just got engaged? 10 things to do first

just got engaged? 10 things to do first

 

Just got engaged? You’ve decided to say yes to a lifetime together – you’re engaged! Now what the heck do you do next? After you’re done soaking in that just-got-engaged excitement, it can feel SO overwhelming to think about the next step: planning a wedding. Wedding planning is a whole new world, especially because you probably haven’t planned one before. No worries! Here are the top 10 steps to do FIRST after you get engaged.

 

what to do after getting engaged

 

1. Just got engaged? CElebrate your engagement

 

Before you do anything else, make sure you take a moment to celebrate. Before you dive into the abyss known as wedding planning, take a moment to share your happiness with your loved ones. The first days after getting engaged are some of the best in the wedding planning process because you’re spending a lot of time going, “OMG IS THIS REAL?” Make sure to enjoy those moments.

 

insure your wedding ring

2. Get your ring insured

If you haven’t already (and you have a ring that is!) make sure to immediately insure it and have it sized. Usually a good jeweler will encourage the person who bought the ring to bring the wearer back to check on fit (at least that’s what happened to us!). They resized it in a few days, no biggie, and this is the PERK to using a LOCAL jeweler (in Metro Detroit, I love Miner’s Den).

Add your ring to your homeowner’s insurance policy — they’ll ask for an appraisal to do this and likely you have one from when it was purchased — or you can get a separate policy if you prefer that. It was easy to add to my homeowner’s policy and the piece of mind is super important! I have heard stories of ring loss and you just want to be able to replace what is usually a large value item that you wear daily!

 

3. next, after you get engaged, Figure Out Your WEdding priorities

 

Asking yourselves, “What type of wedding do we want?” and “What’s important to us in a wedding?” are important questions that will inform your wedding planning. Weddings can be small and simple, large and elaborate, or something in between. There is no right or wrong way to get married.

Having frank discussions with your partner about what priorities you have for your wedding day can help create a wedding vision before you even book anything. Knowing what you want to focus on will help inform your budget.

For some people, they want a traditional larger wedding with everyone special to them in one place. There’s something to be said for that! But others would rather just keep the focus on the two of them and have an elopement or intimate wedding. Whatever your priorities, make sure to keep that at the center of your planning.

 

 

 

celebrate getting engaged

 

4. Think Through a Wedding Budget

 

No matter how you get married, it does usually cost money. Even a courthouse elopement costs something. Figuring out an overall wedding budget is helpful before you start diving into wedding planning. It keeps you honest when looking for vendors.

After setting your priorities, I recommend first setting an overall wedding budget, maybe after consulting your parents (if they are involved in the planning/paying process), and then allocating estimated budgets for each vendor: venue, photography, videography, planning/coordination, florals, decor, cake, attire, entertainment, invitations, etc. Doing some basic research in your area or where you’re thinking of being married can give you an idea of estimated costs.

There are a wide variety of wedding vendors in every budget and some DIY options too. In my experience having planned a wedding and being a vendor in the industry, you truly do get what you pay for when it comes to wedding vendors. If you’re more on a scrappy budget, go back to your priorities and decide where you want to allocate the most funds. If you’re able to, find professionals who will be worth every penny!

 

5. Just got engaged? Vision board Away

 

You just got engaged, but maybe you’ve been pinning wedding pins on Pinterest since you’ve been a teen. Or maybe you have never even thought to do that. Either way, use Pinterest or don’t, but it can be fun and helpful to get inspired by looking at other weddings and ideas!

 

Check out some real weddings→

 

This might seem overwhelming for some or create unrealistic expectations for what weddings look like. I’m a photographer and I know it happens all the time. But if we view Pinterest and other weddings as INSPIRATION and let it inspire our own vision, that’s perfectly acceptable! One of the best blogs to look at REAL weddings is A Practical Wedding. These posts include budget breakdowns and most of these weddings are NOT high, luxury events. It can also be helpful to search venues in your area and look at photographer’s blog posts, just to see what other people do locally.

 

follow me on pinterest!→

 

fall engagement session ideas

 

6. Decide on a season

 

After you just got engaged, I don’t recommend going into the venue hunt with a strict date. No one wants to fall in love with a venue, then they don’t have your intended date and it’s a huge bummer! Some couples are attached to certain dates due to anniversaries or other milestones. That’s totally fine, but my recommendation is to pick a season you’d like to be married in and be a little flexible with the exact date.

