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First Birthday Portraits: Happy Birthday Nina!

I can’t believe it has already been a year since sweet little Nina Mae arrived via Hot Air Balloon, one cold February morning last year! Take a peek at some of my favorite images from our newborn shoot and Nina’s first birthday portrait shoot! It is amazing watching the transformation that happens from when a baby is born to when they turn one!

I thought it would be neat to utilize the same basket that we had Nina in when she was born to showcase just how much she has grown in this last year! Nina went from being a sleepy and snuggly newborn to being a bouncing, bubbly, and on the move one year old!

During Nina’s first year portrait session, we took the opportunity to have a fun cake smash session! This was my first cake smash session and it was a blast! I think Nina’s mommy Laura and I had more fun eating the left over funfetti cake than Nina did, but it was still super cute to watch! I especially loved when Nina decided to share the cake with her Teddy!

After the cake smash, we let Nina run around and play while Laura and I caught up. It was quiet for a minute and we looked over to find Nina playing in the window. This is the sweetest little ballerina sequence and I am so glad to have watched it unfold. Don’t ever lose your cuteness Nina Mae! Happy Birthday!

For more information on first birthday portrait sessions click here.

I’d love to watch your baby grow and help you capture these beautiful little moments of life!



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Wedding Wednesdays: The Dress

Things just got real for me last week. My wedding dress arrived, in tact and more beautiful than I remembered! If I hadn’t left it in the care of my trusted friend, I would be sleeping in it every night. In fact, I am ready to pack it up and elope at a moments notice. Lucky for Frank and my family, it is still too long to walk in and needs some tailoring to fit just right!

For me, finding the wedding dress happened to be way easier than I had planned. I have imagined what my wedding dress would look like since I was a little girl. As an impressionable seven year old back in 1991, I pretty much dreamed my wedding would be everything that Annie Banks had when she married Bryan MacKenzie in Father of the Bride. Most certainly, my wedding dress would look exactly like hers. However, I didn’t quite remember that it looked like this:

I still love Father of the Bride and I love one thing about Annie’s dress: the lace. It is beautiful. I knew going into the search that I had to have a lace dress. Turns out, lucky for me, lace dresses are all the rage for 2013-2014 weddings!

Here are 4 of my unsolicited words of advice on finding your perfect dress:

1- Know your budget

Most of us brides have all seen an episode or two of Say Yes to the Dress and know that budget is typically the first question on the list. Try to be realistic about your budget and stick to it. I know brides who have found their perfect dress for $99 and brides who have found their dream dress for $20k+. Figure out what your priorities are, what makes you happy and search within those parameters. Stick to your budget and try not to consider dresses outside your range.

2- Entourage

Choose the entourage you bring wedding dress shopping with you wisely. Pick a core group of trusted friends or family and try not to have too many opinions in the pot. Having too many opinions can muddle your own opinion. Also, most wedding dress shops are small and there isn’t physically room for a ton of people to watch you try on dresses.

This time can be a very special time to share with certain people in your life. Consider whom you bring with you when you go out for your first time. I chose to venture out with just my mom on my first trip to the wedding dress shop. It was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. My mom and I were able to bond over the special moment of trying on my first white dress ever. It is a moment that I will never be able to recreate. I was also able to share it with my stepdad after I found the perfect dress. I don’t know that I will ever be able to put into words how cool that feeling was to get to have a special moment with the two of them, especially because it will be more difficult to plan a special moment for them on my wedding day.  I will treasure that experience for the rest of my life.

3- Look/Feel

You need to feel the most beautiful you ever have in your dress, and only you can feel those feelings. I would suggest going into the shopping experience with an open mind. Often times, dresses that may look great on one person don’t necessarily look the best on you. Don’t get discouraged if your “dream dress” isn’t as dreamy on you as you imagined. Keep looking. It is important to try on a variety of styles to get an idea of what will flatter you the most. Having an open mind will make the process easier for you. With that said, if you hate a particular style of dress, don’t bother trying it on. Once you feel like you found the right dress. STOP LOOKING. You will only make the search harder. There are probably a billion wedding dresses out there in the world. There will always be another dress. Pick the one you love when you love it and move on to the other million items on your “to do” list.

4- Utility

Dang some of those dresses are super heavy! Think about actually wearing the dress for a full day. If the dress is heavy in the store, it isn’t going to get any lighter as your wedding day progresses. Also, consider where the detail in the dress is located and if you will need tailoring to make the dress fit you properly. Sometimes details can be lost if the dress isn’t designed to be tailored in areas where you need it tailored. Also, if your dress has embellishments along the chest line and under your arms, your skin might get irritated and you could have a miserable night and honeymoon.

