Planning your wedding and need some inspiration?

Tyler’s and my wedding was super simple, and he, my mom, and a few close friends and I planned it in just under one week. (I know, crazy, right??) We wanted to try and elope (Hawaii!), but long story short, we ended up having a cute little ceremony in a very close family friend’s backyard and it was adorable. (And we are saving our money to still take that trip someday!) So needless to say, I didn’t spend weeks and months planning and searhing for the perfect this and the matching that, but the fact that I’m a wedding photographer gives me a wonderful reason to swoon over these types of things and I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

First of all, who doesn’t LOVE Anthro? Ah – I just can’t get enough of their website. And if I’m ever down in Towson and head into the mall, it’s the first place I go. Naturally. My favorite item in my kitchen is a set of measuring cups I purchased there a few years ago. I would just leave them up on display so I wouldn’t accidentally break them, but then I decided how silly that was, and now I use them all the time!

CUPSI love their bedding, their candles, their aprons, their home decor, their clothing, their scarves…. Ah! Yes. OK. Calm down, Kirs. I’m really not a materialistic person, I promise. But prints. Colors. Textures. Vibrance. I just fall for it every time. And that store is a wonderland for me. But it gets even better…..!

logo_bhldn_pinkI present to you – Anthro’s WEDDING line! BHLDN. Oh man. Yep – it’s true. Amazing just got SUPER amazing. Perfect just got PERFECTLY perfect. Apparently Anthro was inspired by the Dutch word “Beholden” – Dutch for “to keep” – so that’s what BHLDN stands for. Beholden. Without the vowels. Behold. To have and to hold. I love it!

You’ve just got to browse these gowns… They’re incredible. So atypical and vintage inspired. I just want to wear each one for a day! This one is called “Snowflake”, inspired by ice crystals (appropriate for today, eh?) and includes 25,000 beads and 16,000 sequins – all stitched by hand in Italy with metallic thread. It sells for $3,800. Seems reasonable to me, considering how it was made!

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And this one…… Oh, this one. This gown is called the Sian, inspired by wild rose petals. Silk petals have been cut and hand-sewn onto the gown. There are 550 blooms in total, adorned with over 8,000 seed pearls. This gown sells for $2,800. Gorgeous.

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And lastly, the Joss Gown. I think I might buy this to bring with me on vacation and walk down the beach in it just to feel pretty… Or maybe I’ll just hang it in my bedroom and stare at it all day. It’s only $600! Typical price for a sundress, right?? Oh how I love those scallops.

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OK. Enough obsessing over dresses. Let’s move on to accessories!

BHLDN also offers countless accessories, shoes, and items for decor. Belts, sashes, hair jewels, head pieces, earrings, clutches…. It’s endless. All gorgeous. All timeless. My favorite is the set of Starbright Earrings. Plus these are a pair you could wear for a nice dinner out or another event, not just on your wedding day! And you could pass them down to your daughter, too… Now THAT, I love. And when I say “you”, I mean ME. Because I think I just might have to add these to my Christmas list.

Starbright Earrings

The decor is great, too. Cake toppers, table numbers, vases, stationary… They sell one of my favorite artists, Anna Bond of The Rifle Paper Co. I love her Instagram and seeing the new floral prints she’s designing, calendars being printed with her work, and even flowery temp tat too! So she’s featured on this site and so are many of her beautiful pieces, such as this lovely “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” notecard, $6.

Blooming Bridesmaid Card

Visit The Rifle Paper Co. and check out her invitation designs. They’re adorable!

Oh my goodness…. More from bhldn.com!

Perle BraceletL-O-V-E Cake TopperSweethearts’ ForksMr. & Mrs. Cake TopperDewberry EarringsPrincely Pair Cake Topper

The last thing I’m going to say about this website before I pass out from basking in all of it’s perfection, is this.

They.

Have.

Lingerie.

GASP??

YES.

Now those of us with um… more to offer… might have some trouble finding the perfect set, but it’s too pretty to not share with you all.

Lingerie

It’s so delicate and lovely.

