Sneak Peek Bengali-American Wedding Weekend - Tanya & Asad
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There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that these two are madly in love. As soon as they look at each other, they light up. This past weekend I was very fortunate to photograph two of the days of their wedding celebration. Saturday night was the Gaye Holud. During the Gaye holud, gifts are brought to the bride and groom (including their wedding attire), tumeric is rubbed on their faces and sweets are hand fed to them by their relatives. All of this was done as a beautification process for their reception the next day. 

Sunday was their reception. And with the help of Angela Proffitt, the couple added their personal touch to their decor. Their centerpieces centered around their love for sci-fi and video games, quotes on their favor boxes came from well loved movies, video games, etc., and their music although it most of it sounded like chamber music, was actually some of their favorite rock songs. Sunday also included the traditional gate ceremony where the bride's family blocked the groom and his family from entering the hall. His family had to bid on his behalf in order for him to enter in to the reception see his bride. They paid and pushed their way through only for Asad's shoes to be stolen by the bride's family. To get the shoes, he had to pay for them. I don't think he ever did!

Working with this bride and groom and their immediate and extended families was incredible. They were some of the nicest and kindest people that I have ever encountered and I don't think I have ever been asked if I have eaten so much in my life....which if you know me, that is my love language. I also love color so this was a dream come true. There was honestly some of the most beautiful clothing I have ever seen. Thank you so much for including me in your wedding weekend.

Special thanks to the vendors:
Planning & Design: Angela Proffitt
Venue: Hilton Downtown Nashville
Florals: Lauren Marie Atkinson
Drape: Visual Elements
Lighting: Nashville Event Lighting
Linens: BBJ Linen
Seating: Please Be Seated
Hair & Makeup Sunday Reception: Karissa Paige Beauty
Dessert: Ivey Cakes
 

Day Two - The Reception & Gate Ceremony

Personal Vacation Photographer Dollywood - Beechler Family
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Once upon a time, 50 years ago (last year), a man and a woman were married. They went on to have three children and later 7 grandchildren. One of their daughters, Tami, decided that since they all lived in different cities and states and haven't all been in the same place in years, they should have a family reunion and vacation together to celebrate their parents' 50 year wedding anniversary. They rented a cabin right outside of Dollywood Theme Park, purchased weekend passes for the park, and planned for a weekend of spending time together and honoring their parents. 

One thing that Tami wanted was for everyone to be able to enjoy each other and be present. She didn't want anyone to have to worry about taking photos with their cameras or cellphones so she hired me to be their personal vacation photographer! This seriously was one of the best projects I have ever had. I spent two days following the Beechler clan around photographing them praying, eating, playing, singing (a lot of singing) and laughing together. One of my favorite moments was when the old family photos were brought out. The younger Beechler's found their parents', aunts', and uncles' teenage fashion hilarious. Most of what I did was photojournalism but one afternoon we spent a little bit of time doing portraits of everyone at Chimney Rock Picnic Area.

I loved all the time I got to spend with these people. They welcomed me into their family, told me multiple times to put my camera down and join them for meals, and shared their lives with me. It was such a blessing to get to work with them and I feel really honored to be able to capture their time together knowing that they will be able to relive that time through these photographs. 

Sneak Peek Riverwood Garden Wedding - Ashley & Mike
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Ashley & Mike's families knew each other long before Ashley and Mike met. When they were in elementary school, their dads shared the same room for an office in the Pentagon, but Ashely & Mike didn't meet until high school. Mike eventually won Ashley's favor (which took some time) and they dated through high school and college, but life took them in different directions. Several years later they reconnected and started dating again. If you ever see Mike, ask him about it. He has a rather humorous and slightly embellished version of their rekindled relationship.

I loved these two as soon as I met them and their wedding day couldn't have been any more beautiful! It was amazing to see their relationship with their families and the friends that  had become their family in all the different places they have lived. It was a gorgeous day and I am so happy that I got to be a part of it. Please enjoy this sneak peek of their Riverwood Garden Wedding.