In Michigan where I mostly work, our peak wedding season is May through October. Every Saturday is usually filled with weddings during this five month stretch as late spring, summer, and fall are usually the most gorgeous times to be married in our state. However, winter weddings are still beautiful, you may just have less options. Spring tends to be cooler, but in summer there’s endless daylight. Fall tends to bring beautiful colors (that never last long), but also rain in Michigan. For winter, there’s less competition for venues and vendors, and snow is magical, but some people hate the cold! There are pros and cons to every single season.

 

 

wedding venue ideas

 

7. Find a venue & pick your date

 

You may have your eye on the perfect florist or the most incredible photographer for your event, but likely they won’t send you a contract when you don’t have a date or place to hold your wedding. The very first vendor to book is your VENUE. Obviously if you’re opting for a backyard wedding this is super easy, but if you’re hoping to host your wedding at a venue, this (in my experience) was the heavy lifting part of wedding planning.

I was someone who explored over 20 venue options when I was engaged. I had a spreadsheet that included information about the venue and the average cost so that I could quickly compare. I did not visit every venue on my list and was able to eliminate some of them based on certain criteria (i.e. they didn’t fit my intended guest count, they were too expensive, or they weren’t really fitting our overall vision). Set up visits at the top spots first. Make sure to ask questions you might have and ask about availability! It’s okay to ask about costs and talk numbers. The venue is usually one of the more expensive parts of a wedding.

I will say if you’re planning on hiring a wedding planner, it can be helpful to hire the planner BEFORE finding a venue as they do can do that work for you!

 

8. Start researching other key vendors

 

After you have the date and venue locked down, it’s time to start finding other key vendors. Usually, for most couples, this is the photographer, the officiant, band, and sometimes videographer and planner/coordinator. These vendors can usually only book ONE wedding per day (sometimes officiants can do more than one), so reaching out to them first can be helpful. Usually florists, rental companies, DJ companies, photobooth companies, etc. can either do several weddings per day or have more than one person on staff!

When you find a vendor you love, book them! Photographers like myself usually start booking 12-18 months out. My calendar is usually full for the following year by the end of the current year. Key dates in May through October always go first, so if you’re having a Friday or Sunday wedding, it’ll probably be easier! And if your favs are not available, I bet they can refer you to someone just as incredible.

 

 

just engaged detroit wedding

 

9. Create a guest list

 

I think no matter the size of your wedding, creating a guest list can be difficult. Perhaps you already did this exercise before venue shopping (it’s always good to have a general idea of headcount BEFORE you book a certain size venue). The easiest way is to create a spreadsheet and first list everyone you initially would want to share this day with you. Your partner and you should do this TOGETHER FIRST. Assume that about 80 percent of those invited will be able to come.

If you are choosing to involve your parents or others in your decision making process, consult them and ask for their list. Compare it with yours. Discuss changes with your stakeholders (partner and parents). Take deep breaths.

Refer back to your wedding priorities. If you do not want a large wedding and an intimate vibe is important to you, stick to that. If you really want everyone who has ever known you there, then do that! There are no right and wrong answers, and keeping your desires as a couple at the center of the conversation is key.

Use your spreadsheet to track addresses and RSVPs. I used ours after the wedding to keep track of our family and friends’ addresses, and I get it out every holiday season for our cards!

 

 

 

detroit engagement photographer

 

10. Take engagement photos & Send save the dates

 

There is no right or wrong time to take engagement photos, but most couples usually take them around 9-12 months before their wedding. This gives plenty of time to use photos on wedding websites and save the dates. But if you are having a shorter engagement, you can take engagement photos any time!

 

See engagement photo sessions →

 

Taking engagement photos is one of the most fun parts of wedding planning. Maybe I’m partial because I’m a wedding photographer, but it’s a great time to focus on each other and it’s always super fun! You get to hang out with your photographer (highly recommend using the photographer you’ll use for your wedding so you can really establish a relationship) and you get great photos that document this unique chapter of being ENGAGED! I personally love our engagement photos and used them to decorate our house too.