Chantilly ChemiseAnouk ShortsStar Magnolia Chemise SetThe Mrs. KnickersCreamline BustierMika Bralette

Hope you’ve been just as inspired as I have been by their products! Even if these aren’t something you spend your money on, you can still create a style board with some ideas they offer. Some of these items can be created too, if you’re crafty! I might just might be having to renew my vows in that Joss Gown soon, hehehe!

Stay warm, friends!

A Snow Stroll With My Bestest Buddy…

Today’s been a cozy snow day for us girls. Myah and I were up super early, got a bunch done around the house, and decided to go for a little walk around the neighborhood. She absolutely loves the snow. And I do too! It’s so beautiful and peaceful! I feel blessed to be able to be home to enjoy it today.

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Bragging on my brother…

I was about 18 months old when he was brought home and apparently for the first few weeks, I wanted to ship him back to wherever he came from. It’s obviously not something I remember, but my parents told me that I was definitely one of those first born kids who wanted all the attention once the second one came along (imagine that???).

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I soon got over this squirmy little invasion of my life as I got older. I realized that I could dress him up and make him do stuff like sit in my pretend classroom or let me do his hair. We’d build forts and shoot bad guys out in the woods and sing Disney songs on the swing set… Ya know, normal kid stuff.

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One of the things my dad would always tell us was, “do what you love to do,” trying to inspire us to follow our dreams. My dad worked so hard for us and for our family but his career was never his passion. So he told us this ad nauseam. “DO WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO”. So, that’s what we do to the best of our abilities.

I remember when Jess first started playing the guitar. He would print out tabs of his favorite songs online and teach himself to play them. He and his friend Brad started a band and they would practice on Saturday mornings in our basement. Brad on piano, Dave on drums, Adam on the guitar, and Jess on the bass… It was fun to get to know the guys and hear the new songs and see them grow and improve and get excited about their music together. They all have amazing talent!

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If you’ve ever noticed the “A” on Jesse’s wrist, it’s in remembrance of Alexandria Kowalzcyk , his girlfriend who passed away in a car accident on February 9th, almost 6 years ago.

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To see him go through such a sudden and tragic loss was devastating, to say the least. Such a wonderful and sweet family lost their angel. So many girls lost such a good friend. It was a very hard time for so many. But they had each other. Going through something like this together created a bond between these kids that was so neat to watch. And I believe that it ignited Jesse’s passion for singing and playing music. He had a reason to sing. An outlet for his emotions. He needed to play. I’ll never forget the little show Jesse and Kaila organized at Kaila’s family’s house. The two of them, along Brad Wantz and some other musical friends, played all of her favorite songs and ones that reminded them of her. Alex’s family was there, along with her dance team, and so many kids, family members, and friends. It was such a bitter-sweet night. But I just remember standing in the back, listening to Jesse sing Alex’s favorite – Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly” and thinking, “how is he keeping it together for this??” and afterwards, he said he was wondering the same thing. But God was giving him the strength he needed. The strength they all needed. She wore a necklace with an “A” charm. And that’s what he had tattooed on his wrist. I got inked that day too. It was cool experience to share together…

I remember one night, he played “Free Fallin’” – the John Mayer version – for a friend of his while she danced at the Alex Kowalczyk Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser event at Winter’s Mill High School. I leaned over to mom and said, “who is he???” He seemed to have grown up 5 years in the past six months. And his talent was really starting to strengthen, and his voice was becoming more dynamic and artistic. He was beginning to really come into his own, musically. And I was so proud to be his sister!

So as time went on, he kept learning and playing and writing with his friends. Eventually he began playing at local coffee shops and for his church, and eventually started playing a few gigs at a few bars in Hunt Valley and Fells Point.

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He began branching out during his years at Carroll Community, where he was took a few singing courses, and music theory… He picked up our dad’s old banjo, and began to learn the piano. He also purchased our cousin’s old drum kit. Needless to say, we were all like, “damn, Jess…”

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Tori Morse and he got together with their voices and talents. They have now formed J and T Time, and they’re just SO fun to watch… They sing covers and Christmas songs around the holidays and love to put up vids up on their page to keep us all entertained. I love their voices together!

