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Lulea Gammelstad Church Village, Sweden

Sunday, July 11, 2010
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Marcus, Hayden, and I flew over to Sweden last month for Sara and Dan's wedding in Luleå. It's always fun to visit Marcus's family, but it was especially neat to be back in Luleå. That's where Marcus was living and going to school when I first visited him back in 1998, and I later spent a semester there as well. One of my favorite places to visit in Luleå is the little church village (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) so I was super excited when Sara told me that she would be getting married in the medieval stone church there.

Swedish weddings are a bit different from what I'm used to (mainly the reception which consists of a very long meal with lots of speeches), and it was an exciting day. Dan and Sara are so great together, and we are really happy to have him in the family now.

It's tough to do engagement photos when your photographer lives on another continent, but we did manage to fit in a few on the morning after the wedding.

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

In Sweden, couples typically walk down the aisle together, and they don't have our tradition where the groom avoids seeing the bride before the ceremony. I'm glad that Sara and Dan decided to do a special "first meeting" though.

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

Sara fits the Swedish stereotype. She's thin, blonde, and beautiful. Her hair was gorgeous too.

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

Opposite from here in the states, Swedish brides get a basic engagement band and a nicer ring on the wedding day. Dan was showing off the bling in the middle of the ceremony.

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

Rice tosses are still popular in Sweden. There were several weddings that day, and the steps to the church were almost hazardous from all the rice that had already been thrown. It is fun and does look cool, but (before any American brides get any ideas) Sara had a lot of rice stuck in her hair and down her dress for the rest of the day.

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

The weather was actually warm compared to the week before the wedding, but it did threaten to rain on us all afternoon. Besides the obvious reasons that you don't want rain on the wedding day, I was a bit worried because of the ride that we were taking to the reception - a helicopter (my first time in one). I do hate heights, but I don't mind flying so I was excited but nervous. The view along the way was really cool though.

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

The guests were waiting outside the reception hall and expected the couple to arrive in the convertible car that they had left the church in. Sara and Dan's parents didn't even know about the helicopter until they saw (and heard) us circling around overhead.

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

Hellsten / Axelsson Wedding June 12, 2010

And for those brides who are afraid that something will go wrong on the wedding day, let me assure you that something almost always does, but it is never as bad as you'd imagine. At this wedding, the power went off in the reception hall. While it didn't present a big problem in terms of lighting since it stays light all night this time of year, it did prove challenging for those preparing the food. The staff lit up some grills outside and eventually served a very delicious meal.

Marcus is often my second shooter, but he was busy tending to Hayden. Special thanks to Petra Hall for helping me photograph the wedding!

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Beach, Sweden

Friday, April 6, 2007
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Traditionally, bridal sessions took place in a studio before the wedding so that brides could display a bridal portrait at the wedding reception. However, I usually recommend that couples plan bridal/couple sessions for after the wedding. If you do the session after, you don't have to worry about planning time on the wedding day for all those dreamy, romantic couple photos that you want. You can pick the time of year, the location, the time of day for the best lighting etc, and, unlike the wedding day when you're rushed and stressed, you can relax and spend the time you want getting all the photos you desire. Best of all, unlike a traditional bridal sesison, you can do it together.

One of the biggest advantages to having the session after the wedding is that you don't have to worry about getting the dress dirty. Wedding dresses are notorious for starting to get dirty the moment you put them on. Of course you can carry sheets or towels and be extremely careful to keep it clean, but you can't do the fun, cool poses when you're worried about keeping a dress clean.
Some brides and photographers have taken this post-wedding bridal session idea to the extreme with "trash the dress" sessions, and there's even a blog to document this phenomenon.

This is what the blog's creator Mark Eric has to say about it:

Go ahead, you know you want to. Trash it. Get it dirty. Get it wet. Roll around in the mud. Drench it in the ocean. Totally trash it.
Why? … Why not? You’ve made a commitment to your husband. He’s your one and only true love, right? Then you’ll never need the dress again. And no, your daughter won’t wear it in 20-30 years. So you have two choices:
1) Suffocate it in plastic and throw it in a closet
2) Show your husband how committed you are by trashing the dress, and get some great fun pictures while you do it!
Then after you do it- send the pictures to us to publish for all the world to see. What are you waiting on?

Just think about the amazing photos you can get when you aren't worried about the dress! Admittedly, you will get your dress dirty and wrinkled, but for the most part even "trash the dress" sessions will probably not cause irreparable harm to the gown. You have to get it cleaned after the wedding anyway so why not have some fun before you do?

If you're a fun-loving bride looking for some adventure and unique, out-of-the-box photos, send me your ideas for a "trash the dress" session. Whether it be in an abandoned warehouse, in the forest, at a firehouse, or even in a junkyard, if you have a great idea then contact me. Let's have some fun and create some gorgeous photos.

Bridal Sessions: Who wants to have some fun?

Bridal Sessions: Who wants to have some fun?

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Welcome to the Nancy Hellsten Photography blog! This is the place to be if you’re looking for wedding ideas and photography promotions or if you just want to view some great photos and see what I’ve been up to. If you or someone you know are getting married, having a baby, or just want some relaxed portraits with the family, please visit my website or contact me for more information. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting and check back often to see what’s new.
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