Favorite Vendors

Favorite Vendor Spotlight: Petal Pusher Florist

I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and personable vendors and wedding consultants in the wedding industry. I love to refer my clients to professionals I have worked with who I truly believe will do an amazing job for them. I have a blog post dedicated to my favorite vendors, but I wanted to also occasionally spotlight each of them more in depth.

Today, meet Tamara Noack and her team from Petal Pusher! As florists go, I work with these guys more than anyone else. They are true artists and are clearly passionate about what they do. Everything they create is drop-dead gorgeous. To see some of the fabulous weddings we've done together, click here.

Tamara and her husband, Matt, head up the Petal Pusher team and their pup, Diamond often keeps the team company at their Avondale shop:

Here is some Q & A to help us get to know Tamara, Matt, and their team better. Read Tamara's answers below each question:

1. How long have you been a florist?
We started out late in 2005 and put together some weddings for friends to help build our confidence and knowledge, then went "professional" in February 2006.

2. What got you interested in starting your business?
There is no glamorous story here. I didn't grow up around any type of floral nor did l know much about the industry. I had worked for a local catering company and once in a while I would create centerpieces for clients, and eventually created more & more pieces for some of the events. I just fell in love with it! I missed the creative arts and I just knew I didn't want to say later in my life "I wish I had"...so with all my being and the incredible support from my husband I took the risky leap and started my own business.

3. What do you feel sets you apart from other florists in the wedding industry?
I think mainly what sets us apart is that we are self-taught and don't necessarily follow "floral rules". I am a creative person and often when I am excited about a project the ideas come flooding in and I can hardly contain them!! Sometimes I even squeak out of pure eagerness when ideas flow. Matt will often fabricate custom pieces for brides & grooms simply because we can't find a vessel that suits our concept. Between the two of us (and our amazing team) we can truly create a one-of-a kind event.

4. What kind of flowers did you use in your own wedding? Would you still make the same choice now if you were getting married today?
Matt & I were married in July in Denver in a quaint wine cellar. It was magical! The Denver florist used clusters of vessels down our long tables in canary yellow florals including orchids, callas & roses with textural greens & lots of candles. I wouldn't change a thing!

5. What do you enjoy most about working in the wedding industry?
I am a person who loves change and hustle & bustle. Mostly, I love that I am inspired over and over by prospective clients, and also fellow vendors in the industry. One week, we are creating a romantic, classic wedding with all roses and the next, a modern wedding with grass & acrylic...I immensely enjoy that my weeks are never the same!

6. When meeting with brides who don't know much about flowers, what is the biggest tip you find yourself giving them?
I ask about hobbies, their favorite foods, colors & stores. Really, anything that I can pull from their personal lives to help to jump start the creative process and create a look and feel that they are comfortable with. I will show photos of past work and have them tell me what they like as well as what they don't. I also have index cards so I can show them different floral varieties.

7. What current trend in wedding flowers do you personally like the most?
Though I would like to say I don't follow trends -- especially in weddings where the event is such a personal compilation of the couple -- it is almost impossible not to be aware of trends as they are everywhere. Right now, I am liking the metallics. Gold seems to be a popular choice and I am noticing that brides are wanting more lush looks with the florals and not so much the submerged & angled outlooks.

8. Any fun-facts that we should really know that would contribute even more to your coolness?
I have a background in costume design. I had once created a sheath dress from shaved cedar. That was my first experience working with anything botanical. I love woods & pods, and if I could I would interject my love of woods in every event.

Thanks Tamara & Matt for being so fabulous at what you do and making my job so fun!! Click here to visit Petal Pusher's website!

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Frivolous Friday vol. 2

Frivolous: playful, lighthearted, trivial; the little things in life that should be savored.

