Josh & Vanessa's album design

Villa Sienna wedding Gilbert, Arizona

Josh & Vanessa's album design is done! These two were just married Saturday at Villa Siena and I am loving how their album design came out! There were so many great photos that I just had to keep adding pages. What a memorable day!

Click here to see the full design! And keep in mind that the finished album is much larger -- 14x10 inches in size.

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

Josh & Vanessa

Vanessa, a 5th grade teacher, and Josh, a Tempe police officer, found each other on Vanessa saw Josh's profile, found out he loved the Discovery Channel, had the most perfect teeth she'd ever seen and she was intrigued. They met for coffee on a Thursday morning and Josh was instantly attracted to Vanessa's long curly hair and big blue eyes. They both felt like they were chatting up an old friend and what was only supposed to be coffee, turned into an entire day spent together. Vanessa got home, canceled her date for the next day with another guy, and they've never looked back since.

I got to spend an entire day with these two back in October as we drove up to Sedona for their engagement shoot and I knew their wedding would be two things: fun & organized. I was not disappointed!

The day started with the girls getting ready at Le Studio Salon in Mesa.

Josh and Vanessa chose to see each other before the ceremony which allowed us to take advantage of shooting portraits around Villa Siena -- the beautiful venue where they got married. I love capturing the reaction and emotions of couples when they see each other for the first time:

Some of my favorite portraits:

I felt so stinkin' spoiled working with such beautiful people:

The ceremony site:

Vanessa's dad walked her down the aisle:

The ceremony was filled with lots of smiles and laughter:

Josh's parents:

Husband & wife!

The reception details were crazy-amazing!

Florist: Blume Events
Cake: Piece of Cake Desserts (seriously, SO yummy -- one of my favorite, favorite cake vendors)

First dance:

I mentioned that this couple is super-fun. Well, for their second dance they did a choreographed freestyle number. When I found out, I had Lizzie, my 2nd shooter, videotape it while I shot photos. I'm so glad I did! Check it out!!

What a riot!!

Another thing that added to the fun of the day for me was seeing Kevin & Marissa -- past clients who attended the wedding!! These two are super-cute and already have a one year old little girl!!

What a fun day!! If you'd like to see even more photos, click here to watch the slideshow!

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Album Design Templates


Special Needs Class

This week I spent a little time in my nephew Elijah's special needs class at Field Elementary School in Mesa. All of the children in his class of seven ranging in age from 5-10 are non-verbal or close to it. Six of the seven have a low-functioning form of Autism, including Elijah.

I'm completely blown away by the class teacher, Judy, and all of the aids who work in this class. They are amazing with the kids -- knowing each of their unique personalities and idiosyncrasies so well that they often understand what the kids are feeling or thinking at any given time even though they can't communicate verbally.

When I found out they were in need of updated head shots of each of the kids and wanted to take a crack at a group photo, I jumped at the opportunity. I love when my passions for Autism and photography collide. Plus it was just fun to see Elijah in his classroom environment.

This is the whole class. As you can see, they have a 1-1 adult to child ratio:

This is Hunter. He loved getting his picture taken!

I loved how Judy got in on the play time at recess!

My sweet Elijah:

Little Matthew:


Tony having fun during circle time:


Counting the days of the month:

Parachute fun! I totally remember playing parachute when I was in kindergarten!

One of the twice-daily walks:

The in-class swing:

And story-time:

I loved being able to do this and am SO thankful for the great programs offered in the Mesa public school district. Thanks to all the teachers and aids who work day in and day out hearing those who don't speak!

This class has a couple fundraisers going and if you'd like to donate, you can do so by clicking here!

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Marketing Effectiveness Survey

If you work in the wedding industry, don't you think it would be super-helpful to get your hands on some real and current data that would help you form your marketing strategy? So many businesses just take the trial and error approach and end up spending needless time and money on less than successful marketing plans.

I found out that Two Bright Lights and Engaging Concepts have teamed up to produce the first ever in depth wedding business marketing survey: "An Introspective into the Business Behind Saying 'I Do'". Surveys can sometimes be a pain but I took this one myself and would encourage all of you who work in the industry (whether you're full or part time) to do the same. It will take you about 10-20 minutes to complete but those who take it as well as those who attend Engage!10 in the Cayman Islands will have exclusive access to the results. The more people who participate in the survey, the more useful the results will be to all of us.

You can participate in the survey by clicking here.

The results will be shared at the upcoming Engage! Conference and then afterwards, the results will be made available only to those who participated in the survey.

Please also spread the news on your blogs and twitter! Thanks!

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new rug!

A few weeks ago I posted my rug conundrum on my blog and gazillions of you weighed in on which rug you thought I should get for my upstairs living space. Well, maybe not gazillions. But close -- 85. That's record commenting for my blog. So now I'm re-evaluating the purpose of my blog and thinking of switching from photography to just posting any kind of home decor dilemma that needs an opinion :). Turns out you all have an opinion and in many ways, all the advice just confused the issue more. But hey, I asked for it, right?

So the rug that got the most votes was #6. Click here to go to the original post to see the options. Most people thought I needed some type of circular pattern. As the votes came in I felt bad because pretty early on I realized #6 was just not doing it for me. I was trying to decide between #5 & #7 when Meghan, one of my readers, pointed me to a new site that I hadn't yet seen -- Amy Butler Designs. I FELL IN LOVE with the rugs on this site and ended up ditching all the options I shared with you and purchasing one of them. Hopefully those of you who said you thought I needed to bring in more color & pattern will like what I ended up with. So, to review, here is the before photo:

And THIS is the new rug!!

The second I rolled it out Dixie plopped down on it. She's clearly a fan. It's larger than my last rug and I feel like it really fits the space better. It's super-plush and comfy. And I love that I was able to bring more orange into the room. You can't see it well because of the glare, but there is an orange VW bus in the corner photo. The pattern really coordinates well with my sofa pillows as well.

Here's a few more views:

Yay for a new rug!! Thanks to all of you for your help!

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