*Wedding Wednesday* :: Same-Sex Couples

It’s not my nature to get political on my blog, especially on a *Wedding Wednesday* post. But I’m filling out my ballot so I stop getting election calls. And in light of the recent campaign to oust three judges from the Iowa Supreme Court stemming from their 2009 vote deeming same-sex marriage legal, I thought I’d address a few FAQ’s regarding how my business practices.

same sex couple wedding

Do you shoot gay/lesbian couples?

Yes, I shot my first same-sex session recently, and the first wedding is scheduled next year. However, I do not seek out same-sex couples. It’s important that all my prospective clients – regardless of sexual orientation – like my work, like me and can afford me even before they decide to book a session.

Do you offer discounts for sessions with same-sex couples?

Nope. I’m an equal opportunity people-pleaser (or disappointer).

Do you shoot same-sex sessions differently than other sessions?

Well, strictly based on the most recent shoot, no… I didn’t shoot it any differently and can’t see that I would for future sessions. All my shoots tend to be interactive. And if the people being photographed care enough about each other then it will reflect the same way in the images as two people who are straight.

*Wedding Wednesday* is a weekly post of creative information, ideas and inspiration. If you are a professional in the wedding industry and would like to contribute an entry please contact me for information.

In other news, I’m moving to a new blog as of tomorrow – www.shuvarahim.com – and this series will continue on that site next week. Thanks to all of you who have been dedicated readers via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or have just dropped by to see what’s new. I hope you continue to follow me and comment and enjoy!

As Ever…



*Wedding Wednesday* :: Event Production

The event-planning industry has a huge convention called Engage!10. One of the conference speakers this year was Bryan Rafanelli, owner of Rafanelli Events, who plans tons of weddings, parties, corporate and nonprofit galas in Boston, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Washington, D.C.

Rafanelli’s credentials include a series of inaugural events leading to and the day-of President Obama’s swearing in and Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.

He’s also done his share of nonprofit events, and the below photo is from a fundraiser.

Nonprofit event charity gala

One of Rafanelli’s strong points is to tell a story with each event he works with anything that is conceivable to the client. The result, I imagine, is an amazing display of environments that shows the quality, the care and attention that people appreciate and are excited about.

Although he isn’t local, there’s still much to draw inspiration on from his work – as a photographer, an event planner, and anyone else in the creative field. And, of course…as a bride.

*Wedding Wednesday* is a weekly post of creative information, ideas and inspiration. If you are a professional in the wedding industry and would like to contribute an entry please contact me for information.

As Ever…

Shuva Rahim's signature

*Wedding Wednesday* :: Favor Boxes from Paper Source

I get their catalogs in the mail and absolutely adore their stuff.

Paper Source is a creative person’s dream. It is a company that has so much paper in the form of invitations, stationery and everything in between it’s a bit overwhelming. And that’s without walking into a store (the closest which is in the Chicago ‘burbs).

But it’s the dimensional stuff I’m drawn to, like the favor boxes:

…in square:

takeout boxes:

…and pocketbooks:

They come in more colors than shown here, but it’s worth checking out if you find something that speaks to you.

Happy Browsing.

*Wedding Wednesday* is a weekly post of creative information, ideas and inspiration. If you are a professional in the wedding industry and would like to contribute an entry please contact me for information.

As Ever…

Samantha & Sean’s Fall-Themed Quad Cities Wedding

Planning a wedding from a couple time zones away can’t be easy. But California couple Samantha and Sean put together a beautiful and fun event shared with their closest family and friends this past weekend.

Samantha put a lot of time and effort into her day in the midst of an intensely busy year that included finishing grad school. She flew in earlier last week and made final preparations for her big day. The hard work showed in its fall-themed decor and the persimmon throughout the ceremony and reception.

After getting dressed, the couple stood before a small congregation of loved ones at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Davenport.

Their ceremony was short, sweet and straight to the point.

Sealed at the end with a kiss.

Sam wanted some photos outside of the church. So we took a few moments for shots in front of the large sanctuary entrance. I love that red door, and even moreso that the wind was blowing right then.

The bridal party, along with Sean and Sam then headed just a few blocks to Vander Veer Botanical Park, where we maximized the use of her beautiful dress as much as possible – first fanned on the ground and then draped over the stone bridge.

I’m generally not a fan of back shots. But this was an exceptional case – a beautiful couple, a gorgeous dress and a stone bridge. You can’t go wrong with that combination of elements. So I let them hang out on the bridge as I got every possible shot imaginable.

Favorite Bridge Photo.

My wonderful second shooter Linda took these next two shots, the second of which was while they were on the bridge. Sam had an incredibly lovely bouquet, and it went perfectly with the fall theme.

