Ceremony Floral Backdrops

View More: http://katelynjames.pass.us/joeandemilywedding

I don’t like to use the B word, because – let’s be honest – it takes all the fun out of wedding planning, doesn’t it?! Yes, the word ‘budget’. Large floral pieces can be a bit intimidating for a bride planning her florals within a specific budget. They are gorgeous, fabulous, but seem out of reach in terms of budget. So, while it can be inspirational to see beautiful ceremony backdrops, it can also be upsetting to learn their actual cost. But, how can you have your dream florals while trying to fit your overall budget? When budgeting for your wedding florals, I always say, skip the extra small random floral pops and put a large concentration of the budget into the ceremony backdrop. SERIOUSLY. This sounds so ridiculous to you right now, but I’m totally serious. If I were you, I’d skimp on my centerpieces just to have a ridiculous floral backdrop. Don’t even put any flowers down the aisle if it means you can get the pergola look you want by gaining that cost from other elements you avoid purchasing. Skip the place card table, skip any extra floral pieces that don’t have a large impact. Just go for the one WOW piece. I promise, promise, promise – you won’t regret it! If it doesn’t sit well with you to have that many flowers in a location you will only be in for a few minutes, just remember that most of your photos from the ceremony will take place standing in front of your pergola (or whatever other backdrop you may have) – of course, only as long as your photographer gets lots of shots there of not only the ceremony, but the bridal party after the ceremony.

I do hear quite often, the comment: ‘But we’ll only be there for a few minutes, so I don’t want to do too much for the ceremony’. This is when I try to do a little bit of nudging in the direction of splurging on that ceremony piece, focusing the budget on that WOW piece, instead of spreading it over lots of little pieces. Think about how many pictures will take place there at the ceremony space! This is something very important to consider. If you jazz up the ceremony backdrop with tons of florals, guess how many shots your photographer is going to get of you and your groom and even family portraits in that space?! TONS (assuming your photographer typically gets those types of shots!). I have had many brides question splurging on the ceremony backdrop – for fear it’s a waste, and they reluctantly hire me to design an installation for a ceremony piece. I am promising them that it will be fantastic and gorgeous, and they are hoping they won’t feel the guilt or regret later for splurging a large portion of the floral budget on such a piece. Then, on the day of the wedding, they see the ceremony space and tears start to flow! I’m not trying to toot my horn or anything, I’m just illustrating how the ceremony backdrop often gets overlooked in planning simply because the bride/groom/MOB thinks that it’s a waste to decorate for a short amount of time being used. But, after the wedding, they thank me for making that recommendation, and are so glad they went with it! Just take a look at some of these pergola shots, and see how they really do create a beautiful backdrop for not only photos, but for the place you’ll be when you say your wedding vows to each other! I can understand the logic, but it really comes down to trusting that it really creates a magical space on the day-of!

There’s something about seeing them in person that create magic – or at least add some magic to the space. Flowers, to me, add a certain special wedding-only element to a space. Something that no architecture, landscaping or other decorations can do. They just make it feel magical! But… of course I’m a bit biased ;-) I just LOVE love love flowers!

Let’s take a look at some ceremony backdrops we’ve designed over the past year… to see what I’m referring to…

Rachel May Photography – Stevenson Ridge2014-07-15_0021Katelyn James Photography – Styled Shoot2014-07-15_0022Katelyn James Photography – Big Spring Farm, Lynchburg Virginia – Emily & Joe *Paisley & Jade (Doors)*View More: http://katelynjames.pass.us/joeandemilyweddingKen Pak Photography – Keswick Vineyards, Keswick Virginia2014-07-15_00242014-07-15_0025Their pergola even doubled as a sweetheart table backdrop!

