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Behind-the-Scenes Series #5 - Ten Tips For Hiring A Wedding DJ

Behind-The-Scenes Series - Tips From A Wedding Photographer!

       Welcome, welcome! If you are recently engaged and have a million things on your mind - you have come to the right place! As a wedding photographer, I get to see so much of what goes on at a wedding and I can't help but share some insightful info with you. There is just too much goodness to share and I must share this with you!! 

If you'd rather watch the video re-cap, here ya go! Or feel free to read along. ;) 

This week, my sweet husband joined me and shared his top 10 tips for hiring a wedding dj. He is the founder of TheWeddingPartyAtl and knows all things music related. I truly feel that when it comes to hiring a wedding dj....it's just really confusing. What do you even ask them?? Hopefully these tips can help you have a clear idea of what you want for your wedding.

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10 Tips For Hiring A Wedding Dj

1) The music at your wedding is one of the most important parts. Ballpark your budget to start around $1000. Always remember - you get what you pay for! There's always someone who can do it cheeper - just be careful.

2) Look for a Wedding DJ you can trust. These are such important memories, you should relax knowing that your dj has everything put together correctly and will treat your guest with respect. 

3) Discuss with the DJ what kind of music you like. Do you love 80’s rock ballads, or swing dance music, or do you want the DJ to play all of the classic wedding songs. Be sure to talk to your dj about what your music style is.

4) For the reception, you need to pick a first dance song, father/ daughter dance song, mother/ son dance song. Go ahead and be thinking of these songs asap! 

5) If you want to be very particular, you could even make the playlist for the DJ. This ensures that the DJ only plays the songs you like. Spotify works great for this! Especially with all of the different song versions - you want to me sure you are on the same page on which song version.

6) An experienced DJ can feel and work the crowd. There is no perfect song list. Sometimes the crowd needs a fast dance song and sometimes the crowd needs a slow song. Trusting your DJ to use their discretion will come in handy!

7) Wedding sing alongs work great. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and Backstreet Boys “I Want it That Way” If there are any songs you absolutely don't like - be sure to let you DJ know in advance.

8) DJ’s also M.C. the event. You definitely want a wedding planner! Together, they coordinate the announcements to keep the flow of the wedding going smoothly. ie: the arrival of the wedding party, how and when to get the food, the cutting of the cake, special dance songs, when and how to send the Bride and Groom off.

***You want a DJ with a fun personality. Make sure you want the DJ to be the one talking to your guest throughout the night. 

9) Sometimes getting the party started (especially earlier in the night) can be a little awkward if your guest are shy to dancing. I have had a lot of success having the bridesmaids and the groomsmen start the dancing. Once you get people dancing and break the ice it is easier to keep it going.

10) You can also hire a DJ to do your ceremony. There is an art and a precision to this. Fading songs in and out and at the right time. An experienced DJ can also feel the moment...what if you are lighting the unity candle and the moment just calls for a little bit more music...music keeps things beautiful and not awkward.

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If you have any DJ questions for Derek, or would like to inquire to see if he is available for your date, contact him here You can also check out his website here: http://www.theweddingpartyatl.com/

Joseph Charles | Lifestyle Newborn Session

Joseph Charles

Newborns grow so fast! Even with their first week, they change so much. They become more alert and stronger with each day that passes. It isn't until the time passes that you realized they changed! Taking these pictures almost freezes time for you in such a busy season. I am so happy for my friends, Wade & Rochelle and their new little guy. I'm sure they have seen first-hand how quickly their baby has grown in such a short amount of time. Thankfully these pictures will be a great way to remember this time and how tiny Joseph was. Here are some of my favorites from their session!

Congratulations to this sweet family! If you are interested in how to plan your newborn session - check out this blog post with my top 3 tips. 

Behind-the-Scenes Series #4 - Bridal Suite - Light Demo

Behind-The-Scenes Series - Tips From A Wedding Photographer!

       Welcome, welcome! If you are recently engaged and have a million things on your mind - you have come to the right place! As a wedding photographer, I get to see so much of what goes on at a wedding and I can't help but share some insightful info with you. There is just too much goodness to share and I must share this with you!! 

