Year: 2017

3 Important Steps in Goal Setting Prep!!

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A brand new year is almost upon us! So, naturally, the Internet is abuzz with the topic of goal-setting. I wrote this post around the same time last year all about why it’s so important to set goals, along with a few tips for how to set yourself up for success! If you’ve never physically written down your goals, click over to last year’s post to read my thoughts on why I think it’s 100% necessary. It’s definitely worth setting aside the time to do it!!  This year, as I’m preparing to put pen to paper and set my goals for the upcoming year, I thought I would share what that process of preparation looks like for me. There’s no wrong answer when it comes to doing pre-goal-setting work; this just happens to be the method that resonates most with me. :)

So, let’s dive right in!!

Step 1: Re-Read all goals set at the beginning of the current year. 

The first thing I do is pull out all of my lists of goals – both business goals and personal ones – and I read through them to see what’s still on there that I didn’t accomplish. Whatever I didn’t accomplish, I’m going to re-evaluate to decide whether or not it’s still a relevant goal. If it is, I will flag it to move over to my goals for the new year. If it’s no longer relevant, I just scribble it out. For example, one of my business goals for this past year was to grow our Boothtastic Facebook page to 2000 followers and launch an ad campaign to promote our booth. I did not accomplish that because I focused my energy in other places, and have since decided that this particular goal is no longer relevant because we’ve changed the way we offer Boothtastic to our clients. A lot can change in a year as things grow and evolve!! So, this goal that I previously set for myself gets the good ‘ol scribble de doo. Make sense? :)

Step 2: Read through all journal entries for the current year.

I keep a journal for most of the year. I say *most* because I usually let go of journaling around September-ish when my shooting/editing schedule starts to really ramp up in intensity. I’m totally okay with this; it’s a natural part of the rhythm of my job and something I’ve come to accept and expect. But the knowledge and insight I gain from reading those journal entries from January – September is so incredibly helpful. It gives me a birds eye view of where my head and heart were at throughout the year. They show me what I learned, what I celebrated, and where I struggled, and all of that plays a huge role in shaping my goals for the new year.

Step 3: Make a list of what went well and what did not both professionally and personally. 

This step is super important. If you don’t take the time to reflect on what you did right and what you could have done better or differently, how will you ever grow? If you want to evolve and become the best version of yourself, you have to stare down your shortcomings and dream up better ways to do things. It’s equally important to say “Hey, I did a great job with _____!” Know your strengths, know your weaknesses, and know that they can change/shift over time. I wrote down a whole bunch of goals at the end of last year. I accomplished some of them and failed miserably at others and I find it very helpful to look at the reasons why. Did I have enough support in place to accomplish my goals? Did I give myself enough time to complete tasks? If I set out to do something, but didn’t make it happen, there’s a reason for that. Knowing what it was will help me be even more successful in the long run.

I typically take a couple of days to work my way through these three steps, but once the pre-work is done I can move on to the best part: setting intentional, actionable goals for the new year!

Last year, I wrote a “2016: What Worked and What Didn’t” blog post, and it’s so cool to look back on that and see how far I’ve come since then! I’m working on the 2017 version right now, so I’ll be sharing that early next week. :)

Have you set goals for yourself yet? If you know what you want to accomplish this year, make sure you take the extra step of writing it down. Writing down your goals is the KEY puzzle piece! If you have never set goals before or have absolutely no idea whatsoever what your goals should be, don’t fret – that’s way more common than you might think. I’ve been there myself! Following the above steps will definitely help you organize your thoughts. If you need more personalized help getting organized, just shoot me a message! —> info@ayresphoto.com

Happy New Year, friends!  This year is filled with so much promise and I’m so very excited to see it all unfold.

