Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend...Or Are They?
Let’s talk about engagement rings, shall we? (Yes, please!)
Really, the tradition of the engagement ring is rather interesting (some would even say odd.) It all started in Ancient Egypt where people would wrap reeds on their left ring finger (the finger with a vein that connects directly to the heart) to signify they were to be married. Later, the Ancient Romans forgot the "love" aspect entirely and started putting rings on women's finger as a way to mark ownership before marriage.
Eventually, the tradition migrated westward and was adopted here in the United States. In 1947, DeBeers, a famous jeweler, coined the phrase "Diamonds are Forever" and the rest is history.
Today, engagement rings mark a couples love for one another and the beginning of a remarkable journey that two people want to take together.
And, although many couples still opt for a traditional diamond ring, there has been a recent influx of couples who are choosing to go a more sustainable, ethical, and affordable route with their ring choices.
Wait? What’s the deal with traditional diamond rings?
If you’ve ever seen the movie Blood Diamond, you likely know a bit about the history of diamond mining and the ethics behind it. But, if you haven’t, here’s a little bit of information to help catch you up.
Diamonds are found deep beneath the earth, which means they have to be dug up. Some forms of mining follow strict regulations and are completely ethical. However, there are also operations which force workers to mine diamonds by hand, work for long hours, and pay less than the acceptable living wage. These operations are unethical.
On top of unethical practices, diamond mining can also cause ecological devastation. Throughout history, there have been many instances in which major diamond mining operations have caused entire ecosystems to collapse due to extreme excavation. A truly heartbreaking situation.
To be quite honest, ethics and sustainability are the main reasons I have a personal love affair with non-traditional engagement rings...
And, by love affair I mean I sometimes find myself browsing the internet for hours going bug-eyed over all of the options. But, I also really love how diamond alternatives are beautiful and affordable!
(I do want to add that if you have a diamond engagement ring or absolutely LOVE diamond engagement rings, there are no hard feelings or judgments being passed your way! The perfect engagement ring is perfect because it’s perfect for you.)
If you want to know more about the affordable, sustainable, and ethical alternatives to traditional engagement rings, here are a few of my favorites!
For those who love the look of diamond engagement rings yet desire a more sustainable and affordable alternative, moissanite rings are the perfect option! Not only does a moissanite ring cost a fraction of the price of a traditional diamond (about $700 for 1 carat), but their luster, clarity, and overall beauty are absolutely breathtaking.
To get a look at what Moissanite rings look like take a peek at some of my favorite Instagram accounts @moissaniteco and @moissaniterings.
White Sapphire rings also offer the clear, crisp, clean look of a traditional diamond ring, but are sourced by more ethical and sustainable standards.
One fun fact about white sapphires is that they are actually the second hardest gemstone ON EARTH! So, if you work in a profession like nursing or teaching and know your engagement ring is likely to take a beating, white sapphires are an ideal option!
You can see some truly amazing white sapphires on @jeuliajewelry via Instagram!
Perhaps the traditional white diamond look isn't for you (or your lovely bride-to-be). Maybe you want something that is going to REALLY stand out among the crowd, catch eyes and turn heads.
If that sounds like you, then morganite rings are where it's at. Morganite gemstones are a precious pink color that is especially stunning against a rose gold setting. On average, morganite stones run about $300 per carat and can be paired with any number of other gemstones to make a beautiful engagement ring.
Hop on Instagram and follow @arikjeweleryinc2 to see a few drool-worthy samples of morganite rings.
Finally, there are ethical and sustainable ways to source diamonds for your engagement ring if diamonds are the stone you truly desire. Man-made diamonds might be formed in a laboratory, but they are equally as beautiful as diamonds that come from the earth. And, if you need a reason to like them more, they are typically sold at a fraction of the cost of a normal diamond engagement ring.
I really love browsing all of the options for man-made diamonds on the @everlyrings Instagram account!
Although these four diamond alternatives are my favorites, there are countless other options for creating the perfect engagement ring. And, with a little research, some creativity, and a knowledge of what styles you love I am certain you will be able to find the ring you’ve always dreamed of wearing.
Helpful Hint: You can also browse tons of diamond alternative rings (including moissanite and morganite) on Etsy.com.