Special thanks to their vendors:
Venue & Planning: Larissa from Riverwood
Florist: Enchanted Florist
Caterer: 8 Lavender Lane Catering
Cake: 8 Lavender Lane Catering
DJ: DJ Chris 
Ceremony Music: Wedding Musicians Company
Officiant: Ralph Griggs
Transportation: FADDS
Videographer: SheHeWe

Inspiration Shoot - Netflix The Crown
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Since Downtown Abbey is over I had to attach my Anglophile self to another show that takes place in England and preferably involving royalty. I fell in love with the manners (sometimes lack of) and elegance of Netflix's The Crown. I found a fellow Crown lover in Brittany from Inspired Help and we started conspire on a styled shoot. We decided that East Ivy would be the perfect location and Brittany built a color scheme around a play on the colors of the British Flag. We mixed old world and new old design elements together to show that you can utilize both on your wedding day. Please enjoy our efforts and special thanks to everyone that made this possible.

Venue: East Ivy Mansion
Planning + Decorating: Inspired Help
Hair & Make-up: Chelsea Coker
Crown + Earrings: Eden Luxe
Dress: The Dress Theory
Dress Designer: Miss Hayley Paige
Florals: Rachael Ann Event Design
Rentals: Music City Tents & Events
Vintage Rentals: Two Monkey's Vintage
Catering: Dream Events & Catering
Bakery: Baked in Nashville
Paper goods: Fete and Quill
Ring: Brentwood Jewelry
Model: Maddy Newton

 

GiGi's Playhouse - On The End CrossFit
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One of my favorite florist friends, Lauren Marie Atkinson, has been posting photos of a group of GiGi's Playhouse participants working out at her CrossFit gym, On The End CrossFIt. "GiGi’s Playhouse is the only nationwide network of Down Syndrome achievement centers; changing lives through free, results-driven programs for individuals of all ages, families and communities." I wanted to help out and I asked Lauren if I could stop by and photograph what was going on. The teamwork, the joy, and sense of accomplishment that I saw from the volunteers and the participants was intoxicating.

Lauren has been working with this group for for 5 months training for the "Murph" Hero Work, which is one of the most famous CrossFit. "Hero workouts honor a fallen solider. Murph is usually done over Memorial Day weekend and Honors Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy who lost his life in Afghanistan in June 2015. It consists of 1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, and another mile run.  It was his favorite workout and he would often do it with his weight vest on. It's encouraged to wear a weight vest- which is why Andrew, Josh, Tyler, Caroline, Alan, Ben all passed it around! They finished the workout together as a team! They had been working towards this workout and all the different movements on Wednesdays. They went from being able to do no pull ups to getting their first pull ups to getting multiple pull ups in a row!" 

"Gigi's is the benefactor for Row for a Reason! When I (Lauren) decided to row a half marathon for charity with some other CrossFitters in middle Tennessee three years ago, we were trying to find a local charity where we could see firsthand how our charitable efforts were making a difference. There is a member of the CrossFit community at another gym whose son has Down Syndrome and someone mentioned GiGi's to us and we decided to go with them!  

After the first year, we started training some GiGi's athletes to row with us on teams for Row for a Reason 2016 and then after that I approached the owners of our gym to see if we could start training them at the gym throughout the year. There are so many benefits in connection to the Down Syndrome community and exercise so we decided to go for it."

If you would like more information on GiGi's Playhouse, please click here

Mini Sessions for Mom - Summer Mini Sessions
Mothers_Day_Promotional

NEW MOMS, EMPTY NEST MOMS, GRANDMOMS, PET MOMS. For Mother's Day buy the mother in your life a mini session with her "baby". Surprise her by booking a photo session of her, you, and all your siblings or maybe surprise your significant other by booking photos of her and your new baby. For the mother in your life who is always the one taking the photos and is never in them. For the grandma in your life who would love photos with her and all the grandkids. Give her moments that last a lifetime!

