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Beach, Sweden

Friday, April 6, 2007
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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The Foundry, Knoxville, TN

Sunday, March 25, 2007
Happy anniversary to the Raders! Holli Irwin and Eric Rader were married March 2006 at The Foundry by The World's Fair Park in downtown Knoxville. After a very sweet first look meeting in front of the fireplace where they would later have their ceremony, Holli, Eric, and I spent some time taking couple portraits around the Foundry and the historic L&N depot.

Beside the Foundry, I saw a tree that was just getting its new spring leaves. Something about it there in the sunlight, so bright and happy, just seemed to capture the mood of the day perfectly. There were also some very ominous clouds which made for a beautifully dramatic sky, but the rain held off.

Irwin/Rader Wedding Anniversary March 25

Irwin/Rader Wedding Anniversary March 25

Irwin/Rader Wedding Anniversary March 25

Irwin/Rader Wedding Anniversary March 25

Irwin/Rader Wedding Anniversary March 25

Irwin/Rader Wedding Anniversary March 25
This was the first and only time I've seen the Easter Bunny, a surprise guest invited by Holli's mother,  ask to dance with the bride.
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Butterfly Gap Retreat, Maryville, TN

Wednesday, March 14, 2007
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I'm excited because I just received an album in the mail and wanted to share. I'm always looking for new products to offer my customers, and this album is from a new album company that I've been wanting to try. Like other albums I offer, it's a digital album with the photos printed directly on the pages, and the cover has a photo that wraps around from front to back. What I really like about this album is that there isn't a gutter gap between the pages. When you open the book, the spreads lay flat, and the photo is printed across the crease in the center.

Because the bride, Mandy, helps run Butterfly Gap Retreat with her family, I'm giving them a copy of the album to show their clients at BGR. I'll also have a copy to show my prospective clients. Butterfly Gap is a gorgeous venue, perfect for a bridal or couple portrait session, and I designed the album to showcase photos of the couple. Here are the cover and a few of my favorite spreads:

Album: Mandy & Johnathan
Album: Mandy & Johnathan
Album: Mandy & Johnathan

Album: Mandy & Johnathan
Album: Mandy & Johnathan
Album: Mandy & Johnathan
Album: Mandy & Johnathan
Album: Mandy & Johnathan
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The Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, TN

Monday, March 12, 2007
Since this is my first year with a blog, weddings from past years have missed out on being featured. To rectify this, I want to go back and do postings for those couples in honor of their anniversaries.

Lindsay Anderson & Brian Ison had a 2005 destination wedding in Gatlinburg, TN. They rented a large cabin from Majestic Mountain Vacations so that they could have the ceremony and reception there. It was perfect for the intimate event they had planned, and the view was incredible. Fortunately, the sun came out and melted the snow that had fallen the day before or I'm not sure we could have made it up the hill to the cabin!

The view looking toward the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Gatlinburg.
Anderson/Ison Wedding Anniversary March 12
Anderson/Ison Wedding Anniversary March 12
Anderson/Ison Wedding Anniversary March 12
Brian is in the U.S. Airforce so Lindsay wore a dog tag on her garter.
Anderson/Ison Wedding Anniversary March 12Anderson/Ison Wedding Anniversary March 12
Anderson/Ison Wedding Anniversary March 12
Anderson/Ison Wedding Anniversary March 12
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Whitestone Country Inn, Kingston, TN

Wednesday, March 7, 2007
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While planning my 2004 wedding, I looked at several venues in the area. Aesthetics are very important to me, and I knew that I wanted something picturesque and elegant. Initially I liked the idea of having a ceremony outside, but the stress of not having an indoor option for inclement weather turned me off at a few locations. Once I visited Whitestone Country Inn, I knew that I had found the perfect place.

Whitestone has a cute little gazebo area with a gorgeous view if you want to have an outdoor ceremony, but they also have a little chapel available. Since our wedding was in June, I was a bit worried about the temperatures outside and decided to use the chapel. A spring or fall wedding overlooking the lake would be beautiful though.

Not only are the grounds beautiful, but the buildings are all great inside and out. I stayed in a large room with my girlfriends the night before the wedding and then stayed in another nice suite on my wedding night. All of our family and friends were well taken care of and commented on how nice the venue was. The food was excellent, and the coordinator worked with me to accomodate all of my requests and to make the day run smoothly.

It was the perfect venue for us, and I am so glad that I found it. Here are a few snapshots:

The early morning view from my balcony:

Venue Spotlight: Whitestone Country Inn

Looking up the hill to the chapel and reception building:
Venue Spotlight: Whitestone Country Inn

The gazebo and heart-shaped courtyard located next to the chapel:
Venue Spotlight: Whitestone Country Inn

Not every venue will work for every wedding, and there are a few things to consider with this location. The ceremony areas and reception hall are not extremely large. The inn is located out in the country down some small, winding roads. This may present a problem for guests traveling home afterward. Due to the inclusive nature of the weekend wedding packages and the exclusivity of the venue, many budgets will not be able to afford this venue. However, if you fall in love with the location then you may be able to find other areas to cut back in or work with the venue on a weekday or off-season wedding.
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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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