That's where my husband and I found our rings a few years ago when we got married!
Fair warning if you go on Etsy...You will want EVERY ring you see and, if you already have an engagement ring or wedding set, you might even find yourself considering a replacement.
Happy ring shopping!
Did you know the tradition of the engagement party dates back to ancient Greece?
In those days the party marked a contract between the father of the bride and the groom - the bride wasn’t even present. Over time, after the tradition of a ‘contractual agreement’ faded into history, engagement parties became a celebration for the family of the bride to announce their daughter was engaged.
Today, engagement parties are a practice of many different cultures and serve one primary purpose - celebration! They are an opportunity for two families to get together, get to know one another, and mark the beginning of a fun-filled season for two people they love.
I've been to a couple (okay, probably more than a couple) of engagement parties and let me tell you - they are the bee's knees! Everyone is having so much fun, and they require much less stress than the wedding day. And, the good news is, they can be VERY affordable too!
If you want to know how to throw an affordable engagement party everyone will love (including you), here are a few tips from my past experience to help you out!
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Engagement parties don’t require passed hors d’oeuvres and champagne toasts for a good time. There is no limit to themes or menus for two people looking to celebrate their love.
I have been to backyard barbecues, luaus, and even donut bar brunch buffets that have served as AMAZING engagement parties. A few other ideas I love are a taco truck (or taco bar) Fiesta, a dessert party, or an ice cream social!
Bonus: Each of these party ideas is affordable and easy to pull off!
ASK FRIENDS AND FAMILY FOR HELP
Does your Great Aunt Judy make the best cheesecake in town? Can your best friend’s mom whip together the best centerpiece with supplies she found at the dollar store? If you have friends and family that are willing to lend their talents during your wedding season, your engagement party is the perfect time to take advantage of their offers!
Calling on friends and family can save you a ton of money when it comes to your engagement party. And, most likely, they will be thrilled and honored by your appreciation for their talents.
HIRE AN AFFORDABLE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
Although a professional photographer for your engagement party might seem excessive (to some), it is likely to be one of your favorite investments for the event. A professional photographer can snap candid photos of your friends and family as well as a few staged shots with you, your partner, and your favorite people, without all the hustle and bustle of a wedding day.
To hire a professional photographer for your engagement party, ask the person you intend to be your wedding photographer. Photographers love the chance to get to know their subjects BEFORE the big day and the engagement party is the perfect time to do that.
If you are still in need of an affordable wedding photographer in Oklahoma City (and want to hire someone who would be thrilled to shoot an engagement party too), send me your info, and I will be in touch!
February 14th is right around the corner, which means it is the season of LOVE.
Men (and women) everywhere are browsing the aisles of local drug stores, niche boutiques, and even shopping online to find the perfect present for their lover.
And then, there are those excited shoppers who just happen to be browsing the jewelry counters at their local jewelers...hoping to find the perfect ring to pop the question!
If you happen to be one of the lucky ones planning your engagement this year, CONGRATULATIONS!
There is nothing more exciting than a fresh engagement filled with hope for all of the wonderful things to come. But, if you happen to have a ring in your pocket and no idea what to do next - this blog is for you!
Here are a few affordable engagement ideas that will WOW your future wife!
Gather a Group
Getting engaged is one of the biggest moments of your future bride’s life (and of course yours too). Because the moment is so monumental many people choose to share it with their closest family and friends.
I personally love the idea of gathering all of your friends and family in a special spot (or even your home) while you pop the question.
I have seen proposals where the gathered group comes out of the woodwork to hold up a sign with the big question on it as well as proposals where they the group is waiting in the wings for a BIG celebration afterward. Either way, the day is memorable and full of fun for everyone!
Send Her on a Scavenger Hunt
Does your future wife love a good puzzle or riddle? Are you adventurous together? If so, then a scavenger hunt proposal is perfect for you!
Hide clues all around the house, coordinate your efforts with local businesses, or lead her through a local park until she gets to the answer - which is actually a question!
Scavenger Hunts are fun and EXTREMELY affordable proposal options. Bonus, they are memorable and make for a great story later as well!
Take Her to a Special Spot
Sometimes simple is better. And, if you are set on a proposal that is stunningly simple, you don’t need a lot - just an idea for a special spot.
