Second Weddings. Planning a different wedding.


A friend of mine recently got engaged and is planning what is to be her second wedding.  She’s a little bit older, been divorced a few years and has grown into an entirely different person. She started telling me about her desire for a smaller, more intimate wedding, a nontraditional wedding dress and her ultra laid back approach to her bridesmaids. As she was excitedly explaining the details of her wedding, I asked her if this was a total departure from her first wedding. Her response was immediate, “Oh yes,” she said.  This go round was going to be completely different.

I find this is a common theme amongst my friends who have been married previously. They are typically in entirely different circumstances, usually with kids, and the considerations when it comes to planning their weddings are not what they were the first time. I’m not suggesting that a second wedding is better than a first wedding, I’m just noticing that talking to a 2nd time bride is very different than a 1st time bride.

The trend I’ve observed from these brides is their desire to have an event just as meaningful and special as their first, but with emphasis on different things.

They want it smaller.  Maybe their first wedding was a giant affair with their friends, their families’ friends and everyone they knew growing up.  A first wedding is typically a family rite of passage. Your parents are moving into a different role at the same time that you are and their friends want to celebrate right along side your friends. With the 2nd wedding, the idea that this is “new” has worn off a little.  Not that it’s not special, and your parents are probably incredibly excited for you, but the truth isit really is a union of two people without the added generation “changing of the guard” so to speak.  Most of the brides I have talked to just express their desire to simplify. They want the support of their loved ones, but that is usually a smaller group of people. They are busy.  They have kids. They have to figure out how to consolidate the “stuff” from two grown people living on their own and they don’t want to spend months pouring over a giant guest list and mulling over centerpieces. I have MANY friends who had courthouse second weddings and a party afterward. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

They want a dress that makes them look AND feel good. I was laughing as this very same friend of mine went into a tirade of how she detested the white wedding dresses she attempted to try on since getting engaged.  She looked me in the face and said, “I’m 36 years old, I know what looks good on me and what doesn’t. White hardly flatters anyone.” She will be walking down the aisle in a flattering non-white, non-princess dress this go round. She found a beautiful dress that she looks and feels great in and that is what she’s going with.  I loved how she knew what she wanted and was not afraid to go for it. Personally, I would tell any bride that these days it’s safe to ditch the traditional white dress if it’s not youbut I know that for many gals, they have had their eyes set on the princess wedding dress since they were children and there is nothing wrong with that.  Most 2nd time brides, I know, though, just don’t want to go traditional.

They want a less expensive wedding. I don’t know of any of my friends whose parents had a fund to donate for their second weddings. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. I’m sure that happensand that’s cool.  Most of the time, however, you are lucky to get your parents to pony up for one wedding, so forget two.  I say this is a GREAT thing.  I know that first time brides do struggle over making everyone happy given that the bill is usually being at least partially picked up by a parent.  So while you may not have thousands of dollars of someone else’s money to spend, you do get an event that is in your complete control.  So you may have to skip the world famous Mixologist flown in from Paris and everyone may not get a puppy as a favor, but are you really going to miss these things?  Having a family and close friends-only ceremony in your backyard can be just as memorable, and sometimes more so than all the extra expenses. Those that care about you will want to see you exchange vows with your love and not go into crazy debt doing so.

Second weddings are no less special than first weddings. Your love and commitment to the one you love is never to be treated like anything other than sacred. I say go forth boldly with your wedding planning. Get the exact ceremony that you want and bring the ones you truly love and who truly care about you into the fold to share it with you!

Did you do something nontraditional and cool for your second wedding?  Comment and share with us!

Wedding portrait.

The Honeymoon Games


No it’s not an arena where married couples play to the deathit’s a just a way to inject a little offbeat fun into your post wedding vacay.  Some couples, are beach couples. They want to leave their wedding and go lie on a beach with a fruity drink and gaze into each other’s eyes undisturbed all week.  That’s cool.  I’m not judging. This is not me and my husband. We like to get out and explore a new place, tour museums and try new restaurants. We especially love to laugh.  I have come up with a few ideas on how to kick up the fun on your honeymoon.  Feel free to use these ideas whenever you traveleven better, choose a honeymoon hashtag and let others follow you on your adventures.

Worst Souvenir Contest

Every time my husband and I go anywhere on a trip, we play this game.  It originated on our honeymoon in San Francisco. Someone came up with the idea (I can’t remember who) to take $20 and find the worst souvenir that Chinatown had to offer. We had a blast running into shops, starting on opposite ends and meeting somewhere in the middle with our worst souvenir contenders.  For us, it was fairly quick to decide the blinking light-up Jesus was going to be our winner. We went one better and displayed it at a dinner we held for both sets of parents a few weeks later. It was fun to place it in a conspicuous location (it’s a light up Jesus, it was pretty conspicuous anyway) and didn’t comment on it to anyone.  It was really fun to see it catch their eyes when they first came walked into our apartment. Who knows, your worst souvenir winner could start one of your first family traditions.

