Honoring Lost Loved ones


Many of you may have someone that you dearly wish could be there to celebrate on your big day. And over the years we have seen plenty of ways to ensure that they are at least there in spirit. Things like sewing a piece of their clothing on your wedding attire, dedicating a moment in the ceremony, or even simply playing a favorite song of theirs, just to name a few. 

Need some fantastic ideas for honoring deceased family members on your big day? 

1. Add an In Loving Memory section to your wedding programs. This allows you to list several if you have more then one, or give a small description of the person you are missing.

2. Set up a memorial table. Frame and set out old photos of your family member(s) to remember all of the joyful moments you had with them. Alicia also chose to set up a Susan G Komen donation jar in honor of her mother.

First Look


To see or not to see, that is the question...

There certainly are varying views on whether a bride and groom should share a "first look" before the ceremony.

Some cite that a reason to not see each other first is that it is “bad luck” for the groom to view the bride in her dress beforehand, while some merely believe that it is “tradition” and if not adhered to, it will somehow spoil the moment when the groom lays eyes upon his bride walking down the aisle in her beautiful white gown.

The facts are that this practice dates back to when most marriages were arranged and were first and foremost a means to create alliances between families and not entered into for romantic love. Not only did the bride and groom not see each other before the ceremony on the wedding day, they very likely had never seen each other at all. Of course, daughters really had no say or ability to exert their own will. What ever the father said, the daughter did. Of course, a father would hope to marry his daughter off to a groom from a wealthy family. The fear however was that if the groom found his bride to be less-than-fetching, he might turn on this heals and head for the hills - thus the extra insurance of the veil.

Today, it would be very rare for the betrothed to not know each other so of course they already have a very good idea of what the other looks like. In the 21st century, many couples are already living together when they get married.

Of the many hundreds of Santa Barbara weddings that we have photographed, most couples have chosen to see each other before the ceremony. Never has a couple expressed any regret in having done so, nor has it ever taken away from the emotion that is felt when the bride comes down the aisle. Lips are still quivering and eyes are tearing up. In fact, having spent some time together earlier in the day just seems to fuel the emotional impact.

From a purely practical standpoint, seeing each other beforehand allows the romantic and family portraits to be done in a much more relaxed and enjoyable manner and presents much more opportunity for the photographer to get nice candids along with posed photos. It also lets the newly married couple enjoy the cocktail party (at what other time during the wedding day would one consider scheduling two events at the same time? Maybe simultaneous ceremony and cocktails?). And last, but certainly not least, both the bride and groom will look their best earlier in the day before they have been squished and squeezed by their adoring fans.

I suppose my bias is hard to deny but I can also say that whether to see each other before the ceremony is a very personal decision and is also very dependent upon the scheduling of events themselves (as in the timing of the ceremony and sunset). Ultimately it is the photographer’s job to merely make suggestions based on his/her experience and to respect his client’s wishes.

Unplugged Weddings


Unplugged weddings: Why you should put away your phone at nuptialsUnplugged Wedding Ceremony

Marisa KabasTODAY contributor

Are we too connected at weddings? Photographer Corey Ann Balazowich says too many wedding guests are taking photos with their iPhones at key moments during the ceremony.

Here comes the bride, all dressed in white iPhone flashes, right? Not exactly. But unfortunately for so many couples, the distracting flashes of smartphones have ruined too many special moments on their big day.

Arguably, the best part of having a smartphone at the ready is that you always have the ability to capture a moment — expected or spontaneous. People against compulsive smartphone use say that you’re not truly living in the moment if you’re viewing an event through your screen. But in the end, that’s your prerogative. However, when your smartphone use interferes with others fully experiencing and remembering an event, that’s where the line should be drawn.

Ohio-based photographer Corey Ann Balazowich has been capturing weddings for seven years now, and she noticed the prevalent interference of smartphones and tablets about fours years back. She does her best to avoid them, but she says it can be challenging.

“iPads are the worst!” she told TODAY.com. “They’re so big! You can’t really get around them.”

Video: Kathie Lee and Hoda chat about the next round of the Ice Bucket Challenge where KLG, Drew Brees and Blake Shelton dumped ice over their heads to support ALS research. The ladies also discuss whether some wedding photos are ruined by people snapping pics with their iPhones and give their thoughts on Jennifer Aniston revealing her weight.

She’s started presenting the idea of an “unplugged wedding” to her clients as an option, meaning that guests are asked to turn off and stow their phones either just during the ceremony or throughout the duration of the festivities.

In a recent blog post, she featured some of her past wedding photos that show guests simultaneously taking photos and completely obscuring the shot either with their own flash or physically with their bodies. It serves as a compelling PSA for unplugged weddings.

As much as it irks her, there’s not a whole lot she can do. “It’s kind of not my place to say anything, so I work with what I have,” she said.

Wedding photographer Corey Ann Balazowich has seen one too many special occasions impaired by smartphone use.

So how do you ask family and friends to sever themselves, if only for half an hour, from the smartphones that have become less digital device and more permanent appendage? Corey Ann says “I recommend asking the officiant to make an announcement. Guests are more likely to listen to a voice of authority.”

“A note in your wedding program or a sign at the entrance asking guests to put down their phones and be fully present during the ceremony is a simple and elegant way to do it,” Kellee Khalil, founder of wedding site Lover.ly, told TODAY.com. But she also recommends the officiant make an announcement, just to drive the point home.

She added: “Our culture is so plugged-in these days; while all that technology can be amazing, there are a lot of downsides. Aside from distracting the couple, the presence of tons of smartphones can also annoy family members, the bridal party, and other guests.”

Kathie Lee and Hoda weighed in on the subject during Today's Talk on Wednesday. While Kathie Lee said she misses the days when everyone would pull out a Kleenex instead of a smartphone, she argued that sometimes it's actually the photographer or videographer who's in the way of family and friends getting a look at the bride and groom. 

Hoda, on the other hand, admitted to being guilty of playing wedding guest and videographer. "On my phone I have videos of many people's weddings," she said. But she said she never ends up watching them, and conceded that it probably ruins the whole experience for the person recording the video, too. "Now you find yourself looking at an iconic moment through a screen 'that' big."   

So while it might feel insensitive to some to deny your cousin the opportunity to Instagram a photo of you as the words “I do” tumble out of your perfectly made-up mouth, it’s likely not. You have every right to preserve the sanctity of the day. “I think it's great that couples feel empowered to ask guests to respect their comfort level with phones and social media at weddings,” Khalil said.

Think about it: Do you really want to be the person hanging out in the aisle and spoiling that moment just for the sake of taking of a photo of a wedding that isn’t yours? There is something to be said for capturing more intimate moments that perhaps the photographer wasn’t able to get. And the instant gratification of being able to share a memory is certainly enticing. But the point is, someone else’s wedding day is not yours to ruin. If they want you to unplug for a few minutes or a few hours, then you should comply — and just enjoy the party.