Mini sessions will be June 4th. If there is enough interest, June 11th will be opened.
$225 for a 30 minute session and 10 final hi res edited image files of your choice. 
Session will take place at Cloverbottom park in Nashville, TN. Email erin@erinleeallender.com for more information!

6 Month Baby Photos - Harper
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Oh sweet, sweet Harper! I am so glad that I not only get to photograph your Baby's First Year Photos, but that I get to see you grow while doing them. Your 6 month session was so different than your newborn session because you now have a full on personality. Things you found hilarious at the session - "no", "bad dog", "creepy mouse" (when I googled it I became more confused), chewing on mommy's pearls that daddy gave mom at their wedding, and mommy jumping around like a crazy person. You found me curious and you weren't sure about bubbles. We knew the session was over when the last photo in this blog happened. I can't wait to do your 1 year photographs!

Monsoon Wedding Weekend - Allison & Tim
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Allison and Tim! The first time I met them, I instantly knew I wanted to work with them because I loved their attitudes. Despite the monsoon we had in Nashville this weekend, they still had the best attitudes. And because of Allison's willingness to tromp around in rain boots all day and their willingness to get a little wet, we still got great outdoor photographs. It took some umbrellas, some overhangs, and some grumpy faces from their adorable dog, Birch, but we got them. 

I have to say that I love it when couples have bigger families. It can be a lot more work for me, but there is just something about the bonds that they have and the fact that there is always some wedding tradition that they have....it usually includes some sort of reception prop. In Allison and Tim's case, light up tambourines. From all the tears, the blow up dinosaur, the toast, the signing of Backstreet Boys by the whole dance floor, to the most rampant "Shout" dancing I have ever seen, this wedding was wonderful. I am so, so glad that I got to be a part of it. Please enjoy!

Special thanks to all the hardworking vendors:
Planning & Design: Locklane Weddings & Events
Venue: Green Door Gourmet
Hair & Makeup: K Miller Artistry
Bartending Services: Hamilton Bartending Services
Wedding Gown: The Dress Theory
Cake: Kay McConfections
Catering: Smoke Et Al
DJ: Choice DJs
Florist: The Farmers Florist
Rentals: Southern Events Party Rental

8 Practical Pro Tips To Save Money on Your Wedding
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You’re engaged or you know it is coming and you’re starting to venture into the world of planning your wedding and it's overwhelming. You’re learning that the wedding that you’ve planned on Pinterest is going to require you to sell a kidney (or two). I've been there. I get it. And because of this, I asked some of my favorite wedding professionals to give me one practical tip each on how to save money. They didn't disappoint. Sign up in the form above to receive your free guide "8 PRACTICAL PRO TIPS ON SAVING MONEY ON YOUR WEDDING". Hint: it doesn't have to involve a glue gun. 

Special Thanks to the vendors that sent me their tips-
Dream Events & Catering
Music City Events
Music City Tents and Events
Lauren Marie Atkinson Designs
Enchanted Florist
Locklane Weddings & Events
Elizabeth A. Wright Events

Easter Wedding Proposal - Shelby & Jackson
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I honestly think proposals are one of the most complicated things that I photograph. You can't be seen and you pray and pray that the proposee (is that a word) doesn't walk into bad light or turn away from the camera. Mainly you hope that you don't wreck the surprise!

Jackson, with the help of his family, planned out a very sweet proposal on Easter Sunday at Cheekwood in Nashville, Tennessee. An egg trinket box with the ring in it was placed in a planter with the intention of having Shelby find it. I arrived early and kept an eye out for the couple and watched over the ring. Everything was quiet (other than the woman singing the full soundtrack to Beauty and the Beast) up until the moment I see Shelby and Jackson walk up. At that point a family decides to stand by the bench so I quickly shoo them off. Jackson sees it happen and does a loop past the proposal spot. When they are about ready to walk up again, a woman spots the egg and picks it up. So I run over and ask her to put it back. My heart is racing probably as much as Jackson's at this point and I'm really worried than Shelby has seen all this commotion. But she hasn't. She has NO IDEA. She doesn't even see the egg box. You can see what unfolded below. Once Jackson pointed me out, we did a couple of posed photos, but mainly I stayed back and photographed them basking in their happiness. I would like to call this collection of photos - "The Many Flabbergasted Moments of Shelby". Thanks to Angela Proffitt for sending this adorable couple my way!