Photo Album Remix

This is pretty fun but requires some prep work.  Make a list or find a list of different pictures you want to take. This can be a general list like, “picture with a restaurant server” or location specific “picture on the Empire State Building”.  If you like an added element of hilarity/danger/insanity, you can get VERY specific and assign challenges like, “reenact Jack/Rose flying pose from Titanic on the top of the Empire State Building.”

Work it into the Conversation

I’ll be honest with you. This is one of my favorite games. I’ve been known to play this one with coworkers making sales calls or on social media. You assign a word or phrase to someone and they have to work it into the sentence and make it sound normal. Normal is the key word. No cheating. The phrase has to “work” into the sentence. Assign point scores to this challenge and allow the winner to pick the restaurant that night. Some classics I love:  “Aleutian Islands”, “rhubarb”, “studies show…” and “that’s how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air.” That last one is like “golden snitch”, you get a lot of points if you can make Fresh Prince lyrics sound like they belong in a sentence. This game can get hilarious, but make sure that whomever you are talking to doesn’t think you are laughing at them.

Newlyweds collect things on their honeymoon

Honeymoons are a wonderful chance to relax, have fun and spend time with the one your love.  But if you feel your honeymoon getting a little boring or you just want to add a little bit of fun, try adding one of these games into stay!.

Wedding Fauxtography – Don’t put your pictures at risk.


I could totally be a photographer.  Seriously.  Are you having a wedding, I can TOTALLY take the pictures.  I have one of those new cameras with the fancy no-experience-required button thingiesand am CONFIDENT that I can totally deliver the pictures of your dreams.  I also have a back up iPhone just in case.

Wanna hire me?

Let me let you in on a little secret about something that’s happening in the world of wedding photography – well all photography really.

There are photographers out there who are misrepresenting themselves. Photographers who are overconfident but completely under experienced who are willing to lie to land a job and that could be trouble for unsuspecting couples who fall in love with photos on a website and fail to do their homework.

These camera-wielding phonies are being dubbed, fauxtographers. Clever name, no?

So while you, the bride, are probably not the least bit interested in policing the world of professional photography, you are in the market for someone to take pictures of your wedding.

Read this article.

You need to be aware.

Trust no one.

Go with caution.

Be strong like bull.

Stay above 50!

Sorry, I had to throw in a Speed quote. Because, well, just because.

Okay, back to avoiding a disaster of the wedding photography kind.

How are these photographers misrepresenting?  Here are some ways.

They are stealing. And let’s be clear, stealing sucks. In order to “pad” their own websites, some newbie photographers have stolen work from other professional photographers, replacing the watermark with one of their own.  It’s wrong. In fact, it’s a big fat lie. It hurts the real photographer and is completely false advertising. It would be like a wedding band, playing you the original version of the Macarena and passing it off as their own, original song.  I knowyou can’t get that song out of your head.  I’m not sorry. I’m making a point.

They have only ‘staged’ shoots. While staging some shoots for the sake of gaining experience is okay, you need to make sure your photographer has actually photographed living, breathing, moving weddings.  While a styled shoot is great for seeing a photographers’ artistic vision, it says nothing about their ability to keep up with the pace of a real wedding and getting all the key shots in action.

Link to 10 ways to tell if your wedding photographer is faking it

They are exaggerating their experience.  Lying to spruce up a resume never hurt anybody, right?  Wrong.  Hiring a photographer who has embellished their experience can put you at risk.  Maybe that photographer doesn’t really have the know how to roll with the typical punches of an unpredictable wedding day.  Their rookie mistakes could be devastating to you.

So how do you avoid hiring one of these fauxtographers?  Well, this list is in no way complete, but it does give you a few good places to start.

Hire a referral. Friends, wedding planners and even wedding venues can usually provide names of competent and professional photographers that have a proven track record for achieving quality photos.

Study their photos.  Compare all the photos they claim as their own.  Do they look like they were taken by the same photographer?  Do the photos on their blog, website and FB page match?  Anything stand out as odd?  Do the photos all look styled or are their some true candid shots in their body of work.