Amazing cover of Sarah Bareilles’s “Basketcase”….

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He’s a great musician, sure. But he’s also such a good person. I know I can count on him and go to him for anything. Plus, he’s funny. He got a bit of the Cook side’s corny humor but there’s some good quick wit in there, too. He’s so loving and sensitive and cares for people. He loves to surprise others and do things for them that will make them feel special. I’ve really appreciated getting older and becoming closer as adults rather than growing up during the middle and high school years when things just go as they do between siblings at times. We’ve got each other. We can vent together, laugh together, and understand each other. It’s pretty rad.

Sure it’s cool to have a sister but now he has a brother too…

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They’re pretty much ridiculous when they’re together.

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Here’s an oldie… Wow. Phillips in OC, MD back in the day…

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We try to take family photos, but…

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Here’s a good one from our vacation in Williamsburg last year…

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And Myah just LOVES her Uncle Jesse… If you even say “Uncle” to her, her ears go up and she bolts around the house looking for him. She thinks his beard is super cool and he gives the best birthday presants like Dragon and Moose and her brand new cozy bed…

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So I’ve gotten pretty used to being “Jesse’s Sister” instead of “Kirsten”. I’ve accepted it. I should just change my middle name to “Jesse’s Sister”. Everyone knows Jesse, it seems. “Ohhhh you’re Jesse’s sister!” or, “How do you know Jesse?” It’s like…. Jeez. Even client consultations – they’ll be looking through my portfolio and see a shot of Jess and say, “Oh I know him!” and I’m like, “yea, yea…” He was always the quiet one growing up. He had his circle of close friends and his best buddy Carson, but now he’s this ridiculously social butterfly. It stresses me out thinking about how I’d even begin to keep up with so many relationships and plans and things he has going on. But he loves to be on the move and meet new people and do new things. We’re just so different in some ways. I’m such a homebody and am 100% happy with having no plans whatsoever. But that makes him antsy. So I just enjoy seeing what he’s doing, where he’s going, and just pretend that I’m going too. I now introduce myself to people like, “Hi, I’m Jesse’s Sister,” and if they look at me funny, then I tell them my name…

He drummed for This The Rescue for a time. I think it’s cool that he doesn’t play guitar for the bands he’s with. I feel like this gives him an opportunity to still work on his own personal music and not get burned out by the instrument. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like if I was playing the same thing all the time, I wouldn’t pick it up as freely in my spare time. But he has become quite a drummer while with TTR and now, his new band. Seeing him play with TTR at Ram’s Head a few months ago for their EP Release show was so neat because I’d never really seen him drum. And he totally sucked.

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Just kidding. ;)

One of my favorite moments hearing him sing was at his best friend Carson and Cait’s wedding. He and Tori sang “Forever Like That” by Ben Rector. Such a touching song. A perfect song. Makes me cry every time…

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So he just got back from playing bass at a conference for thousands of people in Ocean City, MD this past weekend and has now joined the Brian Campbell band and will be touring with them this year, also playing drums. They leave tomorrow! They’ll be hitting several states including Ohio and Michigan, and eventually heading to Australia, Indonesia, and possibly Germany. They’ll then finish off the summer back in the states to play festivals.

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I haven’t even touched on his own writing, and his own songs. He let me listen to a few things he’s working on, and I just begin to cry. I know I’m biased, but it’s just beautiful. One of his friends asked Jess to write a song for he and his bride’s first dance at their wedding. Here’s what he came up with… (He plays the guitar and keys, and is accompanied by the amazingly talented Tori Morse on the violin.)


Those melodies! Gasp. I just get goosies!