If you'd rather watch the video re-cap, here ya go! Or feel free to read along. ;) 

One of my favorite parts of a wedding are the getting ready details: the dress, your makeup & hair.  All the little details coming together before you walk down the isle. If you are a huge fan of detail shots and candids - listen up! 

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Surprisingly, where you decide to get ready, does effect how your final images turn out. You would be so surprised at how many times I arrive at a wedding to see the bridal suite have dim lighting and no windows. Or even worse....bright wallpaper or a wall mural! (think church children's room). I've seen it all!

And I know as a bride, you probably do not want your background of your photos to be a Noah's ark mural. Talk about distracting! You would be so surprised at how many times i'll take "getting ready photos" in a completely different room than the bride actually got ready in. Just a little photography secret. Now, I will include images of the real getting ready room - but will also be looking for the perfect spot that make you look AMAZING! 

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Since weddings are such a happy day and my style is more bright and clean - I am always searching for the best light to take pictures in. Below are a few examples of photos that I moved the bride to a prettier location for the "getting ready shots". Completely worth it!

In my video, I showed a few lighting examples in my house to give you a better idea of what to look for. As well as what to look out for!

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In the first red picture - remember that any bright colored room will reflect on you! So red walls = red dress & skin. Which is completely evident in this photo of me!! Hello red! 

The second photo had harsh incandescent light, making my hair look orange/yellow. Yuck!

But the minute I turned those yellow lights off, the natural light provided a much better skin-tone in the third photo. So much better!!

And the fourth picture on the right would be an ideal background for a bridal photo. A lighter wall will give a brighter/happier look - which is what you want on a wedding day! 

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I've started to see a trend with brides making a proactive decision to book a hotel or air-bnb to get ready in vs. a smaller room that might be included at their venue. These are just a few tips to consider when deciding on where you should get ready for your wedding.

- Is the getting ready location close to your venue (think of travel time)

- Wall colors! (are you a fan of lime green?) Neutral colors make the best backgrounds

- Window Light (if you had to pick a room with a window vs no window.... which is best? Definitely choose that window room!)

- Your Photographer. I'm not just saying this to promote myself in any way. But the biggest factor to making your getting ready photos look beautiful, is your photographer's ability to "see light" And for them to know how to make any lighting situation look amazing! The fanciest camera can only do so much. Trusting your photographer when they say "hey, let's move over here to take pictures" or "let's turn these lights off" is pure gold when it comes to getting gorgeous images. As well as choosing a professional photographer who can differentiate these small lighting details. No bride should stress over choosing the best place to get ready. Your main focus is getting married!  

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If you are still deciding on your venue or where you should get ready (I know it can be so confusing to decide details like this!) - contact me here. I'd love to answer any questions you have and discuss the best lighting for YOUR wedding. I'm the most light obsessed person you will ever meet! So I am more than happy to talk with you about something so basic. It get's me so excited just thinking about it. #lightnerd

Behind-the-Scenes Series #3 - All About Second Shooters

Behind-The-Scenes Series - Wedding Tips From a Wedding Photographer!

       Welcome, welcome! If you are recently engaged and have a million things on your mind - you have come to the right place! As a wedding photographer, I get to see so much of what goes on at a wedding and I can't help but share some insightful info with you. There is just too much goodness to share and I must share this with you!! 

If you'd rather watch the video re-cap, here ya go! Or feel free to read along. ;) 

This week, I had my friend (and fellow photographer), Sara Stewart join me on facebook-live to talk about all things related to second shooters. Sara and I went to photography school together so we both view things very similarly - making her a great addition to my team! We have an absolute blast photographing weddings together! No dull moments with us.

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One of the main questions I frequently get asked is "Do you include a second photographer?" And the answer is = YES! I make it manditory in every package. 

With wedding photography, a second-shooter is a common term/lingo, but commonly it get's a little fuzzy on what that actually means. And truly it depends on the main photographer you hire but for me - this is what you can expect!