And here’s the fabulous bridal party!

The wedding party left, and we took the stroll from the park fountain. That pathway is popular site for photo shoots. Luckily there were no other bridal parties in the immediate vicinity and I requested they take a seat on the ground. There was a chill in the air, but Sam and Sean were great sports about hanging out a bit longer while Linda and I got these shots.

Then it was onto the reception at University Club of Moline – an historical building downtown that’s easy to miss with all the road construction currently in front. Inside, the place was accented with the reminder of fall – especially the cake.

One of the highlights of the evening was a Q&A game from the DJ to see how much the couple knew about each other. I’d never seen this done before, but it was a ton of fun and generated a lot of laughter from everyone!!

Lastly, we had a CrazyBooth a handful of guests took advantage of. Here’s a glimpse of some of the formal and not-so-formal craziness in front of the camera.

Congrats, Sean and Sam! Enjoy your time in Seattle and thanks for having me be a part of your wonderful day!!!



Wedding Notes

Ceremony: St. John’s United Methodist Church, Davenport, with the Rev. Ron Carlson officiating
Reception: University Club of Moline
Photographer: Accent Photographics (me!) assisted by Linda Maxwell
First Dance Song: “Pistol” by Dustin Kensrue
Entertainment: A Fine Affair DJ, Cedar Rapids
Florist: Milan Flower & Gift Shop
Cake: Le CakeDavenport
Wedding Gown & Bridesmaid Dresses: Alfred Angelo
Tuxes: Men’s Wearhouse

*Wedding Wednesday* :: Guest Post: Get Creative With Your Budget

This is the last of a series of guess posts by Christina Smith of Classic Events Coordination and Design, based in Cedar Rapids. I’m so grateful she’s been willing to share her knowledge and expertise about planning a wedding. This post continues with some practical things to help trim the budget, but without sacrificing quality.

Stretching your budget without losing the look and mood that you want to convey can be a little tricky, but if you do it correctly can really make a huge difference.

What are a couple simple tricks to give more mileage to your dollars?

  1. Alter your reception to an appetizer reception rather than a meal. You can pull this off in a very classy way and may end up having more time during your wedding day to relax while getting ready. Most hors d’oeuvre receptions are held later in the evening to alleviate any confusion that a meal would be provided, and it is also noted on the invite to clarify.
  2. Have a shortened reception. Rather than having your party go all night at your venue, close down the site at 9 or 10 p.m. and head to the hotel for after-hours. You will save on your bar tab, hours for venue rental and hours for your DJ, which – combined – could end up as a pretty large chunk of change.

Then, the question becomes: What do I need to sacrifice?

Be willing to pick your top three “must-haves” so you can use your budget wisely and not end up with an excess of unexpected expenses.

After all, your wedding is something that should be what you wish for without costing above and beyond what you can afford, and provide happy memories to cherish throughout your life.

*Wedding Wednesday* is a weekly post of creative information, ideas and inspiration. If you are a professional in the wedding industry and would like to contribute an entry please contact me for information.

As Ever, Shuva…

*Wedding Wednesday* :: Guest Post: Prioritize Expenses

Christina Smith of Classic Events Coordination and Design (CECD) based in Cedar Rapids has been a *Wedding Wednesday* guest blogger for the past couple weeks. And while I thought this would the final of three posts, I loved reading this entry so much that I wanted for her to stick around for another week. So this is part 3 of 4, and it’s a good one (as will next week’s be as well)! I had the pleasure of shooting Christina’s wedding last year, and got a firsthand view of how awesome her work as an event planner really is! Here’s more from expert.

Christina and Brenton's wedding

Expenses can often bring you back to earth in a hurry when you’re planning the wedding of your dreams.

One of the main questions when dissecting a wedding budget is ‘Who is contributing?’

It is amazing how many people begin planning, booking vendors, and establishing expenses when they do not have this question answered!  When this question is left unanswered, a lot of unexpected costs start popping up. Without a budget and a schedule of who, what, when, and where your money is going, it is easy to spend what you do not have. Make this your first priority or work with someone to help establish a budget for you.

  • What percentage of your budget do you spend on your:
    • Venue?
    • Photographer?
    • Apparel?
    • Décor?
    • Entertainment?

Knowing average percentages per vendor is really valuable and gives you an honest way to dissect and really see if you are getting a good deal, paying too much, or even tip you off to the “quality” of the work your prospective vendors are offering.

Christina and Brenton's wedding

Who are the quality vendors that best fit your style and budget?

Ask for references, talk to other local brides, and do your research. Call several vendors that might provide the service you are looking for and compare them to see what you can and can’t live without. Vendors will generally show you samples of their products and point you to other good references. If they aren’t it may be a red flag that this is not something you are looking for. A bride would probably end up really happy that she talked to a previous client with a bad review than having a vendor that didn’t uphold their end of the contract on her Big Day.