Charlotte Tittle Photography – Stevenson Ridge2014-07-15_0026Melissa Arlena Photography – Ally & Vitaly, Stevenson Ridge


Ally & Vitaly – Stevenson Ridge (*Instagram Images*)2014-07-16_0001Katelyn James Photography – Emily & David, Stevenson Ridge


Jillian Michelle Photography – Lauren & Austin, Stevenson RidgeView More: http://jillianmichellephoto.pass.us/laurenaustinweddingMelissa Arlena Photography – Caitlin & TJ, Stevenson Ridge2014-07-16_0003Carley Rehberg Photography – Katie & Jeff, Stevenson Ridge2014-07-16_0004Stephen Turner Photography – Jesse & Tera, Private Residence


Rachel May Photography – Jessica & Beau, Stevenson Ridge


Katie - Yes! Love this! Always encourage my clients (when I can) to invest in decor elements that make a big impact…and ceremony backdrops are one of them! I would say though if they’re spending a ton on the ceremony backdrop, make sure you hold the ceremony where the light is good because if the light is harsh mid/day lighting right on the backdrop, the photographer will probably move them somewhere else for family formals and bridal party since light supersedes location…July 16, 2014 – 9:07 am

Anna Burke - So true!!! Love this, especially Emily & Joe’s :) It was such a high impact piece that people are STILL talking about almost 2 months later (and I’m sure will continue to do so)!!! GORGEOUS work :)July 16, 2014 – 9:50 am

Amanda - First off of course I noticed all the beautiful arrangements and must say – these images will definitely be impacting my floral decisions this fall!! Second, I’m assuming Stevenson Ridge is a popular VA wedding location…? hahahaha Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!July 16, 2014 – 10:55 am

Danielle Foxe - Stevenson Ridge is the best venue ;) (also biased)July 16, 2014 – 3:06 pm

Bane’s Birth Story!

My awesome bride/friend, photographed the birth story – Emily of E.F. PhotographyView More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birthFinally, he’s here! My (c)ankles are happy for it as well… Bane Alan Veronee arrived six days earlier than his due date. I was hoping for a July 4th baby, but honestly, my body just couldn’t handle it any longer. I was absolutely miserable and rapidly gaining excess water weight. I have a rare condition called Malignant Vasovagal Syndrome – which in Layman’s terms just means ‘I have an extra sensitive nervous system and when I pass out, my heart stops’. My OB and Electrophysiologist seemed to think my body was smart enough to pack on excess water weight as a defense mechanism. Which, is great in some ways to keep baby safe and healthy, but not great because it was getting a little out of control. It wasn’t what most would expect with pitting edema/excess swelling in pregnancy – toxemia/preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. No matter how much water I drank, how much salt I avoided, or how much I had my feet up during the day (including those sexy compression stockings), the water weight was just THERE. And no, it wasn’t the addiction to Oreos that did it! ;-) I was so swollen my feet jiggled. I’m not talking about after a day of being on them — this was when I first woke up. My feet were so swollen, I had rolls! I’ve included a Before and After photo, because I know you want to look at this craziness! ….


Okay, back to the birth story…I’m getting off track here…

So, I had been told that ‘it’s rare for a woman’s water to break’,… and ‘it’s rare to go early for your first born’… so, naturally I thought I still had more time until he arrived. Well, as soon as I fell asleep at midnight on June 26/27th, sure enough a few minutes later I woke up to a contraction and heard a ‘pop’ type of sound. It’s not entirely an audible pop, but more like if you had a balloon in your belly and someone popped it, sort of like hearing your heartbeat. You don’t really ‘hear’ it, but you do… make sense?! haha! So, I ran to the bathroom (having heard about this POP sensation and water breaking) and sure enough running to the bathroom was a good decision. This was awkward, because I was attempting to yell at Robby (who had been sleeping in the guest room because of my pregnancy snoring habit that didn’t combine well with his light-sleeper-ness) from the master bathroom, but he couldn’t hear me. So, towel between my legs I ran to his room and said ‘BABE, MY WATER BROKE!!’. What was his response? “Okay, well fix it” and stayed sleeping. He had told me he’d been having dreams about my water breaking, so obviously, he thought he was dreaming. I had to bug him a few more times and out the door we went!

I originally had planned to hire a doula and labor mostly at home. Well, life got away from me and I neglected to hire one and when my doctor told me at my 39 week check that I was 4cm, I realized laboring at home might not be the best idea. My sisters first baby practically fell out within a matter of four hours, so I thought maybe the same would happen to me. I was hoping to avoid as many interventions as possible, so that’s why I wanted to labor at home. But, because of the risk of infection, etc. I figured we may as well head to the hospital – just a short 15 minute drive from our house.