DON’T FORGET TO CALL THE PHOTOGRAPHER
No matter how you decide to propose you NEED to document the occasion.
Both you and your fiance will cherish pictures of the special day and love sharing them with your friends, family, and even future family someday.
If you are in need of an affordable photographer in Oklahoma City for your proposal, I have great packages available. I would be honored to be part of your special day.
You’ve made sure you have everything in order for your big day. The cake is ordered, your dress is hanging in the closet, and all of the centerpieces have been carefully picked - you are ready.
But, if you are like many excited brides (or grooms) there is likely one thing you’ve left off your final checklist...
Believe it or not, there is etiquette for taking care of your vendors that goes beyond making sure they are booked. And, so you don’t commit a wedding day faux pas, I have put together this quick little guide for you to follow to help you make sure you don’t forget a thing!
Tip #1 Have Your Payments Ready to Go!
Today, most wedding vendors require at least a deposit up-front or a credit card on file to charge you for their services on the day of your event. But, if you happen to have a wedding vendor that requires payment on-site in the form of a check or cash, having their payment ready to go will be helpful to both them and you!
As a wedding photographer, I always find it so nice when my payment is sealed up in a little envelope and handed to me at the beginning of the day.
To do this for your wedding vendors I recommend getting your envelopes with payments ready a couple of days beforehand and then giving the responsibility of delivering the payments to a trusted family member (perhaps a parent or sibling).
That way you know everything is taken care of, but you don’t have to think about it on your big day!
Tip #2 Feed Your Vendors
Your wedding planner, photographer, videographer, and DJ put in A LOT of work on your wedding day. I’m talking walking thousands of steps, going for hours without taking a bathroom break, and showing up even when they are sick all to make sure your perfect day comes together.
And, although you pay them a fee for their services giving them a nice meal is MORE than appreciated!
Just make sure your vendors know they are welcome to help themselves to the buffet or give them a place card for a seated dinner to ensure they get the meals you have paid for.
Tip #3 Don’t forget the tips!
Now, don’t panic here - you don’t have to tip EVERY vendor for your wedding. Even if you have a super affordable wedding photographer they likely include all of their fees in the price of their services for the day.
As you are planning your payments for the day, make note of each vendor’s contracts and which contracts include gratuity. If there is no gratuity included, you should consider including a tip with their payment ranging from 10%-20% depending on the services they provide.
Now that you have wedding vendor etiquette down, you are definitely ready to head down the aisle for the best day of your life.
But, if you are still in need an affordable wedding photographer...I might just know someone you can talk to!
As an affordable wedding photographer in Oklahoma City, I’ve been to a lot of weddings, and I mean A LOT.
As far as weddings go, I’ve seen and experienced it all. Big weddings, small weddings, short weddings, long weddings, one-of-a-kind weddings, traditional weddings...and, yes, good weddings and bad weddings. When I think about all of those weddings and which were my favorite, every wedding that comes to mind has one common denominator - a good schedule.
So, today I’m going to tell you how to create a schedule for your wedding day that will help it to rank among the best of the best.
Let’s get started.
ALLOW YOURSELF TIME TO GET READY
Perfect wedding days are not rushed or filled with panic. In fact, the best weddings I have attended as both a bridal party member and a wedding photographer are the weddings when the bride and groom have been relaxed and throughout the entire day. But, if you want to go with the flow and create a chill atmosphere, making sure you have enough time to get ready without being rushed is key.
Every bridesmaid should have enough time to have their hair and make-up done, get their gown on, and eat a snack (maybe not in that order) before pictures begin. According to the experts, a bride with four bridesmaids should allow at least 4 hours total for hair and makeup.
BUDGET ENOUGH TIME FOR BASIC WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOS
The most basic wedding photography packages include pictures of the bride, groom, bridal party, wedding ceremony, the newlywed couple, and wedding day details. Not including the ceremony, these basic wedding photos will account for at least 2 hours of time on your wedding day.
Of course, these basic wedding photos do not have to be taken all at once. In fact, I recommend breaking these categories into a few smaller sessions throughout the day to help with the flow of the schedule. That way, not everyone in the bridal party is occupied at the same time, and if something goes wrong, the schedule can be easily changed to make amends. To see how I recommend breaking down the sessions and how long each one takes, check out the free guide offered on my website!