Main photographer vs. Second Photographer

When you hire a photographer for your wedding, their main role is to be your primary photographer. (ps...that's me!) Their focus is on all of the main moments; portraits, family pictures, first-look, ceremony, etc. 

With each second-shooter I hire, they are also a business owner and have been photographing weddings for just as long as me. No beginner photographer! Their photos are going to be the same professional quality as mine. Even though our skill levels are the same, we both have two different jobs at a wedding. It would be easy for them to jump in and take charge as if the wedding was their own - but a skilled second shooter has a very distinct role they play when photographing a wedding. 

The second-shooters focus is primarily on candid moments, details, different angles and assisting the main photographer (who is focused on those main moments). There have been so many times when i've send the second photographer to the reception hall early to photograph details before the guest arrived - all while I am busy photographing the family portraits. It saves so much time!

We love photobooths at weddings! 

We love photobooths at weddings! 

One of the benefits of having a second photographer is also having that extra helping hand. Even the smallest thing can make such a big impact on your photos!

Some of this includes:

Tossing the vail to get that wind-blown look

Holding a reflector in just the right way to provide beautiful light

Making sure we stick to the schedule

Crossing off family pictures off our list and making sure we got everyone! 

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What do you wear to weddings?

We also like to focus on blending-in and not being noticed at your wedding. Think of us as secret spies that take your pictures and make you look amazing without you noticing. So we mainly wear black or neutral colors. Believe us - we've seen photographers wear everything from denim shorts to hot pink dresses at weddings. Not professional at all. So we like to dress up and blend in!

Who is the second photographer?

I tend to use the same handful of photographers, depending on who is available. These photographers also have their own business and have experience photographing weddings. I also use photographers who have a similar style to me, so that the pictures are cohesive when you look through your gallery.

Would you really save money on not having a second photographer?

Surprisingly, I do get asked this question a lot! I completely understand having a budget. One of the first things brides want to cut out from their package in order to save money, is the second photographer. Thus....that is why each package I offer makes it mandatory. Not optional - that is how much I value having a second shooter at each wedding. Not having a second photographer would almost be like having you choose which photos you do not want. Example: you walking down the isle & the grooms reaction. I can only do so much and I value these moments that are happening for you. Believe me...you want this!!

In Case Of An Emergency!

I am the queen of backup plans. I have a back-up plan for my back-up plan. If there was ever an emergency (so far that's never happened) but if anything were to happen to me before a wedding (car breaks down, sickness, family emergency) to the point where I am unable to make it to your wedding - this is one of the benefits of having such an amazing second photographer already on board for your wedding. Since they have the experience and knowledge to photograph a wedding, they can easily switch hats to be the main shooter if needed. Only in the case of an emergency would I ever do this! But I do like having someone with a similar photography style and experience already hired for your day. And of course I would edit the photos, but having this as a back-up plan can give you a peace of mind and let's you focus on getting married! 

Veil toss picture - Sara tossed this veil at just the right moment to get this look! 

Veil toss picture - Sara tossed this veil at just the right moment to get this look! 

Two are better than one!

One of my favorite things about having a second shooter, is the beautiful images they capture in addition to the ones I take. It truly captures every angle and saves each moment that happens during your wedding. Even with 2 people photographing the exact same thing at the exact same time - our results are going to be completely different, based on our gear and creative eye. So if you are hesitant about having 2 photographers - just realize that this day will go by so fast and you will only be left with photos (and maybe some leftover cake!). So seize the opportunity and go for that package with 2 photographers - you won't be sorry.  

If you have any questions about having a second shooter at your wedding and would like to inquire to see if your date is open - contact me here.

Patrick & Emily | Historic Duluth Engagement Session

     Patrick & Emily first met at a summer camp when they were both 19. I mean...how sweet is that!! After seeing each other here & there throughout the years, it would be years later that they re-connected and things just clicked! It was such a surprise to them that they had so many things in common and grew up in the same circles, but never really got the chance to connect. After meeting them, it was completely apparent that they were so in love! 

     I am so glad we got the chance to take a few engagement pictures for them. Engagement sessions really let's you practice for your wedding and get those camera jitters out of the way - so that on your wedding, you can just take in each moment and not worry about how you are taking pictures. Totally worth it! 

