Spoken Bride Vendors | Spotlight, Vol. 4

Are you recently engaged and ready to book your wedding vendors? Newly married or attending a wedding, and in search of gifts that affirm the vocation to marriage?

We are proud to serve you through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide, the first online resource for distinctively Catholic wedding vendors: hand-selected professionals from around the U.S. with not only an abundance of talent, but a reverence and passion for the sacrament of marriage that brings a uniquely personal, prayerful dimension to their client experiences.

From photographers and videographers who understand how to capture the most significant moments of your nuptial Mass, to coordinators who understand the needs of Catholic couples, artists whose jewelry, stationery, and prints become enduring keepsakes long after your wedding day, clinical and theological experts in the fields of fertility and relationships, and beyond, Spoken Bride Vendors view their work as a call and find deep joy in putting their talents at the service of the Lord.

What’s more, our vendors are truly engaging and fun. With a range of stories, hobbies, and devotions, it’s our privilege to share who they are and connect them with their ideal clients--you, faithful Catholic couples who are energized by working with like-minded, prayerful individuals. Each month, we’ll be introducing, or re-introducing, you to members of Spoken Bride’s vendor community, and we encourage you to learn more through their full vendor listings.

Our Vendors for This Month:

Beauty of the Soul Studio

Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC

Emily Ott’s passion for photography began as a curiosity, grew as a side hustle, and developed into the full-time vocation. She desires to uphold the value and sanctity of marriage in her marriage, her profession, and her relationships with clients. “After a few years working under another photographer, I decided to officially launch my own business in order to cater more specifically to the couples in my area searching for someone who appreciates the true value of their wedding day beyond portolio-building moments, and knows what it's like to be on the other side of the wedding day.”

What is your favorite place where you have traveled?: My honeymoon was an incredible 9 day trip to Italy. The first half of our trip was to Rome, which was incredible enough with all of the Church history, beautiful landmarks, and even participating in the "Sposi Novelli" newlywed blessing at the Wednesday papal audience. But my favorite place was the second half of our trip, to the tiny island off the coast of Naples called Ischia. We stayed in a medieval castle, functioning as part tourist attraction (with restored rooms, chapels, and gardens) and part hotel in the renovated section that had previously been a monastery. We had a room with an incredible view, never had a bad meal, and enjoyed the warm Mediterranean air!

What are your favorite saints or devotions?: My husband and I chose St. Michael the Archangel as a patron of our relationship while we were dating, and have continued a devotion to him into our marriage. I'm particularly fond of the Divine Mercy Chaplet as well—it was an integral part of my prayer life particularly during my dating years in college. I also owe much of my spiritual conversion to Eucharistic Adoration and try to go as often as I can.

What is your favorite food?: I'm a sucker for pizza. I'm particularly a fan of authentic Italian pizza (three trips to Italy in the last three years will spoil you like that) with its soft, dusty crust and authentic tomato flavor... but I'll also take a slice of hot delivery pizza. And yes, I am #TeamPineapple - no shame here!

Learn more about Beauty of the Soul Studio


Lauren Emily Photography

Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia

Lauren Noa and her husband frequently relocate due to their commitment with the Navy. Despite new homes and communities, Lauren’s faith, love, and vocation to wedding photography remain the same. “My faith fuels my love of art and beauty, my family inspires my work ethic and encourages my business adventures, and my husband is my biggest support system and shows me the love and joy that helps to breathe life into my photography. I really do believe that photography can be a form of service and an opportunity to show Christ's love and peace to families and couples especially on their wedding day.”

What is your favorite moment of your wedding day?: My absolute favorite moment of the day was walking down the aisle and locking eyes with my husband-to-be. I thought my heart was going to fly out of me. There really isn't a better feeling! We had been dating for over six years by the time he had graduated and we were legally allowed to marry, so we got married just a few days after. Those were some of the longest few days! My second favorite was standing in front of our parish's statue of Mary while my sister and best friend sand the Ave Maria. That was the only time I cried that whole day!

What are your favorite books, movies, and music?: The Lord of the Rings definitely is at the top of the list, for both books and movies. But I have too many favorites to mention! For music, I love most anything acapella, some country, and I am really falling in love with Broadway Musicals...currently Bandstand is a favorite.

What are three things on your bucket list?: I would love to travel to every state to photograph a wedding. I want to have at least four happy, healthy, and faithful kids. I want to travel Europe to photograph all the pretty people at all of the historical things and take part in at least one pilgrimage (probably to Lourdes) while I was there.

Learn more about Lauren Emily Photography


Wild Grace Therapy

Miami, Florida or Serving Clients Nationwide through Online Virtual Sessions

Marriage and family therapist Melissa Tablada prioritizes her faith first, followed by family. Her personal priorities influence her professional philosophy. “Theology of the Body is a huge inspiration for my work, as well as the married saints such as St. Anne & St. Joachim, Mary & St. Joseph, St. Zélie & St. Louis. My faith plays a role in my business because my faith is the foundation of everything in my life. The way that I can best serve my clients is when we bring faith into the therapy room and allow the Holy Spirit to be present and active our sessions. God leads all of my life, my work is absolutely included in that.” The intersection between faith and professional therapy is where Melissa serves the world and strengthens marriages, the foundation of society.