After you get your photos back, send save the dates to your guest list so everyone blocks off that date on their calendar! Some great places to get Save the Dates include: Minted, Costco, Shutterfly, Etsy (print at a local shop or Vistapint works), or check with your photographer as they often offer them too!

 

 

 

 What’s Next? Get My Free Wedding Planning Checklist! →

 

 just got engaged 10 tips to start wedding planning

 

 

Love in the Time of Corona – Wedding Policies

Love in the Time of Corona – Wedding Policies

What a time to be alive! It’s still totally possible to get married right now, in the midst of a pandemic, but it’s important to think about safety of all involced.

To protect myself, my clients, and their guests, I have instituted the following COVID policies in my business:

 

1. I will be wearing a mask at your wedding, both outdoors and indoors. It has to be this way for the safety of everyone present. Please be patient with me as working in a mask is something I’m adjusting to, and it can sometimes be hard to hear me. 

 

2. I cannot hug, shake hands, or otherwise touch anyone present. I know that stinks, but it’s important for me to keep my distance as much as possible. I am hugging you all in my heart! I am comfortable fixing trains, but ask that your friends or family fix your boutonniere, pin your veil, or move straps, etc. so I don’t get too close.

 

3. I’m currently not putting myself in the middle of crowded dance floors. I will photograph from the sides, and promise you won’t really notice too much of a difference.

 

4. Regarding group photos, I am currently unable to force anyone into a group photo together. I won’t be asking random groups of people to pose for photos and will only take them if they ask or I already see a group posing.

 

5. Please talk with your family and friends (particularly your wedding party) to gauage their comfort in posed photos. This is especially important for family formal photos. I do not know your family’s comfort level so you have to communicate that to me. Please let me know about the comfort level of the groups so that I can try to accomodate or make suggestions about possible alternative photo ideas. Note that photoshopping groups together or someone in a photo is not a part of our current contract and will incur additional editing costs. Thank you for your help and understanding. 

 

6. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If your venue is telling you that you can have 150 people indoors while we’re in Phase 4 in Michigan (which is 10 people indoors gathering) because they’re onsidered a restaurant, changes are they are not being totally honest. I know it is hard to keep up with all of the legal changes regarding events, which is why I have been doing that for you. Please be sure that your event is following the current executive orders and guidelines to ensure the safety of all. Vendors that participate in unlawful gatherings can be fined up to $2,000, charged with misdeamonors, and have their business license revoked. I understand completely that you want to be married, and I want you to as well, but the law is the law.

To review the specific executive order regarding weddings, please click here. 

 

7. No matter what, your wedding will be amazing. You’re getting married! It may not be what you originally envisioned but what in life ever is? It’s usually better than you can imagine. 

 

If you have any questions about my COVID policies, please email me!

What to Do with Your Wedding Photos | 3 Ways to Back Up Your Wedding Images

What to Do with Your Wedding Photos | 3 Ways to Back Up Your Wedding Images

You’ve spent many months (maybe years) planning your wedding. Every detail was perfect. You’ve invested thousands in your wedding photography experience. The day comes and goes, and you enjoyed every single moments. When you get your wedding photos back, what do you do with them? You look at them over and over again (maybe on a screen), change your profile photo every week, and post to Instagram for weeks. Any chance to show those lovely photos to the world, you’re on it. But after awhile, you go back to married life and move on. What should you do with your wedding photos? I want to share three simple ways to back up your images so you never lose them and can enjoy them for years to come. 

The digital age is fantastic and has made sharing and storing images easier than ever. But we’ve all heard the horror stories: dropped hard drives. Fried computers. The blue screen of death. A house fire. All nightmares if you’re not backing up your images. 

Backing up your images isn’t your wedding photographer’s job. Most photographers have clauses in their contract stating how long they backup images. And though many probably back them up much longer, do you really want to take a chance with all that’s left of the happiest day of your life? Probs not. 

 

Back Up Wedding Images

1. Download your images to an external hard drive.

One of the simplest things you can do to back up your images is to grab an external hard drive and download them all to it. 

The more places your images live, the better! That’s called redundancy, meaning you have multiple copies of your images. If you download them to a USB and your laptop and an external, that’s three places. It’s not super likely that all three will malfunction at the same time.

I recommend using two external hard drives to backup your wedding images. Keep one at your house and one at someone else’s. Or if you want to be extra, keep one in a fireproof safe at your house (that’s where I keep memory cards while I’m editing!). It’s scary, but there’s always a possibility of a fire, and though you’d hope you’d grab your hard drive, maybe you won’t. 