     With rain (and lot's of it!) in the forecast, we decided on heading to Historic Duluth. Best idea ever! There were a few covered areas and this adorable donut shop (Simply Done Donuts) that really helped us stay dry in the rain. And no joke....it rained the entire time! You can barely tell it in their photos; amazing! I always tell brides, that if it rains on your wedding day - no worries! It really does provide beautiful soft light. Check out these photos as an example. Rain can't stop us! 

I'm so excited for Patrick & Emily's wedding - only a few more weeks away! Can't wait! 

Behind-the-Scenes Series #2 - Wedding Seasons! Pros & Cons of each time of year.

Behind-The-Scenes Series - Wedding Tips From a Wedding Photographer!

       Welcome, welcome! I am so stoked to start this video series featuring, behind-the-scenes tips for wedding planning. If you are recently engaged and have a million things on your mind - you have come to the right place! As a wedding photographer, I get to see so much of what goes on at a wedding and I can't help but share some insightful info with you. There is just too much goodness to share and I must share this with you!! 

If you'd rather watch the video re-cap, here ya go! Or feel free to read along. ;) 

Hello friends! Hope you are having a great start to your week! This week we are talking all about the different seasons and the pros & cons of each. What you need to know from a photographers perspective. Because, believe me - I've seen it all! 

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When you first get engaged - there are so many things to think about as you start planning. Wedding budgets, guest list, venues - but to start things off in a fun way, i'd recommend that you think of what time of year you love the most and if your plans can circle around that instead. No lie, the day we got engaged, I was adding up the months in my head to see if a fall wadding could happen or not (because I love the fall!) and that was the first thing that I immediately thought of.

Here's us in one of our wedding photos! We had a November wedding and loved it! pc: Jessica Pendley Photography

Here's us in one of our wedding photos! We had a November wedding and loved it! pc: Jessica Pendley Photography

From the perspective of a wedding photographer, here are the pros & cons of each season!

Winter

Pros- The winter has quickly become a more popular time for weddings and I love it! One of the main reason I think, is because it is technically the slower season for most venues and wedding vendors. So you are more likely to snag your favorite, must-have vendors because chances are - they probably don't have as many weddings in the winter months. January through early March.

Cons - It's freezing! One thing to consider when choosing a winter date, is the weather. Hopefully no snow, but in Georgia, you never know! You will most likely want to plan to have your ceremony inside just in case the temperatures drop to an unbearable degree. Also know that any photos that are online that are taken at your venue might have been taken during another season. Some of their key locations might look completely different in the winter vs spring/summer/fall. Watch out for popular football games like the superbowl. Here in the south, people are serious about catching the game!

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Spring

Pros - Springtime truly is the time that everything comes back to life. The flowers bloom and warmer weather starts to appear. Doesn't it just feel amazing! This time of year you just want to open your windows and breath in the fresh air. I love the color that pops in photos as things start to bloom and offer a pretty background for wedding photos. I love that daylight savings starts and there is more daylight available for photos. Photographers dream! 

Cons - My least favorite thing about the springtime, is the pollen and allergies that it brings along with it. Everything is covered in yellow! Which isn't too bad to work around - unless you have bad allergies. Just something to consider if you or your fiancee have allergies in the spring. You want to feel your best at your wedding! Also watch out for high school/college graduations. A lot of church venues host graduation ceremonies and this can also cause conflict with guest attending. Watch out! 

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Summer

Pros - Summer is a great time for teachers getting married. No school! You can spend more time on your honeymoon and have a smoother transition into married life. Summer can allow you to surprise your guest with an icecream truck or fireworks at your reception! Destination weddings are also very popular in the summer since most vacations are planned during this time. Make a vacation out of it! The early summer months can offer great weather and most of the time - no rain! The summer also allows for more daylight in the evenings (which is an added bonus for those gorgeous sunset photos). 