Do you root for any professional sports teams?: Miami Heat & Miami Dolphins because I married a Miami man who loves his teams.

What ministries are you involved with?: I am involved in Fiat Marriage Community, Respect Life, Gesu Couples Group, Better with Betsy, St. Augustine Young Adult Group, and I serve as a Eucharistic Minister

What does love mean to you?: Love means that we desire the absolute good for the other person. We can love more fully by seeing the way God does, serving those around us, and choosing to love even on the days we don't really feel like it.

Learn more about Wild Grace Therapy


Kirsten Ann Photography

Madison, Wisconsin

Kirsten Gord refined her photography skills into a full-time business in order to serve her family as a stay-at-home wife and mother. “Everything I believe about the human person, the dignity of life, the relationships between man and woman, the role of husband and wife, and the importance of families is rooted in my Catholic faith. Therefore, the way I treat others, the way I view beauty, and the way I present my work are all framed by these Catholic understandings.” Kirsten’s value for beautiful photography and the depth of her spiritual life form her mission as a Catholic wedding photographer.

What are three things on your bucket list?: Hike around the Norwegian fjords with my husband. (I got to do this once after graduating college, but I really want to have this experience with him!) Make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The Camino de Santiago and/or visit the homeland of one of my favorite saints (Lisieux, Poland, etc.).

What is your favorite memory of your wedding day?: Wow, this is hard. If I had to be more specific, I would say making our vows was my favorite, for two reasons. One, because it was the moment when we entered into a covenant with each other before God, promising to love one another faithfully for all our days. Two, because Joe could barely get through it! He is a mega-crier, so he was sobbing through all the vows. It was so sweet!

What ministries are you involved with?: Currently, I am mostly involved in local Catholic mom's groups. However, while I was in college, I was very involved in the campus ministry at St. Thomas Aquinas (at Purdue University - "Boiler Catholics"). I attended, then staffed, then co-chaired a staff for the Boiler Awakening Retreat. I also co-founded and led the Catholic Women's Group, which is still going strong on campus today!

Learn more about Kirsten Ann Photography

Spoken Bride Vendors | Spotlight, Vol. 3

We are proud to serve you through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide, the first online resource for distinctively Catholic wedding vendors: hand-selected professionals from around the U.S. with not only an abundance of talent, but a reverence and passion for the sacrament of marriage that brings a uniquely personal, prayerful dimension to their client experiences.

With a range of stories, hobbies, and devotions, it’s our privilege to share who these men and women are and connect them with their ideal clients--you, faithful Catholic couples who are energized by working with like-minded individuals. Each month, we’ll be introducing, or re-introducing, you to members of Spoken Bride’s vendor community, and we encourage you to learn more through their full vendor listings.

This month’s featured vendors (click to jump):

Zélie Veils

Bridal Attire; Fowler, Michigan, ships nationwide

Rebekah Shannon crafted her own wedding veil and loved the process. Two years later, with her husband’s encouragement and under the patronage of St. Zélie Martin--herself a lacemaker and businesswoman--Rebekah made her gifts official and founded her business, offering custom and ready-to-wear bridal veils. She intercedes in prayer for each of her clients and experiences great joy in seeing her work “worn on the biggest day of someone's life. Especially at such a pinnacle moment, like the first look or the vows. It's a part of that memory for them forever.”

Rebekah’s spirit of good will extends beyond her brides: “My Catholic faith,” she says, “was the drive to partner with an organization that offered a helping hand to the most vulnerable. We were very intentional with our decision to choose human trafficking as the issue we'd address.” A portion of each Zélie Veils sale is donated to the global NGO Love Justice, dedicated to pursuing human dignity and freedom with practical and political support.

Favorite movie: A Quiet Place

Favorite devotions: Other than the Martin family [the family of Saint Zélie and her husband Louis, the parents of Saint Thérese], I've always had a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart, especially in striving to understand the depth of Christ's love for us.

The best place I’ve traveled: Rome in 2016. My husband and I met Pope Francis and he blessed my first baby while in the womb!

Learn more about Zélie Veils


Our Lady’s Armory

Gifts; Cincinnatti, Ohio, ships worldwide

When Nick Jobe proposed to his bride, Elizabeth, he gave her the gift of a handmade Rosary. He discovered a love for the craft of creating precious sacramental items, along with a market need for quality religious items with a masculine sensibility. Our Lady’s Armory was founded in 2015, offering rosaries made from paracord or precious gems, religious jewelry, and cufflinks. Custom options are available, offering a unique opportunity to gift accessories with the significance of a favorite saint from groom to groomsmen or bride to groom.