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3 Reasons Why We LOVE (and highly recommend) First Looks

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The “First Look” has gained a lot of momentum in the last 5-7 years, to the point where it’s almost more common than going the traditional route of seeing each other at the altar. More than half of our couples choose to do a “First Look,” and it makes us SO HAPPY. Wedding traditions are evolving and couples are making more conscious choices about how to spend their time on their wedding day. One of my favorite things about doing a “First Look,” is that it allows for more quality time with family and friends later on, and we are all about making that happen!  Today, I’m sharing the top THREE reasons why we love and encourage our couples to do a “First Look,” so if you’re on the fence about whether or not to do one, or just want to learn more about them, read on, my friend! :)

1. Calm your nerves. There’s a reason why you’re marrying the person you’re marrying – and most likely part of that reason, in some way, shape or form, is because of the calming effect they have on you. Because the sight of them after a long and stressful day at work is just what you need to bring you back down. Because their touch is the one thing that keeps you grounded when tensions are running high. Because they are your everything, your heart, your home, and your comfort. There’s a lot of pressure on a wedding day and sometimes the best way to relax your nerves is to break tradition and simply have a moment, before the big moment, with the one you love.

2. Have a private moment (possibly your ONLY private moment) together on your wedding day. As much as your wedding day is all about you, it’s really not. Sure, it’s about celebrating you and your fiance and your beautiful love, but with lots (and lots!) of other people. People who are going to be around you ALL DAY LONG. People who can’t wait to have your ear for just a minute to tell you how beautiful you look and how happy they are for you, (as they should!). Because of this, it can get pretty tricky to grab a moment alone once the ceremony commences. Want to enjoy your wedding dinner with your new husband and have a quiet moment to yourselves to discuss this incredible day? Well, too bad. Your food is going to get cold and your conversation together will be short and sweet because your cousin Steve, who doesn’t stop talking and flew in from across the country to celebrate with you, has decided that dinner time is the perfect time to pull up a chair and have a long overdue chat. Want to tell your fiance how amazing they look when you meet them at the altar? You can! – sort of. But you better keep it to one quick line because the congregation is ready for the ceremony to start and the officiant isn’t going to wait for you guys to have a quick convo about how happy you are in that moment. That fleeting moment. That moment you will only have once in your life. That amazing, incredible moment where you see the person you’re about to marry for the very first time, all dressed up just for you in the most beautiful wedding attire. You’ll be filled with so many incredible emotions that will overflow and you’ll want to laugh and cry and hug each other and share everything you’re feeling in that moment. But, without a first look,  you’ll be sharing it with 100+ of your closest friends and family and the officiant, who are all ready to get on with the show.

3. Time. Doing a First Look gives you many more opportunities for photos with each other and with your wedding party. If you do a First Look then all of your photos can be done before the ceremony. While your guests are at home getting ready for your “I dos”, you can be location hopping, taking your leisurely time and relaxing during your photos with everyone, instead of running to get them all done between the ceremony and reception. Your guests will be grateful that they don’t have to try and find a local bar to go to to waste time during the 2 hours between the end of your ceremony and the start of your reception, all while you and your new hubby race around trying to make the most of the brief time you scheduled in for not only your portraits but all of your group photos (and family photos!) as well. And, if that isn’t enough incentive, you can actually ENJOY YOUR COCKTAIL HOUR!!! That’s right! You’re paying for it, so you might as well reap the benefits. Attending your own cocktail hour will also give you time to mingle with your guests instead of having to make rounds to all the tables during dinner, which in turn gives you time to actually EAT YOUR DINNER! Amazing! We believe so strongly that a wedding day is as much about the people you love as it is about you. It’s about all of the people you love most in the world coming together under one roof for a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime, unforgettable night. Your friends and fam will come from all over the globe to be there for you, so spending as much time with them as possible just makes sense!

If you’re still on the fence after reading all that then please, let me assure you: A First Look will in no way take away from your walk down the aisle. In fact, it may enhance it! Many of our brides have said that doing a First Look allowed them to truly experience the moment of seeing each other for the first time and be themselves together in that moment. But, the second those church doors opened and they stepped out into the aisle, they still felt that enormous rush of emotion at the sight of their future husband up at the altar waiting, with friends and family looking on. Nothing you do can take away from the emotion of your wedding ceremony. Those feelings of excitement, anticipation, and overwhelming love will stay with you for the entire day, whether at the altar or during a First Look. There is something so special and sacred about walking up to meet your love at the altar, regardless of whether or not you saw them before hand. The two photos above of Sarah and Ben’s First Look, and the one below of their first moments at the altar are a perfect example of this.