View More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birthCounter pressure works wonders for back labor pain! Every few minutes Robby was on back pressing duty!  View More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birth

As soon as we arrived, my contractions started to pickup pretty fast, so I was hopeful I could make it all the way without pain medications. I had researched all the different options for pain, and because of my condition (blood pressure and heart rate dropping issues), I was fearful that any of the options they had would dramatically drop my heart rate or BP and possibly cause an emergency c-section. So, my choice to valiantly attempt an intervention free birthing process was both a health concern thing and an accomplishment thing. I labored pain med free from midnight to 7 am when the doctor said even though I was 7/8ish cm dilated, that I wasn’t progressing fast enough considering my water had broken. Which, I was fearful of because I’d been told how hospitals put you on a time clock…  I was a little annoyed trying to make such a decision while I was in so much pain. I was having back labor and the pain was excruciating. I like to think that if I wasn’t having back labor, I could have dealt with the pain. The back ache was so painful that it wore out all my energy and stamina getting through each contraction. The P word came about and I realized that if I were to have Pitocin, I had read in my research it would make my contractions unnaturally stronger and more unbearable than they were already if I didn’t combine it with some pain relief. So,… bring out the epidural WOMP WOMP…. Yup, I gave in. I knew that if I got the Pitocin, I wouldn’t be have the energy when it came time to push. Pushing with back labor, I knew wouldn’t be easy. Trying to sit still during contractions of transition and getting an epidural — WOW. Just remember to breathe ladies! It’s amazing how the breathing helps you get through it.

View More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birthIf you end up needing to do this rope pulling maneuver, remember that you may have crazy inflammation appear two weeks postpartum… I  swear it feels like I have arthritis from doing this! It’s amazing how much your body is put through during labor! I even had some crazy neck pain from tightening my neck in the pushing/holding breath part!

View More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birth

I have to admit, the epidural was sweet relief. I asked for them to give me the lowest dose of the epidural and the lowest of the Pitocin. I fell asleep and when I woke up later, it was time to push! Only, I neglected to hit the button again – so all that pain started coming right back. BUT, I was able to still have enough feeling in my legs and body to feel the contractions (which I had read that with too much of the epidural medication – you have to be coached when to push) — so I was able to “effectively” push during each contraction. Well, maybe not entirely effective. I pushed for T W O H O U R S and F O R T Y N I N E M I N U T E S. But, who’s counting?! He was sunny side up and was pretty much stuck.

View More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birth

I was balling my eyes out at this point and very ill from all the continued pain. I had given up mentally, but somehow my body just kept going and I still miraculously had the energy to keep pushing when a contraction came along. It’s like my body wouldn’t let me NOT push. I seriously thought everyone was lying to me when the entire past hour they kept saying ‘he’s right there – almost – good good, doing great!’. The dude with the foreceps (or whatever he had that he was planning to use) was walking in the door when the doctor said something she had never seen before happened – his head completely turned and he popped right out during one last good push!

View More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birth

View More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birthI had the best nurse EVER – I just loved her! It turned out, Emily just knows EVERYONE. Her mom actually worked with my nurse for quite a long time – small world!View More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birthView More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birthView More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birthView More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birthView More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birthView More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birthSoftest thing in the world… BABY FEET!

View More: http://emilyfphoto.pass.us/banes-birth
 This isn’t a great photo of me, but it includes my momma! She helped talk me through the pushing – she is also a paramedic and has delivered babies before. She naturally, home birthed my sisters (I arrived a month early and was in the NICU – as is expected of my impatient self).
Emily created a slideshow that has music that will make you cry… seen here.
If you need a birth photographer, please call Emily – she’s pretty awesome… :)
Photography Credits: E.F. Photography
I’ll be sharing some adorable newborn photos very soon!