True to the name of his business, Nick has dedicated his work to Mary, our mother. Inspired by Saint Maximilian Kolbe’s Militia Immaculata, he says, “[I see the Militia as] something to which all the faithful are called, especially Catholic men. I see my role as the "Quartermaster" of Our Lady's Armory, which means I help outfit soldiers for their spiritual service to Our Lady.”

Favorite part of working on weddings: My favorite part of [creating custom rosaries and cufflinks for wedding parties] is the deep level of personalization that each customer seeks for the finished product. Most of my regular customers are happy to pick a product straight out of my catalog, but all of my wedding customers have found ways to incorporate their favorite saints or particular devotions, either by special patron saint medals on their rosaries or by unique cufflinks that aren't offered in my standard catalog.

Ministries I’m involved in: Knights of Columbus, Swole.Catholic

Love means: willing the good of the beloved.

Learn more about Our Lady’s Armory


Mackenzie Reiter Photography

Photography; Houston, Texas, serving Houston, Austin, Dallas, Texas, New York, California, and available for worldwide travel.

Mackenzie says, “Ever since I can remember I have always been the ‘friend with the camera.’ I purchased my first digital Kodak camera in the fourth grade! As the years have passed, my experience with photography has grown tremendously and turned from a hobby into a career. I love documenting weddings because there is something so unbelievably special in having a front row seat on someone's wedding day.”

A recent bride herself, Mackenzie desired to find fellow Catholic vendors for her own wedding, recognizing the ways in which they understood her priorities and needs. Now, behind the camera, shooting weddings on a combination of film and digital, she loves the opportunity to intercede for and share in the particular joys of Catholic marriage with each of her couples: “with my own personal experience I can truly capture and beautifully represent the sacredness of a full Nuptial Mass Ceremony.”

On my bucket list: To leave the world better than before I left it, to travel the world with my husband, Chisam--I love traveling to places off the beaten path--and to photograph a Catholic wedding in a different country!

I take my coffee: extra sweet!

Favorite saint: Thérese of Lisieux

Learn more about Mackenzie Reiter Photography


Elizabeth & George

Photography; St. Louis, Missouri, serving the greater St. Louis area and available for nationwide travel.

Elizabeth Ngundue dropped out of school, after four years of study in the music department, to fulfill her longtime dream of pursuing photography full-time. Along with her husband George, Elizabeth now spends her days producing images she describes as “romantic, elegant, and timeless,” flooded with beautifully airy natural light.

Elizabeth and George share a particular love for capturing “two beautiful souls committing their lives to one another…[marriage] is our key to heaven and it's an incredible day to witness God's holy will at work.”

Featured on: Style Me Pretty, The Knot, Magnolia Rouge, Once Wed, Smitten Magazine, St. Louis Bride & Groom, Chic Vintage Brides.

How the Catholic faith plays a role in my business: The faith inspires everything I do, truly. I love highlighting masculinity & femininity.

Love means: Living each day more selflessly for others.

Learn more about Elizabeth & George

Spoken Bride Vendors | Spotlight, Vol. 2

We are proud to serve you through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide, the first online resource for distinctively Catholic wedding vendors: hand-selected professionals from around the U.S. with not only an abundance of talent, but a reverence and passion for the sacrament of marriage that brings a uniquely personal, prayerful dimension to their client experiences.

What’s more, our vendors are truly engaging and fun. With a range of stories, hobbies, and devotions, it’s our privilege to share who they are and connect them with their ideal clients--you, faithful Catholic couples who are energized by working with like-minded, prayerful individuals. Each month, we’ll be introducing, or re-introducing, you to members of Spoken Bride’s vendor community, and we encourage you to learn more through their full vendor listings.

Our featured May Vendors (click to jump)

Extended Hands

Stationery & Hand Lettering; Columbus, Ohio and serving the continental U.S.

The mission of Extended Hands is “to create invitations that are tailored to witness the beauty of the Catholic sacraments.” Owner Shea Santho, a professional graphic designer, uses rich materials to reflect the significance of her clients’ occasions, loves hearing her couples’ dating and proposal stories, and prays for them throughout their engagement.

Shea shares, “it’s an invitation that seeks the communion of others to share with them in a sacred sacrament! It’s an invitation that will bring others home to the Church, in front of Jesus in the Eucharist!  Whether [wedding] guests are practicing Catholics, fallen-away Catholics, or have never even stepped inside a Catholic Church before, a couple’s wedding day--and ultimately their marriage--is a witness to the Catholic faith. The invitation is the first glimpse their guests will see that makes a statement in itself, on what the sacrament of marriage means to them.”

Favorite movie: One of my favorites would have to be Little Women.  My sister and I grew up as competitive figure skaters and performed to the soundtrack, and it has become a tradition for us to watch the movie with our mom the weekend before Christmas Eve and wrap presents together.

Favorite wedding-day memory: I find myself replaying moments of the day in my mind all the time: meeting my husband at the altar, saying our vows, when the priest prayed over us for the nuptial blessing and again at the final blessing, walking down the aisle as a married couple for the very first time, walking out of the church with family and friends cheering in celebration. So many precious moments.