SCHEDULE TIME FOR YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE TO BE ALONE TOGETHER
Last but not least, don’t forget to schedule time for you and your spouse to be alone with one another. Sneak off into the sunset and enjoy a beverage or go outside and enjoy a dance under the stars. (Oh, and if you don’t mind a third-wheel for your time alone with your spouse, it can be a really great opportunity for your wedding photographer to grab a few candid shots that capture the real beauty of your day.)
No matter how you decide to create your schedule, just remember, you only get one wedding day...so don’t forget to schedule the time to take it all in.
If you’ve gotten this far in my series of posts on ‘What to do after you get engaged’ you know that wedding planning is no joke.
There are so many little details to dream up and boxes to check off to pull off the perfect day that at times it gets overwhelming. But, ladies (and gents if you are reading this), you should know that every minute you put into planning is worth it. That does not mean, however, that you will not to enlist help - which brings me to my first point…
FIND A WEDDING PLANNER
To a lot of brides, hiring a wedding planner feels pretentious and unnecessary. But, girl, let me tell you something. A good wedding planner is like a good haircut. TOTALLY WORTH IT!
When researching wedding planners, one thing you should know right away is that there are a wide variety of different options and services available. Many wedding planners offer a number of packages so that every bride, no matter her budget, can afford to hire expert help for her wedding day. All-inclusive services, month-of services, day-of services, and detail services are all options I have seen brides use and enjoy.
A good wedding planner will know exactly what you need before you even know you need it. And, because they know how to work a budget like playdough many brides find they are able to have their dream wedding (even when they thought they couldn’t) thanks to a wedding planner. Right in Oklahoma City, there are many AMAZING wedding planners I would highly recommend, including Borrowed Charm
Once you have found a wedding planner that fits your fancy, there’s one thing left to do…
HIRE AN OFFICIANT
Because there are about as many different types of officiants as there are pizza, you are going to need to know what you want when you are going into the search. In my mind, officiants fall into two camps, religious or non-religious. So, either you want someone to conduct your wedding ceremony that holds the same religious beliefs (no matter what they are) as you, or you don’t. Once you have decided which camp you reside in, you can begin your search!
If you choose to go the route of finding a religious wedding officiant, your search should be rather easy. If you belong to a local church (or your parents do) often times one of the pastors at the church will be able and willing to perform your ceremony. It is important, however, to ask in advance (like way in advance) so the officiant is able to save the date!
For those of you who are not going the religious route, you should know that almost anyone you want, yes anyone, can perform a wedding ceremony for you. Today there are numerous sites online where your friends or family members can obtain the licensure they need to make your marriage official.
If you aren’t religious or don’t have a friend or family member who you would like to perform the ceremony I have met a couple of absolutely AMAZING officiants during my time as a photographer that I would highly recommend. Chris Gray and Serindipity Nuptuals are some of the best I've met!
With a wedding planner by your side and an officant in place, there’s not much left to do besides buy the dress and walk down the aisle - the hardest parts of planning are over! Congratulations!
Now that you’ve nailed down a budget and set the date it’s time to start telling the world about your upcoming nuptials by taking engagement photos and sending save the dates!
I’m writing a 4 part series about what to do after you get engaged! Finding a photographer is crucial to other parts of your wedding planning beyond just wedding day photos.
In the age of social media that we live in, I am confident that one of the first things to cross a newly engaged woman’s mind is when she will get to post swoony pictures of her and her love on Instagram. And, believe me when I say, there’s nothing wrong with that!
If there is one thing I love more than wedding photos, it’s engagement photos. They don’t require a lot of fuss (i.e. big dresses and bridal parties), and it’s so incredibly fun to capture couples in their “natural environment” whether that is their home, favorite coffee shop, or a park in their favorite city (Oklahoma City!). Once your engagement photos have been taken, they can be used for anything---gifts, hanging in your home, and most importantly save the dates!
Finding the Right Engagement Photographer
When hiring an engagement photographer, it’s a good idea to choose the same photographer you would like to use for your wedding day. Not only do some photographers offer great combination packages at affordable prices, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to get to know the photographer and their style. When you hire the same photographer for your engagement photos and your wedding by the time your big day rolls around you will know each other so well you will feel like old friends...and your pictures will turn out even better!