These are a few of the key lessons I have learned in the process. What pieces of advice helped you find the right dress? What were your fears about finding a dress? Do you have any regrets about your wedding dress? I’d love to hear from you!


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Barb Gaudioso Slye - March 8, 2013 - 1:46 am

What does a Bom wear? :>::

Wedding Wednesdays: Choosing a Photographer

I am new to this whole wedding business. I am writing this piece today to offer my advice based on my own experience in hiring a wedding photographer. Wedding photography is one of my biggest priorities on my wedding day (other than marrying the man of my dreams and having a great time of course!) On my wedding day, I know that I don’t want to have to think about what my wedding photographer is doing. I want to be able to live in the moment of my day and focus on living the memories that I am creating.

As a photographer, I know the value behind having beautiful lasting images that will last for generations to come. I want my great-grand kids to be able to look at our pictures and feel the emotion behind the day and to be able to see just how much love their ol’ great grandparents had for each other, even so long ago. Having been in a number of weddings, attended two handfuls more, and photographed along the way, I have seen first hand the impact that a photographer can have on the day.

Good photographers help control the flow of the day. Good photographers help create peace of mind and make the bride and groom feel comfortable. Good photographers are aware of family dynamics, must have shots, understand their equipment, have back up equipment just in case, know how to utilize available light and fill flash, and capture key moments during the day. Great photographers are personable, interactive, creative, responsive, multi-talented (think- know how to bustle a dress, provide you with bridal resources and recommendations, etc.) and are fun to be around. Great photographers invest in their education, talent and equipment.

Here are my main pieces of advice:

Employ the Rule of 3: Contact the top 3 photographers whose style you are visually drawn to.

Photography is about images right? You want to choose a photographer who captures moments the way you like to view them. Do you like more formally posed and traditional images or do you like photojournalistic and candid type of images? Look through the photographer’s website to see the photographer’s style. You will learn a lot about the photographer’s style through the images in their portfolio, on their blog and posted on other forms of social media. Feel free to ask a photographer for more recent samples of their work, or to view an entire wedding gallery to get a better idea of their wedding photography style. A photographer who doesn’t want to show you more, is one to avoid!

Plan your photography budget around your expectations:

If you are expecting great images and a great experience, you will pay a premium for a photographer who can deliver. In Boston, the going rate appears to be between $3,500-$10,000+ for the top level. If you are looking for a middle of the road option with someone to cover most of the day and give you some files in the end so that you can use the images, expect to spend in the $2,000- $3,000 range. If you are hiring a photographer because your parents insist on having some family portraits and you could care less about it, you should expect to spend in the $1,000- $1,500 range. Price doesn’t always necessarily ensure a great photographer or a bad photographer. So it is important to do your research and consider these other key pieces of advice.

Evaluate Responsiveness, Personality and Customer Service:

My biggest pet peeve during the search for a wedding photographer was the surprising lack of response that I got from some photographers. Some photographers simply sent a form email back saying that they would be in touch, only to never follow through. Others simply sent their pricing and continually followed up with me begging me to hire them but without spending any time to learn any specifics about me and my fiancé or our day. One didn’t even know my fiance’s name after 3 different interactions!

The photographers that stood out to me were the ones who followed up on my inquiry within one business day (even on the weekends). Some called me on the phone directly. Others set up Skype dates to chat about their photography business and to learn more about what we were looking for. They showed me the value in their business by taking time to learn about us and educate me about the process and how they operate. During the time of having phone, in person or skype consultations, I was able to learn a lot about the type of personality the photographer had and whether we would work well together.

You will be working with the photographer you choose for well over a year in most cases. You want to be a great fit for each other and be able to know that you can count on the photographer to be there when you need them. Treat every step of the process like an interview and stick to your gut instinct. You should be happy in the end!

Finally, consider reviews and recommendations

With so many photographers and wedding vendors out there in this world, it helps to have recommendations from others to help get you pointed in the right direction. There are a million wedding resources like The Knot and Wedding Wire that rate and compare photographers. Read these reviews carefully. Do your research and evaluate the photographers using the tips I have suggested above and you should be more than able to find a great fit for you.

In the end, finding the right photographer for you is about balancing all of your priorities and finding the best fit. How cool would it be to walk away after your wedding day with a new great friend, beautiful images and lasting memories of the best day of your life? I hope this post helps to get you closer to that point!


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Bhumika Patel - February 21, 2013 - 7:17 pm

Great advice Kiera! So posting this on my facebook for all my new brides- to-be friends!

Wedding Wednesdays: “Do You Have a Date?”