Go-to prayer: I have always had a special devotion to Our Lady, particularly Our Lady of Medjugorje.  I love praying the rosary. My favorite rosary mystery has always been the first joyful mystery, the Annunciation.  I love so many prayers, but my favorite prayer would probably be the Hail Mary. I love the words because they are the words the angel spoke to Our Lady at the Annunciation and Elizabeth’s words at the Visitation.  Three Hail Mary’s and the Memorare are often my on the spot, go-to prayers.

Learn more about Extended Hands


Kelli Seeley Photography

Photography; Sacramento, California

A self-described lover of film and fine art, and of people and love stories, Kelli took her first photography class at 14 years old. She began second-shooting weddings after her college graduation, and launched her own business the following year, shooting fine art-style images on film and digital with a timeless sensibility. As a wife and mother, Kelli views her God-given talent as a part of her life’s call, understanding the graces that flow from balance and rightly ordered priorities: “My Catholic faith is the #1 priority in my life. From that understanding, I believe I am called first to my vocation to my own marriage and as a mother to my children. I also feel God has called me to be a photographer, so by his grace and the support of my family, I am able to pursue and run my business. I pray before every shoot, and I pray before responding to wedding inquiries that God’s will will be done. My desire is to do his will in all things, so I completely surrender my business to him.”

I’m inspired by: love, family, truth and beauty. I am inspired by the imperfections of life here on earth because they unite us in our humanity. I am inspired by authentic emotion and freezing a moment with my camera so it can be remembered forever.

Favorite foods: Pizza, salad, and burritos. And you can never have enough avocados on all of those things!

Love means...Sacrifice. Helping your beloved get to heaven. Willing the good of the other. Discovering [your spouse’s] love language and doing little things to show them care and affection.

Learn more about Kelli Seeley Photography


Evan Kristiansen Photography

Photography; Boston, Massachusetts and Greater New England; available for travel.

With 15 years’ photography experience, including 6 years of shooting weddings, Evan is a seasoned pro who consistently discovers a sense of comfort and fast friendship with his Catholic clients--through communication and a shared faith, he finds they share common goals and boundaries with their photography and is inspired by their witness: “[I find] hope in the institution of marriage, the church, and in God that they display when they're at the altar on their wedding day. It is nothing short of miraculous, and stands in stark contrast to the culture around them...You don't meet a lot of cynics at weddings. I think this is because people subconsciously recognize the universal good of marriage, and what it represents. I think it's wonderfully "countercultural" to commit to someone for life.” Evan loves working with Catholic couples, making it his mission “to provide my clients with a wedding photographer that doesn't just know wedding photography, but also knows the Mass, and God.”

On my bucket list: I'd love to do the Camino, I'd like to get married (God willing!), and I'd like to run an Iron Man triathlon (I've got a half coming up!).

Favorite place I’ve traveled: I love traveling back to my home country of Norway. I grew up there as a kid, and there's something that just feels...homey about it. It's also one of the most beautiful countries on earth. It's worth going just for the hiking!

Also, when I visited Assisi last year it was one of the best experiences of my spiritual life thus far, and I would love to spend more time in rural Italy.

Favorite saints: My confirmation saint is St. Olav (Olaf) the Holy, of Norway. I have devotions to St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Albert the Great, and St. Augustine--I pray for their intercession regularly.

Learn more about Evan Kristiansen Photography


Visual Rose Productions

Videography; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.; available for travel.

A self-taught videographer with more than 5 years’ experience, Visual Rose founder Nick DeRose--a husband and a father of three--understands and reveres the bond of faith he shares with his Catholic clients. “There is just something special filming those kind of weddings,” he says. “It just makes everything super authentic. The way the relationship was formed and how [the bride and groom] go about the wedding day allows me to film it such a beautiful way.” Fittingly, Nick describes his work as “authentic, simple, and joyful,” knowing wedding videography becomes more and more of a gift over time: on sharing a couple’s highlight video with them for the first time, Nick says, “[I love] giving them something to cherish as a keepsake they can show their future kids as they grow their family.”

I’m most inspired by: Prayer and being around my family. My wife and I have three kids; seeing them and their joy is very inspirational to me. Beautiful music is also very important and is always a huge inspiration.

Favorite saints: Mary and Joseph.

Love means...an act of the will. Giving yourself to one another regardless of how you feel.

Learn more about Visual Rose Productions

Spoken Bride Vendors | Spotlight, Vol. 1

Are you recently engaged and ready to book your wedding vendors? Newly married or attending a wedding, and in search of gifts that affirm the vocation to marriage?

We are proud to serve you through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide, the first online resource for distinctively Catholic wedding vendors: hand-selected professionals from around the U.S. with not only an abundance of talent, but a reverence and passion for the sacrament of marriage that brings a uniquely personal, prayerful dimension to their client experiences.