I think most external hard drives have similar ability to fail, as I’ve used almost every brand. But my recommendation is to get an SSD (solid state drive) which are much less likely to kick it. This one is super tiny and portable, or if you have more cash to spend, you can grab this fancy LaCie. 

Back Up Wedding Images

2. Use the cloud

Though it sounds super nebulous and weird, the cloud is another place you want to use to backup your wedding photos. Again, what if your house catches on fire or floods or there’s a tornado, etc. Events industry professionals are always looking for contingency plans and the cloud is a great one that’s affordable and worth the cost. Most cloud backup systems are automatic so that means you don’t have to think about it at all. Totally recommend setting up your entire laptop to backup (and those iPhone photos…you don’t want to lose those, right?). 

It’s not okay to think of Facebook or Instagram as a cloud platform. Those websites reduce quality of your images. Have you ever tried to print a Facebook image? Yeah, it’s not great. 

Here are some cloud backup recommendations:

1. iCloud (50GB for .99 a month)  — I use this for my iPhone photos

2. Amazon Drive (up to 5 GB with Prime)

3. Backblaze  ($6 a month or $60 for the year) — I use this for my business! 

There is NO excuse not to protect your images (and all sort of personal files too). Storage is cheap! Fixing a hard drive is not. 

 

Back Up Wedding Images

3. Invest in an Album or Prints

If you’re my client, you’ve heard me say this a million times, but investing in an album is another great way to backup your images. It’s the most expensive thing on this list, but I truly believe that your photos were meant to live in print rather than on a screen. Technology is a beautiful thing, but sometimes getting back to basics is ideal. A wedding album doesn’t require the internet and it doesn’t corrupt or crash. It lives so long as you take care of it (and it’s not in a fire lol).

There is something special about flipping through a hard copy of your wedding memories. There’s no subscription required and an album is an heirloom you can pass down. Who knows if external hard drives will be a thing? I can already tell you that USB drives aren’t a thing anymore (looking at those new MacBooks). 

If you were recently married and your package didn’t come with an album, I bet your photographer offers them! I sure do, and you’re always welcome to purchase one, even a year later.

Sometimes we promise ourselves that we’ll get around to creating our own album, but allowing a professional to just take the reins (and get better quality items than consumers can!) is sometimes the best way to go. An album is an expensive investment, but you want to make sure it’s a quality item that will last. This ain’t Shutterfly, y’all. 

Here’s more information about my heirloom albums.

And, of course, if an album isn’t your thing, at least print your images and display them. I love looking at the images I’ve printed and displayed of our wedding throughout our home. It reminds me of what a great day that was and how much I love my husband. 

It’s even nicer if you can purchase professional prints from your photographer. I guarantee they’re better than what you can get yourself – and they’ll always be proper colors. Printers do vary, believe it or not, and your photographer isn’t responsible for knowing them all honestly! That would be CRAZY TOWN. So trust your professional and if you’re ordering prints, try to get them from the professional! Plus, it’s always nice to support a small business when you can, right?

 

Final Thoughts on ways to back up your wedding images

There you have it: three ways to back up your wedding images! There’s never too much of a good thing, and this adage applies to backups. In summary:

1. Remember that redundancy is your friend.
2. Don’t wait to backup your images! Back them up as soon as you can!
3. Your photographer isn’t responsible for archiving your images forever. That is YOUR responsibility.
4. Invest in hard copies of your images if you can. They never go out of style.

 

what to do with your wedding photos

How to Make an Intimate Wedding Special in the Age of COVID-19

How to Make an Intimate Wedding Special in the Age of COVID-19

With COVID-19 wrecking havoc on life as we know it, many weddings and events have been postponed. Despite the circumstances, many couples are deciding to get married now in intimate weddings, saving the big party for later in the name of safety. The question that continues to come up for those considering a smaller intimate wedding NOW is: how can I make my intimate wedding special? Below are six ways you can make a intimate wedding special in the age of COVID-19.

Throw out all the rules

First things first, there are NO rules when it comes to weddings right now, except legal rules. Yes, you need a marriage license and witnesses. Yes, you have to abide by whatever legal guidelines there are in your state/county. But etiquette rules are out the window at this point.