Cons - Hot. Hot. Hot. The number one negative aspect of summer weddings is the sweltering heat. Keep this into consideration when you are choosing a ceremony space. Having your ceremony under open shade can make the biggest difference in temperature. There's nothing like going to a wedding a getting a sunburn (this really happened). Make sure you offer your guest water and always stay hydrated!! The majority of wedding photos are taken outside if the weather is nice; I advise having professional hair & makeup so it doesn't melt off (as quickly). It isn't the prettiest topic - but someone has to say it.....sweat! Eww! At summer weddings I am constantly carrying around paper towels with me to help combat sweat. Just be sure if you pick out bridesmaid & groomsmen attire, that sweat isn't an issue (I'm talking to you light grey bridesmaid dresses) Also watch out for summer festivals and baseball games. Traffic in Atlanta is no joke! Thankfully, by know of events beforehand, you can plan your driving route around any traffic hurdles. 

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Fall

Pros - The cooler weather feels amazing! It offers an amazing atmosphere for outdoor ceremony's. The fall leaves start to change color and in Georgia it is so beautiful. You could easily have your wedding with the backdrop of only trees and it would be gorgeous. I truly think this is one of the main reason that fall is the busiest wedding season- the weather! Even the sunlight gives off a golden tone - making it such a romantic time of year to get married. 

Cons - It is so popular! Even with planning a wedding a year out - you will run into some of your favorite venues/vendors already booked. And you would think that a year would be plenty of time! Some of your favorite vendors might already be booked - which is such a bummer! I know, i've already turned down a few weddings for this next fall because I am already booked. Crazy right?! Good news though - if you are completely set on a fall wedding - I can guarantee that by choosing a weekday date, you can book your favorite vendors and still have an amazing wedding - even on a Tuesday ;) And this can also help you cut down on your guest list - just sayin. Also watch out for hurricane season in September; I think we saw impact of that this last year and it was terrible. Rain can be such a damper on the beautiful fall weather. Watch out for time change - it is so sneaky! It get's darker outside sooner and that can take away daylight for your wedding photos. Planning ahead with your photographer can make the biggest impact on your pictures. And you also want your guest to be able to see everything! 

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No matter what season you choose, always remember that at the end of the day, it's all about your marriage. Weddings are just the icing & celebration of starting your lives together. Don't let any snow, pollen, heat or hurricane get in the way of that!

If you have any questions about wedding seasons or would like to inquire to see if your date is open - contact me here.

Behind-the-Scenes Series #1 - What You Do Not Need At Your Wedding!

Behind-The-Scenes Series - Wedding Tips From a Wedding Photographer!

       Welcome, welcome! I am so stoked to start this video series featuring, behind-the-scenes tips for wedding planning. If you are recently engaged and have a million things on your mind - you have come to the right place! As a wedding photographer, I get to see so much of what goes on at a wedding and I can't help but share some insightful info with you. There is just too much goodness to share and I must share this with you!! We are starting things off with a bang, so let's do this!

If you'd rather watch the video re-cap, here ya go! Or feel free to read along. ;) 

     As I was thinking over some topics for this series....which, believe me - I have a whole list of things to share with you! I began to see a common thread with each of the topics. Now, to be completely honest with you - I've seen a lot of weddings and sure, I could definitely share some of the ridiculous things that you could toss out (like programs or birdseed or crazy bridesmaid dresses). But the one common thing I see at weddings is the sneakiest little thing. You can't see it with you eyes, but you can feel it in the air. 

What is that one thing??

Let me tell you with one word.

Stress

 The most unwanted/unnecessary/uninvited guest at your wedding is stress.

There, I said it. Even with planning my own wedding, there were moments that I thought "this is so much to think about all at once!". 

Venues

Flowers

Vows

Catering

Marriage License

Rings

Guest List

....just to name a few. Did you get slightly overwhelmed just reading that list?

    I'm telling you, almost immediately after you get engaged, stress has a way of sneaking into your plans and trying to ruin your experience. We all know that stress effects your health, but I believe that it also effects your perception of reality. Ya'll.....stress is trying to mess up your wedding and you don't even realize it!! As a wedding photographer, I see brides overcome with stress more times than not. And I absolutely hate that.