From photographers and videographers who understand how to capture the most significant moments of your nuptial Mass, to coordinators who understand the needs of Catholic couples, artists whose jewelry, stationery, and prints become enduring keepsakes long after your wedding day, clinical and theological experts in the fields of fertility and relationships, and beyond, Spoken Bride Vendors view their work as a call and find deep joy in putting their talents at the service of the Lord.

What’s more, our vendors are truly engaging and fun. With a range of stories, hobbies, and devotions, it’s our privilege to share who they are and connect them with their ideal clients--you, faithful Catholic couples who are energized by working with like-minded, prayerful individuals. Each month, we’ll be introducing, or re-introducing, you to members of Spoken Bride’s vendor community, and we encourage you to learn more through their full vendor listings.

Our Featured April Vendors (click to jump)

Laurentina Photography + Video

Washington, D.C., available for nationwide and international travel

While studying abroad in Orvieto, Italy, Laura Kuah fell in love with the art of photography--and, through the art and theology surrounding her, with the Catholic faith. Specializing in building relationship throughout a couple’s engagement through vendor connections and monthly communication, all bathed in a spirit of prayer and intercession, Laura says, “Our postmodern world has lost the human connection. We have become fixated on the "hustle" rather than slowing down to appreciate the little moments in life. This is the message I want to share with the world: that you are enough, that God loves you with an everlasting love and that your story is worth it.”

How I describe my business: Candid, artistic, and free-spirited, and adventurous. Life is an great adventure and we have to be bold enough to step in faith to trust the journey God has given us. As a documentary photographer and storyteller, I love to travel.

How my faith plays a role in my work: My Catholic faith helps me promote the dignity of the human person with my clients. I love sending them notes, gifts and going the extra mile to make sure they feel loved and appreciated, as I have such a huge honor of documenting their special day. I also know if we are a good fit based on the questionnaires that they fill out during the initial inquiry process. Furthermore, I embarked on the Catholic faith and entered the Church as a result of the time I spent living in a convent in Italy and my friendship with the nuns there. They truly believed in my potentiality and loved me through every step of my messy, faith-filled life.

My coffee order: I love Italian espresso or cappuccino with dairy-free milk, or a matcha green tea latte.

Learn more about Laurentina Photography + Video


PHOTOGRAPHY | @love_evermore VIDEO I @youplusmefilms VENUE |@enchantedforestweddings DESIGN + STYLING | @carmennavarrodesigns VINTAGE DECOR + PROPS | @ricketyswank FLORALS | @lovelystemsfloral CAKE + TREATS @irenesdesserttable HAIR + MAKE UP | @bridesamore STATIONERY | @sea.and.sun.calligraphy TUX | @friartux DRESS | @thedresstheory MODELS | @kortnaaayyy + @griffinbrady52

Sea & Sun Calligraphy

Stationery & Hand Lettering; Murrieta, California

Marisol Acosta first picked up a fountain pen in eighth grade, when she began learning the art of calligraphy, and has since continued mastering her craft. Offering bespoke invitation suites, menu and place cards, wedding Scripture verse prints, custom wedding monograms, and canvas art—many inspired by nature—Sea & Sun Calligraphy combines Marisol’s delicate watercolor art with hand-lettering that’s at once timeless and original.

My favorite part of working on weddings: helping my customers express themselves on that special day with our custom designs. It is very special to be part of something so sacred.

I root for: the Dodgers & Lakers since I was born in Los Angeles. I was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys as a young girl, and my husband also loves the same teams I. I’m a lucky girl!

Favorite Saints: As a young girl, I never understood our Catholic devotion to the communion of saints. But as I grew older I was blessed to understand the gift of the saints. I have a devotion to St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. Faustina, and St. Catherine of Siena. I developed a special devotion to St. Padre Pio during my breast cancer diagnosis in 2012, which I survived by God's grace. I also love St. Anthony of Padua for his quick and amazing intercession with lost items and St. Francis of Assisi—his life is so inspiring.

Learn more about Sea & Sun Calligraphy

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Michelle Arnold Paine

Fine Art & Gifts; Perrysburg, Ohio

A former student of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and MFA graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Michelle specializes in commissioned paintings of sacred architecture, using oils or watercolor to commemorate a couple’s wedding church or venue.

Michelle holds a particular fondness for painting Catholic churches--she says, “Couples work so hard to find that perfect place to join their lives together: I enable them to take it home. I love that I am participating in a life event and creating something that will last as an heirloom of that short day.”

Ministries I’m involved in: I’m a participant in my local Catholic mom’s group and the regional leader of Catholic Creatives Michigan.

On my bucket list: exhibiting my paintings in a solo show in a museum, visiting the Gothic Cathedrals of Northern France (Chartres, Reims, etc.), and having a skylight!

Love means: giving with joy.

Learn more about Michelle Arnold Paine


Juliana Tomlinson Photography

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, available worldwide

While in school for TV and studio journalism, Juliana’s husband gave her a camera as a wedding gift. As she used it for video, she discovered another hobby and gift: photography. Viewing her talent as a means of evangelization, Juliana describes her work as “romantic, joyful, and timeless,” in the hope that her images will allow her couples to frequently recall the events and emotions of their wedding day, “and that will help them to choose one another day after day.”

