculously amazing wedding photos – click here.

The Sales Secret of Successful Photographer Websites & Your Big Mistake

Photographer Website Sales & Marketing Ideas

I know what you did. I see it all the time. The same, big, major mistake. Over and over, repeated by photographers everywhere – even photographers like you that have been at this for a while. You got yourself a great website from one of those companies that sells websites built specifically for photographers. It must be a good website right? Good for what? Good at what?

It sounds like common sense that the best website attracts the most and best clients. If your website has great photos and you sound friendly/likable/professional then clients will hire you. Your website is your ‘storefront’ and it’s what sells your ‘photography’. People see your website, decide they like your photos, and they’re sold. That’s the job of your website right?

Wrong. Completely, completely, COMPLETELY wrong. Incorrect.

Your photography website’s job isn’t to sell. Your goal isn’t for people to visit your website and be sold to. That’s like trying to sell a house over the internet and expecting people to buy it immediately. Chances are that it’s just NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. So if your website isn’t supposed to make the sale, then what is your website supposed to be doing? It’s simple. Very simple. Too simple.

Your website’s one and only job is to get people to contact you.

That’s it. That’s all.

All of your photos, all of your blogging, all of your writing – everything you do on your photography website should  work towards getting people to contact you – that’s it. Get them to fill out that contact form, or send you an email, or even call you.  

You’re not trying to get them to buy your product with your website. You just want them to start talking with you. Think about that for a moment. Think about what you’re actually asking people to do while they’re at your website.

Email me vs Buy from me

Contact me vs Let me sell this to you

Email me vs Hire me

This isn’t for all types of products. It’s for your photography services. It’s for you as a photographer. The truth is that your sales process is probably f*cked up. You’re trying to make the sale on the first meeting – the first time a potential client sees your website. You don’t even know these people – and more importantly they don’t know you. And if you come at them with BUYBUYBUY they will never contact you. Worse – you will never get the chance to start communicating with them. You’re trying to sell to them before they’ve given you any permission.

But don’t be timid about it either. Now that you know what your website is supposed do – don’t hold back. Do everything you can to convince them to contact you. Not because they want to buy your services, but because they have more questions. They need more information – in essence – because they need YOU. If you’re not making them curious enough to ask you for more information then you’re website isn’t doing it’s job. Plain and simple.

But don’t worry – there are several easy things you can do that’ll get clients contacting you after their first visit to your website… and of course we’ll cover that on another day.


Questions about this? Need help with anything else? Google it.

No just kidding – Post your question in the comments section and I’ll answer. Promise.

Oh – and we’d love it if you shared this post with your friends. Thank you.