Favorite Outfit of the Week: Dress: ASOS / Belt: Urban Outfitters / Cowl neck scarf: Target / Jacket: Anthropologie / Boots: Nordstrom / Grey tights: GAP / Earrings: Charming Charlie

Getting ready to welcome 13 MJ2DAY attendees to my home Sunday night! Can't wait to get to know them all! This coming week is going to be crazy-exhausting and crazy-awesome!!

Sara and I both came down with head colds this week. Head colds that could not be more unwelcome or have worse timing. I've been force-feeding Sara vitamin C and decongestants in hopes that we kick them before the workshop. If we're not successful, the combination of mucus and video cameras may be disastrous.

Highlight of the week: Great time with God every morning. Trying to resist the urge to check email first thing and instead, read the Word and rest in God's presence. This is a huge challenge for me -- the night owl and productivity addict -- because it means having to get to sleep at a decent time AND when I get up -- ignoring the computer which, I swear -- audibly calls my name. SO worth it though.

Planted some flowers. Might be a little early -- and I'm hoping there's no overnight frosts coming up -- but wanted to make things cheery around here for the MJ2Day-ers. I'll have to post some photos of the prettiness next week.

Yes, I did this:
1 -- Dropped a bag of groceries on the floor when I got home. Of course it was the one with the eggs in it. Three of the six eggs suffered fatal injuries. Par for the course -- I'm a huge klutz.
2 -- Laughed while eating a fortune cookie. This resulted in a very unattractive coughing fit. Never a good idea to laugh while eating anything crumbly.

Celebrating: Booked a wedding in Angola, Africa later this year! SO excited! This will be my first wedding in another country!

Great, productive week in the office. Sara and I worked on processing last week's wedding, publication submissions, networking, our monthly newsletter, blogging, prepping tax stuff for our CPA, bookkeeping and workshop prep. And people ask me all the time what I do during my "time off" from shooting :).

Feeling Blessed: Loving the January Phoenix weather. Walks with Dixie everyday and sitting by the fireplace at night. O, Arizona winters, how I love thee.

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Album Design Templates

For Photographers

monthly newsletter

This is the top of my monthly e-newsletter that just went out yesterday. We send these out at the end of each month to re-cap what has happened in the past month at Melissa Jill Photography. If you're a photographer, I would highly recommend that you do the same. I've been sending out monthly newsletters for 5 years now and I still get people commenting on a monthly basis that they receive them and love them.

For me, the real beauty of the monthly newsletter is keeping you and your business at the forefront of people's minds. And not just any people -- the 50% of Americans who don't regularly read blogs.

I blog four times a week. I put a TON of work into it. And it's well worth it -- blogging has done wonders for my business. I've taught entire workshops on how valuable it is. But what about the people who don't read blogs? Statistics show that about 50% of Americans still don't read blogs. The monthly e-newsletter is the answer. It's my way of delivering the goodness of my blog in a pretty little package straight into their inbox.

If you're a photographer, it may seem like just one more thing to add to your list of things to do. But here's the secret: There is no unique content in my newsletters. It's all basically copied and pasted from my blog posts that month. So people who read my blog on a regular basis will be bored. But, it's not intended for them. It's intended for the people who DON'T read my blog.

Throughout the newsletter, I give small teasers along with beautiful images, all intended to entice the reader to click on the links that direct them to the full posts on my blog. My hope is that they catch up on my blog once a month and then find themselves checking in on the blog on their own -- without the nudge of the newsletter. It's all about creating blog readers and customer evangelists out of those who have shown interest in me and my business.

So, who do we send the newsletter to? Initially, I added my family and friends to the list. We add any clients, vendors and wedding consultants we work with along with wedding guests who sign up on little half sheets of paper that we put out at receptions indicating they want to see the photos online. Individuals also have the ability to sign up to receive my newsletter here. So we get a good number of photographers signing up there as well. Over the years, our newsletter database has grown to 4000+.

There are a number of great e-newsletter services out there. We have used Constant Contact in the past, but currently use Emma -- and really love it. The great thing about Emma is that you can easily format your email newsletters to fit your branding. All of these services help you organize your database and also make it easy for people to opt-out of receiving your emails if they'd like.