Favorite saints and devotions: Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and Saint Gerard

I take my coffee: black with sweetener, if I like the coffee bean. Otherwise, pour on a lot of fat-free milk!

Love means: Today more than ever I know love is a choice. Everyday we need to choose to give ourselves to the other, be patient with the other. And in that we need to decide to love even when feelings don’t match up.

Learn more about Juliana Tomlinson Photography

5 Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know



As a wide-eyed, newly engaged young thing, I quickly learned planning a wedding takes a village. Whether you’re planning an extravaganza rivaled only by the likes of Jay Gatsby, or an intimate gathering of close family and friends, you’re going to interview and assemble a team of wedding vendors and trust them to help you execute a life-changing event that is special, memorable, and totally unique to you and your fiancé.

I can’t speak to the inner life of florists, DJs or cake decorators, but after 3 years as a wedding photographer, I do have advice to help set your expectations and have the best possible experience while taking your wedding photos.

Consider the following five points the answers to questions you didn’t think to ask and the solutions to problems you didn’t anticipate--all from the perspective of your friendly neighborhood matrimonial shutterbug!

It's okay to feel awkward.

Occasionally a future bride will admit to me (in hushed and sheepish tones), "We're not very good in front of a camera," or "My fiancé is kind of uncomfortable having his picture taken."

First of all, this is super normal! More likely than not, you and your fiancé are not fashion models. Maybe your last experience taking professional photos was during your senior year of high school. An experienced and talented photographer knows how to make you comfortable in front of the camera.

Before every shoot, I come armed with prompts, stories, games, and suggestions to help turn your focus off of me and back onto each other. When you and your fiancé are interacting more genuinely, I'm able to capture what's authentically between you, rather than posing you in a way that's artificial. My favorite thing to hear at the end of a portrait shoot is, ”Oh, that was actually fun!” or, "That was easier than I expected!”

 If you’re worried being trailed by a stranger loaded down with loud and obtrusive camera gear is going to make you nervous on your wedding day, try to book an engagement session with your wedding photographer. Couples who book me for engagement shoots before their wedding day consistently tell me it makes a huge difference in their comfort level. I'm always able to help a willing, cooperative couple look their best in photos, so if you're feeling apprehensive, try not to stress! 

Our insight might be valuable to you.

Photographers and videographers are the two wedding vendors whose job is to follow brides and grooms around All. Day. Long.  From the early morning makeup session to the last guest who won't get off the dance floor, we ride the wedding-day roller coaster with our clients in a way a cake decorator or a calligrapher doesn't. All that to say, we've been around the wedding world, we've seen some things, and we've got some wisdom to share!

I always tell my brides I'm willing to offer as much or little input on timeline planning as they might want. Assuming you have a comfortable, communicative relationship with your photographer, you should feel free to reach out with questions about timing, group dynamics, lighting, and more. You may not realize it, but in your photographer you have an expert wedding resource available to you.

Prioritize the important shots.

Look into the future for a moment to a point in time after  your wedding day: What kind of photos will you want to frame and hang in your new home? What kind of photos will you want to give as gifts to family members? What kind of photos will you use as your first Christmas card? This could vary, but for most couples this will mean portraits of the bride and groom together, along with family portraits.  

When planning your wedding timeline, try to take this into account. Don't allow your poor photographer only 15 minutes out of your wedding timeline to try and snap the most important  photos of the day! I encourage brides to allow at least 30 minutes for family portraits (depending how large your family is), and at least 45 minutes to get some classic and creative shots of the newly married couple alone. So when laying out the events of your day, make sure to allow adequate room for what’s most important to you!

Don't rule out a First Look.

Most brides I work with will initially tell me that they don't want a "first look." They picture a classic scenario of locking eyes down the aisle of a church with their beloved, seeing his reaction to all their bridal glory.

I understand how special and crucial that moment is. Believe it or not, doing a first look may actually allow you to enjoy your wedding day more!

Couples who do a first look still get photos of that awesome, emotional moment when the groom takes in his bride’s beauty for the first time. They get to react with a little more privacy and authenticity, which can be nice if one or both of them is on the shy side.

But best of all,these couples get to head to their cocktail hour and their reception a lot sooner. If you finish those important portraits before your ceremony, then you're free enjoy your guests, relax, and be a part of your own party!

I strongly recommend a first look to couples having an evening or sunset wedding, and to anyone who feels a little conspicuous knowing a whole church full of people is hoping to see them cry.

It's not about the photos!

After all that talk about timing, cocktail hours, and feeling awkward, the most important  thing your wedding photographer wants you to know is that it's not about the photos! Even as a Catholic bride, it can be easy focus on the details you've worked so hard to put together; to inadvertently begin thinking the cake, the flowers, the dress and the photos are what’s making your day special.