Ask to see an entire wedding shoot or two. From start to finish, look at their photos from a few weddings…the entire wedding.  See if their work is consistent and if they got key moments.  It’s also very unlikely that they stole an entire wedding shoot to use in their portfolio. That would be a lot of work for them…like an Ocean’s Eleven type heist.  And that would take, “a Boeski, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever.” Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Use common sense. If the exclusive-to-Georgia wedding photographer has several weddings with non-Georgia settings, this should sound your bridezilla warning bell. Georgia doesn’t have tropical beaches, canyons or a lot of Elvis impersonator officiants.  I’m just saying.

There are a lot of great resources out there for people looking to hire legitimate and professional photographers that can help you answer questions about insurance, professional affiliations and so forth.  Do your research.  Don’t get stuck with an empty album because you took your photographer at their word.

Atlanta Wedding News is committed to encouraging the hiring and advertising of professional, seasoned photographers.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

Basically, you’ve been planning your wedding since birth. And now that the season of your life has finally arrived, you are free to bring that overflowing notebook out from it’s hiding place under your bed, unhide that full-to-the-brim Pinterest board and start planning. As you peruse all of the inspiration and touches you’ve saved over the…ahem…years…you find yourself being overwhelmed with too many things to incorporate into your wedding. From a catchy sign to hang outside of the reception to those 200 personalized favors…the ideas are endless.
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Dare to Ditch the White

Reese decided blush would best commemorate her second marriage.

Kaley took the plunge in bold pink.

Ellen Pompeo wore a black cocktail dress in her intimate ceremony.

Jessica became Mrs. Timberlake without donning the traditional white.

All of these women are fabulous.

And you are fabulous too, if you decide to ditch the white for your special day.

I know. I know.
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Are Your Memories Safe?

…burning images on CD or DVD is now a thing of the past.” Eric then jumped in and said, “He’s right. We’ve burned images on CD or DVD but what good are they? They get lost, scratched, hidden in a drawer somewhere. Plus, in the near future, there won’t be any CD’s or DVD’s made anymore.”

“But, but… all my friends and family got their wedding images on CD or DVD.” said the bride.
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A Letter To Becky Swales | Colors of Life Photography

Dear Becky,

Let us first start by saying that You and Otis have raised three beautiful daughters. In the short time we have known them, they’ve become our family. We’ve established a bond with your girls unlike any we’ve shared in the past. Jodie, Kaylee and Sarah have changed our lives. They’ve shown us what true resilience is. They’ve shown us what really matters. Your daughters have given us the gift of perspective.

Some may call us crazy for agreeing to document 3 weddings at the same time and that’s OK. We consider ourselves as fortunate and honored to do so. We were so grateful your girls invited us into the most important day of their lives. Not only were they saying “I do” to the men of their dreams, but they were able to have you there to witness it.

When we were approached about their weddings, we were in the middle of a schedule that was ready to burst at the seams. We moved things around and pulled in help where we needed it. Your daughters became a huge priority for us. All of the struggles we faced that month were absolutely worth it. We’d do it again in a heartbeat. If we never got paid a single dollar for the rest of our time as wedding photographers, we’d be fine with that. Of course we did this for your girls, but we also did it for us. We did this for all of the people we have lost in our lives; our relatives, our friends, even people we don’t know. We did this for everyone uncomfortable with the subject of cancer; those who are so uncomfortable and fearful with it that they ignore the topic until it’s too late. We did this for those struggling and those who have conquered. We did this for everyone.

Once again, Jodie, Kaylee, and Sarah gave us far more than we could ever give them. Perspective has changed our lives.

You’ve left your mark with these beautiful girls; You’ve left your mark on us. Way to go and thank you Becky.

Peggy, Amanda,Damian and our wonderful assistant Keri
Colors Of Life Photography–after-terminally-ill-mother-given-grave-prognosis-174913888.html

Dealing with Bride stress |


Being a bride can be one of the most amazing times in your life and it can also be an emotional roller coaster. Brides are faced with months of planning and tons of organizing. You have to sort through a million options. It’s the brides job to taste things, try on things, pick colors, styles, amounts…

You have to make sure your guests are happy and at the same time try and throw an amazing party. You don’t want to be a bridezilla.

On the wedding day I have acted as moral support for many brides. I try to be calm in the chaos. I am the photographer, but I want everyone (especially the bride) to feel comfortable.

So while you are rushing and planning and selecting and searching – remember these things:

Atlanta Wedding Phototgrapher Joyelan 4

Take a minute to yourself

Planning can consume your life. You wedding is important , but you as the bride are more important. Take a night off to think. Do something you love but haven’t done in a long time. Turn off your phone and have some me time. Unwind and put the planning off until tomorrow. You are the bride and you deserve a day to yourself.