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Anyway…. I’m so proud of the choices he has made, the man he has become, and his decision to take this time in his life to go and tour and see some really cool places in the world. Sure I’m going to miss him but it’s not like I see him that much while he’s in Maryland anyway – he’s always on the go. So we will probably talk more while he is gone! I love you Jess! We love you! We are so proud of who you are. Stay grounded, be yourself, and never stop seeking what you’re truly meant to do. Don’t forget to take pictures and bring us back cool stuff, too. :) Go get ‘em!

Facebook: Jesse Cook
Instagram: @jesseccook

Kirsten Smith Photography | Pretty Petals

Whew! It feels good to be back! The nasty winter cold finally caught up with me and knocked me right out for a few days. I can take the stuffy nose and the headache but the lack of energy is just so frustrating! I would come in and sit at the computer to edit, blog, or check my emails and literally felt like I was going to fall face forward onto my desk. So… needless to say, I took a few days off to rest, recuperate, and let my body bring itself back to normal. Still carrying around a box of tissues and hot tea and chompin’ on cough drops, but I’m a heck of a lot better!

I can’t help but feel antsy this time of year. Work slows down and I find myself missing wedding season like an old friend that’s moved far away. I try to enjoy the break and catch up on things like organizing the office, year-end tax stuff and paperwork, etc. when all I really wanna do is photograph! But luckily I’m keeping busy with planning for the upcoming Boudoir events. I’ve been trying to get back into my artsy things, too. Sewing, painting, jewelry making… I’m thinking the office needs some new curtains so I may head out to Hobby Lobby this evening to search for the perfect fabric!

I love each and every season, but winter seems to last the longest. I love when it’s snowing, but sometimes after a few days of the snow being around, it gets so gray, dirty, and sloppy looking. And it’s just so COLD! So… that, combined with being sick, I felt like I needed a pick-me-up. And maybe you do too. What better than to recap on some of the gorgeous floral arrangements from a few of my weddings this past year?? I could have spent all day looking through my albums to find even more, but I’ve picked a few top faves to share… You may find your nose moving closer and closer to the computer screen, trying to smell these sweetly scented florals!

Mark & Becky | LOVE the bright pop of color!

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Hey, did I ever mention that I’m in love with Sunflowers??? Apparently Emily and Hannah are too…

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Jenny’s flowers… Sigh. Jenny’s whole wedding… SWOON.

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Oh and then there’s Miss Jillian with her fabulous self… Gasp! These. Were. Amazing.

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Look at this FUSCHIA and purple combo from Katie and Hank’s wedding! Looove. How beautiful is she???

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Take a look at what Katie and Kory had for their fairytale wedding day… AMAZING. That soft blush color… TO die for.

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I loved Kelly’s yellow and green bouquets! You can never go wrong with succulents, either…

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Morgan and Rob chose to go with white… So elegant and clean!

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Well I don’t know about you but I feel a bit more bright and cheery! My goal this year is to learn the NAMES of these beautiful creations! Who’s your favorite go-to florist??

The Seipp Family

Meg is a yoga instructor, and I took some portraits of her last year for her business. We got a few family photos in as well. Meghan is so sweet and so pretty… Her hubby Ryan is super nice and such a hands-on dad! I just loved their new house! Cool, muted tones and lots of bright light! Even though these two have a lot on their hands, they still seem so calm, cool, and collected. Their daughter Emery is almost three and just adorable with her big blue eyes and the blondest hair… She was still so little when I first met her, and it was so fun to have little conversations with her this time. Especially about her pink headband.

I was so excited when Meg contacted me for photos of her dear little family again this year! Only this time, as a family of four! They welcomed baby Cael about three weeks ago. Emme is so proud to be a big sister… She was concerned about his bare piggies while her mommy was holding him, so Daddy went and found Cael’s socks…

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Daddy and Emme had some daddy/daughter heart to heart discussions about blankey and Minnie Mouse while Mommy took a break to feed the baby…

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Lady, can you just let me sleep please?

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Family sofa snuggles!

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Cael, it was so nice to meet you, angel. You are such a cutie pie and have the softest skin! Your wonderful mommy and daddy and big sister love you very much! I know it was a lot of work, but you did such a great job for your first little photo shoot. I am excited to watch you grow!

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