Large weddings aren’t bad, but sometimes they can become slightly impersonal as you go from hugging one guest to the next as quick as you can. Intimate weddings are usually more personal and thoughtful. Instead of pleasing many guests, you’re usually just planning to please yourselves, making more intentional decisions about the day.

You can make the intimate wedding whatever you want it to be. If that means just the two of you reading vows with your witnesses and officiant, that’s perfect. If it means having a legit ceremony in your backyard as your parents look on, that’s great too. You don’t have to do a unity ceremony; you don’t have to toss a bouquet. You can completely personalize your day to fit your relationship and make it an incredibly personal experience.

how to make an intimate wedding special

Wear Different Attire

Though you may want to wear your wedding dress twice (umm, who else gets to do that?), maybe you can’t get your dress altered in time or you just want to wear something more casual. Either is totally fine! But if you feel like you want the intimate wedding ceremony to look a little different from the big sha-bang next year (or whenever it’ll be), consider ordering a more casual gown from Modcloth, BHLDN, David’s Bridal, Nordstrom or Rent the Runway. Note: you don’t have to wear a white dress. You can wear WHATEVER you want!

For the gentlemen, you could opt for a more casual look, skipping the tux for a suit or just sticking to a vest. Even a nice dress shirt with a tie can go in a backyard. Remember, there aren’t any rules. If you want to wear a tux and can get one, wear it!

how to make an intimate wedding special

Broadcast your ceremony live

There are a few ways you can involve everyone in your ceremony. You can livestream the ceremony on something as simple as Zoom. You can also (if it’s possible), get married in a parking lot and have everyone in their cars watching. Kind of like a drive-in ceremony. This may sound cheesy, but getting creative with the circumstances can not only be fun, but goes back to being intentional about your day. Maybe you really wanted as many people there as possible. Having a drive-in ceremony is safe way to do it.

how to make an intimate wedding special

Make an intimate wedding special with 15 Toasts

At traditional Western weddings, toasts are usually relegated to the best man, maid of honor, and father of the bride. Though couples now decide to have more toasts or even forgo them, a way to make an intimate wedding particularly special is doing 15 Toasts, an activity developed by gathering specialist Priya Parker. The idea is to ask those gathered to share a story around a common theme (in this case you’d probably ask them to share a memory of the couple or about marriage/love), and then end their story in a toast. The great part about this activity, other than how personal and heartfelt it could turn out to be, is that it can be done virtually. I recently read a story about a couple that was married on their front porch and invited guests to participate in 15 Toasts via Zoom. How special would it be to hear from your nearest and dearest in such a personal way!

how to make an intimate wedding special

Cut the cake and dance (if you want)

Who says you can’t do things twice? If you want to commemorate your “official” wedding day, you can still cut a small cake and have a first dance. And there’s no problem with repeating these things again when you’re celebrating with everyone. Dancing in your living room, or in your backyard under the stars can be very special, even if it’s not in front of 200 guests. I’ve been married three years and every time Josh decides we need to dance in our living room, I get a little teary eyed. For me, it’s more special than the dance we shared while nearly 100 people were watching us, but we are both introverted.

how to make an intimate wedding special

Make the day an adventure about you

Who says a wedding has to happen in a certain order or at a certain time. When there aren’t strict timelines and places to be, you can make the day completely about what you want to do. This opens up a whole realm of possibility! You can visit your first date spot, have a picnic lunch on the lake, share a drink in front of the fire pit, whatever you want. Think about what the perfect day would look like (again, just the two of you) and do it. You’ll never forget it.

Want to learn more about what an elopement can mean? Read this blog post!

How to make an intimate wedding special: wrap-up

If you’re sad about what’s happening in the world and how it’s impacted your wedding day, that’s okay. You’re allowed to feel that. And if you’re making the decision to still honor that original date with an intimate wedding, that’s great! There are many ways you can make it feel special, even if it’s plan B. Letting go of what you think you HAVE to do to make something feel like a wedding is the first step to feeling completely free to celebrate your nuptials in however you choose. The beauty of this circumstance is that the rules are yours to break and to make.