Prepping for Engagement Photos
Like I said before, I love engagement photos because they are completely low maintenance. In my opinion, they turn out best when you have your hair and makeup styled naturally, and don’t go overboard on the props. However, there is still some prep that goes into engagement photos. You might want to choose a new casual outfit or have your hair freshly cut. Oh, and don’t forget to clue in your future hubby---he might want to do the same (or have you do it for him). I usually recommend couples plan two outfits; 1 casual outfit (jeans and nice shirts) and 1 dressy "date night" outfit to add variety to your session!
Making and Sending Save the Dates
Once your engagement shoot is over it’s time to put those pictures to work! Save the dates are one of the most popular ways to both show off your wedding photos and let people know you’ve officially set a date for the big day! You can make trendy, affordable save the dates online at a number of different sites. Some of my favorites are Shutterfly, Zazzle, and Canva. These sites make it simple to get the job done with their easy to use templates.
Best practice for save the date cards is to send them out to your friends and family at least six months in advance of the wedding! Some couples, however, choose to send them as early as a year in advance if they know they have guests who will be traveling from far away!
My last piece of advice: Enjoy this process! Relish in the moments of your engagement photos. Take time to take in the one you love. Be excited to share them with friends and family. This is your time and one of the best times in the entire wedding planning process!
Series Part 2
Pop the champagne, sister! It’s time to break out the wedding magazines and Pinterest boards for the fun part of wedding planning!
I’m writing a 4 part series about what to do after you get engaged! Follow this advice and get the hard part out of the way first! Then, you can move on to the fun stuff! We’ll talk about that in the next post!
In my last post, we talked about the first step in wedding planning: nailing down a budget. It’s certainly not fun, but it’s necessary...and it helps you do all of the fun stuff, which is what we are going to dive into today!
Finding a venue is one of the most exciting aspects of wedding planning and one of the most necessary. You have to have a venue to get married and you have to have a venue to book any other vendors (i.e., photographer, florist, caterer, DJ).
I talk to many brides who have had a location picked out since they were five years old, but I also talk to brides who have absolutely no idea what they want or where to start their search. Whichever camp you are in, I want to let you know that the process of picking your wedding venue and picking a date should be fun and memorable NOT tear-inducing or panic-packed.
As you start out on your search for the wedding location of your dreams, here are some tips I have for you!
Consider what is more important, the venue or the date
If you are a bride who has already picked the venue of your dreams and won’t settle for anything else, then that is where you have to start. Many popular venues are months and even years in advance. So, if you absolutely HAVE to get married at Rose Briar Place in June you might have to wait a few years. However, if you really want to get married in October next year and that’s all that matters, you might have to go through a few venues before you find one that will work for you.
Know how much money you want to spend
I know, I know...you thought we were done talking about money. Well, we’re not---when choosing a wedding venue you have to know how much of your budget you want to spend on location. Narrowing your venue search down first by budget will keep you from falling in love with a venue you can’t afford. (Believe me, you don’t need that kind of heartbreak in your wedding planning).
Think about your vendors
Believe it or not, there are wedding venues that have the ability to control which vendors you use for specific aspects of your weddings. Certain venues will only allow you to use their food for catering while others will make you choose your florist, photographer, or DJ from their list of approved/partner vendors. ( Don’t forget, you CAN find an amazing, affordable wedding photographer.) So, when you are touring venues be sure to ask about their vendor policies before you pay your deposit!
Happy venue hunting!
Series Part 1
So, you’ve got a shiny new rock weighing down your left-hand and you’re wondering what to do next?
I’m writing a 4 part series about what to do after you get engaged! Follow this advice and get the hard part out of the way first! Then, you can move on to the fun stuff! We’ll talk about that in the next post!
Well, as soon as the newness of the word fiance wears off and you finally stop staring at your finger every time you put your hand on the steering wheel--it’s time to get to work! The first stop...YOUR BUDGET!
I know it sounds dreadful, but the truth is you can’t start dreaming about your engagement photos, go dress shopping, or pick out flower arrangements until you know how much money you have to spend. If you’re ready to do that now (and if you want to get to the fun stuff, I’m guessing you are) I have a few little pointers for you.
