Adventures Out West: MP Photography Hits the Road For Two Weeks

I love an adventure.

There is nothing like hitting the open road and letting fate dictate where you go. However, I am also a huge planner, which puts me at odds with myself. The beau and I are leaving on Sunday for our grand adventure out west and I admit that I have pretty much been packed for two weeks. With one more wedding to shoot on Saturday, I finished packing today, which was a considerable feat since we will be spending half of our time camping.

Me, camping? Yes, it is true. I am laughing at myself already.

While we decided not to plan everything out to the minute, we have established a route that we plan on taking. It will take us through 7 states and over terrain that I have never seen.

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The only thing I am truly sad about it leaving my sweet kitty behind. She always knows when I am packing and whenever I turn my back, I will inevitably find her in my suitcase. It is her way of saying “Mom, I know what you are doing and I am not happy about it. Look, look at my mad face.”


Today, however, I had to tell Priscilla that Mommy REALLY needs a vacation.

And with everything packed and ready to go in the living room, the reality of our massive trip is setting in. I hope that you will follow our adventures across the great American west on my blog, and feel free to make any suggestions for our trip along the way.

Bon voyage!


No Gym? No Problem! Free Tools For Getting a Healthier, Stronger and Slimmer Wedding Day Body

I love and hate working out.

Since my gym is only a block away, it is very easy to convince myself to go, even when it is frigid outside. However, many of the workouts that I do at the gym are ones that I have found online. You see, rather than hire a personal trainer – and they are very good looking at my gym, I might add – I have been able to keep in great shape with free online workouts. In fact, I have had the trainers at my gym approach ME to see where I get my sweet moves. My answer? Pinterest.

If you are like me, you get easily bored of doing the same thing over and over again. I can only do the stepper machine for so long before I feel like a workout zombie. That is when I break out my Pinterest app and start researching new workout routines. I am going to save you a lot of time by providing you with a link to my Workouts board on Pinterest, as well as a list of my favorite sites. Along with these great workout routines, it is important to bring plenty of water, music and headphones, and the attitude that the number on the scale does not define you. In fact, I do the skinny jeans test instead: if they fit, maintain your routine. If not, step it up in your workouts and switch up your diet!

1. This website is chock-full of workout routines that you can do at home or at the gym. You can also find yummy nutritious recipes to supplement and encourage weight-loss in a healthy way.

2. If videos help you workout, then this is your website. The workout gurus have seriously hard bodies that will each make you want to cry or workout a little harder.

3. If you don’t feel like buying the magazine this month, check out Women’s Health magazine website. They don’t skimp on the free workout routines and recipes.

4. The same goes for this website. It has printable workouts as well as video workouts, both of which will get you sweating fast.


Choosing the Right Venue For Your Wedding

Once all of the excitement surrounding your engagement starts to die down, it is time to get down to the fun part: planning your wedding.

In my opinion, there are three huge decisions you have to make: your dress, your venue, and, of course, your wedding photographer. With so many options available to you, it can seem overwhelming and even exhausting. If you are having trouble choosing a venue, here are some tips:

1. Make a budget and STICK TO IT: Yes, you are going to come across venues that absolutely blow your mind, both for their beauty and their prices. You will make excuses and convince yourself that you can squeeze even more out of your budget than before. However, it will only stress you out later on when you have everything else to pay for and you realize that your venue took up a huge chunk of cash that simply wasn’t there. That is why it is important to create a budget for each portion of your wedding, and then set a maximum amount for each one. Just think: with any money left at the end, if there is any, you will be able to put it towards your honeymoon!

2. Location: While you are the star of the show, it is important to think about where all of your guests will be traveling from and to take their needs into consideration. If you want everyone to come to your wedding, including your cousins twice removed, then you definitely need to keep it within your country, and probably within your state, even city. If you are anticipating a smaller wedding where your guests might want to travel, make sure your passport is ready to go! The world is your oyster and you can find endless places to exchange your vows.

3. Photo Opportunities: While you will be spending most of your time indoors during the reception, your photographer is likely to choose your venue as the spot to take wedding party pictures. When you are scoping out different venues, take a moment to look outside the venue to see if there are any picturesque areas that might appeal to your wedding photographer. Unsure of what would qualify? Talk to him/her before booking your venue, or look for reviews of the venue to see other wedding’s pictures. Last weekend I shot a wedding for Brittany Bekas Photography at the Glen Club in Orland Park, IL. Together we shot Ashley and Matt on the grounds of the golf course where we happened upon this amazing wooded path. Seriously, I couldn’t believe just how gorgeous the shots turned out.


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Details, Details, Details: How the Little Stuff Can Make a Big Difference in Your Wedding

I admit it: I go nuts for weddings with tons of tiny details.

Give me yards of burlap, handfuls of glitter, wildflowers, paper pompoms and whatever else you have because I LOVE IT ALL. Reading Style Me Pretty and Green Wedding Shoes gives me goosebumps sometimes when I see the creative ways that people not only accessorize themselves, but deck out their ceremony and reception. Since I am not inherently creative like that, being able to capture that on the other side of the camera gives me just as much joy.

However, not everyone has a budget for tons of tiny touches, not to mention the time. That is why I love creative cake toppers. There are SO MANY cute options out there that I hardly ever see the standard groom and bride toppers from decades before. Last weekend I shot a wedding at the Silver Lake Country Club in Orland Park and couldn’t help but smile at the cake topper: it was the bride and groom cruising on an ATV. How cute is that?


Of course, there are so many more options when it comes to creative cake toppers. Here are a few that I have seen on the blogosphere and have made it onto my own Pinterest page:

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Summer = Kids = Smiles

I know, I just posted about kids and how stinkin’ cute they are.

But I can’t help myself from posting just a few more pictures! Especially when they are of three kids that I am lucky to have in my life. Since I am away from my family, Mike’s family has welcomed me into their homes many times. His cousin and her gaggle of kids can always make me smile. Yesterday we enjoyed sitting outside and watching her children run around; the oldest was away at camp, she has the same fiery red hair as the youngest boy.

There is nothing better than feeling grass between your toes and watching children run around with endless energy, gigantic smiles on their faces.

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