There is a beauty to making a day that celebrates your commitment to each other completely about each other rather than about everything and everyone else. Once you embrace that, I doubt you’ll regret getting married now. The party will always be there and it’ll feel completely different with everyone else there to celebrate you. If anything you get to have two celebrations, which doesn’t often happen. There will always be a way to honor your love and commitment, no matter the time or place.

how to make an intimate wedding special
A Quick Guide to Eloping: What is an Elopement and Why They are Amazing

A Quick Guide to Eloping: What is an Elopement and Why They are Amazing

When someone says elopement, you may think of the courthouse, a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas, or maybe even a shotgun-type wedding scenario. Elopements have definitely changed over the last few years as couples have started to redefine what a wedding is and have weddings on their terms. This quick guide to eloping will explain what the heck an elopement is and what it could mean for your wedding day.

what is an elopement - quick guide to eloping

But first, what is an elopement?

Let’s be clear: an elopement does not mean a hasty, last minute decision a la Britney Spears 2008 style. This is not a secret (though it can be). An elopement is not necessarily at the courthouse.

The definition of an elopement has shifted towards a small wedding, usually at a destination of the couple’s choosing. Many couples do visit a destination to elope, but it’s not 100% necessary. You could technically elope in your backyard. The key aspect of the wedding that makes it an elopement is that it is SMALL and it’s a chance to start your marriage completely on your terms in a personal way.

What is an elopement? It’s small.

An elopement is probably under 20 guests. Many states (including Michigan) require two witnesses at every wedding, so often an elopement at the very least has the couple, two witnesses and an officiant. If you decide to elope in a state like Colorado, you are able to self-solemnize the marriage.

You can choose to have your immediate family there or just a small group of friends. The idea is to keep the day about YOU BOTH rather than an extensive guest list. No matter what type of wedding you plan, as a host, you’re always worried about making guests comfortable. Elopements eliminate that need.

what is an elopement - quick guide to eloping

It’s centered on the couple more than traditional weddings.

It is so freaking easy to get carried away when you plan a wedding. Your mother-in-law thinks you need to have huge centerpieces and your mom says it’s not a wedding without a bouquet toss. I get it — in many cases, weddings are an industry that thrives on production.

But eloping tones down that element of production, making the wedding day more personal and about what you want to do rather than what other people want you to do. It’s not wrong to want the traditional wedding day, but if you don’t want that, an elopement is a way to plan a more personalized wedding experience.

A caveat: this does not mean that an elopement doesn’t require planning. Remember, it’s not necessarily a last-minute decision thrown together by running to the courthouse (though that could be fun).

It’s about keeping the focus on getting married.

By keeping the guest list small and the celebration more limited, you keep the wedding about getting married rather than having a wedding. Let that sink in for a second. This is by no means saying that those planning a more traditional wedding are not excited to be married or don’t believe as deeply in marriage as those that elope. It just means that with an elopement, you’re able to keep your sights on what’s important to YOU and what you believe to be true about MARRIAGE. Start this new chapter on YOUR TERMS, not someone else’s.

what is an elopement - quick guide to eloping

What an elopement can look like

We have all seen the beautiful Instagram photos of elopements on the edge of mountain cliffs and on beaches overlooking the ocean. If you’re reading this, you’re most likely living in the Midwest, the area I primarily serve. Don’t be fooled by thinking you can ONLY elope in a destination wedding scenario. That’s simply not true.

Going back to what is an elopement, an elopement can be anywhere that is special to you. You could get married in a park. You could get married outside the place where you met. You could be married at your favorite hiking trail. You could have a backyard elopement. The sky is truly the limit here. The place you elope can be a place that matters to you, not a venue you’ve selected that fits everyone (though small dining rooms are commonly used for 20 person or less receptions or ceremonies).

Choosing a location is a tough decision for anyone planning a wedding. It’s the same for an elopement. But I think one of the best ways to think about it is to think of a place that is near and dear to your heart, that is meaningful to your relationship, and see if you can elope in that spot. You don’t necessarily have to have grand vistas or a beautiful sunset behind you. You can make the day more about what matters to you.

Should we elope?

This is a question I can’t answer for you, but the most common reasons for eloping are:

  1. You hate being the center of attention. Hello this is what weddings are literally all about.
  2. You don’t want to spend a ton of money on your wedding. Elopements generally cost a lot less than traditional weddings.
  3. You just aren’t a fan of the big old traditional wedding experience and want to still have a special experience to commemorate your love and commitment to one another.