Nikki Santerre - You go, Mama! What beautiful images from Bane’s birth. He is so precious!July 10, 2014 – 3:52 pm

Danielle - You have such a beautiful family, Amanda! Again, Congrats!July 10, 2014 – 6:31 pm

Elizabeth - Such a beautiful birth story. These pictures are breathtaking! Congrats to you and Robby!July 10, 2014 – 8:11 pm

Katie - I loved reading this!! You are amazing!!! Thanks for sharing!July 10, 2014 – 8:33 pm

Linda - For future reference, if required, try foot reflexology for the fluid overload. Mine certainly wasnt as bad as yours, but this worked a treat! I would be all puffy in the morning, go get my feet rubbed ( by someone qualified in the ancient art) and would barely make it home. Before i woukd spend the next hour peeing out gallons! Good luck!July 11, 2014 – 6:39 am

Lelia Marie - Wow that sounds like hard work! But so worth it! Baby Bane is adorable. Congratulations again!July 11, 2014 – 9:01 am

Emily - I love this, and you guys!July 28, 2014 – 1:01 pm

Lauren & Craig – Anniversary Shoot

You can’t ignore Lauren’s gorgeous red hair — wow! Her hair and those flowers really do pop against the white building!! I like to think she planned that to perfection ;-) Craig and Lauren were celebrating their one year anniversary by having their photos taken together in a styled shoot. I may be a huge nerd by saying this, but I think there’s a certain magic to a wedding day, and that being in front of a camera, or doing something else ‘special’ or celebratory in any other way (special dinner/revisiting the site of the ceremony/etc) helps you relive the magic!

Now, let’s drool over her fabulous hair and floral crown :D

View More: http://katelynjames.pass.us/craig-and-laurenView More: http://katelynjames.pass.us/craig-and-laurenView More: http://katelynjames.pass.us/craig-and-laurenView More: http://katelynjames.pass.us/craig-and-laurenHow photogenic is that doggy?!View More: http://katelynjames.pass.us/craig-and-laurenI just love me some soft, fluffy flowers!!View More: http://katelynjames.pass.us/craig-and-laurenView More: http://katelynjames.pass.us/craig-and-lauren

Photography by Katelyn James
Florals by Anthomanic

katelyn james - as always, your florals were PERFECT for this shoot!!!!July 8, 2014 – 11:39 pm

Minyem Kate - Absolutely gorgeous !

I love your blog, your work and your authenticity :-)!

Much love from France, Kate.August 21, 2014 – 8:50 am

Pergola DIY for Green Wedding Shoes


Last year I created DIY posts for the super awesome and funky wedding blog, Green Wedding Shoes. One of the projects that was my favorite was this awesome pergola! Super easy, super simple and such a fabulous statement piece (especially for being a DIY project!).

Flower Disclaimer: I must say though, this is not the proper-’pro-florist’ way of creating this piece. This must be done within about an hour or two before use and in a relatively cool climate. Otherwise, these flowers could wilt if they drink the water in the tubes too fast! The proper mechanism would be floral cages/floral foam affixed to the structure to design with. This is just a simple/easy/DIY kind of way to do it with limited materials and experience working with flowers.

- three sets of rod pocket style curtains installed on an adjustable tension rod
- approximately 12 yards loose mixed texture fabrics
- 40+ yards loose mixed width ribbons

- step ladder, scissors and roll of binding wire

Mixed Florals:
- 20 stems pee-gee hydrangea
- 2 bunches of silver dollar eucalyptus
- 1 bunch pink gomphrena
- 2 tillandsia

- 1 bunch of joe pye weed


Step One: Create a base of large fabrics by hanging the tension rod from the pergola with wire


Step Two: Layer additional large pieces of loose fabric

Step Three: Add loose pieces of ribbons, tying in place if necessary


Step Four: Gather mixed ‘bouquet’s’, hand tie and place at top of pergola draping over the front. Thread wire around the bouquet and around the pergola to hold it to the structure. If your pergola structure doesn’t allow for this, attach the flowers to the front face of the structure. If floral must last for more than a few hours, it is recommended to supply the flowers with a water source such as water tubes — water tubes are the simplest DIY supply in this project. Here we only used tubes for the hydrangea, as the other flowers will last just fine out of water for a few hours. Setup time, approximately 30 minutes

2014-06-23_00142014-06-23_0015Thank you Charlotte Tittle Photography for capturing this DIY for me! Photographed on the pergola/ceremony site at Stevenson Ridge in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

also Published on Green Wedding Shoes


My Baby Shower Luau & Lei DIY!