Read on to hear what a few of our couples had to say about their First Look experience!

“I was a bit torn over the whole First Look business since it’s not necessarily traditional. Sabrina was really pushing for it so I conceded.  I think I was actually a bit speechless when I saw her.  It definitely took the edge off and put me at ease before we got into the ceremony. It reminded me that it was just us, nothing else, other than some fancy clothes.” – Aaron + Sabrina

The first look was definitely one of the most memorable moments of not just the wedding but of my life. There is a certain nervousness that comes along with the first look. In all honesty, I wasn’t too keen on doing a it when we first started the process of wedding planning. I had heard of them before but wasn’t very enthralled by them. I always had this notion that the first time I would see my bride would be when she walked down the aisle. As it turned out, doing a first look was one of the best decisions we made. I knew exactly where she would be coming from but there was so much nervous excitement regardless. When Stacey tapped me on my shoulder and I turned around I was absolutely blown away by how stunning she looked. She’s always beautiful but on that day, in that moment, I’ve never seen someone so beautiful in my life.” – Brad + Stacey

Initially, we weren’t planning on doing the first look, but Jenn convinced us that it would be a really beautiful moment where it was just the two of us before we began the day of craziness. I have to say, it was such a special moment. I will carry every detail with me for a very long time from the tap on the shoulder to the look on Chris’s face when he turned around. Having the amazing photos to remember it by and a few moments with each other was priceless and I absolutely would do that all over again. Thanks Jenn!” – Kristin + Chris

The first look was really incredible. I admit I was pretty nervous, especially waiting to see Laura, but once we were together all the nerves just went away. It was great to enjoy the moment: just the two of us, surrounded by trees, and away from all of the craziness. Just to see how happy Laura was – that was probably my favorite moment of the day.” – Nathan + Laura

Tom and I always knew we wanted to do a First Look. I think it was more about the timing of the day than anything else. We were excited at the idea of being able to enjoy our cocktail hour with all of our guests and not having to rush through photos between the ceremony and reception, or making our guests have to go find something to do to kill time in between. We were, however, both a bit concerned that doing a First Look might take away from the ‘big moment’ of me walking down the aisle.  After all, we only got one shot at a wedding day and we wanted to be sure that we did it right. Luckily on the morning of our wedding, our First Look was absolutely perfect. To be able to see each other privately, to hug, to laugh, to share our feelings about the day and how our mornings went, to just have a moment together to breathe before the chaos of the day set in, was just everything. I honestly don’t think that my day would have gone as smoothly if we hadn’t had this opportunity. It calmed my nerves and really helped both of us to just relax and soak everything in, together. Once we got to our ceremony space we went our separate ways until it was time for our wedding to start. The second Tom left my side I felt emotion welling up inside me – a nervous and excited anticipation of what was about to happen. It didn’t matter in the slightest that we had just spent a couple of hours together, or that he had already seen what I looked like in my dress and veil. When those doors opened out to the aisle and I saw him standing up by the altar… words simply can’t describe that feeling. There is truly nothing that could have taken away from how we both felt in that moment. Needless to say, tears began flowing and didn’t stop until long after our ‘I Do’s’. Thinking back on everything now, nearly 4 years later, I am still so overjoyed that we did things the way we did.” – Rachel + Tom

So the moral of the story is, if you’re considering a First Look in any way then you should absolutely go for it!! You’ll be calmer overall, you’ll be able to truly feel all of your emotions (instead of trying to maintain your composure in front of the 150 people whose eyes will be glued to you as you walk down the aisle), and you’ll be able to spend more time with all of the people who came from far and wide to celebrate your love.  I feel that it’s SO IMPORTANT to clarify, though, that there’s no wrong answer here. Whether you decide to do a First Look or not, your wedding day will be one of the most incredibly amazing days of your entire life!  Over the years we have seen all of the many ways that this option can enhance the wedding day experience, so we wanted to share! :)

Married friends: Did you do a First Look on your wedding day? Are you glad you did?! We’d love to hear all about it in the comments!!!