But ultimately, homework ends up paying off in the end.

*Wedding Wednesday* is a weekly post of creative information, ideas and inspiration. If you are a professional in the wedding industry and would like to contribute an entry please contact me for information.

As Ever, Shuva…

*Wedding Wednesday* :: Guest Post: Turning Your Vision Into Reality

This is the second of three *Wedding Wednesday* installments from Christina Smith, owner of Classic Events Coordination & Design based in Cedar Rapids. I got a firsthand look at Christina’s work when I had the privilege of shooting her wedding last year. With her interior design background, she has planned weddings and other events in Eastern Iowa since 2005. And with her team of event coordinators, she also can help plan baby showers, retirement parties and holiday functions. So how exactly does Christina do it all?  Keep reading…

Christina on her wedding day.

Our Event Coordinators will listen to your wedding-day wish list and help you translate your dreams into an exquisite and memorable event. They can provide expert advice, the highest level of creativity, as well as, personalized service and attention to detail.

Event Coordinators also know the most spectacular venues. Their innovative perspectives allow them to fashion-stunning floral designs, as well as, create edgy and fresh focal pieces. They make referrals to only the most reliable vendors in the industry, vendors that have shown time and time again their knowledge, expertise, and professionalism.

CECD Event Coordinators also are exposed to special events every day. They have their eye on current and future market trends and can design your event with a personal touch and a creative eye. They guide clients graciously throughout the planning process – from innovative concept to flawless execution. Each wedding is a unique experience, carved and sculpted to specifically compliment the couple at hand.  Our goal is to always exceed expectations, and to out-do what has already been done.

*Wedding Wednesday* is a weekly post of creative information, ideas and inspiration. If you are a professional in the wedding industry and would like to contribute an entry please contact me for information.

As Ever, Shuva…

*Wedding Wednesday* :: Guest Post: Why Hire a Wedding Planner?

This week for the next few *Wedding Wednesday* posts, I am proud to feature Christina Smith, the owner of Classic Events Coordination & Design based in Cedar Rapids. I got a firsthand look at Christina’s work when I had the privilege of shooting her wedding last year. With her interior design background, she has planned weddings and other events in Eastern Iowa since 2005. Christina’s work is AMAZING, and I’m excited she is sharing her expertise on this first of three guest posts.

Signage from Christina's wedding

Why hire a wedding planner?

There are literally hundreds of decisions that go into planning a typical wedding rehearsal dinner, marriage ceremony and reception celebration. Decision making begins the moment you say “Yes” and continues until the moment you say “I do”.  It can be overwhelming with all the choices available in the wedding industry today and all the questions you may have, including:

How many people do we want in our wedding party?

  • Do we include just family?
  • Should we incorporate close friends? If so, do we have to have their significant others involved?

What style of wedding do we want?

  • Formal or informal?
  • Large or small?
  • Who is paying for it – do they have a say?

What style of ceremony do we want?

  • Are we the same religion or does one of us need to convert?
  • Who will be our Officiant?
  • Are there specific traditions we want to uphold?
  • Do we want an outdoor ceremony or must it be in a church?
  • What about nondenominational?

Christina and Brenton's ceremony site

How do we pick our vendors?

  • Do we ask for recommendations? If so, from whom?
  • How much should our caterer, DJ, or venue cost?
  • How do we establish a wedding budget?

What do we want to do for food?

  • Appetizers
  • Buffet style dinner or lunch
  • A five-course served meal
  • Will we offer options for our vegan or vegetarian guests?

Do we want a traditional cake?

  • Will we go with an independent baker?
  • Will we have a real/faux cake or cupcakes?
  • What flavors do we want?
  • What factors cause the price to go up?
  • Who will cut it?

What is the timeline for the day?

  • When does the entertainment staff need to set up?
  • When will all the décor from the ceremony be cleaned up?
  • Who will give the first toast?
  • When do we decide to tap another keg?
  • Where do all the gifts and décor go at the end of the evening?

Not only can a Wedding Coordinator answer these questions for you, but they know the quickest and most efficient route to begin sculpting your unique wedding style and coordinating every detail to fit your budget. Are you a detailed planner who wants to craft your own wedding from the centerpieces up? Or are you currently overwhelmed by your monster to-do-list? Either way, the resources, guidance, expertise and dedication of a seasoned professional can help you bring your vibrant vision to life.

*Wedding Wednesday* is a weekly post of creative information, ideas and inspiration. If you are a professional in the wedding industry and would like to contribute an entry please contact me for information.