If you don't already do so, I'd highly recommend sending out a monthly newsletter. It's a great thing to do to maximize the reach of your blog, build your brand and increase and solidify your network.

If you've found this tip helpful, click here to find out what other resources I offer photographers!

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Eric & Kari's Album Design

I'm so excited -- Eric & Kari's album design is DONE! These two were married Friday at Villa Siena and the day was absolutely lovely.

One of the things I'm most excited about is that Eric & Kari ordered my newest luxury Queensberry Duo Album. It is 18x10 inches in size and horizontal in format. This album fuses traditional matted and flush-mount digital images. The white pages are beautifully textured white mat within which images are pagemounted but you also have the option to include images that span flush to the edges of the page. Click here to see images of my sample to get a visual of how gorgeous their album will be when it is finished.

And click here to see Eric & Kari's full album design! It's hard to see the images because of how the horizontal format translates on the web, but just imagine them MUCH larger :).

Note to photographers: If you need help getting YOUR album designs done fast, click here to find out how you can purchase my templates!

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Weddings by MJ

Eric & Kari

It was the night of their first date. Kari was nervously getting ready - wondering how the night would go. Would she like him? Would they have anything in common? Would it be a relaxed, fun, easy first date... or one of those first dates that you hope someone calls with an emergency to get you out of it? As she took one last look at herself in the mirror, from outside her apartment she heard a familiar sound...

Country music.

She opened the door to see Eric climbing out of his Hummer with country music playing at full blast.
Every bone in that Missouri-born-girl's body began to sing and she knew it was going to be a good night.

It was a a few days later they were dancing at a Brad Paisley concert and decided to be boyfriend and girlfriend... Though Eric will tell you he knew, from the first time he saw her, that she would be the one he would want to spend the rest of his days with.

Eric and Kari were wed on Friday at Villa Siena in Gilbert. The day started out with Kari getting into her gorgeous Stephen Yearick gown:

I love the drama of her white and black anemone bouquet next to the sparkle of her Steve Madden heels:

And her hair was a work of art! GORGEOUS!

Kari made an absolutely stunning bride:

And Eric looked very dapper himself. At the salon, I overheard Kari saying that she had asked Eric earlier that week if he was ready to marry her. He said, "I better be. It was my idea." Good man :).

I love both of these next photos, but especially the one of Kari's dad before the ceremony. You just know he was thinking about giving his little girl away:

The ceremony site was very warm and cozy. The perfect atmosphere for a January wedding:

The flower girl was so adorable being pulled down the aisle in a white wagon:

And Eric's expression as he saw his bride for the first time was priceless:

Yay! Husband and wife!

After the ceremony, we took some portraits of the newlyweds around the venue:

Then it was time for the party! Petal Pusher did a fabulous job as always with the flowers:

I loved the little photo coasters the couple gave their guests as favors:

And the first dance was so sweet:

What a great day! To see even more photos from this wedding, click here to watch the slideshow!

Thanks goes to this fabulous team of vendors who did an amazing job:

Wedding Coordinator: Emily Edwards with Your Heart's Desire Weddings & Events
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Villa Siena
Florist: Petal Pusher
Hair & Make-up: Park Avenue Blow Dry & Beauty Bar
Bridal Dress Shop: Destiny's Bride
Officiant: Mark Faul
Caterer: Creative Hands Cuisine
Cake: Piece of Cake Desserts
Keyboardist & DJ: Michael Broening
Invitations & Stationary: Celebrations in Paper


Equipment used for this wedding:
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50mm 1.2 lens
Canon 24mm 1.4 lens
Canon 70-200 2.8 lens
2 Canon Speedlite 580 EXs
Gary Fong Lightsphere
2 Lumedyne HV Tinycycler Battery Packs
2 Pocketwizards
Light Stand with umbrella bracket and cold shoe

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