Sneak Peek Hamilton Bar Mitzvah - Lawson
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Young, scrappy, and HUNGRY was the theme of Lawson's extremely cool bar mitzvah. I got to know Lawson when I photographed his portraits and he is honestly one of the coolest and greatest kids, sorry young man, that I have ever worked with. I really enjoyed getting to know him, his brother, and his parents!

Lawson's bar mitzvah ceremony took place this past weekend at The Temple Congregation Ohabai Sholom and was followed by a luncheon at The Temple. That same evening a party was held at The Omni in downtown Nashville to celebrate Lawson's coming of age. The event was planned and designed by Sara Fried of Fete Nashville.  

Wait until you see the images of the party. Lawson had a Hamilton (loosely) themed party. There was an adult side of the room with a three course meal and an adult cocktail bar. Then there was the way cooler children's side of the room with a burger bar and a mocktail bar. The kids side also had a living room sort of feel with light up tables, a photo booth, a slow motion booth, and at the end of the night a custom nitro ice cream bar. Both sides of the room were connected by a dance floor where Music City Mitzvah had games and entertainment galore for the kids along with music for the adults. 

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed photographing them. Special thanks to everyone that put this on.

Planning & Design - Fete Nashville
Ceremony Location - The Temple
Party Location - The Omni
Florals - Enchanted Florist
Drape & Rentals - Visual Elements
Lighting & Light up Tables - Bright Event Productions 
Linens - BBJ Linens
DJ - Music City Mitzvah
Slow Motion Booth - Full Frame Cinema
Food at Luncheon - Goldie Shepard Catering
Food at Party - Omni
Reception Stationary - Tenn Hens Design

Grilled Chicken Greek Salad Recipe
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Some of you may know that while we were on vacation in October our upstairs toilet flooded our downstairs (crappy iPhone photo below). Our 3 month house restoration had us back to eating horribly. If you know me at all you know that I live for sweets. I cannot have sweets or boxed snacks in the house because I eat cookies by the row and then an hour later come back for the next row and then the next hour I'm eating half a box of Cheez-It's. So like the rest of the world, after Christmas and Girl Scout cookie season my husband and I are trying to get back to eating our veggies (gross). Here's a Panera Greek Grilled Chicken Salad recipe and a photo of my layman's attempt on our beautiful new post flood floors. I didn't use the olives, (way gross), tomatoes (sometimes gross), or onions (I forgot) so basically it's cucumber, chicken, and feta. Feta is really the only reason to eat a salad anyways...unless there's croutons. Baby steps.

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Venue Feature – Bloomsbury Farms
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Last year I travelled out of Nashville to visit Lauren at Bloomsbury Farms in Smyrna, TN. Bloomsbury Farms is a operating organic farm that also holds weddings and events on the property. I throughly enjoyed meeting Lauren and hearing all about what the farm does. I got to ride around the property on a 4 wheeler (my mother would have been scared for my life) and meet Tank the German Shepard and most of Lauren’s family including her adorable daughter. I fell in love with the property and the rustic pavilion. They offer several different locations for a wedding including one of their greenhouses. I cannot image how amazing this place looks with leaves on the trees, especially during fall! For more information visit www.bloomsburyfarms.com

Tree Climbing, Lacrosse, and Puppies - Bar Mitzvah Portraits
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I absolutely loved working with this Bar Mitzvah Boy! Getting a 12 year old boy to feel comfortable in front of the camera is definitely a challenge, but as soon as you get a genuine smile out of them, it is one of the most rewarding sessions ever. Once L. felt comfortable enough to be goofy around me, we had a blast. He is one smart, funny kid. Check out some of the images from his session! Bonus for me, we got to do photos with his dog!