As Ever, Shuva…

Jessica & Justin’s Spectacular Peoria, Illinois Wedding

PEORIA, Ill. – More than a year’s worth of preparation came down to one day, and for Jess it was finally sinking in. I’m getting married, I’m getting married, I’m getting married

She was saying this out loud to herself as much as to anyone within earshot in the hotel room and at the church, adding the footnote: I’m not nervous about getting married… I’m nervous about the process. But Jess was also her excited bubbly self throughout the morning as she got ready and made sure everyone was where they were supposed to be.

Luckily she didn’t have much to worry about. In the morning I had a chance to take a peek at the reception site, Kickapoo Creek Winery, where Jess’ idea of having wine-themed table names were showcased on the place cards themselves!

… and the respective wine bottle – each table had a different one – listed alphabetically from the front of the room to the back. They all had funky names, like the ones shown below. The “Broke Ass” table belonged to Jess and Justin.

Meanwhile, Jess was in the hotel room getting all prettied up. She and I are close in height, which made for a fun shoot especially with Jess standing on the toilet. But mostly, it was her cheerful personality that made this such a great wedding.

Justin was getting ready at the church, sporting a feather with a gold ribbon on his suit. This was a theme throughout the day – as everything a wedding would normally have as flowers was replaced with the use of feathers. What a creative concept!

Shortly before the ceremony, Jess was still a bit nervous, anxious… then moved to tears reading a beautiful card from Justin.

And then it was time. Justin proudly saw his bride-to-be for the first time, as she was escorted down the aisle by her grandfather – and holding a feather bouquet.

Their church, Trinity Lutheran, is a photographers’ dream to shoot in. There was so much beautiful natural light coming through the stained glass it was incredible.

Their ceremony was short, simple and with a homily that addressed their relationship perfectly.

After that, it was time to celebrate… and Jess and Justin gave us photographers (myself and Peoria photographer Scott Laidler) a massive time frame with the bridal party. Here’s one of my favorites from a shoot in a park.

Our next stop was a local bar, where the couple posed themselves. Seriously, they should go into modeling.

Afterward, we headed to the winery – stylin’ it for the cameras they did!

Scott took these shots, the second of which was taken just minutes before they headed into the reception.

After enjoying a cocktail hour, the guests were eagerly awaiting for them. The banquet hall had tables dressed up with ostrich plumes and candelabras, and blue accent lighting placed by the DJs. Gorgeous setup!


Their First Dance was impressive, and a wonderful display of dancing skills!

Last but not least, we had a CrazyBooth at this reception which guests thoroughly enjoyed, including Jess and Justin (bottom center).

And that was the end of our incredibly fun day. Thanks, Jess and Justin, for having me to document your fantastic event! What a privilege it was to be part of this big day! Much congrats to you both!



Wedding Notes:

Ceremony: Trinity Lutheran Church, Peoria with the Pastor Mark Nelson officiating
Reception: Kickapoo Creek Winery, Edwards, Illinois
Photographer: Accent Photographics (me!), assisted by Scott Laidler
Party Bus: One Sweet Dream, Bloomington, Illinois
DJ: Absolute Light and Sound, Hudson, Illinois
First Dance Song: “The Best is Yet to Come” by Frank Sinatra
Feather Bouquets, Corsages, Boutonnieres & Reception Decorations: Heaven on Earth, Peoria
Ostrich Plume Centerpieces: purchased from Weddingbee.com, assembled by Jessica and Maid of Honor Katie Jurgens.
Cake: Tammy Woodmancy
Wedding Dress: Hope’s Bridal, Davenport, Iowa
Bridesmaids Dresses: Bobbie’s BridalPeoria
Tuxes: Savvi Formalwear, Peoria
Reception Linens: I Do Events, Washington, Illinois

Blast from the Past & A Peek into the Future

The summer has been great, but this week has been one of the most intense I can recall in a long time (all in a good way). I’ve been blessed with some incredibly exciting projects, great clients and … a LOT of work jam-packed in a very short time span!  In the midst of my crazy busy life I was surprised and humbled yesterday when one of my past brides wrote a blog post about me – which you can check out by clicking on the screen capture below or read in full here.

My bride was Christina Smith. I had the pleasure of shooting her wedding last year and was blown away by the amount of detail there was. Although I never saw the work behind the scenes, the artistry in the day showed. On the side, Christina has been a successful wedding planner for the past 5 years, and recently launched a website for her business – Classic Events Coordination & Design – in which elements of her wedding and others are showcased. Click below to see more:

I’m also excited to have Christina as a guest blogger in the near future for the *Wedding Wednesday* series, so be on the look out for that! I love learning from people like her who are creative and smart about art and design, especially when it comes to weddings. … Stay tuned.


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