The first question asked of you when you get engaged is often, “So, do you guys have a date yet?” My answer at first was: “um… no?” It wasn’t clever, witty, or sarcastic and kind of made me disappointed in myself for not being creative. I met with a fellow newly engaged bride this week and she gave me the BEST answer yet! So, next time you get asked the question: “Do you have a date yet?” Your fantastic reply should be: “Why yes, I do have a date: my fiancé!” Love it! Thanks Susan!

The reality is, most people are just curious to find out if you plan to get married soon and where (as in what geographical area) you will likely be hosting the event. The answer to the question of when and where you are getting married turns out to be much more challenging than I had ever imagined.  For example, my fiancé and I are from different states, he grew up in New Jersey, I grew up in New York, we currently live in Boston, we met in New Hampshire, and were engaged in California. It seemed like the options for where we would/could get married were endless.

I started by dreaming of all sorts of possibilities for the wedding. I hate being sweaty so I knew I wanted a fall or spring time wedding. I knew that I love the ocean and beautiful views, so I thought about the coast. I knew I wanted a location where I could create a weekend of fun for my wedding guests and have multiple opportunities to hang out with my guests. I knew we couldn’t get married in the next year because my fiance’s work schedule was insane and we already had 5 weddings to attend in the next year. I also knew that I didn’t want to wait 2 years to get married, so eventually, I narrowed the search down to spring time, 2014.

We decided to look for venues near Boston/the East Coast because we love this area and will have many travelers coming in from out of town regardless of where we ended up choosing. While looking at what seemed like endless possibilities of locations in the area, I quickly found that in order to narrow down the search, I needed an idea of just how many people we might have at the wedding. So my first real step was to map out a “dream list” of every single person I would invite in an ideal world.

My list was nearing 300 people! I had always imagined a small wedding, even had considered eloping and throwing a fun reception party later, so for me this number rattled me. I started immediately hacking the list apart. I devised a way of categorizing people into 3 lists: A-List (Absolutely have to be there), B-List (Break my heart to not have there), C- (Can justify not inviting and still stay friends). I decided that at this point we needed to find a place that could accommodate 200-250 people and I began preparing myself for a big wedding.

Having an “ideal number” helped to narrow the search dramatically. I quickly learned the harsh lesson that throwing a wedding for 200+ people would end up being extremely costly, especially anywhere along the coast in “beach-y” areas (think upwards of $300 a head just for food!). I also started thinking about how some locations might be challenging to travel to for people, so we decided to focus on Boston proper. In the end, our search brought us to the State Room. It was a large open space, with gorgeous views, great reviews and amazing food. We were sold instantly.

How have you answered the “Do You Have a Date” question? What issues did you run into? How do you keep track of your list of guests, timelines, and must-haves? I can’t wait to hear about your experiences and challenges. Next week, tune in when I tackle “How to Choose a Wedding Photographer.”



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Judy Beauchemin - February 13, 2013 - 9:03 pm

Weddings seem to be a much bigger challenge today than they were over 50 years ago when we got married. We will be looking forward to knowing more specifics, but we are disappointed that we won’t be able to be there. You are loved so much and we want only the best and happiest day for you.

Barb Gaudioso Slye - February 13, 2013 - 10:46 pm

So…do you have a date?

So, do you have a date?

Dorothy Dickinson - February 13, 2013 - 11:44 pm

Now the photographer is going to be a problem since YOU can’t be the one doing it! Experience! End of December 1951, fiance came home on leave (Army) and told me he was being shipped to Korea (then at war)…we had 8 days to get wedding set up. Dress off the rack white formal with embriodered satin & rhinestone bodice and full tule skirt. One of my future sister-in-laws made my long veil using her wedding dress headpiece. My maid of honor wore her high school formal and the best man was her boyfriend in his suit. The groom wore his uniform. OUR PHOTOGRAPHER was the minister who married us in the very small white country church and the congregation was invited. The reception was in the basement of the church. I have NO idea who got the wedding cake (3 tiers)…or did the flowers. It was candlelight with light in each of the stained glass windows in the church. The music was the church organist and my husband’s brother with his beautiful tenor voice. The date was Jan. 6, 1952 and it was a blizzard of a snowstorm by the time the reception was over. We made it down the road to an old motel (more like cabins)…but we didn’t care. HONEYMOON…next day down to NJ to Camp Kilmer to show me off (in the barracks!) to his buddies. Then to Connecticut to see his Uncle’s family, then back to the old farm he grew up on. His mother went to stay with his sister the rest of the time we had together so we had the house to ourselves. Then for 9 months my new husband was gone to war.