36.5 weeks pregnant at my shower!

My sister, Fiona, is the ‘Suzie home-maker’ of my three sisters and I – and she always manages to be the first to volunteer to coordinate any party or gathering and plan from top to bottom. I, on the other hand, am more of a ‘design’/aesthetics type of planner. I really like to focus on the visual aspects of a space/party. When she volunteered to plan my baby shower, I must admit, it was very hard to not try to coordinate linens, flowers, cake design, tablescapes, invites, etc.! She actually had to tell me to ‘stop it’. I even started a Pinterest board to try to convince her how it should be done. Because it’s customary for the mommy-to-be to not help plan the shower and to be surprised, I reluctantly talked myself into taking a backseat. It sorta went like “Just enjoy the surprise, self” – “But I want to help, and it will be fabulous”. :D haha.. Honestly, I was happy to not have to help once I got to the time of the shower, because of how exhausted I was from a ton of weddings the past month on top of my swollen legs/ankles! I volunteered our house, as we had completely overhauled our backyard in a massive mainly-DIY undertaking. So, any excuse to have a gathering at our house was totally awesome! We prayed for sunshine and good weather, and it ended up being PERFECT!


Some iPhone pics from the shower… (don’t judge, I’m no photographer ;-)The shower was to be an evening, co-ed cocktail party luau. I know it’s not tradition, but honestly, I was a tomboy growing up and for most of the 12 years Robby and I have been together, so many of our friends are guys. Robby’s entire family lives in South Carolina, and half of mine is in England. So, for us, a mixed party of any and all friends was the perfect fit to celebrate the upcoming arrival of little baby Bane! I think planning a shower is like a wedding, you just have to do what’s right for the situation!2014-06-21_0008My sister was super sneaky and contacted a calligrapher I have worked with quite a few times on styled shoots, Meant To Be Calligraphy. As soon as I walked in the room and saw the cards, I knew whose gorgeous lettering they were!! The idea was that we wouldn’t open all the gifts at the party, and that the gifts would be on display in the nursery for everyone to see. Guests would place their name tag on their gift showing who it was from. I just loved being able to show everyone the nursery! I feel like that’s a part that is always missing from a shower — seeing the baby’s new digs! Of course, not necessary, but I think it’s so fun to see the nursery all decorated and cute!2014-06-21_0009I realized after the party that Bane is a Hawaiian name, and we had a luau for his shower — I guess it was meant to be! :D

On the left, my brother-in-law, Dustin, tending bar under the pergola I normally use for styled shoots and rentals! … yes, it was very hard to not completely deck that thing out in florals!… but, I had to not ‘work’ at my shower :/2014-06-21_0005The girls all wore cymbidium orchids in their hair — my momma on the right!

Thank you so much to everyone that came to the shower to celebrate baby Bane! He surely will be very loved when he’s here! :)

To create your very own fresh flower lei, it’s super simple to make….

DIY Fresh Floral Lei Tutorial


- 30-40 large carnations (mini carnations and orchids work great too!)

- 1 2.5″+ sewing needle (just needs to be about 50% longer than the bloom so it doesn’t get stuck!) I bought a package of different lengths just in case

- 1 yard waxed cord (JoAnn, Michaels, any craft store! check the jewelry aisle)

2014-06-21_00011. Thread the needle, and break the stem off the carnation (they break easily, or you can cut it!)2014-06-21_00022. Fluff the carnation open/carnations can easily be forced open once they are a little older — newer ones can be tight!2014-06-21_00033. Push the needle through the bottom center of the carnation and pull through the top, this creates the end of your lei – so make sure you pull the cord through to the length the lei will be2014-06-21_00044. Continue adding carnations, tucking the next one into the center of the previous one, until you reach the desired length — simply knot the ends together making sure the carnations are all tightly tucked into each other

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