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   This can be cause by a million different factors!! I think that is the key problem with stress. If there was a way to eliminate it completely, that would be a miracle. (it's no wonder that elopements are becoming so popular!) Weddings have become this HUGE production and status quo. I've truly felt that the overall message of this series is going to focus on how to make your wedding day less stressful and focus on what matters most! Your marriage.

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So we are starting with the basics. No more stress! Weddings are a BLAST and there's no reason that you shouldn't enjoy each moment. Now, I can't just leave you with "don't stress, it will all work out". Because if you are a female and anyone has ever told you that during a stressful situation - it does not help!

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Instead, here are a few quick tips to help get your no-stress party started (and of course more advice coming ahead in this series)

Here are 3 things you can immediately implement to eliminate stress:

1 - A good nights sleep. Make it a priority to go to bed earlier! Set a reminder on your calendar if you need to. Do it!

2- Brain dump. Ok, probably not the prettiest description, but go find a piece of paper and write down everything you are thinking of right now. Write it down. Doesn't have to be eligible or even make sense. Just put it on paper and get it out of your head.

3 - Celebrate! I think as Americans we truly don't celebrate our personal achievements as we are constantly striving to achieve more. Did you just check something off your to-do list? Book a vendor? Go celebrate! It doesn't even have to be anything crazy. Award yourself with a coffee. Go eat lunch with your fiance. Or even as simple as dancing to your favorite song in your living room. You get the idea! ;)

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Thanks for joining me on this video series - I can't wait to share more tips in the following weeks!

Cody & Kayla | Downtown Cartersville Georgia Engagement Session

Today is a snow day here in Georgia - rare & repetitive all at the same time. While everyone is staying home (except those brave souls who venture out) I'd love to share this cozy engagement session with you! Cody & Kayla are such troopers! When we took these, the temperatures in Georgia dropped pretty significantly. Ya'll.....it was cold!! But that didn't stop us! Once you see these images, you will begin to see why winter sessions are becoming a new favorite of mine. 

We explored downtown Cartersville and visited the newest coffee shop - Noble & Main. I love supporting small businesses (especially when it involves coffee). If you are ever in the area, this place is a definite stop! Their ginger chai is incredible! And the atmosphere provided the perfect backdrop for Cody & Kayla's engagement pictures. I just imagine these two drinking coffee together throughout their marriage and what that looks like in their future. Maybe that's enjoying coffee on a snow day like today!

So grab a cozy drink, snuggle up and take a look at this cute couple! 

Thank you Cody & Kayla for venturing out in the cold with me! You guys are the best! Can't wait for your wedding this year! - Audrey

Justin & Kacy | Logan Farm Park Engagement Session

You know it's meant to be when you meet a person a SECOND time and things just click. That is the story of Justin & Kacy. Having already met once, they ran into each other at a wedding and they immediately knew; this was no coincidence! They were truly meant to be together! 

Fast forward a few years and they are now engaged!! What makes this story even better, is when Justin popped the question...Kacy thought he was stretching. I mean.....they were on a bridge and doing some walking. But to her surprise, he was bent down on one knee proposing to her. Definitely not stretching! They still laugh about it to this day! It just adds to the joy of their story and I know they will have a lifetime of funny stories.

We took a few engagement pictures for them in Logan Farm Park in Downtown Acworth. Thankfully, we had a sunny day! Even though it was pretty chilly, the sunshine made everything look warmer! And Justin & Kacy were such troopers. I just love how these turned out and I am so excited for this lovely couple!

Congratulations Justin & Kacy! May your love grow more and more each day! Enjoy each moment!

Devon & Emily | Downtown Norcross Engagement Session, Atlanta Wedding Photographer

I've driven through downtown Norcross several times and i've been itching to take pictures in this cute little town! There are so many colorful walls and fun graffiti; making it the perfect location for photos. This sweet couple met while running cross country in college and they are getting married this spring! This colorful downtown location was perfect for Emily & Devon's engagement session. I especially love the fox wall! Take a peek!

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Congratulations Devon and Emily! I can't wait for your wedding! I know it will be such a fun celebration!