Source your wedding funds
The first step to nailing down your wedding budget is to figure out where the money will come from. Now is the time to consider how much you have saved or can afford, if your fiance is able to contribute, and if your families have planned to help you in any way. It might take a few conversations, but knowing how much money you have to spend up-front will save you a lot of headaches in the long run!
Consider ALL of the costs
It might take you by surprise, but there is more to planning a wedding than buying a dress and hiring a DJ. You will need to hire an officiant, consider transportation for your guests, and if you are planning to get married outdoors---don’t forget the toilets! In fact, there are even pre-wedding costs to calculate as well. Make a list of all your costs, and then be prepared to pare it down.
Write down your list of must-haves
Is the donut wall you pinned on Pinterest last week calling your name? Is hiring a great photographer at the top of your list? Would you die to have daisies flown in from Holland? Whatever it is you can’t live without you need to write down and set aside the money you are willing to spend. Then, once you see what you have left...choose what you are willing to leave out!
Keep it all organized
In order for your wedding budget to work in your favor, you need to keep track of your spending. Luckily, there are a couple of apps you can use to make that job a little easier. One app I really like is Wedding Happy. With Wedding Happy, you can use to stay on top of all things wedding including your budget without losing your mind. Enter your to-do list and all of your spending so you always know where you are and don’t have to stress going over budget. Of course, there are also other apps like Pocketbook and Track My Spend that you can use as well to make sure your cash isn’t going too quickly.
Being a wedding photographer every time I meet new people and tell them what I do it opens up an opportunity for them to tell me about their wedding photography nightmares. I hear stories about late photographers, rainy first looks, and forgotten pictures…oh, the forgotten pictures.
Forgotten pictures are my biggest fear as a photographer. I literally have nightmares about delivering a happy couple my hard work only to realize I forgot to take a picture that was very important to them. That’s why, when I work with couples I recommend that we create a list of the day’s “must have pictures” so we are both sure every memorable (and important) moment will be captured. If you are working on your own list of must-have pictures, here are 5 shots I HIGHLY recommend putting on your list!
Getting Ready & Detail Photos
Pre-wedding shots are a big deal right now-as in, everyone is doing them. And, while I’m generally not one to jump on every bandwagon that passes by, I truly love getting ready shots. In my opinion, they are a great opportunity to capture the anticipation leading up to the big moment as well as all of the little details. Pictures of any special jewelry you may be wearing, your dress, shoes, veil and gifts you and your groom are exchanging, and your mom (or loved one) helping you into your wedding gown are all must-haves!
Individual Bridal Party Members
Although they aren’t the only part of your big day, the members of your bridal party are a big part of your day. I’ve worked with many brides and grooms who have requested shots with each of their individual bridal party members and I think it’s a fabulous idea! Taking pictures with each member gives you the opportunity to capture your friendship with each one and is a great keepsake for them as well.
Formal (or not so formal) Family Photos
No matter what you do, don’t go through your entire wedding day without getting pictures of you and your family! Take pictures with your parents, siblings and grandparents. These photos will be cherished and passed down for generations and also make very simple holiday gifts!
In Oklahoma City, there are endless amazing venues for your wedding, and having a picture of the venue itself is a wonderful way to remember your day. Venue photos are perfect for the front of an album and even make a great canvas print for your wall.
Bride and Groom Portraits
Many brides and grooms are so busy on their wedding day they might actually forget to schedule time to have portraits taken together. I always make sure couples know set aside time, even if it’s just 15 minutes of them alone with their photographer to get portraits of them on their first day as a married couple! It’s your day, be sure there’s plenty of photos of you by scheduling time for portraits. I personally make sure I get bride, groom, and photos of the couple together capturing the joy and excitement of saying yes to forever during bride and groom portrait time!
Now you have my list of recommendations, you can get to work on a list of your own. Remember, your list of must-have pictures should include what is most important to you!
Oklahoma's Affordable Wedding Photographer
Hi, I'm Kenzie! This blog serves as an active portfolio showing samples of real weddings photographed with my low price affordable packages. I offer wedding photography packages under $2,000 to all couples! Please use my contact page to check my availability and to schedule a free consultation!
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