It’s not wrong to want a big traditional wedding. And it’s not wrong to want to elope either. Choosing what’s right for you is totally what you should be doing.

Side note – have your cake and eat it too: you can elope and have a big reception.

There are no hard and fast rules to weddings anymore. I’ve worked with many couples who have eloped and then had a reception with everyone later (this is increasingly common for destination couples who still want to celebrate at home), or couples who were married in an intimate ceremony with immediate family and then celebrated with a backyard barbecue with friends. You can do whatever you want to do. The beauty of it being your celebration is that you get to choose.

Overall advice: make it about you. The day isn’t in a box.

You don’t have to plan this grand adventure elopement to make the wedding day about you. There are so many ways you can celebrate your love.

Remember, the day is no longer in a box. There are no rules except for signing the license. You can do WHATEVER YOU WANT.

That means spending the day like your first date or stopping by all of your favorite spots in the city for photos or having a toast at a bar or eating ice cream as the sun goes down. This day is about you, what you want, and no longer has to be about what a wedding “should look like.” It’s about what you want it to look like.

what is an elopement - quick guide to eloping

Intimate weddings and elopements in Metro Detroit:

Top Detroit Engagement Session Locations You’ll Want to Visit

Top Detroit Engagement Session Locations You’ll Want to Visit

Getting married? These top Detroit engagement session locations are perfect for photos that announce the big day. With the renaissance of the city, Detroit has become a popular spot for an engagement session. With a sprawling city like Detroit, there are so many places you could visit. Here’s my top Detroit engagement session locations you’ll want to check out before your session.

detroit engagement session locations the belt

 

 

see this detroit engagement session here

1. The Belt

An iconic downtown Detroit engagement session location is The Belt, an alley filled with art, market lighting, and some cool bars you can duck into for an after session date. The Belt is a really popular spot to end a Detroit engagement session because the lights photograph so beautifully. Located just steps away from Woodward Avenue, The Belt is a quick stop and great for those who love art and bright colors.

 

 

detroit engagement session locations eastern market

 

 

view the entire session at eastern market brewing

2. Eastern Market

Heading away from downtown Detroit, just up Gratiot is Eastern Market, one of the best spots in the city to spent a Saturday morning. There are so many murals that make for excellent Detroit engagement session backdrops. If you’re a fan of eating or drinking, Eastern Market is a perfect Detroit engagement session location. Check out Eastern Market Brewing for a good beer.

detroit engagement session locations dequindre cut

 

 

see this dequindre cut engagement session here

3. The Dequindre Cut

This hidden gem, the Dequindre Cut is a bike and walking path leading from the Riverfront in the Warehouse District to Eastern Market. You could spend an entire engagement session on the cut, but I suggest pairing it with Eastern Market to give you some variety. The Dequindre Cut is great for a grungier, more graffiti loving couple. It’s not highly trafficked with photographers, making it a hidden Detroit engagement session location gem (shhhh don’t tell everyone, okay?)!

 

 

detroit engagement session locations belle isle

 

 

view the entire belle isle engagement session

4. Belle Isle

Everyone in Detroit knows about the magical island Belle Isle, with is stunning conservatory and perfect sunset skyline views. Belle Isle is truly a gorgeous Detroit engagement session location. Requiring a permit for use, I think it’s 100% worth it because the island gives you so much to explore. From a large marble fountain to the conservatory to a historic casino to willow trees and Japanese-style bridges to beaches, you have so many options.

 

 

detroit engagement session locations warehouse district

 

 

see this warehouse district engagement session here

5. The Warehouse District

Much overlooked, the Warehouse District is still gentrifying and still has a little bit of the old, rundown, rough and tumble Detroit. I can’t tell you exact locations to use, but the Warehouse District runs along the riverfront. With cobblestone streets, a perfect shot of the Renaissance Center, and lots of rundown buildings with ivy, its not-polished nature is perfect for casual couples. Atwater Brewery is also a great stop if you’re into their beers. The Vanilla Java Porter is famously my favorite.