Atlanta Wedding Phototgrapher Joyelan 3

Is this what you really want

Of course I’m not talking about your Husband to be. I’m talking about the details. Those centerpieces or that bracelet that your aunt really wants you to wear. These may seem like minor things, but 15 minor things you don’t want will be a few major things later. Plan how YOU want. Being the bride means you get the final say. You should have the flowers you want, the songs you want, and invite the people you want. If you want to wear blue shoes -wear the blue shoes! You will never look back at your wedding and think I’m so glad I didn’t get those amazing shoes.

Atlanta Wedding Phototgrapher Joyelan 2


On your wedding day everything will be chaos. Even when you have a time line it seems like something goes wrong. People will be asking you a thousand questions and you will probably forget to eat. Don’t forget to eat. It’s perfectly fine to take a moment to breath. Brides plan for months and months for a day that is totally centered around them. This isn’t a bad thing, but you don’t need the extra stress. It’s always good to have a quiet moment during the day to reflect and take a few deep breaths.

Atlanta Wedding Phototgrapher Joyelan

Enjoy the moment

Weddings always seem like they take years to plan and then just fly by. This is your day. You did everything a bride should do and now you are married. Eat the cake and smell your flowers. Listen to every speech and dance like nobody’s watching. Take time to enjoy your wedding.

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Joy Hmielewski
Owner / Main Photographer

Five movies to watch the year you plan your wedding

Five movies to watch the year you plan your wedding

Planning your wedding?

Congratulations.  Things are about to get hectic.

It is important to remember to take care of yourself while you make plans, stress over details and manage big personalities.  Wedding planning can be emotionally exhausting.  So if you find yourself on detail-overload, it might be a great time to silence your cell, minimize Pinterest, pour a great big glass of your favorite wine and kick back with one of these great romances.

Here are five movies you should watch this year…
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Will you be my bridesmaid?


When I got married, I had one attendant.  I asked my sister to be my maid of honor, told her to pick out a dress and just let me know what color it was. I realize this is not the norm.  As a bride, I was kind of a minimalist.  Well, that’s what my budget required me to be.

Back in the olden days, in a time before Pinterest (it was a dark, dark time that I don’t like to think about) asking someone to be in your wedding was done over the phone or was a simple question shortly following the oohs and aahs of admiring a newly acquired diamond ring.

It was very uncomplicated

These days, it’s complicated.

But man, I sure like it a whole lot more.

Everything trending in the bridesmaid department currently points toward incredibly heartfelt and considerate brides communicating their desire for the support of their best friends.  It’s not just the request for a warm body to stand in a dress and even out the numbers in a church covered in “Blush and Bashful” (excuse the Steel Magnolias reference). It’s a truly meaningful gesture meant to convey the level of the bride’s friendship with her best girlfriends.  I love the lengths the brides are going to for their bridal party.

Brides are “popping the question” in all sorts of touching and fun ways.

Here are a few great ways to engage your maids!

Wedding celebration

Host a dinner party in their honor.

Before the craziness of wedding planning begins, have your best girlfriends over for a girls’ night.  Plan a make-your-own-salad-bar with some yummy bread and ask them to help you get married over a Champagne toast.  Another idea is to put personalized treat boxes at each seat with some fun gifts or memories inside with a card asking them to be in your wedding.  To top it off, include small planners for each of the girls so you can chat details over dessert.

Collage the question.

Most likely you have some cherished memories with the ladies you want to have in your wedding party.  Taking the time to scrapbook a personal card with some of your girlfriend highlights is not only a touching way to ask, but it is also a great walk down memory lane to see how much you have been through together. Hate scrapbooking?  Find the earliest picture of the two of you in existence and make a card using Snapfish or Shutterfly for each of your bridesmaids-to-be.

Ask it with jewelry.

You got jewelry with your big question so why not shower your potential bridesmaids with a sweet necklace or bracelet along with a request for them to be in your wedding?  It’s a thoughtful touch and is something your friends will cherish for years to come.

Personalize it! 

There are some adorable labels out there that you can use or create your own.  Stick it on a bar of chocolate or, better yet, a bottle of wine.  Present the gift to your bridesmaid with a touching card about how much she means to you and why you want her in your wedding.

Bridesmaids are a living timeline of your life as a single lady.  They have been there for you through the string of boyfriends and bad breakups always ready to help you pick up the pieces and move forward.  It is only fitting that they be there with you as you embark on your “ever after.” So make sure you put some thought into how and when you “pop the question”.

Now it’s my turn to “pop the question.” Will youhead on over to our Pinterest page and check out my bridesmaids pins?  Pretty please!
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