In reality, the inverse is true: the beautiful, important, sacramental commitment you make as a couple turns an ordinary cake into a cake that will forever be special to you. It makes the flowers you choose special, the dress you wear special, and every other aspect of your day. In the end, your photos will be special because they'll help you remember what actually happened on your wedding day--even if the weather was bad, your cake turned out funny, or the best man lost his tie.

 As you research, plan, and book professionals to help your wedding day take shape, don’t be afraid to ask for their insight and advice. Most wedding vendors--especially Catholic ones!--get into this business because they’re romantics at heart, because they love beauty, and because they believe in the importance of marriage. Most likely, they’ll be ready and willing to help you in any way they can. I hope this insight gave you the confidence to embrace your wedding photos in a new way, and helped supply some ready-made answers to your photography questions!

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About the Author: Emma Dallman, a Spoken Bride Vendor, is a wedding and portrait photographer serving the East Coast and the world beyond. She lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband Mark and her puppy Hildy. The things that make her happiest include slow weekend mornings, live music, Mexican food and Netflix comedy specials. She is endlessly fascinated by the uniqueness and the beauty of every person she photographs.


Vendor Spotlight | Emma Dallman Photography

When speaking of her experiences with either professional photography or her Catholic faith formation, Emma Dallman uses words like “marvel,” and “magic.” Her personal reflections glorify the many divine ways God works in and through this Philadelphia-based wedding photographer as she engages with couples, captures life through the lens of her camera, and pursues each day with trusting humility.

As an eight-year-old, Emma remembers snapping through an entire roll of film during the “Shamu Show” at Sea World. The memory stands as a moment she experienced the wonder of photography, which remained a hobby and side-hustle for years. By 2016, she entered more deeply into her desires and began pursuing photography as a business.

Concurrent with a growing professional career, Emma grew in her understanding of the mystery of the human person through Saint John Paul II’s teachings on Theology of the Body. She reflects, “The Theology of the Body has played a crucial role in both my faith formation and in my love for photography. I’m endlessly fascinated by the uniqueness and the beauty of every person I photograph.”

While witnessing living beauty is a gift of her career, Emma’s goal in shooting a wedding is to create art which memorializes every tiny, beautiful detail of each unique wedding day. Meanwhile, her own approach in relation with couples is organic yet thorough. Such intention engages the “magic of photography,” as shown in her rich, authentic, and emotion-driven photographs.

From Emma:

I view it as a privilege to be invited into someone’s “inner circle” on their wedding day.  There are so many emotional, joy-filled, imperfect, and sometimes crazy moments you get to witness as a photographer, and those are the moments that make someone’s day unique and memorable.

Additionally, I love to capture the beauty of a wedding Mass. I have to laugh when I hear some photographers bemoan the “church wedding” as boring, because from my perspective, nothing could be more dramatic, mysterious or beautiful. Couples who share that idea tend to be drawn to my work.

Married love means thinking of yourself second. It's always asking yourself, "How can I help my spouse?" It's evaluating whether aspects of your life are good for them or not. Ultimately, it’s helping the other person get to heaven. Photographing a couple as they enter into the sacrament of marriage always reminds me of the blessing of my own Catholic marriage, and encourages me to go home and love my husband a little better.

Some of Emma’s favorites:

Books: Discerning the Will of God (Fr. Timothy Gallagher), Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card), The End of the Affair (Graham Greene)

Music: Sufjan Stevens, Jenny Lewis, The Black Keys, Bright Eyes

Movies: Far and Away (classic Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman!), Star Wars, Almost Famous

Saints and Devotions: St. Catherine of Siena and St. Therese of Lisieux; my husband and I have a big devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots—she was crucial in our discernment of marriage—and of the Ignatian method of discernment

Place in the world: Yosemite Valley in California. My family and I camped there every summer while I was growing up, so in my mind it’s equal parts nostalgic and majestic.

Foods: Mexican. All day, every day!


Vendor Spotlight | The Block Party

Derek Hall’s first standing gig as a DJ was in his kitchen. After the twice-weekly dinners he and his college housemates would host for friends, Derek began selecting music for dishes and cleanup--which, he now admits, “was probably just a good ruse to get out of chores!”

No matter the motivation, a hobby was born, and it soon turned into more. Derek spent his college years seeking opportunities to DJ house parties on campus, a process he says involved “finding the house with the most people on the lawn, lugging my stereo system over, and asking if the owners would mind me DJing.”

After graduation, Derek worked as a DJ for several of his housemates’ weddings, fell in love with the craft, and began pursuing as much experience and education as possible. He has studied mixing turntables in New York City and sought out mentors in the field, and Derek and his business partner, Wes, founded The Block Party in 2016.

When an art you love becomes able to meet a need, it’s hard to see the intersection of your gifts and others’ needs as anything but a call. Derek views his business foremost as a vocation--a perspective that brings particular intention, depth, and sincerity to his client experience.

According to Derek, “[this aspect of the job being a vocation] is both our personal journey as we work towards heaven, but also a unique position of being a part of our couples choosing this vocation and helping to send them off on their new journey.