Dorothy Dickinson - February 14, 2013 - 12:10 am

Married 58 years until Les passed away at age 81 (2010)…and it was ALL GOOD. OH, we had the ‘richer and poorer’ experience (mostly poorer since he was a teacher and back then teacher’s pay was $3,000 PER YEAR, AND the ‘in sickness and in health’ several times between the 2 of us. However, we had a wonderful marriage, 7 children (1 died at 5 weeks, one at age 45) plus 7 miscarriages. We grew up in upstate NY but moved to CA because of medical reasons of me and the kids. BEST thing we ever did. We retired on the Central Coast right near the ocean. I never said it was easy but it was all good. We did a lot with the kids…Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm…when it didn’t cost a fortune to go visit them. We traveled BY CAR across country about every other summer…before cars were air conditioned and also before seat belts…when the kids could lay down on mats in the back of the station wagonif they wanted a nap. We heard about every Golden Arches coming up (McDonald’s was about the only fast food back then). We stopped at parks for lunch and tourist attractions in small towns good for kids…explored caves, etc. It is SO GOOD to have your one and only SWEETHEART for a lifetime after you meet him. May YOUR LOVE for each other be as strong.

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow but you should celebrate every day you have together as if it is Valentine’s Day. “THINGS” don’t make love last, BOTH OF YOU do in how you treat and love each other every day.

Forgot to say that my wedding dress cost $25! HAPPY LIFETIME OF TOGETHERNESS!!

Dorothy Dickinson - February 14, 2013 - 12:15 am

Back to the reception…the food was brought by family and church members attending.

Andrea Crane - February 14, 2013 - 1:26 am

That’s really cool to read. Thanks for sharing!

kieraslye - February 14, 2013 - 4:10 am

Aunt Dorothy- Your story was absolutely beautiful and brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for sharing your story with me. I will cherish it for the rest of my life! xoxo

Wedding Wednesdays: Becoming the Bride.

Welcome to Wedding Wednesdays, a new series for my blog. I am currently planning my wedding for the Spring of 2014. During this process, I have found camaraderie in my friends who are either currently planning their wedding, have planned their wedding or dream of planning their wedding. I thought that it would be fun to start writing about some of the common themes that arise along this process and offer my advice, as a girl going through it, along the way.

I think in order to keep things organized I will start at what I call the beginning: The Engagement (even though we all know the beginning is much earlier than that).

I know I am not alone when I say that I have dreamed of what it would be like when I got engaged for my whole life. I dreamt about my prince charming, my perfect wedding day, and my happily ever after for as long as I can remember. After every wedding that I have attended or been a part of, I have re-designed my plan for my own wedding. I have helped friends plan their weddings and parties surrounding their weddings for years and always thought that this would prepare me to tackle my big day, head on, with ease. It turns out that wedding planning isn’t as glamorous and simple as I once thought.

After dating my prince charming for almost 5 ½ years, and watching the clock tick as I neared the scary age of 30, I became resolved to never needing or wanting a wedding. I knew that I had the right guy by my side and that just being with him forever would be good enough for me. However, I will admit (and my friends and family will tell you) that even though I knew I had the right guy, I often found myself stressing out over feeling out of control of my destiny. With every vacation, birthday, special anniversary or holiday, the pressure from friends, family, and even people I just met seemed to swell over that one big question: “SO… when are you two getting married?” The answer to that question was out of my hands and was hard to handle at times because I knew that I was ready.

To get through the building pressure, I resolved to put my complete faith in the love I had for my guy and trust that I was doing everything I could to show him just how much he meant to me and how ready I was to spend the rest of my life with him. I think things got better for me when I finally resolved that I didn’t need a ring, a wedding, or a marriage, to be with him forever. I just needed to know that we were heading down the right path together; a path that lead to forever. The big question came within months of me making this resolution. It came when I was hoping it would come, but when I least expected it. My sweet Frank planned a last minute romantic get-a-way in the middle of his crazy schedule to whisk me away and spend some quality time in the romantic and magical region of Northern California, known as wine country.

He popped the question within minutes of arriving at our dream hotel suite. His proposal wasn’t perfect, like the way he planned, but was simply perfect for me! As my ring flew out of the ring box and into the garden beside me, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was the man for me. We laughed together and blissfully thought about all that this question meant. I felt breathless, speechless, and completely euphoric all at the same time. I found my guy, and he found me.

The reality hit us, just after we started calling our family and friends that now, we had to plan a wedding. Why is it that after you get engaged, the first questions you must answer are: When are you getting married and where are you getting married? We weren’t even engaged for five minutes and the madness had begun. My Aunt Erin, a fabulous event and wedding planner, gave me the best advice. She told me to spend the rest of that vacation being the engaged couple, because soon enough, I would have to be the bride. This was the greatest advice I could have gotten at that time. We spent the rest of our vacation on a high as a newly engaged couple. We joined a wine club, tasted countless bottles of wine, ate delicious fresh food, and truly enjoyed each other’s company.

On our flight home, I started the process of becoming the bride.

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