 

 

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see this detroit institute of arts engagement session here

6. The Detroit Institute of Arts & Detroit Public Library

Heading up to mid-town, the Detroit Institute of Arts and Detroit Public Library are across the street from each other. One is more popular than the other (take a wild guess), but both are marble buildings with lots of character. I happen to enjoy using the blossoming trees around them in the spring and summer. Though you can’t head inside the DIA (you can at the library with prior permission), outdoors is perfect for a more elegant Detroit engagement session location. There are some ground rules about the steps at the DIA, but plan to come in the morning before opening (preferably on a Sunday) and you’ll find the entire place deserted.

 

 

detroit engagement session locations palmer park

 

 

see the entire palmer park engagement session here

7. Palmer Park

Another hidden gem (in my opinion) for those that want to use two Detroit engagement session locations but want nature and don’t want to head all the way to Belle Isle is Palmer Park. Located in the north side of town, closer to the Ferndale border and the Detroit Golf Club, Palmer Park offers a large field, an abandoned fountain, and honestly a beautiful golden hour. Almost no one bothers to use Palmer Park for engagement photos and I can’t figure out why. The tall grass, trees, and look of a field are highly sought after in the suburbs.

 

 

 

detroit engagement session locations corktown

 

 

see this corktown engagement session

8. Corktown

Corktown has changed in recent years, especially with Ford Motor Company’s purchase of the old Michigan Central Station. There once was a time where photographing the abandoned station seemed edgy but not anymore. Either way, Corktown’s cobblestone street, fun restaurants and bars, and neighborhood vibes are perfect for laid back couples. Corktown isn’t as popular as downtown or Eastern Market when it comes to Detroit engagement session locations, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less amazing. Head down to the West Riverfront Park at the end of your session for a perfect view of the Ambassador Bridge.

 

 

detroit engagement session locations riverwalk

 

 

see this entire riverwalk engagement session

9. The Riverfront

The Detroit Riverfront is very long and the Riverwalk functions as a bike, walking and running path. It can get a little busy during the summer. But along the way, you can get beautiful views of the Renaissance Center, the Detroit Princess riverboat, and the Ambassador Bridge. If you make a quick stop at Hart Plaza, you can grab some engagement photos with the art in that area or head right up Woodward Avenue for more photos.

 

 

 

detroit engagement session locations greektown

10. Greektown

Greektown, adjacent to downtown, is a fun, colorful place for engagement photos in Detroit. The market lights are similar to the Belt but hang over a road filled with colorful shops and restaurants.

 

 

detroit engagement session locations capitol park

 

 

see this entire engagement session here

11. Capitol Park

As many head to Campus Martias, instead sneak over to Capitol Park, which is a small little park off of Griswold with beautiful lights, a Christmas tree lot during the holidays, and perfect views down Griswold of the Guardian Building. It’s usually less crowded than Campus Martias during the busy holiday season, making it perfect for a winter downtown Detroit engagement session.

 

 

detroit engagement session locations campus martias

 

 

see this campus martias engagement session

12. Campus Martias

I know, I have to mention it, but Campus Martias is really a picturesque Detroit engagement session location during the holidays. All of the light displays, the huge Christmas tree, and the skating rink really do make it so beautiful for a winter engagement session. It can get crowded so if you are nervous around people, it’s not recommended or try for a weekday session.

 

 

detroit engagement session locations parker's alley

 

 

see the entire parker’s alley engagement session here

13. Parker’s Alley

Behind the new Shinola Hotel lies Parker’s Alley, similar to The Belt but more modern. You won’t find a ton of murals here, but lots of brick and a modern feel. Stop in at Madcap Coffee if you two are coffee lovers for a drink during your engagement session.

 

 

detroit engagement session locations cass ave viaduct

 

 

see this detroit engagement session

14. Cass Avenue Viaduct

For art lovers, visit the Cass Avenue Viaduct for a bright backdrop and beautiful golden hour light. Location on Cass Avenue in New Center, just down the street from the Fisher Building, the viaduct is a great stop but try not to park illegally (parking is a little weird in this location). As for Detroit engagement session locations, this is a great spot for rainy day engagement sessions since indoor locations in Detroit are dwindling.

 

 

Deciding between Detroit Engagement Session Locations?

When you have so many options, it’s hard to decide where to go! The important thing is to choose not the “coolest” location but the location that you identify with the most. If you’re planning a Detroit engagement session, get in touch with me!

 

 

 

 

detroit engagement session locations