As Catholic vendors with an eye towards this vocation, towards the importance of our faith, and with our hearts pulled towards others on the same path, there is a desire to both support and be supported by peers. To pray for each other. To have one corner of the world to more openly relate on the unique challenges we have while attempting to live our faith in what can be a very secular industry.”

Based in the Ann Arbor and Detroit area, serving Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and available for nationwide bookings--Derek and his wife are lovers of travel who dream of visiting every continent and DJing a wedding in every state--The Block Party embodies this spirit of vocation in everything from up-front investment info to their fellow wedding vendor recommendations to Derek’s desire to make each wedding the best he’s ever done, not for his own gratification, but out of a desire to serve his couples. Yet as seriously as he takes his business and calling, Block Party weddings are engineered for fun and celebration, involving vinyl mixing and creative, well-thought out playlists unique to each gathering.

Music has a power to draw our attention to a particular setting and purpose--that’s one reason why liturgical music, with its purpose of worship and contemplation, is appropriate for a nuptial Mass. In a similar way, the music at your reception can do the same, creating an atmosphere of true joy and emotion that points to a deeper reality.

From Derek: DJ culture on the whole pushes me musically, and I've found mentors around the country that have shown me that there is room for a DJ to bring lots of creativity and passion for music to a wedding setting. Redbull Thre3style, Girltalk, and my Block Party partner Wes are all big inspirations musically.

My wife and our relationship are a huge inspiration for how I work with people. I tend to pour my heart into things and she is my filter, knowing my love language inside and out, and helping me to channel my love and energy to best take care of our couples and our friends. She grounds us so we can try out crazy ideas and big trips. Our faith as a couple pushes us to take ownership of each others work, to pray for our couples, and to treat this as a vocation first, and business secondarily. We still work hard to be prudent and have a responsibility to be good stewards of our brand, but we want to eliminate all used car salesman feels from how we work. Being honest from the beginning and pouring everything we have into each night out of passion and love rather than obligation has gotten us where we are.

An interview with Derek

Favorite devotion: The Divine Mercy Chaplet. It's very approachable in both length and content and the end includes optional prayer that is so life giving for me: "Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself."

Despair, despondency, and a fear of there not being enough compassion are all such powerful things in our lives. This is such a beautiful answer.

By the body and blood of Christ there is enough and we can look for the will of God in our lives.

Favorite part of working on weddings: Nearly everything. Every week is a new puzzle, a completely different combination of family, location, tastes and a hundred other things. I need to take all of that and bring those people together the best I can, and of course try to foster all the dancing. Weddings are a perfect for playing anything that comes to mind because it is such a celebration of people's lives. We can be playful, nostalgic, and really pull out emotional responses just by playing certain songs.

[DJing] is also the perfect outlet for my love language of wanting to give gifts. It is so rewarding to pour years of experience and practice into one night, hopefully making it the best I've ever had, for that couple.

Favorite wedding-day memory: My wife and I did our first look on a dock...on a frozen lake...with a nerf gun duel that she didn't know about till that morning. There are so many parts of the day I still love, that were beautiful capsules of our relationships with our friends and family. We did a waltz and an Irish dance together that were also a ton of fun.

On my bucket list: Travel to all continents with my wife, spend 3-6 months abroad in one chunk, and DJ a wedding in every state—this combines my loves of travel, people, and DJing into one nice goal

Favorite place I’ve traveled: Ethiopia. I've been blessed to a do a bit of travel, but this trip was quietly brewing for over a decade. My wife spent a few years in Kenya when she was little and her parents were doing mission work. Her heart has always been tugged towards doing work in Africa, and when we were in undergrad, as best friends, I'd tell her someday she'd find a guy who would get it and be up for the adventure with her. All this time later when we finally decided to date and then marry, and I was that guy, we made a trip to Ethiopia for a week of work, and a week of exploring. It gave me so much more context of who she is.

Favorite music: Music is so hard. I love how much music timestamps life. I love learning and growing my music tastes. It's my job, but I also love almost any music I come across.

Favorite food: Grilled chicken, pierogies, or salad work any night and are easy to make for guests. Or anything my brother makes. He's a chef in LA and has changed my world about food as an art and science.

 I root for...the Pittsburgh Steelers, who I’ve been watching with my wife forever, the Detroit Pistons, and Detroit Tigers. I love basketball.

Love means...Love is not a feeling or an emotion. So many things happen in life that can quickly totally shake or even break your snowglobe. Depression, putting on weight, losing jobs, and other struggles are things that can happen in life, especially when you are around a friend or a spouse for a long time.  You aren't broken if you can't feel. Even in our faith, sometimes we can feel cold and don't feel on fire. God sticks with us and is patient. He offers forgiveness and has shown us how there is beauty and love in sacrifice and pain. Love means persistence, a gentle heart, and vision of someone that goes beyond the last few moments to know the beauty and value they have. Love is doing what we can to get our spouse to heaven.